[Country map of Poland]



Location: Central Europe, east of Germany

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 Lech WALESA (since 22 December 1990); election first round held 25 November 1990, second round held 9 December 1990 (next to be held NA November 1995); results - second round Lech WALESA 74.7%, Stanislaw TYMINSKI 25.3%
head of government: Prime Minister Jozef OLEKSY (since 6 March 1995); Deputy Prime Ministers Roman JAGIELINSKI, Grzegorz KOLODKO, and Aleksander LUCZAK (since NA)
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 and leaders:
post-Solidarity parties: Freedom Union (UW; Democratic Union and Liberal Democratic Congress merged to form Freedom Union), Leszek BALCEROWICZ; Christian-National Union (ZCHN), Ryszard CZARNECKI; Centrum (PC), Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI; Peasant Alliance (PL), Gabriel JANOWSKI; Solidarity Trade Union (NSZZ), Marian KRZAKLEWSKI; Union of Labor (UP), Ryszard BUGAJ; Christian-Democratic Party (PCHD), Pawel LACZKOWSKI; Conservative Party, Alexander HALL; Nonparty Bloc for the Support of the Reforms (BBWR)
non-Communist, non-Solidarity: Confederation for an Independent Poland (KPN), Leszek MOCZULSKI; Polish Economic Program (PPG), Janusz REWINSKI; Christian Democrats (CHD), Andrzej OWSINSKI; German Minority (MN), Henryk KROL; Union of Real Politics (UPR), Janusz KORWIN-MIKKE; Democratic Party (SD), Antoni MACKIEWICZ
Communist origin: Polish Peasant Party (PSL), Waldemar PAWLAK; Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), Aleksander KWASNIEWSKI

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


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jerzy KOZMINSKI
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, and New York

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Nicholas Andrew REY
embassy: Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31, Warsaw
mailing address: American Embassy Warsaw, Box 5010, Unit 1340, APO AE 09213-1340
telephone: [48] (2) 628-30-41
FAX: [48] (2) 628-82-98
consulate(s) general: Krakow, Poznan

Flag: two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; similar to the flags of Indonesia and Monaco which are red (top) and white


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 - 2.45 (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, Wrocaw

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