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Polish diaspora

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Polish diaspora

World map of Polish diaspora[1]

The Polish diaspora refers to people of Polish origin who live outside Poland. The Polish diaspora is also known in modern Polish language as Polonia, which is the name for Poland in Latin and in many other Romance languages.

There are roughly 20 million people of Polish ancestry living outside Poland, making the Polish diaspora one of the largest in the world,[2] as well as one of the most widely dispersed. Reasons for this displacement vary from border shifts, forced expulsions and resettlement, to political and economic emigration. Major populations of Polish ancestry can be found in Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Ireland and many other European countries, the United States, Canada, Brazil and elsewhere in the Americas and Australasia, particularly Australia and New Zealand. Polish communities are present in most Asian and African countries.[1]


  • History 1
  • Polish diaspora in Europe 2
    • Austria 2.1
    • Azerbaijan 2.2
    • Belarus 2.3
    • Czech Republic 2.4
    • Denmark 2.5
      • Faroe Islands 2.5.1
    • Finland 2.6
    • France 2.7
    • Germany 2.8
    • Greece 2.9
    • Hungary 2.10
    • Iceland 2.11
    • Ireland 2.12
    • Italy 2.13
    • Latvia 2.14
    • Lithuania 2.15
    • Netherlands and the Benelux 2.16
    • Norway 2.17
    • Romania 2.18
    • Russia and former Soviet Union 2.19
    • Serbia 2.20
    • Slovakia 2.21
    • Spain 2.22
    • Sweden 2.23
    • Turkey 2.24
    • Ukraine 2.25
    • United Kingdom 2.26
  • North America 3
    • Canada 3.1
    • Haiti 3.2
    • Mexico 3.3
    • United States 3.4
  • South America 4
    • Argentina 4.1
    • Brazil 4.2
    • Chile 4.3
    • Uruguay 4.4
  • Australia and Oceania 5
    • Australia 5.1
    • New Zealand 5.2
  • Middle East 6
    • Israel 6.1
    • Pakistan 6.2
  • Africa 7
    • South Africa 7.1
  • List of countries by population of Polish heritage 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Poles participated in the creation of first European settlements in the Americas. In the 17th-century Polish missionaries arrived for the first time in Japan. Great number of Poles left the country in the course of foreign Partitions of Poland due to economic exploitation activities and political as well as ethnic persecution by Russia, Prussia and Austria.

A large proportion of Polish nationals who emigrated were Polish Jews, and these also make up part of the Jewish diaspora. The restored Second Polish Republic was home to the world's largest Jewish population as late as 1938 due to mass influx of new refugees escaping genocidal pogroms in the East.[3] It was followed by the reiterated invasion of Poland from both sides. More than 3 million Polish Jews were killed in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany during World War II. Most survivors subsequently immigrated to Mandate Palestine, since Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to allow free Jewish aliyah without visas and exit permits at the end of the war.[4][5] Many remaining Jews, including Stalinist hardliners and members of security apparatus,[6][7] left Poland during the 1968 political crisis when the Polish communist party, pressured by Brezhnev, joined the Soviet "anti-Zionist" campaign triggered by the Six Day War.[8][9] In 1998, Poland's Jewish population was estimated at about 10,000–30,000.[10]

A recent large migration of Poles took place following Poland's accession to the European Union and opening of the EU's labor market; with an approximate number of 2 million primarily young Poles taking up jobs abroad.[11]

Most Poles live in Europe, the Americas and Australia, but Poles have settled in smaller numbers in Asia, Africa, and Oceania as economic migrants or as part of Catholic missions.

Polish diaspora in Europe

All countries and areas of residence thereafter are listed in alphabetical order.




There are presently 396,000 Poles living in Grodno Region, Polish: Grodzieńszczyzna).

During the Second World War the Soviet Union forcibly resettled large numbers of Belarusian Poles to Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Few Belarusian Poles live in Siberia and the Russian Far East and some of those who managed to survive resettlement returned to Poland after 1956.

