Poland Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Poland > Map Economy History

Warsaw 
Belovezhskaya Pushcha / Bialowieza Forest
WWF Poland The World Wide Fund For Nature in Poland.

Facts About Poland

Background: Poland gained its independence in 1918 only to be overrun by Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. It became a Soviet satellite country following the war, but one that 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, boosting hopes for acceptance to the EU. Poland joined the NATO alliance in 1999.
Government type: republic
Capital: Warsaw
Currency: 1 zloty (Zl) = 100 groszy

Geography of Poland

Location: Central Europe, east of Germany
Geographic coordinates: 52 00 N, 20 00 E
Area:
total: 312,685 sq km
land: 304,465 sq km
water: 8,220 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 2,888 km
border countries: Belarus 605 km, Czech Republic 658 km, Germany 456 km, Lithuania 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 206 km, Slovakia 444 km, Ukraine 428 km
Coastline: 491 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: defined by international treaties
territorial sea: 12 nm
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
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Raczki Elblaskie -2 m
highest point: Rysy 2,499 m
Natural resources: coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 47%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 13%
forests and woodland: 29%
other: 10% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,000 sq km (1993 est.)
Environment - current issues: situation has improved since 1989 due to decline in heavy industry and increased environmental concern by postcommunist 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.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Air Pollution, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:  Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: historically, an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain

More Geography

People of Poland

Poland today is ethnically almost homogeneous (98% Polish), in contrast with the World War II period, when there were significant ethnic minorities 4.5 million Ukrainians, 3 million Jews, 1 million Belorussians, and 800,000 Germans. The majority of the Jews were murdered during the German occupation in World War II, and many others emigrated in the succeeding years.

Most Germans left Poland at the end of the war, while many Ukrainians and Belorussians lived in territories incorporated into the then-U.S.S.R. Small Ukrainian, Belorussian, Slovakian, and Lithuanian minorities reside along the borders, and a German minority is concentrated near the southwest city of Opole.

Population: 38,635,144 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  18.39%
15-64 years:  69.17%
65 years and over:  12.44%
Population growth rate: -0.03%
Birth rate: 10.2 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 9.98 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -0.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 9.39 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  73.42 years
male:  69.26 years
female:  77.82 years
Total fertility rate: 1.37 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish
Ethnic groups: 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:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 98% (1978 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Poland > Map Economy History