The Polish people, or Poles ( ; singular: Polak), are a nation indigenous to Poland. They speak the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe. The Polish word for a Polish person is "Polak" (masculine) and "Polka" (feminine).
The state flag of Poland
as used by Polish government and diplomatic authorities
The preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland defines the Polish nation as comprising all the citizens of Poland. Poland's inhabitants live in seven major historic regions: Wielkopolska, Ma opolska, Mazovia, Pomerania, Warmia, Mazury and Silesia. A wide-ranging Polish diaspora exists throughout Europe (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine), the Americas (the United States, Brazil and Argentina) and Australia. Chicago, in the United States, has the world's largest urban Polish population after Warsaw.
Over a thousand years ago, the Polans of Giecz, Gniezno and Pozna an influential tribe in Wielkopolska succeeded in uniting Lechitic tribes under what became the Piast dynasty, thus giving rise to the Polish state.
Polish people show the characteristic R1a genes of a common Paleolithic male ancestorship at a frequency of 55.9-56.4%. This lineage includes haplotype Eu19 distinguished by M17 lineage. Its frequency increases eastward from south-western France and reaches a maximum in Poland, Hungary, and west Ukraine. They were not racially homogeneous, but composed of mixtures of the types, according to Czekanowski, with a few trivial exceptions. Before 1939 the inhabitants of Poland were divided between four distinct types the Nordic, Alpine, Mediterranean and Armenoid neighbors or brothers. Some of these types centred around Western Poland, Masovia, Pomerania, Volhynia and Greater Poland. The Mediterranean and Alpine types were mainly represented in Silesia and Lesser Poland.
As a result of genocide on Polish lands, evacuation, repatriation, and expulsion during and after World War II, and territorial changes which were assigned by the Big Three allies to Poland after World War II. as well as the ensuing mass migrations and border shifts, "the population of Poland became one of the most ethnically homogeneous in the world," according to Encyclop dia Britannica. "In addition, minority ethnic identity was not cultivated publicly until after the collapse of communism in 1989." The CIA World Factbook defines the ethnic composition of Poland as being 96.7% Polish with 0.4% Germans, 0.1% Belarusians, 0.1%, Ukrainians, and 2.7% other and unspecified (2002 census). The present-day homogeneity contrasts with the World War II period, informs the U.S. Department of State: "when there were significant ethnic minorities - 4.5 million Ukrainians, 3 million Jews, 1 million Belarusians, and 800,000 Germans." The majority of Poland's Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Most Germans left ahead of the Nazi-Soviet front, while most Ukrainians and Belarusians remained in territories incorporated into the USSR. "Small Ukrainian, Belarusian, Slovakian, and Lithuanian minorities reside along the Polish borders, and a German minority is concentrated near the southwest city of Opole."
In the first half of the 16th century, the historian Marcin Kromer in his work De Situ Polonia; et gente Polona (dedicated to King Henry III of France), wrote: "colors for faces of Polish people (peasants) were white, yellowish or whitish hair, handsome figure, with average height"
The research conducted in 1955 had shown that 55% of Poles have light hair (16-12 scale of Fischer Saller), and about 72% have light eyes (A-P scale of Fischer Saller). By the end of the 20th century, heights averaged at 178 cm (5'10") for 20-year-old males, and 166 cm (5'5") for 20-year-old females.
Polish people are the sixth largest national group in European Union. Estimates vary depending on source, though available data suggest a total number of around 60 million people worldwide (with roughly 21 million living outside of Poland, many of whom are not of Polish ethnicity, but Polish nationals). There are almost 39 million Poles in Poland alone. There are also Polish minorities in the surrounding countries including Germany, and indigenous minorities in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Belarus. There are some smaller indigenous minorities in nearby countries such as Moldova and Latvia. There is also a Polish minority in Russia which includes indigenous Poles as well as those forcibly deported during and after World War II; the total number of Poles in what was the former Soviet Union is estimated at up to 3 million.
The term "Polonia" is usually used in Poland to refer to people of Polish origin who live outside Polish borders, officially estimated at around 10 to 20 million. There is a notable Polish diaspora in the United States, Canada, and Brazil. France has a historic relationship with Poland and has a relatively large Polish-descendant population. Poles have lived in France since the 18th century. In the early 20th century, over a million Polish people settled in France, mostly during world wars, among them Polish migr s fleeing either Nazi occupation or later Soviet rule.
