Poles or Polish people who live in a West Slavic country are unified by their shared heritage and culture. The Constitution of the Republic of Poland defines its citizens as Polish regardless of ethnicity or background. Moreover, most Poles practice Roman Catholicism, around 90 per cent of its population actually, which shows a homogenous country. With such strong bonds, it is no wonder why Poles have created an indelible mark within Central Europe!
So, in this article, we’ll bring some facts about Poles and who they are. Buckle up!
1- The Polish population ranks sixth amongst all nations in Europe
Estimates from different sources show a total of 60 million people worldwide who identify as Polish (with 18-20 million living outside of polish territories). Of this number, approximately 38 million Poles live in Poland.
Additionally, there are sizeable communities of people with Polish heritage located close to the country’s borders which were formerly occupied or part of Poland–Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, western Ukraine and Belarus. Taking most of central and eastern Europe.
2- In Poland, ‘Polonia’ is a term used to refer to individuals of Polish ancestry who are living outside the country’s boundaries
With a rich history of Polish settlers, France is home to one of the most prominent Polish diasporas in the world. For centuries, Poles have been immigrating to French soil due to war or political strife.
During World War II and Cold War periods alone over 1 million fled their polish nation seeking refuge. Today, this strong community continues to grow as they strive for better opportunities and continue its cultural legacy throughout Europe. The Polish government for example has gone through major changes since the communist era of the Polish state.
3- Beyond the borders of Poland, Chicago has achieved an unrivalled global distinction as the world’s most Polish city
Tens of thousands of Polish immigrants have made their home in the United States in cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, New Jersey and many more. The highest density of this large number of American Poles is located in New Britain Connecticut – which boasts one of the most impressive communities from coast to coast.
Half of this influx has been shared with US neighbours up North. Canada also experienced a wave of migration since the Second World War that later on significantly increased after Communism had been established in Poland circa 1989.
4- The majority of Poles who went to Brazil decided to settle in the state of Paraná.
Although the population may be smaller, there is a significant number of Polish people who have settled in Rio Grande do Sul, Espírito Santo and São Paulo state. In fact, Curitiba holds the second-highest concentration of Poles living overseas (second only to Chicago). Therefore it’s not uncommon for most people and locals to embrace their heritage through music, dishes and culture.
5- The United Kingdom holds the highest number of Polish immigrants among all countries in the EU
After Poland joined the European Union in 2004 and immigration to other EU countries became possible, a substantial number of Poles began migrating abroad.
It is estimated that approximately two million people mainly within the age range of 18-35 left their homeland looking for job opportunities elsewhere. Of those, more than 500 thousand individuals travelled all the way to Britain in search of better employment chances.
Where are the Poles around EUROPE?
Ever since 2011, Poles have been able to work across the EU and not simply in England (UK). Poland’s accession into the European Union back in 2004 meant that citizens had full working rights in Ireland and Sweden as well. The Polish population abroad has grown exponentially – for example, there are now 120,000 Poles living in Norway which makes them the largest immigrant group there!
However, recently this number has decreased slightly; specifically within England with 116 000 migrating away from it just last year alone. Ireland is home to a sizeable Polish community, comprising an estimated 2.57% of the population.
Enough about migration. What about some of the character traits that set them apart from other people in the EU and the world as well?
6- Poles are renowned for their intelligence and inquisitiveness
They relish experiencing new cultures by travelling the world, as well as connecting with people from other countries. Friendship is of high importance to them—they have great respect for those closest to them in life.
Home to the most Nobel Prices in the world, 19 to be exact, proves their intelligence and their ability to reach the best at what they are.
7- In social situations, Poles are known for their ability to create a warm and inviting atmosphere
Polish people are known for their welcoming nature and authenticity. However, part of this hospitality includes a lot of alcohol consumption. In fact, Poles consider it essential to any social gathering or celebration. Attending a Polish wedding without drinking would be considered an insult for other poles present!
8- Poles have a deep appreciation for Freedom, Autonomy and Peace
When you ask a Polish woman how liberated and autonomous her government allows her to feel, she will be able to tell an extraordinary history of resilience. Even in times when conditions are immensely complicated, the Poles show great unity by disregarding political stances or societal conventions and being willing to go above and beyond for what is truly important.
Poland’s history it’s a complicated one but amongst all the public debate we can agree that they have prevailed no matter the circumstances. From the Russian conflict to the holocaust and german invasion, the Poles have been through too much. But here they are today, stronger than ever.
9- Quite often, Poles are quick to make fun of themselves
This kind of self-deprecating humour and lack of vanity may surprise some foreign visitors, but it’s a reflection of the Poles’ humility and ability to laugh at themselves in spite of difficult times. This is why many Polish jokes focus on their resilient spirit and ability to overcome hardships with a smile.
10- Family comes first
Poles consider establishing a family and having children the ultimate goal in life. They will make tremendous sacrifices for their families, sometimes even altering what it means to be part of one just so they can selflessly give themselves up for the sake of their beloved children.
One of the few countries in Europe that are still connected strongly with the nuclear family concept. Family is Poland’s point of connection with itself as a country.
11- Poles are highly valued as workers abroad
Working quickly and efficiently is their top priority, as they understand that in order to make a profit, the job must be completed to its best potential. The positive response from customers motivates them more each day to take on additional responsibility, with greater rewards awaiting those who rise up to the challenge. They are aware of the importance of money and revere it highly.
The qualities that Poles possess make them invaluable workers both at home and abroad, no matter what the field is. They’re hard-working, creative, loyal, and committed – all qualities that have been honed through centuries of hardship.
As a result of their dedication to work and success, they are highly sought after in many places around the world. Whether it’s in Ireland, Norway, England or elsewhere, the Polish are making a huge impact on their host countries and helping to build a better future for everyone.
While I am confident in my portrayal of the average Pole, it is important to note that there is a distinction between Suzan, the marketing director in Warsaw, and Phil, the bus driver from some other small city. Therefore, my honest but impetuous attempt at characterizing Poles should be seen as an overall representation rather than individual specifics of people of Polish descent.
My opinions don’t necessarily reflect what poles are. The article is based on research and general representations about them. Every living being on this planet is unique in their own way, yet Poles share some shared characteristics due to the fact that they have been born, raised and educated in this country.
Before I go, I have some cute info for you, enjoy:
Why are people from Poland called poles?
The tribal’s names originate in proto-Indio-European *pleh2, which signifies flat and flatland and represents the topography of the region the west Polans originally settled. The prefix “pol” is used to a great extent by all languages to refer to Poles (Spanishpolaco, Italianpolaco, Frenchpoloniais, Germanpol.)