Gdańsk (Polish pronunciation: [ɡdaɲsk]; English /ɡəˈdænsk/, also US /ɡəˈdɑːnsk/; German: Danzig [ˈdantsɪç], also known by other alternative names) is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland's principal seaport and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.
The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay (of the Baltic Sea), in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the Tricity (Trójmiasto), with a population approaching 1.4 million. Gdańsk itself has a population of 460,427 (December 2012), making it the largest city in the Pomerania region of Northern Poland.
Gdańsk is the capital of Gdańsk Pomerania and the largest city of Kashubia. The city's history is complex, with periods of Polish rule, periods of Prusso-German rule, and periods of autonomy or self-rule as a "free city". Between the world wars, the Free City of Danzig was in a customs union with Poland and was located between German East Prussia and the so-called Polish Corridor.
Gdańsk lies at the mouth of the Motława River, connected to the Leniwka, a branch in the delta of the nearby Vistula River, which drains 60 percent of Poland and connects Gdańsk with the Polish capital, Warsaw. Together with the nearby port of Gdynia, Gdańsk is also an important industrial center. In the late Middle Ages it was an important seaport and shipbuilding town, and in the 14th and 15th centuries a member of the Hanseatic League.
Five centuries later, Gdańsk was the birthplace of the Solidarity movement, formed in 1980, which played a major role in bringing an end to Communist rule in Poland and helped precipitate the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
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