The Polish language is used by over 40 million people. Of the total number of Polish speakers, about 35 million live in Poland where Polish is the official
language. Another 3 million speakers live in the United States. Polish is part of the Slavic language family that belongs to the West Slavic subgroup whose other members include Slovak and Czech. The earliest known evidence of the Polish language dates to a collection of ninth century documents. Over the decades, Polish has suffered a series of blows brought about by political events. Poland was first partitioned in 1772 causing the language to enter a period of crisis as occupying powers such as Germany and Russia sought to replace it with their own languages. The Austrians were less aggressive during their occupation allowing a measured role for Polish in society. Still, linguistic survival has often been dependent on clandestine instruction. After the World War I the Polish state and language was restored. After World War II, Poland became a more ethnically and linguistically homogeneous society. Today, over 98% of Poland's residents speak Polish.