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Information about Poland

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Poland, situated in the very heart of Europe, at the crossroads of both ancient trade and present-day transportation routes from East to West, is 1000 years old and many of its towns and cities date back to its early days. They shelter a rich architectural and artistic heritage that has survived all the battles fought on Polish soil over the centuries. Its northern boundary is the Baltic Sea, with three large seaports, Gdynia, Gdansk and Szczecin; and in the south is the Carpathian mountain chain with its jewel - the high and rugged Tatras. The eastern border goes along the majestic lowland Bug river, while the western one follows the busy, navigable Oder. The Vistula, the longest Polish river (1047 km) flows through the middle of the country. Warsaw and other historical towns, like Cracow (Krakow), Sandomierz, Kazimierz, Plock, Torun and Gdansk were built along the Vistula.
 
By European standards Poland is moderately populated. There are 122 people per square kilometer. Its population is estimated at 38 million, which makes it the 7th most populous in Europe and 25th in the world. Nearly 20 million Poles and people of Polish origin live outside Poland, mainly in the USA, Russia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Czecho-Slovakia, France, the UK, Canada, Ukraine, Brazil, Belarus and Lithuania. Minorities (Belorussian, Lithuanian, German, Ukrainian and Jewish) constitute 2-3% of the current indigenous population.
Poland is still a largely unexplored country that retains much of its traditional way of life. You'll still see horse-drawn ploughs in remote areas, and carts laden with vegetables clogging up tiny back roads on their way to markets. There are villages which look as though as 20th century got lost somewhere down the road.
 
While some parts of Europe have torn themselves apart in recent years for ethnic, religious or nationalistic reasons, Poland has a unity few other nations in the region can match. Bound together by Catholicism, language, nationality and shared experience, the country has swiftly got on after the collapse of communism, building a better home for its people - an opportunity for westerners to see history in the making.
 

 Factfile


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Poland
conventional short form: Poland
local short form: Polska
local long form: Rzeczpospolita Polska
Government type: republic
Capital: Warsaw (Warszawa, 1,600,000)
Major cities: Lodz (840,000), Cracow (Krakow, 750,000)
 
Administrative divisions:
16 voivodships: Dolnoslaskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Lodzkie, Lubelskie, Lubuskie, Malopolskie, Mazowieckie, Opolskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Pomorskie, Slaskie, Swietokrzyskie, Warminsko-Mazurskie, Wielkopolskie, Zachodniopomorskie
 
Population: 38,230,100 (2002)
GDP (USD per capita): 5,904 (June 2003)
Inflation rate: 0.8% (June 2003)
Unemployment rate: 17.8% (June 2003)
Location: Central and East Europe, east of Germany
Geographic coordinates: 52 00 N, 20 00 E

Currency:
1 zloty (1 zl) = 100 groszy
Exchange rates: EUR1 = 4.70 zl, USD1 = 3.90 zl (January 2004)
Major credit cards are accepted in most tourist areas. Travellers cheques are easily exchanged in banks, shops and hotels.

Time:
1 hour ahead of GMT from April to October, 2 hours the rest of the year
Electricity: 220 volts, 50 Hz AC
Weights & measures: Metric
Healthcare: No special precautions necessary

Nationality:

noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish
Ethnic groups:
Polish 97.6%, German 1.3%, Ukrainian 0.6%, Belarusian 0.5% (1990 est.)
Religions:
Roman Catholic 95% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and other 5%
Language: Polish

Area:

total: 312,685 sq. km
water: 8,220 sq. km
land: 304,465 sq. km
Land boundaries: 2,788 km
Border countries: Belarus (407 km), Czech Republic (658 km), Germany (456 km), Lithuania (91 km), Russia (206 km), Slovakia (444 km), Ukraine (526 km)
Coastline: 491 km

Climate:
temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; rather warm summers with with frequent showers and thundershowers
Summer max: 25C, summer min: 13C
Winter max: 1C, winter min: -6C
Terrain: mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Raczki Elblaskie (-2m)
highest point: Rysy (2,499m)
Natural hazards: flooding

Advice: 
Robbery and theft are major problem in Poland so be alert and keep valuables out of sight

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