Coordinates: 52°N 20°E / 52°N 20°E / 52; 20
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Republic of Poland
Anthem: "
Ethnic groups
  • 98% Poles
  • 2% other/unanswered
  • 2.4% no religion
  • 0.2% other
  • 8.7% unanswered
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary republic
• President
Andrzej Duda
Mateusz Morawiecki
14 April 966
18 April 1025
1 July 1569
24 October 1795
11 November 1918
17 September 1939
22 July 1944
31 December 1989[4]
• Total
312,696 km2 (120,733 sq mi)[5] (69th)
• Water (%)
1.48 (2015)[6]
• 2022 census
Neutral decrease 38,036,118[7] (38th)
• Density
122/km2 (316.0/sq mi) (98th)
GDP (PPP)2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $1.705 trillion[8] (21st)
• Per capita
Increase $45,343[8] (41st)
GDP (nominal)2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $748.8 billion[8] (22nd)
• Per capita
Increase $19,912[8] (50th)
Gini (2020)Positive decrease 27.2[9]
HDI (2021)Increase 0.876[10]
very high · 34th
CurrencyZłoty (PLN)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
Date formatdd.mm.yyyy (CE)
Driving sideright
Calling code+48
ISO 3166 codePL
Internet TLD.pl

Poland,[a] officially the Republic of Poland,[b] is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called voivodeships, covering an area of 313,931 km2 (121,209 sq mi). Poland has a population of over 38 million and is the fifth-most populous member state of the European Union. Warsaw is the nation's capital and largest metropolis. Other major cities include Kraków, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Katowice, Łódź, Poznań, Szczecin and Lublin.

Poland has a

Mount Rysy, situated in the Tatra mountain range of the Carpathians. The country is bordered by Lithuania and Russia to the northeast,[c] Belarus and Ukraine to the east, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the south, and Germany to the west. It also shares maritime boundaries with Denmark and Sweden


Roman Church. The Kingdom of Poland emerged in 1025 and in 1569 cemented its longstanding association with Lithuania, thus forming the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was one of the great powers of Europe at the time, with a uniquely liberal political system that adopted Europe's first modern constitution
in 1791.

With the passing of a prosperous

Communist Bloc in the global Cold War, the Polish People's Republic was a founding signatory of the Warsaw Pact. Through the emergence and contributions of the Solidarity movement, the communist government was dissolved and Poland re-established itself as a democratic state
in 1989.

Poland is a

high income economy. Considered a middle power, Poland has the sixth largest economy in the European Union by GDP (nominal) and the fifth largest by GDP (PPP). It provides a very high standard of living, safety and economic freedom, as well as free university education and a universal health care system. The country has 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 15 of which are cultural. Poland is a founding member state of the United Nations, as well as a member of the World Trade Organization, NATO, and the European Union (including the Schengen Area


The native

Proto-Slavic noun pole meaning field, which in-itself originates from the Proto-Indo-European word *pleh₂- indicating flatland.[13] The etymology alludes to the topography of the region and the flat landscape of Greater Poland.[14][15] The English name Poland was formed in the 1560s, from German Pole(n) and the suffix -land, denoting a people or nation.[16][17] Prior to its adoption, the Latin form Polonia was widely used throughout medieval Europe.[18]

The country's alternative archaic name is

Old Polish word lęda (plain).[22] Initially, both names Lechia and Polonia were used interchangeably when referring to Poland by chroniclers during the Middle Ages.[23]


Prehistory and protohistory

A reconstruction of a Bronze Age, Lusatian culture settlement in Biskupin, 8th century BC

The first

Homo sapiens and anatomically modern humans coincided with the climatic discontinuity at the end of the Last Glacial Period (10,000 BC), when Poland became habitable.[25] Neolithic excavations indicated broad-ranging development in that era; the earliest evidence of European cheesemaking (5500 BC) was discovered in Polish Kuyavia,[26] and the Bronocice pot is incised with the earliest known depiction of what may be a wheeled vehicle (3400 BC).[27]

The period spanning the

Late Bronze Age (mid-8th century BC).[30]


