Toruń (, , see also: ) is a city in northern Poland, on the Vistula River. Its population is 205,934 as of June 2009. Toruń is one of the oldest cities in Poland. The medieval old town of Toruń is the birthplace of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
In 1997 the medieval part of the city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2007 the Old Town in Toruń was added to the list of Seven Wonders of Poland. National Geographic Polska rated the old town market and the Gothic town hall as one of the "30 Most Beautiful Places in the World." In 2010 Forbes magazine ranked Toruń as number one of the "Polish Cities Attractive for Business". In 2009 it was listed as one of the "Best Cities to Live in Poland", in a ranking published by Przekrój.
Previously it was the capital of the Toruń Voivodeship (1975–98) and the Pomeranian Voivodeship (1921–45). Since 1999, Toruń has been a seat of the self-government of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship and, as such, is one of its two capitals (together with Bydgoszcz). The cities and neighboring counties form the Bydgoszcz-Toruń twin city metropolitan area. In September 2004, Bydgoszcz Medical School joined Toruń's Nicolaus Copernicus University as its Collegium Medicum. The current Mayor of Toruń is Mr. Michał Zaleski.
The first settlement in the vicinity is dated by archaeologists to 1100 BC (Lusatian culture). During early medieval times, in the 7th through 13th centuries, it was the location of an old Slavonic settlement.
In spring 1231 the Teutonic Knights crossed the river Vistula at the height of Nessau and established a fortress. On 28 December 1233, the Teutonic Knights Hermann von Salza and Hermann Balk, signed the foundation charters for Thorn and Chełmno. The original document was lost in 1244. The set of rights in general is known as Kulm law. In 1236, due to frequent flooding, it was relocated to the present site of the Old Town. In 1264 the adjacent New Town was founded. In 1280, the city (or as it was then, both cities) joined the mercantile Hanseatic League, and thus became an important medieval trade centre.
In 1793 the Kingdom of Prussia annexed the city following the Second Partition of Poland. Toruń was part of the area subject to Prussian and later German attempts to Germanise the province. Toruń became a centre of resistance to Germanization and Kulturkampf by Poles, who established a Polish-language newspaper, Gazeta Toruńska. According to the Treaty of Versailles following World War I in 1919, Toruń was part of the Polish Corridor assigned to Poland. German sources claim a German majority population up to the January 1920 transfer to Poland, when many Germans chose to leave. Polish statistics show the German share of the city's population collapse to 5% by 1926. During World War II, the German army entered the city on September 7, 1939. Nazi Germany annexed the city, and administered it as part of Danzig-West Prussia. By the end of November the city was declared Judenfrei, with several hundred Jews who chose to stay, deported to the Łódź Ghetto and other locations in the Warthegau. Poles were classified as untermenschen by German authorities, with their fate being slave-labor, executions and expulsions. The Germans used the chain of forts surrounding the city as POW camps, known collectively as Stalag XX-A. After the war, it was returned to Poland. The remaining ethnic German population was expelled.
After World War II, the population increased more than twofold and industry developed significantly. The founding of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in 1945 was significant. Since 1989, when local and regional self-government was gradually reintroduced and the market economy was introduced, Toruń, like other cities in Poland, has undergone deep social and economic transformations. Toruń has recently reclaimed its strong position as a regional leader.