The history of Poland (Polish: Historia Polski) 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 is the history of rather different territories during the past millennium. At one time, in the 16th century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the second largest state in Europe, after Russia. At other times there was no separate Polish state at all. Poland got back its independence in 1918, after more than a century of rule by nearby empires, but its borders shifted again after the Second World War.
From 1795 to 1918, Poland was split between Prussia, Habsburg Monarchy, and Russia and had no independent existence. In 1795 the third and the last of the three 18th-century partitions of Poland ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Nevertheless, events both within and outside the Polish lands kept hopes for restoration of Polish independence alive throughout the 19th century. Poland's geopolitical location on the Northern European Lowlands became especially important ...
History of Poland (1939–1945) The history of Poland from 1939 to 1945 encompasses primarily the period from the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to the end of World War II. Following the German–Soviet non-aggression pact, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany on 1 September 1939 and by the Soviet Union on 17 September.
The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 spans the period of communist rule imposed over Poland after the end of World War II. These years, while featuring general industrialization, urbanization and many improvements in the standard of living, were marred by early Stalinist repressions, social unrest, political strife and severe economic difficulties.
- Round Table Agreement and democratic transition
In 1989–1991, Poland engaged in a democratic transition which put an end to the Polish People's Republic and led to the foundation of a democratic government, known as the Third Polish Republic. After ten years of democratic consolidation, Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.
Tension grew between the people of Poland and its communist government, as with the rest of the Eastern bloc as the influence of the Soviet Union faded. With the advent of perestroika in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev, the opportunity arose to change the system of government, after the harsh period of martial law imposed by General Jaruzelski.
The government's inability to forestall Poland's economic decline led to waves of strikes across the country in April, May and August 1988. In an attempt to take control of the situation, the then government gave de facto recognition to the Solidarity union, and Interior Minister Czesław Kiszczak began talks with its leader Lech Wałęsa on August 31. These talks broke down in October, but a new series of negotiations, the "round-table" talks, began in February 1989. These talks produced ...
- Government and politics
Poland's topographically diverse territory extends from the beaches along the Baltic Sea in the north to the Sudetes and Carpathian Mountains in its south. The country is bordered by Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia to the northeast, Belarus and Ukraine to the east, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the south, and Germany to the west. The history of human activity on Polish soil spans thousands of years. Throughout the late antiquity period it became extensively diverse, with various
The origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans, who inhabited the Warta river basin of the present-day Greater Poland region starting in the mid-6th century. The origin of the name Polanie itself derives from the Proto-Slavic word pole. In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian, Persian, Russian and Turkish, the country's name is derived from the Lendians who dwelled on the southeasternmost edge of present-day Lesser Poland. Their name likewise derives from t
The early Bronze Age in Poland began around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in approximately 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became particularly prominent. The most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and pr
Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first historically documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity, as the rightful religion of his realm, under the auspices of the
The Jagiellon dynasty spanned the late Middle Ages and early Modern Era of Polish history. Beginning with the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila, the Jagiellon dynasty formed the Polish–Lithuanian union. The partnership brought vast Lithuanian-controlled Rus' areas into Poland ...
Poland's vast territory covers approximately 312,696 km2, of which 98.52% is dry land and 1.48% is water. Extending across several geographical regions, the country is the 9th-largest by area in Europe and 69th largest in the world. Topographically, Poland is diverse and has access to the sea, the mountains and open terrain. Although most of the central parts of the country are flat, there is an abundance of lakes, rivers, hills, swamps, beaches, islands and forests elsewhere. In the north-west
Poland is a representative democracy, with a president as the head of state. The government structure centers on the Council of Ministers, led by a prime minister. The president appoints the cabinet according to the proposals of the prime minister, typically from the majority coalition in the Sejm. The president is elected by popular vote every five years. The current president is Andrzej Duda and the prime minister is Mateusz Morawiecki. Polish voters elect a bicameral parliament consisting of
Poland experienced a significant increase in the number of tourists after joining the European Union in 2004. With nearly 21 million international arrivals in 2019, tourism contributes considerably to the overall economy and makes up a relatively large proportion of the country's
The electricity generation sector in Poland is largely fossil-fuel–based. Many power plants nationwide use Poland's position as a major European exporter of coal to their advantage by continuing to use coal as the primary raw material in the production of their energy. In ...
Transport in Poland is provided by means of rail, road, marine shipping and air travel. The country is part of EU's Schengen Area and is an important transport hub along neighbouring Germany due to its strategic position in Central Europe. Some of the longest European routes, inc
- Early Middle Ages
- High Middle Ages
- Late Middle Ages
In this time period Polish history covering roughly a millennium, from the 5th century, the way through to the 16th century. It is commonly dated from the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and contrasted with a later Early Modern Period; the time during which the rise of humanism in the Italian Renaissance and the Reformation unfolded, are generally associated with the transition out of the Middle Ages, with European overseas expansion as a succeeding process, but such dates are approximate and
The first waves of Slavic migration settled the area of the upper Vistula River and elsewhere in the lands of present-day southeastern Poland and southern Masovia, coming from the upper and middle regions of the Dnieper River. Results of a genetic study by researchers from Gdańsk Medical University "support hypothesis placing the earliest known homeland of Slavs in the middle Dnieper basin". The West Slavs came primarily from the more western early Slavic branch called the Sclaveni by the ...
The Polish state begins with the rule of Mieszko I of the Piast dynasty in the second half of the 10th century. Mieszko chose to be baptized in the Western Latin Rite in 966. Following its emergence, the Polish nation was led by a series of rulers who converted the population to Christianity, created a strong kingdom and integrated Poland into the European culture. Mieszko's son Bolesław I Chrobry established a Polish Church province, pursued territorial conquests and was officially ...
Beginning with the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila, the Jagiellon dynasty formed the Polish–Lithuanian union. The partnership brought vast Lithuania-controlled Rus' areas into Poland's sphere of influence and proved beneficial for the Poles and Lithuanians, who coexisted and cooperated in one of the largest political entities in Europe for the next four centuries. In the Baltic Sea region Poland's struggle with the Teutonic Knights continued and included the milestone Peace of Thorn under ...
From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025 until the early years of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country in Europe. Historians have used the label paradisus iudaeorum (Latin for " Paradise of the Jews").
- 1,250,000 (ancestry, passport eligible); 202,300 (citizenship)
The part of Silesia awarded to Poland was by far the best-developed and richest region of the newly formed state, producing most of Poland's industrial output. Consequently, to the division in 1922, the German-Polish Accord on East Silesia (Geneva Convention) was concluded on 15 May 1922 which dealt with the constitutional and legal future of ...
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