Greater Poland

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Greater Poland or Great Poland, often known by its Polish name Wielkopolska [vjɛlkɔˈpɔlska] ( listen) (German: Großpolen; Latin: Polonia Maior) is a region of west-central Poland. Its chief city is Poznań.

The boundaries of Greater Poland have varied somewhat throughout history. The region roughly coincides with the present-day voivodeship (province) called Greater Poland Voivodeship (Polish: województwo wielkopolskie), although some parts of historic Greater Poland are within the Kuyavian-Pomeranian, Łódź and Lubusz Voivodeships.


Name of the region

Because Greater Poland was the core of the early Polish state, the region was at times simply called "Poland" (Latin Polonia). The more specific name is first recorded in the Latin form Polonia Maior in 1257, and in Polish ("w Wielkej Polszcze") in 1449. The name can be construed as referring to old Poland, as opposed to Lesser (or Little) Poland (Polish Małopolska, Latin Polonia Minor), a region in southern Poland with its capital at Kraków.


Greater Poland comprises much of the area drained by the Warta River and its tributaries, including the Noteć River. There are two major geographic regions: a lake district in the north, characterized by post-glacial lakes and hills, and a rather flat plain in the south. Greater Poland Voivodeship covers a total area of 29,826 square kilometres (11,516 sq mi), and has a population of almost 3.4 million.

The region's main city and provincial capital is Poznań, near the centre of the region, on the Warta, with a population of over 560,000. The largest other cities are Kalisz to the south-east (population c. 108,000), Konin to the east (c. 80,000), Piła to the north (c. 75,000), Ostrów Wielkopolski to the south-east (c. 72,000), Gniezno (an early capital of Poland) to the north-east (c. 70,000), and Leszno to the south (c. 64,000). For full lists of towns and administrative subdivisions, see Greater Poland Voivodeship.

An area of 75.84 square kilometres (29.28 sq mi) of forest and lakeland south of Poznań is designated the Wielkopolska National Park (Wielkopolski Park Narodowy), established in 1957. The voivodeship also contains part of Drawno National Park, and 12 designated Landscape Parks. For example, the Rogalin Landscape Park is famous for about 2000 monumental oak trees growing on the flood plain of the river Warta, among numerous ox-bow lakes.

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