The Pomorskie Voivodeship is one of the 16 voivodeships of Poland, situated in the northernmost part of the country. Pomorskie's capital city is Gdańsk, located on the shores of the Baltic Sea, which forms a significant agglomeration called the Tri-City, together with Gdynia, and Sopot. The voivodeship covers an area of 18,293 kilometers squared. The territory is inhabited by approximately 2,337,769 people, which adds up to a density of population of 130 inhabitants per kilometer squared. The voivodeship is bordered by the Baltic Sea to the north and by the Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship to the east, Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship and Wielkopolskie Voivodeship to the south, and Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship to the west. The voivodeship itself was established in 1999 by merging parts of Gdańsk and Słupsk, as well as portions of the former provinces of Elbląg and Bydgoszcz. Most of the Pomorskie area is characterized by flat and lowland landscapes. The most significant river flowing through the region is the Vistula.
Gdańsk, located on the shores of the Baltic Sea, is the capital city and business metropole of the Pomorskie Voivodeship, which accumulates rich history and culture, as it is also one of the oldest Polish cities. The Neptune Fountain from the 17th century is one of the most valued monuments of the city. Other prominent historical sites are, for example, the Amber Museum, Uphagen's House, the Town Hall, the Royal Route, the Long Embankment, and Mariacka Street. Gdańsk, together with Gdynia, and Sopot form an agglomeration called the Tri-City. In the Sopot part of the Tri-City is situated an open-air theater called the Forest Opera, which was built in 1909. Since 1964 Sopot International Song Festival has taken place at the Forest Opera annually.
For several centuries Pomorskie Voivodeship was part of Prussia and under the rule of the Teutonic Order. A considerable number of castles and historical monuments can be found in the voivodeship's area from that period. One such example is the Teutonic castle in Gniew, built in 1282. The castle features accommodations, a restaurant for tourists, and an exhibition of the historic building itself. Various events take place on the castle grounds as well. However, one of the most predominant sites among the Teutonic castles of the area is the Malbork castle, inscribed on the Unesco Heritage List since 1997. The castle is a 13th-century fortified monastery, which belongs to the Teutonic Order to this day. The castle is considered to be the most complete and elaborate example of a Gothic brick-built castle complex in the style of the Teutonic Order.
Some of the natural monuments and nature touristic destinations are, for example, the northern beaches, which provide numerous recreational options. Slowinski National Park is one of the 23 Polish national parks, stretching over the coastal part of the Pomorskie Voivodeship. The park's predominant attraction is the moving sand dunes, acquiring a height of 30 m.
The Pomorskie Voivodeship is the northernmost voivodeship in Poland, located on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Koszalin Coastland and the Gdańsk Coastland represent the coastline areas. Over a section of the Pomorskie coastline stretches the Słowiński National Park, situated between Łeba and Rowy. The national park is best known for its moving sand dunes, which are known to move at a speed of 3 to 10 meters per year due to waves and wind activity. Some of the dunes are up to 30m high.
The remaining landscape of the voivodeship is primarily low-lying, with a varied relief structure. The territory features over 1500 lakes, mainly located in the central part of the region, as part of the Kashubian Lakeland or to the south as part of the Krajeńskie Lakeland. The most significant river flowing through the territory is Vistula (Wisla), Poland's longest river. One-third of the Pomorskie territory is covered in forests, with conifers as prevailing plant species, resulting from the coastal and nordic climate.
Half of the Pomorskie Voivodeship's territory is occupied by farmlands. The region produces mostly cereals, potatoes, rapeseed, fodder, and sugar beets. Fishing and fish processing are some of the major industries that aid the economy. The industries prevail in the seaports and shipyards in Gdynia and Gdańsk. Other significant industries include petroleum refining, hydroelectric power generation, food and beverage processing, papermaking, and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Due to its northern location, Pomorskie Voivodeship is influenced mainly by the maritime climate. Mild winters are alternated by cool summers. The warmest month is August, with an average daily temperature of 22°C. January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 1°C. The driest month is February, with an average of 19.0 mm of rainfall. The most precipitation falls during July, with an average of 69.0 mm. The sunniest month is June, with an average of 257 hours of sunshine.
The territory of Pomorskie Voivodeship, or Pomerania, was crossed by an important trade route connecting the Baltic Sea with the Mediterranean lands, during the ancient Rome era. In the 9th century, the territory was settled by Slavic and Prussian Pomeranians. The most important stronghold was the city of Gdańsk, which to this day is the capital city of the voivodeship. In 960, the territory came under the rule of Mieszko I. The main objective of the ruling dynasty was the Christianization of the area with the help of the bishop of Prague.
Later, in the 14th century, the Brandenburgians invaded Słupsk and later Gdańsk as well. Gdańsk was at that time a rapidly developing economic center. For this reason, the Polish king asked the Knights of Teutonic Order for help. Teutonic Knights were able to repel the attackers; however, they refused to return the city back to Poland. On the night of November 12th and 13th, 1308, the town was burned down, and the Teutonic Knights murdered its citizens. In historical times, the night is known as "the slaughter of Gdańsk." The area of the city of Gdańsk, as well as the whole Pomorskie, stayed under the rule of Teutonic Knights in exchange for the territory of Kujawy. Until the 15th century, Pomorskie was part of Prussia, with Gdańsk as its capital city. Only in 1466 was Pomorskie and Gdańsk returned to king of Poland. During 16th and 17th centuries, Gdańsk gradually developed and eventually became the wealthiest city in Poland.
After the Partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793, and 1795, Poland as an independent state ceased to exist. The territory was divided between Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Pomorskie Voivodeship territory has fallen under the control of Prussia. This establishment lasted until the end of World War I. In 1919, the treaty of Trianon granted the middle portion of Pomorskie and a 146km long strip of the Baltic coastline to Poland. The city of Gdańsk and part of the Vistula River became a Free City of Danzig.
World War II began on September 1, 1939, when German forces attacked the fort at Westerplatte Peninsula, located in the north of Gdańsk. In current times, there is a memorial situated in the Westerplatte Penninsula for the fallen Polish defenders of the first battle, which was the start of the Second World War. In the same year, 1939, in the city of Gdańsk a concentration camp known as Stutthof was established, which started operating in 1942. The estimated number of victims is around 64,000, of whom approximately 28,000 were prisoners of Jewish nationality. In the first months of the war, most of the Gdańsk political, economic, and cultural elite were murdered by Nazis. Only after the Second World War was the whole Pomorskie territory restored to Poland.
Nowadays, the Pomorskie Voivodeship consists of 20 self-governing counties. The most urbanized cities are Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Sopot, which form together an extensive agglomeration on the shores of the Baltic sea, the Tri-City. The Kashubs, a Slavic group, living to the southwest of Gdańsk, is one of the Pomorskie's distinct ethnic groups. The Kashubs preserve their customs and traditions. Older members of the ethnic group still speak a dialect, which was probably derived from the ancient Pomeranian language.
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