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Map of Poland
Introduction Poland
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 still faces the lingering challenges of high unemployment, underdeveloped and dilapidated infrastructure, and a poor rural underclass. 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. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country largely completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of Euro-Atlantic organizations.
Geography Poland
Central Europe, east of Germany
Geographic coordinates:
52 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references:
total: 312,685 sq km
land: 304,465 sq km
water: 8,220 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than New Mexico
Land boundaries:
total: 3,056 km
border countries: Belarus 416 km, Czech Republic 790 km, Germany 467 km, Lithuania 103 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 210 km, Slovakia 541 km, Ukraine 529 km
491 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: defined by international treaties
temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers
mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: near Raczki Elblaskie -2 m
highest point: Rysy 2,499 m
Natural resources:
coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 40.25%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 58.75% (2005)
Irrigated land:
1,000 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Environment - current issues:
situation has improved since 1989 due to decline in heavy industry and increased environmental concern by post-Communist governments; air pollution nonetheless remains serious because of sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the resulting acid rain has caused forest damage; water pollution from industrial and municipal sources is also a problem, as is disposal of hazardous wastes; pollution levels should continue to decrease as industrial establishments bring their facilities up to EU code, but at substantial cost to business and the government
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94
Geography - note:
historically, an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain
People Poland
38,536,869 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 15.9% (male 3,142,811/female 2,976,363)
15-64 years: 70.8% (male 13,585,306/female 13,704,763)
65 years and over: 13.3% (male 1,961,326/female 3,166,300) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 37 years
male: 35.1 years
female: 39 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.05% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
9.85 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
9.89 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.46 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.44 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.97 years
male: 70.95 years
female: 79.23 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.25 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% ; note - no country specific models provided (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
14,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
100 (2001 est.)
noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish
Ethnic groups:
Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 2.7% (2002 census)
Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3% (2002)
Polish 97.8%, other and unspecified 2.2% (2002 census)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2003 est.)
Government Poland
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Poland
conventional short form: Poland
local long form: Rzeczpospolita Polska
local short form: Polska
Government type:
name: Warsaw
geographic coordinates: 52 15 N, 21 00 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions:
16 provinces (wojewodztwa, singular - wojewodztwo); Dolnoslaskie wojewodztwo, Kujawsko-Pomorskie wojewodztwo, Lodzkie wojewodztwo, Lubelskie wojewodztwo, Lubuskie wojewodztwo, Malopolskie wojewodztwo, Mazowieckie wojewodztwo, Opolskie wojewodztwo, Podkarpackie wojewodztwo, Podlaskie wojewodztwo, Pomorskie wojewodztwo, Slaskie wojewodztwo, Swietokrzyskie wojewodztwo, Warminsko-Mazurskie wojewodztwo, Wielkopolskie wojewodztwo, Zachodniopomorskie wojewodztwo
11 November 1918 (independent republic proclaimed)
National holiday:
Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)
adopted by the National Assembly 2 April 1997, passed by national referendum 25 May 1997, effective 17 October 1997
Legal system:
mixture of Continental (Napoleonic) civil law and holdover Communist legal theory; changes being gradually introduced as part of broader democratization process; limited judicial review of legislative acts, but rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal are final; court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Lech KACZYNSKI (since 23 December 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI (since 10 July 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers Ludwik DORN (since 23 November 2005), Roman GIERTYCH (since 5 May 2006), Zyta GILOWSKA (since 22 September 2006), Andrzej LEPPER (since 16 October 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers responsible to the prime minister and the Sejm; the prime minister proposes, the president appoints, and the Sejm approves the Council of Ministers
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 9 and 23 October 2005 (next to be held fall 2010); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm
election results: Lech KACZYNSKI elected president; percent of popular vote - Lech KACZYNSKI 54%, Donald Tusk 46%
Legislative branch:
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
