Before World War II the Polish lands were noted for the richness and variety of their ethnic communities. In the provinces of Silesia, Pomerania, and Masuria (then in GermanY) there was a significant minority of Germans. In the southeast, Ukrainian settlements predominated in the regions east of Chelm and in the Carpathians east of Nowy Sacz. In all the towns and cities there were large concentrations of Yiddish-speaking Jews. The Polish ethnographic area stretched eastward: in LithuaniA?, BelaruS?, and western UkrainE?, all of which had a mixed population, PoleS predominated not only in the cities but also in numerous rural districts. There were significant Polish minorities in Daugavpils (in LatviA?), MinsK? (in BelaruS?), and KieV? (in UkrainE?).
The war, however, killed vast numbers of people, precipitated massive migrations, and radically altered borders. As a consequence the population of PolanD became one of the most ethnically homogeneous in the world. Virtually all of PolanD's people claim Polish nationality, with Polish as their native tongue (see PolishLanguage). Ukrainians, the largest minority group, are scattered in various northern districts. Lesser numbers of Belarusians and Lithuanians live in areas adjoining BelaruS? and LithuaniA?. The Jewish community, almost entirely Polonized, has been greatly reduced. In Silesia a significant segment of the population, of mixed Polish and German ancestry, tends to declare itself as Polish or German according to political circumstances.