Gdańsk (pronounced: [gdaɲsk]) is the 6th largest city in Poland, its principal seaport, and the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodship. The city is also known by many other names such as the German name Danzig (see the Names section below).
The city lies on the southern coast of the Gdansk 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 460,000 (2002), the largest city in the historical province of Eastern Pomerania. Gdańsk is pronounced IPA [gdaɲsk] (listen) in Polish and [gəˈdɑnsk] or [gəˈdænsk] in English.
Until the end of the second world war, the city had a predominantly German population. 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 Polnocny) 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 but in the international community this name was more commonly used before WWII. 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).
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 Boleslav the Brave) baptized the Gdańsk inhabitants (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, however 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 made the legal basis of their possession of the province to remain in some doubt. The agreement permitted the foundation of the city of Danzig (as it became known to its now primarily German inhabitants) in 1343 and the development of increased trade in export of grain from Poland via the Vistula river trading routes. The city 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 Polish kings, but with the Peace of Thorn (1411) it returned to the Teutonic Knights' administration. In 1440 it participated in the foundation of the Prussian Union which led to the Thirteen Years War (1454-1644) and the incorporation of Gdansk Pomerania, under 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 the specific Danzig identity and richest culture of the period. The city suffered slowly economic decline becauce of the wars in the 18th century, which ended with the Partitions of Poland in 1772-1793. Some citizens of Danzig fought for Danzig's independence, but they had to accept the annexation of the city by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1793 and, again in 1815, after a short period as a Free City (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 get Danzig as 'a free access to the sea', as they had been promised by the Allies. They were very unhappy when the city was not placed under full Polish sovereignty, but was made into the Free City of Danzig, formally an autonomous part of Poland and protected by the League of Nations, but in practice dominated by the local German-speaking residents. Danzig had a this time a population of 97,6 % Germans and around 2 % Poles. Because these authorities obstructed Polish trade and restricted Poles from settling in the city, the Polish government decided to invest in construction of the nearby seaport of Gdynia, which in the following years took the majority of Polish exports through the Polish Corridor.
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 reannexed to Germany. Some Poles 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. By the decision of the Allies at the Yalta Conference and the Potsdam Conference Danzig was ceded to full Polish sovereignty. Poland started a programme of ethnic cleansing of all Germans from the city. In 1950, around 285,000 former Danzig inhabitants lived in exile in the remaining parts of Germany, while 100 000 had lost their lives. The city was rebuilt from ruins in the 1950s and 1960s to become a major port and industrial centre of communist Poland, once again known as Gdańsk.
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 Walesa. Today it remains a major industrial city and shipping port.
Dukes of Gdańsk
Famous people born in Gdańsk or Danzig
Famous people living or working in Gdańsk
Compare: population of Tricity
Main article: Economy of Gdansk
The city's industrial kaleidoscope is dominated by traditional lines of shipbuilding, petrochemical and chemical industry, and food processing. The share of the know-how based sectors such as electronics, telecommunication, IT engineering, or cosmetics and pharmaceuticals is on the rise. Amber processing specific for the local economy is also prominent.
8 out of Rzeczpospolita Top 500 Polish companies have their headquarters in Gdańsk:
See also: Ports of the Baltic Sea.
Gdańsk used to be an important center of culture. In the 16th century it used to host Shakespeare 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: the review of the Shakespeare theater groups from Poland and abroad.
Gdańsk boasts many fine Hanseatic league buildings.
Gdańsk is the starting point of the EuroVelo 9 cycle route which continues on southward through Poland, then onto the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovenia before it finally ends on the Adriatic Sea at Pula in Croatia.
There are many popular professional sports team 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).
Sports in Gdańsk
Sports in Tricity
Politics and Local Government
Members of European Parliament (MEPs) from Gdańsk
Members of Polish Parliament (MPs) from Gdańsk
Members of Parliament (Sejm) elected from Gdańsk constituency
to be written
Administrations of Gdańsk
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.
Gdansk Voivodship was extended in 1999 to include most of Slupsk Voivodship, western part of Elblag Voivodship and Chojnice County from Bydgoszcz Voivodship to form new Pomeranian Voivodship. The area of the region was thus extended from 7,394 km² to 18,293 km² and population from 1,333,800 (1980) to 2,198,000 (2000). By 1998, Tricity or greater Gdansk, constituted an absolute majority of population; almost half of the inhabitants of the new region live in the centre.
Modern division into neighbourhoods
There are 10 universities with 60,436 students, of which 10,439 are graduates (2001).