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Poland (Europe)

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

View Larger Map


Central Europe, east of Germany

Geographic coordinates:
52 00 N, 20 00 E

Map references:



total: 312,685 sq km country comparison to the world: 69 land: 304,255 sq km

water: 8,430 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than New Mexico

Land boundaries:

total: 3,047 km

border countries: Belarus 605 km, Czech Republic 615 km, Germany 456 km, Lithuania 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 432 km, Slovakia 420 km, Ukraine 428 km

Poland - Direct Swap


440 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

Poland mapcard

Land use:

arable land: 40.25%

permanent crops: 1%

other: 58.75% (2005)

Irrigated land:

1,000 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

63.1 cu km (2005)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 11.73 cu km/yr (13%/79%/8%)

per capita: 304 cu m/yr (2002)

Natural hazards:


Poland 02

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


38,463,689 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 34

Age structure:

0-14 years: 15% (male 2,964,995/female 2,802,278)

15-64 years: 71.6% (male 13,713,078/female 13,845,251)

65 years and over: 13.4% (male 1,966,406/female 3,190,911) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 38.2 years

male: 36.5 years

female: 40 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

-0.053% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 203

Birth rate:

10.04 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 195

Death rate:

10.1 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 56

Net migration rate:

-0.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 141


urban population: 61% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: -0.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.061 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 (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 6.66 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 171 male: 7.38 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 75.85 years country comparison to the world: 75 male: 71.88 years

female: 80.06 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.29 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 209

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.1%; note - no country specific models provided (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 128

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

20,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 80

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

fewer than 200 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 119

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: intermediate

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne disease: tickborne encephalitis

note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)


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 (official) 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.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 15 years

male: 15 years

female: 16 years (2007)

Education expenditures:

4.9% of GDP (2007) country comparison to the world: 78

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
(Lower Silesia), Kujawsko-Pomorskie (Kuyavia-Pomerania), Lodzkie,
Lubelskie (Lublin), Lubuskie (Lubusz), Malopolskie (Lesser Poland),
Mazowieckie (Masovia), Opolskie, Podkarpackie (Subcarpathia),
Podlaskie, Pomorskie (Pomerania), Slaskie (Silesia), Swietokrzyskie,
Warminsko-Mazurskie (Warmia-Masuria), Wielkopolskie (Greater
Poland), Zachodniopomorskie (West Pomerania)


11 November 1918 (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:

based on a 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 Bronislaw KOMOROWSKI (since 6 August 2010)

head of government: Prime Minister Donald TUSK (since 16 November 2007); Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar PAWLAK (since 16 November 2007)

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 (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 20 June and 4 July 2010 (next to be held in 2015); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm

election results: Bronislaw KOMOROWSKI elected president; percent of popular vote - Bronislaw KOMOROWSKI 53%, Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI 47%

Legislative branch:

bicameral legislature consists of an upper house, the Senate or Senat (100 seats; members elected by a majority vote on a provincial basis to serve four-year terms), and a lower house, the Sejm (460 seats; members 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 on 21 October 2007 (next to be held by October 2011); Sejm - last held on 21 October 2007 (next to be held by October 2011)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PO 60, PiS 39, independents 1; Sejm - percent of vote by party - PO 41.5%, PiS 32.1%, LiD 13.2%, PSL 8.9%, other 4.3%; seats by party - PO 209, PiS 166, LiD 53, PSL 31, German minorities 1; note - seats by party as of December 2010 - PO 203, PiS 147, SLD 44, PSL 31, PJN 17, SPDL 4, DKP_SD 3, German minorities 1, Independents 9, Vacant 1

note: one seat is 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:

Civic Platform or PO [Donald TUSK, chairman; Tomasz TOMCZYKIEWICZ, parliamentary caucus leader]; Democratic Caucus of the Democratic Party (SD) or DKP SD [Bogdan LIS, parliamentary caucus leader]; Democratic Left Alliance or SLD [Grzegorz NAPIERALSKI, chairman, parlimentary caucus leader]; Democratic Party or PD [Brygida KUZNIAK, chairwoman]; Democratic Party or SD [Pawel PISKORSKI, chairman]; German Minority of Lower Silesia or MNSO [Richard GALL, representative]; Law and Justice or PiS [Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI, chairman; Mariusz BLASZCZAK, parliamentary caucus leader]; League of Polish Families or LPR [Witold BALAZAK, chairman]; Poland is the most important or PJN [Joanna KLUZIK-ROSTKOWSKA, president]; Polish People's Party or PSL [Waldemar PAWLAK, chairman; Stanislaw ZELICHOWSKI, parliamentary caucus leader]; Samoobrona or SO [Andrzej LEPPER, chairman]; Social Democratic Party of Poland or SDPL [Wojciech FILEMONOWICZ, chairman; Marek BOROWSKI, parliamentary caucus leader]; Union of Labor or UP [Waldemar WITKOWSKI, chairman]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

