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State subsidised healthcare is available to all Polish citizens who are covered by this general health insurance program.

However, it is not compulsory to be treated in a state-run hospital as a number of private medical complexes exist nationwide. All medical service providers and hospitals in Poland are subordinate to the Polish Ministry of Health , which provides oversight and scrutiny of general medical practice as well as being responsible for the day-to-day administration of the healthcare system.

In addition to these roles, the ministry is tasked with the maintenance of standards of hygiene and patient-care. Hospitals in Poland are organised according to the regional administrative structure, resultantly most towns have their own hospital Szpital Miejski.

In , the Polish health-care industry experienced further transformation. Hospitals were given priority for refurbishment where necessary.

In , the average life expectancy at birth was The Commission of National Education Komisja Edukacji Narodowej established in , was the world's first state ministry of education.

It is compulsory that children participate in one year of formal education before entering the 1st class at no later than 7 years of age.

Corporal punishment of children in schools is officially prohibited since before the partitions and criminalised since in schools as well as at home.

At the end of the 6th class when students are 13, students take a compulsory exam that will determine their acceptance and transition into a specific lower secondary school gimnazjum —middle school or junior high.

They will attend this school for three years during classes 7, 8, and 9. Students then take another compulsory exam to determine the upper secondary level school they will attend.

There are several alternatives, the most common being the three years in a liceum or four years in a technikum.

In Poland, there are university-level institutions for the pursuit of higher education. The culture of Poland is closely connected with its intricate 1,year history.

With origins in the culture of the Proto-Slavs , over time Polish culture has been profoundly influenced by its interweaving ties with the Germanic , Latinate and Byzantine worlds as well as in continual dialog with the many other ethnic groups and minorities living in Poland.

In the 19th and 20th centuries the Polish focus on cultural advancement often took precedence over political and economic activity.

These factors have contributed to the versatile nature of Polish art, with all its complex nuances.

Artists from Poland, including famous musicians like Chopin , Rubinstein , Paderewski or Penderecki and traditional, regionalized folk composers , create a lively and diverse music scene, which even recognizes its own music genres, such as sung poetry and disco polo.

As of [update] , Poland is one of the few countries in Europe where rock and hip hop dominate over pop music, while all kinds of alternative music genres are encouraged.

Other early compositions, such as the melody of Bogurodzica and God Is Born a coronation polonaise for Polish kings by an unknown composer , may also date back to this period, however, the first known notable composer, Nicholas of Radom , was born and lived in the 15th century.

Most of the compositions written were either liturgical music , or secular compositions such as concertos and sonatas for voices or instruments.

At the end of the 18th century, Polish classical music evolved into national forms like the polonaise. In the 19th century the most popular composers were: Alexandre Tansman lived in Paris but had strong connections with Poland.

Traditional Polish folk music has had a major effect on the works of many well-known Polish composers, and no more so than on Fryderyk Chopin, a widely recognised national hero of the arts.

All of Chopin's works involve the piano and are technically demanding, emphasising nuance and expressive depth.

It is largely thanks to him that such pieces gained great popularity throughout Europe during the 19th century. Nowadays the most distinctive folk music can be heard in the towns and villages of the mountainous south, particularly in the region surrounding the winter resort town of Zakopane.

Today Poland has a very active music scene, with the jazz and metal genres being particularly popular among the contemporary populace. Polish jazz musicians such as Krzysztof Komeda created a unique style, which was most famous in the s and s and continues to be popular to this day.

Since the fall of communism throughout Europe, Poland has become a major venue for large-scale music festivals, chief among which are the Open'er Festival , Opole Festival and Sopot Festival.

Art in Poland has always reflected European trends while maintaining its unique character. Perhaps the most prominent and internationally admired Polish artist was Tamara de Lempicka , who specialized in the style of Art Deco and whose paintings are often collected by celebrities and well-known personas.

Prior to the 19th century only Daniel Schultz and Italian-born Marcello Bacciarelli had the privilege of being recognized abroad.

Within historically-orientated circles, Henryk Siemiradzki dominated with his monumental Academic Art and ancient Roman theme. Since the inter-war years, Polish art and documentary photography has enjoyed worldwide fame and in the s the Polish School of Posters was formed.

Although not Polish, the work had a strong influence on Polish culture and has been often associated with Polish identity. Polish cities and towns reflect a whole spectrum of European architectural styles.

Romanesque architecture is represented by St. History has not been kind to Poland's architectural monuments. Nonetheless, a number of ancient structures has survived: The centre of Kazimierz Dolny on the Vistula is a good example of a well-preserved medieval town.

The second half of the 17th century is marked by baroque architecture. The profuse decorations of the Branicki Palace in Warsaw are characteristic of the rococo style.

Traditional folk architecture in the villages and small towns scattered across the vast Polish countryside is characterized by its extensive use of wood as the primary building material.

Some of the best preserved and oldest structures include wooden churches , and tserkvas primarily located across southern Poland in the Beskids and Bieszczady regions of the Carpathian mountains.

These traditional construction methods were utilized all the way up to the start of the 20th century, and gradually faded in the first decades when Poland's population experienced a demographic shift to urban dwelling away form the countryside.

The earliest Polish literature dates back to the 12th century, [] when Poland's official language was Latin.

Within Polish literary customs, it is appropriate to highlight the published works concerning Poland not written by ethnic Poles.

The most vivid example is Gallus Anonymus , a foreign monk and the first chronicler who described Poland and its territories.

The first documented phrase in the Polish language reads " Day ut ia pobrusa, a ti poziwai " "Let me grind, and you take a rest" , reflecting the culture of early Poland.

The sentence was allegedly uttered almost a hundred years earlier by a Bohemian settler, who expressed pity for his spouse's duty of grinding by the quern-stone.

