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The stork delivers babies from Krakow (and other things you might not know about Poland)

A handy list of facts about the country hosting World Youth Day 2016

The stork delivers babies from Krakow (and other things you might not know about Poland)

To a large extent, the eyes of the Catholic world are fixed, these days, on Poland. More specifically, on Krakow, the “headquarters” of World Youth Day 2016. But how much do we know about not only the city but the country that will receive Pope Francis, along with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in the coming days? Here is a list of curiosities we selected from Ángel López Peiró’s blog, “La Polonia de Los Polacos,” that we thought might catch your interest.

  • John Paul II was Archbishop of Krakow from 1962, and Cardinal of the city from 1967 until 1978, until he was elected Pope.
  • Poland has already hosted a World Youth Day before, in 1991, Czestochowa being the host city.
  • Poland has the second largest (after Finland) number of lakes in Europe, with an impressive grand total of about nine thousand.
  • 25% of all European storks live in Poland (which explains the headline we have chosen for this post, right?). In fact, the stork is Poland’s national bird.
  • The only desert in Central Europe (yes, there is one) is in Poland: the Błędów Desert, of about 32 square kilometers.
  • Poland was the first European country to establish freedom of religious worship, as early as in 1573. Poland then became home for a large number of Sephardic Jews from Spain.
  • More than 20 million Poles are currently living outside Poland. The world’s largest Polish colony, surprisingly, is not in New York (although Greenpoint, in Brooklyn, is known for being the quintessential American Polish neighborhood), but in Chicago, home to approximately two million Poles.
  • During World War II, Poland lost 17% of its total population.
  • Poland has been invaded, or has been immersed in struggles or war, either for independence or freedom, 43 times between 1600 and 1945.
  • 40% of prisoners at Auschwitz were Polish.
  • 80% of American Jews are of Polish descent. Moreover, the president and former Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, was born in Poland in 1923.
  • The second tallest image of Christ in the world (after the famous Corcovado, in Rio) is in Poland: the “Christ the King” of Swiebodzin.
  • One in every four Poles has a college degree, and one in ten university students across Europe is Polish. Which explains, maybe, why Poland has 16 Nobel laureates.
  • 25% of the apples consumed in Europe are Polish.
  • 0.1% of Poles are Muslims. The country has only five mosques.
  • In Poland, there are eleven official languages, including Hebrew, Yiddish and Armenian.