Czech Republic

The Polish community in the Czech Republic is concentrated in Cieszyn Silesia (so-called Zaolzie), in the north-east of the country. It traces its origins to post-First World War border changes that partitioned the area between Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia, leaving many Poles on the Czech side of the border. The Polish population numbered 51,968 at the 2001 census.


It is estimated that around 40,000 Poles live in Denmark, the majority of them in Copenhagen.

Faroe Islands

Poles make up 0.2% of the population of the Faroe Islands (followed by Norwegians).[13] They mainly live in the capital of the islands, Tórshavn.


The history of the Polish community in Finland dates back to the early 19th century, when a number of Poles from the Russian-controlled part of the country settled there. In 1917, there were around 4,000 Poles in Finland, mostly soldiers of the Russian Imperial Army, and almost all returned to their homeland by 1921. Finland has never been a major destination for Polish immigrants, and currently around 3,000 Poles live there, most of whom are well-educated.[14] Around half of this population lives in Helsinki, and the biggest Polish organization there is the Polish Association, founded on April 3, 1917.


About one million people of Polish descent live in France, concentrated in the Nord-Pas de Calais region, in the metropolitan area of Lille and the coal-mining basin (Bassin Minier) around Lens and Valenciennes. Prominent members of the Polish community in France have included Frédéric Chopin, Adam Mickiewicz (temporarily), Rene Goscinny, Marie Curie, Raymond Kopa, Ludovic Obraniak, and Edward Gierek (who was raised there). Large numbers of Poles settled in France during the rule of Napoleon when 100,000 Poles fled Russian rule of Poland in the early 19th century. Many enlisted to fight in the French army. Another wave of Polish migration took place between the two World Wars, when many were hired as contract workers to work temporarily in France. Polish refugees also fled Nazi or Soviet occupation (1940s). There are estimates of 100,000 to 200,000 Poles living in Paris and many E.U. program guest workers in regions of the south (including the cities of Arles, Marseille and Perpignan).


The second largest Polonia in the world, and the largest in Europe, is the Polish minority in Germany. Estimates of the number of Polish descent people living in Germany vary from 2 million[15] to about 3 million.[16][17][18] The main Polonia organization is Kongres Polonii Niemieckiej / Polnischer Kongress in Deutschland. Polish surnames are very common in Germany.


Polonia Days in Athens (2008)

The Polish minority in Greece consists of over 50,000 Poles, most of whom are first-generation immigrants to the country. It should be noted however that there might be many more in this minority due to the fact that the Greek Orthodox Church administers Greek names for marriage and Christianizing. Statistics show that over 300,000 Poles visit Greece each year for tourism, especially during the summer months. Famous Poles in Greece who also have mixed Polish and Greek ethnicity include famous Polish singer Eleni Tzoka.[19]


The Polish minority in Hungary numbers around 10,000 and has a long history of over a thousand years. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth included large areas of Hungarian territories, and the Austrian-Hungarian empire (1867–1918) included the Polish region of Galicia. Polish-Hungarian ties are strong and positive, best described in the poem: Pole, Hungarian, two good friends about the fraternal sense of commonality of Polish and Hungarian cultures. Budapest is home to a large Polish community and there are also ethnic Poles in the northern part of the country bordering Slovakia and Ukraine. Most Polish-Hungarians are practising Roman Catholics, but many are members of the Uniate, Eastern (Polish-Carpathian or Carpato-Ukrainian) and Greek Catholic churches.[1]


The Polish minority in Iceland is a relatively new phenomenon, although it has for almost a decade been the largest minority. In 2014 Poles constituted 3.13% of the total population of Iceland.[20]


After Poland joined the European Union in 2004, Ireland was one of three existing EU members to open its borders and welcome Polish workers as relatively cheap qualified labour (the others being the United Kingdom and Sweden). Ireland quickly became a key destination for young Poles seeking work outside the country. According to the 2011 Census, there are 122,585 Poles living in Ireland,[21] constituting the largest ethnic minority in the country.


The Polish minority in Italy numbers around 110.000. The majority of Polish residents are late-20th-century immigrants drawn by the Italian economy's need for imported labor. Large Polish immigrant communities are found in Rome, Milan, Venice, Naples and Palermo. Polish immigration to Italy might continue while the EU contract labor program between the two countries remains in place.