Most medieval records in Latin and the Old Polish language contain the oldest extant manuscript of fine Polish prose entitled the Holy Cross Sermons , as well as the earliest Polish-language bible, the so-called Bible of Queen Sophia.

Haller's Calendarium cracoviense , an astronomical wall calendar from , is Poland's oldest surviving print. A Polish writer who utilized Latin as his principal tool of expression was Klemens "Ianicius" Janicki , one of the most renowned Latin poets of his time, who was laureled by the Pope.

Throughout this period Poland also experienced the early stages of Protestant Reformation. During the Polish Baroque era, the Jesuits greatly influenced Polish literature and literary techniques, often relying on God and religious matters.

Jan Chryzostom Pasek , also a respected baroque writer, is mostly remembered for his tales and memoirs reflecting sarmatian culture in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Nicholas Wisdom , which was a milestone for Polish literature. A Polish prose poet of the highest order, Joseph Conrad , the son of dramatist Apollo Korzeniowski , won worldwide fame with his English-language novels and stories that are informed with elements of the Polish national experience.

The history of Polish cinema is as long as history of cinematography itself. Over decades, Poland has produced outstanding directors, film producers, cartoonists and actors that achieved world fame, especially in Hollywood.

Moreover, Polish inventors played an important role in the development of world cinematography and modern-day television.

In , Jan Szczepanik , obtained a British patent for his Telectroscope. This prototype of television could easily transmit image and sound, thus allowing a live remote view.

Following the invention of appropriate apparatus and technological development in the upcoming years, his then-impossible concept became reality.

Polish cinema developed rapidly in the interwar period. The most renowned star of the silent film era was Polish actress Pola Negri.

During this time, the Yiddish cinema also evolved in Poland. Films in the Yiddish language with Jewish themes, such as The Dybbuk , played an important part in pre-war Polish cinematography.

In the government established ' Film Polski ', a state-run film production and distribution organization, with director Aleksander Ford as the head of the company.

Poland has a number of major media outlets, chief among which are the national television channels. TVP is Poland's public broadcasting corporation; about a third of its income comes from a broadcast receiver licence , while the rest is made through revenue from commercials and sponsorships.

Poland has several hour news channels: Rzeczpospolita , founded in is one of the oldest newspapers still in operation in the country.

Poland has also emerged as a major hub for video game developers in Europe, with the country now being home to hundreds of studios.

Judgment , Observer , Layers of Fear and Cyberpunk Polish cuisine has evolved over the centuries to become very eclectic due to Poland's history.

Polish cuisine shares many similarities with other Central European cuisines, especially German and Austrian [] as well as Jewish , [] Belarusian , Ukrainian , Russian , [] French and Italian culinary traditions.

Festive meals such as the meatless Christmas Eve dinner Wigilia or Easter breakfast could take days to prepare in their entirety. The side dishes are usually potatoes, rice or kasza cereals.

The world's first written mention of vodka originates from Poland. Other frequently consumed beverages include various mineral waters and juices, soft drinks popularized by the fast-food chains since the late 20th century, as well as buttermilk , soured milk and kefir.

Volleyball and Association football are among the country's most popular sports, with a rich history of international competitions.

The golden era of football in Poland occurred throughout the s and went on until the early s when the Polish national football team achieved their best results in any FIFA World Cup competitions finishing 3rd place in the and the tournaments.

The team won a gold medal in football at the Summer Olympics and two silver medals, in and in The Polish men's national volleyball team is ranked as 3rd in the world.

He won the Canadian Grand Prix and now does rallying following a crash in that left him unable to drive F1 cars.

Poland has made a distinctive mark in motorcycle speedway racing thanks to Tomasz Gollob , a highly successful Polish rider.

The top Ekstraliga division has one of the highest average attendances for any sport in Poland. The national speedway team of Poland , one of the major teams in international speedway, [] has won the Speedway World Team Cup championships three times consecutively, in , , and No team has ever managed such feat.

Poles made significant achievements in mountaineering, in particular, in the Himalayas and the winter ascending of the eight-thousanders.

Polish mountains are one of the tourist attractions of the country. Hiking, climbing, skiing and mountain biking and attract numerous tourists every year from all over the world.

Fashion was always an important aspect of Poland and its national identity. Poland belongs to one of the most fashionable and best-dressed countries in the world.

Moreover, several Polish designers and stylists left a lifelong legacy of beauty inventions and cosmetics , which are still in use nowadays.

Throughout history, the clothing styles in Poland often varied due to foreign influence, especially from the neighbouring countries and the Middle East.

Because of its geographical position, Poland was metaphorically referred to as a trade route that linked Western Europe with the Ottoman Empire , Crimean Khanate and Persia.

This allowed the Poles to absorb several habits, which were present in the Middle East at the time. The high-class nobility and magnates wore attire that somewhat resembled oriental styles.

Wealthy Polish aristocrats also kept captive Tatars and Janissaries in their courts; this affected the national dress.

The Polish national dress as well as the fashion and etiquette of Poland also reached the royal court at Versailles in the 18th century.

Established in , the retail store Reserved is Poland's best clothing store chain, operating over 1, retail shops in 19 countries. In the early 20th century, the underdeveloped fashion and cosmetics industry in Congress Poland was heavily dominated by western styles, mostly from the United Kingdom and the United States.

This inspired Polish beautician Maksymilian Faktorowicz to seek employment abroad and create a line of cosmetics company called Max Factor in California.

In , Faktorowicz invented the conjoined word "make-up" based on the verb phrase "to make up" one's face, which is now used as an alternative for "cosmetics".

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the dance, see Polska dance. For other uses, see Rzeczpospolita Polska disambiguation.

