Poland

Rzeczpospolita Polska
Republic of Poland
Coat of arms of Poland
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: none1
Anthem: Dąbrowski's Mazurka
(Polish: Mazurek Dąbrowskiego)
Capital Warsaw
Largest city Warsaw
Official language Polish2
Government Parliamentary republic
 - President Lech Kaczyński
 - Prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński
Formation  
 - Christianisation4 966 
 - Redeclared November 11 1918 
Accession to EU May 1 2004
Area
 - Total 312,683³ km² (69th)
120,728 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 3.07
Population
 - 2006 estimate 38,536,869 (31st)
 - 2002 census 38,530,080
 - Density 122/km² (83rd)
319.9/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2006 estimate
 - Total $546.543 billion (23rd)
 - Per capita $14,400 (48th)
HDI  (2004) 0.862 (high) (37th)
Currency Złoty (PLN)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Internet TLD .pl5
Calling code +48
1 But see Unofficial mottos of Poland.

2 Although not official languages, Lithuanian and German are used in eight communal offices.
3 The total area of Poland according to the administrative division, as given by the Central Statistical Office,[1] amounts to 312,683 km² - land area (311 889 km²) and part of internal waters (794 km²) cut by the coast line; area of territory of Poland (including all internal waters and the territorial sea) - 322 575 km².
4 The adoption of Christianity in Poland is seen by many Poles, regardless of their religious affiliation, as one of the most significant national historical events; the new religion was used to unify the tribes in the region.
5 Also .eu, as Poland is a member of the European Union.

Poland (Polish: Polska), officially the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in Central Europe or Eastern Europe, depending on the definition, bordered by Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, and the Baltic Sea, Russia (in the form of the Kaliningrad Oblast exclave) and Lithuania to the north. It also shares a maritime border with Denmark and Sweden. The total area of Poland is 312,683 sq km[1] (120,728 sq mi) making it the 69th largest country in the world with population over 38.5 million people [2] concentrated mainly in large cities, including the historical capital of Poland, Kraków, and the present capital, Warsaw.

The first Polish state was born in 966, within territory very similar to the present boundaries of 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 the Poles were without a state for 123 years. Poland regained its independence in 1918 after World War I but lost it again in World War II, emerging several years later as a communist country within the Eastern Bloc under control of the former Soviet Union. In 1989 communist rule was overthrown and Poland became what is informally known as the "Third Polish Republic". Today, as the 6th most populated member state of the European Union, Poland is a liberal democracy made up of sixteen voivodeships (Polish: województwo). Poland is also a member of NATO, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization.

Contents

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History

From Homo erectus and then during the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages and throughout the Late Antiquity, the lands of present day Poland were populated by many different peoples, often known archeologically, but of uncertain ethnicity or linguistic affiliation. Celtic, Germanic and Baltic peoples were among the prominent groups. The most famous archeological finding is the Biskupin fortified settlement on the lake, of the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, by some past researchers erroneously considered to be a proto-Slavic development.

Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first historically documented ruler, Mieszko I, was baptized in 966, adopting Catholic Christianity as the nation's new official religion, to which the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next century. In the 12th century Poland fragmented into several smaller states, which were later ravaged by the Mongol armies of the Golden Horde in 1241, 1259 and 1287. In 1320 Władysław I became the King of a reunified Poland. His son, Casimir III, repaired the Polish economy, constructed new castles, and won the war against the Ruthenian duchy (Lviv (Lwów) became a Polish city).

Poland was also a centre of migration of peoples and the Jewish community began to settle and flourish in Poland during this era. See History of the Jews in Poland.