All Poland Trade Union Alliance or OPZZ (trade union) [Jan GUZ];
Roman Catholic Church [Cardinal Stanislaw DZIWISZ, Archbishop Jozef
MICHALIK]; Solidarity Trade Union [Piotr DUDA]

International organization participation:

Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer),
CBSS, CD, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA (cooperating state),
OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD,

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Robert KUPIECKI

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 Lee FEINSTEIN

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; colors derive from the Polish emblem - a white eagle on a red field

note: similar to the flags of Indonesia and Monaco which are red (top) and white

National anthem:

name: "Mazurek Dabrowskiego" (Dabrowski's Mazurka)

lyrics/music: Jozef WYBICKI/traditional

note: adopted 1927; the anthem, commonly known as "Jeszcze Polska nie zginela" (Poland Has Not Yet Perished), was written in 1797; the lyrics resonate strongly with Poles because they reflect the numerous occasions in which the nation's lands have been occupied

Economy ::Poland

Economy - overview:

Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and today stands out as a success story among transition economies. Before 2009, GDP had grown about 5% annually, based on rising private consumption, a jump in corporate investment, and EU funds inflows. GDP per capita is still much below the EU average, but is similar to that of the three Baltic states. Since 2004, EU membership and access to EU structural funds have provided a major boost to the economy. Unemployment fell rapidly to 6.4% in October 2008, but climbed back to 11.8% for the year 2010, exceeding the EU average by more than 2%. In 2008 inflation reached 4.2%, more than the upper limit of the National Bank of Poland's target range, but fell to 2.4% in 2010 due to global economic slowdown. Poland's economic performance could improve over the longer term if the country addresses some of the remaining deficiencies in its road and rail infrastructure and its business environment. An inefficient commercial court system, a rigid labor code, bureaucratic red tape, burdensome tax system, and persistent low-level corruption keep the private sector from performing up to its full potential. Rising demands to fund health care, education, and the state pension system caused the public sector budget deficit to rise to 7.9% of GDP in 2010. The PO/PSL coalition government, which came to power in November 2007, plans to reduce the budget deficit in 2011 and has also announced its intention to enact business-friendly reforms, increase workforce participation, reduce public sector spending growth, lower taxes, and accelerate privatization. The government, however, has moved slowly on major reforms. The legislature passed a law significantly limiting early retirement benefits. A health-care bill also passed through the legislature, but the legislature failed to overturn a presidential veto.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$721.7 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 21 $698.6 billion (2009 est.)

$687 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$438.9 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.3% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 108 1.7% (2009 est.)

5.1% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$18,800 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 65 $18,200 (2009 est.)

$17,800 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 3.9%

industry: 31.8%

services: 63% (2010 est.)

Labor force:

17 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 35

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 17.4%

industry: 29.2%

services: 53.4% (2005)

Unemployment rate:

11.8% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 126 11% (2009 est.)

Population below poverty line:

17% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3%

highest 10%: 27.2% (2005)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

34.9 (2005) country comparison to the world: 87 31.6 (1998)

Investment (gross fixed):

19.5% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 93

Public debt:

50.5% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 50 46.4% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.4% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 72 3.5% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

1.75% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 89 5% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

5.99% (31 December 2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 142 5.72% (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$138.7 billion (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 24 $124.6 billion (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$251.9 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 37 $229.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$288.7 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 35 $264.1 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$135.3 billion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 38 $90.23 billion (31 December 2008)

$207.3 billion (31 December 2007)

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:

6.5% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 48

Electricity - production:

149.1 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 23

Electricity - consumption:

129.3 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 25

Electricity - exports:

9.703 billion kWh (2008)

Electricity - imports:

8.48 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

34,140 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 69

Oil - consumption:

545,400 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 30

Oil - exports:

65,280 bbl/day (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 75

Oil - imports:

553,900 bbl/day (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 23

Oil - proved reserves:

96.38 million bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 71

Natural gas - production:

5.842 billion cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 48

Natural gas - consumption:

16.33 billion cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 40

Natural gas - exports:

40 million cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 43

Natural gas - imports:

9.954 billion cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 21

Natural gas - proved reserves:

164.8 billion cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 48

Current account balance:

-$12.33 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 177 -$9.598 billion (2009 est.)


