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The name Pomerania comes from Slavic po more, which means Land at the Sea. The adjective for the region is Pomeranian (Polish: pomorski, German: pommersch), inhabitants are called Pomeranians (Polish: Pomorzanie, German: Pommern).
Divided between Germany and Poland, Pomerania stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East. The biggest Pomeranian islands are Rügen, Usedom/Uznam and Wolin. Pomerania belongs to the lowlands of the North European Plain. The largest Pomeranian cities are Szczecin, Koszalin, Słupsk and Stargard Szczeciński in Poland, and Stralsund and Greifswald in Germany. Gdańsk and Gdynia are located in Pomerelia, and part Polish Pomeranian Voivodeship. Outside its urban areas, the region is characterized by farmland, dotted with numerous lakes, forests, and small towns. The region was strongly affected by 20th century events, post–World War I and II border and population shifts.
Agriculture primarily consists of raising livestock, forestry, fishery and the cultivation of cereals, sugar beets, and potatoes. Industrial food processing is increasingly relevant in the region. Since the late 19th century, tourism has become an important sector of the economy, primarily in the numerous seaside resorts along the coast. Key producing industries are shipyards, mechanical engineering facilities (i.a. regenerative energy components), sugar refineries, paper and wood fabricators. Service industries today are an important economical factor in Pomerania, most notably with logistics, information technology, life sciences/biotechnology/health care and other high tech branches often clustering around research facilities of the Pomeranian universities.
Pomerania is the area along the Bay of Pomerania of the Baltic Sea between the rivers Recknitz in the west and Vistula in the east. It formerly reached as far south as the Noteć (Netze) and Warta (Warthe) rivers, but since 1250 its southern boundary has been placed further north. Most of the region is coastal lowland of the North European Plain; its southern, hilly parts belong to the Baltic Ridge, a belt of terminal moraines formed during the Pleistocene. Within this ridge, a chain of moraine-dammed lakes constitutes the Pomeranian Lake District. The soil is generally poor, often sandy or marshy. The western coastline is jagged, with lots of peninsulae (e.g., Darß–Zingst) and islands (Rügen, Usedom, Wolin (Wollin) and other, small isles) enclosing numerous bays (Bodden) and lagoons (e.g., the Lagoon of Szczecin).
The eastern coastline is smooth. The lakes Łebsko, Jamno and Gardno were formerly bays but have been cut off from the sea. The easternmost coastline along the Gdańsk Bay (with Bay of Puck) and Vistula Bay has the Hel peninsula and the Vistula peninsula jutting out into the Baltic.
Historical Pomerania is currently sub-divided into the following contemporary political regions:
The bulk of historical Farther Pomerania is included within the modern West Pomeranian Voivodeship, its easternmost parts (Słupsk (Stolp) area) now constitute the northwestern Pomeranian Voivodeship. Farther Pomerania in turn comprised several other historical regions itself, most notably the Principality of Cammin, County of Naugard, Lands of Schlawe and Stolp, and the Lauenburg and Bütow Land. In the South, Farther Pomerania comprised historical Ziemie Lubuska/Neumark regions, and former Grenzmark Posen-West Prussia was attached during World War II.
Parts of Pomerania and surrounding regions have constituted a euroregion since 1995. The Pomerania euroregion comprises Germany's Vorpommern and Uckermark, Poland's Zachodniopomorskie, and Scania in Sweden. The Szczecin metropolitan area is one of many German-Polish cross-border projects in Pomerania.
Pomerania in all languages is derived from Old Slavic po, meaning "by/next to/along", and more, meaning "sea", thus "Pomerania" literally means "seacoast" or "land at the sea", referring to its proximity to the Baltic Sea.
Pomerania was first mentioned in an imperial document of 1046, referring to a Zemuzil dux Bomeranorum (Zemuzil, Duke of the Pomeranians). Pomerania is mentioned repeatedly in the chronicles of Adam of Bremen (ca. 1070) and Gallus Anonymous (ca. 1113).
The term "West(ern) Pomerania" is potentially ambiguous, since it may refer to either Vorpommern (in historical and German usage), to the Polish West Pomeranian Voivodeship (in common Polish usage), or both (in Polish historical usage).
The term Eastern Pomerania may similarly carry different meanings, referring either to historical Farther Pomerania (in historical and German usage), or the Pomeranian Voivodeship (in Polish usage).
(West Pomeranian Voivodeship)
(corresponding English term)
in modern usage excluding Szczecin
(corresponding English term)
|Meklemburgia-Pomorze Przednie (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern)||Pomorze Zachodnie|
in historical usage including Słupsk
Pomorze Nadodrzańskie (Oder Pomerania)
(Pomerelia, Gdańsk Pomerania)
before World War II Pomorze
in historical usage, excluding Słupsk
(Pomerelia, literally Pomerania)
(corresponding English term)
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Pomerania|
|Early Middle Ages|
|High Middle Ages|
|Late Middle Ages|
|Early Modern Age|
Settlement in Pomerania started by the end of the Vistula Glacial Stage, some 13,000 years ago. Archeological traces have been found of various cultures during the Stone and Bronze Age, Baltic peoples, Germanic peoples and Veneti during the Iron Age and, in the Middle Ages, Slavic tribes and Vikings. Starting in the 10th century, early Polish dukes on several occasions subdued parts of the region from the southeast, while the Holy Roman Empire and Denmark augmented their territory from the west and north.
