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Poland

POPULATION

38,415,284 (July 2012 est.)

GDP PER CAPITA

$20,600 (2011 est.)

RELIGIONS

Roman Catholic 89.8% [about 75% practicing], Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3% (2002)
> source

ALSO IN EUROPE AND RUSSIA

Albania
Austria
Belgium
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France
Germany
Greece
Italy
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Ukraine
United Kingdom

PolandPrinter-icon

Europe and Russia

Poland has a secular government that respects religious pluralism while according special recognition to the Roman Catholic Church as a central element of Polish national identity. Though officially Catholic since 966, Poland was long known for its unique religious tolerance. The 1264 Statute of Kalisz safeguarded Jews as an autonomous entity for over five centuries. The Warsaw Confederation of 1573 formalized religious tolerance, sparing the territory from much of the Protestant-Catholic violence that devastated Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. Nazi occupation (1939-45) led to the deaths of 90% of Poland’s Jews in the Holocaust. The Church earned its place in Polish national identity through being a refuge for nationalists during periods of foreign domination, such as under atheist Soviet control (1945-90). The current Constitution grants religious freedom and equality while recognizing the historical importance of the Catholic Church. The right of minorities to establish educational and cultural institutions to protect their religious identities is also constitutionally guaranteed.

ESSAYS ON POLAND

Formation, the Polish-Lithuanian Union, and Partition
Occupation, the World Wars and the Holocaust
Since the Second World War
Contemporary Affairs
Religious Freedom in Poland
Religion in the Polish Constitution