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I have several different ethnicities, but my two most dominant are German (on my dad's side) and Polish (on my mom's side). Since I am Â¼ Polish, the most dominant of all my ethnicities, that is the ethnicity I will be writing about.
My grandfather's parents are from Krakow, Poland which is in Central Europe. My great grandfather, Frank Stanaszek, came to the United States with his parents and his two older brothers and his younger in 1889 when he was 10 years old. They came to escape the turmoil with the Turks, who were coming down from the mountains, and also to get better living conditions. I found out this information from several of my family members, mainly my grandma and my aunt. They came from an area that used to be very rural and agricultural, but that was before World War II. Now, 60% of Poland's population lives in big cities, which is a result of the war and communism.
Poland is one of the largest countries in Europe. The entire country is just smaller than the state of New Mexico. Poland is located on the North European Plain and has an area of about 120,500 square miles. It is mostly a flat piece of land, with the exception of the mountains on the southern border (the Sudeten's, the Tatra's, and the Carpathian's). Poland's climate varies between oceanic and continental because of the coastline. Winter there only lasts about 3 months, but can be very severe. The summer months are generally hot with temperatures above 85 degrees F. (New Eastern Europe) Poland is home to approximately 38.7 million people. Before World War II, there were several large minority groups including: 4.5 million Ukrainians, 3.3 million Jews, 1 million Belarusians, and 800,000 Germans. After the horrific events of the war, and to this day, 98% of the population is made up of ethnic poles. The largest minority groups are the Ukrainians and the Belarusians. There are under 3,000 Jews left. (New Eastern Europe)
World War II is one of the most historical event's Poland has ever seen. There is also their victory with the fall of communism in 1989. Famous landmarks include the memorials at Auschwitz and Birkenau, the salt statues in the salt mine near Krakow, the famous St. Mary's Church in Krakow Square, and the war memorials from the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto. Some famous people from Poland include the astronomer Copernicus, the late Pope John Paul II (who was the Arch Bishop of Krakow before his Pope Hood), the famous composer Chopin, and scientist Maria Curie-Sklodowska. (Video: Rick Steves' Europe)
Poland practices four of the six subsistence strategies. Since 60% of Poland's population lives in the cities, industrialism is the most common subsistence strategy used. Industrialism is defined as survival using mass production based on power production from natural resources. Poland's natural resources include coal, copper, sulfur, natural gas, lead and salt. Some of the things Poland produces using industrialism are iron and steel ships, automobiles, chemicals, textiles and clothing, processed foods, glass, and beverages. (New Eastern Europe) The second most common subsistence strategy used is agriculture. Agriculture is defined as survival using food planting techniques that rely on other human power with more advanced farming practices like irrigation, draft animals, etc. The main agricultural sectors include potatoes, grains, sugar beets, oilseed, and dairy products. (World Factbook) The other two subsistence strategies Poland uses are pastoralism and horticulture. These are only used in remote areas of Poland. Pastoralism is defined as survival using herding techniques for domesticated animals. The only pastoralism I was able to find in my research included farmers that herd cattle and hogs, and families that have dairy cows, in which they herd into fenced areas and keep them for milking. Horticulture is defined as survival using food planting techniques that rely on human power. I couldn't find any research on horticulture, so I asked my aunt, the person that I interviewed, if Poland had anything. She told me that the only people that really practice horticulture are the poor, and families who love in the rural areas and have vegetable gardens to feed their families.
Technologies that are used with each of the four subsistence strategies include shovels, rakes and hoes for horticulture. Herding tools such as ropes, leads, sticks and fences are used in pastoralism. Tractors, combines, rotivators, powered irrigation systems, fertilizers and pesticides are used in agriculture. The technologies for industrialism are machines and factories for manufacturing goods. In horticulture, the technologies are used to tend to gardens to make the ground more fertile, so the vegetables will grow better. For pastoralism the technologies are used to make sure that the animals being herded go where they are supposed to. The technologies in agriculture are used to produce larger amounts of goods in a faster, more efficient time period. The technologies in industrialism are used for manufacturing goods that are produced.
Division of labor depends on which subsistence strategy is being used. In Poland, the division of labor in horticulture is generally men prepare the soil and get it ready for planting, and the women plant, tend to, and harvest the vegetables. The division of labor in pastoralism is sort of the same as horticulture. The strong men herd the animals and the women/girls/young boys tend to the animals. It gets different with division of labor in agriculture. Farmers generally tend the land, plant and harvest the crops, and then truck drivers transport the crops to where market owners and grocery stores check over the produce to make sure it is suitable before they put things on their shelves. Division of labor for industrialism is based on education. If you have a degree saying you are specialized in working with certain things, you get a better job than those who don't have that degree.
