Country Briefs: Nestled in the heart of Europe, acting as bridge between the east and the west, Poland is a multifaceted country that spreads in an area of 312,685 square kilometers and inhabiting an estimated population of 38,635,144 people.
Poland is located between Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, and the Baltic Sea, Lithuania and Russia to the north.
With Warsaw, the wonderful and largest city as its capital, over the years Poland has transformed into a modern, vibrant and progressive state that still presents a perfect picture of its culture and tradition. No doubt that Poland is one of the enchanting vacation spot at present.
On reflecting at the history of Poland it is revealed that it was in mid-10th century, under the Piast dynasty that Poland gained prominence as a unitary and territorial entity. Around 966 the religion of Christianity did spread in the country. Poland was divided into different states during the 12th century and was reunified in 1320 by the King Wladslaw I.
Under the rule of the Jagiellon dynasty (royal dynasty from Lithuania) Poland forged an alliance with Lithuania. The 15th & 16th century period is referred to as Polish Golden Age.
In 1648 there was Poland was faced with a Swedish invasion, known as "The Deluge". As a result the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth was devastated and the Golden Age ended.
Between 1772 and 1795 the Kingdom of Poland was divided between Prussia, Austria and Russia. The central and the eastern provinces of Poland also went under the Russian Empire. Poland was united as a Duchy of Warsaw when Napoleon conquered Central Europe.
After the fall of Napoleon in 1815 Poland was split again by the Allies at the Congress of Vienna. Russia captured most of the Duchy of Warsaw. The eastern part was governed by the Russian Tsars who created the new Kingdom of Poland while the former eastern parts of Poland were directly included in the empire. After sometime Russia in effect captured the country.
The First World War led to the unification of once bifurcated Poland under an independent Republic of Poland. So soon after the surrender of Germany in November 1918, Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic.
In the Second World War Poland was attacked by the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. This invasion resulted in huge loss of life and property in Poland. Of all the countries involved in the war Poland lost the highest number of citizens.
The Second World War resulted in formation of new boundaries for central Europe by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt at Yalta. As a result Poland lost a third of its pre-second world war region that was under the soviet rule.
But for compensating this loss Poland was offered a large portion of Germany east of the Order of Neisse Rivers. Almost all the Germans residing in these areas flee from these regions while the Polish refugees from the East who desired Soviet rule occupied the places.
At the same time many Ukrainians were compelled to leave Poland and settle in Soviet Union. This forms a major factor behind the eclectic population of Poland.
- HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes. If periods are replaced by hyphens, these are the same as the voivodship codes from ISO standard 3166-2.
- FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, a U.S. government standard.
- NUTS: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics.
- Population: 2000 estimate. (Populations, areas, and capitals were provided by Karem Abdalla.).
- Former: Former provinces included in the new province. In most cases, provincial boundaries have changed. I listed each old province under the new province that contains its capital and the greater part of its territory, as far as I could determine.