The Polish minority in Lithuania numbers 234,989 persons and, at 6.74% of the population of Lithuania, forms the largest ethnic minority in modern Lithuania. Poles are concentrated in the Vilnius region, and form the majority of population in Vilnius district municipality and Šalčininkai district municipality.

Netherlands and the Benelux

Polish immigration to the Netherlands has steadily increased since Poland was admitted to the E.U., and now an estimated 135,000 Polish people live in the country. The majority of them are guest workers through the European Union contract labor program, as more Poles obtain employment in this country's light industrial jobs. The growing number of Polish nationals could double in the next decade depending on economic conditions in Poland. The majority of Polish people in the Netherlands are in The Hague (approximately 30,000) but Polish emigres long settled in Amsterdam and industrial towns or cities like Utrecht and Groningen. Polish immigrants arrived to find employment in the country in the 19th and 20th centuries. Belgium has approx. 70,000 Poles (Though the number of Belgians of Polish descent could be as high as 200,000), Luxemburg almost 3,000.[1]


Norway has recently experienced an influx of Polish migrant workers. This because Norway is a member of the European Economic Area, providing the same free movement of labour as between members of the European Union. According to the Norwegian statistics bureau Statistisk sentralbyrå there are 72,103 Polish immigrants in Norway per 1 January 2012.[1][22]


According to the 2002 census, 3,671 Poles live in Romania, mainly in the villages of the Suceava region (Polish: Suczawa). There are even three exclusively Polish villages: Nowy Sołoniec (Soloneţu Nou), Plesza (Pleşa) and Pojana Mikuli (Poiana Micului). Poles in Romania form an officially recognised national minority, having one seat in the Chamber of Deputies of Romania (currently held by Ghervazen Longher) and access to Polish elementary schools and cultural centres (known as "Polish Houses").

Russia and former Soviet Union

During the Second World War, the Soviet Union annexed large parts of Poland's former eastern territories of Kresy. Many Poles were expelled, but a significant number remained in what are now parts of Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania. The Soviet authorities also forcibly resettled large numbers of Poles to Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The following post-Soviet countries retain significant Polish minorities.[1]


There is a small community of descendants of Silesian miners in Ostojićevo.[23] In the 2011 census, 741 declared themselves as Poles.[24]


According to the 2011 Slovak census results, there are 3,084 (0.1%) Poles living in Slovakia.[25] Compared to the Hungarian census of 1910, it is a significant decrease, as then there were 10,569 Polish-language speakers in the territory of present Slovakia.[1]


The Polish minority in Spain numbers between 45,000 and 60,000.[26] The Polish population is mainly guest workers drawn by Spain's economic boom during the 1990s. [26]


The Polish minority in Sweden has been estimated to be around 78,000 people.[27] The majority of them are guest workers invited to Sweden since 1990 in contracts with the Swedish government. Most Polish residents live in Stockholm and the rest farther south towards the Baltic Sea. Historically, Poland and Sweden had some cultural exchange with each other and the Swedish Empire's occupation of the Polish Baltic Sea coast (Gdańsk and Pomerania) in various times from the 13th to 18th centuries.[1]


In 1842 Prince Adam Czartoryski founded a village of Adampol, for Polish immigrants who came to Turkey after the failed November Uprising. The village, still existing and now called Polonezköy (Turkish for Polish Village), is the main center of the small but historic Polish community in Turkey. The Polish minority in Turkey has been estimated to be around 4,000 people. However, Polish minority is higher than present Polish census in Turkey because of Turkified Poles after marriages with Turks. For example, Leyla Gencer's mother was Atiye Çeyrekgil, was born as Alexandra Angela Minakovska and embraced to Islam after death of her husband.[28] Also, Nazım Hikmet Ran's mother, Ayşe Celile Hanım, was a descendant of Mustafa Celaleddin Pasha, who was born as Konstantin Borzecki in 1826. He immigrated to Ottoman Empire after Greater Poland Uprising and embraced Islam in 1848. He later became an Ottoman General and died in 1876.[29]