In the High Middle Ages, the area became Christian under Otto of Bamberg (apostle of the Pomeranians) and was ruled by local dukes of the House of Pomerania (Griffins) and the Samborides, at various times vassals of Poland, Denmark and the Holy Roman Empire. From the late 12th century, the Griffin Duchy of Pomerania stayed with the Holy Roman Empire and the Principality of Rugia with Denmark, while Pomerelia, part of the rebuilt Ladislaus's Polish Kingdom was invaded by Brandenburg and the Teutonic Knights. The Teutonic Knights succeeded in integrating Pomerelia into their monastic state in the early 14th century. Meanwhile the Ostsiedlung started to turn West-Slavic Pomerania into an increasingly German-settled area; the remaining Wends and Polish people, often known as Slovincians and Kashubians, continued to settle within the rural East. In 1325 the line of the princes of Rugia (Rügen) died out, and the principality was inherited by the Griffins. In 1466, with the Teutonic Order's defeat, Pomerelia became again subject to the Polish Crown as a part of Royal Prussia. While the German population in the Duchy of Pomerania adopted the Protestant reformation in 1534, the Polish and Kashubian populations remained with the Roman Catholic Church. The Thirty Years' and subsequent wars severely ravaged and depopulated most of Pomerania. With the extinction of the Griffin house during the same period, the Duchy of Pomerania was divided between the Swedish Empire and Brandenburg-Prussia in 1648, while Pomorze gdanskie/Pomerelia remained in with the Polish Crown. It would later be Polish soil.
Prussia gained the southern parts of Swedish Pomerania in 1720, Pomerelia in 1772, and the remainder of Swedish Pomerania in 1815, when French occupation during the Napoleonic Wars was lifted. The former Brandenburg-Prussian Pomerania and the former Swedish parts were reorganized into the Prussian Province of Pomerania, while Pomerelia was made part of the Province of West Prussia. With Prussia, both provinces joined the newly constituted German Empire in 1871. Following the empire's defeat in World War I, Pomorze Gdańskie Pomerelia returned again to the rebuilt Polish state (now the region called by the Germans as the Polish Corridor), while Gdansk/Danzig was transformed into the Free City of Danzig. Germany's Province of Pomerania was expanded in 1938 to include northern parts of the former Province of Posen–West Prussia, and in 1939 the annexed Pomorze Gdańskie/Polish Corridor became part of the wartime Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia. The Nazis deported the Pomeranian Jews to a reservation near Lublin and, in Pomerelia, mass murdered Jews, as well as Poles, as Nazi Germany considered them to be untermenschen (sub-human) races. The Polish population also suffered heavily from the German Nazi oppression, primarily the educated elite - more than 40,000 people died in executions, death camps, prisons and forced labour, primarily teachers, businessmen, priests, politicians, former army officers, and civil servants. Thousands of Poles and Kashubians suffered deportation, their homes taken by the German military and civil servants, as well as some East Germans resettled between 1940-1943.
After Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II, the German–Polish border was shifted west to the Oder–Neisse line and all of Pomerania was under Soviet military control. The German population of the areas east of the line was expelled, and the area was resettled primarily with Poles (some themselves expellees from former eastern Poland) and some Ukrainians (resettled under Operation Vistula) and Jews. Most of Western Pomerania (Vorpommern) remained in Germany and today forms the eastern part of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, while the Polish part of the region is divided between the West Pomeranian and Pomeranian voivodeships, with their capitals in Szczecin and Gdańsk, respectively. During the 1980s, the Solidarity and Die Wende ('the change') movements overthrew the Communist regimes implemented during the post-war era; since then, Pomerania is democratically governed.
Western Pomerania is inhabited by German Pomeranians. In the eastern parts, Poles are the dominating ethnic group since World War II. Kashubians, descendants of the medieval Slavic Pomeranians, are numerous in rural Pomerelia.
Polish 31 December 1999
German December 2010
|Bydgoszcz (Voivod office)|
Toruń (Voivod council)
|West Pomeranian Voivodeship||Szczecin||Z||22,901.48||1,732,838||32|
|Polish Pomerania and Kuyavia total||59,164.08||6,025,877|
|German Pomerania total||7,115||476,476|
German Western Pomerania had a population of about 470,000 in 2012 (districts of Vorpommern-Rügen and Vorpommern-Greifswald combined) - while the Polish disctricts of the region had a population of about 520,000 in 2012 (cities of Szczecin, Świnoujście and Police County combined). So overall, about 1 million people live in the historical region of Western Pomerania today, while the Szczecin metropolitan area reaches even further.
(with population figures for 2012):
In the German part of Pomerania, Standard German and the East Low German Pomeranian dialects Vorpommersch and Mittelpommersch are spoken, though Standard German dominates. Polish is the dominating language in the Polish part; Kashubian dialects are also spoken by the Kashubians in Pomerelia.
East Pomeranian, the East Low German dialect of Farther Pomerania and western Pomerelia, Low Prussian, the East Low German dialect of eastern Pomerelia, and Standard German were dominating in Pomerania east of the Oder-Neisse line before most of its speakers were expelled after World War II. Slovincian was spoken at the Farther Pomeranian–Pomerelian frontier, but is now extinct.
For typical food and beverages of the region, see Pomeranian cuisine.
The Pomeranian State Museum in Greifswald, dedicated to the history of Pomerania, has a variety of archeological findings and artefacts from the different periods covered in this article. At least 50 museums in Poland cover history of Pomerania, the most important of them The National Museum in Gdańsk, Central Pomerania Museum in Słupsk, Darłowo Museum, Koszalin Museum, National Museum in Szczecin.
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