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The city lies on the southern coast of the Gdańsk Bay (of the Baltic Sea), in a conurbation with the spa town of Sopot, the city of Gdynia and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the Tricity (Trójmiasto) with a population of over a million people. Gdańsk is, with a population of 460,524 (mid 2004), the largest city in the historical province of Eastern Pomerania.
Gdańsk is situated at the mouth of the Motława river, connected to a Leniwka, a branch in the delta of the Vistula, whose waterway system connects 60% of the area of Poland, giving the city a unique advantage as the center of Poland's sea trade.
Historically an important German-speaking Hanse city and a major port since the 14th century and subsequently a principal ship-building centre, today's Gdańsk remains an important industrial centre together with the developed since the 1920s of the nearby port of Gdynia. In the 1970s the modern port (Port Północny) in Gdańsk was developed, accessible for much bigger ships, including middle sized tankers.
Like many other European cities, Gdańsk has had many different names throughout its history. The Polish name is Gdańsk and in the local Kashubian language it is known as Gduńsk. Due to the city's German heritage the name Danzig is still used, especially when referring to the city prior to the Second World War. The city's Latin name may be given as any of Gedania, Gedanum or Dantiscum; the variety of Latin names reflects the influence of the Polish, Kashubian, and German names.
The name of Gdańsk is usually interpreted as a town located on Gdania river, which is thought to be the original name of the Motława branch the city is situated on. The name of a settlement was recorded after St. Adalbert's demise in 997 A.D. as urbs Gyddanyzc and later was written as Kdanzk (1148), Gdanzc (1188), Gdansk (1236), Danzc (1263), Danczk (1311, 1399, 1410, 1414–1438), Danczik (1399, 1410, 1414), Danczig (1414), Gdansk (1454, 1468, 1484), Gdansk (1590), Gdąnsk (1636) and in Latin documents Gedanum or Dantiscum. These early recordings show the Pomeranian name Gduńsk, the Polish name Gdańsk and the German name Danzig.
Alternative spellings from medieval and early modern documents are Gyddanyzc, Kdansk, Gdanzc, Dantzk, Dantzig, Dantzigk, Dantiscum and Gedanum. The official Latin name of Gedanum was used simultaneously.
Special celebration names
On special occasions it is also known as The Royal Polish City of Gdańsk; Polish: Królewskie Polskie Miasto Gdańsk, German: Königliche Polnische Stadt Danzig, Latin: Regia Civitas Polonica Gedanensis, Kashubian: Królewsczi Polsczi Gard Gduńsk.
The Kashubians prefer the name: Our Capital City Gdańsk (=Nasz Stoleczny Gard Gduńsk) or The Kashubian Capital City Gdańsk (=Stoleczny Kaszëbsczi Gard Gduńsk).
- Gdańsk, in: Kazimierz Rymut, Nazwy Miast Polski, Ossolineum, Wrocław 1987
- Hubert Gurnowicz, Gdańsk, in: Nazwy miast Pomorza Gdańskiego, Ossolineum, Wrocław 1978
According to archeologists, the Gdańsk stronghold was constructed in the 980s; however, the year 997 has in recent years been considered to be the date of the foundation of the city itself, as the year in which Saint Adalbert of Prague (sent by the Polish king Boleslaus the Brave) baptized the inhabitants of Gdańsk (urbs Gyddanyzc). In the following years Gdańsk was the main centre of a Polish splinter duchy ruled by the dynasty of Dukes of Pomerania. The most famous of them, Swantipolk II, granted a local autonomy charter in ca. 1235 to the city, which had some 2,000 inhabitants. Gdańsk became a flourishing trading city with some 10,000 inhabitants by the year 1308. In this year it was occupied and demolished by the Teutonic Knights (the Gdańsk massacre of November 13, 1308). This led to the city's decline and to a series of wars between the rebellious Knights and the Polish kings, ending with the Peace of Kalisz in 1343 when the Knights acknowledged that they would keep Pomerania as "an alm" from the Polish king. This left the legal basis of their possession of the province in some doubt. The agreement permitted the foundation of the municipality in 1343 and the development of increased trade in export of grain from Poland via the Vistula river trading routes. Danzig, as the city now became known, became a full member of the Hanseatic League by 1361. When a new war broke out in 1409 and ended with the Battle of Grunwald (1410) the city accepted the direct overlordship of the Polish kings, but with the Peace of Torun (1411) it returned to the Teutonic Knights' administration. In 1440 Danzig participated in the foundation of the Prussian Union which led to the Thirteen Years War (1454-1466) and the incorporation of Royal Prussia to the direct rule of the Polish Crown.
Thanks to the Royal charters granted by the king Casimir IV the Jagiellonian and the free access to all Polish markets, Danzig became a large and rich seaport and city. The 16th to 17th centuries were a Golden Age for trade and culture in Danzig. Inhabitants from various ethnic groups (Germans, Poles, Jews and the Dutch being the largest) contributed to Danzig's identity and rich culture of the period. The city suffered a slow economic decline due to the wars in the 18th century, which ended with the Partitions of Poland in 1772-1795. Danzig was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1793 and, again in 1815, after a short period as the Free City of Danzig (1807-1815) under Napoleon. In contrast to the independent period, under the Prussian administration Danzig became a relatively unimportant city dominated by the military garrison and the administration officials. As part of Prussia, it became part of the German Empire in 1871.
