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Poznan is a city in west-central Poland with over 567,882 inhabitants (2006). Located on the Warta River, it is one of the oldest cities in Poland, making it an important historical centre and a vibrant centre of trade, industry, and education.

Poznań is Poland's fifth largest city and fourth biggest industrial centre. It is also the administrative capital of the Greater Poland Voivodeship.

Poznań's cathedral is the oldest in the country, containing the tombs of the first Polish rulers: Duke Mieszko I, King Boleslaus the Brave, King Mieszko II, Duke Casimir I the Restorer, Duke Przemysł I, and King Przemysł II.

Mieszko I, the first known duke of the Polans, built one of his castles in Poznań. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul is the oldest Polish cathedral, founded in Poznań during the latter half of the 10th century.

The city would become the capital of Greater Poland. Mieszko I's son, Boleslaus the Brave, was crowned king in 1025 and the Kingdom of Poland was formed. Greater Poland became the 'cradle of the Polish state', and both Mieszko I and Boleslaus I are buried in Poznań. Lubrański Academy, the second Polish university (not a "full" university, in fact, as science students had to go to Kraków) was established in 1519.

Poznań was the capital of the Greater Poland area when it came under the control of Prussia in 1793 and had its administrative area renamed to South Prussia. During the Greater Poland Uprising of 1806, local Polish resistance fighters rebelled, thereby assisting the efforts of Napoleon while simultaneously driving out the occupying Prussian forces.

The city became part of the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807 and was capital of the Poznań Department. Napoleon's defeat led to the Congress of Vienna, where the boundaries of Europe were redrawn by the victors. Greater Poland was returned to Prussia and became the capital of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Posen. From the time of the Revolutions of 1848, Poznań was the capital of the Prussian Province of Posen. It became part of the German Empire during the unification of German states in 1871.

Shortly after Imperial Germany's defeat in World War I, the Great Poland Uprising (1918-1919) occurred, leading to the creation of the Second Polish Republic, in which Poznań became the capital of Poznań Voivodeship. During World War II, Poland suffered under Nazi occupation and the Polish population was severely repressed. In 1945, the city was declared a Festung (a fortified locale in which German forces were expected to conduct a last-ditch defense) by order of Hitler.

As Poznań lay on the direct route from Warsaw to Berlin, the Red Army first besieged and then assaulted the German defenses, culminating in the assault on the Cytadela (citadelle) and resulting in serious damage to the city. Since the war's end, Poznań has been the capital of the surrounding area through administrative district boundary changes in 1957, 1975, and 1999; Poznań currently administrates Greater Poland Voivodeship, one of 16 provinces in the country.

Anti-communist protests in 1956 played a significant role in liberalising the post-war communist regime.

November 2006

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