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Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk is the largest economic, scientific and cultural centre on the Polish coast.

Situated in the Wisla estuary, the city covers an area of 262 square kilometres and has a population of 461,400. The system of urban traffic is based on an line network of roads along the Gdansk Bay characterises as defined by the Master plan, delimited by the Bay to the north and Morena hills to the east the railroad network.

The municipality of Gdansk covers an area of 262 sq. It lies in Northern Poland on the Bay of Gdansk. The natural conditions are characterized by varied scenery created by the Pomeranian phase of the Baltic glacial period.

Inhabitants (city) 461,400
Inhabitants (metropolitan) 4,000,000
Area (city) 262 km2
Area (metropolitan) 350 km2
Private cars 1,250,000
Public buses 1,250

The city, as well as its neighbours Gdynia and Sopot, owes its picturesque location in a zonal arrangement to the post-glacial formations. The zones are: the coastal zone (11 kilometers of shoreline), the zone of hills, the plain delta of the Vistula and the Kasubian valley.

The climatic conditions of Gdansk are changeable due to the landscape, different air masses meeting here (usually the polar and martime, and the polar and continental air) and the tempering influence of the Baltic Sea.

Gdansk is situated in the middle of the southern Baltic shore on the Bay of Gddans which shelters it from the open sea. It has always been situated at a junction of European trade routes, both land and martime ones. The north-south trade route connects Scandinavia with the Near East, the west-east route links Germany Latvia Lithuania and Estonia. The shortest road from Oslo and Stockholm to the Balkan countries and between Moscow, Minsk and Western Europe runs through Gdansk.

The modal split in the municipality is 250 streetcars and 250 buses in the regular lines in public transport, 126.000 private cars and 7000 cars per hour in the main crosses. The car traffic is concentrated on the major roads. The major roads make up 30% of the road system, but they absorb 70% of the total road traffic.

Due to the city's convenient location, economic potential and numerous tourist attractions, Gdansk daily hosts hundreds of visitors from all over the world. As early as the l6th century Gdansk ranked among the largest and wealthiest towns in Europe. The traditions of tolerance and cultural diversity, and the local trading ethos, shaped for many centuries, determine the present-day appearance of the City.

It is noteworthy that the great economic and political transformations now observed in Central Europe originated in Gdansk. In 1980 the city saw a wave of workers' demonstrations which resulted in the establishment of the independent trade union "Solidarity". Along with the neighbouring cities of Gdynia and Sopot, and with several smaller towns (Pruszcz Gdanski, Reda, Wejherowo and Rumia, Gdansk forms a coastal conurbation called the Tri-City. This conurbation, which provides home and employment to 880,000 people, ranks among Poland's largest concentrations of people.

Besides Warsaw and Krakow, Gdansk is the largest tourist centre in Poland. The city experienced a real tourist invasion while staging its millennial celebrations: more than 3 million people from Poland and almost 1 million foreigners visited Gdansk at that time. The city's monuments attract visitors from all over the world. Walks down Dluga and Dlugi Targ Streets lined with their magnificent burgher's houses, Mariacka Street and the promenade along the Motlawa which contains a l5th-century manpowered crane provide tourists with unforgettable impressions. Visitors can admire the restored interiors of historic buildings such as the Town Hall, Arthur's Court and St Mary's Basilica, Europe's largest Gothic brick-built shrine. The city of Hevelius, Schopenhauer, Gunter Grass and the Nobel Prize winner Lech Walesa, in which the first shots fired at Westerplatte marked the beginning of World War II and where several decades later the communist regime in Eastern Europe began to collapse, fascinates history enthusiasts.

Gdansk is also tempting for arts lovers. The organ music festivals annually held at the Oliwa Cathedral attract international audiences. The "Wybrzeze" Theatre, and the local Opera and Philharmonic Establishments offer rich programmes. The city's museums and galleries pride themselves on outstanding collections of old and modern paintings, graphic arts, sculptures, historical memorabilia and craft prod Gdansk delights visitors with its unique atmosphere, best manifested during the summer Fairs of St Dominic. Highly attractive to tourists are shops with amber jewellery located in historic houses, small art galleries, cafes and pubs with period interiors. The taverns on the Motlawa and on the ship moored to the nearby pier serve delicious fried fish, while the "Pod Lososiem" Under the Salmon) restaurant offers the famous local vodka "Goldwasser".

Visitors to the Tri-City can expect a multitude of attractions. These include a cruise to Westerplatte and Hel; a visit to the local museum ships, a walk along the pier at Sopot, the longest on the Baltic Sea; the zoological garden at Oliwa; the oceanarium in Gdynia; international song festivals at the open-air Opera Lenna in Sopot; and Polish film festivals at the "Muzyczny" Theatre in Gdynia. Gambling enthusiasts may try their luck at the local casinos or at Sopot's horse races.

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