Template:Titlelacksdiacritics Template:Dablink Template:Infobox Poland

Gdańsk [gdaɲsk] Template:Audio (Polish; also Kashubian: Gduńsk, German: Danzig, Latin: Gedania; also other languages) is the sixth-largest city in Poland, its principal seaport, and the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodship.

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 (Trjmiasto) 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 the 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 seaport since the 10th century and subsequently a principal ship-building centre, Gdańsk was a member of the Hanseatic League and the largest city in Poland until the partitions of the late 18th century, when the largely German-speaking city became part of Prussia, and later of the German Empire. After a period as a free city in the interwar period (1919-1939), claims to Gdańsk became the pretext for Hitler's attack on Poland which began the Second World War. Following the war Gdańsk again became part of Poland, and the German population was largely expelled, making the city for the first time entirely ethnically Polish. Today Gdańsk remains an important industrial centre together with the nearby port of Gdynia, developed during the 1920s as a Polish rival to the unfriendly German-controlled Free City. In the 1970s the modern port (Port Płnocny) in Gdańsk was developed, accessible for much bigger ships, including middle sized tankers.



The name is thought to be meaning town located on Gdania river, the original name of the Motława branch the city is situated on. 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.

In English the name Gdańsk is usually pronounced IPA , , or .

See also: List of European cities with alternative names

Historical documents

Missing image
Gdańsk Royal City coin of 1589 (Sigismund III Vasa period)

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: Krlewskie Polskie Miasto Gdańsk, German: Knigliche Polnische Stadt Danzig, Latin: Regia Civitas Polonica Gedanensis, Kashubian: Krlewsczi Polsczi Gard Gduńsk.

The Kashubians prefer the name: Our Capital City Gdańsk (=Nasz Stoleczny Gard Gduńsk) or The Kashubian Capital City Gdańsk (=Stoleczny Kaszbsczi Gard Gduńsk).


  • Gdańsk, in: Kazimierz Rymut, Nazwy Miast Polski, Ossolineum, Wrocław 1987
  • Hubert Gurnowicz, Gdańsk, in: Nazwy miast Pomorza Gdańskiego, Ossolineum, Wrocław 1978


Main article: History of Gdansk, see also: History of Pomerania

Historical summary

Seal of , duke of Gdańsk Pomerania (1271-1294)
Seal of Mściwj II, duke of Gdańsk Pomerania (1271-1294)

According to archeologists, the Gdańsk stronghold was constructed in the 980s by Mieszko I of Poland; 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. Gdańsk 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 Gdańsk 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, Gdańsk became a large and rich seaport and city. The 16th and 17th centuries were a Golden Age for trade and culture in Gdańsk. Inhabitants from various ethnic groups (Germans, Poles, Jews, and the Dutch being the largest) contributed to Gdańsk'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 from 1772-1795. Gdańsk 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 Gdańsk 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.

Missing image

After World War I, Poland became independent, and the Poles hoped to receive Gdańsk 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 Gdańsk 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 Zoppot (Sopot), 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. The Jewish community in Gdańsk took the opportunity to escape from the Nazis soon before the outbreak of the war. Polish defenders at the Westerplatte peninsula defended against the battleship Schleswig-Holstein for nearly a week, while the Polish Post Office was bravely defended until its capture; its overwhelmed defenders were executed instead of imprisoned for the war's duration. Many members of Gdańsk's Polish population were deported to the concentration camp in Stutthof or were directly executed at Piasnica. The Nazis' capture of the city resulted in its annexation into Nazi Germany and its incorporation into the Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen.

The city was occupied by Polish and Soviet forces on March 30, 1945 after a fierce battle with defending Germans which left 90% of the old city reduced to ruins. At the Yalta and the Potsdam conferences, Gdańsk was transferred to Poland along with the whole territory of the Free City. According to the terms of the Potsdam conference, Germans remaining in the city were expelled. Out of the Free City's pre-war population of 385,000, 285,000 lived in exile in Germany after the post-war migrations were over.

Many Poles impressed with Gdańsk's historic prosperity came to rebuild the city from throughout Poland, especially from the regions of eastern Poland annexed by the Soviet Union. The Old City was rebuilt from its ruins during the 1950s and 1960s. Because of the development of its port and 3 major shipyards, Gdansk was a major shipping and industrial center of the Communist People's Republic of Poland.

Gdańsk was the scene of anti-government demonstrations which led to the downfall of Poland's communist leader Wladyslaw Gomulka in December 1970. 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); Solidarity's leader Lech Wałęsa became the Polish president in 1990. Today Gdańsk remains a major industrial city and shipping port.

Historical population

Historical population
of Gdańsk

ca. 1000 1000
1235 2,000
1600 40,000
1650 70,000
1700 50,000
1750 46,000
1793 36,000
1800 48,000
1825 61,900
1840 65,000
1852 67,000
1874 90,500
1880 13,701
1885 108,500
1900 140,600
1910 170,300
1920 360,000 (whole FCG)
1925 210,300
1939 250,000
1946 118,000
1950  ?
1960 286,900
1970 365,600
1975 421,000
1980 456,700
1990  ?
1994 464,000
2000  ?
2002 460,000

Compare: population of Tricity


Main article: Economy of Gdansk

 statue at the Old Town
Neptune statue at the Old Town

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.

The  River in Gdańsk (2002)
The Motława River in Gdańsk (2002)


The city boasts many fine Hanseatic league buildings. The St Mary's Church (Marienkirche/Bazylika Mariacka), a municipal church built in Gdańsk in the 15th century, is one of the largest brick churches in the world.

On the Motława river the museum ship SS Soldek is anchored.

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.

Regional center

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) [1] (
  • 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

See also



External links

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