Poland

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Officially Republic of Poland, in Polish Polska, or Rzeczpospolita Polska, country lying at the physical centre of the european continent, approximately between latitudes 49-o and 55-o N and longitudes 14-o and 24-o E. Except for its southern mountainous regions, the country consists almost entirely of lowlands within the North European Plain. The total area of Poland is 120,728 square miles (312,685 square kilometres). Its capital is Warsaw (Warszawa). Other major cities include Wroclaw, Poznan, Lodz, Gdansk (formerly Danzig), Elblag, Gdynia, Szczecin, Katowice and Krakow (Cracow).

Over the past millennium, the name Poland has been applied to a shifting territorial base. At one time, in the mid-1500s, Poland was the largest state in Europe. At other times there was no Polish state at all. Poland gained its independence in the Treaty of Versailles in 1918 only to be overrun by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. Its current frontiers, stretching for 2,198 miles (3,538 kilometres), were drawn in 1945; Poland became a Soviet satellite country following the war, but one that was comparatively tolerant and progressive. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of an independent trade union "Solidarity" Solidarnosc) that over time became a political force and by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. Complete freedom came with the implosion of the USSR in 1991. A "shock therapy" program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe, boosting hopes for early acceptance to the EU. Poland joined NATO in 1999.

Poland is bordered to the north by the Baltic Sea, to the northeast by Russia (the Kaliningrad area) and Lithuania, and to the east by Belarus and Ukraine. To the south the border follows the watershed of the Beskid, Carpathian, and the Sudeten (Sudety) mountains, which separate Poland from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, while to the west the border with Germany is defined by the Neisse (Nysa Luzycka) and Oder (Odra) rivers.
On geographical as well as historical grounds Poland is divided in serveral regions : Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Upper Silesia, Lower Silesia, Mazowsze, Warmia, Mazury, Kujawy, West Pomerania, Gdansk Pomerania, Podhale and [[Tatra Mountains]].

Population: 38.6m Poles.

Form of Government: unitary multiparty republic with two legislative houses (Sejm [460]; Senat [100])

Monetary Unit: Zloty(PLN)=100 groszy; 1 USD=4.2 PLN (26/07/2001)
Country code: PL
TLD: .pl
International calling code: 48

Language spoken: Polish (see Polish language).

For the national anthem see Mazurek Dabrowskiego.

Poland is divided into 16 regions or voivodships (Polish: województwo): Dolnoslaskie (Dolnośl&aogonek;skie), Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Lubelskie, Lubuskie, Lodzkie (&Lstroke;ódzkie), Malopolskie (Małopolskie), Mazowieckie, Opolskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Pomorskie, Slaskie (Śl&aogonek;skie), Swietokrzyskie (Świ&eogonek;tokrzyskie), Warminsko-Mazurskie (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), Wielkopolskie, Zachodniopomorskie


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