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Warsaw is the capital of Poland and its largest city. It is located on the Vistula river roughly 350 km from both the Baltic Sea coast and the Carpathian Mountains. More than 90 percent of the city was destroyed during World War II, but the historic Old Town section was painstakingly reconstructed. In 2004 the population of Warsaw was estimated at 1,676,600, with an urban agglomeration of approximately 2,400,000. Area of this city is 516,9 sq. km, with an urban aglomeration of 1226,6 sq.km . Warsaw’s population declined during World War II, when as many as 670,000 residents died, including the city’s 375,000 Jews who were systematically exterminated by the Nazis. Warsaw’s population is now ethnically and religiously homogeneous. Most residents are ethnic Poles, and the population is predominantly Roman Catholic, though there is a small minority of Protestants. In the early postwar period, many Poles moved to Warsaw from the countryside. Migration from rural areas has slowed, however, in part because of a lack of housing in Warsaw.

The climate is temperate, with warm summers (July temperatures average a high of 24° C/75° F and a low of 14° C/57° F) and cold winters (January temperatures average a high of 0° C/32° F and a low of -6° C/22° F). Snow is common in the winter and tends to linger.

Emerging like a phoenix from the ashes of the second World War, Warsaw has preserved its look of a postwar city. Its handful of historic precincts have been meticulously reconstructed, but most of its urban landscape is modern, from the dull products of the Stalin era to more creative efforts of recent years.

The monumental Palace of Culture and Science in downtown is Warsaw’s leading landmark. With the fall of Communism in 1989 and an economic boom in the 1990s, new office blocks and hotels have transformed the city's skyline. The city, also the capital of Masovian Voivodship, is home to many industries (manufacturing, steel, electrical engineering, automotive industry), comprises 66 higher learning institutions incl. (Warsaw University, Warsaw University of Technology, Higher School of Business and Medical Academy) and over 30 Theatres including the National Theatre and Opera and the Philharmonic National Orchestra.

Warsaw's main north-south boulevard is the Royal Way, running from the Royal Castle to Lazienki Palace, the royal summer residence. This is one of Europe's grandest stretches of road, with churches, palaces, galleries and museums lining the route.


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