Poland – general overview

Flag white and red
Name (national language) Rzeczpospolita Polska
Official designation (English) Republic of Poland
Location Europe
Area 312 679 km2 (extent from south to north – 649 km, extent  from west to east – 689 km)
Population (at the end of 2008) 38,136 million
Population Density 122 inhabitants/km²
Capital Warsaw
Form of Government Parliamentary Republic
Administrative Structure 16 voivodships
Official Language Polish
National Anthem Mazurek Dąbrowskiego
Currency 1 złoty polski (PLN) = 100 groszy
Member of International Organisations UN, OECD, NATO, EU, WTO
Calling Code +48
Internet TLD .pl

Geography

Poland is situated in Central Europe and shares border with seven countries: Germany to the west, Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine, Belarus and Latvia to the east and Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) to the north.

Government

The legal base of the organization of the state in Poland is the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, dated 2nd April 1997. According to its provision, laws are passed by a bicameral parliament consisting of the Sejm and the Senate of the Republic of Poland and must be signed by the President. The members of the Sejm and the Senate are selected in elections held every four years. The President of the Republic of Poland is chosen in universal, direct, equal and anonymouselections. The office is currently (since the 23rd December 2005, term of office: 5 years) held by Lech Kaczyński. The Government (executive body) in Poland is called The Council of Ministers and is – as a rule – formed by the Prime Minister and accepted by the Sejm.

Population and religion

According to the National Population and Housing Census 2002, 96,74 % of population of Poland declared Polish nationality, 0,45 % Silesian, 0,40 % German and 0,13 % Belarusian.

In Poland, freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution. In 2007, Poland was inhabited by 33 million of baptized members of the Catholic Church, 0,5 million orthodox Christians, 0,12 million Jehovah's Witnessesand 0,07 million  of protestants.

Cities

About 60 % of population of Poland lives in urban areas. In 2008 there were 892 cities in Poland, 17 of which had 200.000 inhabitants and more. The largest cities by number of inhabitants (at the end of 2007) are:

Warszawa 1 698 623
Łódź 748 516
Kraków 734 456
Wrocław 622 993
Poznań 550 515
Gdańsk 450 785
Szczecin 400 199
Bydgoszcz 357 931
Lublin 343 245
Katowice 310 751
Białystok 291 745
Gdynia 249 410
Częstochowa 240 557
Radom 225 874
Sosnowiec 222 478
Kielce 205 124
Toruń 201 574

Education

Polish educational system consist of 6-year primary school, 3-year lower secondary schools and 2- 4 year upper secondary schools. According to law, education is compulsory for children aged form 7 to 18 years. Higher education becomes more and more popular in Poland. In 2007, about 14% of men and 18,7 % of women in Poland had a university degree. The oldest Polish university is the Jagiellonian University in Kraków established in 1364.

The most popular foreign languages taught in Polish schools and universities are English and German.

Economy

According to the International Monetary Fund, Polish gross domestic product in 2008 amounted to 525,735 millions of USD. Projections for 2009, made by OECD, state that this year, GPD is expected to fall by 0,4 %, however, other experts predict that Poland will be the only country in European Union to keep GPD rise in 2009.

In 2008 registered unemployment rate was 9,5 %. 74,4 % of employed people worked in private sector. According to Polish law, working age for women ends at 60 years, while for men at 65 years.

(source: Concise Statistical Yearbook of Poland 2009)