The name Poland comes from the tribe Polanie who settled near Gniezno. In the 9th
and 10th century Polanie managed to unite most other Slavic tribes living in the area.
They established the state reigned by the Piast dynasty.
The first prince of the Piast dynasty mentioned by historical sources was Mieszko I. He
was baptized in the year 966, starting Christianization of Poland. The son of Mieszko,
Boleslaw Chrobry, was the first king of Poland. The first capital of Poland was Gniezno.
In 1038 the capital was moved to Kraków, and a few centuries later - to Warsaw.
In 1386 Queen Jadwiga married the grand duke of Lithuania, Władysław Jagiełło. This
marriage initiated a union between Poland and Lithuania. The Jagiellonian Dynasty reigned
Poland until 1572. That was a very good period for Poland, especially the 16th century,
which is called the 'golden age' of Poland.
After the end of Jagiellonian Dynasty, the elective monarchy began. The internal rivarly
caused the weakness of the state.
The weakness of Poland enabled the first partition of the country by Russia, Prussia and
Austria in 1772. These countries annexed nearly 30% of the territory of Poland. It caused
the attempts to make reforms in Poland. On the 3 May 1791 was established the
Constitution of Poland - the first one in Europe. However, it did not prevent Poland from
being partitioned for the second (1792) and the third (1795) time. For 123 years Poland
disappeared from the map of Europe.
During the 19th century the Polish people revolted against the occupants. The most
significant uprisings were in 1830-1831 and 1863-1864. Poland regained independence after
the First World War, in november 1918, as the Second Polish Republic. But the peace did
not last long. On the 1st September 1939 Poland was invaded by Germany, and on the 17th
September - by Soviet troops. Polish resistance was crushed, and the country was
partitioned again, and later - completely occupied by Germany. Many people died in
extermination camps or were deported to Germany for forced labor. Polish people formed an
underground resistance movement and a government in exile. During the World War II over 6
million Polish people died, half of them were the Polish Jews.
After the war Poland was under the influence of the Soviet Union. The time of communism
began. In 1952 Poland was proclaimed a people's republic. The economic problems and the
dissaticfaction from the communist rule caused big waves of strikes in 1970 and 1980. In
1980 was created an independent trade union Solidarity (Solidarność), which played a huge role in the
fall of communism in Poland. In 1989 the Third Polish Republic was established.
In 1999 Poland became part of NATO and in 2004 it joined the European Union.