Country Profile: Poland
312,685 sq km
38,518,241 (0.0% growth rate)
Capital(and largest city) Warsaw
Official languagesPolish (98%)
AreaTotal 312,679 km sq
EthnicityPolish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belorussian 0.1% Ukrainian 0.1%, other 2.7%
ReligionRoman Catholic 90% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1%
Economic SummaryGDP: $620.9 billion
Of labour force (17.1 million); Agriculture 16.1%, Idustry 29%, Services 54.9%
Major Trading PartnersGermany, Italy, France, UK, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Russia, China
Poland has a large economy, especially in relation to its status as former soviet country, and it stands as a model for the transition from centrally-run to market economy. The privatisation of many companies has opened up a competitive private sector. Major industries include electronics, cars, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.
Poland officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. Poland is bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north.
The establishment of a Polish state is often identified with the adoption of Christianity by its ruler Mieszko I, in 966, when the state covered territory similar to that of present-day Poland. In 1025, Poland became a kingdom and in 1569, it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, by signing the Union of Lublin, forming the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth collapsed in 1795 and Poland's territory was partitioned among Prussia, Russia and Austria. Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918, after World War I, but lost it again in World War II, then occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Poland lost over six million citizens in World War II, emerging several years later as the socialist People's Republic of Poland within the Eastern Bloc, under strong Soviet influence. During the Revolutions of 1989, communist rule was overthrown and Poland became what is constitutionally known as the "Third Polish Republic". Poland is a unitary state, made up of sixteen voivodeships. Poland is also a member of the European Union, NATO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Polish culture has been influenced by both Eastern and Western influences. Today, these influences are evident in Polish architecture, folklore, and art. Poland is the birthplace of some world famous individuals, including Pope John Paul II, Marie SkÅ‚odowska Curie, Kazimierz PuÅ‚aski, Nicolaus Copernicus and Frédéric Chopin.
The character of Polish art always reflected world trends. The famous Polish painter, Jan Matejko included many significant historical events in his paintings. Also a famous person in history of Polish art was StanisÅ‚aw Ignacy Witkiewicz. He was an example of a Polish Renaissance Man as well as an outstanding Polish playwright, painter and poet StanisÅ‚aw WyspiaÅ„ski.
Polish literature dates back to 1100s and includes many famous poets and writers such as Jan Kochanowski, Adam Mickiewicz, BolesÅ‚aw Prus, Juliusz SÅ‚owacki, Witold Gombrowicz, StanisÅ‚aw Lem and, Ryszard KapuÅ›ciÅ„ski. Writers Henryk Sienkiewicz, WÅ‚adysÅ‚aw Reymont, CzesÅ‚aw MiÅ‚osz, WisÅ‚awa Szymborska have each won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Also a renowned Polish-born English novelist was Joseph Conrad.
Many world famous Polish movie directors include Academy Awards winners Roman PolaÅ„ski, Andrzej Wajda, Zbigniew RybczyÅ„ski, Janusz KamiÅ„ski and, Krzysztof KieÅ›lowski. World renowned actresses were Helena Modjeska and Pola Negri. The traditional Polish music composers include world-renowned pianist Frederic Chopin as well as famous composers such as Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk MikoÅ‚aj Górecki, Karol Szymanowski, and others.
Notable foods in Polish cuisine include kielbasa, borscht, pierogi, flaczki (tripe soup), oscypek, pork chops, bigos, various potato dishes, a fast food sandwich and many more. Traditional Polish desserts include gingerbread and others.
Many sports are popular in Poland. Football (soccer) is the country's most popular sport, with a rich history of international competition. Track and field, basketball, boxing, fencing, handball, ice hockey, swimming, volleyball, and weightlifting are other popular sports. The first Polish Formula One driver, Robert Kubica, has brought awareness of Formula One Racing to Poland. Poland has made a distinctive mark in motorcycle speedway racing thanks to Tomasz Gollob, a highly successful Polish rider. The Polish mountains are an ideal venue for hiking, skiing and mountain biking and attract millions of tourists every year from all over the world. Baltic beaches and resorts are popular locations for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and a broad-range of other water-themed sports.
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