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Poland

 

Poland

Year of EU entry: 2004
Capital city: Warsaw
Total area:
313 000 km²
Population:
38,518,241 (July 2007)
Currency: Zloty

 

Poland (/ˈplənd/; Polish: Polska), officially the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska; Kashubian: Pòlskô Repùblika; Silesian: Polsko Republika), is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north. The total area of Poland is 312,679 square kilometres (120,726 sq mi), making it the 69th largest country in the world and the 9th largest in Europe. Poland has a population of over 38 million people, which makes it the 34th most populous country in the world and the sixth most populous member of the European Union, being its most populous post-communist member.
 
History
A nation with a proud cultural heritage, Poland can trace its roots back over 1,000 years. Positioned at the centre of Europe, it has known turbulent and violent times. There have been periods of independence as well as periods of domination by other countries. Several million people, half of them Jews, died in World War II.
Poland is an ancient nation that was conceived near the middle of the 10th century and became one of the most powerful countries in Europe in the16th century.  In a series of agreements between 1772 and 1795, Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland amongst themselves. Poland regained its independence in 1918 only to be overrun by Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. It became a Soviet satellite state following the war. Labour turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity" that over time became a political force and by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe, but Poland still faces the challenges of high unemployment, underdeveloped and dilapidated infrastructure, and a poor rural underclass. 
Poland is rich in natural mineral resources, including rock salt. The Wieliczka salt mine contains an entire town below ground with sanatorium, theatre, church and café! Everything from stairs to chandeliers is made from salt.
Famous Poles include the astronomer Copernicus, the composer Chopin, the scientist Maria Curie-Sklodowska, film-makers Roman Polanski and Krzysztof Kieslowski, and the late Pope, John-Paul II.
 
Polish Communities abroad
Fourteen to seventeen million Poles are estimated to live abroad, mainly in the USA (6-10 million), Germany (about 1.5 million), Brasil (about 1 million), France (about 1 million), Canada (about 600,000), Belarus (400,000-1 million), Ukraine (300,000-500,000), Lithuania (250,00-300,000), the United Kingdom (about 150,000), Australia (130,000-180,000), Argentina (100,000-170,000), Russia (about 100,000), the Czech Republic (70,000-100,000) and Kazakhstan (60,000-100,000).
This immense number of Polish expatriates and foreigners who declare themselves to be of Polish descent (17 million, the equivalent of about 40% of Poland's current population) is a result of complex historical processes which started in the late 18th century when Poland disappeared from the map of Europe, partitioned by its three powerful neighbours, Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Poles. The last great wave of emigration hit Poland after the Second World War, when the country was governed by Moscow. Between 1956 and 1980 about 800,000 people emigrated from Poland to the USA and West European countries, some for political reasons, as opponents of the Communist regime; others simply in search of a better life.
 
Social Structure
The family is the centre of the social structure. A person’s primary obligation is to the family first and foremost. Extended families are still the norm and really form an individual’s social network. Poles draw a line between their inner circle and outsiders. Family members are naturally part of the inner circle along with close friends, usually “family friends”. Poles will interact differently with their inner circle and outsiders. The inner circle forms the basis of a person's social and business network. The people from the inner circle can be relied upon to: offer advice, help find a job, or even rent an apartment. There is an elaborate etiquette of extending favours and using contacts to get things done. Poles are known for being direct communicators, i.e. they say what they are thinking. However they are also very sensitive to other’s feelings and let that determine how and what they say.
 
 
Polish holiday and customs
Poles are seen as a nation of fun lovers who enjoy festivities, traditions and centuries-old customs. The two main national holidays are the anniversary of the restoration of independence in 1918, celebrated on 11 November, and the anniversary of the passing of Poland's first Constitution on 3 May 1791. These are official holidays with ceremonies, marches, concerts and other festivities. Other holidays, quite different in character, include Women's Day (8 March; today much less popular than under Communism), Mother's Day (26 May), Granny's Day (21 January) and Children's Day (1 June), all less public and celebrated first and foremost at home.

Christmas:
 
Christmas is a very festive holiday in Poland. Many customs, ceremonies and beliefs centre around Christmas Eve, a special day in Polish homes. An important element contributing to its dignified atmosphere are the Christmas decorations, notably a beautifully adorned Christmas tree. Today it would be difficult to imagine Christmas without it, although it's one of the newest traditions: the first trees appeared in Poland in the 19th century, mainly in cities, introduced by Germans and Protestants of German origin. Gradually the custom gained popularity all across Poland. Another element of the traditional Christmas decorations were sheaves of wheat and rye, hay and straw. They were supposed to bring good crops and remind everyone of the poverty in which Jesus was born. The custom has survived in the form of a small bunch of hay put under the tablecloth. In some houses this is accompanied today by money, a fish scale or bone put into a wallet - all to ensure affluence in the new year. An extra set of plates and cutlery is laid on the table for an unexpected guest. Sometimes an empty plate is a reminder of those who have passed away. The dinner consists only of  meatless dishes. Traditionally, there should be twelve courses - reflecting the number of months in the year or, in different interpretation, Christ's apostles.In practice, hardly anybody bothers to count them; the more food is on the table, the more auspicious the next year will be. You at least have to taste everything. This custom derives from the ancient tradition of respect for the fruits of the earth. After dinner, Christmas carols are sung.
 
