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20 mai 2011 5 20 /05 /mai /2011 11:13

Poland , officially the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska; Kashubian: Pòlskô Repùblika; Silesian:Polsko Republika), is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarusand Lithuania to the east;Dell Studio XPS 1640 Battery

and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north. The total area of Poland is 312,679 square kilometres (120,726 sq mi),making it the 69th largest country in the world and the 9th largest in Europe. Poland has a population of over 38 million people,which makes it the 34th most populous country in the world and the sixth most populous member of the European Union, being its most populous post-communist member.Dell Latitude D830 Battery

The establishment of a Polish state is often identified with the adoption of Christianity by its ruler Mieszko I in 966, over the territory similar to that of present-day Poland. The Kingdom of Poland was formed in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin, forming the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.Toshiba Satellite M65 battery

The Commonwealth ceased to exist in 1795 as the Polish lands were partitioned among the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire, and Austria. Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918. Two decades later, in September 1939, it was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, triggering World War II.Toshiba NB100 Battery

Over six million Polish citizens died in the war. Poland reemerged several years later within the Soviet sphere of influence as the People's Republic in existence until 1989.

During the Revolutions of 1989, communist rule was overthrown and soon after, Poland became what is constitutionally known as the "Third Polish Republic".Toshiba Satellite P10 Battery

Poland is a unitary state made up of sixteen voivodeships (Polish: województwo). Poland is a member of the European Union, NATO, theUnited Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).Sony VGP-BPS13B/B Battery

Since the end of the communist period, Poland has achieved a very high ranking in terms of human development[8] and standard of living.[9] Besides that, it has managed to preserve much of its cultural wealth, despite the vast destruction the country experienced in World War II and during the years of communist neglect.Sony VGN-FW11S Battery

Etymology

The source of the name Poland and the ethnonyms for the Poles include endonyms (the way Polish people refer to themselves and their country) and exonyms (the way other peoples refer to the Poles and their country). Endonyms and most exonyms for Poles and Poland derive from the name of the West Slavic tribe of the Polans (Polish Polanie).Hp pavilion dv6000 battery

The origin of the name Polanie itself is uncertain. It may derive from such Polish words as pole (field).[12] The early tribal inhabitants denominated it from the nature of the country. Lowlands and low hills predominate throughout the vast region from the Baltic shores to the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains.Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31S battery

Inter Alpes Huniae et Oceanum est Polonia, sic dicta in eorum idiomate quasi Campania is the description by Gervase of Tilbury in his Otia imperialia (Recreation for the emperor, 1211). In some languages the exonyms for Poland derive from another tribal name, Lechites (Lechici).Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31S battery

Prehistory

Historians have postulated that throughout Late Antiquity, many distinct ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now known as Poland. The ethnicity and linguistic affiliation of these groups has been hotly debated;HP NX8200 battery

in particular the time and route of the original settlement of Slavic peoples in these regions has been the subject of much controversy.

The most famous archeological find from Poland's prehistory and protohistory is the Biskupin fortified settlement (now reconstructed as a museum), dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.HP NX7400 battery

Piast dynasty

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, was baptized in 966, adopting Catholic Christianity as the nation's new official religion, to which the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next centuries. HP NW8440 battery

In the 12th century, Poland fragmented into several smaller states when Boles?aw divided the nation amongst his sons. In 1226 Konrad I of Masovia, one of the regional Piast dukes, invited the Teutonic Knights to help him fight the Baltic Prussian pagans; a decision which would ultimately lead to centuries of Poland's warfare with the Knights. HP NW8200 battery

In 1320, after a number of earlier unsuccessful attempts by regional rulers at uniting the Polish dukedoms, W?adys?aw I consolidated his power, took the throne and became the first King of a reunified Poland. His son, Casimir III, is remembered as one of the greatest Polish kings and is particularly famous for extending royal protection to Jews and providing the original impetus for the establishment of Poland's first university.HP NC6400 battery

The Golden Liberty of the nobles began to develop under Casimir's rule, when in return for their military support, the king made serious concessions to the aristocrats, finally establishing their status as superior to that of the townsmen, and aiding their rise to power. HP NC6200 battery

When Casimir died in 1370 he left no legitimate male heir and, considering his other male descendants either too young or unsuitable, was laid to rest as the last of the nation's Piast rulers.

Poland was also a centre of migration of peoples. HP NC6100 battery

The Jewish community began to settle and flourish in Poland during this era (see History of the Jews in Poland). The Black Death which affected most parts of Europe from 1347 to 1351 did not reach Poland.

Jagiellon dynasty

The rule of the Jagiellon dynasty, spanned the late Middle Ages and early Modern Era of Polish history.HP NC6000 battery

Beginning with the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila(W?adys?aw II Jagie??o), the Jagiellon dynasty (1386–1572) formed the Polish–Lithuanian union. The partnership brought vast Lithuania-controlled Rus' areasinto 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.HP NC4400 battery

In the Baltic Sea region Poland's struggle with the Teutonic Knights continued and included the Battle of Grunwald (1410), where a Polish-Lithuanian army inflicted a decisive defeat on the Teutonic Knights, both countries' main adversary, allowing Poland's and Lithuania's territorial expansion into the far north region of Livonia.HP 6710B battery

In 1466, after the Thirteen Years' War, King Casimir IV Jagiellon gave royal consent to the milestone Peace of Thorn, which created the future Duchy of Prussia, a Polish vassal. The Jagiellons at one point also established dynastic control over the kingdoms of Bohemia(1471 onwards) and Hungary.HP 6530B battery

In the south Poland confronted the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Tatars (by whom they were attacked on 75 separate occasions between 1474–1569),[16] and in the east helped Lithuania fight the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Some historians estimate that Crimean Tatar slave-raiding cost Poland one million of its population from 1494 to 1694.HP 6510B battery

Poland was developing as a feudal state, with a predominantly agricultural economy and an increasingly powerfullanded nobility. The Nihil novi act adopted by the Polish Sejm (parliament) in 1505, transferred most of thelegislative power from the monarch to the Sejm, an event which marked the beginning of the period known as "Golden Liberty", HP Pavilion DV6-1020ED Battery

when the state was ruled by the "free and equal" Polish nobility. Protestant Reformation movements made deep inroads into Polish Christianity, which resulted in the establishment of policies promoting religious tolerance, unique in Europe at that time. Dell Latitude E6400 battery

It is believed that this tolerance allowed the country to avoid the religious turmoil that spread over Western Europe during the late Middle Ages. The European Renaissance evoked in late Jagiellon Poland (kings Sigismund I the Old and Sigismund II Augustus) a sense of urgency in the need to promote a cultural awakening, and resultantly during this period Polish culture and the nation's economy flourished.Apple A1281 battery

In 1543 the Pole, Nicolaus Copernicus, an astronomer from Toru?, published his epochal works, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), and thus became the first proponent of a predictive mathematical model confirming heliocentric theory which ultimately became the accepted basic model for the practice of modern astronomy.Apple A1280 battery

Another major figure associated with the era is classicist poet Jan Kochanowski.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

The 1569 Union of Lublin established the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a more closely unified federal state with an elective monarchy, but which was governed largely by the nobility, through a system of local assemblies with a central parliament.Dell LATITUDE D800 battery

The establishment of the Commonwealth coincided with a period of great stability and prosperity in Poland, with the union soon thereafter becoming a great European power and a major cultural entity, occupying approximately one million square kilometres of central Europe, as well as an agent for the expansion of Western culture to the east. Dell Inspiron 6400 AC Adapter