Roman Legions sent to protect the amber trade.[32] The Polish tribes emerged following the second wave of the Migration Period around the 6th century AD;[18] they were Slavic and possibly may have included assimilated remnants of peoples that earlier dwelled in the area.[33][34] Beginning in the early 10th century, the Polans would come to dominate other Lechitic tribes in the region, initially forming a tribal federation and later a centralised monarchial state.[35]

Kingdom of Poland

Baptism of Poland
marked the beginning of statehood in 966

Poland began to form into a recognisable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the

martyrdom of Saint Adalbert, who was killed by Prussian pagans in 997 and whose remains were reputedly bought back for their weight in gold by Mieszko's successor, Bolesław I the Brave.[38]

In 1000, at the Congress of Gniezno, Bolesław obtained the right of investiture from Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, who assented to the creation of additional bishoprics.[38] Three new dioceses were subsequently established in Kraków, Kołobrzeg, and Wrocław.[40] Also, Otto bestowed upon Bolesław royal regalia and a replica of the Holy Lance, which were later used at his coronation as the first King of Poland in c. 1025, when Bolesław received permission for his coronation from Pope John XIX.[41][42] Bolesław also expanded the realm considerably by seizing parts of German Lusatia, Czech Moravia, Upper Hungary and southwestern regions of the Kievan Rus'.[43]

Casimir III the Great is the only Polish king to receive the title of Great. He built extensively during his reign, and reformed the Polish army along with the country's legal code, 1333–70.

The transition from

Teutonic Knights to aid in combating the Baltic Prussians; a decision that led to centuries of warfare with the Knights.[49]

In the mid-13th century,

a reunified Poland since Przemysł II in 1296,[54] and the first to be crowned at Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.[55]

Beginning in 1333, the reign of

Ruthenia in 1340 and imposed quarantine that prevented the spread of Black Death.[58][59] In 1364, Casimir inaugurated the University of Kraków, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in Europe.[60] Upon his death in 1370, the Piast dynasty came to an end.[61] He was succeeded by his closest male relative, Louis of Anjou, who ruled Poland, Hungary and Croatia in a personal union.[62] Louis' younger daughter Jadwiga became Poland's first female monarch in 1384.[62]

Kingdom of Poland
, 15 July 1410.

In 1386, Jadwiga of Poland entered a marriage of convenience with

Modern Era.[63] The partnership between Poles and Lithuanians brought the vast multi-ethnic Lithuanian territories into Poland's sphere of influence and proved beneficial for its inhabitants, who coexisted in one of the largest European political entities of the time.[64]

In the Baltic Sea region, the struggle of Poland and Lithuania with the

Poland was developing as a

General Sejm in 1505, transferred most of the legislative power from the monarch to the parliament, an event which marked the beginning of the period known as Golden Liberty, when the state was ruled by the seemingly free and equal Polish nobles.[69]

Wawel Castle in Kraków, seat of Polish kings from 1038 until the capital was moved to Warsaw in 1596

The 16th century saw

Protestant Reformation movements making deep inroads into Polish Christianity, which resulted in the establishment of policies promoting religious tolerance, unique in Europe at that time.[70] This tolerance allowed the country to avoid the religious turmoil and wars of religion that beset Europe.[70] In Poland, Nontrinitarian Christianity became the doctrine of the so-called Polish Brethren, who separated from their Calvinist denomination and became the co-founders of global Unitarianism.[71]

The European Renaissance evoked under Sigismund I the Old and Sigismund II Augustus a sense of urgency in the need to promote a cultural awakening.[20] During the Polish Golden Age, the nation's economy and culture flourished.[20] The Italian-born Bona Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan and queen consort to Sigismund I, made considerable contributions to architecture, cuisine, language and court customs at Wawel Castle.[20]

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
at its greatest extent in 1619


Polonisation policies in newly acquired territories which were met with resistance from ethnic and religious minorities.[72]

In 1573,

Polish-Swedish union endured until 1599, when he was deposed by the Swedes.[79]

King John III Sobieski defeated the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna on 12 September 1683.

