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. (April 2014)
Greater Poland in Piast period
. Map based on data from historical documents Codex diplomaticus Maioris Poloniae
Greater Poland, often known by its Polish name Wielkopolska ([vʲɛlkɔˈpɔlska] (listen); German: Großpolen, Latin: Polonia Maior), is a historical region of west-central Poland. Its chief city is Poznań.
The boundaries of Greater Poland have varied somewhat throughout history. Since the Middle Ages, the proper (właściwa) or exact/strict (ścisła) Wielkopolska (often referred to as ziemia, meaning "land") included the Poznań and Kalisz voivodeships. In the wider sense (as dzielnica, i.e. region), it encompassed also Sieradz, Łęczyca, Brześć Kujawski and Inowrocław voivodeships (more eastward). One another meaning (as province) included also Mazovia and Royal Prussia. After the Partitions of Poland, Greater Poland was often identified with the Grand Duchy of Posen. The region in the proper sense roughly coincides with the present-day Greater Poland Voivodeship (Polish: województwo wielkopolskie).
Name of the region
A map of Polish dialects. The area where Greater Poland's dialect is spoken is marked in violet.
Because Greater Poland was the settlement area of the Polans and the core of the early Polish state, the region was at times simply called "Poland" (Latin Polonia). The more specific name is first recorded in the Latin form Polonia Maior in 1257, and in Polish ("w Wielkej Polszcze") in 1449. Its original meaning was the Older Poland, as opposed to Lesser Poland (Polish Małopolska, Latin Polonia Minor), a region in south-eastern Poland with its capital at Kraków which became the main center of the state later.