Unfortunately it suffered from a number of dynastic crises during the reigns of the Vasa kings Sigismund III and W?adys?aw IV and found itself engaged in a major conflicts withRussia, Sweden and the Ottoman Empire, as well as a series of minor Cossack uprisings.Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/L Battery

Beginning in the middle of the 17th century, the nobles' democracy, suffering from internal disorder, gradually declined, thus leaving the once powerful Commonwealth extremely vulnerable to foreign intervention. From 1648, the CossackKhmelnytsky Uprising engulfed the south and east eventually leaving the Ukraine divided, HP 448007-001 battery

with the eastern part, lost by the Commonwealth, becoming a dependency of the Russian Tsar. This was soon followed by a Swedish invasion, which raged through the Polish heartlands and caused unprecedented damage to infrastructure. Famines and epidemics followed hostilities, and the population dropped from roughly 11 to 7 million.Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

However, under John III Sobieski the Commonwealth's military prowess was re-established, and in 1683 Polish forces played a major part in relieving Vienna of a major Turkish siege which was being conducted by Kara Mustafa in hope of eventually marching his troops further into Europe to spread Islam. HP Pavilion DV6-1223EO Battery

Unfortunately, Sobieski's reign was to mark the end of the nation's golden-era, and soon, finding itself subjected to almost constant warfare and suffering enormous population losses as well as massive damage to its economy, the Commonwealth fell into decline. The government became ineffective as a result of large scale internal conflicts Compaq CQ35-100 battery

(e.g. Lubomirski's Rokosz against John II Casimir and rebellious confederations) and corrupted legislative processes. The nobility fell under the control of a handful of magnates, and this, compounded with two relatively weak kings of the Saxon Wettin dynasty, Augustus II and Augustus III,HP DV9700 battery

as well as the rise of Russia and Prussia after the Great Northern War only served to worsen the Commonwealth's plight. Despite this The Commonwealth-Saxony personal union gave rise to the emergence of the Commonwealth's first reform movement, and laid the foundations for the Polish Enlightenment.Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

During the later part of the 18th century, the Commonwealth made attempts to implement fundamental internal reforms; with the second half of the century bringing a much improved economy, significant population growth and far-reaching progress in the areas of education, intellectual life, art, and especially toward the end of the period, evolution of the social and political system.HP Pavilion DV8 battery

The most populous capital city of Warsaw replaced Gda?sk (Danzig) as the leading centre of commerce, and the role of the more prosperous townsfolk soon increased. The royal election of 1764 resulted in the elevation of Stanis?aw August Poniatowski, a refined and worldly aristocrat connected to a majormagnate faction, to the monarchy.Compaq CQ50 battery

However, a one-time lover of Empress Catherine II of Russia, the new King spent much of his reign torn between his desire to implement reforms necessary to save his nation, and his perceived necessity to remain in a relationship with his Russian sponsor. This ultimately led to the formation of the 1768 Bar Confederation;HP Pavilion DV7 battery

a szlachta rebellion directed against Russia and the Polish king which fought to preserve Poland's independence and the szlachta's traditional privileges. Unfortunately, attempts at reform provoked the union's neighbours, and in 1772 the First Partition of the Commonwealth by Russia, Austria and Prussia took place; Ibm THINKPAD X200 Battery

an act which the "Partition Sejm", under considerable duress, eventually "ratified" fait accompli. Disregarding this loss, in 1773 the king established the Commission of National Education, the first government education authority in Europe.

The long-lasting Great Sejm convened by Stanis?aw August in 1788 successfully adopted the May 3 Constitution, Ibm THINKPAD X200 Battery

the first set of modern supreme national laws in Europe. However, this document, accused by detractors of harbouring revolutionary sympathies, soon generated strong opposition from the Commonwealth's nobles and conservatives as well as from Catherine II, who,Ibm THINKPAD X200 Battery

determined to prevent the rebirth of a strong Commonwealth set about planning the final dismemberment of the Polish-Lithuanian state. Russia was greatly aided in achieving its goal when the Targowica Confederation, an organisation of Polish nobles, appealed to the Empressfor help, SONY VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

and in May 1792 Russian forces crossed the Commonwealth's frontier, thus beginning the Polish-Russian War. The defensive war fought by the Poles and Lithuanians ended prematurely when the King, convinced of the futility of resistance, capitulated and joined the Targowica Confederation. Asus M52N Battery

The Confederation then took over the government; but Russia and Prussia, fearing the mere existence of a Polish state, arranged for, and subsequently in 1793, executed the Second Partition of the Commonwealth, which left the country deprived of so much territory that it was practically incapable of independent existence. Dell Latitude E6400 ATG Battery

Eventually, in 1795, following the failed Ko?ciuszko Uprising, the Commonwealth was partitioned one last time by all three of its more powerful neighbours, and with this, effectively ceased to exist.

The Age of Partitions

Poles rebelled several times against the partitioners, particularly near the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.SONY VAIO VGN-FW21L Battery

One of the most famous and successful attempts at securing renewed Polish independence took place in 1794, during the Ko?ciuszko Uprising, at the Rac?awice whereTadeusz Kosciuszko, a popular and distinguished general who had served under Washington in America, led peasants and some polish regulars into battle against numerically superior Russian forces.SONY VAIO VGN-FW21M Battery

In 1807, Napoleon I of France recreated a Polish state, the Duchy of Warsaw, but after the Napoleonic Wars, Poland was again divided in 1815 by the victorious Allies at the Congress of Vienna. The eastern portion was ruled by the Russian tsar as a Congress Kingdom which possessed a very liberal constitution. SONY VAIO VGN-FW21Z Battery

However, the tsars soon reduced Polish freedoms, and Russia eventually de facto annexed the country. Thus in the latter half of the 19th century, only Austrian-ruled Galicia, and particularly the Free City of Kraków, was able to become a centre for Polish cultural life.SONY VAIO VGN-FW33GW Battery

Throughout the period of the partitions, political and cultural repression of the Polish nation led to the organisation of a number of uprisings against the authorities of the occupying Russian, Prussian and Austrian governments. Notable amongst these are the November Uprising of 1830 and January Uprising of 1863, Dell XPS M1210 Battery

both of which were attempts to free Poland from the rule of tsarist Russia. The November uprising began on 29 November 1830 in Warsaw when, led by Lieutenant Piotr Wysocki, young non-commissioned officers at the Imperial Russian Army's military academy in that city revolted. Dell KM958 battery

They were soon joined by large segments of Polish society, and together forced Warsaw's Russian garrison to withdraw north of the city.