For other uses, see Poland disambiguation. Show map of Europe. History of Poland — and Partitions of Poland. History of Poland —present and enlargement of the European Union.

Foreign relations of Poland and List of diplomatic missions of Poland. Administrative divisions of Poland. Energy in Poland and Coal mining in Poland.

Demographics of Poland , Demographic history of Poland , and Polish diaspora. List of cities and towns in Poland.

Largest cities or towns in Poland Central Statistical Office population report for Polish language and Languages of Poland.

Religions in Poland Roman Catholicism. Ballade form invented by Chopin. Inspired by poems of Adam Mickiewicz. Polish literature and History of philosophy in Poland.

Video gaming in Poland. The percentages of ethnic Poles and of minorities depend on how we count. Zaloga and Richard Hook write that "by the war's end the Polish Army was the fourth largest contingent of the Allied coalition after the armed forces of the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom".

Dziewanowski has noted that "if Polish forces fighting in the east and west were added to the resistance fighters, Poland had the fourth largest Allied army in the war after the USSR, the U.

Throughout the war, Poland's position varied from the 2nd biggest Ally after the fall of France , when Polish army outnumbered the French to perhaps the 5th at the end of it after the US, Soviet Union, China and Britain.

The confusion often stems from the fact that as war progressed, some resistance movements grew larger — and other diminished. Polish territories were mostly freed from Nazi German control in the years —45, eliminating the need for their respective anti-Nazi partisan forces in Poland although the cursed soldiers continued to fight against the Soviets.

Several sources note that Polish Armia Krajowa was the largest resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Europe. After that point, the numbers of Soviet partisans and Yugoslav partisans begun growing rapidly.

The numbers of Soviet partisans quickly caught up and were very similar to that of the Polish resistance. Number and demographical-social structure.

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Retrieved 1 January Poland is home to 9, lakes. Finland is the only European nation with a higher density of lakes than Poland.

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The Jagiellon dynasty at one point also established dynastic control over the kingdoms of Bohemia onwards and Hungary. Some historians estimate that Crimean Tatar slave-raiding cost Poland-Lithuania one million of its population between the years of and Poland was developing as a feudal state, with a predominantly agricultural economy and an increasingly powerful landed nobility.

The Nihil novi act adopted by the Polish Sejm parliament in , transferred most of the legislative power from the monarch to the Sejm, an event which marked the beginning of the period known as "Golden Liberty", 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.

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 during this period Polish culture and the nation's economy flourished.

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

The Warsaw Confederation guaranteed religious freedom for the Polish nobility Szlachta and burgesses Mieszczanie. In , the Tsar of Russia paid homage to the King of Poland.

From the middle of the 17th century, the nobles' democracy, suffering from internal disorder, gradually declined, thereby leaving the once powerful Commonwealth vulnerable to foreign intervention.

Starting in , the Cossack Khmelnytsky Uprising engulfed the south and east, eventually leaving Ukraine divided, with the eastern part, lost by the Commonwealth, becoming a dependency of the Tsardom of Russia.

This was followed by the 'Deluge' , a Swedish invasion of Poland, which marched through the Polish heartlands and ruined the country's population, culture and infrastructure—around four million of Poland's eleven million inhabitants died in famines and epidemics throughout the 17th century.

Sobieski's reign marked the end of the nation's golden era. 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 e. Lubomirski Rebellion against John II Casimir and rebellious confederations and corrupted legislative processes.

The nobility fell under the control of a handful of magnats , and this, compounded with two relatively weak kings of the Saxon Wettin dynasty , Augustus II and Augustus III , 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.

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.

However, as a one-time personal admirer 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 political relationship with his Russian sponsor.

This led to the formation of the Bar Confederation , a szlachta rebellion directed against the Polish king and his Russian sponsors, which aimed to preserve Poland's independence and the szlachta's traditional privileges.

Attempts at reform provoked the union's neighbours, and in the First Partition of the Commonwealth by Prussia, Russia and Austria took place; an act which the " Partition Sejm ", under considerable duress, eventually "ratified" fait accompli.

Corporal punishment of children was officially prohibited in However, this document, accused by detractors of harbouring revolutionary sympathies, generated strong opposition from the Commonwealth's nobles and conservatives as well as from Catherine II, who, determined to prevent the rebirth of a strong Commonwealth set about planning the final dismemberment of the Polish-Lithuanian state.

Russia was aided in achieving its goal when the Targowica Confederation , an organisation of Polish nobles, appealed to the Empress for help.

The defensive war fought by the Poles ended prematurely when the King, convinced of the futility of resistance, capitulated and joined the Targowica Confederation.

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

Poles rebelled several times against the partitioners , particularly near the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. But, after the failed Napoleonic Wars , Poland was again split between the victorious powers at the Congress of Vienna of However, over time the Russian monarch reduced Polish freedoms, and Russia annexed the country in virtually all but name.

Meanwhile, the Prussian controlled territory of Poland came under increased Germanization. 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.

They were 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; however, finding themselves in a position unsupported by any other foreign powers, save distant France and the newborn 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.

Upon the surrender of Warsaw to General Ivan Paskievich , many Polish troops, feeling they could not go on, withdrew into Prussia and there laid down their arms.

After the defeat, the semi-independent Congress Poland lost its constitution, army and legislative assembly, and was integrated more closely with the Russian Empire.

During the Spring of Nations a series of revolutions which swept across Europe , Poles took up arms in the Greater Poland Uprising of to resist Prussian rule.

Initially, the uprising manifested itself in the form of civil disobedience, but eventually turned into an armed struggle when the Prussian military was sent in to pacify the region.

Eventually, after several battles the uprising was suppressed by the Prussians, and the Grand Duchy of Posen was more completely incorporated into Prussia.

