Kashubian

Kashubians (also "Kassubians", in Kashubian: "Kaszëbë") are a Polish ethnic group.

They came into the region between the Odra and Vistula rivers over 1500 years ago. They are direct descendants of Pomeranians, who gave their name to the area known as Pomerania. The oldest mention of the name is known from the 13th century (a seal of prince Barnim I of Pomerania). Kashubians living in territories of the former Duchy of Pomerania, so called Slovincy were almost entirely Germanised between the 14th and 20th centuries and lost their ethnic identity. Those living in Eastern Pomerania (West Prussia) have survived and today over 300,000 people in Poland regard themseves as Kashubians.

Their 'capital' city is Koscierzyna in Pomerania. Among the bigger towns, Gdynia contains the biggest percentage of the people of Kashub origins. The main occupation of the Kashub was fishing in the past and now is mainly tourism.

In the modern day some 200,000 Kashubians still speak Kashubian, a West Slavic language, together with Polish belonging to Lekhitic group of languages, mainly in northern Poland. In many towns and villages Kashubian is the second language, after Polish. The language appears in offices and on the streets and is also taught at schools.

Number of Kashubians depends in fact on definitions and in most extreme case is estimated as half of million people. In the last Polish census of 2002 5.100 people declared Kashubian nationality (while most of Kashubians prefered to declare Polish nationality and Kashubian ethnicity, there was no option to declare more than one nationality), and some 51.000 declared as Kashubian-language speakers. That was the result of the fact that vast majority of Kashubians has dual national identity, considering themselves both Poles and Kashubians. The loud and young group "Odroda" is aiming at national renewal of Kashubians.

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