The Black Death which affected most parts of Europe from 1347 to 1351 did not reach Poland.[3]

Under the Jagiellon dynasty, Poland forged an alliance with its neighbour Lithuania. A golden age ensued during the 16th century after the Lublin Union, which gave birth to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The szlachta nobility of Poland, far more numerous than in Western European countries, took pride in their ancient freedoms and parliamentary system, while a majority of the inhabitants of the commonwealth at this time were peasants.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent

In the mid-17th century a Swedish invasion rolled through the country during the turbulent time known as "The Deluge" (potop). Numerous wars against Russia eventually led to the abolishment of the 'Liberum Veto', which had allowed for any member of parliament to dissolve the parliament and to veto any legislation it had passed. The Liberum Veto was formally abolished on May 3, 1791. The process of reform ceased with the three partitions of Poland between Russia, Prussia, and Austria in 1772, 1793, and 1795, which ultimately dissolved the state. Poles resented their shrinking freedoms and several times rebelled against the partitioners (see List of Polish Uprisings).

Napoleon recreated a Polish state, the Duchy of Warsaw, but after the Napoleonic wars, Poland was again divided by the victorious Allies at the Congress of Vienna. The eastern portion was ruled by the Russian Czar as a Congress Kingdom, and possessed a liberal constitution. However, the Czars soon reduced Polish freedoms and Russia eventually de facto annexed the country. Later in the 19th century, Austrian-ruled Galicia became the oasis of Polish freedom.

During World War I all the Allies agreed on the restitution of Poland that United States President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed in Point 13 of his Fourteen Points. Shortly after the surrender of Germany in November 1918, Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic (II Rzeczpospolita Polska). It reaffirmed its independence after a series of military conflicts, the most notable being the 1919-1921 Polish-Soviet War.

Poland between 1922 and 1938
Poland between 1922 and 1938

The 1926 May Coup of Józef Piłsudski turned the reins of the Second Polish Republic over to the Sanacja movement. It lasted until the start of World War II on September 1 1939, when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland (September 17). Warsaw capitulated on September 28 1939 and Poland was split into two zones, one occupied by Nazi Germany the other by the Soviet Union as agreed on in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. The eastern portion of the German-occupied zone was forged into the General Government area, and the western portion (most of which had belonged to Germany prior to World War I) was incorporated into the German Reich.

Of all the countries involved in the war, Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens: over 6 million perished, half of them Polish Jews. Poland also made the 4th largest Allied troop contribution, after the Americans, the British and the Soviets, to ultimately defeat Nazi Germany. At the war's conclusion, Poland's borders were shifted westwards, pushing the eastern border to the Curzon line. Meanwhile, the western border was moved to the Oder-Neisse line. The new Poland emerged 20% smaller by 77,500 square kilometres (29,900 sq mi). The shift forced the migration of millions of people – Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Jews.

At the end of World War II, the blue territories were transferred from Poland to the Soviet Union, and the yellow territories from Germany to Poland.
At the end of World War II, the blue territories were transferred from Poland to the Soviet Union, and the yellow territories from Germany to Poland.

As a result of these events, Poland became, for the first time in its multicultural history, an ethnically unified country. A Polish minority is still present in neighbouring countries of Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, as well as in other countries (see Poles article for the population numbers). The largest number of ethnic Poles outside of the country can be found in the United States.

The Soviet Union instituted a new Communist government in Poland, analogous to much of the rest of the Eastern Bloc. Military alignment within the Warsaw Pact throughout the Cold War was also part of this change. In 1948 a turn towards Stalinism brought in the beginning of the next period of totalitarian rule. The People's Republic of Poland (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa) was officially proclaimed in 1952. In 1956 the régime became more liberal, freeing many people from prison and expanding some personal freedoms. Persecution of communist opposition figures persisted. Labour turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union, "Solidarity" ("Solidarność" in Polish), which over time became a political force. It eroded the dominance of the Communist Party; by 1989 it had triumphed in parliamentary elections, and Lech Wałęsa, a Solidarity candidate, eventually won the presidency in 1990. The Solidarity movement greatly contributed to the soon-following collapse of Communism all over Eastern Europe.

