Poland Cities with Hotels
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland (Polish Polska Rzeczpospolita), country in central Europe, bordered on the north by the Baltic Sea and Russia; on the east by Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine; on the south by the Czech Republic and Slovakia; and on the west by Germany. Its capital and largest city is Warsaw.
The name Polska (Poland), applied in the early 11th century, comes from an ancient Slavic tribe known as the Polanie (field or plains dwellers), who settled in the lowlands between the Odra (Oder) and Wisla (Vistula) rivers sometime after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Poland was one of the major European powers under the Jagiellonian dynasty. When the dynasty came to an end in 1572, Poland entered a long period of decline, culminating in the partition of the country between Russia, Austria, and Prussia in 1772, 1793, and 1795. Poland was again established as a sovereign state after World War I (1914-1918). It was partitioned a fourth time in 1939 by Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
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After World War II (1939-1945), Polish
territory suffered a substantial net loss, as the land ceded to the USSR in
the east was nearly double that acquired from
Germany in the west.
Communists ruled Poland from 1945 until 1989, when political and economic
unrest among Poles resulted in the collapse of the regime and its
replacement by a non-Communist coalition.
Land and Resources
Poland has a total land area of 312,677 sq km (120,725 sq
mi). The maximum distance from east to west is about 680 km (about 420 mi)
and the maximum distance from north to south is about 790 km (about 490 mi).
Poland's borders are marked by the Sudeten Mountains in the southwest, the
Carpathian Mountains in the southeast, and Odra and Neisse rivers in the
west, and the Western Bug River in the east. On the northeast, the country
is bounded by a section of the Baltic Sea.
Although Poland appears as an unbroken plain on a relief map,
it has considerable diversity and complexity. The average elevation is only
about 175 m (about 575 ft) above sea level, as compared with the overall
European average of about 290 m (about 950 ft), but elevations reach as high
as 2499 m (8199 ft), atop Mount Rysy in the High Tatry Mountains in the
south (see Tatry), and as low as about 2 m (about 6 ft) below sea level in
the Wisla delta in the north. Poland is divided into a number of distinct
parallel regions that run from east to west. A marked contrast exists
between the northern two-thirds of the country and the southern one-third.
The northern zone is a vast region of plains and low hills,
divided into the Central Polish Lowlands, the Baltic Heights, and the
Coastal Plain. The Central Lowlands are traversed from east to west by a
series of large, shallow valleys. To the north of the Central Lowlands is
the Baltic Heights region, dotted with hills and lakes. The Coastal Plain
consists of a narrow lowland, about 40 to 100 km (about 25 to 60 mi) wide,
that runs nearly the entire length of the Baltic Sea. The coastline, 694 km
(431 mi) long, is remarkably smooth and regular, the major exceptions being
the Pomeranian Bay in the west and the Gulf of Gdansk (formerly Danzig) in
the east. A few good natural harbors are located along the Baltic.
The southern one-third of Poland consists of upland areas of
various kinds and adjacent or intervening lowlands. A narrow belt of
mountains occupies the extreme south and southwest. The Carpathian
Mountains, located on Poland's southeastern border, include the Tatry and
Beskid ranges. The Sudeten Mountains, another major mountain range, are
located on Poland's southwestern border. North of the mountains are a zone
of foothills, the Silesian Plain, and the Lesser Polish Uplands.
Rivers and Lakes
Nearly all of Poland is drained into the Baltic Sea by the
Wisla and Odra rivers and their tributaries, which include the Western Bug
and the Warta. Other rivers include the Neisse, the Nida, the Bobr, and the
Wislok. Poland's lakes, which number about 9300, are concentrated in the
Baltic Heights and Coastal Plain regions. Sniardwy and Mamry are the two
largest. Poland has about 120 artificial reservoirs, situated mainly in the
Baltic Heights and the southern mountains.
"Poland," Microsoftยฎ Encartaยฎ 97 Encyclopedia.
ยฉ 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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January 15, 2010 02:55 PM.