Poles

The Baptism of Poland. Detail from Jan Matejko's Christianization of Poland AD 966.
Fragment of Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum (1073) by Adam of Bremen, containing the name "Polans": "trans Oddaram sunt Polanos"
Book of Henryków. Highlighted in red is the earliest known sentence written in the Old Polish language
King Casimir III the Great welcomes the Jews to Poland (painting by Gerson, 1874).

For a specific analysis of the population of Poland, see Demographics of Poland

- Poles
The Baptism of Poland. Detail from Jan Matejko's Christianization of Poland AD 966.

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Reconstructed Biskupin fortified settlement of the Lusatian culture, 8th century BC

History of Poland

The history of Poland spans over a thousand years, from medieval tribes, Christianization and monarchy; through Poland's Golden Age, expansionism and becoming one of the largest European powers; to its collapse and partitions, two world wars, communism, and the restoration of democracy.

The history of Poland spans over a thousand years, from medieval tribes, Christianization and monarchy; through Poland's Golden Age, expansionism and becoming one of the largest European powers; to its collapse and partitions, two world wars, communism, and the restoration of democracy.

Reconstructed Biskupin fortified settlement of the Lusatian culture, 8th century BC
Poland expanded under its first two rulers. The dark pink area represents Poland at end of rule of Mieszko I (992), whereas the light pink area represents territories added during the reign of Bolesław I (died 1025). The dark pink area in the northwest was lost during the same period.
Władysław I the Elbow-high
A representation of the Battle of Grunwald, a great military contest of the Late Middle Ages
King Casimir IV Jagiellon was the central figure of the Jagiellonian period
Nicolaus Copernicus formulated the heliocentric model of the solar system that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at its center
The Italian courtyard at Wawel Castle in Kraków, the former seat of Polish monarchs
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent, after the Truce of Deulino of 1619
Henry de Valois, later Henry III of France, was the first elected Polish king in 1573
Sigismund III Vasa enjoyed a long reign, but his actions against religious minorities, expansionist ideas and involvement in dynastic affairs of Sweden, destabilized the Commonwealth.
John II Casimir Vasa reigned during the Commonwealth's most difficult period. Frustrated with his inability to reform the state, he abdicated in 1668.
King John III Sobieski with his son Jakub, whom he tried to position to be his successor. Sobieski led the Commonwealth to its last great military victories.
Augustus II the Strong, the first Saxon ruler of Poland. His death sparked the War of the Polish Succession.
Stanisław August Poniatowski, the "enlightened" monarch
The Great Sejm adopted the Constitution of 3 May 1791 at the Royal Castle, Warsaw
Tadeusz Kościuszko's call for a national uprising, Kraków 1794
The three Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772, 1793, and 1795)
The death of Józef Poniatowski, Marshal of the French Empire, at the Battle of Leipzig
Napoleon Bonaparte establishing the Duchy of Warsaw under French protection, 1807
The capture of the Warsaw arsenal at the beginning of the November Uprising of 1830
Chopin, a Romantic composer of piano works, including many inspired by Polish traditional dance music
Romuald Traugutt, the last supreme commander of the 1863 Uprising
Bolesław Prus (1847–1912), a leading novelist, journalist and philosopher of Poland's Positivism movement
Many Jews emigrated from the Polish–Lithuanian lands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but most remained to form a large ethnic minority
Marie Curie, discoverer of radioactive elements
Rosa Luxemburg, leader of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania
Roman Dmowski's National Democracy ideology proved highly influential in Polish politics. He favored the dominance of Polish-speaking Catholics in civic life without concern for the rights of ethnic minorities, in particular the Jews, whose emigration he advocated.
"The Commandant" Józef Piłsudski with his legionaries in 1915
Ignacy Paderewski was a pianist and a statesman
The Regency Council of the Kingdom of Poland in 1918. The "Kingdom" was established to entice Poles to cooperate with the Central Powers.
Ignacy Daszyński
The Greater Poland Uprising, a war with Germany, erupted in December 1918
Polish–Soviet War, defenses near Warsaw, August 1920
Wincenty Witos (right) and Ignacy Daszyński headed a wartime cabinet in 1920. Witos was an agrarian party leader and a centrist politician, later persecuted under the Sanation regime.
Wojciech Korfanty fought for a Polish Silesia and was the leader of the Polish Christian Democratic Party
Bier of Gabriel Narutowicz, the first President of Poland, who was assassinated in 1922
Władysław Grabski reformed the currency and introduced the Polish zloty to replace the marka
Piłsudski's May Coup of 1926 defined Poland's political reality in the years leading to World War II
President Ignacy Mościcki and Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły were among top leaders of Sanation Poland
Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski promoted Poland's Central Industrial Region
A year after Piłsudski's death, his former personal assistant General Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski became the Second Polish Republic's last prime minister
Foreign Minister Józef Beck rejected the proposed risky alliances with Nazi Germany and with the Soviet Union
Warsaw was one of Europe's chief cities before the Second World War, pictured in 1939
German battleship shells Westerplatte, 1 September 1939
Map of Poland following the German and Soviet invasions (1939)
Pilots of No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron won fame in the Battle of Britain
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Gen. Władysław Sikorski, prime minister of the Polish government-in-exile and commander-in-chief of Polish armed forces, shortly before his death in 1943
Surrender of the Warsaw Uprising
Polish generals on the Eastern Front
Samuel Willenberg showing his drawings of the Treblinka extermination camp
Warsaw destroyed, photo taken January 1945
The infamous gatehouse at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where at least 1.1 million people were murdered by the Nazi regime
The PKWN Manifesto, officially issued on 22 July 1944 in Soviet-liberated Poland. It heralded the arrival of a communist government imposed by the USSR.
Territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II: the gray territories were transferred from Poland to the Soviet Union, whereas the pink territories were transferred from Germany to Poland. Poland's new eastern border was adjusted in the following years.
German refugees fleeing from East Prussia, 1945
Stanisław Mikołajczyk's Polish People's Party tried to outvote the communists in 1947, but the election process was rigged. Mikołajczyk had to flee to the West.
President Bolesław Bierut, leader of Stalinist Poland
Primate Stefan Wyszyński's leadership led to the exceptional strength of the Polish Catholic Church
Communist aspirations were symbolized by the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw
Władysław Gomułka addressing the crowd in Warsaw in October 1956
Apartment blocks built in communist Poland (these located in Poznań)
One of the fatalities of the 1970 protests on the Baltic Coast
First Secretary Edward Gierek (second from left) was unable to reverse Poland's economic decline
Lech Wałęsa in 1980
The signing of an agreement between leaders of striking workers and government representatives in Szczecin in August 1980
General Wojciech Jaruzelski meeting Soviet security chief Yuri Andropov during the 1980 crisis. Jaruzelski was about to become the (last) leader of communist Poland.
Martial law enforced in December 1981
Pope John Paul II in Poland, 1987
The reconstructed Polish Round Table in the Presidential Palace where an agreement between the communists and the opposition was signed on 4 April 1989