According to the 2001 Ukrainian census, there were 144,130 Poles residing in the country. Poles began settling in the territory of present Ukraine in the 14th century, after Red Ruthenia had become part of the Kingdom of Poland. The number of Poles in Ukraine gradually increased over the centuries, but after World War II it drastically decreased as a result of Soviet mass deportation of the Poles in Ukraine to Siberia and other eastern regions of the USSR as well as a campaign of ethnic cleansing, carried out in the early 1940s by Ukrainian nationalists in western part of the country (see: Massacres of Poles in Volhynia). There was a Polish Autonomous District, located near Zhytomyr, created in 1926, but it was disbanded in 1935 and its Polish inhabitants were either murdered or deported to Kazakhstan. The majority of those who survived the war in Ukraine were forcibly deported to the Former eastern territories of Germany after Poland was shifted to the West by the Allied Potsdam Agreement after World War II.[1]

United Kingdom

After the 2004 EU enlargement, shops selling Polish grocery products have cropped up in some parts of the UK and Ireland

Polish people have travelled to the British Isles throughout the centuries for a variety of reasons. By 1016, Cnut the Great, of Danish-Polish descent had conquered England assisted by Polish troops. In the 16th century Polish travellers came as traders and diplomats. In the 18th century, a small number of Polish Protestants arrived as religious refugees due to the Counter-Reformation in Poland. In the 19th century, due to the collapse of the November Uprising of 1831, many Polish fighters came to Britain in search of sanctuary.[1]

However, it was only after the First World War that Poles settled in large numbers in London – many from the Prisoner of War camps in Alexandra Palace and Feltham. During the Second World War many Poles came to the United Kingdom as political émigrés and to join the Polish Armed Forces in the West being recreated there. When the Second World War ended, a Communist government was installed in Poland and was hostile to servicemen returning from the West. Many Poles felt betrayed by their wartime allies and were understandably reluctant to return home. Many soldiers refused to return to Poland, and around 200,000, after occupying resettlement camps, later settled in UK. The Polish Government in London was not dissolved until 1991, when a freely elected president took office in Warsaw.

Following Poland's entry into the European Union in May 2004, Poles gained the right to work in some other EU countries. While France and Germany put in place temporary controls to curb Central European migration, the United Kingdom (along with Sweden and the Republic of Ireland) did not impose restrictions. Many young Poles have come to work in UK since then. Estimates vary between 300,000 and 800,000 moving to the UK since May 2004.[30]

Estimates for the total number of people living in the UK and born in Poland, or of Polish descent vary significantly. The figure has been quoted as 600,000 (February 2007)[31] and "well over a million" (October 2007),[32] but more recently it is reported that the numbers are decreasing.[33] Other than London, Poles have settled in Southampton in Hampshire, Manchester, Bolton and Bury in Greater Manchester and Chorley in Lancashire. There are also large concentrations in Bradford, Leeds, Coventry and Nottingham, as well as South Yorkshire, South Wales, Herefordshire, Rugby, Banbury, Slough, Redditch and Swindon.[1]

The economic crisis in the UK and the growing economy in Poland reduced the economic incentive for Poles to migrate to the UK.[34] By the last quarter of 2008, it was claimed by the IPPR that up to half of those that had come to the UK to work may have returned home.[35] However the research was unreliable, as numbers have never been recorded, and was shown to be incorrect by Professor Krystyna Iglicka of the Centre for International Affairs, in Warsaw.[36] The 2011 census also indicates that it was probably never true.