In the United States a significant number of Polish immigrants settled in Chicago, Ohio, Detroit, New York City, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and New England. The highest concentration of Poles in the United States is in New Britain, Connecticut. The majority of Polish Canadians have arrived in Canada since World War II. The number of Polish immigrants increased between 1945 and 1970, and again after the end of Communism in Poland in 1989. In Brazil the majority of Polish immigrants settled in Paran State. The city of Curitiba has the second largest Polish diaspora in the world (after Chicago) and Polish music, dishes and culture are quite common in the region.
In recent years, since joining the European Union, many Polish people have emigrated to countries such as Ireland, where an estimated 200,000 Polish people have entered the labour market. It is estimated that over half a million Polish people have come to work in the United Kingdom from Poland. Since 2011, Poles have been able to work freely throughout the EU and not just in the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden where they have had limited rights since Poland's EU accession in 2004. The Polish community in Norway has increased substantially and has grown to a total number of 120,000, making Poles the largest immigrant group in Norway.
Before World War II many Polish Jews became followers of Zionism and subsequently emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine. Following the Holocaust, the vast majority of surviving Polish Jews moved to Israel. Poland is the largest single place of origin of Israeli Jews.
- (for ethnic Poles living abroad see Polonia, for those living and working in the United Kingdom see Polish British)
The culture of Poland has a history of 1000 years. Located in Central Europe, its character developed as a result of its geography at the confluence of fellow Central European cultures (German, Western Ukrainian, Czech and Austrian) the Western European cultures (French and Dutch), Southern European cultures (Italian and Turkish), Northern European cultures (Lithuanian, Swedish and Danish) and Eastern European cultures (East Ukrainian and Russian) along cultural influence of the Jewish culture. Confluences were conveyed by immigrants (Jewish, German and Dutch), political alliances (with Lithuania, Hungary, Saxony, France and Sweden), conquests of the Polish state (Ukraine and Latvia) or conquerors of the Polish lands (Tsardom of Russia, Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Monarchy, later on Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary).
With origins in the culture of the Lechites, over time Polish culture has been greatly influenced by its ties with the Germanic, Latinate and other ethnic groups and minorities living in Poland like the Jews. The people of Poland have traditionally been seen as hospitable to artists from abroad (especially Italy) and open to cultural and artistic trends popular in other European countries. Owing to this central location, the Poles came very early into contact with both civilizations - eastern and western, and as a result developed economically, culturally, and politically. A German general Helmut Carl von Moltke, in his Poland. A historical sketch (1885), stated that Poland prior to her partitions was "the most civilized country in Europe". In the 19th and 20th centuries the Polish focus on cultural advancement often took precedence over political and economic activity, experiencing severe crisis, especially during the II World War and in the coming years. These factors have contributed to the versatile nature of Polish art, with all its complex nuances. Royal Chapel]] in Gda sk, 1681
Polish (j zyk polski, polszczyzna) is a Lechitic languages and the official language of Poland. Its written standard is the Polish alphabet which corresponds basically to the Latin alphabet with a few additions. Polish-speakers use the language in a uniform manner throughout most of Poland, though numerous languages, speeches and dialects coexist along the standard Polish language.
- The Encyclop dia Britannica says that "Lekhitic languages, also spelled Lechitic , group of West Slavic languages composed of Polish, Kashubian and its archaic variant Slovincian, and the extinct Polabian language. All these languages except Polish are sometimes classified as a Pomeranian subgroup. In the early Middle Ages, before their speakers had become Germanized, Pomeranian languages and dialects were spoken along the Baltic in an area extending from the lower Vistula River to the lower Oder River. Kashubian and Slovincian survived into the 20th century; there were still a considerable number of native speakers of Kashubian in Poland and Canada in the 1990s. The extinct Polabian language, which bordered the Sorbian dialects in eastern Germany, was spoken by the Slavic population of the Elbe River region until the 17th or 18th century; a dictionary and some phrases written in the language exist".
Most Poles, by far, adhere to the Christian faith, the majority belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. The rest of the population consists mainly of Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, various Protestant and Judaism.
Among the exonyms not native to the Polish people or language are: (lyakh) used in East Slavic languages. Today, the word Lachy is used by Eastern Slavs as synonyms for "Poles" and "Poland". The foreign exonyms include also: Lithuanian Lenkai, Hungarian Lengyelek and Turkish Leh (now considered obsolete and replaced by Polonya). The former became the basis for Poland exonyms in a number of other Middle Eastern languages, including: Lehastan; Lehest n; Lahestan).
The following is a list of Polish tribes tribes which constituted the lands of Poland in the Early Middle Ages, at the beginning of the Polish state. Some of them have remained separate ethnicities while others have been assimilated into the culture of Poland.
- See also: Bavarian Geographer, a list of tribes in Central Europe, composed in the 870s.
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