Geographic and Governmental Profile of Poland

Background
Poland's history as a state begins 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 ten 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, Poland is an increasingly active member of Euro-Atlantic organizations.
Location
Central Europe, east of Germany
Geographic coordinates
52 00 N, 20 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Europe
Area
total:
312,685 sq km
rank:
70
land:
304,255 sq km
water:
8,430 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than New Mexico
Land boundaries
total:
3,047 km
border countries:
Belarus 605 km, Czech Republic 615 km, Germany 456 km, Lithuania 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 432 km, Slovakia 420 km, Ukraine 428 km
Coastline
440 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
defined by international treaties
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
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
near Raczki Elblaskie -2 m
highest point:
Rysy 2,499 m
Natural resources
coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land
Land use
arable land:
40.25%
permanent crops:
1%
other:
58.75% (2005)
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Irrigated land
1,160 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
63.1 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
11.73 cu km/yr (13%/79%/8%)
per capita:
304 cu m/yr (2002)
Natural hazards
flooding
Environment - current issues
situation has improved since 1989 due to decline in heavy industry and increased environmental concern by post-Communist governments; air pollution nonetheless remains serious because of sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the resulting acid rain has caused forest damage; water pollution from industrial and municipal sources is also a problem, as is disposal of hazardous wastes; pollution levels should continue to decrease as industrial establishments bring their facilities up to EU code, but at substantial cost to business and the government
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Air Pollution, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:
Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94
Geography - note
historically, an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain
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 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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); notable earlier dates: A.D. 966 (adoption of Christianity, traditional founding date), 1 July 1569 (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created)
Constitution
adopted by the National Assembly 2 April 1997; passed by national referendum 25 May 1997; effective 17 October 1997
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
International law organization participation
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Bronislaw KOMOROWSKI (since 6 August 2010)
head of government:
Prime Minister Donald TUSK (since 16 November 2007); Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar PAWLAK (since 16 November 2007)
cabinet:
Council of Ministers responsible to the prime minister and the Sejm; the prime minister proposes, the president appoints, and the Sejm approves the Council of Ministers
elections:
president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 20 June and 4 July 2010 (next to be held in 2015); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm
election results:
Bronislaw KOMOROWSKI elected president; percent of popular vote - Bronislaw KOMOROWSKI 53%, Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI 47%
Legislative branch
bicameral legislature consists of an upper house, the Senate or Senat (100 seats; members elected by a majority vote on a provincial basis to serve four-year terms), and a lower house, the Sejm (460 seats; members elected under a complex system of proportional representation to serve four-year terms); the designation of National Assembly or Zgromadzenie Narodowe is only used on those rare occasions when the two houses meet jointly
elections:
Senate - last held on 9 October 2011 (next to be held by October 2015); Sejm - last held on 9 October 2011 (next to be held by October 2015)
election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PO 63, PiS 29, PSL 2, SP 2, independents 4; Sejm - percent of vote by party - PO 39.2%, PiS 29.9%, RD 10%, PSL 8.4%, SLD 8.2%, other 4.3%; seats by party - PO 207, PiS 136, RP 40, PSL 28, SLD 27, SP 21, German minority 1
the German minority is exempt from the 5% threshold requirement for seats to the Sejm
Judicial branch
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the National Council of the Judiciary for an indefinite period); Constitutional Tribunal (judges are chosen by the Sejm for nine-year terms)
Political parties and leaders
Civic Platform or PO [Donald TUSK, chairman; Rfal GRUPINSKI, parliamentary caucus leader]; Democratic Left Alliance or SLD [Leszek MILLER, chairman, parliamentary caucus leader]; Democratic Party or PD [Brygida KUZNIAK, chairwoman]; Democratic Party or SD [Pawel PISKORSKI, chairman]; German Minority of Lower Silesia or MNSO [Ryszard GALLA, representative]; Law and Justice or PiS [Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI, chairman; Mariusz BLASZCZAK, parliamentary caucus leader]; League of Polish Families or LPR [Witold BALAZAK, chairman]; Palikot's Movement or RP [Janusz PALIKOT, chairman]; Poland Comes First or PJN [Pawel KOWEL, chairperson]; Polish People's Party or PSL [Waldemar PAWLAK, chairman; Jan BURY, parliamentary caucus leader]; Social Democratic Party of Poland or SDPL [Wojciech FILEMONOWICZ, chairman]; Union of Labor or UP [Waldemar WITKOWSKI, chairman]; United Poland or SP (political grouping of former PiS members, not officially registered) [Arkadiusz MULARCZYK chairperson]
Political pressure groups and leaders
All Poland Trade Union Alliance or OPZZ (trade union) [Jan GUZ]; Roman Catholic Church [Cardinal Stanislaw DZIWISZ, Archbishop Jozef MICHALIK]; Solidarity Trade Union [Piotr DUDA]
International organization participation
Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS, CD, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA (cooperating state), EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, 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, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Robert KUPIECKI
chancery:
2640 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone:
[1] (202) 234-3800 through 3802
FAX:
[1] (202) 328-6271
consulate(s) general:
Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Lee FEINSTEIN
embassy:
Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31 00-540 Warsaw
mailing address:
American Embassy Warsaw, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-5010 (pouch)
telephone:
[48] (22) 504-2000
FAX:
[48] (22) 504-2688
consulate(s) general:
Krakow
Flag description
two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; colors derive from the Polish emblem - a white eagle on a red field
similar to the flags of Indonesia and Monaco which are red (top) and white
National symbol(s)
white eagle
National anthem
name:
"Mazurek Dabrowskiego" (Dabrowski's Mazurka)
lyrics/music:
Jozef WYBICKI/traditional
adopted 1927; the anthem, commonly known as "Jeszcze Polska nie zginela" (Poland Has Not Yet Perished), was written in 1797; the lyrics resonate strongly with Poles because they reflect the numerous occasions in which the nation's lands have been occupied
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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