However, it was the West Slavic Lechites, the closest ancestors of ethnic Poles, who established permanent settlements in the Polish lands during the Early Middle Ages.

West Slavs

The West Slavs are a subgroup of Slavic peoples who speak the West Slavic languages.

The West Slavs are a subgroup of Slavic peoples who speak the West Slavic languages.

West Slav tribes in the 9th and 10th centuries
Reconstruction of the Slavic temple in Groß Raden
West Slavic languages

West Slavic speaking nations today include the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Sorbs and ethnic groups Kashubians, Moravians and Silesians.

Poland under Mieszko's rule between ca. 960–992, encompassing most of the Lechitic tribes within its borders

Lechites

Name given to certain West Slavic tribes who inhabited modern-day Poland and East Germany, and were speakers of the Lechitic languages.

Name given to certain West Slavic tribes who inhabited modern-day Poland and East Germany, and were speakers of the Lechitic languages.

Poland under Mieszko's rule between ca. 960–992, encompassing most of the Lechitic tribes within its borders
The Limes Saxoniae border between the Saxons and the Lechitic Obotrites, established about 810 in present-day Schleswig-Holstein
Depiction of the legendary ruler Lech in Chronica Polonorum by chronicler Maciej Miechowita (Matthias de Miechow)

Distinct from the Czech–Slovak subgroup, they are the closest ancestors of ethnic Poles and the Pomeranians and Polabians.

Polish pavilion including its artworks represents the culture of Poland, an example of art déco architecture (by Józef Czajkowski) at International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris (1925). The building was awarded Grand Prix in Paris.

Culture of Poland

Product of its geography and distinct historical evolution, which is closely connected to an intricate thousand-year history.

Product of its geography and distinct historical evolution, which is closely connected to an intricate thousand-year history.

