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Poland Country Information

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Poland
Poland Flag
Population: 38,500,000
Area: 312,685
Continent: EU
Capitol: Warsaw
Currency: Zloty (PLN)
Primary Languages Spoken: pl
Domain Name TLD: .pl
Phone Prefix: 48
Country Code (FIPS): PL
Neighboring Countries: DE,LT,SK,CZ,BY,UA,RU(Lesotho Burundi )

Poland Map
Poland Map



Summary:
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 among 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 still faces the lingering challenges of high unemployment, underdeveloped and dilapidated infrastructure, and a poor rural underclass. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country largely completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of Euro-Atlantic organizations."

Location:
Central Europe, east of Germany

Geographical Coordinates:
52 00 N, 20 00 E

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, amber, arable land

Area Comparisons:
slightly smaller than New Mexico

Coastline:
440 km

Growth Rate:
0.55%

Map Reference:
Europe

Poland

Poland Facts

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 total area of Poland is 312,679 square kilometres, making it the 69th largest country in the world and 9th in Europe. Poland has a population of over 38 million people, which makes it the 33rd most populous country in the world.

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. Poland became a kingdom in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by uniting to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth collapsed in 1795, and its territory was partitioned among Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Poland regained its independence in 1918 after World War I but lost it again in World War II, occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Poland lost over six million citizens in World War II, and emerged several years later as a socialist republic within the Eastern Bloc under strong Soviet influence. In 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 OECD."




Poland Profile

Geography
Area: 312,683 sq. km. (120,725 sq. mi.); about the size of New Mexico.
Cities (2008): Capital--Warsaw (pop. 1,709,800). Other cities--Lodz (747,200), Krakow (754,600), Wroclaw (632,400), Poznan (557,200), Gdansk (455,600).
Terrain: Flat plain, except mountains along southern border.
Climate: Temperate continental.

People
Nationality: Noun--Pole(s). Adjective--Polish.
Population (2009): 38.1 million.
Annual population growth rate: Near zero.
Ethnic groups: Polish 98%, German, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Lithuanian.
Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, Eastern Orthodox, Uniate, Protestant, Judaism.
Language: Polish.
Education: Literacy--98%.
Health (2009): Infant mortality rate--6.8/1,000. Life expectancy--males 71.5 years, females 80.1 years.
Work force: 17.0 million. Industry and construction--31.3%; agriculture--13.3%; services--55.6%.

Government
Type: Republic.
Constitution: The constitution now in effect was approved by a national referendum on May 25, 1997. The constitution codifies Poland's democratic norms and establishes checks and balances among the president, prime minister, and parliament. It also enhances several key elements of democracy, including judicial review and the legislative process, while continuing to guarantee the wide range of civil rights, such as the right to free speech, press, and assembly, which Poles have enjoyed since 1989.
Branches: Executive--head of state (president), head of government (prime minister). Legislative--bicameral National Assembly (lower house--Sejm, upper house--Senate). Judicial--Supreme Court, provincial and local courts, constitutional tribunal.
Administrative subdivisions: 16 provinces (voivodships).
Political parties: Civic Platform (PO), Law and Justice (PiS), the Polish People's Party (PSL), the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), Social Democracy of Poland (SDPL).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy
GDP (2010): $476 billion.
Real GDP growth (2010): 3.8%.
Per capita GDP (2010): $12,450.
Rate of inflation (2010, average): 2.6%.
Natural resources: Coal, copper, sulfur, natural gas, silver, lead, salt.
Agriculture: Products--grains, hogs, dairy, potatoes, horticulture, sugar beets, oilseed.
Industry: Types--machine building, chemicals, mining, shipbuilding, automobiles, furniture, pulp and paper, food processing, glass, beverages.
Trade (2009): Exports--$142.1 billion: furniture, cars, home appliances, coal, LCD monitors. Imports--$146.4 billion: crude oil, passenger cars, pharmaceuticals, car parts, computers.

Poland People

Poland today is ethnically almost homogeneous (98% Polish), in contrast with the World War II period, when there were significant ethnic minorities--4.5 million Ukrainians, 3 million Jews, 1 million Belarusians, and 800,000 Germans. The majority of the Jews were murdered during the German occupation in World War II, and many others emigrated in the succeeding years.

