About Poland

National Anthem

Polish Flag

Jan Maternicki's
Interaktywna Mapka Polski
Interactive Map of Poland


Location: Central Europe

Map references: Ethnic Groups in Eastern Europe, Europe

total area: 312,680 sq km
land area: 304,510 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than New Mexico

Land boundaries: total 3,114 km, Belarus 605 km, Czech Republic 658 km, Germany 456 km, Lithuania 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 432 km, Slovakia 444 km, Ukraine 428 km

Coastline: 491 km

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

International disputes: none

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

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

Land use:
arable land: 46%
permanent crops: 1%
meadows and pastures: 13%
forest and woodland: 28%
other: 12%

Irrigated land: 1,000 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: forest damage due to air pollution and resulting acid rain; improper means for disposal of large amounts of hazardous and industrial waste; severe water pollution from industrial and municipal sources; severe air pollution results from emissions of sulfur dioxide from coal-fired power plants, which also drifts into Germany and the Netherlands
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: party to - Air Pollution, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Biodiversity, Law of the Sea

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


Population: 38,792,442 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 23% (female 4,349,467; male 4,559,536)
15-64 years: 66% (female 12,849,300; male 12,698,179)
65 years and over: 11% (female 2,693,407; male 1,642,553) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.36% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 13.34 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 9.23 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.52 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 12.4 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.13 years
male: 69.15 years
female: 77.33 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.92 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish

Ethnic divisions: Polish 97.6%, German 1.3%, Ukrainian 0.6%, Byelorussian 0.5% (1990 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 95% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and other 5%

Languages: Polish

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1978)
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 98%

Labor force: 17.321 million (1993 annual average)
by occupation: industry and construction 32.0%, agriculture 27.6%, trade, transport, and communications 14.7%, government and other 25.7% (1992)


conventional long form: Republic of Poland
conventional short form: Poland
local long form: Rzeczpospolita Polska
local short form: Polska

Digraph: PL

Type: democratic state

Capital: Warsaw

Administrative divisions: 49 provinces (wojewodztwa, singular - wojewodztwo); Biala Podlaska, Bialystok, Bielsko Biala, Bydgoszcz, Chelm, Ciechanow, Czestochowa, Elblag, Gdansk, Gorzow, Jelenia Gora, Kalisz, Katowice, Kielce, Konin, Koszalin, Krakow, Krosno, Legnica, Leszno, Lodz, Lomza, Lublin, Nowy Sacz, Olsztyn, Opole, Ostroleka, Pila, Piotrkow, Plock, Poznan, Przemysl, Radom, Rzeszow, Siedlce, Sieradz, Skierniewice, Slupsk, Suwalki, Szczecin, Tarnobrzeg, Tarnow, Torun, Walbrzych, Warszawa, Wloclawek, Wroclaw, Zamosc, Zielona Gora

Independence: 11 November 1918 (independent republic proclaimed)

National holiday: Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)

Constitution: interim "small constitution" came into effect in December 1992 replacing the Communist-imposed constitution of 22 July 1952; new democratic constitution being drafted

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; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Aleksander KWASNIEWSKI (since 22 December 1995)
head of government: Prime Minister Wlodzimierz CIMOSZEWICZ (since 8 February 1996); Deputy Prime Ministers Roman JAGIELINSKI, Grzegorz KOLODKO, and Miroslaw PIETREWICZ (since 8 February 1996)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; responsible to the president and the Sejm

Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly (Zgromadzenie Narodowe)
Senate (Senat): elections last held 19 September 1993 (next to be held no later than NA October 1997); seats - (100 total) Communist origin or linked (PSL 34, SLD 37), post-Solidarity parties (UW 6, NSZZ 12, BBWR 2), non-Communist, non-Solidarity (independents 7, unaffiliated 1, vacant 1)
Diet (Sejm): elections last held 19 September 1993 (next to be held no later than NA October 1997); seats - (460 total) Communist origin or linked (SLD 171, PSL 132), post-Solidarity parties (UW 74, UP 41, BBWR 16), non-Communist, non-Solidarity (KPN 22)
note: 4 seats are constitutionally assigned to ethnic German parties

