Ruling party leader Jarosław Kaczyński said: “The 11th of November is the 99th anniversary of the day which is considered the day Poland regained its independence, a very important day in our history”.
On 11 November, 1918, Józef Piłsudski was given authority over the Polish army and proclaimed Poland's independence, while Germany signed an armistice which would mark the official end of World War One.
Prior to 1918, Poland had been partitioned among its neighbours and wiped off the map of Europe for more than 120 years.
Kaczyński said that Poland's independence has not been intact since, referring to World War Two and the subsequent Moscow-backed communist regime, but added that Poland remained on the world's maps throughout that time, which was a “success”.
Speaking at the capital's Piłsudski square, President Andrzej Duda said the spot was of symbolic importance. It was the site of the Saxon Palace – which was blown up by Germans during World War II – and now bears the name of one of the fathers of Polish independence, Duda said.
Top State Orders
On Independence Day, Duda also awarded state distinctions, including three Orders of the White Eagle, the highest state distinction in Poland given for civilian and military contributions to the country.
Orders of the White Eagle went to Bernard Czernecki, a priest and chaplain in the Solidarity movement who supported striking miners, actor Franciszek Pieczka and Andrzej Pityński, a patriotic sculptor.
Independence Day Run
Some 15,000 people took part in a 10-kilometre fun run in Warsaw, won by Arkadiusz Gardzielewski with a time of 30:03, while Ewa Jagielska was fastest among the women with a time of 34:38.
Former Polish marathon record holder Antoni Niemczak, who has lived in the US since 1990, was among those in the race.
"I came especially so that my participation in this event would mark the beginning of preparations for the 100th anniversary of Poland's independence," he said, adding that he would next year honour his grandfather, who fought in the Polish Legions, which were set up by Piłdudski in World War One.
An annual Independence Day march proceeded through the streets of Warsaw, drawing thousands.
Marches were held in cities across the country, as were regional activities including a "Happy Parade" in Wrocław, southwestern Poland, a "Patriotic Parade" in Kraków, southern Poland, and "National Colours" dip in the Baltic Sea in Szczecin, northwestern Poland. (vb)