Wierszyna: Polish village in Siberia

Polish diaspora, a common name: „Polonia” (Latin: „Polonia” - Poland) – communities of Polish people who permanently live outside their mother country. The term diaspora does not refer to Polish people, who live on the territories that once belonged to Poland and are referred to as a Polish minority.

It is estimated that 21 million Poles and people of Polish origin live outside the Polish territory.
The biggest emigration waves:


Greenpoint: Polish district in New York

  • between 1860 and 1914: 10 million people
  • mid-war period: 2 million people
  • World War II: 5 million people
  • 1944-1990: 1,2 million people

Poles were forced to leave their country due to two main reasons, however the difference between them is often not distinct:

  • political reasons: „diaspora of victims” - due to danger or being forced by the authorities to leave the country
  • economic reasons: „diaspora of work” - leaving the country in search for better working and living conditions

Polish emigrants came in a few waves of emigration:


Meeting with the Polish community in the U.S.

  • refugees after the national uprisings in the 19th century (France, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany and North America)
  • emigration caused by bad working conditions; 2nd half of the 19th century until 1939 (workers – France, Belgium, Germany, village men – USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina)
  • emigration caused by WW2 and political reasons
  • emigration caused by nationality conflicts and anti-Semitic persecution (before and after war, e.g. After-March emigration in 1968-71)
  • emigration caused by economical and political reasons in the 1980s
  • emigration caused by bad working conditions after 1989 (mainly to Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Canada and USA)