In , a new Polish uprising against Russian rule began. The January Uprising started out as a spontaneous protest by young Poles against conscription into the Imperial 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.

They were forced to resort to guerrilla warfare tactics and 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.

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.

This was particularly true in Greater Poland, Silesia and Eastern Pomerania controlled by Prussia later becoming a part of the German Empire ; areas which eventually, thanks largely to the Greater Poland Uprising of and Silesian Uprisings , were reconstituted as a part of the Second Polish Republic , becoming the country's most prosperous regions.

A total of 2 million Polish troops fought with the armies of the three occupying powers, and , died. It reaffirmed its independence after a series of military conflicts , the most notable being the Polish—Soviet War —21 when Poland inflicted a crushing defeat on the Red Army at the Battle of Warsaw , an event which is considered to have halted the advance of Communism into Europe and forced Vladimir Lenin to rethink his objective of achieving global socialism.

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, 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 Danzig.

The inter-war period heralded in a new era of Polish politics. 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 Ignacy Paderewski who would later become prime minister returned home to help; a significant number of them then went on to take key positions in the newly formed political and governmental structures.

As a subsequent result of the Munich Agreement in , Czechoslovakia ceded to Poland the small sq mi Zaolzie region. The area was a point of contention between the Polish and Czechoslovak governments in the past and the two countries fought a brief seven-day war over it in On 28 September Warsaw fell.

In —41, the Soviets deported hundreds of thousands of Poles. In July the Polish Cipher Bureau had taught Britain and France how to crack German Enigma codes , which it had been doing since using mathematics and technology such as the Bomba and Zygalski sheets.

Poland made the fourth-largest troop contribution in Europe [f] and its troops served both the Polish Government in Exile in the west and Soviet leadership in the east.

Polish troops played an important role in the Normandy , Italian and North African Campaigns and are particularly remembered for the Battle of Monte Cassino.

During the Battle of Britain Polish squadrons such as the No. The Polish Navy protected the Dunkirk evacuation and Atlantic convoys. The wartime resistance movement , and the Armia Krajowa Home Army , fought against German occupation.

It was one of the three largest resistance movements of the entire war, [g] and encompassed a range of clandestine activities, which functioned as an underground state complete with degree-awarding universities and a court system.

Secondary motives were to liberate Warsaw before the Soviets, to underscore Polish sovereignty by empowering the Polish Underground State before the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control.

A lack of Allied support and Stalin's reluctance to allow the 1st Army to help their fellow countrymen take the city led to the uprising's failure and subsequent planned destruction of the city.

Nazi forces under orders from Adolf Hitler set up six German extermination camps in occupied Poland, including Treblinka , Majdanek and Auschwitz.

The Germans transported Jews from across occupied Europe to murder them in the camps. Throughout the occupation , 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 Nazi Germans.

Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the largest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

To date, 6, Poles have been awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel—more than any other nation.

The massacres were part of a vicious ethnic clensing campaign waged by Ukrainian nationalists against the local Polish population in the German-occupied territories of eastern Poland.

In , Poland's borders were shifted westwards , resulting in considerable territorial losses. The shift forced the migration of millions of other people , most of whom were Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Jews.

Population numbers did not recover until the s. At the insistence of Joseph Stalin , the Yalta Conference sanctioned the formation of a new provisional pro-Communist coalition government in Moscow, which ignored the Polish government-in-exile based in London; a move which angered many Poles who considered it a betrayal by the Allies.

In , Stalin had made guarantees to Churchill and Roosevelt that he would maintain Poland's sovereignty and allow democratic elections to take place.

However, upon achieving victory in , the elections organized by the occupying Soviet authorities were falsified and were used to provide a veneer of 'legitimacy' for 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. As elsewhere in Communist Europe the Soviet occupation of Poland met with armed resistance from the outset which continued into the fifties.

Military alignment within the Warsaw Pact throughout the Cold War came about as a direct result of this change in Poland's political culture and in the European scene came to characterise the full-fledged integration of Poland into the brotherhood of communist nations.

Collectivization in the Polish People's Republic failed. A similar situation repeated itself in the s under Edward Gierek , but most of the time persecution of anti-communist opposition groups persisted.

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

Despite persecution and imposition of martial law in , it eroded the dominance of the Polish United Workers' Party and by had triumphed in Poland's first partially free and democratic parliamentary elections since the end of the Second World War.

The Solidarity movement heralded the collapse of communist regimes and parties across Europe. A shock therapy programme, initiated by Leszek Balcerowicz in the early s enabled the country to transform its socialist-style planned economy into a market economy.

As with other post-communist countries, Poland suffered slumps in social and economic standards, [98] but it became the first post-communist country to reach its pre GDP levels, which it achieved by largely thanks to its booming economy.

Most visibly, there were numerous improvements in human rights, such as freedom of speech , internet freedom no censorship , civil liberties 1st class and political rights 1st class , as ranked by Freedom House non-governmental organization.

Poles then voted to join the European Union in a referendum in June , with Poland becoming a full member on 1 May Poland joined the Schengen Area in , 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 most of the EU.

That border 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.

These battle groups will operate outside of NATO and within the European defense initiative framework. In , the Presidency of the Council of the European Union responsible for the functioning of the Council was awarded to Poland.

The same year parliamentary elections took place in both the Senate and the Sejm. They were won by the ruling Civic Platform. In , Poland also became a member of the Development Assistance Committee.

This coast is marked by several spits , coastal lakes former bays that have been cut off from the sea , and dunes.

The centre and parts of the north of the country lie within the North European Plain. Rising above these lowlands is a geographical region comprising four hilly districts of moraines and moraine-dammed lakes formed during and after the Pleistocene ice age.

