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Demographics of Poland

Pole is a general name for the Polish speaking people living in Poland.

Before World War II the now Polish lands were noted for the richness and variety of their ethnic communities.

In the provinces of Silesia, Pomerania, and the Masuria region of East Prussia (then in Germany) there was a significant majority of Germans. Silesia, Pomerania and East-Prussia's Masurian region were at some times provinces of the State of Brandenburg-Prussia, a part of the German Reich. The inhabitants of Prussia were 89 percent Prussian Germans and 11 percent Slavs, of which 8 percent were Polish language speakers. All were Reichs-Deutsche, meaning citizen of the German Reich.

This was changed drastically when Germany lost World War I. In the 1919/1920 Treaty of Versailles, land was taken from the German Reich and given to Poland. That stretch of land then became known as the "Polish Corridor".

In the southeast, Ukrainian settlements predominated in the regions east of Chelm and in the Carpathians east of Nowy Sacz. In all the towns and cities there were large concentrations of Yiddish (German-Jewish)-speaking Jews. The Polish ethnographic area stretched eastward: in Lithuania, Belarus, and western Ukraine, all of which had a mixed population, Poles predominated not only in the cities but also in numerous rural districts. There were significant Polish minorities in Daugavpils (in Latvia), Minsk (in Belarus), and Kiev (in Ukraine).

During the World War II period there were significant ethnic minorities 4.5 million Ukrainians, 3 million Jews, 1 million Belorussians, and 800,000 Germans. The majority of the Jews were murdered during the German occupation in World War II, and many others emigrated in the succeeding years.

Most Germans left Poland at the end of the war, while many Ukrainians and Belorussians lived in territories incorporated into the then-U.S.S.R. Small Ukrainian, Belorussian, Slovakian, and Lithuanian minorities reside along the borders, and a German minority is concentrated near the southwest city of Opole.

As a result of the migrations and the Communist Soviet Union's radically altered borders (under the rule of Joseph Stalin), the population of Poland became one of the most ethnically homogeneous in the world. Virtually all of Poland's people claim Polish nationality, with Polish as their native tongue. Ukrainians, the largest minority group, are scattered in various northern districts. Lesser numbers of Belarusians and Lithuanians live in areas adjoining Belarus and Lithuania. The Jewish community, almost entirely Polonized, has been greatly reduced. In Silesia a significant segment of the population, of mixed Polish and German ancestry, tends to declare itself as Polish or German according to political circumstances.

Despite the large-scale brutal Expulsions of Germans and the take-over of German land by Stalin minorities of Germans managed to remain in their homeland of Pomerania, Silesia, West and East Prussia, and eastern Brandenburg, all under administration of Poland, except Kaliningrad Oblast. Under communism they were forcibly polonized , but now are able to use their German names and language again.

Small populations of Polish Tartars still exist and still practice Islam. Some Polish towns, mainly in northeastern Poland have mosques. Tartar arrived as mercenary soldiers beginning in the late 1300's. The Tartar population reached approximately 100,000 in 1630 but is less than 5,000 in 2000.

In detail:
Population: 38,646,023 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19% (male 3,767,454; female 3,587,822)
15-64 years: 69% (male 13,201,825; female 13,352,950)
65 years and over: 12% (male 1,809,839; female 2,926,133) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.04% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 10.13 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 9.99 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 9.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.19 years
male: 69.01 years
female: 77.6 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.38 children born/woman (2000 est.)

noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish

Ethnic groups: Polish 97.6%, German 1.3%, Ukrainian 0.6%, Byelorussian 0.5% (1990 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 95% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and other 5%

Languages: Polish

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 98% (1978 est.)

See also:

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