Silesia

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Silesia (pronounced /saɪˈliːʒə/ or /saɪˈliːʃə/; Polish: Śląsk [ɕlɔ̃sk]; German: About this sound Schlesien ; Silesian German: Schläsing; Czech: Slezsko; Silesian: Ślůnsk [ɕlonsk]; Latin: Silesia) is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.

Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest cities are Wrocław, its historical capital, and Katowice in Poland, and Ostrava in the Czech Republic. Its main river is the Oder (in Czech; German; Polish: Odra).

Silesia's borders and national affiliation have changed radically over time, both when it was an hereditary possession of noble houses and after the rise of modern nation-states. The first known states to hold power there were those of Greater Moravia at end of 9th century and Bohemia in early 10th century. Soon in the 10th century Silesia was incorporated into the early Polish state, but it later broke into independent duchies, coming under increasing Czech and German influence. It came under the rule of the Crown of Bohemia, which passed to the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy in 1526. Most of Silesia was conquered by Prussia in 1742, later becoming part of the German Empire and German Reich up to 1945. After World War I (1918) the easternmost part of this region was awarded to Poland by the victorious Allies after a Silesian Polish people rebellions and a plebiscite. After World War II (1945) the bulk of Silesia was transferred to Polish jurisdiction and become legally and politically part of Poland. Meanwhile the remaining small parts of Silesia mostly went to Czechoslovakia after World War I, and are now in Czech Republic.

Most inhabitants of Silesia today speak the national languages of their respective countries (Polish, Czech, German), although there is a recognized Slavic Silesian language, a member of group of Lechitic languages. There also exists a Silesian German or Lower Silesian language, although this form of the German language is almost extinct.

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