Breslau is situated on the river Oder, in the south-west of Poland and is the capital of the Woiwodschaft of Wroclaw. Breslau is one of the largest cities of Poland and an important industrial centre. The river Oder , an important trade route connects the town with the Baltic Sea and a network of inland waterways between the rivers Elbe and Weichsel.
Breslau lies in an angricultural and mining area and is an important trading centre for wool, grain, coal, iron and other metals. Amon the major industries are iron foundries, breweries, textile mills and factories producing machinery, furniture, jewelery, musical intruments, alcoholic drinks and cigars.
Named Wortizlawa, Breslau was mentioned as early as 1000 AD. In the 11th century it became the seat of a bishop. In 1163 it became capital of the newly founded dutchy of Silesia. In the course of the 13th century many Germans settled in the area and in 1261 the townn received its German name Breslau. As a flourishing trading centre it joined the Hanse in 1294.
During the Austrian war of succession was occupied by Prussia in 1741 and made capital of the Prussian provice of Lower Silesia. Apart from a few short episodes of military occupation, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars, Breslau remained part of Prussian Silesia until it was occupied by Russian troops in World War 2 (May 1945). After the defeat of Germany, the town, which had been seriously damaged during the war, was given to Poland according to the Potsdam agreement. The German inhabitants were displaced. It has now 638 000 inhabitants(1999) and is twinned with the German town of Wiesbaden.