Polish pavilion including its artworks represents the culture of Poland, an example of art déco architecture (by Józef Czajkowski) at International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris (1925). The building was awarded Grand Prix in Paris.
The Polish White Eagle is Poland's enduring national and cultural symbol.
First Polish language dictionary published in free Poland after the century of suppression of Polish culture by foreign powers
Sukiennice (cloth-hall), with medieval Kraków ratusz (city-hall) tower at left
Szczecin Philharmonic was awarded the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture
Melancholy (1894), by Jacek Malczewski
Stańczyk, painted by Jan Matejko
Chopin's Polonaise, by Kwiatkowski, depicting a ball at Count Czartoryski's Hôtel Lambert in Paris. National Museum, Poznań
Wanda Wilkomirska
Monument to Adam Mickiewicz, one of the greatest Polish poets, at the Main Market Square in Kraków
Open'er Festival in Gdynia is one of the biggest annual music festivals in Poland
Christmas market in Wrocław
Old Town of Zamość (UNESCO world heritage)
Poland national football team

In the early Middle Ages, before their speakers had become Germanized, Pomeranian languages and dialects were spoken along the Baltic in an area extending from the lower Vistula River to the lower Oder River." used throughout Poland (being that country's official language) and by Polish minorities in other countries. Its written standard is the Polish alphabet, which corresponds to the Latin alphabet with several additions. Despite the pressure of non-Polish administrations in Poland, who have often attempted to suppress the Polish language, a rich literature has developed over the centuries. The language is currently the largest, in speakers, of the West Slavic group. It is the second most widely spoken Slavic language, after Russian and ahead of Ukrainian. Polish is mainly spoken in Poland. Poland is one of the most linguistically homogeneous European countries; nearly 97% of Poland's citizens declare Polish as their mother tongue.

The Book of Henryków is the earliest document to include a sentence written entirely in what can be interpreted as Old Polish - Day, ut ia pobrusa, a ty poziwai meaning "let me grind, and you have a rest" highlighted in red

Polish language

West Slavic language of the Lechitic group, written in the Latin script.

West Slavic language of the Lechitic group, written in the Latin script.

The Book of Henryków is the earliest document to include a sentence written entirely in what can be interpreted as Old Polish - Day, ut ia pobrusa, a ty poziwai meaning "let me grind, and you have a rest" highlighted in red
The oldest printed text in Polish – Statuta synodalia Episcoporum Wratislaviensis printed in 1475 in Wrocław by Kasper Elyan.
The Polish alphabet contains 32 letters. Q, V and X are not used in the Polish language.
Polish oral vowels depicted on a vowel chart. Main allophones (in black) are in broad transcription, whereas positional allophones (in red and green) are in narrow transcription. Allophones with red dots appear in palatal contexts. The central vowel is an unstressed allophone of in certain contexts
A formal-tone informative sign in Polish, with a composition of vowels and consonants and a mixture of long, medium and short syllables
The Jakub Wujek Bible in Polish, 1599 print. The letters á and é were subsequently abolished, but survive in Czech.
Common handbag in Polish is called a torba, a word directly derived from the Turkish language. Turkish loanwords are common as Poland bordered the Ottoman Empire for centuries
There are numerous words in both Polish and Yiddish (Jewish) languages which are near-identical due to the large Jewish minority that once inhabited Poland. One example is the fishing rod, ווענטקע (ventke), borrowed directly from Polish wędka.
The manuscript of Pan Tadeusz held at Ossolineum in Wrocław. Adam Mickiewicz's signature is visible.

It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles.

John Paul II in 1984

Pope John Paul II

The head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 until his death in 2005.

The head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 until his death in 2005.

John Paul II in 1984
The wedding portrait of John Paul II's parents, Emilia and Karol Wojtyła Sr.
Painting of Saint John Paul II painted by Zbigniewa Kotyłły, 2012
Karol Wojtyła (second from right) in a Baudienst forced labor work crew during the German occupation of Poland in WWII, circa 1941
The Pontifical International Athenaeum Angelicum in Rome, Italy
Karol Wojtyła pictured during a kayaking trip to the countryside with a groups of students, circa 1960
19 Kanonicza Street in Kraków, Poland where John Paul II lived as a priest and bishop (now an Archdiocese Museum).
First appearance of Pope John Paul II following his election on 16 October 1978
John Paul's first papal trip to Poland in June 1979
John Paul II with the president of Italy Sandro Pertini in 1984
John Paul II during a visit to West Germany, 1980
US President Ronald Reagan meeting with Pope John Paul II during a visit to the Vatican City, 1982
Graffiti showing John Paul II with quote "Do not be afraid" in Rijeka, Croatia
John Paul II was the first Pope to enter and pray in a mosque, visiting the tomb of John the Baptist at Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.
John Paul II moments after being shot during an assassination attempt by Mehmet Ali Ağca in St. Peter's Square, 13 May 1981
An ailing John Paul II riding in the Popemobile in September 2004 in St. Peter's Square
(l-r) George W. Bush, Laura Bush, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card, US dignitaries paying respects to John Paul II on 6 April 2005 at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
The tomb of John Paul II in the Vatican Chapel of Saint Sebastian within St. Peter's Basilica where it has been since 2011.
1.5 million St. Peter's Square attendees witness the beatification of John Paul II on 1 May 2011 in Vatican City
Statue of John Paul II outside the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Tepeyac, Mexico City
Candles around monument to John Paul II in Zaspa, Gdańsk at the time of his death
The canonisation of John Paul II and John XXIII
The tomb of the parents of John Paul II at Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków, Poland
Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka
Karol Wojtyła (1958)