elections: Senate - last held 25 September 2005 (next to be held by September 2009); Sejm elections last held 25 September 2005 (next to be held by September 2009)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PiS 49, PO 34, LPR 7, SO 3, PSL 2, independents 5; Sejm - percent of vote by party - PiS 27%, PO 24.1%, SO 11.4%, SLD 11.3%, LPR 8%, PSL 7%, other 11.2%; seats by party - PiS 155, PO 133, SO 56, SLD 55, LPR 34, PSL 25, German minorities 2
note: two seats are assigned to ethnic minority parties in the Sejm only
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the National Council of the Judiciary for an indefinite period); Constitutional Tribunal (judges are chosen by the Sejm for nine-year terms)
Political parties and leaders:
Catholic-National Movement or RKN [Antoni MACIEREWICZ]; Civic Platform or PO [Donald TUSK]; Conservative Peasants Party or SKL [Artur BALASZ]; Democratic Left Alliance or SLD [Wojciech OLEJNICZAK]; Democratic Party or PD [Janusz ONYSZKIEWICZ]; Dom Ojczysty (Fatherland Home); German Minority of Lower Silesia or MNSO [Henryk KROLL]; Law and Justice or PiS [Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI]; League of Polish Families or LPR [Roman GIERTYCH]; Peasant-Democratic Party or PLD [Roman JAGIELINSKI]; Polish Accord or PP [Jan LOPUSZANSKI]; Polish Peasant Party or PSL [Waldemar PAWLAK]; Ruch Patriotyczny or RP [Jan OLSZEWSKI]; Samoobrona or SO [Andrzej LEPPER]; Social Democratic Party of Poland or SDPL [Marek BOROWSKI]; Social Movement or RS [Krzysztof PIESIEWICZ]; Union of Labor or UP [Andrzej SPYCHALSKI]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
All Poland Trade Union Alliance or OPZZ (trade union) [Jan GUZ]; Roman Catholic Church [Cardinal Jozef GLEMP]; Solidarity Trade Union [Janusz SNIADEK]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Janusz REITER
chancery: 2640 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 234-3800 through 3802
FAX: [1] (202) 328-6271
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Victor ASHE
embassy: Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31 00-540 Warsaw
mailing address: American Embassy Warsaw, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-5010 (pouch)
telephone: [48] (22) 504-2000
FAX: [48] (22) 504-2688
consulate(s) general: Krakow
Flag description:
two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; similar to the flags of Indonesia and Monaco which are red (top) and white
Economy Poland
Economy - overview:
Poland has steadfastly pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and today stands out as a success story among transition economies. Even so, much remains to be done, especially in bringing down the unemployment rate - still the highest in the EU despite recent improvement. 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 labor, 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 gray economy and farmers, most of whom pay no tax. The previous Socialist-led government introduced a package of social and administrative spending cuts to reduce public spending by about $17 billion through 2007, but full implementation of the plan was trumped by election-year politics in 2005. The right-wing Law and Justice party won parliamentary elections in September, and Lech KACZYNSKI won the presidential election in October 2005, running on a state-interventionist fiscal and monetary platform. 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 benefited from nearly $23.2 billion in EU funds, which were available through 2006. Farmers have already begun to reap the rewards of membership via booming exports, higher food prices, and EU agricultural subsidies.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$542.6 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$265.4 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5.3% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$14,100 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.8%
industry: 31.2%
services: 64% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
17.26 million (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 16.1%
industry: 29%
services: 54.9% (2002)
Unemployment rate:
14.9% (November 2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
17% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 26.7% (2002)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
34.1 (2002)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.3% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
19.2% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $62 billion
expenditures: $71.25 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt:
49% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat; poultry, eggs, pork, dairy
machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles
Industrial production growth rate:
10.2% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
143.5 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 98.1%
hydro: 1.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.4% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
124.1 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
14.6 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
5.3 billion kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
35,880 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
445,700 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
53,000 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
413,700 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
142.4 million bbl (December 2004)
Natural gas - production:
5.957 billion cu m (2004)
Natural gas - consumption:
15.67 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
46 million cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
9.963 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
164.8 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
$-4.548 billion (2006 est.)