Today, Poland's political system is a parliamentary democracy. The type of government is a democracy. They have a prime minister, a sejm, a president, and an executive branch, a judicial branch, and a legislative branch. Legitimacy is established by holding elections. The people vote the president into office for a five year term. The people's perception of legitimacy (authority) is good, because they have the choice of who is going into office. (World Factbook) The people of Poland are very much so politically engaged because they decide who is going to run their country so they want to make sure it is done right. (New Eastern Europe)
Poland has a market economy. Goods and services are produced, distributed, and exchanged by using agriculture and industrialism to produce and distribute the goods, and importing and exporting to exchange goods. (U.S. Department of State) Poland is known for confectionery, processed fruit and vegetables, meat, and dairy products, along with motor vehicles, fertilizers, petrochemicals, machine tools, electrical machinery, and electronics. (U.S. Department of State) All three economic sectors apply to Poland. The primary sector-extraction amounts to only 4% of GDP, the secondary sector-manufacturing amounts to approximately 67% of GDP, and the tertiary sector-service amounts to approximately 28% of GDP. Poland's currency is the zloty. There are 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 zloty coins and 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000, and 500,000 zloty notes. 1 US dollar is equal to 2.84815 Polish zloty. (Insight Guide) Poland's trading partners include Germany, Russia, Italy, China, The United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Netherlands, and France. (World Factbook) Poland's main imports are crude oil, passenger cars, pharmaceuticals, car parts and computers. Poland's main exports are furniture, cars, ships, coal and clothing. (U.S. Department of State)
Poland follows the religious belief of monotheism with an astounding 95% of the population being practicing Catholics. Less than 4% of Poland is made up of minorities, but the few that exist are protestant and a very small number are of Jewish faith. (Poland) There is not a religious relationship with the government. In 1993, the government's relations with the Catholic Church went from bad to worse over the issue of abortion, and they never regained the relationship. (New Eastern Europe) Catholicism in Poland is very influential, especially after John Paul II was named Pope. The people of Poland are strongly religious, and attend church several times a week. (Poland)
Poland's marriage practices are monogamous, they practice endogamy (farmer's marry other farmer's daughters, the wealthy marry the wealthy, catholic's marry other catholic's and they mostly marry within their race). Arranged marriages are very rare, but even if one occurred, poles are extremely proud and none would ever admit to an arranged marriage. (Insight Guide) I asked my aunt what family life was like in Poland and she told me that family life in Poland is much like in the United States. Some families spend time together, others don't. More and more families think that money is more important that their children now. She also told me that after a marriage, the new couple moves away from both families, but they will take in their parents when they can't live alone anymore. So Poland's pot-marital residence patterns are neolocal, and they have extended family unit types. After WWII, gender roles in Poland moved away from the traditional, men work and women stay home with the family, because the women had to go work and provide for the family while the men were at war. Now both men and women have full time jobs. The women are still responsible for the cooking, cleaning, and caring for children, while the men do the outside labor. (Poland)
Some of the things that I found interesting about Poland are education, food, Warsaw, museums, and the concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau. First off, I will start with Warsaw. It is an extremely amazing city to me. After the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto in WWII, Warsaw was burned to the ground. It had to be totally rebuilt and it was beautifully. During the years of communism, Stalin had a building built for the people of Warsaw to show his gratefulness for their cooperation. To “honor” him, the people of Warsaw nicknamed the building Stalin's Penis. They didn't like him very much. (Video: Rick Steves' Europe) Moving on to Auschwitz and Birkenau, they both play a huge part in Poland's history. There was so much horror in those two concentration camps. Birkenau was only built because the Nazi's couldn't exterminate people fast enough at Auschwitz. At one point there were 4,000 Jews and Poles being exterminated every day. I can't believe that after all of that horror and tragedy that the polish people even want those camps to remain. They are proud that they went through it and made it out together. They want people to know what happened to them, to try to ensure it never happens to anyone again. (Video: Rick Steves' Europe)
Museums are a very big part of Poland's culture. In the Insight Guides, there is a list of the most important museums in Poland and there are 27 of them! Museums are a way for Poland to show off their history and culture for people to see. They have art museum, a literature museum, several history museums, national museums and even a castle museum! (Insight Guide) Another interesting thing about Poland is the food. I have grown up eating polish food, and it is really good. Food is a big part of polish traditions. When a party is thrown, there is always a lot of good hearty food involved. Some things that poles eat are Golomki's (stuffed cabbages), borscht (beet soup), Stugenina (head cheese) piedzuc (dinner pie with cottage cheese and buckwheat), kelbasa and kieshka (sausages), and my favorite polish food ever, pierogi's!