$160.8 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 28 $142.1 billion (2009 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%

Exports - partners:

Germany 26.06%, Italy 6.84%, France 6.78%, UK 6.38%, Czech Republic 5.85%, Netherlands 4.14% (2009)


$167.4 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 23 $146.4 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 15%, minerals, fuels, lubricants, and related materials 9%

Imports - partners:

Germany 28.08%, Russia 8.65%, Italy 6.5%, Netherlands 5.59%, China 5.27%, France 4.6%, Czech Republic 4.05% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$99.76 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 15 $79.58 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$252.9 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 27 $239.6 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$198.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 22 $182.8 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$30.71 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 37 $26.21 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates:

zlotych (PLN) per US dollar - 3.0718 (2010), 3.1214 (2009), 2.3 (2008), 2.81 (2007), 3.1032 (2006)

Communications ::Poland

Telephones - main lines in use:

9.556 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 23

Telephones - mobile cellular:

44.553 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 28

Telephone system:

general assessment: modernization of the telecommunications network has accelerated with market-based competition; fixed-line service, dominated by the former state-owned company, is dwarfed by the growth in mobile-cellular services

domestic: mobile-cellular service available since 1993 and provided by three nation-wide networks with a fourth provider beginning operations in late 2006; coverage is generally good with some gaps in the east; fixed-line service lags in rural areas

international: country code - 48; international direct dialing with automated exchanges; satellite earth station - 1 with access to Intelsat, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, and Intersputnik (2009)

Broadcast media:

state-run public television operates 2 national channels supplemented by 16 regional channels and several niche channels; privately-owned entities operate several national TV broadcast networks and a number of special interest channels; large number of privately-owned channels broadcasting locally; roughly half of all households are linked to either satellite or cable TV systems providing access to foreign television networks; state-run public radio operates 5 national networks and 17 regional radio stations; 2 privately-owned national radio networks, several commercial stations broadcasting to multiple cities, and a large number of privately-owned local radio stations (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

10.51 million (2010) country comparison to the world: 11

Internet users:

22.452 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 19

Transportation ::Poland


129 (2010) country comparison to the world: 47

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 86

over 3,047 m: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 30

1,524 to 2,437 m: 39

914 to 1,523 m: 7

under 914 m: 6 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 43

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5

914 to 1,523 m: 16

under 914 m: 21 (2010)


7 (2010)


gas 13,631 km; oil 1,384 km; refined products 777 km (2009)


total: 22,314 km country comparison to the world: 12 broad gauge: 633 km 1.524-m gauge

standard gauge: 21,681 km 1.435-m gauge (11,769 km electrified) (2007)


total: 423,997 km country comparison to the world: 15 paved: 295,356 km (includes 765 km of expressways)

unpaved: 128,641 km (2008)


3,997 km (navigable rivers and canals) (2009) country comparison to the world: 28

Merchant marine:

total: 10 country comparison to the world: 116 by type: cargo 6, chemical tanker 3, passenger/cargo 1

registered in other countries: 104 (Antigua and Barbuda 2, Bahamas 32, Cyprus 20, Liberia 13, Malta 22, Norway 2, Panama 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Slovakia 2, Vanuatu 7) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

Gdansk, Gdynia, Swinoujscie, Szczecin

Military ::Poland

Military branches:

Polish Armed Forces: Land Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Aviation
Forces, Special Forces (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

18-28 years of age for male voluntary or compulsory military service; service obligation shortened from 12 to 9 months in 2005; conscription is to end in 2012; 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; reserve obligation to age 50 (2009)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 9,597,047

females age 16-49: 9,364,939 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 7,860,841

females age 16-49: 7,828,221 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 235,248

female: 224,801 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

1.71% of GDP (2005 est.) country comparison to the world: 87

Transnational Issues ::Poland

Disputes - international:

as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Poland has implemented the strict Schengen border rules to restrict illegal immigration and trade along its eastern borders with Belarus and Ukraine

Illicit drugs:

despite diligent counternarcotics measures and international information sharing on cross-border crimes, a major illicit producer of synthetic drugs for the international market; minor transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and Latin American cocaine to Western Europe


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