Facts about Poland

World Facts Index > Poland > Warsaw

Central Square in Warsaw, PolandPoland 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 of Poland

Central Europe, east of Germany
52 00 N, 20 00 E
total: 312,685 sq km
water: 8,220 sq km
land: 304,465 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than New Mexico
Land boundaries:
total: 2,788 km
border countries: Belarus 407 km, Czech Republic 658 km, Germany 456 km, Lithuania 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 206 km, Slovakia 444 km, Ukraine 526 km
491 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: defined by international treaties
territorial sea: 12 NM
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: Raczki Elblaskie -2 m
highest point: Rysy 2,499 m
Natural resources:
coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land
Natural hazards:
Environment current issues:
situation has improved since 1989 due to decline in heavy industry and increased environmental concern by post-Communist governments; air pollution nonetheless remains serious because of sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the resulting acid rain has caused forest damage; water pollution from industrial and municipal sources is also a problem, as is disposal of hazardous wastes; pollution levels should continue to decrease as industrial establishments bring their facilities up to European Union code, but at substantial cost to business and the government
Geography - note:
historically, an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain

More Geography

Population of Poland

38,500,696 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 15.9% (male 3,142,811/female 2,976,363)
15-64 years: 70.8% (male 13,585,306/female 13,704,763)
65 years and over: 13.3% (male 1,961,326/female 3,166,300)
Median age:
37 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
7.22 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.97 years
male: 70.95 years
female: 79.23 years
Fertility rate:
1.25 children born/woman
noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish
Ethnic groups:
Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other 2.7% 
Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2003 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Poland
local short form: Polska
local long form: Rzeczpospolita Polska
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
16 provinces (wojewodztwa, singular - wojewodztwo); Dolnoslaskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Lodzkie, Lubelskie, Lubuskie, Malopolskie, Mazowieckie, Opolskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Pomorskie, Slaskie, Swietokrzyskie, Warminsko-Mazurskie, Wielkopolskie, Zachodniopomorskie
11 November 1918 (independent republic proclaimed)
National holiday:
Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)
16 October 1997; adopted by the National Assembly 2 April 1997; passed by national referendum 23 May 1997
Legal system:
mixture of Continental (Napoleonic) civil law and holdover Communist legal theory; changes being gradually introduced as part of broader democratization process; limited judicial review of legislative acts, but rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal are final; court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg
18 years of age; universal
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.
Legislative branch:
bicameral legislature consisting of an upper house, the Senate or Senat (100 seats; members are elected by a majority vote on a provincial basis to serve four-year terms), and a lower house, the Sejm (460 seats; members are elected under a complex system of proportional representation to serve four-year terms); the designation of National Assembly or Zgromadzenie Narodowe is only used on those rare occasions when the two houses meet jointly
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)


Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and today stands out as a success story among transition economies. In 2007, GDP grew an estimated 6.5%, 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 12.8% in 2007, it remains well above the EU average. Tightening labor markets, and rising global energy and food prices, pose a risk to consumer price stability. In December 2007 inflation reached 4.1% on a year-over-year basis, or higher than the upper limit of the National Bank of Poland's target range. 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. 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. The new government has also announced its intention to enact business-friendly reforms, reduce public sector spending growth, lower taxes, and accelerate privatization. However, the government does not have the necessary two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto, and thus may have to water down initiatives in order to garner enough support to pass its pro-business policies.

$623.1 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 5%
industry: 31.1%
services: 64%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
17.1 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 16.1%
industry: 29%
services: 54.9%
revenues: $52.73 billion
expenditures: $63.22 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 98.1%
hydro: 1.5%
other: 0.4% 
nuclear: 0%
machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles
potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat; poultry, eggs, pork
machinery and transport equipment 37.8%, intermediate manufactured goods 23.7%, miscellaneous manufactured goods 17.1%, food and live animals 7.6%
Export partners:
Germany 28.2%, France 6.2%, Italy 6.1%, UK 5.6%, Czech Republic 4.5%, Russia 4.4%, Netherlands 4.2%
machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 14.8%, minerals, fuels, lubricants, and related materials 9.1%
Import partners:
Germany 29.6%, Russia 8.7%, Italy 6.5%, Netherlands 5.9%, France 5.7% 
zloty (PLN)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

Copyright 2004 - 2008 worldfacts.us