He was the youngest of three children born to Karol Wojtyła (1879–1941), an ethnic Pole, and Emilia Kaczorowska (1884–1929), who was of distant Lithuanian heritage.

Slavs

Slavs are the largest European ethnolinguistic group.

Slavs are the largest European ethnolinguistic group.

The origin and migration of Slavs in Europe between the 5th and 10th centuries AD:
Terracotta tile from the 6th–7th century AD found in Vinica, North Macedonia depicts a battle scene between the Bulgars and Slavs with the Latin inscription BOLGAR and SCLAVIGI
Slavic tribes from the 7th to 9th centuries AD in Europe
Great Moravia was one of the first major Slavic states, 833–907 AD
Seal from the pan-Slavic Congress held in Prague, 1848
The "Zbruch Idol" preserved at the Kraków Archaeological Museum
First Bulgarian Empire, the Bulgars were a Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribe that became Slavicized in the 7th century AD

Present-day Slavs are classified into East Slavs (chiefly Belarusians, Russians, Rusyns, and Ukrainians), West Slavs (chiefly Czechs, Kashubs, Poles, Slovaks, Silesians and Sorbs) and South Slavs (chiefly Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenes).

Czech-Polish bilingual signs during the municipal elections in Český Těšín, Czech Republic

Polish diaspora

[[File:Map of the Polish Diaspora in the World.svg|thumb|upright=1.8|World map of Polish diaspora.

[[File:Map of the Polish Diaspora in the World.svg|thumb|upright=1.8|World map of Polish diaspora.

Czech-Polish bilingual signs during the municipal elections in Český Těšín, Czech Republic
Polonia Days in Athens (2008)
A Polish shop in Dublin, Ireland
Catholic Cathedral of the Transfiguration in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, built by Polish-Russian architect Vladimir Sokolowski
Concert of Polish Children Choir in the Lviv Roman Catholic cathedral
Pilots of No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron with one of their Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain, October 1940
After the 2004 EU enlargement, Polish supermarkets and food stores have cropped up in many parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The Pope John Paul II statue in Toronto
Folk dancers of Polish community from Mexico
SWAP Branch #57 in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1928.
Polish store on Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
Polish and Polish-themed items booth at the Lagrange Street Polish Festival in Toledo, Ohio
Polish old architecture in Curitiba.
Polish Dożynki Festival in Adelaide, South Australia

]]The Polish diaspora comprises Poles and people of Polish heritage or origin who live outside Poland.

Tamara de Lempicka's bust in Kielce, Poland

Tamara de Lempicka

Polish painter who spent her working life in France and the United States.

Polish painter who spent her working life in France and the United States.

Tamara de Lempicka's bust in Kielce, Poland
Façade of 7, rue Méchain, her Paris studio
Andromeda, c.1927–28

Her father was Boris Gurwik-Górski, a Russian Jewish attorney for a French trading company, and her mother was Malwina Dekler, a Polish socialite who had lived most of her life abroad and who met her husband at one of the European spas.

Balts

Ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the Baltic languages of the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages.

Ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the Baltic languages of the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages.

Map of the area of distribution of Baltic hydronyms.
Baltic tribes before the coming of the Teutonic Order (ca. 1200 AD). The Eastern Balts are shown in brown hues while the Western Balts are shown in green. The boundaries are approximate. Baltic territory was extensive inland.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, internal struggles and invasions by Ruthenians and Poles, and later the expansion of the Teutonic Order, resulted in an almost complete annihilation of the Galindians, Curonians, and Yotvingians.