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Welcome to the Poland Portal — Witaj w Portalu o Polsce

Cityscape of Kraków, Poland's former capital
Cityscape of Kraków, Poland's former capital
Coat of arms of Poland

Poland is a country in Central Europe, bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast to the north. It is an ancient nation whose history as a state began near the middle of the 10th century. Its golden age occurred in the 16th century when it united with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation. In a series of agreements in the late 18th century, Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned Poland amongst themselves. It regained independence as the Second Polish Republic in the aftermath of World War I only to lose it again when it was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. The nation lost over six million citizens in the war, following which it emerged as the communist People's Republic of Poland under strong Soviet influence within the Eastern Bloc. A westward border shift followed by forced population transfers after the war turned a once multiethnic country into a mostly homogeneous nation state. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union called Solidarity (Solidarność) that over time became a political force which by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A shock therapy program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of NATO and the European Union.

Christmas in Poland

Szopka krakowska A szopka krakowska (example pictured left) is a nativity scene traditionally constructed in Kraków during the Christmas season. Its distinctive feature is the use of architectural details of Kraków's historical landmarks as a backdrop for the nativity of Jesus.

Christmas carol singing has long been a popular tradition in Poland. The oldest known Polish carols date back to the 15th century. Among the most beloved (recordings listed right) are the lulling "Lulajże, Jezuniu" ("Sleep, Little Jesus"), the joyful "Dzisiaj w Betlejem" ("Tonight in Bethlehem"), and the majestic "Bóg się rodzi" ("God is Born").

Media related to Polish Christmas carols at Wikimedia Commons

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Map of the truncated territory of Poland (pink) after the Second Partition, published in London in 1794
The Second Partition of Poland in 1793 was the second of three partial annexations that ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by the end of the 18th century. It was a result of the Polish–Russian War of 1792, in which the Targowica Confederation overturned the progressive Constitution of 1791. The Russian Empire took 250,000 km2 (97,000 sq mi) of the Commonwealth's eastern territories, now belonging to Belarus and Ukraine, while the Kingdom of Prussia gained Danzig (Gdańsk) and 58,000 km2 (22,000 sq mi) of western Poland, which it renamed South Prussia. Poland was left as a rump state of 215,000 km2 (83,000 sq mi). Under Russian pressure, the partition was ratified by Poland at the Grodno Sejm in a short-lived attempt to prevent a complete annexation of Poland, which eventually did happen in the Third Partition in 1795.

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Polish brownie

A zuchenka, or Polish brownie, wearing a uniform of the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (ZHP). Founded in 1916, ZHP is Poland's largest scouting organization. Zuchy (cub scouts) and zuchenki are ZHP members that are 6–10 years old.

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Ewa Bandrowska-Turska

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Przemysł II as imagined by Jan Matejko
Premislaus II (Przemysł II; 1257–1296) was the first king of Poland after a hiatus of more than two centuries. Born posthumously as the only son of Duke Premislaus I of Greater Poland, he was brought up by his uncle, Duke Boleslaus the Pious, until he came of age and began to rule the Duchy of Poznań. Through inheritance, by 1294 he had expanded his domain over the duchies of Kalisz, Lesser Poland and Pomerelia, but he was forced to retreat from Lesser Poland, leaving it to King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. Thanks to the mediation of Archbishop Jakub Świnka of Gniezno, Premislaus formed an anti-Bohemian alliance with the dukes of Kuyavia, Vladislaus the Elbow-high and Casimir II of Łęczyca. With much of Poland's territory under his rule, he decided to take the Polish throne; he was crowned by Świnka in Gniezno, in 1295. His reign was cut short nine months later, as he was murdered during a failed kidnapping attempt orchestrated by the margraves of Brandenburg.

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Silesian Planetarium in Chorzów

Chorzów is a city on the Rawa River in Upper Silesia and part of the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Union, Poland's largest conurbation. Originally called Königshütte in German and Królewska Huta in Polish (both meaning "Royal Iron Works"), it was renamed Chorzów after a merger with a village of that name in 1934. Chorzów used to be one of the most important cities of the Upper Silesian Industrial Region with extensive industry in coal mining, steel, chemistry, manufacturing, and energy sectors. As heavy-industry establishments were either closed or scaled down, or restructured and modernized, the city has been evolving towards service economy. Chorzów is nationally famous for its Silesian Central Park, complete with amusement grounds, a cable line railway, a zoo, a sports stadium, and the largest and oldest planetarium in Poland (pictured).

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Holidays and observances in December 2019
(statutory public holidays in bold)

Polish Christmas tree baubles

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