Geographical Location of Poland
Poland is a relatively flat country. The country's only high-mountain landscape is in the Carpathians in the south, where mountain ranges line the borders with Slovakia and Ukraine. The lowlands contain a lot of agricultural land and forests. These are the country's largest natural resources. The longest river, the Vistula, flows through the most important cities in Poland. The climate in Poland is continental and varies depending on the season. In general, the east is drier, while the west is rainier.
Air pollution from coal burning, acid rain and deforestation are Poland's three biggest environmental problems. Of the 50 cities in Europe with the worst air quality, 33 are in Poland. Therefore, improving air quality is a priority, but Polish authorities are hesitant to reduce large-scale coal mining. Poland pays special attention to offshore wind as a renewable energy source. However, since the late 1980s, the environmental situation in the country has improved significantly.
Brief History of Poland
The oldest traces of human presence on the territory of modern Poland date back to the Stone Age. The Polish state arose for the first time in the 9th century. The location made the country vulnerable to invasion, and the country's borders changed several times. After a period of greatness between the 16th and 18th centuries, Poland was divided between various great powers and thus disintegrated. Until the end of the First World War, the country of Poland did not exist.
Poland was one of the countries most affected during World War II. During the six years of war, twenty percent of the country's population died, half of whom were Jews. After World War II, Poland's borders were changed again. Large areas remained under Soviet occupation, and Poland received German territories as compensation.
In the post-war period, Poland became a communist dictatorship. In the 1980s, protests led to the formation of the first free trade union in Eastern Europe. It was called Solidarity and was led by Lech Walesa. Negotiations between Solidarity and the authorities led to elections in 1989, and Walesa became the country's first democratic president in 1990. This happened simultaneously with the fall of communism in the rest of Eastern Europe. Poland was one of the first countries in Eastern Europe to join NATO and the EU.
Society and Politics of Poland
Poland is a parliamentary republic. Legislative power belongs to parliament, which is divided into two chambers. Executive power is divided between the government and the president. The president is the country's head of state, but most power lies with the government and the prime minister. The Catholic Church has a strong position in the country.
Politics is dominated by two parties that emerged from Solidarity - the Law and Justice party and the Civic Platform. Law and Justice is nationalist, critical of the EU and conservative in values. Civic Platform is a liberal and Europe-friendly party.
Economy and Trade of Poland
Poland has traditionally been an agricultural country. Agriculture is still important, even if services are the main industry today. The country also has well-developed heavy industry and coal mining. As a result of the war in Ukraine, Poland stopped all imports of coal and gas from Russia. Currently Poland imports coal mainly from the USA and China, and gas from Qatar and the USA.
In the post-war period, Poland had a planned economy and state-owned industry. The production of goods was inefficient, there were shortages of goods, corruption and illegal black market trade. In the years following the rapid transition to a market economy, production fell. This led to high unemployment and the standard of living in Poland was much lower than in Western Europe.
Since 1992, the economy has grown steadily. Today the unemployment rate is about the same as in other EU countries, but wages are still lower. This means that some Poles work in other EU/EEA countries. However, living standards are catching up with the EU average, and the economy has grown faster than the EU average in recent years. Poland's economy is now the sixth largest in the EU.