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polesThe two points on a sphere lying 90° above or below all points on a particular great circle. The polar axis is the imaginary straight line between the poles. See celestial poles; galactic poles.
a nation and the main population of the Polish People’s Republic. They number 32.8 million, or about 98 percent of the total population, according to 1973 estimates. About 10 million Poles live in North and South America (the USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina), Europe (including France, Great Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia), and in the USSR (1,167,500 according to the 1970 census). They speak Polish, which belongs to the western branch of the Slavic languages, and most religious Poles are Catholics.
Some scholars believe that the early ethnogenesis of the Poles is linked with the tribes of the Pomeranian and Lausitz cultures. At the beginning of the Common Era a pit-burial culture was created on Polish territory, apparently by the Wends, early Slavic tribes. The Polish nation evolved in the tenth and 11th centuries, at the time of the formation of the Polish state. The chief ethnic groups were the Polanie (Polonians), Ślęzanie (Silesians), Wiślanie (Vistulans), Mazowszanie (Mazovians), and Pomeranians. Other West Slavic tribes also played a significant role in the formation of the Polish nation. In the period of feudal fragmentation (11th to 13th centuries), the various groups constituting the Polish nation were separated politically. In the course of their struggles against German feudal aggression in the 13th to 15th centuries the Poles intensified their efforts to unite the Polish lands. The late 15th and 16th centuries saw a flowering of Polish culture, art, literature, and science.
The national consolidation of the Poles took place within the framework of a multinational state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This process was complicated by the three partitions of the commonwealth in the 18th century (1772, 1793, and 1795) and by its repartition during and after the Napoleonic Wars. In the late 18th and 19th centuries the national liberation movement, culminating in the Polish Uprising of 1794, led by T. Kościuszko, the Polish Uprising of 1830–31, the Kraków Uprising of 1846, and the Polish Uprising of 1863–64, played the primary role in the development of national consciousness among the Poles. Despite the absence of an independent Polish state in the 19th century, the unity of the Polish people was preserved, and their national consciousness was strengthened. However, there were several groups, such as the Kashubians in Pomerania, whose dialects and ethnographic traits set them apart from the rest of the Polish nation. Since the late 19th century the differences between these groups are being effaced.
After World War I a Polish bourgeois-landlord state was formed that excluded many western Polish lands. In the east the new Polish state encompassed areas inhabited by Ukrainians, Byelorussians, and Lithuanians. The reunification of the Polish lands under a single national state occurred only after World War II. There were significant population migrations. Germans left western Wielkopolska, parts of Silesia, and Pomerania and the Masurian region. The autochthonous Poles who remained in these areas were joined by Poles from other parts of Poland, repatriates from the USSR, and emigrants returning from the West. Groups of Ukrainians and Byelorussians from eastern Ma-lopolska and the Podlasie region emigrated to the USSR. After the war Poland became a country with a nearly homogeneous national composition.
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Wiatr, J. Polska—nowy naród: Proces formowania się socjalistycznego narodu polskiego. Warsaw, 1971.
O. A. GANTSKAIA