POLISH LANGUAGE - Geographic distribution

Polish is mainly spoken in Poland. Poland is one of the most homogeneous European countries with regard to its mother tongue; nearly 97% of Poland's citizens declare Polish as their mother tongue, due to the WWII German expulsions, and suppression of foreign languages by Communists during the Cold War. After the Second World War the previously Polish territories annexed by the USSR retained a large amount of the Polish population that was unwilling or unable to migrate toward the post-1945 Poland and even today ethnic Poles in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine constitute large minorities. It is by far the most widely used minority language in Vilnius County (26% of the population, according to the 2001 census results), but it is also present in other counties. In Ukraine, Polish is most often used in the Lviv and Lutsk regions. Western Belarus has an important Polish minority, especially in the Brest and Grodno regions.

There are also significant numbers of Polish speakers in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, UAE, the UK, Uruguay and the United States.

In the U.S. the number of people of Polish descent is over 11 million, see: Polish language in the United States, but most of them cannot speak Polish. According to the United States 2000 Census, 667,414 Americans of age 5 years and over reported Polish as language spoken at home, which is about 1.4% of people who speak languages other than English or 0.25% of the U.S. population.

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