In 1609, Sigismund invaded Russia which was engulfed in a civil war,[20] and a year later the Polish winged hussar units under Stanisław Żółkiewski occupied Moscow for two years after defeating the Russians at Klushino.[20] Sigismund also countered the Ottoman Empire in the southeast; at Khotyn in 1621 Jan Karol Chodkiewicz achieved a decisive victory against the Turks, which ushered the downfall of Sultan Osman II.[80][81]

Sigismund's long reign in Poland coincided with the

Saxon era, under Augustus II and Augustus III, saw the rise of neighbouring countries in the aftermath of the Great Northern War (1700) and the War of the Polish Succession (1733).[88]


King of Poland
, reigned from 1764 until his abdication on 25 November 1795.


Catherine II of Russia.[90] The new king maneuvered between his desire to implement necessary modernising reforms, and the necessity to remain at peace with surrounding states.[91] His ideals led to the formation of the 1768 Bar Confederation, a rebellion directed against the Poniatowski and all external influence, which ineptly aimed to preserve Poland's sovereignty and privileges held by the nobility.[92] The failed attempts at government restructuring as well as the domestic turmoil provoked its neighbours to intervene.[93]

In 1772, the

In 1791,

3 May Constitution, the first set of supreme national laws, and introduced a constitutional monarchy.[98] The Targowica Confederation, an organisation of nobles and deputies opposing the act, appealed to Catherine and caused the 1792 Polish–Russian War.[99] Fearing the reemergence of Polish hegemony, Russia and Prussia arranged and in 1793 executed, the Second Partition, which left the country deprived of territory and incapable of independent existence. On 24 October 1795, the Commonwealth was partitioned for the third time and ceased to exist as a territorial entity.[100][101] Stanisław Augustus, the last King of Poland, abdicated the throne on 25 November 1795.[102]

Era of insurrections

The partitions of Poland, carried out by the Kingdom of Prussia (blue), the Russian Empire (brown), and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy (green) in 1772, 1793 and 1795

The Polish people rose several times against the partitioners and occupying armies. An unsuccessful attempt at defending Poland's sovereignty took place in the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising, where a popular and distinguished general Tadeusz Kościuszko, who had several years earlier served under George Washington in the American Revolutionary War, led Polish insurgents.[103] Despite the victory at the Battle of Racławice, his ultimate defeat ended Poland's independent existence for 123 years.[104]

In 1806, an

Free City of Kraków.[106]

Tadeusz Kościuszko was a veteran and hero of both the Polish and American wars of independence.[103]

In 1830,

pogroms of the Polish-Jewish population. Towards the end of the 19th century, Congress Poland became heavily industrialised; its primary exports being coal, zinc, iron and textiles.[110][111]

Second Polish Republic

Chief of State Marshal Józef Piłsudski
was a hero of the Polish independence campaign and the nation's premiere statesman from 1918 until his death on 12 May 1935.

In the aftermath of

armistice with Germany in November 1918, Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic.[114]

The Second Polish Republic reaffirmed its sovereignty after a series of military conflicts, most notably the Polish–Soviet War, when Poland inflicted a crushing defeat on the Red Army at the Battle of Warsaw.[115]

The inter-war period heralded a new era of Polish politics. Whilst Polish political activists had faced heavy

Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw by a painter and right-wing nationalist Eligiusz Niewiadomski.[116]

In 1926, the

Sanacja (Healing) movement to prevent radical political organizations on both the left and the right from destabilizing the country.[117] By the late 1930s, due to increased threats posed by political extremism inside the country, the Polish government became increasingly heavy-handed, banning a number of radical organisations, including communist and ultra-nationalist political parties, which threatened the stability of the country.[118]

World War II

Polish Army 7TP tanks on military manoeuvres shortly before the invasion of Poland in 1939

Nazi German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, followed by the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September. On 28 September 1939, Warsaw fell. As agreed in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Poland was split into two zones, one occupied by Nazi Germany, the other by the Soviet Union. In 1939–1941, the Soviets deported hundreds of thousands of Poles. The Soviet NKVD executed thousands of Polish prisoners of war (among other incidents in the Katyn massacre) ahead of Operation Barbarossa.[119] German planners had in November 1939 called for "the complete destruction of all Poles" and their fate as outlined in the genocidal Generalplan Ost.[120]

