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The Wielkopolska region is a flat region interspersed with forests and lakes. Located in the Warta River basin, it was the home of the Polanie tribe, an ancient Slavic tribe From which arose to the Polish nation. In its center lies Gniezno, an ancient castle town built in the eighth century. Poland's first capital, Gniezno, historians believe, is where Mieszko, Poland's first historical ruler, was baptized in 966. Although the country's capital moved to Kraków in 1038, Wielkopolska remained an integral part of Poland. It was annexed by Prussia at the time of the second partition (1773), became part of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw created by Napoleon. Following the 1815 congress of Vienna it became the Prussian controlled Grand Duchy of Poznan which had some limited autonomy, but in 1849 it was again made part of Prussia. Throughout the period of the partitions it underwent intensive Germanization. Nonetheless, in 1918-1919 it was the site of a major uprising which resulted in its reincorporation into Poland. During WWII it was incorporated into the Reich and its liberation in 1945 was accompanied by much destruction.
|For notes on other regions check out Annotated Listing of Poland's Regions|
* It is usual to translate the names Wielkopolska and Małopolska and, ancestral regions of Poland, as Greater or Great Poland and Little, Lesser or Minor Poland, respectively. However, the name of the ancestral tribe from which the nation arose was Polanie. Since "Polana" is Polish for meadow, Polanie can be interpreted as "the people of the meadows." Again, since Małopolska is a region that is hilly and meadows there would be small, it is tempting to speculate that originally the term Małopolska referred to a region which had small meadows. By contrast, the terrain in the Wielkopolska region is much flatter and hence meadows in that region would tend to be much larger. Hence one can speculate that the term Wielkopolska referred to a land of large meadows.