Most Germans left Poland at the end of the war, while many Ukrainians and Belarusians lived in territories incorporated into the then-U.S.S.R. Small Ukrainian, Belarusian, Slovakian, and Lithuanian minorities reside along the borders, and a German minority is concentrated near the southwest city of Opole.

Poland History

Poland's written history begins with the reign of Mieszko I, who accepted Christianity for himself and his kingdom in AD 966. The Polish state reached its zenith under the Jagiellonian dynasty in the years following the union with Lithuania in 1386 and the subsequent defeat of the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410. The monarchy survived many upheavals but eventually went into decline, which ended with the third and final partition of Poland by Prussia, Russia, and Austria in 1795.

Independence for Poland was one of the 14 points enunciated by President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Many Polish Americans enlisted in the military services to further this aim, and the United States worked at the postwar conference to ensure its implementation.

However, the Poles were largely responsible for achieving their own independence in 1918. Authoritarian rule predominated for most of the period before World War II. On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov nonaggression pact, which secretly provided for the dismemberment of Poland into Nazi and Soviet-controlled zones. On September 1, 1939, Hitler ordered his troops into Poland. On September 17, Soviet troops invaded and then occupied eastern Poland under the terms of this agreement. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Poland was completely occupied by German troops.

The Poles formed an underground resistance movement and a government in exile, first in Paris and later in London, which was recognized by the Soviet Union. During World War II, 400,000 Poles fought under Soviet command, and 200,000 went into combat on Western fronts in units loyal to the Polish government in exile.

In April 1943, the Soviet Union broke relations with the Polish government in exile after the German military announced that they had discovered mass graves of murdered Polish army officers at Katyn, in the U.S.S.R. (The Soviets claimed that the Poles had insulted them by requesting that the Red Cross investigate these reports.) In July 1944, the Soviet Red Army entered Poland and established a communist-controlled "Polish Committee of National Liberation" at Lublin.

Resistance against the Nazis in Warsaw, including uprisings by Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and by the Polish underground, was brutally suppressed. As the Germans retreated in January 1945, they leveled the city.

During the war, about 6 million Poles were killed, and 2.5 million were deported to Germany for forced labor. More than 3 million Jews (all but about 100,000 of the Jewish population) were killed in Nazi death camps like those at Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Sobibor.

Following the Yalta Conference in February 1945, a Polish Provisional Government of National Unity was formed in June 1945; the U.S. recognized it the next month. Although the Yalta agreement called for free elections, those held in January 1947 were controlled by the Communist Party. The communists then established a regime entirely under their domination.

Communist Party Domination
In October 1956, after the 20th ("de-Stalinization") Soviet Party Congress in Moscow and riots by workers in Poznan, there was a shakeup in the communist regime. While retaining most traditional communist economic and social aims, the regime of First Secretary Wladyslaw Gomulka liberalized Polish internal life.

In 1968, the trend reversed when student demonstrations were suppressed and an "anti-Zionist" campaign initially directed against Gomulka supporters within the party eventually led to the emigration of much of Poland's remaining Jewish population. In December 1970, disturbances and strikes in the port cities of Gdansk, Gdynia, and Szczecin, triggered by a price increase for essential consumer goods, reflected deep dissatisfaction with living and working conditions in the country. Edward Gierek replaced Gomulka as First Secretary.

Fueled by large infusions of Western credit, Poland's economic growth rate was one of the world's highest during the first half of the 1970s. But much of the borrowed capital was misspent, and the centrally planned economy was unable to use the new resources effectively. The growing debt burden became insupportable in the late 1970s, and economic growth had become negative by 1979.

In October 1978, the Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, became Pope John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church. Polish Catholics rejoiced at the elevation of a Pole to the papacy and greeted his June 1979 visit to Poland with an outpouring of emotion.

In July 1980, with the Polish foreign debt at more than $20 billion, the government made another attempt to increase meat prices. A chain reaction of strikes virtually paralyzed the Baltic coast by the end of August and, for the first time, closed most coalmines in Silesia. Poland was entering into an extended crisis that would change the course of its future development.

