POLAND : GDANSK
Gdansk used to be called “Dantzig” .
Historically an important seaport since the 10th century and
subsequently a principal ship-building centre, Gdansk was a member of
the Hanseatic League and the largest city in Poland until the partitions
of the late 18th century, when the largely German-speaking city became
part of Prussia, and later of the German Empire. After a period as a
free city in the interwar period (1919-1939), claims to Gdansk became
the pretext for Hitler's attack on Poland which began the Second World
War. Following the war Gdansk again became part of Poland, and the
German population was largely expelled, making the city for the first
time entirely ethnically Polish.
Today’s Gdansk is the capital of Pomorskie province in Northern Poland, on a branch
of the Vistula and on the Gulf of Gdansk. One of the chief Polish ports
on the Baltic Sea, it is a leading industrial and communications center.
The population of Gdansk is nearing half a million. It is a large centre
of economic life, science, culture, and a popular tourist destination.
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
With its Hanseatic
tradition, it has for ages played a major role in the commercial
relationships between Northern and Western Europe on the one hand, and
the countries of Central and Eastern Europe on the other hand.
Its once-famous state-owned shipyard was nearly closed in 1996 but was
sold in 1998 and continues shipbuilding on a smaller scale. There are
two port areas; one is at Nowy Port (Neufahrwasser), a northern suburb,
and the other, Port Polnocny, was completed in 1975. The port cities of
Gdansk and Gdynia and the nearby resort of Sopot are administered as a
single city. Gdansk has numerous educational and cultural facilities.
Historic landmarks include the Gothic Church of St. Mary (1343).