Europe :: Poland

Introduction ::Poland

    Poland's history as a state begins near the middle of the 10th century. By the mid-16th century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ruled a vast tract of land in central and eastern Europe. During the 18th century, internal disorders weakened the nation, and in a series of agreements between 1772 and 1795, Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland among 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 with over ten million members. Free elections in 1989 and 1990 won Solidarity control of the parliament and the presidency, bringing the communist era to a close. A "shock therapy" program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. 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
    52 00 N, 20 00 E
    total: 312,685 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 70
    land: 304,255 sq km
    water: 8,430 sq km
    slightly smaller than New Mexico
    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
    440 km
    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
    lowest point: near Raczki Elblaskie -2 m
    highest point: Rysy 2,499 m
    coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land
    arable land: 35.49%
    permanent crops: 1.25%
    other: 63.26% (2011)
    1,157 sq km (2007)
    61.6 cu km (2011)
    total: 11.96 cu km/yr (31%/60%/10%)
    per capita: 312.3 cu m/yr (2009)
    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
    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, 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
    historically, an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain

People and Society ::Poland

Government ::Poland

    conventional long form: Republic of Poland
    conventional short form: Poland
    local long form: Rzeczpospolita Polska
    local short form: Polska
    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
    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); notable earlier dates: 966 (adoption of Christianity, traditional founding date), 1 July 1569 (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created)
    Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)
    adopted by the National Assembly 2 April 1997; passed by national referendum 25 May 1997; effective 17 October 1997
    civil law system; changes gradually being introduced as part of broader democratization process; limited judicial review of legislative acts, but rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal are final
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Bronislaw KOMOROWSKI (since 6 August 2010)
    head of government: Prime Minister Donald TUSK (since 16 November 2007); Deputy Prime Ministers Janusz PIECHOCINSKI (since 6 December 2012) and Jan Vincent "Jacek" ROSTOWSKI (since 20 February 2013)
    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 Opens in New Window)
    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%
    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 9 October 2011 (next to be held by October 2015); Sejm - last held on 9 October 2011 (next to be held by October 2015)
    election results and current seat distribution: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PO 63, PiS 29, PSL 2, SP 2, independents 4; Sejm - percent of vote by party - PO 39.2%, PiS 29.9%, RP 10%, PSL 8.4%, SLD 8.2%, other 4.3%; seats by party - PO 206, PiS 137, RP 43, PSL 28, SLD 25, SP 19, independent 1, German minority 1
    note: the German minority is exempt from the 5% threshold requirement for seats to the Sejm
    highest court(s): Supreme Court or Sad Najwyzszy (consists of the president of the Supreme Court and 116 judges organized in criminal, civil, labor and social insurance, and military chambers)
    judge selection and term of office: president of the Supreme Court nominated by the General Assembly of the Supreme Court and selected by the president of Poland; other judges nominated by the 25-member National Judiciary Council, and appointed by the president of Poland; judges appointed until retirement, normally at age 65, but tenure can be extended
    subordinate courts: Constitutional Tribunal; regional and appellate courts subdivided into military, civil, criminal, labor, and family courts
    Civic Platform or PO [Donald TUSK, chairman; Rafal GRUPINSKI, parliamentary caucus leader]
    Democratic Left Alliance or SLD [Leszek MILLER, chairman, parliamentary caucus leader]
    Democratic Party or PD [Andrzej CELINSKI, chairman]
    Democratic Party or SD [Pawel PISKORSKI, chairman]
    German Minority of Lower Silesia or MNSO [Ryszard GALLA, representative]
    Law and Justice or PiS [Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI, chairman; Mariusz BLASZCZAK, parliamentary caucus leader]
    League of Polish Families or LPR [Witold BALAZAK, chairman]
    Palikot's Movement or RP [Janusz PALIKOT, chairman]
    Poland Comes First or PJN [Pawel KOWAL, chairperson]
    Polish People's Party or PSL [Janusz PIECHOCINSKI, chairman; Jan BURY, parliamentary caucus leader]
    Social Democratic Party of Poland or SDPL [Wojciech FILEMONOWICZ, chairman]
    Union of Labor or UP [Waldemar WITKOWSKI, chairman]
    United Poland or SP (political grouping of former PiS members, not officially registered) [Arkadiusz MULARCZYK, chairperson; Patrick JAKI, parliamentary caucus leader]
    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]
    Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS, CD, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
    chief of mission: Ambassador Ryszard SCHNEPF
    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
    chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen MULL
    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
    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
    white eagle
    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

    Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and Poland's economy was the only one in the European Union to avoid a recession through the 2008-09 economic downturn. Although EU membership and access to EU structural funds have provided a major boost to the economy since 2004, GDP per capita remains significantly below the EU average while unemployment continues to exceed the EU average. The government of Prime Minister Donald TUSK steered the Polish economy through the economic downturn by skillfully managing public finances without stifling economic growth and adopted controversial pension and tax reforms to further shore up public finances. While the Polish economy has performed well over the past five years, growth slowed in 2012, in part due to the ongoing economic difficulties in the euro zone. The key policy challenge is to provide support to the economy through monetary easing, while maintaining the pace of structural fiscal consolidation. 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, red tape, and a burdensome tax system keep the private sector from realizing its full potential.
    $814.1 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 22
    $797.8 billion (2011 est.)
    $764.7 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $487.7 billion (2012 est.)
    2% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    4.3% (2011 est.)
    3.9% (2010 est.)
    $20,900 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 69
    $20,700 (2011 est.)
    $20,000 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    17.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    16.8% of GDP (2011 est.)
    15.7% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 61.2%
    government consumption: 17.8%
    investment in fixed capital: 19.3%
    investment in inventories: 1.1%
    exports of goods and services: 46.2%
    imports of goods and services: -45.6%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 4%
    industry: 32.2%
    services: 63.8% (2012 est.)
    potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat; poultry, eggs, pork, dairy
    machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles
    1.3% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 114
    18.17 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    agriculture: 12.9%
    industry: 30.2%
    services: 57% (2010)
    12.8% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 130
    12.4% (2011 est.)
    10.6% (2008 est.)
    lowest 10%: 3.3%
    highest 10%: 27.1% (2009 est.)
    34.1 (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 92
    31.6 (1998)
    revenues: $88.31 billion
    expenditures: $97.65 billion (2012 est.)
    18.1% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    -1.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 81
    57.1% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 52
    57.7% of GDP (2011 est.)
    note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities, the data include subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions
    calendar year
    3.7% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 113
    4.2% (2011 est.)
    4.25% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    4% (31 December 2010 est.)
    8.5% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 110
    8.47% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $156.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    $137 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $293.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    $295.5 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $328.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    $295.4 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $168.1 billion (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    $138.2 billion (31 December 2011)
    $190.2 billion (31 December 2010)
    -$18.29 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 180
    -$22.25 billion (2011 est.)
    $188.5 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 27
    $195.2 billion (2011 est.)
    machinery and transport equipment 37.8%, intermediate manufactured goods 23.7%, miscellaneous manufactured goods 17.1%, food and live animals 7.6%
    Germany 26%, UK 7%, Czech Republic 6.5%, France 6%, Russia 5.2%, Italy 5%, Netherlands 4.6% (2012)
    $195.4 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 26
    $209.3 billion (2011 est.)
    machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 15%, minerals, fuels, lubricants, and related materials 9% (2011 est.)
    Germany 27.3%, Russia 12.2%, Netherlands 5.9%, China 5.4%, Italy 5.2%, Czech Republic 4.3%, France 4.2% (2012)
    $108.9 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 24
    $97.86 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $364.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 30
    $320.6 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $243.8 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 22
    $210.2 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $70.73 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    $61.7 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    zlotych (PLN) per US dollar -
    3.2565 (2012 est.)
    2.9629 (2011 est.)
    3.0153 (2010 est.)
    3.1214 (2009)
    2.3 (2008)

Energy ::Poland

Communications ::Poland

    6.853 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 27
    50.16 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 28
    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 (2011)
    state-run public TV operates 2 national channels supplemented by 16 regional channels and several niche channels; privately owned entities operate several national TV networks and a number of special interest channels; many 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 many privately owned local radio stations (2007)
    13.265 million (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 12
    22.452 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 19

Transportation ::Poland

    126 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 47
    total: 87
    over 3,047 m: 5
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 30
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 36
    914 to 1,523 m: 10
    under 914 m: 6 (2013)
    total: 39
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    914 to 1,523 m: 17
    under 914 m:
    21 (2013)
    6 (2013)
    gas 14,198 km; oil 1,374 km; refined products 777 km (2013)
    total: 19,428 km
    country comparison to the world: 15
    broad gauge: 399 km 1.524-m gauge
    standard gauge: 19,029 km 1.435-m gauge (11,805 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
    total: 9
    country comparison to the world: 117
    by type: cargo 7, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 1
    registered in other countries: 106 (Antigua and Barbuda 2, Bahamas 34, Cyprus 24, Liberia 13, Malta 21, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Vanuatu 9) (2010)
    Gdansk, Gdynia, Swinoujscie, Szczecin

Military ::Poland

Transnational Issues ::Poland

    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
    refugees (country of origin): 14,938 (Russia) (2012)
    stateless persons: 10,825 (2012)
    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