The Solidarity Movement
On August 31, 1980, workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, led by an electrician named Lech Walesa, signed a 21-point agreement with the government that ended their strike. Similar agreements were signed at Szczecin and in Silesia. The key provision of these agreements was the guarantee of the workers' right to form independent trade unions and the right to strike. After the Gdansk agreement was signed, a new national union movement--"Solidarity"--swept Poland.

The discontent underlying the strikes was intensified by revelations of widespread corruption and mismanagement within the Polish state and party leadership. In September 1980, Gierek was replaced by Stanislaw Kania as First Secretary.

Alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the Polish United Workers' (Communist) Party's (PZPR) authority following the Gdansk agreement, the Soviet Union proceeded with a massive military buildup along Poland's border in December 1980. In February 1981, Defense Minister Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski assumed the position of Prime Minister as well, and in October 1981, he also was named party First Secretary. At the first Solidarity national congress in September-October 1981, Lech Walesa was elected national chairman of the union.

On December 12-13, the regime declared martial law, under which the army and special riot police were used to crush the union. Virtually all Solidarity leaders and many affiliated intellectuals were arrested or detained. The United States and other Western countries responded to martial law by imposing economic sanctions against the Polish regime and against the Soviet Union. Unrest in Poland continued for several years thereafter.

In a series of slow, uneven steps, the Polish regime rescinded martial law. In December 1982, martial law was suspended, and a small number of political prisoners were released. Although martial law formally ended in July 1983 and a general amnesty was enacted, several hundred political prisoners remained in jail.

In July 1984, another general amnesty was declared, and 2 years later, the government had released nearly all political prisoners. The authorities continued, however, to harass dissidents and Solidarity activists. Solidarity remained proscribed and its publications banned. Independent publications were censored.

Roundtable Talks and Elections
The government's inability to forestall Poland's economic decline led to waves of strikes across the country in April, May, and August 1988. In an attempt to take control of the situation, the government gave de facto recognition to Solidarity, and Interior Minister Kiszczak began talks with Lech Walesa on August 31. These talks broke off in October, but a new series, the "roundtable" talks, began in February 1989. These talks produced an agreement in April for partly open National Assembly elections. The June election produced a Sejm (lower house), in which one-third of the seats went to communists and one-third went to the two parties which had hitherto been their coalition partners. The remaining one-third of the seats in the Sejm and all those in the Senate were freely contested; virtually all of these were won by candidates supported by Solidarity.

The failure of the communists at the polls produced a political crisis. The roundtable agreement called for a communist president, and on July 19, the National Assembly, with the support of some Solidarity deputies, elected General Jaruzelski to that office. Two attempts by the communists to form governments failed, however.

On August 19, President Jaruzelski asked journalist/Solidarity activist Tadeusz Mazowiecki to form a government; on September 12, the Sejm voted approval of Prime Minister Mazowiecki and his cabinet. For the first time in more than 40 years, Poland had a government led by non-communists.

In December 1989, the Sejm approved the "Balcerowicz Plan"--named after Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz--to transform the Polish economy rapidly from centrally planned to free-market, amended the constitution to eliminate references to the "leading role" of the PZPR, and renamed the country the "Republic of Poland." The PZPR dissolved itself in January 1990, creating in its place a new party, Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland. Most of the property of the former Communist Party was turned over to the state.

The May 1990 local elections were entirely free. Candidates supported by Solidarity's Citizens' Committees won most of the races they contested, although voter turnout was only a little over 40%. The cabinet was reshuffled in July 1990; the national defense and interior affairs ministers--holdovers from the previous communist government--were among those replaced.

In October 1990, the constitution was amended to curtail the term of President Jaruzelski. In December, Lech Walesa became the first popularly elected President of Poland.

The Republic of Poland
The Republic of Poland in the early 1990s made great progress toward achieving a fully democratic government and a market economy. In November 1990, Lech Walesa was elected President for a 5-year term. Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, at Walesa's request, formed a government and served as its Prime Minister until October 1991, introducing world prices and greatly expanding the scope of private enterprise.

Poland's first free parliamentary elections were held in 1991. More than 100 parties participated, representing a full spectrum of political views. No single party received more than 13% of the total vote. Poland's several national elections since 1991--parliamentary and presidential--also have been conducted freely and fairly. Incumbent governments have transferred power smoothly and constitutionally in every instance to their successors. The post-Solidarity center-right and post-Communist center-left have each controlled the parliament and the presidency since 1991.