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties:
post-Solidarity parties: Freedom Union (UW; Democratic Union and Liberal Democratic Congress merged to form Freedom Union); Christian-National Union (ZCHN); Centrum (PC); Peasant Alliance (PL); Solidarity Trade Union (NSZZ); Union of Labor (UP); Christian-Democratic Party (PCHD); Conservative Party; Nonparty Bloc for the Support of the Reforms (BBWR)
non-Communist, non-Solidarity: Confederation for an Independent Poland (KPN); Polish Economic Program (PPG); Christian Democrats (CHD); German Minority (MN); Union of Real Politics (UPR); Democratic Party (SD)
Communist origin: Polish Peasant Party (PSL); Democratic Left Alliance (SLD)

Other political or pressure groups: powerful Roman Catholic Church; Solidarity (trade union); All Poland Trade Union Alliance (OPZZ), populist program



Overview: Poland continues to make good progress in the difficult transition to a market economy that began on 1 January 1990, when the new democratic government instituted "shock therapy" by decontrolling prices, slashing subsidies, and drastically reducing import barriers. Real GDP fell sharply in 1990 and 1991, but in 1992 Poland became the first country in the region to resume economic growth with a 2.6% increase. Growth increased to 3.8% in 1993 and 5.5% in 1994 - the highest rate in Europe except for Albania. All of the growth since 1991 has come from the booming private sector, which now accounts for at least 55% of GDP, even though privatization of the state-owned enterprises is proceeding slowly and most industry remains in state hands. Industrial production increased 12% in 1994 - led by 50% jumps in the output of motor vehicles, radios and televisions, and pulp and paper - and is now well above the 1990 level. Inflation, which had approached 1,200% annually in early 1990, was down to about 30% in 1994, as the government held the budget deficit to 1.5% of GDP. After five years of steady increases, unemployment has leveled off at about 16% nationwide, although it approaches 30% in some regions. The trade deficit was sharply reduced in 1994, due mainly to increased exports to Western Europe, Poland's main customer. The leftist government elected in September 1993 gets generally good marks from foreign observers for its management of the budget but is often criticized for not moving faster on privatization.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $191.1 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 5.5% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $4,920 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 30% (1994)

Unemployment rate: 16.1% (November 1994)

revenues: $27.1 billion
expenditures: $30 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1994 est.)

Exports: $16.3 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: intermediate goods 26.5%, machinery and transport equipment 18.1%, miscellaneous manufactures 16.7%, foodstuffs 9.4%, fuels 8.4% (1993)
partners: Germany 33.4%, Russia 10.2%, Italy 5.3%, UK 4.3% (1993)

Imports: $18.1 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment 29.6%, intermediate goods 18.5%, chemicals 13.3%, fuels 12.5%, miscellaneous manufactures 10.1%
partners: Germany 35.8%, Italy 9.2%, Russia 8.5%, UK 6.6% (1993)

External debt: $47 billion (1993); note - Poland's Western government creditors promised in 1991 to forgive 30% of Warsaw's $35 billion official debt immediately and to forgive another 20% in 1994; foreign banks agreed in early 1994 to forgive 45% of their $12 billion debt claim

Industrial production: growth rate 12% (1994 est.)

capacity: 31,120,000 kW
production: 124 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 2,908 kWh (1993)

Industries: machine building, iron and steel, extractive industries, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles

Agriculture: accounts for 7% of GDP; 75% of output from private farms, 25% from state farms; productivity remains low by European standards; leading European producer of rye, rapeseed, and potatoes; wide variety of other crops and livestock; major exporter of pork products; normally self-sufficient in food

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of opium for domestic consumption and amphetamines for the international market; transshipment point for Asian and Latin American illicit drugs to Western Europe; producer of precursor chemicals

Economic aid:
donor: bilateral aid to non-Communist less developed countries (1954-89), $2.2 billion
recipient: Western governments and institutions have pledged $8 billion in grants and loans since 1989, but most of the money has not been disbursed

