A History of Poland

Essay by kuffstrHigh School, 10th grade December 2003

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Poland is located in Central Europe, to the east of Germany. It is slightly smaller than New Mexico. Poland is named after the Slavic tribe, Polane. The word polane in Slavic means field or plane. This describes Poland's terrain. Most of Poland is covered with small planes and gently rolling hills. Towards the south Poland is covered in mountains. Historically, Poland was an area of conflict because of its flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain.

Polish is the official language of Poland. It contains a number of dialects, in between Polish and German or Ukrainian. The Polish language is written using the Latin alphabet.

In Poland during the mid 1900's more than forty Polish cities had a population of over 100,000 inhabitants. Five major cities have a population of over 500,000. Warsaw is Poland's capital and by far has the largest population.

During most of Poland's history, Poland was a highly multiethnic society which included Byelorussians, Ukrainians, Jews and Germans.

Territorial changes after World War II however, changed the countries ethnic makeup. Today Poland has a relatively small ethnic diversity. 97.6% of Poland's citizens are Poles, 0.6% are Ukrainians, 0.5% are Byelorussians, and 1.3% are German. There are also small communities of Slovaks, Czechs, Lithuanians and Russians. There are 10 million Poles living outside of Poland. The United States has the largest number of Polish citizens. However, Russia, Germany, France, Canada, Brazil, Australia, the United Kingdom, and countries of the former Soviet Union also have sizable Polish communities.

Before World War II there were 3 million Jewish people living in Poland. However, the amount of Jewish residents in Poland communities decreased after World War II ended. The Nazis killed more than 90% of Jewish Poles that lived in Poland at the time. Those...