In 2005, Poles elected Law and Justice (PiS) candidate and Mayor of Warsaw Lech Kaczynski to a 5-year term as President. Kaczynski narrowly defeated Civic Platform (PO) candidate Donald Tusk and was sworn in December 23, 2005. In a snap presidential election after the April 10, 2010 plane crash in Smolensk that killed President Kaczynski, Civic Platform candidate Bronislaw Komorowski defeated PiS candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Komorowski was sworn in as President on August 6, 2010.

PiS was the top vote-getter in September 25, 2005, parliamentary elections. After coalition talks with runner-up PO collapsed, PiS alone formed a minority government under Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz. Frustrated by its inability to achieve its legislative program alone, PiS formed a formal coalition government with Self-Defense (SO) and the League of Polish Families (LPR) in April 2006. In July 2006, Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz resigned and was replaced by PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski as Prime Minister. Parliamentary elections were held again in October 2007, and Donald Tusk became Prime Minister in November 2007.

Poland Politics

The current government structure consists of a council of ministers led by a Prime Minister, typically chosen from the majority coalition in the bicameral legislature's lower house (Sejm). The president, elected every 5 years for no more than two terms, is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The judicial branch plays a minor role in decision-making.

The parliament consists of the 460-member Sejm and the 100-member Senate, or upper house. The new constitution and the reformed administrative division (as of 1999) required a revision of the election ordinance (passed in April 2001). The most important changes were liquidation of a national list (all deputies are elected by voters in electoral districts) and the stipulation of an electoral threshold--with the exception of guaranteed seats for small ethnic parties, only parties receiving at least 5% of the total vote could enter parliament. In August 2002, the electoral law was amended, reintroducing the d'Hondt method of calculating seats, which provides a premium for the leading parties. This method was applied in the 2005 and 2007 elections.

Parties represented in the Sejm in order of number of seats are Civic Platform (PO), Law and Justice (PiS), the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the Polish People's Party (PSL), Poland Comes First (PJN), and Social Democracy of Poland (SDPL).

Principal Government Officials
President--Bronislaw Komorowski (PO)
Prime Minister--Donald Tusk (PO)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy--Waldemar Pawlak (PSL)
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Radoslaw Sikorski (PO)
Minister of Defense--Tomasz Siemoniak (PO)
Minister of Finance--Jacek Rostowski (PO)
Minister of Treasury--Aleksander Grad (PO)
Minister of Science and Higher Education--Barbara Kudrycka (PO)
Minister of Education--Katarzyna Hall (non-party)
Minister of Agriculture--Marek Sawicki (PSL)
Minister of Environment--Andrzej Kraszewski (non-party)
Minister of Health--Ewa Kopacz (PO)
Minister of Culture and National Heritage--Bogdan Zdrojewski (PO)
Minister of Interior and Administration--Jerzy Miller (nonparty)
Minister of Infrastructure--Cezary Grabarczyk (PO)
Minister of Justice--Krzysztof Kwiatkowski (PO)
Minister of Labor and Social Policy--Jolanta Fedak (PSL)
Minister of Regional Development--Elzbieta Bienkowska (non-party)
Minister of Sport--Adam Giersz (non-party)
Member of the Council of Ministers - Minister without Portfolio--Michal Boni (PO)

Ambassador to the United States--Robert Kupiecki
Deputy Chief of Mission--Maciej Pisarski

Poland maintains an embassy in the United States at 2640 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-234-3800/3801/3802); the consular annex is at 2224 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-234-3800). Poland has consulates in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.

Poland Economy

The current government structure consists of a council of ministers led by a Prime Minister, typically chosen from the majority coalition in the bicameral legislature's lower house (Sejm). The president, elected every 5 years for no more than two terms, is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The judicial branch plays a minor role in decision-making.

The parliament consists of the 460-member Sejm and the 100-member Senate, or upper house. The new constitution and the reformed administrative division (as of 1999) required a revision of the election ordinance (passed in April 2001). The most important changes were liquidation of a national list (all deputies are elected by voters in electoral districts) and the stipulation of an electoral threshold--with the exception of guaranteed seats for small ethnic parties, only parties receiving at least 5% of the total vote could enter parliament. In August 2002, the electoral law was amended, reintroducing the d'Hondt method of calculating seats, which provides a premium for the leading parties. This method was applied in the 2005 and 2007 elections.

