Warsaw, known in Polish as Warszawa is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly 260 kilometres (160 mi) from the Baltic Sea and 300 kilometres (190 mi) from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population is estimated at 1.711 million residents within a greater metropolitan area of 2.666 million residents, making Warsaw the 9th most populous city proper in the European Union. The area of the city covers 516.9 square kilometres (199.6 sq mi), while the city's agglomeration covers 6,100.43 square kilometres (2,355.39 sq mi).
Warsaw is an Alpha– global city, a major international tourist destination and an important economic hub in Central Europe. It is also known as the "phoenix city" because it has survived so many wars throughout its history. Most notably, the city had to be painstakingly rebuilt after the extensive damage it suffered in World War II, during which 85% of its buildings were destroyed. On 9 November 1940 the city was awarded Poland's highest military decoration for heroism, the Virtuti Militari, during the Siege of Warsaw (1939).
Warsaw is also known as the city of palaces. Many aristocratic residences and mansions are located near the city center.
The Warszawianka is widely considered the unofficial anthem of the city.
Warsaw lies in east-central Poland about 300 km (190 mi) from the Carpathian Mountains and about 260 km (160 mi) from the Baltic Sea, 523 km (325 mi) east of Berlin, Germany. The city straddles the Vistula River. It is located in the heartland of the Masovian Plain, and its average elevation is 100 metres (330 ft) above sea level. The highest point on the left side of the city lies at a height of 115.7 metres (379.6 ft) (“Redutowa” bus depot, district of Wola), on the right side – 122.1 metres (400.6 ft) (“Groszówka” estate, district of Wesoła, by the eastern border). The lowest point lies at a height 75.6 metres (248.0 ft) (at the right bank of the Vistula, by the eastern border of Warsaw). There are some hills (mostly artificial) located within the confines of the city – e.g. Warsaw Uprising Hill (121 metres (397.0 ft)), Szczęśliwice hill (138 metres (452.8 ft) – the highest point of Warsaw in general).
Warsaw is located on two main geomorphologic formations: the plain moraine plateau and the Vistula Valley with its asymmetrical pattern of different terraces. The Vistula River is the specific axis of Warsaw, which divides the city into two parts, left and right. The left one is situated both on the moraine plateau (10 to 25 m (32.81 to 82.02 ft) above Vistula level) and on the Vistula terraces (max. 6.5 m (21.33 ft) above Vistula level). The significant element of the relief, in this part of Warsaw, is the edge of moraine plateau called Warsaw Escarpment. It is 20 to 25 m (65.62 to 82.02 ft) high in the Old Town and Central district and about 10 m (32.81 ft) in the north and south of Warsaw. It goes through the city and plays an important role as a landmark.
The plain moraine plateau has only a few natural and artificial ponds and also groups of clay pits. The pattern of the Vistula terraces is asymmetrical. The left side consist mainly of two levels: the highest one contains former flooded terraces and the lowest one the flood plain terrace. The contemporary flooded terrace still has visible valleys and ground depressions with water systems coming from the Vistula old – riverbed. They consist of still quite natural streams and lakes as well as the pattern of drainage ditches. The right side of Warsaw has a different pattern of geomorfological forms. There are several levels of the plain Vistula terraces (flooded as well as former flooded once) and only small part and not so visible moraine escarpment. Aeolian sand with a number of dunes parted by peat swamps or small ponds cover the highest terrace. These are mainly forested areas (pine forest).