Meaning of POLAND, PARTITIONS OF in English

(1772, 1793, 1795), three territorial divisions of Poland, perpetrated by Russia, Prussia, and Austria, by which Poland's size was progressively reduced until, after the final partition, the state of Poland ceased to exist. The First Partition occurred after Russia became involved in a war against the Ottoman Turks (1768) and won such impressive victories, particularly in the Danubian principalities, that Austria became alarmed and threatened to enter the war against Russia. Frederick II the Great of Prussia, however, in order to avoid an escalation of the Russo-Turkish War, determined to calm Austro-Russian relations by shifting the direction of Russia's expansion from the Turkish provinces to Poland, which not only had a structurally weak government but also, since 1768, had been devastated by a civil war and by Russian intervention and was, therefore, incapable of resisting territorial seizures. On Aug. 5, 1772, Russia, Prussia, and Austria signed a treaty that partitioned Poland. Ratified by the Polish Sejm (legislature) on Sept. 30, 1773, the agreement deprived Poland of approximately half of its population and almost one-third of its land area. Russia received all the Polish territory east of the line formed roughly by the Dvina, Drut, and Dnieper rivers. Prussia gained the economically valuable province of Royal Prussia, excluding the cities of Gdansk (Danzig) and Torun, and also gained the northern portion of the region of Great Poland (Wielkopolska). Austria acquired the regions of Little Poland (Malopolska) south of the Vistula River, western Podolia, and the area that subsequently became known as Galicia. Almost 20 years later Poland, which had made efforts to strengthen itself through internal reforms, adopted a new, liberal constitution (May 3, 1791). This action, however, resulted in the formation of the conservative Confederation of Targowica (May 14, 1792), which asked Russia to intervene to restore the former Polish constitution. Not only did Russia accept the confederates' invitation but Prussia also sent troops into Poland, and on Jan. 23, 1793, the two powers agreed upon the Second Partition of Poland. Confirmed in August and September 1793 by the Polish Sejm surrounded by Russian troops, the Second Partition transferred to Russia the major remnant of Lithuanian Belorussia and the western Ukraine, including Podolia and part of Volhynia, and allowed Prussia to absorb the cities of Gdansk and Torun as well as Great Poland and part of Mazovia. In response to the Second Partition, the Polish officer Tadeusz Kosciuszko led a national uprising (MarchNovember 1794). Russia and Prussia intervened to suppress the insurgents, and on Oct. 24, 1795, they concluded an agreement with Austria that divided the remnants of Poland among themselves. By the Third Partition of Poland, which was not finally settled until Jan. 26, 1797, Russia incorporated Courland, all Lithuanian territory east of the Neman (Nieman) River, and the rest of the Volhynian Ukraine; Prussia acquired the remainder of Mazovia, including Warsaw, and a section of Lithuania west of the Neman; and Austria took the remaining section of Little Poland, from Krakw northeastward to the arc of the Northern Bug. These territorial divisions were altered in 1807, when the emperor Napoleon of France created the duchy of Warsaw out of the central provinces of Prussian Poland, and in 1815, when the Congress of Vienna created the Congress Kingdom of Poland, but the main result of the partitionsi.e., the elimination of the sovereign state of Polandwas in effect until after World War I, when the Polish Republic was finally restored (Nov. 11, 1918). The economy General considerations Shocking wheat in Poznan province, in the Great Poland Lakeland region. Before World War II Poland was a free-market economy based largely upon agriculture but with a few important centres of manufacturing and mining. After the initiation of communist rule (1948), the country developed an increasingly industrial, state-run command economy based on the Soviet model. It operated within the rigid framework of the Council on Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), an organization of Eastern-bloc countries dominated by the Soviet Union. From the mid-1970s the Polish economy experienced limited growth, largely as a result of an antiquated industrial infrastructure, government subsidies that masked inefficient production, and wages that were artificially high relative to the standard of living. In the late 1980s a swelling government deficit and hyperinflation brought about economic crisis. With the fall of communism and the demise of Comecon, the Polish economy became increasingly involved with the market-oriented global economy, for which it was ill-suited. To try to achieve economic stability, the postcommunist government introduced an approach known