Over the course of the next seven months, Polish forces successfully defeated the Russian armies of Field Marshal Hans Karl von Diebitsch and a number of other Russian commanders;Dell Studio 1555 battery

however, finding themselves in a position unsupported by any other foreign powers, save distant France and the new-born United States, and with Prussia and Austria refusing to allow the import of military supplies through their territories, the Poles accepted that the uprising was doomed to failure. Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

Upon the surrender of Warsaw to General Ivan Paskievich, many Polish troops, feeling they could not go on, withdrew into Germany and there laid down their arms. Poles would have to wait another 32 years for another opportunity to free their homeland.Sony VGP-BPS13/S battery

When in January 1863 a new Polish uprising against Russian rule began, it did so as a spontaneous protest by young Poles against conscription into theImperial Russian Army. However, the insurrectionists, despite being joined by high-ranking Polish-Lithuanian officers and numerous politicians were still severely outnumbered and lacking in foreign support. Sony VGP-BPS13A/B battery

They were forced to resort to guerrilla warfare tactics and ultimately failed to win any major military victories. Afterwards no major uprising was witnessed in the Russian controlled Congress Poland and Poles resorted instead to fostering economic and cultural self-improvement.Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery

Despite the political unrest experienced during the partitions, Poland did benefit from large scale industrialisation and modernisation programs, instituted by the occupying powers, which helped it develop into a more economically coherent and viable entity. Sony VGP-BPL9 battery

This was particularly true in the western provinces annexed by Prussia (later becoming part of the German Empire); an area which eventually, thanks largely to the Greater Poland Uprising was reconstituted as part of the Second Polish Republic and became one of its most productive regions.Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery

Reconstitution of Poland

During World War I, all the Allies agreed on the reconstitution of Poland that United States President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed in Point 13 of his Fourteen Points. Shortly after the armistice with Germany in November 1918, Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic (II Rzeczpospolita Polska). Sony VGP-BPL15 battery

It reaffirmed its independence after a series of military conflicts, the most notable being the Polish–Soviet War (1919–1921) when Poland inflicted a crushing defeat on the Red Army at the Battle of Warsaw, an event which is considered to have ultimately halted the advance of Communism into Europe and forced Lenin to rethink his objective of achieving global socialism. HP Pavilion dv6000 Battery

Nowadays the event is often referred to as the 'Miracle at the Vistula'.

During this period, Poland successfully managed to fuse the territories of the three former partitioning powers into a cohesive nation state. Railways were restructured to direct traffic towards Warsaw instead of the former imperial capitals, HP Pavilion dv8000 battery

a new network of national roads was gradually built up and a major seaport was opened on the Baltic Coast, so as to allow Polish exports and imports to bypass the politically charged Free City of Gda?sk.

The inter-war period heralded in a new era of Polish politics. HP PAVILION DV6000 Battery

Whilst Polish political activists had faced heavy censorship in the decades up until the First World War, the country now found itself trying to establish a new political tradition. For this reason, many exiled Polish activists, such as Jan Paderewski (who would later become Prime Minister) returned home to help;HP PAVILION DV8000 Battery

a great number of them then went on to take key positions in the newly formed political and governmental structures. Tragedy struck in 1922 when Gabriel Narutowicz, inaugural holder of the Presidency, was assassinated at the Zach?ta Gallery in Warsaw by painter and right-wing nationalist Eligiusz Niewiadomski.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ Battery

The 1926 May Coup of Józef Pi?sudski turned rule of the Second Polish Republic over to the Sanacja movement. By the1930s Poland had become increasingly authoritarian; a number of 'undesirable' political parties, such as the Polish Communists, had been banned and following Pi?sudski's death, HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

the regime, unable to appoint a new leader, began to show its inherent internal weaknesses and unwillingness to cooperate in any way with other political parties.

World War II

The Sanacja movement controlled Poland until the start of World War II in 1939, HP Pavilion DV8000 battery

when Nazi Germany invaded on 1 September and the Soviet invasion of Poland followed by breaking the Soviet–Polish Non-Aggression Pact on 17 September. Warsaw capitulated on 28 September 1939. As agreed in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Poland was split into two zones, HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

one occupied by Germany while the eastern provinces fell under the control of the Soviet Union.

Poland made the fourth-largest troop contribution to the Allied war effort, after the Soviets, the British and the Americans. HP Pavilion DV8000 battery

Polish troops fought under the command of both the command of the Polish Government in Exile in the western theatre of war and under Soviet leadership in the East European theatre. The Polish expeditionary corps, which was controlled from by the exiled pre-war government based in London, SONY VAIO VGN-FZ18 Battery

played an important role in the Italian and North African Campaigns, they are particularly well remembered for their conduct at the Battle of Monte Cassino, a conflict which culminated in the raising of a Polish flag over the ruins of the mountain-top abbey by the 12th Podolian Uhlans.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ21E Battery

The Polish forces in the West were commanded by Lieutenant General W?adys?aw Anders who had received his command from Prime Minister of the exiled government W?adys?aw Sikorski. On the eastern front, the Soviet-backedPolish 1st Army distinguished itself in the battles for Berlin and Warsaw, although its actions in support of the latter have often been criticised.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

Polish servicemen were also active in the theatres of naval and air warfare; during the Battle of Britain polish squadrons such as the No. 303 "Ko?ciuszko" fighter squadron  achieved great success, and by the end of the war the exiled Polish Air Forces could claim 769 confirmed kills. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

Meanwhile, the navy was active in the protection of convoys in the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to the organised units of the 1st Army and the Forces in the West, the domestic underground resistance movement, the Armia Krajowa (Home Army), fought to free Poland from German occupation and establish an independent Polish state.SONY VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

Thewartime resistance movement in Poland was one of the three largest resistance movements of the entire war  and encompassed a uniquely large range of clandestine activities, essentially functioning as an underground state complete with underground universities and courts.SONY VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery

The resistance was however, largely loyal to the exiled government and generally resented the idea of a communist Poland; for this reason, on 1st August 1944 they initiated Operation Tempest and thus began the Warsaw Uprising. The objective of the uprising was to drive the German occupiers from the city and help with the larger fight against Germany and the Axis powers, SONY VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery

however secondary motives for the uprising sought to see Warsaw liberated before the Soviets could reach the capital, so as to underscore Polish sovereignty by empowering the Polish Underground State before the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control.SONY VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S Battery

However, a lack of available allied military aid and Stalin's reluctance to allow the 1st Army to help their fellow countrymen take the city, ultimately led to the uprising's failure and subsequent planned destruction of the city.

During the war, German forces, under direct order from Adolf Hitler, set up six major extermination camps, all of which were established on Polish territory; Sony VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

these included both the notorious Treblinka and Auschwitz camps. This allowed the Nazis to transport German Jews outside of 'German' territory, as well as import Jews and other 'undesirables' from across occupied Europe to be 'liquidated' in the concentration camps set up in the General Government. Sony VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery

Other undesirables included Polish intelligentsia, Communists, Roma peoples and Soviet Prisoners of War. However, since millions of Jews lived in pre-war Poland, Jewish victims make up the largest percentage of all victims of the Nazis' extermination program. It is estimated that around 90% (or about 3 million members) of pre-war Poland's Jewry were put to death by the Nazis during the Second World War. Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S Battery

Throughout theoccupation, many members of the Armia Krajowa, supported by the Polish government in exile, and millions of ordinary Poles — at great risk to themselves and their families — engaged in rescuing Jews from the Nazis. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the largest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.Sony VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery

To date, 6,135 Poles have been awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations by the State of Israel – more than any other nation. Some estimates put the number of Poles involved in rescue at up to 3 million, and credit Poles with saving up to around 450,000 Jews from certain death.Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/T Battery

At the war's conclusion, Poland's borders were shifted westwards, pushing the eastern border to the Curzon Line. Meanwhile, the western border was moved to theOder-Neisse line. The new Poland emerged 20% smaller by 77,500 square kilometres (29,900 sq mi). SONY VAIO VGN-FZ180E Battery

The shift forced the migration of millions of people, most of whom were Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Jews.[35] Of all the countries involved in the war, Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens: over 6 million perished — nearly one-fifth of Poland's population — half of them Polish Jews.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ220E Battery

Over 90% of the death toll came through non-military losses. Only in the 1970s did Poland again approach its prewar population level.