, October 1940

Poland made the fourth-largest troop contribution in Europe,

Polish code breakers were responsible for cracking the Enigma cipher. In the east, the Soviet-backed Polish 1st Army distinguished itself in the battles for Warsaw and Berlin.[127]


Armia Krajowa (Home Army), fought against German occupation. It was one of the three largest resistance movements of the entire war, and encompassed a range of clandestine activities, which functioned as an underground state complete with degree-awarding universities and a court system.[128] The resistance was loyal to the exiled government and generally resented the idea of a communist Poland; for this reason, in the summer of 1944 it initiated Operation Tempest, of which the Warsaw Uprising that began on 1 August 1944 is the best-known operation.[127][129]

extermination camps are marked with white skulls in black squares. The border in 1941 between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union
is marked in red.

Nazi German forces under orders from

half of them Polish Jews.[141][142][143] About 90% of deaths were non-military in nature.[144]

In 1945, Poland's borders

Oder-Neisse line. As a result, Poland's territory was reduced by 20%, or 77,500 square kilometres (29,900 sq mi). The shift forced the migration of millions of other people, most of whom were Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Jews.[146][147][148]

Post-war communism

At High Noon, 4 June 1989—political poster featuring Gary Cooper to encourage votes for the Solidarity party in the 1989 elections

At the insistence of

As elsewhere in Communist Europe, the Soviet influence over Poland was met with armed resistance from the outset which continued into the 1950s.[149]

Despite widespread objections, the new Polish government accepted the Soviet annexation of the pre-war eastern regions of Poland

Lwów) and agreed to the permanent garrisoning of Red Army units on Poland's territory. Military alignment within the Warsaw Pact throughout the Cold War came about as a direct result of this change in Poland's political culture. In the European scene, it came to characterise the full-fledged integration of Poland into the brotherhood of communist nations.[151]

The new communist government took control with the adoption of the

was officially proclaimed in 1952. In 1956, after the death of Bolesław Bierut, the régime of Władysław Gomułka became temporarily more liberal, freeing many people from prison and expanding some personal freedoms. Collectivization in the Polish People's Republic failed. A similar situation repeated itself in the 1970s under Edward Gierek, but most of the time persecution of anti-communist opposition groups persisted. Despite this, Poland was at the time considered to be one of the least oppressive states of the Eastern Bloc.[152]

Labour turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity" ("Solidarność"), which over time became a political force. Despite persecution and imposition of martial law in 1981 by General Wojciech Jaruzelski, it eroded the dominance of the Polish United Workers' Party and by 1989 had triumphed in Poland's first partially free and democratic parliamentary elections since the end of the Second World War. Lech Wałęsa, a Solidarity candidate, eventually won the presidency in 1990. The Solidarity movement heralded the collapse of communist regimes and parties across Europe.[153]

Third Polish Republic

death of Poland's top government officials
in a plane crash on 10 April 2010

A shock therapy program, initiated by Leszek Balcerowicz in the early 1990s, enabled the country to transform its socialist-style planned economy into a market economy.[154] As with other post-communist countries, Poland suffered temporary declines in social, economic, and living standards,[155] but it became the first post-communist country to reach its pre-1989 GDP levels as early as 1995, largely due to its booming economy.[156] Poland became a member of the Visegrád Group in 1991,[157] and joined NATO in 1999.[158] Poles then voted to join the European Union in a referendum in June 2003,[159] with Poland becoming a full member on 1 May 2004, following the consequent enlargement of the organisation.[160]

Poland joined the

died in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia.[162]

In 2011, the ruling

Ukrainian refugees arriving in Poland.[170] As of November 2022, more than 1.5 million of those Ukrainian refugees have stayed in Poland, at least temporarily, since the beginning of the war.[171] Poland has been one of neigbouring Ukraine's most ardent supporters after the Russian invasion.[172] In September 2023, however, Poland said that it will stop supplying arms to Ukraine and instead focus on its own defense. Poland's decision to ban importing Ukrainian grain, in order to protect its own farmers, had caused tension between the two countries.[173]


