HISTORY OF POLAND
The origins of Poland dates back to the 10th century, when in the year 966 Slavs established a permanent settlement and founded the Polish state.
During 15th and 16th century Poles was one of the largest nations in Europe. The country flourished under a commonwealth with Lithuania. In the late 17th century Poland had some great military successes e.g. king Jan Sobieski defeated and drove back a Turkish army that laid siege to Vienna. However in the late 17th and 18th century Poland was weakened by the lack of an effective central government and this resulted in the country being divided among three neighbouring countries of Austria, Prussia and Russia. Poland did not regain independence until the end of WWI in 1918.
In September 1939 Germany’s invasion of Poland triggered the start of World War II. The Poles fought bravely but 17th of September the Russians invaded from the east, and all resistance ceased by the beginning of October. Some Polish soldiers escaped abroad and fought with Nazi all over the world – for e.g in June 1940 Polish pilots played a major role in the Battle of Britain.
After WWII Poland was devastated and nearly 25% of the population was killed. The government was under Soviet Union influense which resulted in Communism being imposed on the Poles.
In 1980 after announcing a price hike of up to 100% in certain foods, the shipyard in Gdansk went on strike. The workers leader was an electrician named Lech Walesa. They drew up a list of demands which were accepted by the government and workers formed a mass movement called Solidarity.
In June 1989 the communist party in Poland lost the election. As a result of this Poland left the Soviet Union Block and this triggered the collapse of communism all over Europe. In 1990, Solidarity’s then chairman Lech Wałesa became the first free elected president of Poland after the WWII. In 1997 Poland joined NATO, in 2004 the European Union and in 2007 the Schengen Area.