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Poland

Population

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 World War.

Religion and Languages of Poland

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).

Language

According to 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.

Religion

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.

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