Postwar communist Poland

At the insistence of Joseph Stalin, the Yalta Conference sanctioned the formation of a new Polish provisional and pro-Communist coalition government in Moscow, SONY VAIO VGN-FZ340E Battery

which ignored the Polish government-in-exile based in London; a move which angered many Poles who considered it a betrayal by the Western Allies. In 1944, Stalin had made guarantees to Churchilland Roosevelt that he would maintain Poland's sovereignty and allow democratic elections to take place; SONY VAIO VGN-FZ460E Battery

however, upon achieving victory in 1945, the occupying Soviet authorities organised an election which constituted nothing more than a sham and was ultimately used to claim the 'legitimacy' of Soviet hegemony over Polish affairs. The Soviet Union instituted a new communist government in Poland, analogous to much of the rest of the Eastern Bloc.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ480E Battery

Despite widespread objections, this government accepted the Soviet annexation of the pre-war Eastern regions of Poland  (in particular the cities of Wilnoand Lwów) and agreed to the permanent garrisoning of Red Army units on Poland's territory.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31E Battery

Military alignment within theWarsaw Pact throughout the Cold War came about as a direct result of this change in Poland's political culture and in Western eyes came to characterise the fully-fledged integration of Poland into the brotherhood of communist nations. ThePeople's Republic of Poland (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa) was officially proclaimed in 1952.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31B Battery

In 1956, the régime of W?adys?aw Gomu?ka became temporarily more liberal, freeing many people from prison and expanding some personal freedoms. A similar situation repeated itself in the 1970s under Edward Gierek, but most of the time persecution of anti-communist opposition groups persisted. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31J Battery

Despite this, Poland was at the time considered to be one of the least repressive Eastern Bloc states.

Labour turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity" ("Solidarno??"), which over time became a political force. Despite persecution and imposition of martial law in 1981,SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31M Battery

it eroded the dominance of the Communist Party and by 1989 had triumphed in Poland's first free and democratic parliamentary elections since the end of the Second World War. Lech Wa??sa, a Solidarity candidate, eventually won the presidency in 1990. The Solidarity movement heralded thecollapse of communism across Eastern Europe.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31Z Battery

Present day Poland

A shock therapy programme, initiated by Leszek Balcerowicz in the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its socialist-style planned economy into a market economy. As with all other post-communist countries, Poland suffered temporary slumps in social and economic standards,SONY VAIO VGN-FZ38M Battery

but it became the first post-communist country to reach its pre-1989GDP levels, which it achieved by 1995 largely thanks to its booming economy.

Most visibly, there were numerous improvements in human rights, such as the freedom of speech. SONY VGP-BPS8 Battery

In 1991, Poland became a member of the Visegrád Groupand joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance in 1999 along with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Poles then voted to join the European Union in a referendum in June 2003, with Poland becoming a full member on 1 May 2004. SONY VGP-BPS13/S Battery

Subsequently Poland joined the Schengen Area in 2007, as a result of which, the country's borders with other member states of the European Union have been dismantled, allowing for full freedom of movement within the EU. In contrast to this, the section of Poland's eastern border now comprising the external EU border with Belarus, SONY VGP-BPS13A/B Battery

Russia and Ukraine, has become increasingly well protected, and has led in part to the coining of the phrase 'Fortress Europe', in reference to the seeming 'impossibility' of gaining entry to the EU for citizens of the former Soviet Union.SONY VGP-BPS13B/B Battery

On April 10, 2010, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczy?ski, along with 89 other high-ranking Polish officials died in a plane crash nearSmolensk, Russia. The president's party were on their way to attend an annual service of commemoration for the victims of the Katy? massacre when the tragedy took place.SONY VGP-BPS13A/S Battery

Geography

Poland's territory extends across several geographical regions, between latitudes 49° and 55° N, and longitudes 14° and 25° E. In the northwest is the Baltic seacoast, which extends from the Bay of Pomerania to the Gulf of Gda?sk. SONY VGP-BPS13AS Battery

This coast is marked by several spits, coastal lakes (former bays that have been cut off from the sea), and dunes. The largely straight coastline is indented by the Szczecin Lagoon, the Bay of Puck, and the Vistula Lagoon. The centre and parts of the north lie within the North European Plain.Dell Inspiron 1320n Battery

Rising gently above these lowlands is a geographical region comprising the four hilly districts of moraines and moraine-dammed lakes formed during and after the Pleistocene ice age. These lake districts are the Pomeranian Lake District, the Greater Polish Lake District, the Kashubian Lake District, and theMasurian Lake District.SONY VGP-BPS13AS Battery

The Masurian Lake District is the largest of the four and covers much of northeastern Poland. The lake districts form part of the Baltic Ridge, a series of moraine belts along the southern shore of the Baltic Sea.

South of the Northern European Lowlands lie the regions of Silesia and Masovia, which are marked by broad ice-age river valleys.Dell Inspiron 1320n Battery

Farther south lies the Polish mountain region, including the Sudetes, the Cracow-Cz?stochowa Upland, the ?wi?tokrzyskie Mountains, and the Carpathian Mountains, including theBeskids. The highest part of the Carpathians is the Tatra Mountains, along Poland's southern border.Dell Studio 1450 Battery

Geology

The geological structure of Poland has been shaped by the continental collision of Europe and Africa over the past 60 million years, on the one hand, and the Quaternary glaciations of northern Europe, on the other. Both processes shaped the Sudetes and the Carpathian Mountains. Dell Studio 1457 Battery

The moraine landscape of northern Poland contains soils made up mostly of sand or loam, while the ice age river valleys of the south often containloess. The Cracow-Cz?stochowa Upland, the Pieniny, and the Western Tatras consist of limestone, while the High Tatras, the Beskids, and the Karkonoszeare made up mainly of granite and basalts.Dell Latitude D610 Battery

The Polish Jura Chain is one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth.

Poland has 21 mountains over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) in elevation, all in the High Tatras. The Polish Tatras, which consist of the High Tatras and the Western Tatras, is the highest mountain group of Poland and of the entireCarpathian range.Dell Studio 1457 Battery

In the High Tatras lies Poland’s highest point, the northwestern peak of Rysy, 2,499 metres (8,199 ft) in elevation. At its foot lies the mountain lake Morskie Oko.

The second highest mountain group in Poland is the Beskids, whose highest peak is Babia Góra, at 1,725 metres (5,659 ft).Toshiba Satellite M60 battery

The next highest mountain group is the Karkonosze, whose highest point is Sn?žka, at 1,602 metres (5,256 ft). Among the most beautiful mountains of Poland are the Bieszczady Mountains in the far southeast of Poland, whose highest point in Poland is Tarnica, with an elevation of 1,346 metres (4,416 ft).Dell Latitude D830 Battery

Tourists also frequent the Gorce Mountains in Gorce National Park, with elevations around 1,300 metres (4,265 ft), and the Pieniny in Pieniny National Park, with elevations around 1,000 metres (3,281 ft). The lowest point in Poland—at 2 metres (6.6 ft) below sea level—is at Raczki Elbl?skie, near Elbl?g in the Vistula Delta.Dell Latitude D620 Battery

B??dów Desert is a desert located in southern Poland in the Silesian Voivodeship and stretches over the Zag??bie D?browskie region. It has a total area of 32 square kilometres (12 sq mi). It is the only desert located in Poland. It is one of only five natural deserts in Europe. It is the warmest desert that appears at this latitude.Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Battery

It was created thousands of years ago by a melting glacier. The specific geological structure has been of big importance. The average thickness of the sand layer is about 40 metres (131 ft), with a maximum of 70 metres (230 ft), which made the fast and deep drainage very easy.Sony VGN-FW11S Battery

The sea’s activity in S?owi?ski National Park created sand dunes which in the course of time separated the bay from the Baltic Sea. As waves and wind carry sand inland the dunes slowly move, at a speed of 3 to 10 metres (9.8 to 32.8 ft) meters per year. Some dunes are quite high – up to 30 metres (98 ft). Sony VGN-FW11M Battery

The highest peak of the park — Rowokol (115 metres / 377 feet above sea level) — is also an excellent observation point.