After World War I, Poland became independent, and the Poles hoped to receive Danzig to provide the "free access to the sea," which they had been promised by the Allies on the basis of Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points." However, the city was not placed under full Polish sovereignty, but was made into the Free City of Danzig, an independent free city under the auspices of the League of Nations, governed by its largely German-speaking residents but with its external affairs largely under Polish control.
Because the German authorities in Danzig obstructed Polish trade and restricted Poles from settling in the city, the Polish government decided to build the nearby seaport of Gdynia, which in the following years took the majority of total Polish exports. Meanwhile, the independent Free City with its surrounding district, which included the seaside spa of Soppot, issued its own stamps and currency bearing the legend, "Freie Stadt Danzig" and symbols of the city's maritime orientation and history.
Tensions arising from quarrels between Germany and Poland over control of the Free City served as a pretext for the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 and the outbreak of World War II. Danzig was annexed to Germany and thousands of Poles and Jews were expelled or executed.
The city was taken by Polish and Soviet forces on March 30, 1945 after a fierce battle with the defending Germans. 90% of the city was reduced to ruins, and it is estimated that 40% of the pre-war population was killed during the war. At the Yalta and the Potsdam conferences, Danzig was ceded to Poland, along with most of Pomerania and Silesia and southern East Prussia. Poland, with Soviet backing, engaged in a programme of expulsion of all Germans from the city. In 1950, around 285,000 former inhabitants of Danzig lived in exile in the remaining parts of Germany, while 100 000 had lost their lives.
Polish settlers were brought in from the parts of eastern Poland annexed by the Soviet Union and from other parts of Poland, and Gdańsk was rebuilt from ruins in the 1950s and 1960s to become a major port and industrial centre of communist Poland.
Gdańsk was the scene of anti-government demonstrations which led to the downfall of Poland's communist leader Wladyslaw Gomulka in December 1970, and ten years later the Gdańsk Shipyard was the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement, whose opposition to the government led to the end of communist party rule (1989) and to the election as Polish president of its leader Lech Wałęsa. Today it remains a major industrial city and shipping port.
|1920||360,000 (whole FCD)|
Compare: population of Tricity
Main article: Economy of Gdansk
The city's industrial kaleidoscope is dominated by traditional lines of shipbuilding, the petrochemical and chemical industry, and food processing. The share of more high-tech sectors such as electronics, telecommunications, IT engineering, or cosmetics and pharmaceuticals is on the rise. Amber processing for the local economy is also prominent.
Gdańsk was once an important center of culture. In the 16th century it hosted Shakespearean theater on foreign tours. Currently, there is a Fundation Theatrum Gedanensis aimed at rebuilding the Shakespeare theater building on its traditional site in Gdańsk. It is expected that Gdańsk will have a permanent English language theater, as at present it is only an annual event.
Gdańsk is the starting point of the EuroVelo 9 cycle route which continues southward through Poland, then onto the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovenia before it finally ends on the Adriatic Sea at Pula in Croatia.
Main article: Sports in Gdansk
There are many popular professional sports teams in the Gdańsk and Tricity area. Amateur sports are played by thousands of Gdańsk citizens and also in schools of all levels (elementary, secondary, university).
Politics and Local Government
Main article: Politics of Gdansk
Contemporary Gdańsk is the capital of the Pomeranian province and is one of the major centres of economic and administrative life in Poland. Many important agencies of the state and local government levels have their main offices here: the Provincial Administration Office, the Provincial Government, the Ministerial Agency of the State Treasury, the Agency for Consumer and Competition Protection, the National Insurance regional office, the Court of Appeal, and the High Administrative Court.
Gdańsk Voivodship was extended in 1999 to include most of Słupsk Voivodship, the western part of Elbląg Voivodship and Chojnice County from Bydgoszcz Voivodship to form the new Pomeranian Voivodship. The area of the region was thus extended from 7,394 km² to 18,293 km² and the population rose from 1,333,800 (1980) to 2,198,000 (2000). By 1998, Tricity (greater Gdańsk) constituted an absolute majority of the population; almost half of the inhabitants of the new region live in the centre.
Education and Science
There are 10 universities with 60,436 students, of which 10,439 are graduates (2001).
- Gdańsk University (Uniwersytet Gdański)
- Gdańsk University of Technology (Politechnika Gdańska)
- Medical Academy (Akademia Medyczna)
- Physical Education Academy (Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego im. Jędrzeja Śniadeckiego)
- Musical Academy (Akademia Muzyczna im. Stanisława Moniuszki)
- Arts Academy (Akademia Sztuk Pięknych) 
- Instytut Budownictwa Wodnego PAN
- Ateneum - Szkoła Wyższa
- Gdańska Wyższa Szkoła Humanistyczna
- Gdańska Wyższa Szkoła Administracji
- Wyższa Szkoła Bankowa
- Wyższa Szkoła Społeczno-Ekonomiczna
- Wyższa Szkoła Turystyki i Hotelarstwa w Gdańsku
- Wyższa Szkoła Zarządzania
Scientific and regional organizations
- List of modern neighbourhoods of Gdansk
- List of Dukes of Gdansk
- List of famous people born in Gdansk
- List of major corporations in Gdansk
- List of famous people living or working in Gdansk
- St. Mary's Church
- The Website of Gdańsk Town Hall
- Together in Gdańsk Again — Comprehensive information about Gdańsk online
- Freie Stadt Danzig
- Airport Gdańsk-Rębiechowo
- Tricity Regional Portal
- Gdańsk University
- Gdańsk Companies
- Gdansk Life
- Mayors of Gdańsk
- Gdansk jewish community
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