North America

The Pope John Paul II statue in Toronto

The United States and Canada were the major focus of Polish political and economic migration after 1850 and up until the fall of the Iron Curtain. Many North American Catholics and Jews trace their ancestry to the region known today as Poland. This region had a high Jewish population before World War II. During World War II, some 3.1 million Polish Jews, along with 2.8 million ethnic Poles who were mostly Catholic, were killed by the German military in the Holocaust[37] There's a revival of contemporary Jewish life in the new democratic Poland.[38]


According to the

  • Polonia Birmingham
  • Federation of Poles in Great Britain
  • Polish American Catholic Heritage Committee
  • M. Fitzgerald and R. Debski, "Internet Use of Polish by Polish Melburnians: Implications for Maintenance and Teaching", (2006).
  • Read more on recent economic migration in
  • Reassessing what we collect website – Polish London History of Polish London with objects and images

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s
  2. ^ Michael Pieslak, Poles around the World (see: Polonia > statystyka)
  3. ^
  4. ^ Devorah Hakohen, Immigrants in turmoil: mass immigration to Israel and its repercussions... Syracuse University Press, 2003 - 325 pages. Page 70. ISBN 0-8156-2969-9.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Wilson Center, "New Evidence on Poland in the Early Cold War" By Andrzej Werblan (PDF)
  7. ^
  8. ^ Andrzej Friszke, "The March 1968 Protest Movement in Light of Ministry of Interior Reports to the Party Leadership," Intermarium 1:1 (1997, translated from Polish; originally published in Więź, March 1994).
  9. ^ By Ronald E. Ringer. Page 390.Excel HSC modern history
  10. ^ Encyclopedia of the Nations: Poland—Religions, available at Advameg, 2010 (bottom)
  11. ^"Sueddeutsche Zeitung": Polska przeżywa największą falę emigracji od 100 lat
  12. ^ Union of Poles in Belarus
  13. ^ Demographics of the Faroe Islands
  14. ^ Polish Embassy in Helsinki
  15. ^
  16. ^ Więcej praw dla Polaków, albo mniej dla Niemców, Dziennik Zachodni
  17. ^ prof. dr hab. inż. Piotr Małoszewski, "Sytuacja Polaków w Niemczech w zakresie dostępu do nauki języka ojczystego".
  18. ^
  19. ^ [1] The Warsaw Voice discusses Poles in Greece.
  20. ^ Statistics Iceland - Statistics » Population » Citizenship and country of birth
  21. ^
  22. ^ 2012 © Statistisk sentralbyrå, Norway. Retrieved June 14, 2013 from the Internet Archive.
  23. ^ Potomci bosonogih rudara
  24. ^ Попис становништва, домаћинстава и станова 2011. у Републици Србији: Становништво према националној припадности - „Oстали“ етничке заједнице са мање од 2000 припадника и двојако изјашњени
  25. ^ The 2011 Population and Housing Census Results - Table 11 Population by nationality - 2011, 2001, 1991 (pdf - 68 kB)
  26. ^ a b The world of Polonia, Past and present of Polish community in Spain
  27. ^
  28. ^ Leyla Gencer
  29. ^ Nâzım Hikmet
  30. ^ Special report: Finance for Poles in Britain. Jo Thornhill, Mail on Sunday, reports from Warsaw. November 4, 2007.
  31. ^ "The true number of Poles living in Britain", Daily Mail, 12th February 2007
  32. ^ "The arrival of the east European media", The Independent on Sunday, 22 October 2007
  33. ^ "Now Poles begin mass desertion of Britain as soaring prices send them home", Daily Mail, 16th February 2008
  34. ^ UK Poles return home. The Telegraph. February 21, 2009.
  35. ^ Packing up for home: Poles hit by UK's economic downturn, This is London, October 20, 2008
  36. ^ Steve Doughty (23 January 2010), Where have all the Poles gone? Daily Mail Online. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  37. ^ Piotrowski, Tadeusz (2005). "Project InPosterum: Poland WWII Casualties". Retrieved July 22, 2013. "Poland's WWII population losses (in millions).
  38. ^ Ruth Ellen Gruber, Reaction to tragedy showcases changes in Polish-Jewish relations, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 20, 2010
  39. ^ a b Poles in Mexico
  40. ^
  41. ^ The Polish Community in Metro Chicago:A Community Profile of Strengths and Needs, A Census 2000 Report, published by the Polish American Association June 2004, p. 18
  42. ^ See New York, New York: IUME, Teachers College, Columbia University. ISBN ERIC ED167674.In Quest of a Cultural Identity: An Inquiry for the Polish Community.Stanley S. (1976).
  43. ^ a b Poles in Chile
  44. ^ (Spanish) Relaciones entre Polonia y Chile. Pasado y presente, (ed.) Katarzyna Dembicz serie: Polonia y el Mundo Iberoamericano, CESLA, Warszawa, 2002
  45. ^ (Spanish) Polacos en Chile
  46. ^ "Pahiatua Children"
  47. ^ [2]
  48. ^
  49. ^ [3]
  50. ^
  51. ^ [4]
  52. ^ Polonia w liczbach Stowarzyszenie Wspólnota Polska
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^ Statistics from (бюллетень). See page 22. RAR data compression of 171.5KB PDF file. Listing total population of Belarus with population by age and sex, marital status, education, nationality, language and livelihood ("Общая численность населения; численность населения по возрасту и полу, состоянию в браке, уровню образования, национальностям, языку, источникам средств к существованию") (Belarusian)
  58. ^ Czech Statistical Office
  59. ^ The real number is higher since in the 2001 census it was possible to leave the "nationality" field blank.
  60. ^ There are also some 80,000-85,000 Czechs of Polish origin, 75,000-80,000 of whom live in Zaolzie. (Siwek, not dated.)
  61. ^
  62. ^ Census 2011 p. 33
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^ (Polish) Polacy za granicą
  68. ^ Lithuania Census 2011
  69. ^ (Polish) Polonia w Rumunii
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^ Poujol 2007, p. 92
  73. ^ ABS Census - ethnicity
  74. ^


