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Poland

Geography - People - Economy - Government - Communications - Transportation - Military - Transnational Issues

Country information - Poland
Country name - conventional long form : Republic of Poland
Country name - conventional short form : Poland
Country name - local long form : Rzeczpospolita Polska
Country name - local short form : Polska
Government type : republic
Capital - name : Warsaw
Capital - time difference : UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
National holiday : Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)
Population : 38,500,696 (July 2008 est.)
Nationality - noun : Pole(s)
Nationality - adjective : Polish
Languages : Polish 97.8%, other and unspecified 2.2% (2002 census)
Currency (code) : zloty (PLN)
Currency code : PLN
Major infectious diseases - degree of risk : intermediate
Major infectious diseases - note : highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)

Poland is located Central Europe, east of Germany. The climate is temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers. The terrain is mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border.

Background

This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
Background : Poland is an ancient nation that was conceived near the middle of the 10th century. Its golden age occurred in the 16th century. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation. In a series of agreements between 1772 and 1795, Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland amongst 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 and by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A "shock therapy" program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe, but Poland still faces the lingering challenges of high unemployment, underdeveloped and dilapidated infrastructure, and a poor rural underclass. Solidarity suffered a major defeat in the 2001 parliamentary elections when it failed to elect a single deputy to the lower house of Parliament, and the new leaders of the Solidarity Trade Union subsequently pledged to reduce the Trade Union's political role. 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.



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