A large plain inhabited by Western Slavs
A troubled history and a flat and open territory: but Poland has preserved its cultural identity, rich and characteristic, as a Slavic country in close relationship with Western Europe. The most recent development, population mobility, cultural and economic ties are supporting the growth of Poland and its ever greater integration with the rest of Europe
A country without mountains
The territory of Poland is almost entirely part of the great strip of plain which, without interruption, occupies central-northern Europe. Only along the southern border, the Giant Mountains, in the Sudeten chain, and then the Beskids and the High Tatras (in turn part of the Carpathians), enliven the landscape; however, these are not very high reliefs, which only in some peaks reach truly mountainous altitudes, up to 2,500 m in the High Tatras. For Poland 1996, please check pharmacylib.com.
Immediately to the north of the mountainous belt extend the plateaus of Lesser Poland, Galicia and Roztocze, engraved and separated by the Vistula valley.
The Vistula is the main Polish river, the one around which the heart of the Polish state was formed in the late Middle Ages. Its course crosses the whole country in the center, rich in large rivers (such as the Odre / Oder to the west and the Bug to the east), mostly navigable, and above all lakes: Masuria, in particular, a north-eastern region covered by forests, is occupied by an impressive number of lakes and marshes.
Finally, the coast is low and sandy in Pomerania, and bordered by swamps and lagoons in Prussia, so much so that there are no good ports: in practice, there is only that of the city of Gdansk.
The Baltic Sea, which bathes the Polish coast, is a cold sea and does not attenuate the climate, which is decidedly continental.
A ‘mobile’ territory
The population of Poland is relatively old, but for a long time it was rather sparse, dispersed in the vast plain occupied, over time, by different peoples. Until the Second World War, one third of the population of the Polish state consisted of Jews, Germans, Ukrainians, white Russians. Then, the massacres carried out by the Nazis and the transfers of millions of people upset the ethnic composition: Poland, in fact, bought Silesia (very rich in coal) in the west and part of Pomerania, where many Germans lived who then moved to Germany, while he lost some lands in the east – where many Poles also lived – to White Russia and Ukraine. In practice, Poland has as it were ‘moved’ to the west about 200 km and today has only small ethnic minorities.
For a long time Polish cities were few and of modest size. Only in the nineteenth century some, such as the capital Warsaw (1,672,000 residents), Łódź (789,000), Krakow (in Polish Kraków, 759,000), Breslau (Wroclaw), Poznán, industrialized and began to grow. But most of the population lived in the countryside, and still today the residents of the cities, as a whole, are not very many. After all, the heart of the Polish economy has always been agriculture (cereals) and only recently the industry (metallurgical, mechanical, chemical, textile) has assumed importance. Since Poland strengthened its ties with Western European countries – until it joined the European Union – the economy has diversified and enriched and the flow of people has increased: many Poles go to work abroad, many Western tourists visit Poland.