Currency: 1 zloty (Zl) = 100 groszy

Exchange rates: zlotych (Zl) per US$1 - 2.70 (June 1996); 2.45 (January 1995, a currency reform on 1 January 1995 replaced 10,000 old zlotys with 1 new zloty), 22,723 (1994), 18,115 (1993), 13,626 (1992), 10,576 (1991), 9,500 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 25,528 km
broad gauge: 659 km 1.520-m gauge
standard gauge: 23,014 km 1.435-m gauge (11,496 km electrified; 8,978 km double track)
narrow gauge: 1,855 km various gauges including 1.000-m, 0.785-m, 0.750-m, and 0.600-m (1994)

total: 367,000 km (excluding farm, factory and forest roads)
paved: 235,247 km (257 km of which are limited access expressways)
unpaved: 131,753 km (1992)

Inland waterways: 3,997 km navigable rivers and canals (1991)

Pipelines: crude oil 1,986 km; petroleum products 360 km; natural gas 4,600 km (1992)

Ports: Gdansk, Gdynia, Gliwice, Kolobrzeg, Szczecin, Swinoujscie, Ustka, Warsaw, Wroclaw

Merchant marine:
total: 152 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,186,405 GRT/3,270,914 DWT
ships by type: bulk 89, cargo 38, chemical tanker 4, container 7, oil tanker 1, passenger 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 8, short-sea passenger 4
note: in addition, Poland owns 9 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 76,501 DWT that operate under Bahamian, Liberian, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu, Panamanian, and Cypriot registry

total: 134
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 2
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 30
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 27
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 3
with paved runways under 914 m: 7
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 10
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 32
with unpaved runways under 914 m: 18


Telephone system: 4.9 million telephones; 12.7 phones/100 residents (1994); severely underdeveloped and outmoded system; exchanges are 86% automatic (1991)
local: NA
intercity: cable, open wire, and microwave
international: INTELSAT, EUTELSAT, INMARSAT, and Intersputnik earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 27, FM 27, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 40 (Russian repeaters 5)
televisions: 9.6 million

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air and Air Defense Force

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 10,181,069; males fit for military service 7,940,634; males reach military age (19) annually 323,133 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: 50.7 billion zlotych, NA% of GNP (1994 est.); note - conversion of defense expenditures into US dollars using the current exchange rate could produce misleading results

The information above is mainly based on the
CIA World Factbook 1995.

This is POLAND

Poland is situated in the central Europe, between the Baltic sea, the Carpathian mountains, the Odra and the Bug rivers. On the west it borders with Germany, on the south with Czech and Slovakia, on the east with the Ukraine, Bielorussia and Lithuania, and on the north-east with a district Kaliningrad an enclave of Russian Federation. The coastal stretch of land makes up about 500 kms of the northern border. With its area of 312 000 square kilometers, and population of about 40 millions, Poland is a fairly densily populated country (124 habitants per one square kilometer). Almost 62% of the population of Poland lives in 883 towns. The most important cities are Warszawa (the capital), Gdansk, Krakow, Lublin, Lodz, Poznan, Szczecin, Wroclaw.

75 % of the country's are is made up by lowlands. Mountains of an Alpine character (with its highest peak, Rysy, attaining 2499 meters of altitude) make up only a small part of it. The lowest lying land, on the other hand, is depression of 2 meters below the sea level at the mouth of Vistula river - Zulawy. Almost the whole of the Poland's area is situated in the river basin of two big rivers - the Wisla (Vistula) and Odra (Oder). Although the country consists mostly of lowlands, its relief is varied. The northern part of the country is covered with a belt of lakes, the remains of the ice epoch. Polish climate is mild, with average summer and winter temperatures being about 20 C and O C, respectively.

The history of Polish statehood is over 1000 years old. In its early history Poland was a monarchy, hereditary until 1572, under the Piast, Angevin and Jagiellonian dynasties. Afterwards Polish kings were elected by the nobility. At its height Poland was one of the biggest states in Europe, extending from the Baltic to the Black seas. Its power resulted from a personal union with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The coming years, however, brought indepenednce with its area partitioned between Prussia, Russia and Austria. Attempts to regain independence in the course of Napoleonic wars and uprisings were no avail. It was only after the I World War that Poland was reborn thanks to maintenance of the national parliamentary democracy. Unfortunately its independence did not last long. Situated between Germany and the USSR it fell victim to invasion and its territory was divided its neighbours. These events marked the beginning of the II World War.

