1. Origin of the Name Poland
Poland is a name that originates from a tribal name “Polanie” meaning people living on open fields. The term Poland is Anglicized version of the word Polska. Polska is derived from the term field or pole. Poland therefore means land of Poles. The formal name of Poland is Rzeczpospolita Polska which is Republic of Poland. Poland’s area measures 120, 562 square miles which is a little smaller than the New Mexico state.
2. Independence from Russia and Communist Government
Poland declared its independence from Russia to become a republic on 11 November, 1918. Since 1937, Poles celebrate this day as a national holiday calling it Independence Day. Between 1939 and 1989, public celebration of this holiday was banned as Poland was still under the communist government. After the collapse of the communist government, the Independence Day national holiday became the greatest and most important national holiday in Poland.
3. Collaboration with Nazi
During the reign of Nazis, Poland emerged as the only country in Europe that resisted official collaboration with Nazi at any point. No single Polish Unit fought on the side of the Nazi army and Poland did not officially surrender to Germany. The Polish Resistance Movement within the German-occupied Poland territory was the biggest resistance movement in the entire Europe during World War II.
4. First Free Non-Communist Government
Poland’s first non-communist government took office on 12 September, 1989. It was led by Lech Walesa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Poland and one who played a major role in organizing and coordinating the Solidarity movement in the 1980s.
5. Poland’s Underground Salt Cathedral
Wieliczka Salt Mine found in Wieliczka town, south of Poland is the oldest salt mine in the world. This salt mine was constructed in 13th century and continued to produce table salt through to 2007. Some of the major attractions in this salt mine include three chapels, statues and a whole cathedral that was carved by miners out of a salt rock. Each year, an estimated 1.2 million people walk through this mine whose depth reaches 1,073 feet and its length extends over 178 miles
6. Tallest Structure
The Warsaw Radio Mast constructed in Poland’s Konstantynów area stood at a height of 2,121 feet. It was the tallest structure in the world until 8th August, 1991 when it was deliberately collapsed.
7. Poland’s Concentration Camp
Oświeçim town in Poland was the site where Nazi set concentration camps called Auschwitz-Birkenau during the Second World War. In these camps, more than 1.1 million prisoners of Nazi were killed using poisonous gas produced by Zyklon B pesticide. Many more other prisoners were killed through other means. 90% of all prisoners killed in these camps were of Jewish decent. The initial prisoner exterminations on these camps were conducted in September, 1941.
8. Mark of Marks & Spencer Stores was Polish
Michael Mark was born in Poland and came to Britain in 1880 to flee Jewish persecution in the Russian colonized Poland. He put up a stall in 1884 in Kirkgate open market in Leeds where he sold household goods at a fixed price of one penny. Later, he co-founded Marks & Spenser Stores with Tom Spencer that opened officially in 1894.
9. Nobel Prizes
17 Poland nationals have won the Nobel Prizes. Poland has more Nobel Prizes than China, India, Japan and Australia. The 17 Nobel Prizes include 4 Peace Prizes and 5 Literature Prizes.
10. Publication of Moon Maps
The earliest exact maps from the Moon were first published by a Polish astronomer named Johannes Hevelius. A Polish National, Franciszek Gąsienica Groń was also the first to win an Olympic Medal in 1956 during the winter sports.