Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It stands on the Vistula River in east-central Poland, roughly 260 kilometres (160 mi) from the Baltic Sea and 300 kilometres (190 mi) from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population is estimated at 1.750 million residents within a greater metropolitan area of 3.101 million residents, which makes Warsaw the 9th most-populous capital city in the European Union. The city limits cover 516.9 square kilometres (199.6 sq mi), while the metropolitan area covers 6,100.43 square kilometres (2,355.39 sq mi).
Once described as Paris of the East, Warsaw was believed to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world until World War II. The German invasion in 1939, the massacre of the Jewish population and deportations to concentration camps led to the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto in 1943 and to the major and devastating Warsaw Uprising between August and October 1944. Warsaw gained the new title of a Phoenix City because of its extensive history and complete reconstruction after the severe damage it suffered in World War II, which left over 85% of its buildings in ruins. On 9 November 1939, the city was awarded Poland's highest military decoration for heroism, the Virtuti Militari, during the Siege of Warsaw.
Warsaw is one of Europe’s most dynamic metropolitan cities. In 2012 the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Warsaw as the 32nd most liveable city in the world. In 2017 the city came 4th in the “Business-friendly” category and 8th in “Human capital and life style”. It was also ranked as one of the most liveable cities in Central and Eastern Europe.
Warsaw is an alpha global city, a major international tourist destination and a significant cultural, political and economic hub. The city is a significant centre of research and development, BPO, ITO, as well as of the Polish media industry. The Warsaw Stock Exchange is the largest and most important in Central and Eastern Europe. Frontex, the European Union agency for external border security, has its headquarters in Warsaw. Together with Frankfurt, London and Paris, Warsaw is also one of the cities with the highest number of skyscrapers in the European Union.
The city is the seat of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and the University of Warsaw. The historic city-centre of Warsaw with its picturesque Old Town in 1980 was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other main architectural attractions include the Castle Square with the Royal Castle and the iconic King Sigismund's Column, St. John's Cathedral, Market Square, palaces, churches and mansions all displaying a richness of colour and architectural detail. Buildings represent examples of nearly every European architectural style and historical period. Warsaw provides many examples of architecture from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, neoclassical and modern periods, and around a quarter of the city is filled with royal parks and lush gardens. Furthermore, the city is positioning itself as a cultural centre with thriving art and club scenes and renowned restaurants.