The Masurian Lake District is the largest of the four and covers much of north-eastern 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 Plain are the regions of Lusatia , Silesia and Masovia , which are marked by broad ice-age river valleys.

The highest part of the Carpathians is the Tatra Mountains , along Poland's southern border. Both processes shaped the Sudetes and the Carpathian Mountains.

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 contain loess.

The Polish Jura , the Pieniny , and the Western Tatras consist of limestone , while the High Tatras , the Beskids , and the Karkonosze are made up mainly of granite and basalts.

The Polish Jura Chain has some of the oldest rock formation on the continent of Europe. Poland has 70 mountains over 2, metres 6, feet in elevation, all in the Tatras.

The Polish Tatras, which consist of the High Tatras and the Western Tatras, is the highest mountain group of Poland and of the entire Carpathian range.

The lowest point in Poland — at 1. It is not a natural desert but results from human activity from the Middle Ages onwards. As waves and wind carry sand inland the dunes slowly move, at a rate of 3 to 10 metres 9.

The highest peak of the park is Rowokol metres or feet above sea level. The longest rivers are the Vistula Polish: The eastern Beskids are also the source of some streams that drain through the Dniester to the Black Sea.

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.

With almost ten thousand closed bodies of water covering more than 1 hectare 2. In Europe, only Finland has a greater density of lakes.

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.

Among the first lakes whose shores were settled are those in the Greater Polish Lake District. The stilt house settlement 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.

The ancestors of today's Poles, the Polanie , built their first fortresses on islands in these lakes. Nowadays the Polish lakes provide a location for the pursuit of water sports such as yachting and wind-surfing.

For the most part, Poland has a smooth coastline, which has been shaped by the continual movement of sand by currents and winds.

The largest spits are Hel Peninsula and the Vistula Spit. The coast line is varied also by Szczecin and Vistula Lagoons and a few lakes, e.

Poland is the fourth most forested country in Europe. Forests cover about The richness of Polish forest per SoEF statistics [ clarification needed ] is more than twice as high as European average with Germany and France at the top , containing 2.

Three more national parks are projected for Masuria , the Polish Jura, 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 areas designated as landscape parks , along with numerous nature reserves and other protected areas e.

Since Poland's accession to the European Union in , Polish agriculture has performed extremely well and the country has over two million private farms.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature , the territory of Poland belongs to three Palearctic Ecoregions of the continental forest spanning Central and Northern European temperate broadleaf and mixed forest ecoregions as well as the Carpathian montane conifer forest.

In the forests there are game animals, such as red deer , roe deer and wild boar. Poland is the most important breeding ground for a variety of European migratory birds.

Both survived in Poland longer than anywhere else. 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.

Precipitation falls throughout the year, although, especially in the east, winter is drier than summer. The coldest region of Poland is in the northeast in the Podlaskie Voivodeship near the borders with Belarus and Lithuania.

The climate is affected by cold fronts which come from Scandinavia and Siberia. Poland is a representative democracy , with a president as a head of state , whose current constitution dates from Poland ranks in the top 20 percent of the most peaceful countries in the world, according to the Global Peace Index.

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 a member lower house Sejm and a member Senate Senat. 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 the first-past-the-post voting method, with one senator being returned from each of the constituencies.

The National Assembly is formed on three occasions: To date only the first instance has occurred. The judicial branch plays an important role in decision-making.

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.

The 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.

Historically, the most famous Polish legal act is the Constitution of 3 May Historian Norman Davies describes it as the first of its kind in Europe.

Primarily, it was designed to redress long-standing political defects of the federative Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth and its Golden Liberty.

Previously only the Henrician Articles signed by each of Poland's elected kings could perform the function of a set of basic laws.

The new Constitution introduced political equality between townspeople and the nobility szlachta , and placed the peasants under the protection of the government.

The Constitution abolished pernicious parliamentary institutions such as the liberum veto , which at one time had placed the sejm at the mercy of any deputy who might choose, or be bribed by an interest or foreign power, to have rescinded all the legislation that had been passed by that sejm.

The 3 May Constitution sought to supplant the existing anarchy fostered by some of the country's reactionary magnates , with a more egalitarian and democratic constitutional monarchy.

The adoption of the constitution was treated as a threat by Poland's neighbours. The Republic and Article 54 section II. Feminism in Poland started in the s in the age of the foreign Partitions.

Prior to the last Partition in , tax-paying females were allowed to take part in political life. Since , following the return to independence, all women could vote.

Poland was the 15th 12th sovereign country to introduce universal women's suffrage. Currently, in Poland abortion is allowed only in special circumstances, such as when the woman's life or health is endangered by the continuation of pregnancy, when the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act, or when the fetus is seriously malformed.

Also, Poland recognises gender change. Poland's current constitution was adopted by the National Assembly of Poland on 2 April , approved by a national referendum on 25 May , and came into effect on 17 October 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 '.

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.

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

As changes since the fall of Communism in have redrawn the map of 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.

Poland has forged a special relationships with Ukraine , [] with whom it co-hosted the UEFA Euro football tournament, in an effort to firmly anchor the country within the Western world and provide it with an alternative to aligning itself with the Russian Federation.

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 the Lukashenko regime launched a campaign against the Polish ethnic minority.

Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union and has a grand total of 51 representatives in the European Parliament.

Ever since joining the union in , successive Polish governments have pursued policies to increase the country's role in European and regional affairs.

Poland's current voivodeships provinces are largely based on the country's historic regions, whereas those of the past two decades to had been centred on and named for individual cities.

Administrative authority at voivodeship level is shared between a government-appointed voivode governor , an elected regional assembly sejmik and a voivodeship marshal, an executive elected by that assembly.

