CURIOSITIES

lodz-muralsCuriosities | Interesting facts about Poland:

  • The name “Poland” derives from the name of the West Slavic tribe of Polans (“Polanie”) which means “people living in open fields” (“pole” = field).
  • Poland is the 9th largest country in Europe.
  • Approximately 30% of the around 60 million Poles live outside Poland. Large communities of Polish diaspora can be found in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, Australia, Brazil and Argentina.
  • Krakow was the country’s capital and the place of coronation of Polish kings from 1038 until the capital was moved to Warsaw in 1596.
  • The symbol of Warsaw is a mermaid.
  • Poland adopted its first constitution on 3 May 1791. It was the first constitution of its kind in Europe and the second ever in the world after that of the United States. Sadly, it remained in force for only 18 months before Poland ceased to exist on maps of Europe for the next 123 years.
  • Poland disappeared from European maps in 1795 when the country was divided between its neighbors: Russia, Prussia and Austria, and didn’t exist for 123 years until it regained its independence on 11 November 1918.
  • It is estimated that more than 6 million Poles, including soldiers and civilians, died in executions, concentration camps, labor camps, prisons, and forced labor during the 5 years of Nazi occupation (1939-1945).
  • Poles represent the biggest number of people by nationality to rescue Jews during the German Nazi-organised Holocaust. Up to around 450,000 Jews were saved from certain death. Poland holds the world record with the 6,135 people being awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations by the State of Israel.
  • The first oil refinery in the world was built in 1856 by Polish pharmacist and petroleum industry pioneer, Ignacy Lukasiewicz.
  • Poland boasts 17 Nobel prize winners, including 4 Peace Prizes and 5 in Literature.
  • Marie Curie (born Maria Sklodowska; 1867-1934) was the first and only Nobel laureate in two different sciences and first female professor at the Sorbonne University.
  • Polish born astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), was the first person to propose that the Earth was not the center of the universe.
  • Another Polish astronomer, Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687), published the earliest exact maps of the moon.
  • Some Polish people famous worldwide: Nicolaus Copernicus (astronomer), Johannes Hevelius (astronomer), Frederic Chopin (musical composer), Maria Sklodowska Curie (physicist and chemist), John Paul II (pope).
  • Two of the world’s oldest working mines are found in Poland: Wieliczka Salt Mine was built in the 13th century and was in operation until 2007. The salt mine in Bochnia is even older than Wieliczka and is the oldest working mine in the word.
  • In addition to birthdays, Polish people celebrate their name days (“imieniny”). A name day is the day commemorating the saint a person is named after. Local calendars often contain the names celebrated on a given day. Celebrations of name days are similar to birthdays and involve gathering and socializing with family and friends, and giving gifts.
  • When buying flowers for someone, they need to be bought an odd number, because an even number is bought for funerals.
  • When visiting someone and entering their house, guests usually take off their shoes. Guest slippers can be offered to wear instead.
  • Beer is sometimes served with raspberry juice and drunk using a straw. In winter, the popular refreshment is hot beer with cloves and cinnamon, sweetened with honey.
  • Public toilets in Poland are often signed with a circle for women and a triangle for men.
  • Foreign TV movies in Poland are not dubbed. Instead, there is a voice-over translation which means that actor voices are recorded over the original audio track which can be heard in the background. A typical voice-over translation is usually done by a single male voice.