After the War ended, Poland found itself in the orbit of interests of the USSR, with its policy and economy dependent upon the big neighbour. The dominant position of the communist party was guaranteed constitutionally. However, more and more frequent protests of the population and growing tension eventually forced the imposed government concessions. The 1989 Round Table negotiations, where authorities in power met with the opposition leaders, allowed to draft the principles of Poland's gradual come back to democracy and market economy. Among other things it was agreed that the political system needed the reintroduction of the presidential office, nonexistant under communism. Another major point was the reintroduction of a twochamber parliament (the Sejm and Senat).

On June 4th, 1989, the first elections were conducted in which non-communists could run for the Parliament and win seats there. As expected, the representatives of the communist regime were defeated. This sparked a series of events which altogether constitute the Polish peaceful transition to democracy and fully-fledged market economy. The first non-communist government behind the Iron Curtain was appointed, far-fetched economic reform was implemented, and Lech Walesa, the former leading opposition politician, was elected president. In the same time Poland defined the European Union membership as well as the NATO and European Union membership as its main strategic goal. In February 1994 Poland became associated with the EU; two months later Warsaw filed in an application for becoming an EU Member State.

Also the bold economic reform implemented in early 1990 is producing fruit. After a steep decline in production characteristic for the transition from a central run to a market economy, starting in 1992 Polish Gross Domestic Product has been growing. In 1993 alone, despite the world-wide recession, Polish GDP grew by 4 percent and in 1994 by 5.5 percent.

Poland, which was the first country to introduce deep political and economic reforms, is also enjoying the position of the first country to overcome the difficulties resulting from such reforms. Poland's way to democracy was a stimulus for other post-communist countries and now Poland is a linchpin for the success of reform in the region.

Strategy for POLAND

  1. As she opens up to the world, Poland is following the path towards democracy, a social market economy and free enterprise of ownership sectors having equal rights. Objections are being raised by the distribution of the transformation costs and by the manner of sharing in its still limited effects. It is in this spirit that the people spoke at the last election. Hence, it is a matter of key importance to the government TO LOWER THE SOCIAL COSTS OF THE REFORMS.

  2. Today, Poland needs a longer-term perspective, A STRATEGIC CONCEPT OF BALANCED DEVELOPMENT, which would have three priorities: a fast rate of economic growth, a system and macro-economic stabilization, and improvement of living conditions. This is the programme which the government is laying before the people, who will be turning it into a reality in their own long-term interest. This is the Strategy for Poland which opens a new phase of the Polish transition.

  3. One of the fundamental values on which the Strategy for Poland is based is that of NEGOTIATING RULES FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF LABOUR EFFECTS.

    The conflicts of interests in the economy appear basically between various social groups, and between these groups and the state or the government. The government is proposing solutions which will create a partner-like system of labour relations and pay regulations. The concern here is with a negotiating and decentralized pay regulation mechanism by means of which employees' and employers' representatives may conclude collective labour agreements, while the state performs the role of a mediator to settle disputes.

  4. A fast rate of economic growth should allow the Gross Domestic Product to rise by approximately 22 % in the years 1994-97, that is by 5 % per annum on average (in fixed prices). The policy of mobilization of national savings, with foreign investments to supplement it, will work to accelerate the present positive tendencies. More effective use of these means will be ensured by a better management of state assets, including:
    1. owner-type supervision to be exercised by the institutionally separate State Treasury,
    2. wide-ranging application of management contracts and agreements to be signed between state enterprises and tax chambers,
    3. continuation of ownership transformations, including privatisation and the National Investment Fund programme.

    Spending on human capital, especially on staff skill improvements and employee qualification adjustments as well as on research projects and health services, will work to strengthen the growth tendencies.

