- a country in central Europe with a coastline on the Baltic Sea; population 38,482,900 (est. 2009); capital, Warsaw; language, Polish (official). Polish name Polska.
First united as a nation in the 11th century, Poland became a dominant power in the region in the 16th century but thereafter suffered severely from the rise of Russian, Swedish, Prussian, and Austrian power and was partitioned in the late 18th century. It regained full independence (as a republic) after World War I. Its invasion by German forces in 1939 precipitated World War II, from which it eventually emerged as a communist state under Soviet domination. In the 1980s, the rise of the independent trade union movement Solidarity eventually led to the end of communist rule in 1989. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004