Struggles of a Unique Country; Poland

Nestled in Central Europe, Poland has always been a country of struggle and change. Even as early as the 10th century, as a new independent country, the internal struggle between Byzantium Catholicism and the Roman Church was tangible. Still today, the Latin Church is a driving force for the Poles. Throughout her history, Poland has been divided, conquered, and unified many times. It is always through the efforts of one strong man that Poland has resurfaced as a sovereign nation. While the borders of Poland have been arranged and rearranged throughout time, the modern lines are firm and separate from the countries that surround her. Poland has always struggled to have a democratic government, and though she was partitioned, the Constitution of the Third of May was drafted in 1791. For a European nation, especially an occupied one, this was unique. Russia quickly squashed this and though Poland rose up against them, she was rendered into non-existence for the next 123 years.

World War II brought to Poland another invader and more devastation, and once again a foreign master. Immediately, Poland started to revitalize by strengthening its industry and agriculture. As the Cold War crept into the world, Poland became more isolated as an Eastern Bloc country through censorship and stringent Soviet controls. Despite this, her back would not be broken and Catholicism and Polish pride still flourished. While holding fast to their religion, the Poles also yearned for freedom and their own government. Their next resurgence came with the rebuilding of Poland's major industries; mining, steel, and shipping, but the quality of life was still in disrepair. As the economy faltered under Soviet rule, strikes and unrest emerged. Eventually, the Soviets agreed to allow the Poles to unionize under the flagship, Solidarity, with the leadership of Lech Walesa. In 1981, a year after its inception, martial law was imposed and Solidarity was squelched. The cost of living skyrocketed and life in Poland was hard. With hundreds of years of experience behind them, the Poles found a way to pull themselves out of suppression and in 1989, as the Soviet Bloc crumbled, Solidarity resurfaced. Even with a newly elected President Lech Walesa, a Constitution, and no longer under Communism, Poland found herself in economic distress.
The issues that Poland faces today have some similarity with her past, however, her borders are firm, and she has her own governing body. Similar to many other modern nations, economic growth is slow, health care is poor and politics are turbulent. Poland is striving to be a relevant and driving force of the EU. President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, are hoping to build coalitions, similar to that with Lithuania in the 1400's, to strengthen Poland's position. Today these coalitions like that of NATO, United Nations, and Visegrad 4 would not undermine the sovereignty of Poland; only allow Poland a stronger place in the world forum. Her distinctive past, strong religious beliefs and tolerance make Poland a vibrant, welcoming and unique country.

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