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 Transnational Issues

This page was last updated on 20 October, 2005

Map of Poland

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Poland Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
Poland 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 currently suffers low GDP growth and high unemployment. 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.
   Geography    Poland Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
Central Europe, east of Germany
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
52 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 312,685 sq km
land: 304,465 sq km
water: 8,220 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than New Mexico
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
491 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: defined by international treaties
Definition Field Listing
temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers
Definition Field Listing
mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: near Raczki Elblaskie -2 m
highest point: Rysy 2,499 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 45.91%
permanent crops: 1.12%
other: 52.97% (2001)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
1,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
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
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
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, Kyoto Protocol, 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:
Definition Field Listing
historically, an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain
   People    Poland Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
38,635,144 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 16.7% (male 3,319,176/female 3,150,859)
15-64 years: 70.3% (male 13,506,153/female 13,638,265)
65 years and over: 13% (male 1,912,431/female 3,108,260) (2005 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 36.43 years
male: 34.52 years
female: 38.49 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.03% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
10.78 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
10.01 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-0.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 8.51 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.59 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.37 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 74.74 years
male: 70.71 years
female: 79.03 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.39 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.1% ; note - no country specific models provided (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
14,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
100 (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 2.7% (2002 census)
Definition Field Listing
Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3% (2002)
Definition Field Listing
Polish 97.8%, other and unspecified 2.2% (2002 census)
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2003 est.)
   Government    Poland Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Republic of Poland
conventional short form: Poland
local long form: Rzeczpospolita Polska
local short form: Polska
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
16 provinces (wojewodztwa, singular - wojewodztwo); Dolnoslaskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Lodzkie, Lubelskie, Lubuskie, Malopolskie, Mazowieckie, Opolskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Pomorskie, Slaskie, Swietokrzyskie, Warminsko-Mazurskie, Wielkopolskie, Zachodniopomorskie
Definition Field Listing
11 November 1918 (independent republic proclaimed)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)
Definition Field Listing
adopted by the National Assembly 2 April 1997, passed by national referendum 25 May 1997, effective 17 October 1997
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Aleksander KWASNIEWSKI (since 23 December 1995)
head of government: Prime Minister Marek BELKA (since 24 June 2004); Deputy Prime Minister Izabela JARUGA-NOWACKA (since 24 June 2004)
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; election last held 8 October 2000 (next to be held October 2005); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm
election results: Aleksander KWASNIEWSKI reelected president; percent of popular vote - Aleksander KWASNIEWSKI 53.9%, Andrzej OLECHOWSKI 17.3%, Marian KRZAKLEWSKI 15.6%, Lech WALESA 1%
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
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
elections: Senate - last held 25 September 2005 (next to be held by September 2009); Sejm elections last held September 25 2005 (next to be held by September 2009)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PiS 49, PO 34, LPR 7, SO 3, PSL 2, independents 5; Sejm - percent of vote by party - PiS 27%, PO 24.1%, SO 11.4%, SLD 11.3%, LPR 8%, PSL 7%, other 11.2%; seats by party - PiS 155, PO 133, SO 56, SLD 55, LPR 34, PSL 25, German minorities 2
note: two seats are assigned to ethnic minority parties in the Sejm only
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
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)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Catholic-National Movement or RKN [Antoni MACIEREWICZ]; Civic Platform or PO [Donald TUSK]; Conservative Peasants Party or KL [Artur BALAZS]; Democratic Left Alliance or SLD [Jozef OLEKSY]; Dom Ojczysty (Fatherland Home); Freedom Union or UW [Wladyslaw FRASYNIUK]; German Minority of Lower Silesia or MNSO [Henryk KROLL]; Law and Justice or PiS [Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI]; League of Polish Families or LPR [Marek KOTLINOWSKI]; Movement for the Reconstruction of Poland or ROP [Jan OLSZEWSKI]; Peasant-Democratic Party or PLD [Roman JAGIELINSKI]; Polish Accord or PP [Jan LOPUSZANSKI]; Polish Peasant Party or PSL [Waldemar PAWLAK]; Samoobrona or SO [Andrzej LEPPER]; Social Democratic Party of Poland or SDPL [Marek BOROWSKI]; Social Movement or RS [Krzysztof PIESIEWICZ]; Union of Labor or UP [Izabela JARUGA-NOWACKA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
All Poland Trade Union Alliance or OPZZ (trade union) [Jan GUZ]; Roman Catholic Church [Cardinal Jozef GLEMP]; Solidarity Trade Union [Janusz SNIADEK]
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Przemyslaw GRUDZINSKI
chancery: 2640 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 234-3800 through 3802
FAX: [1] (202) 328-6270
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Victor ASHE
embassy: Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31 00-540 Warsaw
mailing address: American Embassy Warsaw, US Department of State, 5010 Warsaw Place, Washington, DC 20521-5010 (pouch)
telephone: [48] (22) 504-2000
FAX: [48] (22) 504-2688
consulate(s) general: Krakow
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; similar to the flags of Indonesia and Monaco which are red (top) and white
