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Wroclaw, the capital of Lower Silesia and the largest city in Western Poland, sits on the Odra River. The maze of islands and bridges that make up the city have gained it the title of the ‘Venice of Poland’. An area rich in coal and other minerals, Wroclaw is a river port, railway centre, and major industrial city, while also a trading centre for the surrounding agricultural area. The region to the north is characterised by flatlands and is predominantly rural while to the south Lower Silesia is bordered by the Sudeten Mountains.
Starting off in the ninth century as Czech territory it later fell to the hands of German rule in 1741. Wroclaw, or Breslau as it had been known for 200 years, became so Germanised that when the Nazis seized power in 1933 the last vestiges of the city's Polish origins were all but gone, and it eventually became the last stronghold of the Nazis in WWII. Since the war the country was handed back to Poland and the city has undergone a painful rebuilding process, also having to overcome Communism. Today it is again emerging as a cosmopolitan centre of commerce.