$110.7 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment 37.8%, intermediate manufactured goods 23.7%, miscellaneous manufactured goods 17.1%, food and live animals 7.6% (2003)
Exports - partners:
Germany 28.2%, France 6.2%, Italy 6.1%, UK 5.6%, Czech Republic 4.6%, Russia 4.4%, Netherlands 4.2% (2005)
$113.2 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 14.8%, minerals, fuels, lubricants, and related materials 9.1% (2003)
Imports - partners:
Germany 29.6%, Russia 8.7%, Italy 6.6%, Netherlands 5.9%, France 5.7% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$49.69 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$147.3 billion (30 June 2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$13.9 billion in available EU structural adjustment and cohesion funds (2004-06)
Currency (code):
zloty (PLN)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
zlotych per US dollar - 3.11 (2006), 3.2355 (2005), 3.6576 (2004), 3.8891 (2003), 4.08 (2002), note, zlotych is the plural form of zloty
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Poland
Telephones - main lines in use:
11.803 million (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
29,166,400 (2005)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modernization of the telecommunications network has accelerated with market based competition finalized in 2003; fixed-line service, dominated by the former state-owned company, is dwarfed by the growth in wireless telephony
domestic: wireless service, available since 1993 (GSM service available since 1996) and provided by three nation-wide networks, has grown rapidly in response to the weak fixed-line coverage; third generation UMTS service available in urban areas; cellular coverage is generally good with more gaps in the east; fixed-line service is growing slowly and still lags in rural areas
international: country code - 48; international direct dialing with automated exchanges; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, and Intersputnik)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 14, FM 777, shortwave 1 (1998)
20.2 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
40 (2006)
13.05 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
358,476 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
19 (2000)
Internet users:
10.6 million (2005)
Transportation Poland
122 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 83
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 29
1,524 to 2,437 m: 40
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 2 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 39
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 21 (2006)
3 (2006)
gas 13,552 km; oil 1,384 km; refined products 777 km (2006)
total: 23,072 km
broad gauge: 629 km 1.524-m gauge
standard gauge: 22,443 km 1.435-m gauge (20,555 km operational; 11,910 km electrified) (2005)
total: 423,997 km
paved: 295,356 km (including 484 km of expressways)
unpaved: 128,641 km (2004)
3,997 km (navigable rivers and canals) (2005)
Merchant marine:
total: 11 ships (1000 GRT or over) 55,701 GRT/45,082 DWT
by type: cargo 6, chemical tanker 2, passenger/cargo 1, roll on/roll off 1, vehicle carrier 1
foreign-owned: 1 (Nigeria 1)
registered in other countries: 106 (Antigua and Barbuda 3, Bahamas 15, Belize 2, Cyprus 20, Liberia 14, Malta 27, Norway 2, Panama 15, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Slovakia 2, Vanuatu 5) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Gdansk, Gdynia, Swinoujscie, Szczecin
Military Poland
Military branches:
Polish Armed Forces: Land Forces (includes Navy (Marynarka Wojenna, MW)), Polish Air Force (Sily Powietrzenje Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, SPRP) (2006)
Military service age and obligation:
17 years of age for compulsory military service after January 1st of the year of 18th birthday; 17 years of age for voluntary military service; in 2005, Poland plans to shorten the length of conscript service obligation from 12 to 9 months; by 2008, plans call for at least 60% of military personnel to be volunteers; only soldiers who have completed their conscript service are allowed to volunteer for professional service; as of April 2004, women are only allowed to serve as officers and noncommissioned officers (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 17-49: 9,681,703
females age 17-49: 9,480,641 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 17-49: 7,739,472
females age 17-49: 7,859,165 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 275,446
females age 17-49: 265,164 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$3.5 billion (2002)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.71% (2002)
Transnational Issues Poland
Disputes - international:
as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Poland must implement the strict Schengen border rules
Illicit drugs:
major illicit producer of synthetic drugs for the international market; minor transshipment point for Asian and Latin American illicit drugs to Western Europe

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007