Waters

The longest rivers are the Vistula (Polish: Wis?a), 1,047 kilometres (651 mi) long; the Oder (Polish: Odra) which forms part of Poland’s western border, 854 kilometres (531 mi) long; Sony VGN-FW139E/H battery

its tributary, the Warta, 808 kilometres (502 mi) long; and the Bug, a tributary of the Vistula, 772 kilometres (480 mi) long. The Vistula and the Oder flow into the Baltic Sea, as do numerous smaller rivers in Pomerania.

The ?yna and the Angrapa flow by way of the Pregolya to the Baltic, and the Czarna Ha?cza flows into the Baltic through the Neman.Dell Latitude E5400 Battery

While the great majority of Poland’s rivers drain into the Baltic Sea, Poland’s Beskids are the source of some of the upper tributaries of the Orava, which flows via the Váh and theDanube to the Black Sea. The eastern Beskids are also the source of some streams that drain through the Dniester to the Black Sea.Dell Latitude E4200 Battery

Poland’s rivers have been used since early times for navigation. The Vikings, for example, traveled up the Vistula and the Oder in their longships. In the Middle Ages and in early modern times, when the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was the breadbasket of Europe;Dell Inspiron 300M Battery

the shipment of grain and other agricultural products down the Vistula toward Gda?sk and onward to Western Europe took on great importance.

With almost ten thousand closed bodies of water covering more than 1 hectare (2.47 acres) each, Poland has one of the highest number of lakes in the world. In Europe, only Finland has a greater density of lakes. Dell Studio 1737 battery

The largest lakes, covering more than 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi), are Lake ?niardwy and Lake Mamry in Masuria, and Lake ?ebsko and Lake Drawsko inPomerania.

In addition to the lake districts in the north (in Masuria, Pomerania, Kashubia, Lubuskie, and Greater Poland), there is also a large number of mountain lakes in the Tatras, of which the Morskie Oko is the largest in area.-shop.co.uk/dell-inspiron-e1505-battery.html">Dell Inspiron E1505 battery

The lake with the greatest depth—of more than 100 metres (328 ft)—is Lake Ha?cza in the Wigry Lake District, east of Masuria in Podlaskie Voivodeship.

Among the first lakes whose shores were settled are those in the Greater Polish Lake District.Dell RM791 battery

The stilt housesettlement of Biskupin, occupied by more than one thousand residents, was founded before the 7th century BC by people of the Lusatian culture.

Lakes have always played an important role in Polish history and continue to be of great importance to today's modern Polish society. Acer Aspire One battery 10400mAh

The ancestors of today’s Poles, the Polanie, built their first fortresses on islands in these lakes. The legendary Prince Popiel is supposed to have ruled from Kruszwica on Lake Gop?o. The first historically documented ruler of Poland, Duke Mieszko I, had his palace on an island in the Warta River in Pozna?.Dell Precision M70 Battery

Nowadays the Polish lakes provide an invaluable location for the pursuit of water sports such asyachting and wind-surfing.

The Polish Baltic coast is approximately 528 kilometres (328 mi) long and extends from ?winouj?cie on the islands of Usedom and Wolin in the west to Krynica Morska on the Vistula Spit in the east. SONY VGN -FZ210CE Battery

For the most part, Poland has a smooth coastline, which has been shaped by the continual movement of sand by currents and winds from west to east. This continual erosion and deposition has formed cliffs, dunes, and spits, many of which have migrated landwards to close off former lagoons, such as ?ebsko Lake in S?owi?ski National Park.Toshiba Satellite L305 Battery

Prior to the end of the Second World War and subsequent change in national borders, Poland had only a very small coastline; this was situated at the end of the 'Polish Corridor', the only internationally recognised Polish territory which afforded the country access to the sea.Toshiba Satellite T4900 Battery

However after World War II, the redrawing of Poland's borders and resulting 'shift' of the country to the West left it with a greatly expanded coastline, thus allowing for far greater access to the sea than was ever previously possible. The significance of this event, and importance of it to Poland's future as a major industrialised nation, was allured to by the 1945 Wedding to the Sea.Toshiba PA3399U-2BRS battery

The largest spits are Hel Peninsula and the Vistula Spit. The largest Polish Baltic island is Wolin. The largest port cities are Gdynia, Gda?sk, Szczecin, and ?winouj?cie. The main coastal resorts are Sopot, Mi?dzyzdroje, Ko?obrzeg, ?eba, W?adys?awowo, and the Hel Peninsula.Sony VGP-BPS10 battery

Land use

Forests cover 28.8% of Poland’s land area. More than half of the land is devoted to agriculture. While the total area under cultivation is declining, the remaining farmland is more intensively cultivated.

More than 1% of Poland’s territory, 3,145 square kilometres (1,214 sq mi), is protected within 23 Polish national parks.Sony VGP-BPS9 battery

Three more national parks are projected for Masuria, the Cracow-Cz?stochowa Upland, and the eastern Beskids. In addition, wetlands along lakes and rivers in central Poland are legally protected, as are coastal areas in the north. There are over 120 areas designated as landscape parks, along with numerous nature reserves and otherprotected areas.Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

Present day Poland is a country with great agricultural prospects; there are over two million private farms in the country, and Poland is the leading producer in Europe of potatoes and rye and is one of the world's largest producers of sugar beets and triticale. This has led Poland to be described on occasion as the future 'bread basket of the European Union'. Sony VGP-BPS22 battery

However, despite employing around 16% of the workforce, agricultural output in Poland remains low and the industry is characterised as largely inefficient due to the large number of small, independent farms. This situation is likely to soon change for the better with the government debating agricultural reform and currently pursuing the option of auctioning off large tracts of state-owned agricultural land.Sony VGP-BPL8 battery

Biodiversity

Phytogeographically, Poland belongs to the Central European province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of Poland can be subdivided into three ecoregions: the Baltic mixed forests, Central European mixed forests and Carpathian montane conifer forests.Sony VGP-BPS14 battery

Many animals that have since died out in other parts of Europe still survive in Poland, such as the wisent in theancient woodland of the Bia?owie?a Forest and in Podlaskie. Other such species include the brown bear inBia?owie?a, in the Tatras, and in the Beskids, the gray wolf and the Eurasian Lynx in various forests, Sony VGP-BPS21 battery

the moose in northern Poland, and the beaver in Masuria, Pomerania, and Podlaskie.

In the forests, one also encounters game animals, such as Red Deer, Roe Deer and Wild Boars. In eastern Poland there are a number of ancient woodlands, like Bia?owie?a, that have never been cleared by people. Toshiba Satellite A200 Battery

There are also large forested areas in the mountains, Masuria, Pomerania, Lubusz Land and Lower Silesia.

Poland is the most important breeding ground for European migratory birds. Out of all of the migratory birds who come to Europe for the summer, one quarter breed in Poland, Toshiba Satellite M300 Battery

particularly in the lake districts and the wetlands along the Biebrza, the Narew, and the Warta, which are part of nature reserves or national parks.

