This is Poland, the country where Ukrainians arrive fleeing from the war

(CNN Spanish) — Located in the heart of Europe, Poland is the geographical and cultural crossroads between East and West. With a rich and turbulent history, World War II broke out in this country, home to thousands of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. It was a satellite state of the Soviet Union and until the end of the 90s the communist regime came to an end. Since then it has turned its gaze towards the western world and has become one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. The CIA World Factbook calls Poland a regional success story.

Here, a look at this country that since February 2022 has welcomed more than half of the Ukrainians fleeing their country amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Poland Facts

Poland is one of the largest countries in the region in terms of territory and, being located in central Europe, borders seven countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Russia.

Poland’s name derives from the Polans, a West Slavic tribe who united various surrounding Slavic groups (9th-10th centuries AD) and passed on their name to the country. It comes from the Slavic “polo”, which means “dwellers of the plains”.

Extension: 312,685 km2

Is he sixth largest country in the European Union and is ranked 71st in the world. It is about twice the size of Georgia; a little smaller than the state of New Mexico in the United States.

Location: Central Europe. It is bordered by Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east, and Russia to the north.

Population: 38,185,913 (July 2021)

It ranks 37th in the world at the population level and is made up as follows: Polish 96.9%, Silesian 1.1%, German 0.2%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 1, 7% (2011 est.)

Economy: GDP per capita US$ 32,200 (2020 est.)

Note: Data is in 2017 dollars.

Official language: Polish

Religion: Catholic 85% (includes Roman Catholic 84.8% and other Catholic 0.3%), Orthodox 1.3% (almost all are autocephalous Orthodox Poles), Protestant 0.4% (mainly Evangelicals and Augsburg Pentecostals), other 0 .3% (includes Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, Hare Krishna, Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Muslim, Jewish, Church of Jesus Christ), unspecified 12.9% (2020 est.)

Form of Government: Parlamentary republic

President: Andrzej Duda (since August 6, 2015)

Prime Minister: Mateusz Morawiecki (since December 11, 2017)

National Heritage: 17 sites declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites (15 cultural, 2 natural)

A little history

With a Slavic past, the kingdom of Poland was established under Mieszko I in 922 and was united with Lithuania in 1386 under the Jagiellon dynasty until 1572. In 1466 it seized western and eastern Prussia from the Teutonic Order, and its lands they eventually spread to the Black Sea. But as a result of the wars with Sweden and Russia at the end of the 17th century, Poland lost considerable territory, as pointed out by Encyclopaedia Britannica.

During the 18th century, internal disorders weakened the nation, and in a series of agreements between 1772 and 1795, Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland, leaving it off the maps of Europe for 123 years. After 1815, the former Polish lands came under Russian rule, and from 1863 Poland became a Russian province, subject to a intense Russification.

It was not until 1918 that regained its independence to be invaded 20 years later, in 1939, by Germany and the Soviet Union, which precipitated the Second World War. Before the war, Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe, a group that was persecuted and killed during the Holocaust, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. In 1943 there was the well-known Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in which an army of untrained Jewish men and women staged a “unheard of revolt” against the Nazis, surprising and killing many of their enemies. six million poles they died during the war, including the vast majority of the large Jewish population. Its capital, Warsaw, was practically destroyed.

File photo taken in 1943 of German Nazi soldiers interrogating Jews after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. (OFF/AFP via Getty Images)

At the end of World War II, Poland became a Soviet satellite state under the communist regime and member of the Warsaw Pact. In the 1980s, the Solidarity labor movement led by Lech Wałęsa achieved major political reforms and free elections were held in 1989, according to the CIA World Factbook, ending the communist era. An economic austerity program was instituted in 1990 that allowed the country to transform its economy into one of the strongest in Central Europe. Poland became a member of NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

The Ukrainian exodus reaches Poland

Since the end of February 2022, when the war in Ukraine began, more than half of the Ukrainians fleeing the Russian siege in search of a safe place arrive in Poland. As of early this week, 2.8 million refugees had left Ukraine since February 24, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Of these, more than half have crossed into Poland.

The drama in a Ukrainian refugee camp in Poland 3:03

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