Different names for Poland

For many foreigners, the name of the state in Central Europe — Poland — seems to be the only one that exists. But there are several other less common names that may still be in use today.

The names Sarmatia or Scythia were applied by the Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century BC. The lands that stretched from the Black Sea to the Vistula River and the present-day Baltic Sea were only so called in those days. This territory was equal to practically all modern Eastern Europe. A little further east was Scythia, a name associated with Poland. A little later it began to be associated with Russia.

Bulaniya Poland began to be called at the end of the 1st millennium A.D., when its territory in written sources was indicated as «Polonia» or «Bulaniya». The version with the letter «p» is preferable and more accurate. It is related to the name of the representatives of the West Slavic tribes — Polane. The ethnonym came from the word «pol’e», which translates as «open territory, field». The inhabitants of these places themselves were called «people of meadows, fields».

Lengyelország, Lenkija or Lechistan are the names of modern Poland in Hungarian, Lithuanian and Ottoman. They are united by a common origin — the word «lengyel» («Poles»). This is how the Hungarians referred to the West Slavic tribe of the Lendzians or Lachs. The place of residence of this community was the region of Greater Poland in the West, or the present territory on the border between Poland and Ukraine. Little information has survived about the people of that time. Historians link the origin of the name with the word «lęda», which means «land cleared for farming in the woods», indicating that the landlords used slash-and-burn agriculture.

The Rzeczpospolita may still be called by some Poles. In the 15th century this was the name of the state which united the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It encompassed what is now Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, parts of Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia and Moldavia. A couple of centuries later, the Polish Kingdom became the largest power in Europe, with a population of many millions.