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  Introduction Back To Top

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 Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 11.73 cu km/yr (13%/79%/8%)
per capita: 304 cu m/yr (2002)

Total renewable water resources:
63.1 cu km (2005)

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

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

temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
52 00 N, 20 00 E

Natural resources:
coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: near Raczki Elblaskie -2 m
highest point: Rysy 2,499 m

mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border

Geography - note:
historically, an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain

total: 312,679 sq km
land: 304,459 sq km
water: 8,220 sq km

Central Europe, east of Germany

440 km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than New Mexico

Irrigated land:
1,000 sq km (2003)

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

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: defined by international treaties

Natural hazards:

Land use:
arable land: 40.25%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 58.75% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.27 children born/woman (2008 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 (2008 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.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.41 years
male: 71.42 years
female: 79.65 years (2008 est.)

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 (2008)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2003 est.)

Net migration rate:
-0.46 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 2.7% (2002 census)

Median age:
total: 37.6 years
male: 35.8 years
female: 39.5 years (2008 est.)

38,500,696 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
5.5% of GDP (2005)

Population growth rate:
-0.045% (2008 est.)

Polish 97.8%, other and unspecified 2.2% (2002 census)

Death rate:
9.99 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.93 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.66 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
100 (2001 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 15.2% (male 3,013,109/female 2,849,977)
15-64 years: 71.4% (male 13,681,481/female 13,808,412)
65 years and over: 13.4% (male 1,964,477/female 3,183,240) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
10.01 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3% (2002)

noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish

  Government Back To Top

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

National holiday:
Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:

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 [Janusz SNIADEK]

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

International organization participation:
Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA (cooperating state), EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURCAT, MINURSO, MONUC, NAM (guest), NATO, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNOMIG, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WEU (associate), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Legislative branch:
bicameral legislature consists 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 21 October 2007 (next to be held by October 2011); Sejm elections last held 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 political grouping as of December 2008 - PO 208, PiS 157, Left 42, PSL 31, SDPL-New Left 5, Polska XXI 5, Democratic Caucus 3, German minorities 1, nonaffiliated 8
note: one seat is assigned to ethnic minority parties in the Sejm only

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

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

11 November 1918 (republic proclaimed)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of Poland
conventional short form: Poland
local long form: Rzeczpospolita Polska
local short form: Polska

Political parties and leaders:
Civic Platform or PO [Donald TUSK]; Democratic Caucus (political grouping of Democratic Party and independents); Democratic Left Alliance or SLD [Grzegorz NAPIERALSKI]; Democratic Party or PD [Brygida KUZNIAK]; German Minority of Lower Silesia or MNSO [Henryk KROLL]; Law and Justice or PiS [Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI]; League of Polish Families or LPR [Miroslaw ORZECHOWSKI]; Left (political grouping of SLD and independents) [Wojciech OLEJNICZAK]; Polish People's Party or PSL [Waldemar PAWLAK]; Polska XXI (political grouping of former PiS members; not officially registered) [Jaroslaw SELLIN]; Samoobrona or SO [Andrzej LEPPER]; SDPL-New Left (political grouping of SDPL and independents) [Marek BOROWSKI]; Social Democratic Party of Poland or SDPL [Wojciech FILEMONOWICZ]; Union of Labor or UP [Waldemar WITKOWSKI]

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

adopted by the National Assembly 2 April 1997; passed by national referendum 25 May 1997; effective 17 October 1997

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Lech KACZYNSKI (since 23 December 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Donald TUSK (since 16 November 2007); Deputy Prime Ministers Waldemar PAWLAK (since 16 November 2007) and Grzegorz SCHETYNA (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
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 in the 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%

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)

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)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Germany 25.9%, Italy 6.6%, France 6.1%, UK 5.9%, Czech Republic 5.5%, Russia 4.6% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
126.2 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
5% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
7.761 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$29.51 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$227.5 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
9.7% (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
57,920 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$17,800 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
22.7% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$223.2 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$684.5 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$567.4 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
34.9 (2005)

