Second Polish Republic

The Second Polish Republic,[lower-alpha 5] at the time officially known as the Republic of Poland,[lower-alpha 6] was a country in Central and Eastern Europe that existed between 1918 and 1939. The state was established in 1918, in the aftermath of the First World War. The Second Republic ceased to exist in 1939, when Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic, marking the beginning of the European theatre of the Second World War.

Republic of Poland
Rzeczpospolita Polska  (Polish)
Coat of arms
Anthem: "Mazurek Dąbrowskiego"
(English: "Poland Is Not Yet Lost")
The Second Polish Republic in 1930
and largest city
52°13′48″N 21°00′40″E
Official languagesPolish
Regional languages
64.8% Roman Catholicism
11.8% Eastern Orthodox
10.5% Greek Catholic
9.8% Jewish
2.6% Protestant
0.5% Other Christian
0.02% Other
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary republic (1918–1926)
Unitary semi-presidential republic (1926–1935)
Unitary presidential constitutional republic (1935–1939)
Józef Piłsudskia
Gabriel Narutowicz
S. Wojciechowski
Ignacy Mościcki
Prime Minister 
 1918–1919 (first)
Jędrzej Moraczewski
 1936–1939 (last)
Felicjan S. Składkowski
 Upper chamber
 Lower chamber
Historical eraInterwar period
 End of the First World War
11 November 1918
28 June 1919
18 March 1921
1 September 1939
17 September 1939
28 September 1939
6 October 1939
388,634 km2 (150,052 sq mi)
CurrencyMarka (until 1924)
Złoty (after 1924)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Poland
German Empire
Russian SFSR
Ukrainian People's Republic
West Ukrainian National Republic
Komancza Republic
Lemko-Rusyn Republic
Galician SSR
Central Lithuania
Belarusian DR
Weimar Republic
Military Administration in Poland
Soviet Union
Polish government-in-exile
Polish Underground State
Today part ofPoland
  1. As the Chief of State.

In 1938, the Second Republic was the sixth largest country in Europe. According to the 1921 census, the number of inhabitants was 27.2 million. By 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, this had grown to an estimated 35.1 million. Almost a third of the population came from minority groups: 13.9% Ruthenians; 10% Ashkenazi Jews; 3.1% Belarusians; 2.3% Germans and 3.4% Czechs and Lithuanians. At the same time, a significant number of ethnic Poles lived outside the country's borders.

When, after several regional conflicts, the borders of the state were finalised in 1922, Poland's neighbours were Czechoslovakia, Germany, the Free City of Danzig, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and the Soviet Union. It had access to the Baltic Sea via a short strip of coastline either side of the city of Gdynia, known as the Polish Corridor. Between March and August 1939, Poland also shared a border with the then-Hungarian governorate of Subcarpathia. The political conditions of the Second Republic were heavily influenced by the aftermath of the First World War and conflicts with neighbouring states as well as the emergence of Nazism in Germany.

The Second Republic maintained moderate economic development. The cultural hubs of interwar Poland  Warsaw, Kraków, Poznań, Wilno and Lwów  became major European cities and the sites of internationally acclaimed universities and other institutions of higher education.

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