60 Amazing and Interesting Facts about Poland | Amazing Facts 4U
Land & Geography
- The official name of Poland is the Republic of Poland. The name Poland comes from tribe “Polanie” meaning people living in open land.
- Poland is home to over 38 million people.
- Geographically, Poland is not actually in Eastern Europe. It is in fact in the very center of Europe.
- Poland is the 9th largest country in Europe by land area (3,12,000 Km2). Poland is the 6th most populous and the 6th largest of the European Union’s 27 member states.
- Most of the country is flat, with an average elevation of 173 meters. The peak of Rysy in the Tatra Mountains is the highest point in Poland at 2499 m (8199 ft).
- Forests cover over 30% of Poland’s land area and the country is the fourth most forested in Europe.
- Seven countries share a border with Poland including Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Slovakia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Germany.
- Warsaw is the largest city and capital of Poland.
- Poland’s national symbol is the White Eagle.
- Of all migratory birds that travel to Europe for the summer, one quarter of them breed in Poland making it the most important bird breeding ground in Europe.
- The country’s first historically documented ruler was Mieszko I (c. 935-992). The Kingdom of Poland was founded shortly after in 1025.
- In ancient times, what is now Poland was inhabited by a multitude of ethnic groups, including various Celtic, Slavic (in the center and south-east), Baltic (in the north-east) and Germanic (in the west and south-west) tribes.
- Kraków was the headquarters and the place of coronation of Polish kings and the nation’s capital from 1038 until the move to Warsaw in 1596.
- It was “stolen” between 1772 and 1795 when the country was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria and erased from the map.
- The last Polish monarch, Stanisław Poniatowski, died in prison in 1798 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
- In 1807, Poland was reborn as the Duchy of Warsaw under Napoleon Bonaparte but his defeat in 1815 ended with Poland being partitioned by Russia, Prussia (then Germany), and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Between 1815 and 1918, Poland ceased to exist as a political entity.
- Poland has fought too many wars. It has been invaded or has fought for freedom about 43 times between year 1600 and 1945.
- In 1939, Poland had the largest Jewish community in Europe (Almost 3.5 million). This may be why 70% of the Nazi extermination camps during WWII were located in what is now Poland, including the three most infamous ones : Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and Belzec.
- On September 1, 1939, the German Wehrmacht invaded Poland without any prior declaration of war, thereby beginning World War II. On November 3, 1939, the first death sentence of World War II was passed by the Nazis on two Polish women who had torn down Nazi placards.
- It is estimated that more than 6 million Poles including soldiers and civilians died in concentration camps, labor camps, prisons, and forced labor during the 5 years of Nazi occupation.
- Nazi-occupied Poland was the only territory where the Germans decreed that any kind of help for Jews was punishable by death during WWII. Up to 50,000 Poles were executed by the Nazis for saving Jews. Poles rescued at least 450,000 Jews from certain death.
- Pomerania, Prussia and Silesia were ceded by Germany to Poland as war reparations in 1945. However, Poland remained under a Communist government until 1989.
- On September 12, 1989, the first freely elected, noncommunist government in a Warsaw Pact state took office, led by Poland’s Nobel Peace Prize-winner Lech Wałęsa, who was instrumental in organizing the Solidarity movement of the 1980s.
Places / Architecture
- Poland has 14 heritage sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
- Wieliczka Salt Mine built in the 13th century is one of the world’s old salt mines still in operation until 2007. It is also referred to as “the Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland” due to its three chapels and an entire cathedral carved out of the rock salt by the miners and placed on the UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites in 1978.
- Amazingly the Wieliczka Salt Mine reaches a depth of 1,073 feet (327 m) and is over 178 miles (287 km) long.
- Located in Wrocław is the oldest restaurant in Europe, “Piwnica Swidnicka”, operating since 1275.
- Nicolaus Copernicus, the famous 16th century astronomer who first suggested the sun was the center of our universe was born in Thorn, Royal Prussia, part of the Kingdom of Poland.
- The historic site of the Auschwitz German concentration camp by Nazi near Oświęcim is now a site of pilgrimage and monument where during World War II, at least 1.1. million Nazi prisoners were killed. Ninety percent of the prisoners killed were Jewish. The first exterminations of prisoners took place in September 1941.
People Customs & Culture
- 90% of Poles have completed at least secondary education, the highest score in the EU, along with the Czechs, Slovaks, and Slovenes. 50% poles have an academic degree.
- Polish people marry the youngest within the European Union (24 years old for women and 26.5 years old for men in average).
- Polish people have the largest households in the European Union.
- Poland’s long friendship with France during the 18th and 19th centuries has resulted in many Polish artists and intellectuals moving to Paris.
- Poland is nowadays one of the most staunchly Catholic country in Europe. Roman Catholicism is so popular that Poland has a TV channel dedicated to the Pope.
- Nearly 35% of the 60 million poles live abroad. Large Polish speaking communities can be found in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, Brazil and Argentina.
- Amazingly first floor is regarded as floor “0”. If you want to go to second floor in elevator, press “1”.
- Poland is one of the few countries where courteous hand kissing is still a common practice.
- Amazing fact is that when foreign movies are dubbed for Polish TV, one man reads all the dialogues of men, women or children.
- Polish alphabet consists of 32 letters in contrast to English 26.
- Polish constitution in 1791 was the first in Europe and second in the world after USA.
- The Polish flag has two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red. The colors derive from the Polish emblem, which is a white eagle on a red field. Poland’s flag is similar to the flags of Indonesia and Monaco, which are in reverse colors.
- Poland’s national symbol is the white-tailed eagle.
- Recently it held its first free elections in more than 40 years in 1989 after collapse of communist regime.
- Poland is the world’s biggest amber exporter.
- It is among the world’s biggest producers of hard coal. Poland’s reserves of hard coal are estimated at 45 billion tons, enough to meet the country’s demand for almost 500 years.
- Poland has a history of producing high-quality vodka for more than 500 years. The first Polish vodkas appeared in the 11th century.
- The first oil refinery in the world was built in 1856 by Polish pharmacist and petroleum industry pioneer, Ignacy Lukasiewicz.
- The most popular sport in Poland is football. Polish national team came third in the 1974 and 1982 World Cup Finals and won Olympic Gold in 1972.
- Poland boasts the most winners of the “World’s Strongest Men” title. In fact Polish-born Mariusz Pudzianowski is a 5 time winner of the title.
- Polish born astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus formulated the first explicitly heliocentric model of the solar system, thus starting the scientific revolution that would transform Europe and weaken the dogma of the Catholic Church.
- Polish astronomer, Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687) published the earliest exact maps of the moon.
- Marie Curie (born Maria Sklodowska 1867-1934), physicist, chemist ,the first and only Nobel laureate in two different sciences and first female professor at the Sorbonne University. However, she lived much of her life in France.
- The famous English writer Joseph Conrad (born Teodor Józef Konrad Nalecz-Korzeniowski, 1857-1924)
- The co-founder of Marks & Spencer, Michael Marks (1859-1907)
- The cosmetics industrialist Helena Rubinstein (1871-1965)
- Max Factor was founded by a Pol Maksymilian Factorowicz.
- Pope John Paul II also known as Karol Wojtyla (1920-2005) was Polish. He was the only Polish Pope to date and served the second longest.
- Fashion TV was founded by a Pol Michel Adam Lisowski.
- The biochemist Casimir Funk (1884-1967), who first isolated and formulated the concept of “vitamins” proposing the name.
- Poles have won a total of 17 Nobel prizes (more than Japan, China, India or Australia), including four Peace Prizes, and five in Literature.
By Amazing Facts 4U Team