Exchange rates:
zlotych (PLN) per US dollar - 2.3 (2008 est.), 2.81 (2007), 3.1032 (2006), 3.2355 (2005), 3.6576 (2004)
note: zlotych is the plural form of zloty

GDP - real growth rate:
5.3% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$137.4 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
16.95 million (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
Germany 29%, Russia 8.7%, Italy 6.6%, Netherlands 5.7%, France 5.1%, China 4.2% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.3% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 31.3%
services: 64.7% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
499,200 bbl/day (2005)

$190.5 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
16.38 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
zloty (PLN)

Economy - overview:
Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and today stands out as a success story among transition economies. In 2008, GDP grew an estimated 5.3%, 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 is falling rapidly, though at roughly 9.7% in 2008, it remains well above the EU average. In 2008 inflation reached 4.3%, more than the upper limit of the National Bank of Poland's target range, but has been falling due to global economic slowdown. Poland's economic performance could improve further if the country addresses some of the remaining deficiencies in its business environment. An inefficient commercial court system, a rigid labor code, bureaucratic red tape, 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 present a challenge to the Polish Government's effort to hold the consolidated public sector budget deficit under 3.0% of GDP, a target which was achieved in 2007-08. The PO/PSL coalition government which came to power in November 2007 plans to further reduce the budget deficit with the aim of eventually adopting the euro by 2012. The new government has also announced its intention to enact business-friendly reforms, reduce public sector spending growth, lower taxes, and accelerate privatization. The government, however, has moved slowly on major reforms. Pension and health-care bills passed through the legislature, but the legislature failed to overturn a presidential veto.

Natural gas - exports:
45 million cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 14.8%, minerals, fuels, lubricants, and related materials 9.1% (2003)

machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles

Electricity - exports:
13.11 billion kWh (2007)

Population below poverty line:
17% (2003 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
5.48% (31 December 2006)

Stock of quasi money:
$93.99 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
149.3 billion kWh (2007 est.)

$213.9 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
96.38 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 17.4%
industry: 29.2%
services: 53.4% (2005)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
164.8 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$84.48 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
524,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$24.59 billion (2008 est.)

Public debt:
41.6% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$196.1 billion (2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$207.3 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 27% (2002)

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)

Economic aid - recipient:
$1.524 billion in available EU structural adjustment and cohesion funds (2004)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 98.1%
hydro: 1.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.4% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
10.12 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
6.025 billion cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $117 billion
expenditures: $127.3 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
37,670 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
16 million (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
10.336 million (2007)

13.05 million (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 14, FM 777, shortwave 1 (1998)

20.2 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
41.389 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
40 (2006)

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: mobile-cellular service available since 1993 and provided by three nation-wide networks with a fourth provider beginning operations in late 2006; cellular coverage is generally good with some 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 with access to Intelsat, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, and Intersputnik (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
19 (2000)

Internet hosts:
7.808 million (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

3,997 km (navigable rivers and canals) (2007)

gas 13,552 km; oil 1,384 km; refined products 777 km (2007)

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) (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Gdansk, Gdynia, Swinoujscie, Szczecin

7 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 15
by type: cargo 8, chemical tanker 4, passenger/cargo 1, roll on/roll off 1, vehicle carrier 1
foreign-owned: 2 (Cyprus 1, Nigeria 1)
registered in other countries: 98 (Antigua and Barbuda 2, Bahamas 17, Cyprus 18, Liberia 13, Malta 24, Norway 3, Panama 11, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Slovakia 2, Vanuatu 7) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 83
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: 3 (2007)

total: 423,997 km
paved: 295,356 km (includes 662 km of expressways)
unpaved: 128,641 km (2006)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 40
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 22 (2007)

123 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
17 years of age for male compulsory military service after January 1st of the year of 18th birthday; 17 years of age for voluntary military service; conscript service obligation shortened from 12 to 9 months in 2005; 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 (2006)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 9,741,508
females age 16-49: 9,514,843 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 7,937,840
females age 16-49: 7,949,677 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Polish Armed Forces: Land Forces (includes Navy (Marynarka Wojenna, MW)), Polish Air Force (Sily Powietrzne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, SPRP) (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 257,605
female: 245,832 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
1.71% of GDP (2005 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

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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