Easter

On Holy Saturday people bring baskets of their Easter fare to church for a special blessing for all the different Easter foods. This typically Polish tradition dates back to the 14th century. Originally, only a baked lamb made of bread  was blessed, but today the basket should contain at least seven kinds of food, each with its own symbolism. Bread, ensuring good fortune, is in Christianity first and foremost a symbol of Christ's body. Eggs stands for re-birth, life's victory over death. Salt is a life-giving mineral, once believed to keep away all evil. Smoked meat ensures health, fertility and abundance. Cheese represents friendship between man and nature. Horseradish is a symbol of strength and physical fitness. Cake (usually an Easter pound cake, round wheat cake and mazurek) was the last item to appear in the Easter basket and it symbolises skills and perfection. Tradition has it that the cake should be home-made. Nowadays some people also have chocolate and tropical fruits in their Easter baskets.


 
As tradition requires, the blessed food products are eaten at a ceremonial breakfast on Easter Sunday. The whole family sits down to a table lavishly laid with hams, sausages, pates, roulades, roast pork loins, a variety of poultry dishes, eggs, pound cakes, mazureks, round wheat cakes, cheesecakes, etc., etc. Hot dishes include żur with white sausage or smoked bacon, horseradish soup with a hard-boiled egg and white sausage, or barszcz consommé, also served with an egg. The table is covered with a snow-white cloth and decorated with Easter eggs, spring flowers, catkins, green cress compositions and the essential Easter lamb made of cake or sugar.

Easter MondayŚmigus-dyngus, is a day on which boys sprinkle girls with water. The original meaning of this ancient custom, which remains extremely popular today, has faded into oblivion. Perhaps it was a rite of purification to ensure fertility. In many places not only women were sprinkled, but the earth and cows as well - for better crops and more milk.

Easter eggs  Another Easter custom is the tradition of decorating eggs. The oldest Polish Easter egg comes from the 10th century and was found at an excavation site in Ostrów. Interestingly, it was made in a technique very much like those used today. Decorating Easter eggs has become an element of folk culture, with distinct regional differences. Traditionally, before they are dyed the eggs are painted over (using a funnel-like tool) with a pattern in molten wax, which, when dry, will not adsorb the dye and is later scraped away to leave a traced decoration on the painted egg.
 
Cuisine
Polish cuisine has drawn on the cooking traditions of the many national groups that lived in the country over centuries, notably the Jews, Ukrainians, Belarussians and Lithuanians. There are also some Russian, German, Czech and Austrian influences as well as dishes from more distant regions: Italy, France and the Middle East.

One Polish speciality is its excellent smoked meats, especially sausage (kiełbasa), very popular throughout the world, made after traditional recipes and smoked over juniper or fruit-tree twigs.
Poland is renowned for its range of delicious bread: white, brown, wholemeal, with raisins, prunes, sesame seeds, poppyseed...

An essential part of the main Polish meal of the day - is soup. One of the most popular soups in the country is barszcz (fermented beetroot soup), often served with beans or uszka, ravioli-type pastries stuffed with meat or mushrooms.
Perhaps the best-known Polish culinary classic is kotlet schabowy - fried pork loin chop coated in breadcrumbs and served with potatoes and cabbage.
 

Polish language

J. angielski
 J. polski
General questions
Pytaniaogólne
Hello / Good bye
Witaj / Do widzenia
Good morning / good afternoon / goodnight
Dzień dobry / Dzień dobry- po godz.12.00 w południe / Dobranoc
Excuse me
Przepraszam
I do not speak any English
Nie mówię po angielsku
I only speak a little English
Nie mówię zbyt dobrze po angielsku
Can anyone here speak…?
Czy ktoś mówi po…?
Portuguese / Lithuanian / Polish / Russian
portugalsku / litewsku / polsku / rosyjsku
I need an interpreter
Potrzebuję tłumacza
Can you help me?
Czy może mi Pan/Pani pomóc?
Directions
Kierunki
Where is the ……?
Gdzie jest…?
Left / right
lewo / prawo
Straight ahead
Prosto
Behind / beside
za / obok
In front of
przed
Bank   /   Post Office
Bank/ Poczta
Shop /    School
Sklep / Szkoła
Church / Police Station
Kościół / Posterunek Policji
Council / Library
Urząd / Biblioteka
Job Centre / Health Centre
Urząd Pracy / Centrum Zdrowia
Dentist / Optician
Dentysta / Optyk
Fire Brigade
Straż Pożarna
Train Station/ Bus Station
Dworzec kolejowy / autobusowy
Food
Żywność
Do you have …?
Czy ma Pan/ Pani…?
Meat / Chicken / Beef / Pork
Mięso / kurczak / wołowina / wieprzowina
Vegetables / potatos / Carrots
Warzywa / ziemniaki / marchewka
Rice / pasta / flour
Ryż / makaron / mąka
Milk / juice / water / coffee / tea
Mleko / sok / woda / kawa / herbata
Bread / sugar / butter / eggs
Chleb / cukier / masło / jajka
I need … ?
Potrzebuję…?
Phone / bank card / stamp
Telefon / katra płatnicza / znaczek
Bank account
Rachunek bankowy
Health
Zdrowie
Doctor / GP
Lekarz / lekarz pierwszego kontaktu
Headache
Ból głowy
Make an Appointment
Umówić wizytę
Tablets
Tabletki
Flu / Cold
Grypa / przeziębienie
Discharge letter
Zwolnienie ze szpitala