   Economy    Poland Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Poland has steadfastly pursued a policy of economic liberalization throughout the 1990s and today stands out as a success story among transition economies. Even so, much remains to be done, especially in bringing down unemployment. The privatization of small and medium-sized state-owned companies and a liberal law on establishing new firms has encouraged the development of the private business sector, but legal and bureaucratic obstacles alongside persistent corruption are hampering its further development. Poland's agricultural sector remains handicapped by surplus labor, inefficient small farms, and lack of investment. Restructuring and privatization of "sensitive sectors" (e.g., coal, steel, railroads, and energy), while recently initiated, have stalled. Reforms in health care, education, the pension system, and state administration have resulted in larger-than-expected fiscal pressures. Further progress in public finance depends mainly on reducing losses in Polish state enterprises, restraining entitlements, and overhauling the tax code to incorporate the growing gray economy and farmers, most of whom pay no tax. The government has introduced a package of social and administrative spending cuts to reduce public spending by about $17 billion through 2007. Additional reductions are under discussion in the legislature but could be trumped by election-year politics in 2005. Poland joined the EU in May 2004, and surging exports to the EU contributed to Poland's strong growth in 2004, though its competitiveness could be threatened by the zloty's appreciation. GDP per capita roughly equals that of the three Baltic states. Poland stands to benefit from nearly $13.5 billion in EU funds, available through 2006. Farmers have already begun to reap the rewards of membership via higher food prices and EU agricultural subsidies.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$463 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.6% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $12,000 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 2.9%
industry: 31.3%
services: 65.9% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17.02 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 16.1%, industry 29%, services 54.9% (2002)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
19.5% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
18.4% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 24.7% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
31.6 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3.4% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
18.4% of GDP (2004 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $44.52 billion
expenditures: $54.93 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)
Public debt:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
49.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat; poultry, eggs, pork
Definition Field Listing
machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
10% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
133.8 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
117.4 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
11.5 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
4.5 billion kWh (2002)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17,180 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
424,100 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
53,000 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
413,700 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
116.4 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.471 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
13.85 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
41 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
8.782 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
154.4 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$-3.831 billion (2004 est.)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$75.98 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and transport equipment 37.8%, intermediate manufactured goods 23.7%, miscellaneous manufactured goods 17.1%, food and live animals 7.6% (2003)
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Germany 30%, Italy 6.1%, France 6%, UK 5.4%, Czech Republic 4.3%, Netherlands 4.3% (2004)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$81.61 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 14.8%, minerals, fuels, lubricants, and related materials 9.1% (2003)
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Germany 24.4%, Italy 7.9%, Russia 7.3%, France 6.7%, China 4.6% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$41.88 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$99.15 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$17 billion in available EU structural adjustment and cohesion funds (2004-06)
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
zloty (PLN)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
zlotych per US dollar - 3.6576 (2004), 3.8891 (2003), 4.08 (2002), 4.0939 (2001), 4.3461 (2000)
note: zlotych is the plural form of zloty
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Poland Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12.3 million (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17.401 million (2003)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: underdeveloped and outmoded system in the process of being overhauled; partial privatization of the state-owned telephone monopoly is underway; the long waiting list for main line telephone service has resulted in a boom in mobile cellular telephone use
domestic: cable, open-wire, and microwave radio relay; 3 cellular networks; local exchanges 56.6% digital
international: country code - 48; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat, NA Eutelsat, 2 Inmarsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions), and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 14, FM 777, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
179 (plus 256 repeaters) (September 1995)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
804,915 (2004)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
8.97 million (2003)
   Transportation    Poland Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 23,852 km
broad gauge: 629 km 1.524-m gauge
standard gauge: 23,223 km 1.435-m gauge (20,555 km operational) (11,962 km electrified) (2004)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 364,697 km
paved: 249,088 km (including 399 km of expressways)
unpaved: 115,609 km (2001)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3,997 km (navigable rivers and canals) (2003)
Definition Field Listing
gas 13,552 km; oil 1,772 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Gdansk, Gdynia, Swinoujscie, Szczecin
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 7 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 154,710 GRT/228,132 DWT
by type: cargo 3, chemical tanker 2, passenger/cargo 1, roll on/roll off 1
registered in other countries: 107 (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
123 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 84
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 30
1,524 to 2,437 m: 40
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 3 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 39
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 21 (2004 est.)
Definition Field Listing
3 (2004 est.)
   Military    Poland Top of Page
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Land Forces, Navy, Polish Air Force (PSP)
Military service age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing
17 years of age for compulsory military service after January 1st of the year of 18th birthday; 17 years of age for voluntary military service; in 2005 Poland plans to shorten the length of conscript service obligation from 12 to 9 months; by 2008, plans call for at least 60% of military personnel to be volunteers; only soldiers who have completed their conscript service are allowed to volunteer for professional service; as of April 2004 women are only allowed to serve as officers and non-commissioned officers (April 2004)
Manpower available for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 17-49: 9,673,712 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 17-49: 7,740,164 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 275,521 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$3.5 billion (2002)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.71% (2002)
   Transnational Issues    Poland Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Poland must implement the strict Schengen border rules
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
major illicit producer of synthetic drugs for the international market; minor transshipment point for Asian and Latin American illicit drugs to Western Europe

This page was last updated on 20 October, 2005

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