Warsaw is the capital of Poland, located on the Vistula River. It is the country’s largest city, with a population of approximately 1.7 million, and has overall the feeling of a bustling major city, yet retains a quaint, small town atmosphere in the old centre. Warsaw was first settled in the 13th century, and has had a long and interesting history. The city first came into its own as a centre for culture in the 1700s, where it was the focal point of the Polish Enlightenment. Since then it faced more difficult times, being divided again and again by its neighbouring countries. After 1989, when Poland became independent from the Soviet Union, Warsaw has been flourishing as never before. It is now not only the commercial and industrial hub of Poland, but also the heart of the country’s cultural and intellectual life. The city offers a vast array of musuems, theatres, concert halls, and other institutions, as well as beautiful parks, ancient buildings, churches, and many other sights.