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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Polish people
Mariecurie.jpgJohannesPaulII.jpgEugène Ferdinand Victor Delacroix 043.jpgNikolaus Kopernikus.jpg
Lech walesa prezydent RP.jpgThaddeus Kosciuszko.jpgAndrzej Wajda by Kubik.JPGJozef Pilsudski1.jpg

Skłodowska-CuriePope John Paul IIChopinCopernicusWałęsaKościuszkoWajdaPiłsudski

Total population
40 - 60 million (est.)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Poland 38,860,000 [2]
 United States 10,024,711 (including Jews) [3]
 Brazil 3,500,000 [4]
 Israel 1,250,000 [5]
 Germany 1,055,700 [6]
 United Kingdom Est. over 500,000 [1][7]
 Argentina 500,000 [8]
 Belarus 400,000 [9]
 Lithuania 235,000 [10]
 Italy 100,000 [11]
 Russia 173,000 [12]
 Australia 150,900 [13]
 Ukraine 144,130 [14]
 Norway 120,000 [15]
 Spain 78,305 [16]
 Ireland 63,090 [17]
 Latvia 57,000 [18]
 Czech Republic 52,000 [19]
 Mexico 50,000 [20]
 Kazakhstan 47,293 [21]
 Netherlands 39,500 [22]
 Austria 21,000 [23]
 Iceland 10,540 [24]
 Turkey 1,000 [25]
 Armenia 300 [26]
Rest of world 1,145,000 (est.) [27]



Predominantly Roman Catholic with Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and Jewish minorities.

The Polish people, or Poles (Polish: Polacy [pɔˈlat​͡sɨ], singular Polak), are a Western Slavic ethnic group of Central Europe, living predominantly in Poland. Poles are sometimes defined as people who share a common Polish culture and are of Polish descent. Their religion is predominantly Roman Catholic. The Poles can also be referred to as the inhabitants of Poland and Polish emigrants irrespective of their ethnicity. A wide-ranging Polish diaspora exists throughout Western and Eastern Europe, the Americas and Australia.

There is no commonly accepted definition of the Polish people. According to the preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, the Polish nation consists of all citizens of Poland. However, as in most European countries, many people limit the group to native speakers of the Polish language, people who share certain traditions, or people who share a common ethnic background originating from Poland. As to its origins, the name of the nation comes from the indoeuropean root pele; pole [28]. Poles belong to the Lechitic subgroup of these ethnic people. The Polans of Giecz, Gniezno, and Poznań were one of the most influential tribes of Greater Poland and managed to unite many other West Slavic tribes in the area under the rule of what became the Piast dynasty, thus giving birth to a new state. The Polish word for a Polish person is Polak (masculine) and Polka (feminine); however, when the masculine form of this common noun is used in the English language (usually spelled as Polack) it is always offensive.[29] The feminine form typically refers in English to the style of music (i.e. Polka).



Polish people are the sixth largest national group in Europe.[30] Estimates vary depending on source, though available data suggest a total number of around 60 million people worldwide (with roughly 21 million living outside of Poland, many of whom are not of Polish ethnicity, but Polish nationals).[1] There are almost 39 million Poles in Poland alone. There are also Polish minorities in the surrounding countries including Germany, and indigenous minorities in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Belarus. There are some smaller indigenous minorities in nearby countries such as Moldova and Latvia. There is also a Polish minority in Russia which includes indigenous Poles as well as those forcibly deported during and after World War II; the total number of Poles in what was the former Soviet Union is estimated at up to 3 million.[31]

The term "Polonia" is usually used in Poland to refer to people of Polish origin who live outside Polish borders, officially estimated at around 10 to 20 million. There is a notable Polish diaspora in the United States, Canada, and Brazil. France has a historic relationship with Poland and has a relatively large Polish-descendant population. Poles have lived in France since the 1700s. In the early 20th century, over a million Polish people settled in France, mostly during world wars, among them Polish émigrés fleeing either Nazi occupation or later Soviet rule.

In the United States a significant number of Polish immigrants settled in Chicago, Ohio, Detroit, New York City, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and New England. The highest concentration of Poles in the United States is in New Britain, Connecticut. The majority of Polish Canadians have arrived in Canada since World War II. The number of Polish immigrants increased between 1945 and 1970, and again after the fall of Communism in 1989. In Brazil the majority of Polish immigrants settled in Paraná State. The city of Curitiba has the second largest Polish diaspora in the world (after Chicago) and Polish music, dishes and culture are quite common in the region. In recent years, since joining the European Union, many Polish people have emigrated to countries such as Ireland, where an estimated 200,000 Polish people have entered the labour market. It is estimated that over half a million Polish people have immigrated to the United Kingdom. The Polish community in Norway has increased dramatically and has grown to a total number of 120,000, making Polish people the largest immigrant group in Norway.