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 has 16 voivodeships, powiats including 66 cities with powiat status , and 2, gminas.

The Polish armed forces are composed of five branches: Plans call for the force, once fully active, to consist of 53, people who will be trained and equipped to counter potential hybrid warfare threats.

However, its commander-in-chief is the President of the Republic. The Polish army's size is estimated at around , soldiers The Polish Navy primarily operates in the Baltic Sea and conducts operations such as maritime patrol, search and rescue for the section of the Baltic under Polish sovereignty, as well as hydrographic measurements and research.

Also, the Polish Navy played a more international role as part of the invasion of Iraq , providing logistical support for the United States Navy.

The current position of the Polish Air Force is much the same; 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.

In , the FC Block 52 was chosen as the new general multi-role fighter for the air force, the first deliveries taking place in November The most important mission of the armed forces is the defence of Polish territorial integrity and Polish interests abroad.

Compulsory military service for men was discontinued in From , until conscription ended in , the mandatory service was nine months. Polish military doctrine reflects the same defensive nature as that of its NATO partners.

From to Poland was a large contributor to various United Nations peacekeeping missions. Currently, Poland's military is going through a significant modernization phase, which will be completed in Also, the army plans to modernize its existing inventory of main battle tanks , and update its stock of small arms.

In May the Ministry of National Defence has assured that the Polish army will be increased to , active personnel. Poland has a highly developed system of law enforcement with a long history of effective policing by the State Police Service Policja.

The structure of law enforcement agencies within Poland is a multi-tier one, with the State Police providing criminal-investigative services, Municipal Police serving to maintain public order and a number of other specialized agencies, such as the Polish Border Guard , acting to fulfill their assigned missions.

In addition to these state services, private security companies are also common, although they possess no powers assigned to state agencies, such as, for example, the power to make an arrest or detain a suspect.

Emergency services in Poland consist of the emergency medical services , search and rescue units of the Polish Armed Forces and State Fire Service.

Emergency medical services in Poland are, unlike other services, provided for by local and regional government.

Since joining the European Union all of Poland's emergency services have been undergoing major restructuring and have, in the process, acquired large amounts of new equipment and staff.

In addition, the police and other agencies have been steadily replacing and modernising their fleets of vehicles. Poland's economy is considered to be one of the more resilient of the post-Communist countries and is one of the fastest growing within the EU.

It is an example of the transition from a centrally planned to a primarily market-based economy. The country's most successful exports include machinery, furniture, food products, clothing, shoes and cosmetics.

The privatization of small and medium state-owned companies and a liberal law on establishing new firms have allowed the development of the private sector.

Also, several consumer rights organizations have become active in the country. Restructuring and privatisation of "sensitive sectors" such as coal, steel, rail transport and energy has been continuing since The Polish banking sector is the largest in the Central and Eastern European region, [] with They are regulated by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority.

During the transformation to a market-oriented economy, the government privatized several banks, recapitalized the rest, and introduced legal reforms that made the sector more competitive.

This has attracted a significant number of strategic foreign investors ICFI. Poland's banking sector has approximately 5 national banks, a network of nearly cooperative banks and 18 branches of foreign-owned banks.

Poland has a large number of private farms in its agricultural sector, with the potential to become a leading producer of food in the European Union.

The biggest money-makers abroad include smoked and fresh fish, fine chocolate, and dairy products, meats and specialty breads, [] with the exchange rate conducive to export growth.

Warsaw leads Central Europe in foreign investment. Since the gradual opening of the European Union labor market from , Poland has had mass emigration of over 2.

Products and goods manufactured in Poland include: Poland is also one of the world's biggest producers of copper , silver and coal , as well as potatoes , rye , rapeseed , cabbage , apples , strawberries and ribes.

Poland is recognised as a regional economic leader within Central Europe, with nearly 40 percent of the biggest companies in the region by revenues as well as a high globalisation rate.

The economic transition in has resulted in a dynamic increase in the number and value of investments conducted by Polish corporations abroad.

Over a quarter of these companies have participated in a foreign project or joint venture , and 72 percent decided to continue foreign expansion. According to reports made by the National Bank of Poland , the value of Polish foreign direct investments reached almost billion PLN at the end of The Central Statistical Office estimated that in there were around 1, Polish corporations with interests in 3, foreign entities.

Poland experienced an increase in the number of tourists after joining the European Union in Tourist attractions in Poland vary, from the mountains in the south to the sandy beaches in the north, with a trail of nearly every architectural style.

The Polish capital Warsaw and its historical Old Town were entirely reconstructed after wartime destruction. Poland's main tourist offerings include outdoor activities such as skiing, sailing, mountain hiking and climbing, as well as agrotourism, sightseeing historical monuments.

The Pieniny and Bieszczady Mountains lie in the extreme south-east. 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 production of their energy.

In , Poland scored 48 out of states in the Energy Sustainability Index. All three of these companies are key constituents of the Warsaw Stock Exchange 's lead economic indexes.

Renewable forms of energy account for a smaller proportion of Poland's full energy generation capacity. This is to be achieved mainly through the construction of wind farms and a number of hydroelectric stations.

Poland has around ,,, m 3 of proven natural gas reserves and around 96,, barrels of proven oil reserves. However, the small amounts of fossil fuels naturally occurring in Poland is insufficient to satisfy the full energy consumption needs of the population.

Therefore, the country is a net importer of oil and natural gas. Transport in Poland is provided by means of rail , road , marine shipping and air travel.

Positioned in Central Europe with its eastern and part of its northeastern border constituting the longest land border of the Schengen Area with the rest of Northern and Central Europe.