Topographic map of Poland

Poland covers an administrative area of 312,722 km2 (120,743 sq mi), and is the

elevation above the sea level is estimated at 173 metres.[174]

The country has a coastline spanning 770 km (480 mi); extending from the shores of the Baltic Sea, along the

sand dune fields or coastal ridges and is indented by spits and lagoons, notably the Hel Peninsula and the Vistula Lagoon, which is shared with Russia.[177] The largest Polish island on the Baltic Sea is Wolin, located within Wolin National Park.[178] Poland also shares the Szczecin Lagoon and the Usedom island with Germany.[179]

The mountainous belt in the extreme south of Poland is divided into two major

Mount Śnieżka at 1,603.3 metres (5,260 ft), shared with the Czech Republic.[182] The lowest point in Poland is situated at Raczki Elbląskie in the Vistula Delta, which is 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) below sea level.[174]

Morskie Oko alpine lake in the Tatra Mountains. Poland has one of the highest densities of lakes in the world.


Bug.[174] The country also possesses one of the highest densities of lakes in the world, numbering around ten thousand and mostly concentrated in the north-eastern region of Masuria, within the Masurian Lake District.[183] The largest lakes, covering more than 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi), are Śniardwy and Mamry, and the deepest is Lake Hańcza at 108.5 metres (356 ft) in depth.[174]


The climate of Poland is

Precipitation is more frequent during the summer months, with highest rainfall recorded from June to September.[185]

There is a considerable fluctuation in day-to-day weather and the arrival of a particular season can differ each year.[184] Climate change and other factors have further contributed to interannual thermal anomalies and increased temperatures; the average annual air temperature between 2011 and 2020 was 9.33 °C (48.8 °F), around 1.11 °C higher than in the 2001–2010 period.[186] Winters are also becoming increasingly drier, with less sleet and snowfall.[184]


wisent, one of Poland's national animals, is commonly found at the ancient and UNESCO-protected Białowieża Forest


migratory birds and hosts around one quarter of the global population of white storks.[193]

Around 315,100 hectares (1,217 sq mi), equivalent to 1% of Poland's territory, is protected within 23

landscape parks, along with numerous nature reserves and other protected areas under the Natura 2000 network.[195]

Government and politics

Poland is a

prime minister who acts as the head of government.[196] The council's individual members are selected by the prime minister, appointed by the president and approved by parliament.[196] The head of state is elected by popular vote for a five-year term.[197] The current president is Andrzej Duda and the prime minister is Mateusz Morawiecki.[198]


first-past-the-post electoral system, with one senator being returned from each of the one hundred constituencies.[201] The Senate has the right to amend or reject a statute passed by the Sejm, but the Sejm may override the Senate's decision with a majority vote.[202]

The Sejm is the lower house of the parliament of Poland.

With the exception of ethnic minority parties, only candidates of political parties receiving at least 5% of the total national vote can enter the Sejm.[201] Both the lower and upper houses of parliament in Poland are elected for a four-year term and each member of the Polish parliament is guaranteed parliamentary immunity.[203] Under current legislation, a person must be 21 years of age or over to assume the position of deputy, 30 or over to become senator and 35 to run in a presidential election.[203]

Members of the Sejm and Senate jointly form the

National Assembly of the Republic of Poland.[204] The National Assembly, headed by the Sejm Marshal, is formed on three occasions – when a new president takes the oath of office; when an indictment against the president is brought to the State Tribunal; and in case a president's permanent incapacity to exercise his duties due to the state of his health is declared.[204]

Administrative divisions

Poland is divided into 16 provinces or states known as voivodeships.[205] As of 2022, the voivodeships are subdivided into 380 counties (powiats), which are further fragmented into 2,477 municipalities (gminas).[205] Major cities normally have the status of both gmina and powiat.[205] The provinces are largely founded on the borders of historic regions, or named for individual cities.[206] Administrative authority at the voivodeship level is shared between a government-appointed governor (voivode), an elected regional assembly (sejmik) and a voivodeship marshal, an executive elected by the assembly.[206]

Voivodeship Capital city Area Population
in English in Polish km2[207] 2021[207]
Greater Poland Wielkopolskie Poznań 29,826 3,496,450
Kuyavian-Pomeranian Kujawsko-Pomorskie Bydgoszcz & Toruń 17,971 2,061,942
Lesser Poland Małopolskie Kraków 15,183 3,410,441
Łódź Łódzkie Łódź 18,219 2,437,970
Lower Silesian Dolnośląskie Wrocław 19,947 2,891,321
Lublin Lubelskie Lublin 25,123 2,095,258
Lubusz Lubuskie Gorzów Wielkopolski &
Zielona Góra
13,988 1,007,145
Masovian Mazowieckie Warsaw 35,559 5,425,028
Opole Opolskie Opole 9,412 976,774
Podlaskie Podlaskie Białystok 20,187 1,173,286
Pomeranian Pomorskie Gdańsk 18,323 2,346,671
Silesian Śląskie Katowice 12,333 4,492,330
Subcarpathian Podkarpackie Rzeszów 17,846 2,121,229
Holy Cross Świętokrzyskie Kielce 11,710 1,224,626
Warmińsko-Mazurskie Olsztyn 24,173 1,416,495
West Pomeranian Zachodniopomorskie Szczecin 22,905 1,688,047


Constitution of 3 May
adopted in 1791 was the first modern constitution in Europe.


medical experimentation, torture or corporal punishment, and acknowledges the inviolability of the home, the right to form trade unions, and the right to strike.[209]


National Council of the Judiciary and are appointed for life by the president.[211] On the approval of the Senate, the Sejm appoints an ombudsman for a five-year term to guard the observance of social justice.[201]

Poland has a low

congenital disorder and stillbirth are not covered by the law, prompting some women to seek abortion abroad.[214]

Historically, the most significant Polish legal act is the

democratic movements across the globe.[215][216][217] In 1918, the Second Polish Republic became one of the first countries to introduce universal women's suffrage.[218]

Foreign relations

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located in Warsaw

Poland is a

ODIHR, one of the principal institutions of the OSCE.[222][223] Apart from the European Union, Poland has been a member of NATO, the United Nations, and the WTO

In recent years, Poland significantly strengthened its relations with the United States, thus becoming one of its closest allies and strategic partners in Europe.[224] Historically, Poland maintained strong cultural and political ties to Hungary; this special relationship was recognised by the parliaments of both countries in 2007 with the joint declaration of 23 March as "The Day of Polish-Hungarian Friendship".[225]


F-16s, a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft


Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Poland.[226] However, its commander-in-chief in peacetime is the president, who nominates officers, the Minister for National Defence and the chief of staff.[226] Polish military tradition is generally commemorated by the Armed Forces Day, celebrated annually on 15 August.[227] As of 2022, the Polish Armed Forces have a combined strength of 114,050 active soldiers, with a further 75,400 active in the gendarmerie and defence force.[228]

Poland is spending 2% of its GDP on defence, equivalent to approximately US$14.5 billion in 2022, with a slated increase to US$29 billion in 2023.

SIPRI, the country exported €487 million worth of arms and armaments to foreign countries in 2020.[233]


Law enforcement and emergency services

State Police Service

Law enforcement in Poland is performed by several agencies which are subordinate to the

firearms unless instructed by the superior commanding officer.[238] Security service personnel conduct regular patrols in both large urban areas or smaller suburban localities.[239]


Agencja Wywiadu (AW) which identifies threats and collects secret information abroad.[240] The Central Investigation Bureau of Police (CBŚP) and the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) are responsible for countering organised crime and corruption in state and private institutions.[241][242]

Emergency services in Poland consist of the emergency medical services, search and rescue units of the Polish Armed Forces and State Fire Service. Emergency medical services in Poland are operated by local and regional governments,[243] but are a part of the centralised national agency – the National Medical Emergency Service (Państwowe Ratownictwo Medyczne).[244]


Economic indicators
GDP (PPP) $1.705 trillion (2023) [8]
Nominal GDP $748.8 billion (2023) [8]
Real GDP growth 4.5% (2019) [245]
CPI inflation 2.2% (2019) [246]
Employment-to-population ratio 55% (2019) [247]
Unemployment 2.9% (2021) [248]
Total public debt
$274 billion (2019) [249]

As of 2023, Poland's economy and

single market, the country has not adopted the Euro as legal tender and maintains its own currency – the Polish złoty
(zł, PLN).

