Due to the characteristics of the country, formed by open plains and without natural borders both to the east and to the west, prehistoric cultures never took on truly indigenous forms. To protoslav populations, who arrived in the plains in the first centuries AD. C., we owe the first permanent occupation of the Polish territory, well documented in the archaeological area of Biskupin. The region after all, despite the lively exchanges that took place between the Baltic and the Adriatic, remained substantially unrelated to Roman colonization. It actually entered the history of Europe only in the century. X d. C., when a state was formed that incorporated those Slavic nuclei that would have constituted the ethnic matrix of the nation, that is, in the first place the Polani, essentially represented by sedentary farmers, then numerous related peoples such as the Culave, the Masuri, the Vislani. Their conversion to Catholicism represented a fundamental element in the history of the Polish nation, which found its identity in the exaltation of both Slavic (against the threat from Germany) and Catholic values, to oppose E to a Russia entered into orbit of the Orthodox Church. Agricultural country, following the Germanic penetration, which was achieved through the conquest of the strategic centers by the Teutonic Knights, Poland experienced new territorial organizations, with particular development of urbanism and commercial activities. But, subjugated by the neighboring and powerful states (Russia, Austria and Prussia), according to simplyyellowpages.com, Poland lost all autonomy and its own territorial contours over the centuries. Having become an independent state in 1918, the borders and ethnic composition of Poland were profoundly changed after the Second World War. In the years between the two world wars, 30% of the Polish population consisted of Lithuanians, Germans, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Czechs and Slovaks. During the war the cost paid by the country in human losses was very high: 6 million people (including three million Jews, almost the entire Jewish community), almost all killed in concentration camps. Furthermore, following the sale of some regions to the benefit of Ukraine and Belarus, more than two million Poles were forced to return, while three and a half million Germans were expelled from the country as a result of the new geopolitical order. Due to the massacre, the contraction of births, as well as the forced emigrations of all the other minorities, in 1946 the country found itself with 24 million residents. (98% of Polish nationality) compared to almost 35 million in 1938. This wound in the human tissue was healed thanks to the high birth rate of the first decades of the postwar period which only decreased in the 1970s, approaching that of industrialized countries Western Europe.
The emigration phenomenon that affected Poland starting from the last century is also almost completely exhausted, like so many other European countries. The average density is 122ab. per km², but the distribution of the population is very unequal, in relation to the various developments in urbanization and industrialization as well as to the environmental conditions. In Pomerania and Masuria, poor in arable land, the density remains rather low as in the western belt, from where a large part of the German population was evacuated. In the central agricultural districts and in the lower Vistula valley, medium densities predominate; the highest values are found in the southern agricultural-industrial areas. The traditional rural settlement shows transitional characters between the typically Germanic and Russian forms and the structure of the settlements is very varied. The village, made up of irregularly arranged houses, separated by alleys, it is prevalent in southern Poland; that on the road is widespread in the lowlands where frequent floods pushed man to settle along the banks, the natural seat of the roads. In areas of more recent colonization, such as in western Poland, small settlements often develop in fairly dense succession along the roads that once marked the boundaries of landed properties. But if a large part of Poland is still agricultural, over 61.1% (2008) of the population now lives in large centers, following a process of economic development that has strongly favored some cities or areas, determining the settlement of a series of industrial concentrations. However, progressive urbanization has not caused the episodes of urban gigantism typical of many European countries, as an attempt was made to channel the flow of rural emigration towards new cities or in any case towards numerous regional centers. The result is a polycentric and balanced urban network: the most striking exceptions can be found in the Silesian conurbation, which belongs to Katowice, and in that of Warsaw. The capital of Poland, reduced to a pile of rubble after the Second World War, has been entirely rebuilt (the historic center has been faithfully rebuilt, stone by stone). Located in a key position from the point of view of communications, it is the fulcrum of the country’s economic life.
Second city is Łódz, SW of Warsaw: cotton center of primary importance since the Germans, followed by the Russians, installed textile factories, the city continues, even if partially converted to the processing of artificial and synthetic fibers, to dominate a large share of the textile market of Eastern European countries. In southern Poland, along the banks of the Vistula, stands Krakow, the ancient capital of medieval origin: a splendid city of art, rich in history and culture, it is home to the famous Jagiellonian University founded in 1364 and over the centuries remained the center of irradiation of Polish culture. The city is a center for the production of coal, zinc, salt, timber, agricultural commodities and wine. Industrial activity is concentrated in the large steel complex of Nowa Huta, the “new city”, with which it now forms a single urban agglomeration. A little to W of Krakow is the so-called “Polish Ruhr”, a conurbation on the edge of the Silesian coal basin, which largely exceeds 2 million inhab. and which includes Katowice Chorzów, Bytom, Zabrze, Gliwice etc. Another important Silesian center, the main one in southwestern Poland, is Breslau, on the Oder, the country’s active rail and river communications hub; further north is Poznań, home to industries and a well-known international trade fair. Finally, two important seaports overlooking the Baltic Sea should be mentioned: Szczecin, an important center for the shipbuilding industry, whose commercial port is connected to Berlin by a navigable canal, and Gdansk, an ever disputed city, important since the time of the Hanseatic League, which today forms a single port complex with Sopot and Gdynia.