Parties represented in the Sejm in order of number of seats are Civic Platform (PO), Law and Justice (PiS), the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the Polish People's Party (PSL), Poland Comes First (PJN), and Social Democracy of Poland (SDPL).

Principal Government Officials
President--Bronislaw Komorowski (PO)
Prime Minister--Donald Tusk (PO)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy--Waldemar Pawlak (PSL)
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Radoslaw Sikorski (PO)
Minister of Defense--Tomasz Siemoniak (PO)
Minister of Finance--Jacek Rostowski (PO)
Minister of Treasury--Aleksander Grad (PO)
Minister of Science and Higher Education--Barbara Kudrycka (PO)
Minister of Education--Katarzyna Hall (non-party)
Minister of Agriculture--Marek Sawicki (PSL)
Minister of Environment--Andrzej Kraszewski (non-party)
Minister of Health--Ewa Kopacz (PO)
Minister of Culture and National Heritage--Bogdan Zdrojewski (PO)
Minister of Interior and Administration--Jerzy Miller (nonparty)
Minister of Infrastructure--Cezary Grabarczyk (PO)
Minister of Justice--Krzysztof Kwiatkowski (PO)
Minister of Labor and Social Policy--Jolanta Fedak (PSL)
Minister of Regional Development--Elzbieta Bienkowska (non-party)
Minister of Sport--Adam Giersz (non-party)
Member of the Council of Ministers - Minister without Portfolio--Michal Boni (PO)

Ambassador to the United States--Robert Kupiecki
Deputy Chief of Mission--Maciej Pisarski

Poland maintains an embassy in the United States at 2640 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-234-3800/3801/3802); the consular annex is at 2224 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-234-3800). Poland has consulates in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.

Poland Defense Program

The current government structure consists of a council of ministers led by a Prime Minister, typically chosen from the majority coalition in the bicameral legislature's lower house (Sejm). The president, elected every 5 years for no more than two terms, is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The judicial branch plays a minor role in decision-making.

The parliament consists of the 460-member Sejm and the 100-member Senate, or upper house. The new constitution and the reformed administrative division (as of 1999) required a revision of the election ordinance (passed in April 2001). The most important changes were liquidation of a national list (all deputies are elected by voters in electoral districts) and the stipulation of an electoral threshold--with the exception of guaranteed seats for small ethnic parties, only parties receiving at least 5% of the total vote could enter parliament. In August 2002, the electoral law was amended, reintroducing the d'Hondt method of calculating seats, which provides a premium for the leading parties. This method was applied in the 2005 and 2007 elections.

Parties represented in the Sejm in order of number of seats are Civic Platform (PO), Law and Justice (PiS), the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the Polish People's Party (PSL), Poland Comes First (PJN), and Social Democracy of Poland (SDPL).

Principal Government Officials
President--Bronislaw Komorowski (PO)
Prime Minister--Donald Tusk (PO)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy--Waldemar Pawlak (PSL)
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Radoslaw Sikorski (PO)
Minister of Defense--Tomasz Siemoniak (PO)
Minister of Finance--Jacek Rostowski (PO)
Minister of Treasury--Aleksander Grad (PO)
Minister of Science and Higher Education--Barbara Kudrycka (PO)
Minister of Education--Katarzyna Hall (non-party)
Minister of Agriculture--Marek Sawicki (PSL)
Minister of Environment--Andrzej Kraszewski (non-party)
Minister of Health--Ewa Kopacz (PO)
Minister of Culture and National Heritage--Bogdan Zdrojewski (PO)
Minister of Interior and Administration--Jerzy Miller (nonparty)
Minister of Infrastructure--Cezary Grabarczyk (PO)
Minister of Justice--Krzysztof Kwiatkowski (PO)
Minister of Labor and Social Policy--Jolanta Fedak (PSL)
Minister of Regional Development--Elzbieta Bienkowska (non-party)
Minister of Sport--Adam Giersz (non-party)
Member of the Council of Ministers - Minister without Portfolio--Michal Boni (PO)

Ambassador to the United States--Robert Kupiecki
Deputy Chief of Mission--Maciej Pisarski

Poland maintains an embassy in the United States at 2640 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-234-3800/3801/3802); the consular annex is at 2224 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-234-3800). Poland has consulates in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.