Climate

The climate is mostly temperate throughout the country. The climate is oceanic in the north and west and becomes gradually warmer and continental towards the south and east.Toshiba Satellite 1200 Battery

Summers are generally warm, with average temperatures between 17 °C (63 °F) and 20 °C (68.0 °F). Winters are cold, with average temperatures around 3 °C (37.4 °F) in the northwest and ?6 °C (21.2 °F) in the northeast. Precipitation falls throughout the year, although, especially in the east; winter is drier than summer.SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery

The warmest region in Poland is Lower Silesian located in south-western Poland where temperatures in the summer average between 22 °C (71.6 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F) but can go as high as 32 °C (89.6 °F) to 38 °C (100.4 °F) on some days in the warmest month of July and August. SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery

The warmest cities in Poland are Tarnów, which is situated in Lesser Poland and Wroc?aw, which is located in Lower Silesian. The average temperatures in Wroc?aw being 20 °C (68 °F) in the summer and 0 °C (32.0 °F) in the winter, but Tarnów has the longest summer in whole Poland, which lasts for 115 days, from mid-May to mid-September.SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery

The coldest region of Poland is in the northeast in the Podlaskie Voivodeship near the border of Belarus. Usually the coldest city is Suwa?ki. The climate is affected by cold fronts which come from Scandinavia and Siberia. The average temperature in the winter in Podlaskie ranges from ?6 °C (21.2 °F) to ?4 °C (24.8 °F).SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery

Politics

Poland is a democracy, with a president as a head of state, whose current constitution dates from 1997. 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. SONY VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

The president is elected by popular vote every five years. The current president is Bronis?aw Komorowski. Komorowski replaced President Lech Kaczynski following an April 10, 2010 air crash which claimed the life of President Kaczynski, his wife, and 94 other people, during a visit to western Russia for events marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. SONY VGP-BPS21/S Battery

The current prime minister, Donald Tusk, was appointed in 2007 after his party made significant gains in that year's parliamentary elections.

Polish voters elect a bicameral parliament consisting of a 460-member lower house (Sejm) and a 100-member Senate (Senat). SONY VGP-BPS21B Battery

The Sejm is elected under proportional representation according to the d'Hondt method, a method similar to that used in many parliamentary political systems. The Senat, on the other hand, is elected under a rare plurality bloc voting method where several candidates with the highest support are elected from each constituency.SONY VGP-BPS21A Battery

With the exception of ethnic minority parties, only candidates of political parties receiving at least 5% of the total national vote can enter the Sejm. When sitting in joint session, members of the Sejm and Senat form the National Assembly (theZgromadzenie Narodowe). SONY VGP-BPS21 Battery

The National Assembly is formed on three occasions: when a new President takes the oath of office; when an indictment against the President of the Republic is brought to the State Tribunal (Trybuna? Stanu); and when a president's permanent incapacity to exercise his duties because of the state of his health is declared. To date only the first instance has occurred.Sony VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

The judicial branch plays an important role in decision-making. Its major institutions include the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland (S?d Najwy?szy); the Supreme Administrative Court of the Republic of Poland (Naczelny S?d Administracyjny); the Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Poland (Trybuna? Konstytucyjny);Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery

and the State Tribunal of the Republic of Poland (Trybuna? Stanu). On the approval of the Senat, the Sejm also appoints the ombudsman or the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection (Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich) for a five-year term. Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery

The ombudsman has the duty of guarding the observance and implementation of the rights and liberties of Polish citizens and residents, of the law and of principles of community life and social justice.

Law

Constitution of Poland is the supreme law in contemporary Poland, and the Polish legal system is based on the principle of civil rights, governed by the code of Civil Law.Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery

Historically, the most famous Polish legal act is the Constitution of May 3, 1791. HistorianNorman Davies describes it as the first of its kind in Europe. The Constitution was instituted as a Government Act (Polish:Ustawa rz?dowa) and then adopted on May 3, 1791 by the Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

Primarily, it was designed to redress long-standing political defects of the federative Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and its Golden Liberty. Previously only the Henrican articles signed by each of Poland's elected kings could perform the function of a set of basic laws. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31E Battery

The new Constitution introduced political equality between townspeople and the nobility (szlachta), and placed the peasants under the protection of the government, thus mitigating the worst abuses of serfdom. The Constitution abolished pernicious parliamentary institutions such as the liberum veto, SONY VAIO VGN-FW31B Battery

which at one time had placed the sejm at the mercy of any deputy who might choose, or bebribed by an interest or foreign power, to have rescinded all the legislation that had been passed by that sejm. The May 3rd Constitution sought to supplant the existing anarchy fostered by some of the country's reactionary magnates, with a moreegalitarian and democratic constitutional monarchy.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31M Battery

Unfortunately, the adoption of such a liberal constitution was treated as a grave threat by Poland's more autocratic neighbours. In response Prussia, Austria and Russia formed an anti-Polish alliance and over the next decade collaborated with one another topartition their weaker neighbour and ultimately destroy the Polish state. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31Z Battery

In the words of two of its co-authors, Ignacy Potocki andHugo Ko???taj, the constitution represented "the last will and testament of the expiring Fatherland." Despite this, its text influenced many later democratic movements across the globe.Dell Inspiron 6400 AC Adapter

Poland's current constitution was adopted by the National Assembly of Poland on 2 April 1997, approved by a national referendum on 25 May 1997, and came into effect on 17 October 1997. It guarantees a multi-party state, the freedoms of religion, speech and assembly, and specifically casts off many Communist ideals to create a 'free market economic system'. Dell LATITUDE D800 battery

It requires public officials to pursue ecologically sound public policy and acknowledges the inviolability of the home, the right to form trade unions, and to strike, whilst at the same time prohibiting the practices of forced medical experimentation, torture and corporal punishment.Dell Inspiron Mini 12 battery

Foreign Relations

In recent years, Poland has extended its responsibilities and position in European and international affairs, supporting and establishing friendly relations with many 'Western' nations and a large number of 'developing' countries.Dell Inspiron 1720 battery

In 1994, Poland became an associate member of the European Union (EU) and its defensive arm, the Western European Union (WEU), having subimtted preliminary documentation for full membership in 1996, it formally joined the European Union in May 2004, along with the other members of the Visegrád group.Dell Inspiron 1564 battery

In 1996, Poland achieved full OECD membership, and at the 1997 Madrid Summit was invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in the first wave of policy enlargement finally becoming a full member of NATO in March 1999.Dell Inspiron 1464 battery

As changes since the fall of Communism in 1989 have redrawn the map of central Europe, Poland has tried to forge strong and mutually-beneficial relationships with its seven new neighbours, this has notably included signing 'friendship treaties' to replace links severed by the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Dell XPS 1340 battery

The Poles have forged special relationships with Lithuania and particularly Ukraine, with whom they will co-host the UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament, in an effort to firmly anchor these states to the 'West' and provide them with an alternative to aligning themselves with the Russian Federation. Dell INSPIRON 9100 battery

Despite many positive developments in the region, Poland has found itself in a position where it must seek to defend the rights of ethnic Poles living in the former Soviet Union; this is particularly true of Belarus, where in 2005 the Lukashenko regime launched a campaign against the Polish ethnic minority.Dell Inspiron N4010 battery

Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union and, ever since joining in 2004, has pursued policies to increase its role in European affairs. Poland has a grand total of 51 representatives in the European Parliament and in addition to this, since 14 July 2009, former Prime Minister of PolandJerzy Buzek, has been President of the European Parliament.Dell N3010 battery

Administrative divisions

Poland's current voivodeships (provinces) are largely based on the country's historic regions, whereas those of the past two decades (to 1998) had been centred on and named for individual cities. HP Pavilion DV6-1210SA battery

The new units range in area from less than 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 sq mi) for Opole Voivodeship to more than 35,000 square kilometres (14,000 sq mi) for Masovian Voivodeship. Administrative authority at voivodeship level is shared between a government-appointed voivode (governor), an elected regional assembly (sejmik) and an executive elected by that assembly.HP Pavilion DM4 battery

The voivodeships are subdivided into powiats (often referred to in English as counties), and these are further divided into gminas(also known as communes or municipalities). Major cities normally have the status of both gmina and powiat. Poland currently has 16 voivodeships, 379 powiats (including 65 cities with powiat status), and 2,478 gminas.HP Pavilion DM3 battery

Military

The Polish armed forces are composed of four branches: Land Forces (Wojska L?dowe), Navy (Marynarka Wojenna), Air Force (Si?y Powietrzne) andSpecial Forces (Wojska Specjalne). The military is subordinate to the Minister for National Defence, however its sole commander in chief is the President of the Republic.Compaq CQ35-100 battery

The Polish army currently consists of 65,000 active personnel, whilst the navy and air force respectively employ 14,300 and 26,126 servicemen and women. The Polish Navy is one of the bigger navies on the Baltic Sea and is mostly involved in Baltic Sea operations such as search and rescue provision for the section of the Baltic under Polish command,HP DV9700 battery

as well as hydrographic measurements and research; recently however, the Polish Navy played a more international role as part of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, providing logistical support for the United States Navy. The current position of the Polish Air Force is much the same; HP Compaq 491278-001 battery

it has routinely taken part in Baltic Air Policing assignments, but otherwise, with the exception of a number of units serving in Afghanistan, has seen no active combat since the end of the Second World War. In 2003, the F-16C Block 52 was chosen as the new general multi-role fighter for the air force, the first deliveries taking place in November 2006;HP Compaq HSTNN-LB51 battery

it is expected (2010) that the Polish Air Force will create three squadrons of F-16s, which will all be fully operational by 2012.

The most important mission of the armed forces is the defence of Polish territorial integrity and Polish interests abroad.HP Pavilion ZD8227 battery

Poland's national security goal is to further integrate with NATO and European defence, economic, and political institutions through the modernisation and reorganisation of its military. Currently the armed forces is being re-organised according to NATO standards, and as of 1 January 2010, the transition to an entirely contract-based military has been completed.HP Compaq Business Notebook TC4400 battery

Previously male citizens were expected to complete a period of active service with the military; since 2007 up until the amendment of the law on conscription, the obligatory term of service was nine months.

Polish military doctrine reflects the same defensive nature as that of its NATO partners.HP Pavilion DV7-2085EL battery

Poland is also playing an increasing role as a peacekeeping power through various United Nations peacekeeping missions. The Polish Armed Forces took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, deploying 2,500 soldiers in the south of that country and commanding the 17-nation Multinational force in Iraq.Compaq Presario 300 battery 

Transport

Today transport in Poland is provided by means of rail, road, shipping and air travel. Dell Latitude D610 Battery

Positioned in Central Europe and with an eastern border compromising the largest external border of the Schengen Area with the rest of Eastern Europe, Poland has long been, and remains a key country through which imports to and exports from the European Union pass.Dell Inspiron 1520 Battery

Since joining the EU in 2004, Poland has invested large amounts of money into the modernisation of its transport networks. The country now has a developing expressways network compromised of motorways such as the A4 and express roads such as the S7.Dell XPS M1710 Battery

In addition to these newly-built roads, many local and regional roads are being rebuilt as part of a national programme to rebuild all roads in Poland.

Again, with regard to railways, much the same situation is taking place. The Polish authorities have begun a program by which they hope to increase operating speeds across the entire Polish rail network; Dell XPS M1330 Battery

this is particularly true of a number of national trunk routes which are expected to soon receive new rolling stock capable of speeds over 200 km/h. Finally, there is a plan to introduce high speed rail to Poland from around 2014. The Polish government recently revealed that it intends to connect all major cities to a future high-speed rail network by 2020.Dell XPS M1210 Battery

Most intercity rail operations in Poland are operated by PKP Intercity whilst regional trains are run by a number of operators, the largest of which is Przewozy Regionalne.

The air and maritime transport markets in Poland are largely well developed, although construction of new airport and seaport facilities is ongoing.Apple A1185 Battery

Poland has a number of international airports; the largest of which is Warsaw Chopin Airport, the primary global hub for LOT Polish Airlines, which is the largest airline of Eastern Central Europe and one of the world's oldest airlines still in operation today. Seaports exist all along Poland's Baltic Sea coast, with most freight operations using either Gdynia or Gda?sk as their base. Apple Powerbook G4 Battery

Passenger ferries link Poland with Scandinavia all year round; these services are provided from Gda?sk by Polferries, Stena Line from Gdynia and Unity Line from the Port of ?winouj?cie.

Science

According to Frost & Sullivan's Country Industry Forecast the country is becoming an interesting location for research and development investments.Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch Battery

Multinational companies such as: ABB, Delphi, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, Hewlett–Packard, IBM, Intel, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Motorola, Siemens and Samsung have set up research and development centres in Poland.Asus EEE PC Battery

Over 40 research and development centers and 4,500 researchers make Poland the biggest research and development hub in Central and Eastern Europe.  Companies chose Poland because of the availability of highly qualified labor force, presence of universities, support of authorities, and the largest market in Central Europe.Compaq V6000 Battery

Today Poland's tertiary education institutions; traditional universities (found in its major cities), as well as technical, medical, and economic institutions, employ around 61,000 researchers and members of staff. There are around 300 research and development institutes, with about 10,000 researchers. HP 6715B Battery

In total, there are around 91,000 scientists in Poland today. However, in the 19th and 20th centuries many Polish scientists worked abroad; one of the greatest of these exiles was Maria Sk?odowska-Curie, a physicist and chemist who lived much of her life in France. In the first half of the 20th century, Poland was a flourishing centre of mathematics. HP 6910P Battery

Outstanding Polish mathematicians formed the Lwów School of Mathematics (with Stefan Banach, Hugo Steinhaus, Stanis?aw Ulam) and Warsaw School of Mathematics (with Alfred Tarski, Kazimierz Kuratowski, Wac?aw Sierpi?ski). The events of World War II pushed many of them into exile. Such was the case of Benoît Mandelbrot, whose family left Poland when he was still a child. HP NX6325 Battery

An alumnus of the Warsaw School of Mathematics was Antoni Zygmund, one of the shapers of 20th-century mathematical analysis.