Since joining the EU in May , Poland has invested large amounts of public funds into modernization projects of its transport networks. The country now has a developing network of highways , composed of express roads and motorways such as A1 , A2 , A4 , A6 , A8 , A In addition to these newly built roads, many local and regional roads are being fixed as part of a national programme to rebuild all roads in Poland.

Polish authorities maintain a program of improving operating speeds across the entire Polish rail network. Additionally, in December , Poland began to implement high—speed rail routes connecting major Polish cities.

The Polish government has revealed that it intends to connect all major cities to a future high-speed rail network by Most interregional connections rail routes in Poland is 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. LOT is the 28th largest European airline and the world's 12th oldest still in operation , established in from a merger of Aerolloyd and Aero Poland has begun preparations for a construction that can handle million passengers of the Central Communication Port.

Over the course of history, the Polish people have made considerable contributions in the fields of science, technology and mathematics.

Copernicus' achievements and discoveries are considered the basis of Polish culture and cultural identity. Poland's tertiary education institutions; traditional universities , as well as technical, medical, and economic institutions, employ around 61, researchers and members of staff.

There are around research and development institutes, with about 10, researchers. In total, there are around 91, scientists in Poland today. In the first half of the 20th century, Poland was a flourishing centre of mathematics.

Other notable scientists from Poland include: Over 40 research and development centers and 4, researchers make Poland the biggest research and development hub in Central and Eastern Europe.

The service was dissolved during the foreign partitions in the 18th century. After regaining independence in , Poland saw the rapid development of the postal system as new services were introduced including money transfers , payment of pensions, delivery of magazines, and air mail.

During wars and national uprisings communication was provided mainly through the military authorities. At present, the service is a modern state-owned company that provides a number of standard and express delivery as well as home-delivery services.

With an estimated number of around 83, employees , [] Poczta Polska also has a personal tracking system for parcels.

In the company adopted a strategy that assumes increasing revenues to 6. Poland, with its 38,, inhabitants, has the eighth-largest population in Europe and the sixth-largest in the European Union.

It has a population density of inhabitants per square kilometer per square mile. In recent years, Poland's population has decreased due to an increase in emigration and a decline in the birth rate.

Since Poland's accession to the European Union on 1 May , a significant number of Poles have emigrated , primarily to the United Kingdom , Germany and Ireland in search of better work opportunities abroad.

The total fertility rate TFR in Poland was estimated in at 1. It belongs to the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages.

It is one of the official languages of the European Union. Until recent decades Russian was commonly learned as a second language, but after the Revolutions of has been replaced by English as the most common second language studied and spoken.

According to the Act of 6 January on national and ethnic minorities and on the regional languages , [] 16 other languages have officially recognized status of minority languages: Jewish and Romani minorities each have 2 minority languages recognized.

Languages having the status of ethnic minority's language are Karaim , Rusyn called Lemko in Poland and Tatar. Also, official recognition is granted to two Romani languages: Polska Roma and Bergitka Roma.

Official recognition of a language provides certain rights under conditions prescribed by the law: The Poles are a West Slavic ethnic group and a nation native to Poland, who share a common ancestry, culture, history, religion and are native speakers of the Polish language, along with its various dialects.

The formation of the Polish identity and ethnicity can be traced to the 10th century when Duke Mieszko I politically unified the Slavic tribes of Polans , Mazovians , Slezans , Vistulans , Pomeranians , Lendians and others, [] [] which inhabited the area of central Europe between the Oder River in the west and the Bug River in the east, and between the Carpathian and Sudetes mountains in the south and the Baltic sea in the north, and then by accepting Christianity as the official state religion.

Following the formation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in , the country over the next two centuries contained many languages, cultures and religions.

When Poland regained its independence in , Poles constituted the majority of the population in the country, during the interwar period , with sizable Ukrainian, Belarusian, Jewish and German minorities.

Today, Poland is primarily inhabited by ethnic Poles. In the census , 37,, Other identities were reported by 88, people 0.

Since then, Poland has been a predominantly Catholic nation, however throughout its history, religious tolerance was an important part of the political culture.

In , the Statute of Kalisz , also known as a Charter of Jewish Liberties, granted Jews living in the Polish lands unprecedented legal rights not found anywhere in Europe.

Then in , the Warsaw Confederation marked the formal beginning of extensive religious freedoms granted to all faiths in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The act was not imposed by a king or consequence of war, but rather resulted from the actions of members of the Polish-Lithuanian society.

It was also influenced by the events of the French St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre , which prompted the Polish-Lithuanian nobility to see that no monarch would ever be able to carry out such reprehensible atrocities in Poland.

Also, in the 16th century, Anabaptists from the Netherlands and Germany settled in Poland—after being persecuted in Western Europe—and became known as the Vistula delta Mennonites.

There are also several thousand neopagans, some of whom are members of the Native Polish Church. He is the only Polish Pope to date. Freedom of religion is now guaranteed by the statute of the Polish Constitution, [] enabling the emergence of additional denominations.

Orthodox pilgrims visit Mountain Grabarka near Grabarka-Klasztor. Poland's healthcare system is based on an all-inclusive insurance system.

State subsidised healthcare is available to all Polish citizens who are covered by this general health insurance program. However, it is not compulsory to be treated in a state-run hospital as a number of private medical complexes exist nationwide.

All medical service providers and hospitals in Poland are subordinate to the Polish Ministry of Health , which provides oversight and scrutiny of general medical practice as well as being responsible for the day-to-day administration of the healthcare system.

In addition to these roles, the ministry is tasked with the maintenance of standards of hygiene and patient-care.

Hospitals in Poland are organised according to the regional administrative structure, resultantly most towns have their own hospital Szpital Miejski.

In , the Polish health-care industry experienced further transformation. Hospitals were given priority for refurbishment where necessary.

