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 and with large investments in defense, energy, and other infrastructure, Poland is an increasingly active member of Euro-Atlantic organizations.

Polish Flag

Polish Flag


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: 70
land: 304,255 sq km
water: 8,430 sq km

Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than New Mexico

Land boundaries:
total: 3,071 km
border countries: Belarus 418 km, Czech Republic 796 km, Germany 467 km, Lithuania 104 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 210 km, Slovakia 541 km, Ukraine 535 km

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

Land use:
arable land: 35.49%
permanent crops: 1.25%
other: 63.26% (2011)

Irrigated land:
1,157 sq km (2007)

Total renewable water resources:
61.6 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 11.96 cu km/yr (31%/60%/10%)
per capita: 312.3 cu m/yr (2009)

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 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, 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

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People & Society

noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish

Ethnic groups:
Polish 96.9%, Silesian 1.1%, German 0.2%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 1.7%
note: represents ethnicity declared first (2011 est.)

Polish (official) 96.2%, Polish and non-Polish 2%, non-Polish 0.5%, unspecified 1.3%
note: Kashub is recognized as a regional language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (2011 est.)

Catholic 87.2% (includes Roman Catholic 86.9% and Greek Catholic, Armenian Catholic, and Byzantine-Slavic Catholic .3%), Orthodox 1.3% (almost all are Polish Autocephalous Orthodox), Protestant 0.4% (mainly Augsburg Evangelical and Pentacostal), other 0.4% (includes Jehovah’s Witness, Buddhist, Hare Krishna, Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon), unspecified 10.8% (2012 est.)

38,346,279 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35

Age structure:
0-14 years: 14.6% (male 2,876,264/female 2,716,569)
15-24 years: 11.9% (male 2,333,627/female 2,235,228)
25-54 years: 43.8% (male 8,459,153/female 8,355,491)
55-64 years: 15% (male 2,658,106/female 2,973,933)
65 years and over: 14.5% (male 2,224,569/female 3,513,339) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 42.3 %
youth dependency ratio: 21.4 %
elderly dependency ratio: 21.2 %
potential support ratio: 4.7 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 39.5 years
male: 37.9 years
female: 41.3 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
-0.11% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203

Birth rate:
9.77 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200

Death rate:
10.37 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43

Net migration rate:
-0.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134

urban population: 60.9% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: -0.04% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
WARSAW (capital) 1.723 million; Krakow 756,000 (2011)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
26.9 (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
5 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 175

Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.19 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 168
male: 6.88 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.45 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.65 years
country comparison to the world: 76
male: 72.74 years
female: 80.8 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.33 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 212

Health expenditures:
6.7% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 91

Physicians density:

2.07 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density:
6.6 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source:
urban: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 95.5% of population
rural: 79.6% of population
total: 89.3% of population
urban: 4.5% of population
rural: 20.4% of population
total: 10.7% of population (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.1%; note – no country specific models provided (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
27,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
fewer than 200 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
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 (2013)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
25.3% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 56

Education expenditures:
5.2% of GDP (2010)
country comparison to the world: 65

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.6% (2011 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 26.5%
country comparison to the world: 36
male: 24.1%
female: 30% (2012)

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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 (Lodz), Lubelskie (Lublin), Lubuskie (Lubusz), Malopolskie (Lesser Poland), Mazowieckie (Masovia), Opolskie (Opole), Podkarpackie (Subcarpathia), Podlaskie, Pomorskie (Pomerania), Slaskie (Silesia), Swietokrzyskie (Holy Cross), 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)

National holiday:
Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)

several previous; latest adopted 2 April 1997, approved by referendum 25 May 1997, effective 17 October 1997; amended 2006, 2009 (2013)

Legal system:
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

International law organization participation:
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

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 Ministers Janusz PIECHOCINSKI (since 6 December 2012) and Elzbieta BIENKOWSKA (since 27 November 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%

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 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; as of 25 January 2014 – PO 62, PiS 30, 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; as of 25 January 2014 – PO 203, PiS 136, TR 36, PSL 33, SLD 26, SP 17, independent 8, German Minority 1
note: the German minority is exempt from the 5% threshold requirement for seats to the Sejm

Judicial branch:
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

Political parties and leaders:
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]
Poland Comes First or PJN [Pawel KOWAL, chairperson]
Poland Together or PR [Jaroslaw GOWIN, chairman]
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 [Zbigniew ZIOBRO, chairperson; Arkadiusz MULARCZYK, parliamentary caucus leader]
Your Movement or TR [Janusz PALIKOT, chairman, parliamentary caucus leader] (formerly Palikot’s Your Movement)

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]
Independent and Self-Governing Trade Union “Solidarity” [Piotr DUDA]

International organization participation:

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

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ryszard SCHNEPF (since 28 September 2012)
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 Stephen MULL (since 24 October 2012)
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 symbol(s):
white eagle

National anthem:
name: “Mazurek Dabrowskiego” (Dabrowski’s Mazurka)

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Economy – overview:
Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and Poland’s economy was the only one in the EU 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 and adopting 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 and 2013, in part due to the ongoing economic difficulties in the euro zone. Short-term, the key policy challenge will be to consolidate debt and spending without stifling economic growth. Over the longer term, Poland’s economic performance could improve if the country addresses some of the remaining deficiencies in its road and rail infrastructure, business environment, rigid labor code, commercial court system, government red tape, and burdensome tax system.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$814 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 22
$803.3 billion (2012 est.)
$788.6 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$513.9 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
1.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
1.9% (2012 est.)
4.5% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$21,100 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
$20,800 (2012 est.)
$20,500 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
16.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97
17.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
16.7% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 61.5%
government consumption: 17.6%
investment in fixed capital: 18.3%
investment in inventories: 0.6%
exports of goods and services: 46.7%
imports of goods and services: -44.7%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 33.3%
services: 62.7% (2013 est.)

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:
5.2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53

Labor force:
18.22 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 12.9%
industry: 30.2%
services: 57% (2010)

Unemployment rate:
10.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
10.1% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
10.6% (2008 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 27.1% (2009 est.)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
34.1 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 95
31.6 (1998)

revenues: $92.5 billion
expenditures: $92.47 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
18% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
0% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42

Public debt:
48.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
48.3% of GDP (2012 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

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
3.7% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
4.25% (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
4% (31 December 2010 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
6.9% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
8.73% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$162 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
$156.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$291.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31
$290.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$344.7 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
$328.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$177.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
$138.2 billion (31 December 2011)
$190.2 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance:
-$11.06 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
-$18.14 billion (2012 est.)

$202.3 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27
$191 billion (2012 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%, UK 7%, Czech Republic 6.5%, France 6%, Russia 5.2%, Italy 5%, Netherlands 4.6% (2012)

$207.4 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
$197.7 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 15%, minerals, fuels, lubricants, and related materials 9% (2011 est.)

Imports – partners:
Germany 27.3%, Russia 12.2%, Netherlands 5.9%, China 5.4%, Italy 5.2%, Czech Republic 4.3%, France 4.2% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$107.8 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
$108.9 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$365.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
$364.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$248.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
$246.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$69.78 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
$70.28 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:
zlotych (PLN) per US dollar –
3.175 (2013 est.)
3.2565 (2012 est.)
3.0153 (2010 est.)
3.1214 (2009)
2.3 (2008)

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