Before World War II many Polish Jews became followers of Zionism and subsequently emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine. Following the Holocaust, the vast majority of surviving Polish Jews moved to Israel, contributing to the largest single place of origin of Israeli Jews.

Polish tribes

The following is a list of Polish tribes – tribes which constituted the lands of Poland in the Early Middle Ages, at the beginning of the Polish state. Some of them have remained separate ethnicities while others have been assimilated into the culture of Poland.[32][33][34]

Allegory of Polonus (Szlachta) from the 18th century

European Union

(for ethnic Poles living abroad see Polonia, for those living and working in the United Kingdom see Polish British)

A survey carried out by the CBOS public opinion institute, between March 30 and April 2, 2007, found that 86% of Poles felt that EU membership has had a positive effect, with only 5% of the respondents speaking against it, down from 22 percent in 2004. The institute also found that 55% of those surveyed prefer the EU to remain a union of sovereign states, while 22% supported the idea of a "United States of Europe".[35] Principal areas of Polish life that have been improved by EU membership, are agriculture (according to 75% of those surveyed), the environment (61%), productivity (57%) and unemployment (56%).[36]

Among the ten new EU members, of which eight are Central or Eastern European, Poles are the most mobile, with considerable numbers of Polish migrants found in almost all ‘old’ EU countries, filling numerous vacancies on the European labour market, especially in areas where indigenous workforce is insufficient. According to Franck Duvell of Oxford, some countries, like Germany and Austria, missed on that opportunity by discriminating against mobile Europeans, granting them freedom of movement without freedom of employment, which resulted in the increase of numbers of illegal migrant workers there. “In fact, the EU accession process, and namely the Polish experience could possibly serve as a paradigm for easing some of Europe’s migration dilemma,” Duvell suggested.[37]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Świat Polonii, witryna Stowarzyszenia Wspólnota Polska: „Polacy za granicą” (Polish people abroad as per summary by Świat Polonii, internet portal of the Polish Association Wspólnota Polska)
  2. ^ Excel spreadsheet from Polish Central Statistical Office
  3. ^ 2006 Community Survey
  4. ^ Polish Society in Brazil
  5. ^ Passport thanks to a Polish grandmother, Warsaw at, March 16, 2007
  6. ^ (German) Bevölkerung mit Migrationshintergrund - Ergebnisse des Mikrozensus 2005 Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland (German text about migrants in Germany) 886 KiBPDF.
  7. ^ (English) Poles in the UK, Polish Express; source: British Office for National Statistics, see section: "Poles add up to profit for Craig." Retrieved from the Internet Archive, December 9, 2009
    ^ (English) "UK lets in more Poles than there are in Warsaw", Steve Doughty, Daily Mail; see also: "Record numbers leave Britain as Poles head home - but new arrivals increase to half a million" by James Slack, Daily Mail, 27th November 2009. Please note: British Office for National Statistics recorded the number of Poles who have travelled to the UK in 2006 at over 2,000,000; they are not to be mistaken for permanent residents.
  8. ^ Poles in Argentina
  9. ^ Poles in Belarus
  10. ^ Population by ethnicity according to 2001 Lithuania Population and Housing Census data
  11. ^
  12. ^ Poles in Russia
  13. ^ Poles in Australia
  14. ^ Poles in Ukraine
  15. ^ - 120.000 polakker i Norge (Innenriks)
  16. ^
  17. ^ Poles in Ireland
  18. ^ CIA World Factbook
  19. ^
  20. ^ Poles in Mexico
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ Poles in Netherlands
  23. ^ Poles in AustriaPDF
  24. ^ Mannfjöldi eftir fæðingarlandi 1981-2008: Pólland
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Poles around the World (>polonia > statystyka)
  28. ^ "fr. pal, pele, altd. pal, pael, dn. pael, sw. pale, isl. pall, bre. pal, peul, it. polo, pole, pila, [in:] A dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon languages. Joseph Bosworth. S.275.; planus, plain, flat; from Indo- Germanic pele, flat, to spread, also the root of words like plan, floor, and field. [in:] John Hejduk. Soundings. 1993. p. 399"; "the root pele is the source of the English words "field" and "floor". The root "plak" is the source of the English word "flake" [in:] Loren Edward Meierding. Ace the Verbal on the SAT. 2005. p. 82
  29. ^ polack - Definitions from
  30. ^ 2003-2008. People Statistics: Population (most recent) by country. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  31. ^ Gil Loescher, Beyond Charity: International Cooperation and the Global Refugee Crisis, published by the University of Oxford Press US, 1993, 1996. ISBN 0195102940. Retrieved 12-12-2007.
  32. ^ Raymond Breton, National Survival in Dependent Societies: Social Change in Canada and Poland, McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 1990, p. 106,ISBN 0886291275 Google Books
  33. ^ John Blacking, Anna Czekanowska, Polish Folk Music: Slavonic Heritage - Polish Tradition - Contemporary Trends, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 3, ISBN 0521027977 Google Books
  34. ^ Jerzy Strzelczyk [in:] The New Cambridge Medieval History, Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 521-522 ISBN 0521364477 Google Books; Robert Machray, The Problem of Upper Silesia, G. Allen & Unwin ltd. 1945, p. 13 Google Books; Paul Wagret, Helga S. B. Harrison, Poland, Nagel, 1964, p. 231. Google Books
  35. ^ EU Business, 21 June 2007, Poles more pro-EU than ever: survey. Retrieved 12-06-2007.
  36. ^ EU Business, 02 May 2007, Three years after entering the EU, 86% of Poles are satisfied
  37. ^ Franck Duvell, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Oxford, Poles in Europe - From Illegal Immigrants to Members of the European UnionPDF (22.3 KB). Retrieved 12-06-2007.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also poles


