Gdansk is a city on the Baltic coast of northern Poland. With a population of 470,907, Gdansk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and one of the most prominent cities within the cultural and geographical region of Kashubia. It is Poland's principal seaport and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.
The city is situated on the southern edge of Gdansk Bay on the Baltic Sea, in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, the resort town of Sopot, and suburban communities; these form a metropolitan area called the Tricity (Trojmiasto), with a population approaching 1.4 million. Gdansk lies at the mouth of the Motlawa River, connected to the Leniwka, a branch in the delta of the nearby Vistula River, which drains 60 percent of Poland and connects Gdansk with the Polish capital, Warsaw. Together with the nearby port of Gdynia, Gdansk is also a notable industrial centre.
The city's history is complex, with periods of Polish, Prussian and German rule, and periods of autonomy or self-rule as a free city state. In the early-modern age, Gdansk was a royal city of Poland. It was considered the wealthiest and the largest city of Poland, before the 18th century rapid growth of Warsaw. 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.
In the interwar period, owing to its multi-ethnic make-up and history, Gdansk lay in a disputed region between Poland and Germany, which became known as the Polish Corridor. The city's ambiguous political status was exploited by Germany, furthering tension between the two countries, which would ultimately culminate in the Invasion of Poland and the first clash of the Second World War just outside the city limits, followed by the ethnic cleansing and executions of Polish population and ultimately flight and expulsion of the German-speaking majority of the city's population in 1945.
In the 1980s, Gdansk was the birthplace of the Solidarity movement, 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 Warsaw Pact.
Gdansk is home to the University of Gdansk, Gdansk University of Technology, the National Museum, the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre, the Museum of the Second World War, the Polish Baltic Philharmonic and the European Solidarity Centre. The city also hosts St. Dominic's Fair, which dates back to 1260, and is regarded as one of the biggest trade and cultural events in Europe. Gdansk has also topped rankings for the quality of life, safety and living standards worldwide.