See also

Country Population % of country Criterion
Polish in North America
Polish American 9,569,207 3% 2010 American Community Survey Self-reported[48][49] See History of the Poles in the United States
Polish Canadian 1,010,705 3% Canada 2011 Census [50]
Polish immigration to Mexico 80,000 0.1% [39]
Polish in South America
Polish Argentine 500,000 1.25% [51]
Polish Brazilian 1,800,000 - 3,000,000 2.5% [52]
Polish Chilean 100,000 0.6% [43] [53]
Polish Venezuelan 8,900 - 4,000 0.03% [54][55] [56]
Polish in Europe
Poles in Belarus 700,000 - 294,549 3.1% [57]
Polish minority in the Czech Republic 51,968 0.4% (2001 census)[58][59][60]
Polish minority in France 1,000,000 2%
Poles in Germany 3,000,000 - 5,000,000 4% [61]
Icelanders of Polish descent 9,371 3% They make them the biggest minority ethnic group in Iceland, including second generation immigrants.
Polish minority in Ireland 122,585 2.7% [62]
Poles in the United Kingdom 700,00 - 1,000,000 1.6% Poles are the second largest foreign born community in Britain [63] [64]
Polish minority in Spain 69,353 0.15% [65]
Swedish Poles 110,212 1.14% [66]
Poles in Latvia 51,548 2.3% [67]
Poles in Lithuania 200,317 6.6% [68]
Poles in Romania 3,671 0.1% [69]
Polish minority in Russia 73,000 0.01% [70] Poles in the Soviet Union
Poles in Ukraine 144,130 0.3% [71]
Polish in Asia
Poles in Kazakhstan 5,000 0.001% [72]
Polish in Oceania
Polish Australian 47,300 0.3% [73]
Total in Diaspora ~20,000,000
Polish people 36,522,000 95% [74]
Total Worldwide ~56,000,000

List of countries by population of Polish heritage

According to the Council of Polonia in South Africa, some 25,000-30,000 Poles live there.[47] The Polish community in South Africa dates to World War II, when the South African government agreed to the settlement of 12,000 Polish soldiers as well as around 500 Polish orphans, survivors of forced resettlement of Poles to Soviet Siberia. More Poles came in the 1970s and 1980s, with several of them specialists, coming for contracts and deciding to stay there.[1]

South Africa



Israel has been a destination for Polish Jews ever since the country's foundation in 1948, as a result of the Holocaust and the high impact it had on Poland than any other European country. According to sources about the Israeli media, about 100,000 Polish-language newspapers were sold in 2000.[1]


Middle East

In 1944, several hundred Polish children and their caregivers, survivors of forced resettlement of Poles to Soviet Siberia, and their caregivers were temporarily resettled at a refugee camp at Pahiatua, New Zealand. It was originally planned for the children to return to Poland after World War II ended, but they were eventually allowed to stay in New Zealand with the onset of the Cold War.[46]

New Zealand

There are now approximately 160,000 – 200,000 Polish Australians.