Poland Foreign Relations

AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Poland became an associate member of the EU and its defensive arm, the Western European Union, in 1994. In a June 2003 national referendum, the Polish people approved EU accession by an overwhelming margin, and Poland gained full membership in May 2004.

Changes since 1989 have redrawn the map of Central Europe, and Poland has had to forge relationships with seven new neighbors. Poland has actively pursued good relations, signing friendship treaties replacing links severed by the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. The Poles have forged special relationships with Eastern neighbors, particularly Ukraine and Georgia, in an effort to firmly anchor these states to the West.

Poland became a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in March 1999 as part of the first wave of enlargement outlined at the July 1997 NATO Summit in Madrid. Poland's top national security goal is to further integrate with NATO and other West European defense, economic, and political institutions while modernizing and reorganizing its military. Polish military doctrine reflects the same defense posture as its Alliance partners.

Poland maintains a sizable armed force currently numbering almost 99,000 troops divided among an army of 72,000, an air and defense force of 19,000, a navy of 6,000 and special operations forces of 1,800. Poland no longer conscripts soldiers. The Polish military continues to restructure and to modernize its equipment. The Polish Defense Ministry General Staff and the Land Forces staff have recently reorganized the latter into a NATO-compatible J/G-1 through J/G-6 structure. Although budget constraints remain a drag on modernization, Poland has been able to move forward with U.S. assistance on acquiring 48 F-16 multi-role fighters, C-130 cargo planes, HMMWVs, and other items key to the military's restructuring.

Poland continues to be a regional leader in support and participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program and has actively engaged most of its neighbors and other regional actors to build stable foundations for future European security arrangements. Poland has recently focused its participation in international security missions on those managed by NATO and the EU, and it continues to maintain a battalion in NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR). Poland is a leading contributor to NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Polish military forces also served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom and continue to serve in the NATO Training Mission in Iraq.

On July 1, 2011, Poland took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. Poland's main goals for its 6-month term are increased European integration, common defense policy, and increased transparency.

Poland Additionalal Political Information

The United States established diplomatic relations with the newly formed Polish Republic in April 1919. After Gomulka came to power in 1956, relations with the United States began to improve. However, during the 1960s, reversion to a policy of full and unquestioning support for Soviet foreign policy objectives and the government's official expression of anti-Semitic sentiment caused those relations to stagnate. U.S.-Polish relations improved significantly after Gierek succeeded Gomulka and expressed his interest in improving relations with the United States. A consular agreement was signed in 1972.

In 1974 Gierek was the first Polish leader to visit the United States. This action, among others, demonstrated that both sides wished to facilitate better relations.

The birth of Solidarity in 1980 raised the hope that progress would be made in Poland's external relations as well as in its domestic development. During this time, the United States provided $765 million in agricultural assistance. Human rights and individual freedom issues, however, were not improved upon, and the U.S. revoked Poland's most-favored-nation (MFN) status in response to the Polish Government's decision to ban Solidarity. MFN status was reinstated in 1987, and diplomatic relations were upgraded.

The United States and Poland have enjoyed warm bilateral relations since 1989. Every post-1989 Polish government has been a strong supporter of continued American military and economic presence in Europe. In addition to supporting international counterterrorism efforts and NATO's ISAF mission in Afghanistan, Poland cooperates closely with the United States on such issues as democratization, nuclear nonproliferation, human rights, regional cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe, and UN reform.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Lee A. Feinstein
Deputy Chief of Mission--William Heidt
Press and Cultural Affairs Counselor--Lisa Helling
Political-Economic Counselor--Martina Strong
Consul General--Linda Hoover
Management Counselor--Bruce Berton
Agricultural Attache--Michael Henney
Senior Defense Official and Defense Attache--Jeffery Snell
Principal Officer, Krakow--Allen Greenberg
Counselor for Commercial Affairs--James Wilson

The street address and international mailing address of the U.S. Embassy in Poland is Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31, 00-540 Warsaw, Poland; tel: 48-22-504-2000; fax 48-22-504-2688. The Consulate General in Krakow is at Ulica Stolarska 9, 31-043 Krakow, Poland; tel: 48-12-424-5200; fax: 48-12-424-5100; and a Consular Agency in Poznan is at Ulica Paderewskiego 8, 61-708 Poznan, Poland; tel: 48-61-851-8516; fax: 48-61-851-8966.