Poland is the regional economic leader in

Central Statistical Office estimated that in 2014 there were 1,437 Polish corporations with interests in 3,194 foreign entities.[253]

Poland has the largest banking sector in Central Europe,[254] with 32.3 branches per 100,000 adults.[255] It was the only European economy to have avoided the recession of 2008.[256] The country is the 20th largest exporter of goods and services in the world.[257] Exports of goods and services are valued at approximately 56% of GDP, as of 2020.[258] In 2019, Poland passed a law that would exempt workers under the age of 26 from income tax.[259]


UNESCO World Heritage Site

Poland experienced a significant increase in the number of tourists after joining the European Union in 2004.[260][261] With nearly 21 million international arrivals in 2019, tourism contributes considerably to the overall economy and makes up a relatively large proportion of the country's service market.[262]

Tourist attractions in Poland vary, from the mountains in the south to the sandy beaches in the north, with a trail of nearly every architectural style. The most visited city is

rock salt beneath the ground.[citation needed

Other tourist destinations include the

Trail of the Eagles' Nests.[264] The largest castle in the world by land area is situated in Malbork, in north-central Poland.[265]


PKP Intercity Pendolino at the Wrocław railway station

Transport in Poland is provided by means of

road, marine shipping and air travel. The country is part of EU's Schengen Area and is an important transport hub due to its strategic geographical position in Central Europe.[266] Some of the longest European routes, including the E30 and E40, run through Poland. The country has a good network of highways comprising express roads and motorways. As of August 2023, Poland maintains nearly 5,000 km (3,100 mi) of highways in use.[267]

In 2017, the nation had 18,513 kilometres (11,503 mi) of railway track, the third longest in the European Union after Germany and France.[268] The Polish State Railways (PKP) is the dominant railway operator, with certain major voivodeships or urban areas possessing their own commuter and regional rail.[269] Poland has a number of international airports, the largest of which is Warsaw Chopin Airport.[270] It is the primary global hub for LOT Polish Airlines, the country's flag carrier.[271]

Seaports exist all along Poland's Baltic coast, with most freight operations using Świnoujście, Police, Szczecin, Kołobrzeg, Gdynia, Gdańsk and Elbląg as their base. The Port of Gdańsk is the only port in the Baltic Sea adapted to receive oceanic vessels. Polferries and Unity Line are the largest Polish ferry operators, with the latter providing roll-on/roll-off and train ferry services to Scandinavia.[272]


The electricity generation sector in Poland is largely fossil-fuel–based. Coal production in Poland is a major source of employment and the largest source of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.[273] Many power plants nationwide use Poland's position as a major European exporter of coal to their advantage by continuing to use coal as the primary raw material in the production of their energy. The three largest Polish coal mining firms (Węglokoks, Kompania Węglowa and JSW) extract around 100 million tonnes of coal annually.[274] After coal, Polish energy supply relies significantly on oil—the nation is the third-largest buyer of Russian oil exports to the EU.[275]

The new Energy Policy of Poland until 2040 (EPP2040) would reduce the share of coal and lignite in electricity generation by 25% from 2017 to 2030. The plan involves deploying new nuclear plants, increasing energy efficiency, and decarbonising the Polish transport system in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prioritise long-term energy security.[273][276]

Science and technology

Physicist and chemist Maria Skłodowska-Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes.[277]

Over the course of history, the Polish people have made considerable contributions in the fields of science, technology and mathematics.[278] Perhaps the most renowned Pole to support this theory was Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikołaj Kopernik), who triggered the Copernican Revolution by placing the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe.[279] He also derived a quantity theory of money, which made him a pioneer of economics. Copernicus' achievements and discoveries are considered the basis of Polish culture and cultural identity.[280] