In 2019, Poland had a population density of 122 residents
per km2; the largest population concentration is
found in the southern parts. According to estimates (no
exact statistics on minority groups exist yet) the largest
minority groups are Germans (150,000), Belarusians (50,000)
and Ukrainians (50,000). Poland, which had 34.8 million
residents in 1939, lost 6 million citizens in the Second
During the period 1945–50, large migrations took place
mainly by the emigration or deportation of Germans in
western Poland and replaced by Poles displaced from the
country's former eastern parts. A total of 4–5 million
people were relocated in the western area.
Prior to World War II, there was a significant Jewish
minority (about 10 percent of the population), concentrated
in cities and with a distinctive culture. During the German
occupation, the Polish Jewish unit was obliterated. Of the
approximately 30,000 survivors, most were driven by an
anti-Semitic wave in the late 1960s. Today there are a few
thousand Jews in Poland.
Since 1950, industrialization has moved from rural to
urban, and now 60 percent of the population lives in cities,
a slightly lower figure than for Europe as a whole. Among
the larger cities are Warsaw (1.8 million residents, 2018),
Kraków (767,300) and Łódź (690,400).
Countryaah, the national language is Polish, which is spoken by about
98% of Polish citizens. The largest minority languages are
Ukrainian, German, Belarusian and Kashubian; however, the
latter is often regarded in Poland as a Polish dialect.
Poland's history is closely associated with the Roman
Catholic Church. During the 16th century great religious
tolerance prevailed. Calvinism and unitarism had many
followers among the nobility. During Sigismund III, the
counter-Reformation was carried out by the Jesuits.
Particularly important for understanding the role of the
church is the Swedish retreat in 1655 from Częstochowa,
which was attributed to the intervention of the Virgin Mary.
The following year she was declared by Johan IIKasimir as
"Queen of Poland". Alongside the Mariakult there is a strong
belief in Poland as Europe's suffering Christ, a thought
developed during the time of Poland's divisions. Polish
messianism in the 19th century (especially with Adam
Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki) has solidified Polish hopes
for the future during political crises and was of great
importance in Poland's liberation from communism. In
Poland's liberation from communism, the Catholic Church
played a crucial role, especially through Pope John Paul
II's visit to Poland in 1979 and his support for the trade
union Solidarity and its leader Lech Wałęsa. The Polish-born
pope, who was previously Archbishop of Kraków, again aroused
Catholic and national sentiments that would have devastating
political consequences. In democratic Poland, the church has
played a major, according to some too great, political role.
More than 90% of the population belong to the Catholic
Church (2010), whose significance as a national identity
factor is still significant. An autocephalous
(self-governing) Orthodox church has about 500,000 members.
Jehovah's Witnesses are 127,000, Protestants about 150,000,
of whom Lutherans are about 80,000. Two church communities
of Polish origin are the Polish National Catholic Church
with 20,000 members and the St. Mary's Church with 24,000;
both are outbreaks of the Catholic Church. Regarding the
Jews of Poland, see the section Population.