- a country in central Europe with a coastline on the Baltic Sea; population 38,482,900 (est. 2009); official language, Polish; capital, Warsaw. Polish name Polska.
First united as a nation in the 11th century, Poland became a dominant power in the region in the 16th century but thereafter suffered severely from the rise of Russian, Swedish, Prussian, and Austrian power, being partitioned in the late 18th century. Poland regained full independence (as a republic) after the First World War. Its invasion by German forces in 1939 precipitated the Second World War, from which it eventually emerged as a communist state under Soviet domination. In the 1980s the rise of the independent trade union movement Solidarity eventually led to the end of communist rule (1989)