Kraj vs państwo

mietagosia

Senior Member
Poland, Polish
Hey all!

Even though I'm a native speaker of Polish, it was never clear to me what difference there is between "kraj" and "państwo". None of the people I asked in my entire life were able to distinguish between those words. I guess in English they would both be translated as "country" but since we have two words, there must be a reason for that.

Thank you in advance!
 
  • Piotr_WRF

    Senior Member
    Polish, German
    Państwo is state in English and kraj is country. The difference between państwo and kraj is that the former is a political notion while the latter rather a geographical one.
     

    gvergara

    Senior Member
    Castellano (variedad chilensis)
    Hi,

    Reviving this old thread only to ask you to confirm if the difference between those two is as simple as that: państwo= state and kraj= country. I thought that there was a subtler difference, as is the case with anything else in Polish :S Look forward to your answers, thank you as usual.

    G.
     

    Drakonica

    Senior Member
    Polish
    państwo= state and kraj= country.
    I think, it's a good answer.

    And we can call some regions "kraj" even, if they are parts of one "państwo".
    "Kraj Przywiślański" was one of names of Poland as a part of Russian Empire.
    "Kraj Krasnojarski" is a part of Russian Federation.

    It is also possible that one country is divided into several states during the civil war, or when the kingdom is separated between many sons of the ruler.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    Reviving this old thread only to ask you to confirm if the difference between those two is as simple as that: państwo= state and kraj= country. I thought that there was a subtler difference, as is the case with anything else in Polish :S Look forward to your answers, thank you as usual.
    "Kraj" is a very universal term, similarly to the English equivalent ('country'). In a colloqial speach it can refer to the state, but often it refers to large regions or historical entities.

    Although the examples quoted by Drakonica:
    "Kraj Przywiślański" was one of names of Poland as a part of Russian Empire.
    "Kraj Krasnojarski" is a part of Russian Federation.
    are translated from the Russian language, so in a sense they do not count, but the general idea is correct.

    "Kraj" is also used as a translation of the German "Land" - so in Polish we say about "kraj związkowy" for example (Bundesland, if I remember correctly).

    "Państwo" sounds a bit bookish. It's used in the official documents, and in a colloquial speach mainly if you want to be precise that you mean a national state rather than a historical or modern region.

    BTW - in the context of the United States of America and other American Federal states (Mexico and Canada come to my mind), the "state" is translated as "stan" rather than "państwo". In Polish Alaska or Texas (states) are "stany", and the USA ("Stany Zjednoczone Ameryki Północnej") are "państwo". Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutchland) is also "państwo", but the lands it's comprised of ("Land" in German) are called "kraj" in Polish - the two are federal states which are best known in Poland.
     
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