Poland (Polish: Polska), officially the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, and the Baltic Sea, Russia (in the form of the Kaliningrad Oblast exclave) and Lithuania to the north. It also shares a maritime border with Denmark and Sweden. The total land area of Poland is 311,889 sq km(120,421 sq mi; but statistical area of administrative units is 312,863 sq km) making it the 69th largest country in the world with population over 38.5 million people concentrated mainly in large cities, including the historical capital of Poland, Cracow (Polish: Kraków), and the present capital, Warsaw (Polish: Warszawa).-------------------The 1926 May Coup of Józef Pilsudski turned the reins of the Second Polish Republic over to the Sanacja movement. It lasted until the start of World War II on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland (September 17). Warsaw capitulated on September 28, 1939 and Poland was split into two zones, one occupied by Nazi Germany the other by the Soviet Union as agreed on in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. The eastern portion of the German-occupied zone was forged into the General Government area, and the western portion (most of which had belonged to Germany prior to World War I) was incorporated into the German Reich.-------Of all the countries involved in the war, Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens: over 6 million perished, half of them Polish Jews. Poland also made the 4th largest Allied troop contribution, after the Americans, the British and the Soviets, to ultimately defeat Nazi Germany. At the war's conclusion, Poland's borders were shifted westwards, pushing the eastern border to the Curzon line. Meanwhile, the western border was moved to the Oder-Neisse line. The new Poland emerged 20% smaller by 77,500 square kilometres (29,900 sq mi). The shift forced the migration of millions of people – Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Jews.----------------As a result of these events, Poland became, for the first time in its multicultural history, an ethnically unified country. A Polish minority is still present in neighbouring countries of Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, as well as in other countries (see Poles article for the population numbers). The largest number of ethnic Poles outside of the country can be found in the United States. The Soviet Union instituted a new Communist government in Poland, analogous to much of the rest of the Eastern Bloc. Military alignment within the Warsaw Pact throughout the Cold War was also part of this change. In 1948 a turn towards Stalinism brought in the beginning of the next period of totalitarian rule. The People's Republic of Poland (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa) was officially proclaimed in 1952. In 1956 the régime became more liberal, freeing many people from prison and expanding some personal freedoms. Persecution of communist opposition figures persisted. Labour turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union, "Solidarity" ("Solidarnosc" in Polish), which over time became a political force. It eroded the dominance of the Communist Party; by 1989 it had triumphed in parliamentary elections, and Lech Walesa, a Solidarity candidate, eventually won the presidency in 1990. The Solidarity movement greatly contributed to the soon-following collapse of Communism all over Eastern Europe.-------------------A shock therapy program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. Despite a temporary slump in social and economic standards, there were numerous improvements in other human rights, such as free speech, a functioning democracy and the like. Poland was the first post-communist country to reach its pre-1989 GDP levels. In 1991 Poland became a member of the Visegrad Group and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance in 1999 along with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Poles then voted to join the European Union in a referendum in June 2003, with Poland becoming a full member on May 1, 2004. ------------------------------------ The first Polish state was born in 966. Poland became a kingdom in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by uniting to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth collapsed in 1795, and the Poles were without a state for 123 years. Poland regained its independence in 1918 after World War I but lost it again in World War II, emerging several years later as a communist country within the Eastern Bloc under control of the former Soviet Union. In 1989 it threw off the communist yoke and became what is informally known as the "Third Polish Republic". Today, as the 6th most populated member state of the European Union, Poland is a liberal democracy made up of sixteen voivodeships (Polish: województwo). Poland is also a member of NATO, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization.