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Few basic facts about Poland Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

Ask any tourist about Poland and you might get a mumble of beautiful cities, vodka, communist rule, Pope John Paul II and Euro 2012.

Here are few facts I picked up to help make your visit even more meaningful and interesting:

* Nearly 35% of the 60 million Poles live abroad and large Polish speaking communities can be found in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, Brazil and Argentina.

* The name “Poland” originates from the name of the tribe “Polanie” which means “people living in open fields”.

* It has been invaded or has fought for freedom in insurrections 43 times from 1600 to 1945.

* The highest mountain in Australia was named in 1840 by Polish explorer Paul Edmund Strzelecki as Mount Kościuszko because of the mountain’s resemblance to the Kościuszko Mound in Kraków.

* The 1st floor is regarded as floor “0” so you press “1” when you want to go to the 2nd floor in the elevator.

* Poles are well educated. 90% of Poland’s youths complete at least secondary education and 50% have an academic degree.

* It adopted the first constitution of its type in Europe and the second ever in the world after that of the United States on 3 May 1791 and was in effect for only 14 months and 3 weeks. It was referred to as “the last will and testament of the expiring Country” and of Polish sovereignty before Poland entered into 123 years of partition.

* It boasts 17 Nobel prize winners, including four Peace Prizes and five in Literature.

* It contributes soldiers to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan; maintains troops in the Balkans, mainly in the NATO Kosovo Force; and is contributing a full battalion to the NATO Response Force, with soldiers on call for rapid deployment.

* 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 the centre of the Euopean Jewish world with 3.3 million Jews living in Poland.

* It is among the world’s biggest producers of hard coal. Poland’s reserves of hard coal are estimated at 45.4 billion tons, enough to meet the country’s demand for almost 500 years, twice as long as the world’s average.

* Poles represent the biggest number of people by nationality to rescue Jews during the German Nazi-organised Holocaust, up to around 450,000 from certain death. Poland holds the world record with the most people at 6,135 being awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations by the State of Israel.

* A popular drink in Poland, orangeade or oranżada, is a sweet carbonated drink with an orange taste that originated in France and spread to Poland in the 18th century.

* Covering 1/3 of Poland, it’s geothermal waters resources are ranked among the richest in Europe. Equivalent to some 3.5 billion tons of oil, it is sufficient for heating the houses of about 30 million people.

* Pope John Paul II also known as Karol Wojtyła (1920-2005) was Polish. He was the only Polish Pope to date and served the second longest. Additionally he is credited with contributing to hastening the end of communism in Poland and throughout Central and Eastern Europe. His popularity resulted in a TV channel dedicated entirely to the Pope. His family home in Wadowice just outside of Kraków is now a famous site of Christian pilgrimage in Poland.

* The 1st oil refinery in the world was built in 1856 by Polish pharmacist and petroleum industry pioneer, Ignacy Łukasiewicz.

* Polish born astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus – Mikołaj Kopernik (1473–1543) was the first person to propose that the earth was not the center of the universe. Another Polish astronomer, Johannes Hevelius – Jan Heweliusz (1611-1687) published the earliest exact maps of the moon.

* One of the most famous songs in Poland is the”Żeby Polska była Polską”, a Polish protest song written in 1976 by Jan Pietrzak which became the informal anthem protesting the totalitarian Communist regime. Ronald Reagan named a speech after the song, and Queen Elizabeth II quoted from it in her speech to the Polish Parliament.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.