List of States / Privinces / Districts in Poland


1. Lublin Voivodeship
2. Lesser Poland Voivodeship
3. Masovian Voivodeship
4. Subcarpathian Voivodeship
5. Podlasie
6. Swietokrzyskie
7. Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship
8. Lower Silesian Voivodeship
9. Lodz Voivodeship
10. Lubusz
11. Opole Voivodeship
12. Pomeranian Voivodeship
13. Silesian Voivodeship
14. Greater Poland Voivodeship
15. West Pomeranian Voivodeship
16. Kujawsko-Pomorskie



Poland's Largest Cities

(Poland's Most Populated Cities)


Top 100 Poland cities shown of 2779 total Poland cities that are over 1,000 in population...

1. Warsaw 1,702,139
2. Lodz 768,755
3. Krakow 755,050
4. Wroclaw 634,893
5. Poznan 570,352
6. Gdansk 461,865
7. Szczecin 407,811
8. Bydgoszcz 366,452
9. Lublin 360,044
10. Katowice 317,316
11. Bialystok 291,855
12. Gdynia 253,730
13. Czestochowa 248,125
14. Sosnowiec 227,295
15. Radom 226,794
16. Torun 208,717
17. Kielce 208,598
18. Gliwice 198,835
19. Zabrze 192,177
20. Bytom 189,186
21. Bielsko-Biala 176,515
22. Olsztyn 171,803
23. Rzeszow 158,382
24. Ruda Slaska 146,189
25. Rybnik 142,510
26. Dabrowa Gornicza 130,601
27. Tychy 130,000
28. Opole 127,676
29. Elblag 127,558
30. Plock 127,474
31. Walbrzych 127,431
32. Gorzow Wielkopolski 124,430
33. Wloclawek 120,339
34. Zielona Gora 118,433
35. Tarnow 117,799
36. Chorzow 113,430
37. Kalisz 108,759
38. Koszalin 107,450
39. Legnica 106,033
40. Grudziadz 99,486
41. Slupsk 98,608
42. Jaworzno 96,541
43. Jastrzebie Zdroj 95,813
44. Jelenia Gora 87,310
45. Nowy Sacz 84,376
46. Konin 81,258
47. Piotrkow Trybunalski 80,128
48. Inowroclaw 77,597
49. Lubin 77,532
50. Siedlce 77,185
51. Pila 75,532
52. Myslowice 75,281
53. Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski 73,989
54. Siemianowice Slaskie 73,121
55. Ostrow Wielkopolski 72,898
56. Stargard Szczecinski 71,224
57. Pabianice 70,542
58. Gniezno 70,269
59. Fordon 70,000
60. Suwalki 69,222
61. Glogow 68,530
62. Chelm 68,043
63. Tomaszow Mazowiecki 67,197
64. Przemysl 67,013
65. Stalowa Wola 66,495
66. Zamosc 66,034
67. Kedzierzyn-Kozle 65,636
68. Lomza 63,723
69. Leszno 63,565
70. Zory 63,174
71. Belchatow 62,896
72. Mielec 60,993
73. Tarnowskie Gory 60,938
74. Swidnica 60,351
75. Tczew 60,133
76. Piekary Slaskie 59,757
77. Raciborz 58,464
78. Bedzin 58,236
79. Zgierz 58,036
80. Biala Podlaska 57,541
81. Elk 55,769
82. Swietochlowice 55,600
83. Pruszkow 55,371
84. Ostroleka 53,740
85. Starachowice 53,739
86. Zawiercie 53,159
87. Legionowo 50,786
88. Tarnobrzeg 50,459
89. Pulawy 49,759
90. Wodzislaw Slaski 49,521
91. Skarzysko-Kamienna 49,410
92. Radomsko 49,175
93. Skierniewice 49,042
94. Kutno 48,323
95. Starogard Gdanski 48,202
96. Nysa Zamlynie 47,954
97. Krosno 47,784
98. Debica 47,366
99. Nysa 47,283
100. Wejherowo 46,820

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