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about Gdansk

Gdańsk (pronounced: [gdaɲsk], German name Danzig, see also other names) is the 6th largest city in Poland, its principal seaport, and the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodship. The city lies on the southern coast of the Gdansk Bay (of the Baltic Sea), in a conurbation with the spa town of Sopot, the city of Gdynia and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the Tricity (Trójmiasto) with a population of over a million people. Gdańsk is, with a population of 460,000 (2002), the largest city in the historical province of Eastern Pomerania. Gdańsk is pronounced IPA [gdaɲsk] (listen) in Polish and [gəˈdɑnsk] or [gəˈdænsk] in English.

Gdansk history

Historical summary

According to archeologists, the Gdańsk stronghold was constructed in the 980s; however, the year 997 has in recent years been considered to be the date of the foundation of the city itself, as the year in which Saint Adalbert of Prague (sent by the Polish king Boleslav the Brave) baptized the Gdańsk inhabitants (urbs Gyddanyzc). In the following years Gdańsk was the main centre of a Polish splinter duchy ruled by the dynasty of Dukes of Pomerania. The most famous of them, Swantipolk II, granted a local autonomy charter in ca. 1235 to the city, which had some 2,000 inhabitants. Gdańsk became a flourishing trading city with some 10,000 inhabitants by the year 1308, however in this year it was occupied and demolished by the Teutonic Knights (the Gdańsk massacre of November 13, 1308). This led to the city's decline and to a series of wars between the rebellious Knights and the Polish kings, ending with the Peace of Kalisz in 1343 when the Knights acknowledged that they would keep Pomerania as "an alm" from the Polish king. This made the legal basis of their possession of the province to remain in some doubt. The agreement permitted the foundation of the Gdańsk municipality in 1343 and the development of increased trade in export of grain from Poland via the Vistula river trading routes. The city became a full member of the Hanseatic League by 1361. When a new war broke out in 1409 and ended with the Battle of Grunwald (1410) the city accepted the direct overlordship of Polish kings, but with the Peace of Thorn (1411) it returned to the Teutonic Knights' administration. In 1440 it participated in the foundation of the Prussian Union which led to the Thirteen Years War (1454-1644) and the incorporation of Gdansk Pomerania, under direct rule of the Polish Crown.

Thanks to the Royal charters granted by the king Casimir IV the Jagiellonian and the free access to all Polish markets, Gdańsk became a large and rich seaport and city. The 16th to 17th centuries were the Golden Age of Gdańsk trade and culture. Inhabitants from various ethnic groups (Germans, Poles, Jews and the Dutch being the largest) contributed to the specific Danzig identity and richest culture of the period. The city suffered slowly economic decline becauce of the wars in the 18th century, which ended with the Partitions of Poland in 1772-1793. Some Gdańsk citizens fought for Gdańsk independence, but they had to accept that the city became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1793 and, again in 1815, after a short period as a Free City (1806-1815) under Napoleon. In contrast to the independent period, under the Prussian administration Danzig became an relatively unimportant city dominated by the military garrison and the administration officials. As part of Prussia, it became part of the German Empire in 1871.

After World War I, Poland became independent, and the Poles hoped to get Gdańsk as 'a free access to the sea', as they had been promised by the Allies. They were very unhappy when the city was not placed under full Polish sovereignty, but was made into the Free City of Gdańsk, formally an autonomous part of Poland and protected by the League of Nations, but in practice dominated by the local German-speaking residents. Danzig had a this time a population of 97,6 % Germans and around 2 % Poles. Because these authorities obstructed Polish trade and restricted Poles from settling in the city, the Polish government decided to invest in construction of the nearby seaport of Gdynia, which in the following years took the majority of Polish exports through the Polish Corridor.

Tensions arising from quarrels between Germany and Poland over control of the Free City served as a pretext for the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 and the outbreak of World War II. Danzig was reannexed to Germany. Some Poles were expelled or executed.

The city was taken by Polish and Soviet forces on March 30, 1945 after a fierce battle with the defending Germans. 90% of the city was reduced to ruins, and it is estimated that 40% of the pre-war population was killed during the war. By the decision of the Allies at the Yalta Conference and the Potsdam Conference Gdańsk was ceded to full Polish sovereignty. Poland started a programme of ethnic cleansing of all Germans from the city. In 1950, around 285,000 former Danzig inhabitants lived in exile in the remaining parts of Germany, while 100 000 had lost their lives. The city was rebuilt from ruins in the 1950s and 1960s to become a major industrial centre of communist Poland.

Gdańsk was the scene of anti-government demonstrations which led to the downfall of Poland's communist leader Wladyslaw Gomulka in December 1970, and ten years later was the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement, whose opposition to the government led to the end of communist party rule (1989) and to the election as Polish president of its leader Lech Walesa. Today it remains a major industrial city and shipping port.

Historical population

ca.1000: 1,000 inhabitants ca.1235: 2,000 inhabitants ca.1600: 40,000 inhabitants ca.1650: 70,000 inhabitants ca.1700: 50,000 inhabitants ca.1750: 46,000 inhabitants 1793: 36,000 inhabitants 1800: 48,000 inhabitants 1825: 61,900 inhabitants 1840: 65,000 inhabitants 1852: 67,000 inhabitants 1874: 90,500 inhabitants 1880: 108,500 inhabitants 1900: 140,600 inhabitants 1910: 170,300 inhabitants 1920: city+rural areas = 360,000 inhabitants (85–90% Germans, 10–15% Poles) 1925: 210,300 inhabitants 1939: 250,000 inhabitants 1946: 118,000 inhabitants 1950: ? inhabitants 1960: 286,900 inhabitants 1970: 365,600 inhabitants 1975: 421,000 inhabitants 1980: 456,700 inhabitants 1990: ? inhabitants 1994: 464,000 inhabitants 2000: ? inhabitants 2002 : 460,000 inhabitants

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Gdansk".

This city is also known as: Gdańsk.

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