History of Poland
The history of Poland begins as early as the 10th century, when the Polish nation accepted Christianity. The newly stated kingdom was suffering from inner and outer enemies through the following centuries, but succeeded to preserve it's identity in the Medieval.
In the 14th century the country entered a union with Lithuania, which lasted until the very end of the 18th century. The union made Poland one of the strongest states in Europe, but the ruling Jagiellon dynasty was losing control over the more and more determined nobles. The Polish Parliament, the Sejm became the main legislative power in the middle of the 16th century. After the death of the last Jagiellon king in 1569, Poland became an elective monarchy, a quasi-democratised state in the era of the absolute monarchies all around Europe.
The once powerful state gradually lost competitiveness against the stronger neighbours in the 17th and 18th century, and was partitioned by the former Austria, Prussia and Russia. The idea of Polish independence was kept alive through the 19th century, resulting in an uprising against the Tsar.
Poland regained it's independence after the First World War for two decades, but became the first to fall against the German and Soviet attack at the beginning of the Second World War. Many thousands Poles served in the armies of the Allied Forces. During the war 6 million Polish citizens were killed by Germans, 2,5 million were transported to labour or extermination camps.
After the Second World War Poland became a satellite state of the Soviet Union, under communist regime. The uprisings in 1956 and 1968 were suppressed. In 1978 Karol Wojtyła became Pope John Paul II. In 1989, led by a reform movement called Solidarity, Poland became the first Eastern European state to break free of the Communism.
The economy of Poland developed into one of the most robust in Eastern Europe. Poland joined NATO on May 27, 1999 and the European Union on May 1, 2004.