Proper noun


  1. Plural form of Pole.


Simple English

Some well-known Poles and people with Polish roots.
Top: Marie Curie - Skłodowska, Pope John Paul II, Nicolaus Copernicus, Lech Wałęsa, Conrad.
Middle: Gretzky, Jan III Sobieski, Tadeusz Kościuszko, Rejewski, Wajda, Kolbe.
Bottom: Józef Piłsudski, Lem, Brzeziński, Warner, Wielicki, Wolszczan.
Total population

60 million (est.)[1]

Regions with significant populations
File:Flag of Poland (bordered).svg 38,860,000
10,024,711 [3]
1,800,000 [4]
1,055,700 [5]
984,565 [6]
 United Kingdom (est.) 500,000 [1][7]
100,000 [8]
400,000 [9]
250,000 [10]
File:Flag of Russia (bordered).svg 173,000 [11]
150,900 [12]
144,130 [13]
120,000 [14]
78,305 [15]
63,090 [16]
52,000 [17]
51,995 [18]
50,790 [19]
50,000 [20]
47,293 [21]
39,500 [22]
21,000 [23]
10,000 [24]
5,000 [25]
Template:Country data World Rest of World 1,145,000 (est.)



Predominantly Roman Catholicism with Orthodox, Protestant, Atheist and Jewish minorities.

The Polish people, or Poles (Polish: Polacy, singular Polak) as a nation, they are bounded by the Polish language, which belongs to the Lechitic subgroup of west slavic languages of Central Europe, living mainly in Poland. Their religion is mainly Roman Catholic. They use modified Latin alphabet. There are about 50-60 million of Poles on all the world.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Świat Polonii, witryna Stowarzyszenia Wspólnota Polska: „Polacy za granicą” (Polish people abroad as per summary by Świat Polonii, internet portal of the Polish Association Wspólnota Polska)
  2. Excel spreadsheet from Polish Central Statistical Office
  3. 2006 Community Survey
  4. Polish Society in Brazil
  5. (German) Bevölkerung mit Migrationshintergrund - Ergebnisse des Mikrozensus 2005 Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland (German text about migrants in Germany) 886 KiBPDF.
  6. List of Canadians by ethnicity
  7. (English) Poles in the UK, Polish Express, source: government statistics.
    ^ (Polish) According to Tomasz Ziemba from Polish Express online 1,020,000 Polish visitors in the UK logged into Polish chatroom Gadu–Gadu in January: Policzyło nas Gadu–Gadu
    ^ (Polish) Tomasz Wybranowski, Korespondencja, Tygodnik Przegląd, 22.08.2007,
    ^ (English) Steve Doughty, Daily Mail, Office for National Statistics recorded the number of Poles who have travelled to the UK in 2006 at over 2,000,000. The number of those who stay exceeds 250,000.
  8. Poles in Argentina
  9. Poles in Belarus
  10. Poles in Lithuania
  11. Poles in Russia
  12. Poles in AustraliaPDF (56.3 KiB)
  13. Poles in Ukraine
  14. - 120.000 polakker i Norge (Innenriks)
  16. Poles in Ireland
  17. (1.41 MiB)
  18. [1]
  19. Poles in Italy (click on Tutti i Paesi - Tavola)
  20. Poles in Mexico
  21. [2]PDF (87.2 KiB)
  22. Poles in NetherlandsPDF (162 KiB)
  23. Poles in AustriaPDF
  26. Poles around the World (>polonia > statystyka)

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