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Zakopane in XXIst century
Zakopane is situated in southern Poland, about 100 km to the south of Cracow, close to the border with Slovakia. It lies in a valley at the foot of The Tatras, the highest mountains in Poland (Mount Rysy 2499 m). On the map Zakopane can be found at 48 (18" latitude and 19 (57" longitude. The centre lies at about 840 m above sea level, but some parts are even as high as 1000 m above sea level on the slopes of Gubałówka, a hill that surrounds it from the south.

Zakopane is a town commune. It neighbours on Koscielisko and Poronin villages and is not very far from the well-known town of Nowy Targ anf the villages of Bukowina Tatrzanska and Czarny Dunajec.

Zakopane is Poland's premier centre of mountain hiking and skiing. Although its local population is only about 30,000, Zakopane is visited by a staggering 2 million tourists a year. Situated in the Nowy Sacz Voivodship, in the southern part of the Podhale region, Zakopane lies at the feet of the Tatra Mountains ­ the only alpine mountain range in this part of Europe. Zakopane lies in big glen between the main Tatra range and Gubalowka Hill.

Zakopane is Poland's highest town: its municipal region extending from 750 to 1000 m above sea level. The town area includes part of the Polish Tatra, with the highest peak (Mt. Swinica) reaching to 2301 metres above sea level. The central point of the town - the cross-roads of Krupowki St. and Kosciuszki St. are 838 m above sea level.

The very first documents mentioning Zakopane come from the 17th century, and describe the Zakopisko glade. Its later history was connected with the development of mining and metallurgy industries and then with the progress of health service and tourism. It gradually evolved from a little village to the region's health-resort and ultimately a reasonable-sized town, named the winter capital of Poland.

There are plenty of museums in the town, the most significant and oldest being The Tatra Museum. There is also the Natural History Museum of Tatra National Park and biographical museums of famous Polish artists, among them great composer Karol Szymanowski, the poet Jan Kasprowicz, and the artist Wladyslaw Hasior.

Tourists can visit numerous exhibitions and local craft and fine art galleries. There are also several artistic schools and, most famously, The Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz Theatre.

Mountain Culture is explored in The Tatra Folk Centre. Zakopane has become something of a mecca for mountain culture beyond Poland's borders, with the folk culture of mountaineers from all continents being celebrated at the annual International Festival of Highland Folklore every September..

In Zakopane the newspaper Tygodnik Podhalanski (The Podhale Weekly) is published every Thursday. It is distributed all over the Podhale region and even among the Polish citizens of Chicago. There is also a local broadcasting station, Radio Alex (FM 72,26 and 105,2 Mhz).

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