A shock therapy programme during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. Despite a temporary slump in social and economic standards, there were numerous improvements in other human rights, such as free speech, a functioning democracy and the like. Poland was the first post-communist country to reach its pre-1989 GDP levels. In 1991 Poland became a member of the Visegrad Group and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance in 1999 along with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Poles then voted to join the European Union in a referendum in June 2003, with Poland becoming a full member on May 1, 2004.

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Politics

Poland is a liberal democracy. Its current constitution dates from 1997. The government structure centres on the Council of Ministers, led by a prime minister. The current prime minister of Poland is Jarosław Kaczyński. The president appoints the cabinet according to the proposals of the prime minister, typically from the majority coalition in the bicameral judicial lower house (the Sejm). The president, elected by popular vote every five years, serves as the head of state. The current president is Lech Kaczyński, the twin brother of Jarosław Kaczyński.

Polish voters elect a bicameral parliament consisting of a 460 member lower house Sejm and a 100 member Senate (Senat). The Sejm is elected under a proportional representation electoral system using the d'Hondt method similar to that used in many parliamentary political systems. The Senate, on the other hand, is elected under a rare plurality bloc voting method where several candidates with the highest support are elected from each constituency. With the exception of ethnic minority parties, only candidates of political parties receiving at least 5% of the total national vote can enter the Sejm. When sitting in joint session, members of the Sejm and Senate form the National Assembly, (Polish Zgromadzenie Narodowe). The National Assembly is formed on three occasions: Taking the oath of office by a new president, bringing an indictment against the President of the Republic to the Tribunal of State, and declaration of a President's permanent incapacity to exercise their duties because of the state of their health. Only the first kind has occurred to date.

The judicial branch plays an important role in decision-making. Its major institutions include the Supreme Court of Poland (Sąd Najwyższy), the Supreme Administrative Court of Poland (Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny) with judges appointed by the president of the Republic on the recommendation of the National Council of the Judiciary for an indefinite period, the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland (Trybunał Konstytucyjny) with judges chosen by the Sejm for nine-year terms, and the State Tribunal of Poland (Trybunał Stanu) with judges chosen by the Sejm for the current term of office of the Sejm, (except for the position of chairperson which is held by the First President of the Supreme Court). The Sejm (on approval of the Polish Senate) appoints the Ombudsman or the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection (Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich) for a five-year term. The Ombudsman has the duty of guarding the observance and implementation of the rights and liberties of people and the citizens, the law and principles of community life and social justice.

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Geography

Poland
Poland
Warsaw, the castle and the cathedral in the background.
Warsaw, the castle and the cathedral in the background.
Łódź, Izrael Poznański's Factory.
Łódź, Izrael Poznański's Factory.
Kraków, Wawel castle by night.
Kraków, Wawel castle by night.
Wrocław.
Wrocław.
Old Market square in Poznań.
Old Market square in Poznań.
Old town in Gdańsk.
Old town in Gdańsk.
Bydgoszcz.
Bydgoszcz.
The Trinitarian Tower and the Cathedral in Lublin.
The Trinitarian Tower and the Cathedral in Lublin.
Toruń.
Toruń.
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Topography

The Polish landscape consists almost entirely of the North European Plain, with an average height of 173 m (568 ft). The Sudetes (including the Karkonosze) and the Carpathian Mountains (including the Tatra mountains) form the southern border. This is also where one finds Poland's highest point, Rysy, at 2,499 m (8,199 ft). Several large rivers cross the plains, i.e., the Vistula (Wisła), Oder (Odra), Warta and the (Western) Bug. Poland also contains over 9,300 lakes, predominantly in the northern part of the country. Masuria (Mazury Lake District) forms the largest and most-visited lake district in Poland. Remnants of the ancient forests are present: see list of forests in Poland, i.e. Białowieża Forest. Poland enjoys a temperate climate, with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters and mild summers with frequent showers and thunderstorms.

For detailed view see: Poland Topo Map on-line

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Principal cities

   City  Voivodeship  Inhabitants
May 20 2002
Inhabitants
December 31 2005
1 Warsaw (Warszawa) Masovia 1,671,670 1,697,596
2 Łódź Łódź 789,318 767,628
3 Kraków Lesser Poland 758,544 756,629
4 Wrocław Lower Silesia 640,367 635,932
5 Poznań Greater Poland 578,886 567,882
6 Gdańsk Pomerania 461,334 458,053
7 Szczecin Western Pomerania 415,399 411,119
8 Bydgoszcz Kuyavia-Pomerania 373,804 366,074
9 Lublin Lublin 357,110 354,967
10 Katowice Silesia 327,222 317,220
11 Białystok Podlasie 291,383 294,864
12 Gdynia Pomerania 253,458 252,791
13 Częstochowa Silesia 258,436 246,890
14 Radom Masovia 229,699 227,018
15 Sosnowiec Silesia 232,622 226,034
16 Kielce Świętokrzyskie 212,429 208,193
17 Toruń Kuyavia-Pomerania 211,243 208,007
18 Gliwice Silesia 203,814 199,451
19 Zabrze Silesia 195,293 191,247
20 Bytom Silesia 193,546 187,943
21 Bielsko-Biała Silesia 178,028 176,864
22 Olsztyn Warmia-Masuria 173,102 174,473
23 Rzeszów Subcarpathia 160,376 163,069
24 Ruda Śląska Silesia 150,595 146,582
25 Rybnik Silesia 142,731 141,580
26 Tychy Silesia 132,816 131,153
27 Dąbrowa Górnicza Silesia 132,236 130,128
28 Opole Opole 129,946 128,268
29 Płock Masovia 128,361 127,461
30 Elbląg Warmia-Masuria 128,134 127,275
31 Wałbrzych Lower Silesia 130,268 126,465
32 Gorzów Wielkopolski Lubusz 125,914 125,416
33 Włocławek Kuyavia-Pomerania 121,229 119,939
34 Tarnów Lesser Poland 119,913 117,560
35 Zielona Góra Lubusz 118,293 118,221
36 Chorzów Silesia 117,430 114,686
37 Kalisz Greater Poland 109,498 108,841
38 Koszalin Western Pomerania 108,709 107,886
39 Legnica Lower Silesia 107,100 105,750
40 Grudziądz Kuyavia-Pomerania 99,943 99,578
41 Słupsk Pomerania 100,376 98,695

See also: a complete Gazetteer of Polish towns and settlements.

   Agglomeration or conurbation  Voivodeship  Inhabitants
(Estimated, 2005)
1 Upper Silesian Industry Area Silesia 3,487,000
2 Warsaw (Warszawa) Masovia 2,679,000
3 Kraków Lesser Poland 1,400,000
4 Łódź Łódź 1,300,000
5 Tricity Pomerania 1,100,000
6 Wroclaw Lower Silesia 945,000
7 Poznań Greater Poland 855,000
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Administrative divisions

Administrative map of Poland
Administrative map of Poland

Poland is subdivided into sixteen administrative regions known as voivodeships (województwa, singular - województwo):

Voivodeship Capital city (cities)
Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship (Kujawsko-Pomorskie) Bydgoszcz and Toruń
Greater Poland Voivodeship (Wielkopolskie) Poznań
Lesser Poland Voivodeship (Małopolskie) Kraków
Łódź Voivodeship (Łódzkie) Łódź
Lower Silesian Voivodeship (Dolnośląskie) Wrocław
Lublin Voivodeship (Lubelskie) Lublin
Lubusz Voivodeship (Lubuskie) Gorzów Wielkopolski and Zielona Góra
Masovian Voivodeship (Mazowieckie) Warsaw
Opole Voivodeship (Opolskie) Opole
Podlasie Voivodeship (Podlaskie) Białystok
Pomeranian Voivodeship (Pomorskie) Gdańsk
Silesian Voivodeship (Śląskie) Katowice
Subcarpathian Voivodeship (Podkarpackie) Rzeszów
Swietokrzyskie Voivodeship (Świętokrzyskie) Kielce
Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship (Warmińsko-Mazurskie) Olsztyn
West Pomeranian Voivodeship (Zachodniopomorskie) Szczecin

Lower levels of administrative division are:

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Economy

Warsaw at night.
Warsaw at night.
Katowice at night.
Katowice at night.
The Marina at Gdynia.
The Marina at Gdynia.
Lanckorona.
Lanckorona.
Żnin - a medieval town
Żnin - a medieval town
Mikołajki in the Masuria lake area.
Mikołajki in the Masuria lake area.
Sand dunes at the Baltic coast in Słowiński National Park
Sand dunes at the Baltic coast in Słowiński National Park
European Swamp Forest in Nature reserve Morasko Meteorite, Poznań
European Swamp Forest in Nature reserve Morasko Meteorite, Poznań

Since the fall of communism, Poland has steadfastly pursued a policy of liberalising the economy and today stands out as one of the most successful and open examples of the transition from a partially state-directed economy to a primarily privately owned market economy.

The privatisation of small and medium state-owned companies and a liberal law on establishing new firms have allowed the development of an aggressive private sector, followed by a development of consumer rights organisations later on. Restructuring and privatisation of "sensitive sectors" (e.g., coal, steel, railways, and energy) has begun. The government plans to float 20 public companies on the stock market in the years 2007-2010, including parts of the coal industry. The biggest privatisations so far were a sale of Telekomunikacja Polska, a national telecom to France Telecom (2000) and an issue of 30% shares of the biggest Polish bank, PKO BP, on the Polish stockmarket (2004).

Poland has a large agricultural sector of private farms, that could be a leading producer of food in the European Union now that Poland is a member. Challenges remain, especially under-investment. Structural reforms in health care, education, the pension system, and state administration have resulted in larger-than-expected fiscal pressures. Warsaw leads Central Europe in foreign investment [citation needed] and needs a continued large inflow. GDP growth had been strong and steady from 1993 to 2000 with only a short slowdown from 2001 to 2002. The prospect of closer integration with the European Union has put the economy back on track, with growth of 3.7% annually in 2003, a rise from 1.4% annually in 2002. In 2004 GDP growth equalled 5.4%, and in 2005 3.3%. Forecasted GDP for 2006 is 5.5 - 6.0%.In 2007 the government has set a target for gdp growth at 6.5%-7.0%. Recntly they replaced the head of the National Bank Lech Balcerowicz for Slawomir Skrzypek. At first the markets reacted scepticly and fell but now they have stabalised and have seen a sharp rise wuth the warsaw stock exchange breaking records.

Annual growth rates broken down by quarters:

Although the Polish economy is currently undergoing economic progress, there are many challenges ahead. The most notable task on the horizon is the preparation of the economy (through continuing deep structural reforms) to allow Poland to meet the strict economic criteria for entry into the European Single Currency. There is much speculation as to just when Poland might be allowed to join the Eurozone, although the best guess estimates put the entry date somewhere between 2009 and 2013 [citation needed]. For now, Poland is preparing to make the Euro its official currency (though it has not joined the ERM yet), and the Złoty will eventually be abolished from the Polish economy.

Since joining the European Union, many young Polish people have left their country to work in other EU countries because of high unemployment, which is the highest in the EU (13.6% in November 2006).[4]

Products Poland produces include clothes, electronics, cars (including luxury car Leopard), buses (Autosan, Jelcz SA, Solaris, Solbus), helicopters (PZL Świdnik), transport equipment, locomotives, planes (PZL Mielec), ships, military engineering (including tanks, SPAAG systems), medicines (Polpharma, Polfa, etc), food, chemical products etc.

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Science, technology and education

For a more detailed treatment of this topic, see the subarticles Polish science and technology and Education in Poland.
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History

The education of Polish society was a goal of rulers as early as the 12th century. The library catalogue of the Cathedral Chapter of Kraków dating back to 1110 shows that already in the early 12th century Polish intellectuals had access to the European literature. In 1364, in Kraków, the Jagiellonian University, founded by King Casimir III, became one of Europe's great early universities. In 1773 King Stanisław August Poniatowski established his Commission on National Education (Komisja Edukacji Narodowej), the world's first state ministry of education.

