From the poignant historical sites in the cities to hiking in the High Tetras Mountains, and the diverse wildlife watching, Poland has a lot to offer as a destination.
The republic of Poland is one of the largest countries in Central Europe and can trace its roots back over 1,000 years. Poland has been through periods of independence and domination. Several million poles died in World war II. Poland is now a sovereign and democratic country. In 2004 they became a member of the European Union, Poland continues to make major economic strides.
966 – Christianisation
1025 – Kingdom of Poland
1569 – Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
1795 – Partition of Poland
1807 – Duchy of Warsaw
1815 – Congress Poland
1918 – Reconstitution of Poland
1939 – Invasion of Poland, World War II
1945 – Communist Poland
1989 – Republic of Poland
After World War II ended, Poland fell under Soviet control and the communist People’s Republic of Poland was created as a Soviet satellite state. The country’s boundaries were radically changed and shifted to the west, followed by mass movements of people of various nations. In consequence, Poland lost its traditional multi-ethnic character and became a country with homogeneous Polish population.
In the difficult years of communism, a new hope for Poles arose when Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) was chosen Pope in 1978. Two years later, in 1980, the “Solidarity” was founded, being the first mass independent trade union in communist states. This reform movement, led by Lech Walesa, eventually broke Soviet control in Eastern Europe. The first elections of the Third Polish Republic were held in 1989 and the country entered a period of transition from a communist state to the capitalist economic system and liberal parliamentary democracy. A modern Polish state arose.
Poland now has a new constitution which was signed in 1997. The country is a member of the NATO since 1999 and joined the European Union in 2004. After years of turbulent history, the country has finally found some stability and chance for growth in peace.
Location: Central Europe
Population: 38 million
Religion: Roman Catholic
Poland experiences cold winters and warm summers. It has a fairly moderate climate. Snow covers the mountains in the south from December to April. A good time to visit in terms of weather are late spring and early summer. Temperatures in the winter drop below 5 c and are above 20 in the summer.
Poland is one of the biggest countries in central Europe. The country borders Germany to the west and Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south Ukraine to the east, its northern frontier constitutes the Baltic sea.
The country has an amazingly versatile natural environment, with its sandy beaches of the Baltic sea to the north through lakes, rivers and ancient forests to uplands and mountains in the south. The highest peak being mount rysy 2499. These mountains offer great skiing and hiking opportunities several major rivers run across the country including Vistula in the centre and Oder which flows along Poland’s western border which are great for caneoing.
Their Flora and fauna is just as diverse with around 75,000 species of plants and around 33,000-45,000 animal species. The most valuable areas and species are under legal protection and there are many nature reserves. Nature protection is important in Poland resulting in some places in the country being hardly touched by civilisation, for instance the Bialowieza Promevil forest or the bieszczady mountains. Poland’s most famous animals are, the eagle, the stork, the bison and the wolf, these animals each have their own special status within the country and have taken on extra meanings.
Poland suffered significant environmental damage as a result of economic policies of the communist period which put a lot of focus on the development of heavy industry. But there are many groups fighting hard for more environmental protection.
Most polish people belong to the catholic church a huge 90% of polish society Judaism and Islam are the biggest non-Christian religions. Religion plays an important role in polish society and is deeply intwined with polish culture. Religious holidays are considered national holidays,
Beside Christmas and easter a ket polish holiday is all saints day which takes place son November 1st on this day poles visit ceneteries of passed loved ones
Key religious sites include Jasna Gora monastery in czestochwa home to the black Madonna icon, the devine mercy sanctuaru in lagiewniki in Krakow and the home of john paul ii in wadowice.
Poland is an almost mono-ethnic society with poles making up 97% of the countries inhabitants The present population of Polish people living in Poland is estimated at slightly over 38 million. Worldwide there are additional 15-20 million Poles and people of Polish origin living abroad. This is a very different from what it was like before WW II, before it was a very multi-ethnic country with a third of its populations composing of minorities.
Polish belongs to west Slavic group of Indo-European languages. Polish is most closely related to Slovak and Czech and is the second most widely Slavic language, after Russian, Polish ranks at 17th among world languages as to number of speakers. 97% of Poland declare polish as their mother tongue it is the official language of Poland, there are a few regional dialects from the standard polish language, although the differences are small.
Traditional polish foods is rich in various kinds of meat, pork, chicken and beef. Soups are very popular, as are different kinds of dumplings and noodles, most notably pierogi and kluski not to mentioned their sausage and breads. The main meal of the day tends to be eaten early afternoon and is typically composed of three courses: a soup, a main course ususally involving meat, vgetables and potatoes finishing with pastry or cakes for dessert.
A Few National dishes:
Kielbasa – polish sausage is made with different meats and spices, smoked and dried.
Orgorki kiszone – pickled cucumbers
Sledzie – herring prepared in a verity of ways.
Oscypek – smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk, served cold or hot – it s a must taste when you visit the tetra mountains.
Zurek – sour rye soup served with sausage and egg, it is sometimes served in an edible bowl made of bread. It is very nutritious and traditionally eaten at Easter.
Pierogi – dumplings stuffed with various fillings, they are served steaming hot boiled or fried.
Makowiec – poppy seed cake often with raisins, almonds, walnuts and decorated with icing commonly eaten at Christmas and Easter.
Greetings tend to be reserved, when greeting go with a handshake and direct eye contact. Do not use first names until invited to.
If invite for inner bring in flowers or sweet things for host (be sure to give an odd number of flowers. Be punctual, take off your shoes, offer to help clear up, do not ask for a tour.)
Poles are known for direct communication i.e. they say what they are thinking but so is being diplomatic.
Homosexuality is not openly tolerated in Poland. Polish society is religious and conservative. the LGBTQ scene that does exist is quite discreet the main cities are the most gay-friendly.
A few words before you go:
Dzień dobry – good morning / good afternoon)
Dobry wieczór – good evening (DOH-brih VYEH-choor)
Dobranoc – good night (doh-BRAH-notes)
Cześć – hi (cheshch)
Do widzenia – good bye (doh vee-DZEN-ya)
Proszę – please / here you are (PROH-sheh)
Dziękuję – thank you (jen-KOO-yeh)
Dzięki – thanks (informal) (JEN-kee)
Przepraszam – I’m sorry / excuse me (psheh-PRAH-shahm)
Tak – yes (tahk)
Nie – no / not (nyeh)
Nie wiem – I don’t know (nyeh vyem)
Jak się masz? – How are you? (informal) (yahk shay mahsh)
Nie mówię po polsku. – I don’t speak Polish (nyeh MOO-vyeh poh pohl-skoo)
Nie rozumiem – I don’t understand (nyeh roh-ZOO-myem)
Na zdrowie! – Cheers! / Bless you! (lit. For health!) (nah ZDROH-vyeh)