The first Polish settlers arrived in South Australia in 1856. After World War II, large numbers of displaced persons migrated from Poland to Australia, including soldiers from the Polish Independent Carpathian Brigade (the "Rats of Tobruk").


Australia and Oceania

Polish immigration in Uruguay brought Poles to settle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. An estimated 10,000 to 50,000 Polish descendants are thought to be in Uruguay. The majority of them reside in Montevideo, the capital. Often Poles came when the Prussian (now Germany) and Russian Empires ruled Poland, thus they were known as "Germans" and "Russians".[1]


A small number of Poles came to Chile, with first of them coming during the Napoleonic wars. In early 20th century, there were around 300 Poles in Chile, but considered Germans. After World War II, in 1947-1951 around 1,500 Poles, mostly Zivilarbeiter, as well as some former soldiers and Nazi concentration camp inmates settled in Chile, and in 1949 the Association of Poles in Chile was founded.[43] An estimate of 45,000 ethnic Poles live in Chile.[44] Most live in Santiago. One of the notable Polish Chileans is Ignacy Domeyko.[45]


The number of people of Polish descent in Brazil is estimated at almost around 3 million. Most Polish Brazilians are Catholic, with significant Jewish and non-religious minorities. The majority of them are concentrated in the South and Southeastern regions of Brazil, especially in the states of Paraná and Espírito Santo.[1]

Polish old architecture in Curitiba.


In Argentina Poles are one of the most significant minorities, numbering around 500,000. The Parliament of Argentina has declared June 8 Polish Settlers' Day.[1]


There has been political and economic migration of Poles to South America since the mid-19th century. The largest number went to Brazil, followed by Argentina and Chile.[1]

South America

The major U.S. Polonia organization is the Polish American Congress.[42]

Buffalo is seen as American Polonia's second city, as it is also home to many Polish-Americans. Its steel mills and automobile factories provided jobs for many Polish immigrants in the early 20th century. The only city to have official Dyngus Day celebrations inspired by the popular Polish custom of Dyngus Day is Buffalo. A section of New Britain, Connecticut was designated officially as "Little Poland" in 2007 by a unanimous vote of the City's Common council.

Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Buffalo, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Baltimore and New Britain, Connecticut also have very large Polish populations. Older Polish Americans are rapidly migrating to the Southeast (Florida), Southwest (Arizona) and the West Coast (California), but also destinations for Polish immigrants from Poland in the 1990s.

Polish Museum of America, the Polish American Association, the Polish National Alliance and the Polish Highlander's Alliance of North America.

There are approximately 10 million Americans of Polish descent.

Polish and Polish themed items booth at the Lagrange Street Polish Festival in Toledo, Ohio.
Geographic distribution of Polonia in the United States
Polish store on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago

United States

The first Polish immigrants to Mexico arrived in the late 19th century. During World War II, Mexico received thousands of refugees from Poland, primarily of Jewish origin, who settled in the states of Chihuahua, and Nuevo Leon.[39][40]

Folk dancers of Polish community from Mexico.


During the times of Napoleon, 5000 Poles fighting in Polish Legions in the Napoleonic armies were sent to fight against the rebelling Haitians. Many of the Poles who were sent there felt it wrong to fight against the Haitians who were fighting for their freedom - just like the Poles in the Napoleonic armies - and some 400 Poles changed sides. After the war, the Haitian constitution stated that because the Poles switched sides and fought for their cause, all Poles could become Haitian citizens. Many of the Poles who were sent to Haiti stayed there. Most of their descendants live in Cazale and Fond-des-Blancs in Haiti. They are very proud to be of Polish descent.[1]



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