  5. MACRO-ECONOMIC STABILIZATION AND SYSTEM STABILITY will meet the expectations of corporations.

    Its first priority is to reduce the rate of growth of public borrowing so that it does not go over 60 % of the GDP by the year 2004. This will be ensured by growth of the Gross Domestic Product, and mainly by the successive reduction of the budget deficit, which should drop from over 6 % in 1992 and ca. 4 % in 1994 to about 2-3 % in 1997.

    To reduce the public debt, techniques will be used to change its parts into shares in the privatised assets of the state, which will also speed up structural changes and the inflow of new foreign investments.

    The other priority of the macro-economic stabilization policy is to reduce price inflation in the conditions of full liberalization of prices. The financial policy is geared to the objective of bringing inflation down to a single-digit level by 1997. Lowering the rate of price rises and in parallel to this the policy of maintaining positive real interest rates will create incentives for corporations to make savings, will stimulate investments, will increase labour productivity, and will reduce the cost of public borrowing.

    The third priority of macro-economic stabilization is to gradually even up the balance of trade and current accounts so that the debit balance remains at the level of about 1.5 % of the GDP.

    The government is consistently acting to stabilize the rules of the economic game and to meet the expectations of corporations participating in it.

  6. IMPROVEMENT OF LIVING CONDITIONS is the social core of the Strategy for Poland. Its successful implementation will make average real wages grow by about 11 % in the years 1994-97 and will produce a clearly visible increase in the purchasing power of average old-age and retirement pensions, coupled with their growth of 7 % in real terms in 1994. The distribution of incomes has to ensure that the feeling of social security remains at least at an elementary level, whose loss has been the major cause of social frustration over the last few years. The government is embarking upon a difficult and complicated reform of the social security system, which has been postponed for a number of years. The accomplishment of the objectives of economic growth will provide opportunities to complete the reforms effectively and least painfully.

    An active unemployment programme has been undertaken to bring the rate down from nearly 16 % today to below 14 % by the end of 1997. We are slowly entering into a phase where the number of new and often modern, competitive jobs will grow at a faster rate than the rate of outdated jobs.

  7. In the longer-term, the INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS OF THE ECONOMY is the measure of economic success and cultural progress. Production for export, as one of the elements to make the economy more dynamic and as the source of financing imports and for the effective servicing of the foreign debt, will enjoy system preferences, including in particular financial ones.

    An increased inflow of foreign capital, especially direct investments from private sources, will be one of the instruments of the policy designed to make Polish producers more competitive.

  8. Poland is - and has always been - part of Europe. So, it is her natural aspiration to enter into the European Union as soon as possible. The Strategy for Poland will bring us closer to that objective, all the more so as it is in line with the European Union's long-term "Growth-Employment-Competitiveness" programme.

    The integration experience of the last three years, despite the financial support granted to Poland, is not fully satisfactory. The time has come when our aspiration to take part in the European Union must be matched by a greater opening of its markets. On our part, we are acting to intensify our adjustment projects, especially in farming.

  9. For the Strategy for Poland to succeed, it is imperative to REFORM THE ECONOMIC CENTRE. With this in mind, a reorganization of the economic centre will be completed to set up a strong, institutionally separate State Treasury, a Ministry of the Economy, and a Ministry for International Economic Integration.

  10. The historical experience of economically successful countries clearly shows that their success always comes from the hard work of their people and from the enlightened policies of those who govern.

    Lasting social peace is also needed. Over time, this social peace will be enhanced by the effects of the Strategy for Poland. However, today it is imperative to have the good will of all reformist forces. They rally an enormous amount of social energy around them. It has to be focussed on a creative, forward-looking effort.

Ten Key Programmes form an integral part of the Strategy for Poland. They are problem-oriented and functional in nature. Apart from this, the government package has a set of sectoral and ministerial programmes, of economic and social policies with responsibility for their implementation assigned to the ministries concerned. While it makes specific assignments to the economic ministries, the Strategy for Poland is concentrated on the key programmes and on the macro-economic and macro-social approach.

The information above is mainly based on the
Government Information Centre,
Republic of Poland

New: If you still want more info, please visit our new compilation named: Polish Statistics.

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