26 interesting facts about Poland

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From Europe’s oldest restaurant to the world’s largest castle by land area, these are the most interesting facts about Poland.

Warsaw's colourful old town
Interesting facts about Poland include its rebuilt capital city (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Poland
Population: 38 million
Area: 312,685 sq km
Capital city: Warsaw
Major languages: Polish, Silesian
Major religions: Christianity
Time zone: UTC+1 (Central European Time)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about Poland

1. Poland is a country in Central Europe bordering Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Slovakia and Ukraine.
– Source: BBC News

2. Poland gets its name from the Polanians, a Slavic tribe that united the tribes in the region during the 9th and 10th centuries AD. The tribe’s name probably comes from the Slavic word pole meaning field or plain in relation to the flat nature of the country.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

3. Poland can trace its roots back over 1,000 years to 966 when Duke Mieszko I, founded the Polish state.
– Source: BBC News

A map of Poland
Poland borders six countries (Shutterstock)

4. During the Second World War, Poland suffered enormous losses after it was invaded by both Germany and Russia. Estimates suggest as many as six million Poles died during the war – 18% of the population. This included up to three million Polish Jews murdered by the Germans in the Holocaust.
– Source: History Channel

5. Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland was the largest German Nazi concentration camp and extermination centre. Over 1.1 million people were killed there between 1940 and 1945.
– Source: Auschwitz.org

6. Poland has a simple flag made up of equal red and white stripes. It is very similar to the flags of Indonesia and Monaco which are identical only the red is at the top.
– Source: Moira Butterfield (2019) The Flag Book. Lonely Planet Kids: London

Poland's flag flying against blue sky
Poland’s flag (Shutterstock)

7. During the 16th century, Poland was the largest state in Europe and one of the continent’s most powerful nations.
– Source: Britannica

8. From 1945 to 1989, Poland was known as the Polish People’s Republic when it was part of the Soviet-run Warsaw Pact military alliance.
– Source: Library of Congress

9. The world’s largest castle by land area is in Poland. Malbork Castle was built in the 13th century and is 52 acres (0.2 sq km).
– Source: Discovery Channel

A drone shot of Malbork Castle
Malbork Castle (Shutterstock)

10. Poland is home to Europe’s oldest restaurant. Located in Wroclaw’s Main Square, the Piwnica Świdnicka inn has been operating since 1273.
– Source: Daily Mail

11. Poland has the world’s 14th-highest minimum wage at $8.17 per hour ($17,048.88 per year).
– Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

12. The world’s first upside-down house was built in Poland. The usual attraction was built in 2007 with 1970s-inspired decor to reflect how life in Communist Poland turned the world upside down.
– Source: Fodor’s Travel, Center for Education and Regional Promotion in Szymbark

The upside-down house in Poland
The upside-down house (Shutterstock)

13. Poland has a copy of the original Gutenberg Bibles. Only 180 copies were printed and only 48 still exist today.
– Source: Poland Tourism Board, British Library

14. Vodka was invented in Poland (maybe). It is claimed that during the eighth century, Polish peasants made vodka by freezing wine. However, numerous other countries also make similar claims.
– Source: New York Times

15. Warsaw, Poland’s capital city, was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War. German dictator Adolf Hitler ordered the destruction of the city, leaving 850,000 civilians dead and 85% of the city in ruins.
– Source: Rough Guides

Warsaw's old town
Modern-day Warsaw (Shutterstock)

16. Nicolaus Copernicus, known as the father of modern astronomy, was from Poland. In 1543, he became the first European scientist to suggest that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.
– Source: History Channel

17. Poland had Europe’s first constitution. The adoption of the Constitution of 3 May 1791 by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is widely believed to be Europe’s first and the world’s second (after the USA in 1788).
– Source: Republic of Poland Government, List of national constitutions (Wikipedia)

18. There is a desert in Poland. The Błędowska Desert is central Europe’s largest buildup of loose sand in an inland area. The sand was brought by a glacier thousands of years ago but aggressive logging and mining in the area has made it almost impossible for plants to grow.
– Source: Atlas Obscura

Sand dunes in Poland
The Błędowska Desert (Shutterstock)

19. Poland has had 18 Nobel Prize winners including Marie Curie, who won it twice: for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911. The latest was Olga Tokarczuk who won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature.
– Source: Ministry for Education and Science (Poland)

20. Latex condoms were invented by Pole Julius Fromm. After moving to Germany, Fromm patented the invention in 1916 and started producing them on a large scale after the First World War.
– Source: Der Spiegel

21. One of the world’s oldest operating salt mines is in Poland. The UNESCO-listed Wieliczka Salt Mine was first excavated in the 13th century and was continuously producing salt until 1996. Today, it is a tourist attraction visited by over two million people a year.
– Source: UNESCO, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Tourists inside the Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine (Shutterstock)

22. the Polish are the 17th biggest drinkers in the world consuming an average of 11.71 litres of alcohol per person per year.
– Source: World Bank

23. Poland is home to the largest population of European Bison – Europe’s largest and heaviest land mammal. Approximately 900 reside in the Białowieża Forest representing almost 25% of the world’s total population.
– Source: UNESCO, BBC Wildlife

24. Poland had the world’s tallest structure from 1974 to 1991. The Warsaw Radio Mast was 646.38m (2,120ft) high and the world’s tallest structure until its collapse in 1991 during maintenance.
– Source: Atlas Obscura, Daily Star

An archive photo of the Warsaw Radio Mast
Warsaw Radio Mast (public domain)

25. Today, Poland is home to the European Union’s tallest building. The Varso Tower in Warsaw is 310m (1,017ft) high.
– Source: Time Out, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

26. Foreign movies and television series in Poland are not subtitled but dubbed, usually by just one man – known as a lektor – reading parts of everyone including women and children.
– Source: Wall Street Journal

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Poland using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.