News About forum Projects Gallery About Poland Services Contact Polish version Strona główna



General information

  • Official name: Rzeczpospolita Polska / Republic of Poland
  • Location: Central Europe, east of Germany, border countries: Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast), Slovakia, Ukraine
  • Area:
    • total: 312,685 sq km
    • land: 304,465 sq km
    • water: 8,220 sq km
  • Capital: Warsaw
  • Languages: Polish 97.8%, other and unspecified 2.2%
  • Currency: 1 złoty (PLN) = 100 groszy
  • Government type: parliamentary republic
    • bicameral legislature consisting of an upper house, the Senate or Senat (100 seats; members are elected by a majority vote on a provincial basis to serve four-year terms), and a lower house, the Sejm (460 seats; members are elected under a complex system of proportional representation to serve four-year terms); the designation of National Assembly or Zgromadzenie Narodowe is only used on those rare occasions when the two houses meet jointly
  • People:
    • Population: 38,635,144
    • Age structure:
      • 0-14 years: 16.7%
      • 15-64 years: 70.3%
      • 65 years and over: 13%
    • Population growth rate: 0.03 ‰
    • Life expectancy: male: 70.3 years, female: 78.76 years
    • Illiteracy: 0.02%
    • Ethnic groups: Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 2.7%
  • Administrative divisions: 16 provinces (wojewodztwa, singular - wojewodztwo); Dolnoslaskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Lodzkie, Lubelskie, Lubuskie, Malopolskie, Mazowieckie, Opolskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Pomorskie, Slaskie, Swietokrzyskie, Warminsko-Mazurskie, Wielkopolskie, Zachodniopomorskie
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3%
  • Climate: temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers
  • Terrain: mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border
  • Lowest point : near Raczki Elblaskie -2 m
  • Highest point : Rysy 2,499 m
  • Economy:
    • PKB: 463 billion USD
    • PKB growth rate: 5,6%
    • PKB per capita: 12 000 USD
    • Inflation rate: 3,4%
    • Labour force: agriculture 16.1%, industry 29%, services 54.9%
    • Unemployment: 19,5%
    • Agriculture products: potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat; poultry, eggs, pork
    • Export commodities - machinery and transport equipment 37.8%, intermediate manufactured goods 23.7%, miscellaneous manufactured goods 17.1%, food and live animals 7.6%
    • Import commodities - machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 14.8%, minerals, fuels, lubricants, and related materials 9.1%
    • Export partners - Germany 29.8%, Italy 6.3%, France 5.4%, UK 4.7%, Czech Republic 4.4%
    • Import partners- Germany 29.8%, Italy 8%, France 7%, Russia 6.9%, Netherlands 5.3%, Belgium 4.2%
  • Transportation:
    • railways: 23 852 km
    • highways: 364 697 km
  • Natural resources: coal, sulphur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land
  • Land use: arable land: 45.91%, permanent crops: 1.12%, other: 52.97%
  • Communications:
    general assessment: underdeveloped and outmoded system in the process of being overhauled; partial privatization of the state-owned telephone monopoly is underway; the long waiting list for main line telephone service has resulted in a boom in mobile cellular telephone use
    domestic: cable, open-wire, and microwave radio relay; 3 cellular networks; local exchanges 56.6% digital
    international: country code - 48
  • Background: Poland is an ancient nation that was conceived near the middle of the 10th century. Its golden age occurred in the 16th century. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation. In a series of agreements between 1772 and 1795, Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland amongst themselves. Poland regained its independence in 1918 only to be overrun by Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. It became a Soviet satellite state following the war, but its government was comparatively tolerant and progressive. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity" that over time became a political force and by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A "shock therapy" program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe, but Poland currently suffers low GDP growth and high unemployment. Solidarity suffered a major defeat in the 2001 parliamentary elections when it failed to elect a single deputy to the lower house of Parliament, and the new leaders of the Solidarity Trade Union subsequently pledged to reduce the Trade Union's political role. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.
  • Economy overview: Poland has steadfastly pursued a policy of economic liberalization throughout the 1990s and today stands out as a success story among transition economies. Even so, much remains to be done, especially in bringing down unemployment. The privatization of small and medium-sized state-owned companies and a liberal law on establishing new firms has encouraged the development of the private business sector, but legal and bureaucratic obstacles alongside persistent corruption are hampering its further development. Poland's agricultural sector remains handicapped by surplus labour, inefficient small farms, and lack of investment. Restructuring and privatization of "sensitive sectors" (e.g., coal, steel, railroads, and energy), while recently initiated, have stalled. Reforms in health care, education, the pension system, and state administration have resulted in larger-than-expected fiscal pressures. Further progress in public finance depends mainly on reducing losses in Polish state enterprises, restraining entitlements, and overhauling the tax code to incorporate the growing grey economy and farmers, most of whom pay no tax. The government has introduced a package of social and administrative spending cuts to reduce public spending by about $17 billion through 2007. Additional reductions are under discussion in the legislature but could be trumped by election-year politics in 2005. Poland joined the EU in May 2004, and surging exports to the EU contributed to Poland's strong growth in 2004, though its competitiveness could be threatened by the zloty's appreciation. GDP per capita roughly equals that of the three Baltic states. Poland stands to benefit from nearly $13.5 billion in EU funds, available through 2006. Farmers have already begun to reap the rewards of membership via higher food prices and EU agricultural subsidies.


back to top