as shock therapy, which sought both to control inflation and to expedite Poland's transition to a market economy. As part of that plan, wages were frozen, price controls were removed, subsidies to state-owned enterprises were phased out, and large-scale private enterprise was again permitted. As a result, in the early 1990s, industrial output and gross domestic product (GDP) dropped significantly (agricultural production also fell, though largely owing to drought). Unemployment grew, affecting as many as one in seven Poles. Privatization of some of Poland's large industries proved to be a slow process. Inflation, however, began to drop, and by the mid-1990s production and GDP recorded dramatic turnarounds and unemployment decreased. Poland's balance of payments improved (partly as the result of debt forgiveness), and the country became one of the leading economies of the former Eastern bloc. In 1996 it became a member of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development and, as an associate member, awaited full membership in the European Union (EU). Privatization Under communism the principal branches of industry, services, and trade were directly owned by the state. There was, however, a surprisingly large sector of legal self-employment, and small-scale private businessesincluding workshops, services, and restaurantsproliferated. Moreover, some three-fourths of Poland's farmland was privately owned. A government collectivization campaign begun in 1949 was abandoned in 1956. After the fall of communism, both industry and agriculture became increasingly privatized. By the early 1990s more than half the Polish economy was in private ownership, while more than four-fifths of Polish shops were privately owned. The privatization of larger enterprises was more complicated. A number of these were transformed into joint-stock and limited-liability companies. To distribute ownership in them, the Mass Privatization Progam was introduced in 1994, which created 15 national investment funds (NIFs) to serve as joint-stock companies for more than 500 large and medium-size firms that were privatized. Poles were able to purchase shares in these funds at a price not to exceed 10 percent of the average monthly wage. Listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, the NIFs comprised a broad spread of enterprises and not just individual companies or groups of companies, enabling citizens to possess a diversified interest in key Polish industries. The land Relief Rolling hills of the Silesia Lowland, Poland, near the Czech border. The natural landscape of Poland can be divided broadly into three relief groups: the lowlands, the highlands, and the mountains. The eastern extremes of Poland display characteristics common to eastern Europe, but the rest of the country is linked to western Europe by structure, climate, and the character of its vegetation. The lowland characteristics predominate: the average elevation of the whole country is only 568 feet (173 metres) above sea level, while more than three-fourths of the land lies below 650 feet. Poland's relief was formed by the actions of Ice Age glaciers, which advanced and receded over the northern part of the country several times during the Pleistocene Epoch (1,600,000 to 10,000 years ago). The great and often monotonous expanses of the Polish lowlands, part of the North European Plain, are composed of geologically recent deposits that lie over a vast structural basin. In the southern part of the country, by contrast, older and more diverse geologic formations are exposed, and the topography is dominated by the mountainous arc of the Carpathians, dating from the Tertiary mountain-building period of about 25 million years ago. Around the northern rim of the Carpathians lies a series of structural basins, separating the mountain belt proper from a much older structural mass, or foreland, that appears in the relief patterns of the region as the Bohemian Massif, the Sudeten, and the Little Poland (Malopolska) Uplands. Physiographic regions The relief structure can be divided more specifically into a series of east-westtrending zones. To the north lie the swamps and dunes of the Baltic coast; south of these is a belt of morainic terrain with thousands of lakes, the southern boundary of which marks the limit of the last ice sheet. The third zone consists of the central lowlands, whose minimal relief was created by streams issuing from the retreating glaciers. This zone is the Polish heartland, the site of agriculture in places where loess has been deposited over the relatively infertile fluvioglacial deposits. The fourth zone is made up of the older mountains and highlands to the south; though limited in extent, it offers spectacular scenery. Along the southern border of the country are the Sudeten and Carpathian ranges and their foothills.

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