Borders To the west, Poland has a border of 467 km with Germany, to the south with the Czech Republic (790 km) and Slovakia (541 km); to the east and north-east with Ukraine (529 km), Belarus (416 km), Lithuania (103 km) and Russia (210 km). The total length of Poland's land and sea borders is 3,496km.
Climate Poland has a moderate climate with both maritime and continental elements. This is due to humid Atlantic air which collides over its territory with dry air from the Eurasian interior. As a result, the weather tends to be capricious and the seasons may look quite different in consecutive years. This is particularly true for winters, which are either wet, of the oceanic type, or - less often - sunny, of the continental type.
Climate Generally, in north and west Poland the climate is predominantly maritime, with gentle, humid winters and cool, rainy summers, while the eastern part of the country has distinctly continental climate with harsh winters and hotter, drier summers. Generally, Poland receives all kinds of air masses typical of the northern hemisphere. This results in a variable climate and considerable problems with weather forecasting.
Geography (1) Poland has areas of outstanding natural value, both Europeanwide and worldwide. There are still places hardly touched by the civilization, like the wild and desolate Bieszczady Mountains with their spectacular pastures known as poloniny, and the inaccessible flood plains along the Biebrza River, home to many rare bird species, sometimes found nowhere else in Europe.
Geography (2) The most valuable gems of Poland's flora include the several hundred ancient oak trees in the Rogalin forest near Poznan. Every Polish schoolchild learns about the thousand-year-old Bartek oak near Kielce which was officially recognized in the 1930s as the biggest and oldest tree in the country. Bartek appears in many legends like the one about King Casimir the Great, eminent ruler of medieval Poland, who is said to have tried his subjects in its shade.
People In 2003 Poland's population stood at 38,111,000. This figure makes it the 29th most populated country in the world and the 8th in Europe. Before, it ranked seventh, but was surpassed by the independent Ukraine. It is forecast to regain the seventh place position roughly by 2030, surpassing Spain.
Population The main population concentrations are the industrial agglomerations of Katowice (about 4 million people), Warsaw (about 2.5 million), Gdansk and Poznan (about 1.5 million each). The least populated areas are the north-east and north-west farmlands.
Polish cuisine (1) Polish cuisine has elements taken from the cooking traditions of the many national groups that lived in the country side by side for centuries, notably the Jews, Ukrainians, Belarussians and Lithuanians. There are also some Russian, German, Czech and Austrian influences as well as dishes from more distant regions: Italy, France and the Middle East.
Polish cuisine (2) An essential part of the main Polish meal of the day - which, incidentally, is eaten much earlier than in the West - is soup. One of the most popular soups in the country is barszcz (fermented beetroot soup), often served with beans or uszka, ravioli-type pastries stuffed with meat or mushrooms. Another tasty fermented soup is żurek - made of rye-flour and cooked with mushrooms, and served with potatoes, diced sausages and hard-boiled eggs. A true gourmet treat is wild mushroom soup thickened with sour cream and served with tiny uszka.
Polish cuisine (3) Other popular soups are kapuśniak (made of brined cabbage), krupnik (barley soup on rich chicken stock with vegetables and chunks of meat), potato soup, and tomato soup. And there is also rosół - poultry or beef bouillon served with noodles and sprinkled liberally with parsley.
Polish cuisine (4) Perhaps the best-known Polish culinary classic is kotlet schabowy - fried pork loin chop coated in breadcrumbs and served with potatoes and cabbage. Pieczony schab (roast pork loin) stuffed with prunes is simply mouthwatering. Other popular pork dishes include roasted or boiled golonka (pork knuckle) and kaszanka (a kind of black pudding), once staple peasant food, today served in the best restaurants. The same applies to smalec (dripping), melted with pork scratchings, chunks of meat and onion, seasoned with salt, pepper and often aromatic herbs.
Types of industry Polish industry includes over 380 thousand business units. The vast majority of the industrial enterprises are privately owned. About 99,9% of all companies are in private property (of which 98.2% are in hands of Polish nationals, 1.3% are foreign companies operating in Poland and 0.5% are joint-ventures with the majority share of private capital). The private sector manufactures around ¾ of industrial products and secures jobs of almost 80% of Polish industrial employees.
Economy The structure of Polish economy has changed dramatically over the last 18 years. The service sector has gained in importance, and the significance of industry has diminished. Today, the industry generates only about ¼ of value added of Polish GDP. These changes were the effect of both dynamic development of service sector – which is a global trend – and a profound restructuring of ineffective national industrial companies in Poland in 1990s.
Consumer protection (1) Consumer rights have undergone a profound change in recent years. This was primarily related to Poland's accession to the EU. As Poland has introduced the European Community legal system, the scope of consumer protection has been widened and the legal control in this respect has been strengthened. The main body responsible for consumer protection is the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.
Consumer protection (2) The president of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection has a right to force withdrawal of unsafe products from the market, to investigate and make decisions about practices which violate consumer rights, and intervene, should an agreement of sale include illegal clauses, which do not comply with law or accepted practice.
Consumer protection (3) Such interventions are on the rise in Poland. But, apart from the state of the legal system, the other crucial factor is consumer awareness - so far, the cases of consumers suing producers have been few. It can be however expected that consumer awareness will increase - and any company willing to conduct business activity in Poland should take it into consideration.
Purchasing behaviour Small shops versus supermarkets Polish consumers Supporting small shops Diversity of foreign products versus Polish goods
Tourism You can find more or less everything in Poland: alpine mountains, wide beaches, clean lakes, deep forests, world-class historic monuments, and friendly people. The climate is temperate, and the people warm and hospitable. Polish cities with a thousand-year history invite their visitors to encounters with culture, and Poland's villages and small-time towns offer the opportunity to get away from the bustle of modern life.