country profile - POLAND
Background: Poland's history as a state began near the middle of the 10th century. By the mid-16th century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ruled a vast tract of land in central and eastern Europe. During the 18th century, internal disorders weakened the nation, and 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 with over 10 million members. Free elections in 1989 and 1990 won Solidarity control of the parliament and the presidency, bringing the communist era to a close. A "shock therapy" program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country largely completed and with large investments in defense, energy, and other infrastructure, Poland is an increasingly active member of Euro-Atlantic organizations.
geography  
Location: Central Europe, east of Germany
Area: total: 312,679 sq km
land: 304,459 sq km
water: 8,220 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 3,071 km
border countries (7): Belarus 418 km, Czech Republic 796 km, Germany 467 km, Lithuania 104 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 210 km, Slovakia 541 km, Ukraine 535 km
Coastline: 440 km
Climate: temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers
Natural resources: coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land
people  
Population: 38,562,189 (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.7% (male 2,915,674/female 2,753,218)
15-24 years: 11.52% (male 2,279,404/female 2,163,621)
25-54 years: 43.56% (male 8,471,593/female 8,326,656)
55-64 years: 14.54% (male 2,645,228/female 2,962,305)
65 years and over: 15.67% (male 2,362,421/female 3,682,069) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 39.9 years
male: 38.2 years
female: 41.6 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.09% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 9.74 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 10.19 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.46 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Pole(s)
adjective: Polish
Ethnic groups: Polish 96.9%, Silesian 1.1%, German 0.2%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 1.7%
note: represents ethnicity declared first (2011 est.)
Religions: Catholic 87.2% (includes Roman Catholic 86.9% and Greek Catholic, Armenian Catholic, and Byzantine-Slavic Catholic .3%), Orthodox 1.3% (almost all are Polish Autocephalous Orthodox), Protestant 0.4% (mainly Augsburg Evangelical and Pentacostal), other 0.4% (includes Jehovah's Witness, Buddhist, Hare Krishna, Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon), unspecified 10.8% (2012 est.)
Languages: Polish (official) 98.2%, Silesian 1.4%, other 1.1%, unspecified 1.3%
note: data represents the language spoken at home; shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census; Poland ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2009 recognizing Kashub as a regional language, Czech, Hebrew, Yiddish, Belarusian, Lithuanian, German, Armenian, Russian, Slovak, and Ukrainian as national minority languages, and Karaim, Lemko, Romani (Polska Roma and Bergitka Roma), and Tatar as ethnic minority languages (2011 est.)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.7% (2015 est.)
government  
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Poland
conventional short form: Poland
local long form: Rzeczpospolita Polska
local short form: Polska
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Warsaw
geographic coordinates: 52 15 N, 21 00 E
time difference: UTC+1
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 16 provinces (wojewodztwa, singular - wojewodztwo); Dolnoslaskie (Lower Silesia), Kujawsko-Pomorskie (Kuyavia-Pomerania), Lodzkie, Lubelskie (Lublin), Lubuskie (Lubusz), Malopolskie (Lesser Poland), Mazowieckie (Masovia), Opolskie, Podkarpackie (Subcarpathia), Podlaskie, Pomorskie (Pomerania), Slaskie (Silesia), Swietokrzyskie, Warminsko-Mazurskie (Warmia-Masuria), Wielkopolskie (Greater Poland), Zachodniopomorskie (West Pomerania)
Independence: 11 November 1918 (republic proclaimed)
National holiday: Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)
Legal system: civil law system; changes gradually being introduced as part of broader democratization process; limited judicial review of legislative acts, but rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal are final
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Andrzej DUDA (since 6 August 2015)
head of government: Prime Minister Beata SZYDLO (since 13 November 2015); Deputy Prime Ministers: Piotr Gliński (since 16 November 2015), Mateusz Morawiecki (since 16 November 2015) and Jarosław Gowin (since 16 November 2015)
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, appointed by the president, and approved by the Sejm
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 10 and 24 May 2015 (next to be held in 2020); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm
election results: Andrzej DUDA elected president; percent of vote in runoff - Andrzej DUDA 51.5%, Bronislaw KOMOROWSKI (independent) 48.5%
Legislative branch: bicameral legislature consists of the Senate or Senat (100 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms) and the Sejm (460 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms); note - the designation National Assembly or Zgromadzenie Narodowe is only used on those rare occasions when the two houses meet jointly
note: the German minority is exempt from the 5% threshold requirement for seats to the Sejm
elections: Senate - last held on 25 October 2015 (next to be held in October 2019); Sejm - last held on 25 October 2015 (next to be held in October 2019)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PiS 61, PO 34, PSL 1, independents 4; seats by party as of 26 February 2015 - PO 63, PiS 31, PSL 2, independent 4; Sejm - percent of vote by party - PiS 37.6%, PO 24.1%, K15 8.8%, .N 7.6%, ZL 7.5%, PSL 5.1% other 9.3%; seats by party - PiS 235, PO 138, K15 42, .N 28, ZL 0, PSL 16, German minority 1
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court or Sad Najwyzszy (consists of the president of the Supreme Court and 116 judges organized in criminal, civil, labor and social insurance, and military chambers)
judge selection and term of office: president of the Supreme Court nominated by the General Assembly of the Supreme Court and selected by the president of Poland; other judges nominated by the 25-member National Judiciary Council, and appointed by the president of Poland; judges appointed until retirement, normally at age 65, but tenure can be extended
subordinate courts: Constitutional Tribunal; regional and appellate courts subdivided into military, civil, criminal, labor, and family courts
Political parties and leaders: A Just Poland (union of PR and SP) [Jaroslaw GOWIN]
Civic Platform or PO [Ewa KOPACZ, chairperson; Rafal GRUPINSKI, parliamentary caucus leader]
Democratic Left Alliance or SLD [Leszek MILLER, chairman, parliamentary caucus leader]
German Minority of Lower Silesia or MNSO [Ryszard GALLA, representative]
Kukiz 15 [Pawel KUKIZ]
Law and Justice or PiS [Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI, chairman; Mariusz BLASZCZAK, parliamentary caucus leader]
.Modern or .N [Ryszard PETRU]
New Right Congress or KNP [Michal MARUSIK, chairman]
Poland Together or PR [Jaroslaw GOWIN, chairman]
Polish People's Party or PSL [Janusz PIECHOCINSKI, chairman; Jan BURY, parliamentary caucus leader]
Social Democratic Party of Poland or SDPL [Wojciech FILEMONOWICZ, chairman]
United Left alliance or ZL [Barbara NOWACKA]
United Poland or SP [Zbigniew ZIOBRO, chairperson]
Your Movement or TR [Janusz PALIKOT, chairman, parliamentary caucus leader]
Political pressure groups and leaders: All Poland Trade Union Alliance or OPZZ [Jan GUZ] (trade union)
Independent Self-Governing Trade Union "Solidarity" [Piotr DUDA]
Roman Catholic Church [Archbishop Wojciech POLAK, Archbishop Stanislaw GADECKI]
International organization participation: Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS, CD, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, ESA, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; similar to the flags of Indonesia and Monaco which are red (top) and white
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 5.04 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 59.8 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 155 (2014 est.)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modernization of the telecommunications network has accelerated with market-based competition; fixed-line service, dominated by the former state-owned company, is dwarfed by the growth in mobile-cellular services
domestic: mobile-cellular service available since 1993 and provided by three nation-wide networks with a fourth provider beginning operations in late 2006; coverage is generally good with some gaps in the east; fixed-line service lags in rural areas
international: country code - 48; international direct dialing with automated exchanges; satellite earth station - 1 with access to Intelsat, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, and Intersputnik (2011)
Broadcast media: state-run public TV operates 2 national channels supplemented by 16 regional channels and several niche channels; privately owned entities operate several national TV networks and a number of special interest channels; many privately owned channels broadcasting locally; roughly half of all households are linked to either satellite or cable TV systems providing access to foreign television networks; state-run public radio operates 5 national networks and 17 regional radio stations; 2 privately owned national radio networks, several commercial stations broadcasting to multiple cities, and many privately owned local radio stations (2007)
Internet country code: .pl
Internet hosts: 13.265 million (2012)
Internet users: total: 25.9 million
percent of population: 67.2% (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 126 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 87
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 30
1,524 to 2,437 m: 36
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 6 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 39
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 21 (2013)
Heliports: 6 (2013)
Pipelines: gas 14,198 km; oil 1,374 km; refined products 777 km (2013)
Railways: total: 19,837 km
broad gauge: 395 km 1.524-m gauge
standard gauge: 19,442 km 1.435-m gauge (11,899 km electrified) (2014)
Roadways: total: 412,035 km
paved: 280,719 km (includes 2,418 km of expressways)
unpaved: 131,316 km (2012)
Waterways: 3,997 km (navigable rivers and canals) (2009)
Merchant marine: total: 9
by type: cargo 7, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 1
registered in other countries: 106 (Antigua and Barbuda 2, Bahamas 34, Cyprus 24, Liberia 13, Malta 21, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Vanuatu 9) (2010)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Gdansk, Gdynia, Swinoujscie
river port(s): Szczecin (River Oder)
LNG terminal(s) (import): Swinoujscie
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Poland has implemented the strict Schengen border rules to restrict illegal immigration and trade along its eastern borders with Belarus and Ukraine
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 14,277 (Russia) (2014); 71,302 applicants for forms of legal stay other than asylum (Ukraine) (2015)
stateless persons: 10,825 (2014)
Illicit drugs: despite diligent counternarcotics measures and international information sharing on cross-border crimes, a major illicit producer of synthetic drugs for the international market; minor transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and Latin American cocaine to Western Europe
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pl.html