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General name for people living in Poland.

Before World War II the Polish lands were noted for the richness and variety of their ethnic communities.

In the provinces of Silesia, Pomerania, and Masuria (then in Germany) there was a significant majority of Germans. Silesia, Pomerania and Masuria were at some times provinces of Prussia, a part of the German Reich. The inhabitants of Prussia were 89 percent Prussian Germans and 11 percent Slavs, of which 8 percent were Polish language speakers. All were Reichs-Deutsche, meaning citizen of the German Reich.

This was changed drastically when Germany lost World War I. In the 1919/1920 Treaty of Versailles, land was taken from the German Reich and given to Poland. That stretch of land then became known as "Polish Corridor".

In the southeast, Ukrainian settlements predominated in the regions east of Chelm and in the Carpathians east of Nowy Sacz. In all the towns and cities there were large concentrations of Yiddish-speaking Jews. The Polish ethnographic area stretched eastward: in Lithuania, Belarus, and western Ukraine, all of which had a mixed population, Poles predominated not only in the cities but also in numerous rural districts. There were significant Polish minorities in Daugavpils (in Latvia), Minsk (in Belarus), and Kiev (in Ukraine).

The Second World War, however, killed vast numbers of people, precipitated massive migrations, and radically altered borders. As a consequence the population of Poland became one of the most ethnically homogeneous in the world. Virtually all of Poland's people claim Polish nationality, with Polish as their native tongue. Ukrainians, the largest minority group, are scattered in various northern districts. Lesser numbers of Belarusians and Lithuanians live in areas adjoining Belarus and Lithuania. The Jewish community, almost entirely Polonized, has been greatly reduced. In Silesia a significant segment of the population, of mixed Polish and German ancestry, tends to declare itself as Polish or German according to political circumstances.

Small populations of Polish Tartars still exist and still practice Islam. Some Polish towns, mainly in northeastern Poland have mosques. Tartar arrived as mercenary soldiers beginning in the late 1300's. The Tartar population reached approximately 100,000 in 1630 but is less than 5,000 in 2000.

In detail:
Population: 38,646,023 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19% (male 3,767,454; female 3,587,822)
15-64 years: 69% (male 13,201,825; female 13,352,950)
65 years and over: 12% (male 1,809,839; female 2,926,133) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.04% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 10.13 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 9.99 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 9.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.19 years
male: 69.01 years
female: 77.6 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.38 children born/woman (2000 est.)

noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish

Ethnic groups: Polish 97.6%, German 1.3%, Ukrainian 0.6%, Byelorussian 0.5% (1990 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 95% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and other 5%

Languages: Polish

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 98% (1978 est.)

See also: