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Polish Language

Map No.



Polish has been taken far and wide with many waves of emigration from Poland; it is spoken by roughly 43 million people in at least 50 territories. There was a big wave of emigration in the late 18th century, and for various political and economic reasons Polish people have tended to emigrate ever since, including another large wave after the Second World War.

Polish is spoken by most of the population of Poland, and by sizeable populations in Ukraine, the United States, Belarus, Lithuania, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel, Russia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Australia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Brazil, Argentina, Austria and Hungary.

Since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, many Polish people have worked in Western European countries. This makes the Polish-speaking population even harder to measure, as many of this recent wave of workers tend to return to Poland after a short period. Often where statistics are available, they relate to people of Polish descent who may be third or fourth generation, and it is difficult to estimate how many such people speak Polish as their first language.


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Technical Notes

The map shows the proportion of all people who speak Polish as a first language that live in that territory in 2005.

The maps in the 2005 language data series are made from data on the number of people speaking a language as their first-language, that is the language they would use at home.

Data sources
This map uses data several sources, the main one being Ethnologue (15th Edition, 2005). Estimating the number of speakers of a language is fraught with difficulty on several levels (last accessed January 2009). We aim to map as complete data as possible and therefore estimate data for missing values. The language numbers we use and publish are rough estimates, and should not be taken as definitive. In some cases, missing data for very small territories is not used in the cartogram and that area is therefore omitted in the map.

All modifications to the original data source are noted in our data sheets. Data for this map will soon be available as a download.

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