Poland (Polish: Polska) officially the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in Central Europe. Poland is a unitary state divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,679 square kilometres (120,726 sq mi) with a mostly temperate climate. With a population of over 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest city is Warsaw. Other cities include Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk and Szczecin.

The establishment of a Polish state can be traced back to 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of a territory roughly coextensive with that of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin. This union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest (about 1 million km²) and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe with a uniquely liberal political system which declared Europe's first constitution.

Following the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million of Poland's citizens died in the war. After World War II, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland established itself as a democratic republic.

Poland is a regional power as well as a possible emerging world power. It has the eighth largest and one of the most dynamic economies in the European Union, simultaneously achieving a very high rank on the Human Development Index. Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central and Eastern Europe. Poland is a developed and democratic country, which maintains a high-income economy along with very high standards of living, life quality, safety, education and economic freedom. According to the World Bank, Poland has a leading school educational system in Europe. The country provides free university education, state-funded social security and a universal health care system for all citizens. Situated between Eastern and Western European cultures and coined by a changing history, Poland developed a rich cultural heritage, including numerous historical monuments and 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is visited by approximately 16 million tourists every year (2014), making it the 16th most visited country in the world. Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO and the OECD. Most of the believers (about 87% of the population) profess Catholicism, which makes Poland the country with the largest Catholic population in Central Europe.

In 2015, Poland experienced significant political changes: in the presidential elections on May 24, a representative of the right-wing Prawo i Sprawiedzliwość (“Right and Justice”), PiS, won with a slight margin. In October 2015 this party won the parliamentary elections with a much larger margin. PiS was building its electoral campaign both on social populism (the promise to introduce one-time grants for children in the amount of PLN 500 for each child under the age of 18, the promise to lower the retirement age, etc.) and xenophobic stereotypes, especially in relation to refugees. As a result, it not only managed to form a stable majority in parliament, but also to raise the level of xenophobia in Polish society to the extreme. Suffice it to say that the level of anti-migrant sentiment in Poland in 2015 reached 75%, which is second highest in the EU after Hungary. Virtually all right-wing radical parties supported PiS. All this taken together made it a hostage to the extreme right ideology, which in a very short time led to significant changes in the social and political life of Polish society, namely:

  • Growth of nationalism and xenophobia;
  • Government tolerance for the activities of right-wing radical groups;
  • Revision of the history of the 20th century, above all the role of the Soviet Red Army in the liberation of Poland;
  • Increase in state control over the public media;
  • Tolerant attitude towards hate speech in the public sphere.

It is also worth adding to the conflict around the Constitutional Court in connection with the law adopted at the initiative of the ruling party, on repealing the binding decision of the Constitutional Court. Thus, Poland suddenly turned into a country where politics began to be defined by right-wing radical ideas that found their practical expression in the populist policy of PiS.

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