In , the average life expectancy at birth was The Commission of National Education Komisja Edukacji Narodowej established in , was the world's first state ministry of education.

It is compulsory that children participate in one year of formal education before entering the 1st class at no later than 7 years of age. Corporal punishment of children in schools is officially prohibited since before the partitions and criminalised since in schools as well as at home.

At the end of the 6th class when students are 13, students take a compulsory exam that will determine their acceptance and transition into a specific lower secondary school gimnazjum —middle school or junior high.

They will attend this school for three years during classes 7, 8, and 9. Students then take another compulsory exam to determine the upper secondary level school they will attend.

There are several alternatives, the most common being the three years in a liceum or four years in a technikum. In Poland, there are university-level institutions for the pursuit of higher education.

The culture of Poland is closely connected with its intricate 1,year history. With origins in the culture of the Proto-Slavs , over time Polish culture has been profoundly influenced by its interweaving ties with the Germanic , Latinate and Byzantine worlds as well as in continual dialog with the many other ethnic groups and minorities living in Poland.

In the 19th and 20th centuries the Polish focus on cultural advancement often took precedence over political and economic activity.

These factors have contributed to the versatile nature of Polish art, with all its complex nuances. Artists from Poland, including famous musicians like Chopin , Rubinstein , Paderewski or Penderecki and traditional, regionalized folk composers , create a lively and diverse music scene, which even recognizes its own music genres, such as sung poetry and disco polo.

As of [update] , Poland is one of the few countries in Europe where rock and hip hop dominate over pop music, while all kinds of alternative music genres are encouraged.

Other early compositions, such as the melody of Bogurodzica and God Is Born a coronation polonaise for Polish kings by an unknown composer , may also date back to this period, however, the first known notable composer, Nicholas of Radom , was born and lived in the 15th century.

Most of the compositions written were either liturgical music , or secular compositions such as concertos and sonatas for voices or instruments.

At the end of the 18th century, Polish classical music evolved into national forms like the polonaise. In the 19th century the most popular composers were: Alexandre Tansman lived in Paris but had strong connections with Poland.

Traditional Polish folk music has had a major effect on the works of many well-known Polish composers, and no more so than on Fryderyk Chopin, a widely recognised national hero of the arts.

All of Chopin's works involve the piano and are technically demanding, emphasising nuance and expressive depth.

It is largely thanks to him that such pieces gained great popularity throughout Europe during the 19th century.

Nowadays the most distinctive folk music can be heard in the towns and villages of the mountainous south, particularly in the region surrounding the winter resort town of Zakopane.

Today Poland has a very active music scene, with the jazz and metal genres being particularly popular among the contemporary populace.

Polish jazz musicians such as Krzysztof Komeda created a unique style, which was most famous in the s and s and continues to be popular to this day.

Since the fall of communism throughout Europe, Poland has become a major venue for large-scale music festivals, chief among which are the Open'er Festival , Opole Festival and Sopot Festival.

Art in Poland has always reflected European trends while maintaining its unique character. Perhaps the most prominent and internationally admired Polish artist was Tamara de Lempicka , who specialized in the style of Art Deco and whose paintings are often collected by celebrities and well-known personas.

Prior to the 19th century only Daniel Schultz and Italian-born Marcello Bacciarelli had the privilege of being recognized abroad.

Within historically-orientated circles, Henryk Siemiradzki dominated with his monumental Academic Art and ancient Roman theme.

Since the inter-war years, Polish art and documentary photography has enjoyed worldwide fame and in the s the Polish School of Posters was formed.

Although not Polish, the work had a strong influence on Polish culture and has been often associated with Polish identity.

Polish cities and towns reflect a whole spectrum of European architectural styles. Romanesque architecture is represented by St.

History has not been kind to Poland's architectural monuments. Nonetheless, a number of ancient structures has survived: The centre of Kazimierz Dolny on the Vistula is a good example of a well-preserved medieval town.

The second half of the 17th century is marked by baroque architecture. The profuse decorations of the Branicki Palace in Warsaw are characteristic of the rococo style.

Traditional folk architecture in the villages and small towns scattered across the vast Polish countryside is characterized by its extensive use of wood as the primary building material.

Some of the best preserved and oldest structures include wooden churches , and tserkvas primarily located across southern Poland in the Beskids and Bieszczady regions of the Carpathian mountains.

These traditional construction methods were utilized all the way up to the start of the 20th century, and gradually faded in the first decades when Poland's population experienced a demographic shift to urban dwelling away form the countryside.

The earliest Polish literature dates back to the 12th century, [] when Poland's official language was Latin.

Within Polish literary customs, it is appropriate to highlight the published works concerning Poland not written by ethnic Poles.

The most vivid example is Gallus Anonymus , a foreign monk and the first chronicler who described Poland and its territories. The first documented phrase in the Polish language reads " Day ut ia pobrusa, a ti poziwai " "Let me grind, and you take a rest" , reflecting the culture of early Poland.

The sentence was allegedly uttered almost a hundred years earlier by a Bohemian settler, who expressed pity for his spouse's duty of grinding by the quern-stone.

Most medieval records in Latin and the Old Polish language contain the oldest extant manuscript of fine Polish prose entitled the Holy Cross Sermons , as well as the earliest Polish-language bible, the so-called Bible of Queen Sophia.

Haller's Calendarium cracoviense , an astronomical wall calendar from , is Poland's oldest surviving print. A Polish writer who utilized Latin as his principal tool of expression was Klemens "Ianicius" Janicki , one of the most renowned Latin poets of his time, who was laureled by the Pope.

Irish PM says we are not the ones seeking any new checks or borders. Irish PM says there are other parties in nireland too.

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