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Current situation

Today, Poland has more than a hundred tertiary education institutions; traditional universities to be found in its major cities of Gdańsk, Bydgoszcz, Katowice, Kraków, Lublin, Łódź, Białystok, Olsztyn, Poznań, Rzeszów, Toruń, Warsaw, Wrocław and Zielona Góra as well as technical, medical, economic institutions elsewhere, employing around 61,000 workers. There are also around 300 research and development institutes, with about 10,000 more researchers. In total, there are around 91,000 scientists in Poland today.

According to a recent report by the European Commission, Poland ranks 21st on the list of EU states in the area of innovation. Conditions for knowledge creation are worsening, particularly because of a decline in business Research and development, from 0.28% of GDP in 1998 to 0.16% in 2003. Public R&D expenditures were 0.43% of GDP in 2003. The share of university R&D funded by the business sector has also declined, indicating that firms have not turned to outsourcing research to make up for declining R&D expenditures. Because of the very low levels of R&D, the process of transition of Poland to a knowledge economy is slow. For more info, see Innovation performance factsheet.

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Telecommunication and IT

For a more detailed treatment of this topic, see the subarticles Communications in Poland and Software development in Poland.

The share of the telecom sector in the GDP is 4.4% (end of 2000 figure), compared to 2.5% in 1996. Nevertheless, despite high expenditures for telecom infrastructure (the coverage increased from 78 users per 1000 inhabitants in 1989 to 282 in 2000)
the coverage mobile cellular is 850 users per 1000 people (2006)

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Transportation

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Demographics

Poland formerly played host to many languages, cultures, and religions. There was a particularly rich Jewish life in Poland prior to the Nazi Holocaust where Poland's Jewish population, estimated at 3 million was mass murdered, with an estimated 300,000 survivors. The outcomes of World War II and the following shift westwards to the area between the Curzon line and the Oder-Neisse line gave Poland an appearance of homogeneity (especially due to the expulsion of Germans after World War II). Today 36,983,700 people, or 96.74% of the population considers itself Polish (Census 2002), 471,500 (1.23%) declared another nationality. 774,900 people (2.03%) didn't declare any nationality. The officially recognized ethnic minorities include: Germans (most in the Opole Voivodeship), Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Jews and Belarusians. The Polish language, a member of the West Slavic branch of the Slavic languages, functions as the official language of Poland. Most Poles adhere to the Roman Catholic faith, 89.8% are Catholic (according to church baptism statistics) with 75% counting as practising Catholics. The rest of the population consists mainly of Eastern Orthodox (about 509 500), Jehovah's Witnesses (about 123 034) and various Protestant (about 86 880 in the largest Evangelical-Augsburg Church and about as many in smaller churches) religious minorities. [3]

In recent years Poland's population has stopped increasing because of an increase in emigration and a sharp drop in the birth rate. In 2006 the census office estimated the total population of Poland at 38,536,869, a slight rise on the 2002 figure of 38,230,080. Since Poland's accession to the European Union, a significant number of Polish people have moved to work in West European countries like the UK and Ireland. Some organisations have estimated that 1 million people have left. Poland which suffers heavy unemployment (14.7%) is beginning to have problems with finding highly educated specialists for certain jobs because these were the people that mainly left to the west. To encourage poles to reproduce Becikowe has been introduced. The state pays new mothers 1000 zlotych for every baby in 2008 this is meant to rise to 5000zl. The governments pro family bill is meant to be discussed by parliament in 2007. Also the Government is trying to encourage people to return by raising the minimal wage and many other incentives have been proposed. The governments official projects are yet to be confirmed. At the moment the efforts for people to return are being conducted by individual towns, Wroclaw has seen some success with over 9000 people returning. 80% of the Poles that emigrated have indicated that they want to return to Poland. They want cheaper medicine, school materials and better social care. Currently Poverty is strife in Poland's eastern provinces and in rural areas.[citation needed]

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Culture

Polish architecture: Rynek Główny in Kraków. St. Mary's Basilica (left), Sukiennice (centre), Town Hall Tower (right).
Polish architecture: Rynek Główny in Kraków. St. Mary's Basilica (left), Sukiennice (centre), Town Hall Tower (right).
Polish art: "Stańczyk" painted by Jan Matejko.
Polish art: "Stańczyk" painted by Jan Matejko.
Traditional Polish dessert:Polish gingerbread (Polish: pierniki) from Toruń.
Traditional Polish dessert:
Polish gingerbread (Polish: pierniki) from Toruń.

Polish culture has a rich thousand-year history influenced by both west and east. Today, these influences are evident in Polish architecture, folklore, and art. Poland is the birthplace of many world famous people, including Pope John Paul II (Polish: Papież Jan Paweł II), Marie Skłodowska Curie (Polish: Maria Skłodowska-Curie), Casimir Pulaski (Polish: Kazimierz Pułaski), Nicolaus Copernicus (Polish: Mikołaj Kopernik), and many more.

The unique character of Polish art always reflected world trends. Famous Polish painter, Jan Matejko, included many significant historical events in his paintings. Polish literature dates back to 1100s[5] and includes many famous poets and writers such as Jan Kochanowski, Adam Mickiewicz, Henryk Sienkiewicz (1905 Nobel Prize winner), Bolesław Prus, Władysław Reymont, Juliusz Słowacki, Witold Gombrowicz, Czesław Miłosz (1980 Nobel Prize winner), Wisława Szymborska (1996 Nobel Prize winner), to name a few. Many world renowned Polish movie directors include Academy Awards winners Roman Polański, Andrzej Wajda, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Janusz Kamiński, Krzysztof Kieślowski, and so on. The traditional Polish music composers include world famous pianist Frederic Chopin (Polish: Fryderyk Chopin)[6] as well as Krzysztof Penderecki, Karol Szymanowski, and many more.

Many popular styles of modern music in Poland include pop music, rock music, pop-rock music, punk, hardcore, disco music, house music, R&B, hip-hop, rap, jazz, to name a few. Famous pop-rock singers and musicians in Poland are Edyta Górniak, Kasia Kowalska, Piotr Rubik and so on. Many popular music bands include Ich Troje, Blue Cafe, Virgin etc.

Famous meals from Polish cuisine include Polish sausage (Polish: kiełbasa), red beet soup (Polish: barszcz), duck blood soup (Polish: czernina), Polish dumplings (Polish: pierogi), cabbage rolls (Polish: gołąbki), Polish pork chops (Polish: kotlety schabowe), Polish traditional stew (Polish: bigos), various potato dishes, a fast food sandwich zapiekanka, and many more. Traditional Polish desserts include Polish doughnuts (Polish: pączki), Polish gingerbread (Polish: pierniki), etc.

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International rankings

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See also

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Central Statistical Office of Poland (2006). Maly Rocznik Statystyczny 2006. Retrieved on 3 January, 2007.
  2. Wikipedia (2006). List of Countries by Population. Retrieved on 10 December, 2006.
  3. Teeple, J. B. (2002). Timelines of World History. Publisher: DK Adult.
  4. Eurostat (2006). Euro-Indicators: News Release. Retrieved on 5 January, 2007.
  5. Koca, B. (2006). Polish Literature - The Middle Ages (Religious writings). Retrieved on 10 December, 2006. (Polish)
  6. Polskie Centrum Informacji Muzycznej: Związek Kompozytorów Polskich (2002). Towarzystwo im. Fryderyka Chopina. Retrieved on 8 December, 2006. (Polish)
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Governmental institutions

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English-language websites on Poland

cu:Пол̑ьска

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