According to a KPMG report 80% of Poland's current investors are content with their choice and willing to reinvest. In 2006, Intel decided to double the number of employees in its research and development centre in Gda?sk. HP NC6400 Battery

Communications

The share of the telecom sector in the GDP is 4.4% (end of 2000 figure), compared to 2.5% in 1996. Nevertheless, despite high expenditures for telecom infrastructure (the coverage increased from 78 users per 1,000 inhabitants in 1989 to 282 in 2000).HP NX6110 Battery

The value of the telecommunication market is zl 38.2bn (2006), and it grew by 12.4% in 2007 PMR.[90] The coverage mobile cellular is over 1000 users per 1000 people (2007). Telephones—mobile cellular: 38.7 million (Onet.pl & GUS Report, 2007), telephones—main lines in use: 12.5 million (Telecom Team Report, 2005).HP DV6000 Battery

With regard to internet access, the most popular ADSL services for home users in Poland are Neostrada provided byTPSA, and Net24 provided by Netia. Business users as well as some home users use Internet DSL TP also offered byTPSA. According to Eurostat, OECD and others, Internet access in Poland is amidst the most expensive in Europe. HP DV9000 Battery

This is mostly caused by the lack of competitiveness. New operators, such as Dialog and GTS Energis are making their own provider lines and offer more attractive and cheaper service. Recently, the Polish Office of Electronical Communication passed a bill forcing the TPSA to rent 51% of their ADSL lines to other ISPs for 60% lower prices. HP Pavilion ZE4400 Battery

This move will definitely affect the prices of DSL in Poland.

The public postal service in Poland is operated by Poczta Polska (The Polish Post). It was created on October 18, 1558, when king Zygmunt August established a permanent postal route from Kraków to Venice (later also to Wilno) in order to manage affairs in Italy that arose after the death of Queen Bona, his mother. ibm x60s battery

Since then the service was dissolved on a number of occasions, most notably during the partitions of Poland. After regaining independence in 1918, the united territory of Poland was in need of a uniform network of communication. Thus, the interwar period saw the rapid development of the postal system as new services were introduced ibm t60 battery

(e.g. money transfers, payment of pensions, delivery of magazines, air mail). Although during national uprisings and in the course of wars communication was provided mainly through field post, which was subject to military authority, postmen always took active part in the fight for independence by secretly delivering parcels and documents,ibm z60t battery

or by providing vital information about the enemy. Many important events in the history of Poland involved the postal service, like the heroic Defence of the Polish Post Office in Gda?sk in 1939 and the participation of the Polish Scouts' Postal Service in the Warsaw Uprising.Sony VGP-BPS2 Battery

During the difficult times of the Second World War, the Polish Post in exile would lift up the spirits of compatriots by issuing postage stamps. Nowadays the service is a modern, functioning state-owned company which provides a number of standard and express delivery options, as well as operating the Polish postal home-delivery service. Sony VGP-BPS5 Battery

The postal service is currently expanding into the provision of logistical services.

Demographics

Poland, with 38,116,000 inhabitants,[2] has the eighth-largest population in Europe and the sixth-largest in the European Union. It has a population density of 122 inhabitants per square kilometer (328 per square mile).Sony VGP-BPS3 Battery

Poland historically contained many languages, cultures and religions on its soil. The country had a particularly large Jewish population prior to World War II, when the Nazi Holocaust caused Poland's Jewish population, estimated at 3 million before the war, to drop to just 300,000. Toshiba PA3465U-1BRS Battery

The outcome of the war, particularly the westward shift of Poland's borders to the area between the Curzon Line and the Oder-Neisse line, coupled with post-war expulsion of minorities, significantly reduced the country's ethnic diversity. Over 7 million Germans fled or were expelled from the Polish side of the Oder-Neisse boundary. Toshiba PA3331U-1BRS Battery

According to the 2002 census, 36,983,700 people, or 96.74% of the population, consider themselves Polish, while 471,500 (1.23%) declared another nationality, and 774,900 (2.03%) did not declare any nationality. The largest minority nationalities and ethnic groups in Poland are Silesians (about 200,000), Toshiba PA3399U-1BRS Battery

Germans (152,897 according to the census, 92% in Opole Voivodeship and Silesian Voivodeship), Belarusians (c. 49,000), Ukrainians (c. 30,000), Lithuanians, Russians, Roma, Jews, Lemkos, Slovaks, Czechs, and Lipka Tatars.Among foreign citizens, the Vietnamese are the largest ethnic group, followed by Greeks and Armenians.Toshiba PA3166U-1BRS Battery

The Polish language, part of the West Slavic branch of the Slavic languages, functions as the official languageof Poland. Until recent decades Russian was commonly learned as a second language but has been replaced by English and German as the most common second languages studied and spoken. Toshiba PA3479U-1BRS Battery

In recent years, Poland's population has decreased because of an increase in emigration and a sharp drop in the birth rate. Since Poland's accession to the European Union, a significant number of Poles have emigrated to Western European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Ireland in search of work.Canon LP-E5 Battery

Some organizations have stated that Polish emigration is primarily caused by Poland's high unemployment rate (10.5% in 2007), with Poles searching for better work opportunities abroad. In April 2007, the Polish population of the United Kingdom had risen to approximately 300,000, and estimates place the Polish population in Ireland at 65,000. Canon EOS 450D Battery

Some sources claim that the number of Polish citizens who emigrated to the UK after 2004 is as high as 2 million. This, however, is contrasted by a recent trend that shows that more Poles are entering the country than leaving it.Canon MV700 Battery

Polish minorities are still present in the neighboring countries of Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, as well as in other countries (see Poles for population numbers). Altogether, the number of ethnic Poles living abroad is estimated to be around 20 million. The largest number of Poles outside of Polandcan be found in the United States.Sony NP-BD1 Battery

Religion

Until World War II, Poland was a religiously diverse society, in which substantial Jewish, Protestant and Christian Orthodox minorities coexisted with aRoman Catholic majority. As a result of the Holocaust and the post–World War II flight and expulsion of German and Ukrainian populations, Poland has become overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Sony NP-BG1 Battery

In 2007, 88.4% of the population belonged to the Catholic Church. Though rates of religious observance, at 52%  to 60%,[100]Poland remains one of the most devoutly religious countries in Europe. Sony DSC-P7 Battery

Religious minorities include Polish Orthodox (about 506,800), various Protestants (about 150,000) Jehovah's Witnesses (126,827),  Eastern Catholics, Mariavites, Polish Catholics, Jews, and Muslims(including the Tatars of Bia?ystok). Members of Protestant churches include about 77,500 in the largestEvangelical-Augsburg Church, DSC-P5 battery Battery

and a similar number in smaller Pentecostal and Evangelical churches.

From 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005 Karol Józef Wojty?a (later Pope John Paul II), a natural born Pole, reigned as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City.Nikon EN-EL8 Battery

His was the second-longest documented pontificate; only Pope Pius IX served longer. He has been the only Slavic and Polish Pope to date, and was the first non-Italian Pope since Dutch Pope Adrian VI in 1522. Additionally he is credited with having played a significant role in hastening the downfall of communism in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe;Nikon Coolpix 4300 Battery

he is famously quoted as having, at the height of communism in 1979, told Poles "not be afraid", later praying: "Let your Spirit descend and change the image of the land... this land". He is a deeply revered figure within Polish society, and his passing in 2005 was met with large-scale outpourings of national grief.Nikon d80 Battery Battery

Freedom of religion is now guaranteed by the 1989 statute of the Polish Constitution, enabling the emergence of additional denominations.[106]However, because of pressure from the Polish Episcopate, the exposition of doctrine has entered the public education system as well.Sony NP-FH100 Battery

According to a 2007 survey, 72% of respondents were not opposed to religious instruction in public schools; alternative courses in ethics are available only in one percent of the entire public educational system.

Famous sites of Christian pilgrimage in Poland include the Monastery of Jasna Góra in the southern Polish city of Cz?stochowa, as well as the Family home of John Paul II in Wadowice just outside of Kraków.Sony NP-FS21 Battery

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