SEPTEMBER 19, 2006
A new star, and so new ambitions
With Poland delighting in the success of Robert Kubica, there are plans for a Formula 1 standard race track in the country. The city of Gdansk, on the Baltic coast, is talking about making a huge investment to build a modern F1 facility and the local authorities have even picked a site near the town of Straszyn, six miles to the south of Gdansk. The 450-acre site is currently wasteland. and Gdansk's mayor Pawel Adamowicz is proposing an invetsment of around $200m in construction.
Gdansk is Poland's sixth biggest city and its principal seaport. The metropolitan area has a population of a million people and it is the regional capital of Pommerania, which boasts a population of two million. The city has the Gdansk Lech Walesa International Airport and there are long-term plans for new motorways to extend from Berlin in the west (to join up with the European motorway network) and to Minsk in Belarussia in the east. There are also plans for motorways south-east to Warsaw and due south to Lodz and Krakow. Straszyn is close to the Warsaw road.
Gdansk, formerly known as Danzig, is a relatively international city because of its port and its history. From 1466 to 1793 it belonged to the state of Poland but was then taken over by Prussia. There was a brief period as a free city before Prussia again took it over and in 1871 it became part of Germany. After World War I it was a free city again under the control of the League of Nations because of its large German population. Access to Danzig was one of the justifications for Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939. After Germany's defeat in 1945 Danzig became part of Poland.
In recent years it has become famous as the home of the Solidarity Movement which played a key role in opening up the old Eastern Bloc.
Poland has been a member of the European Union since May 2004, and is committed to give up the zloty and replace it with the Euro. There is currently no deadline for that although it will not be before 2010.
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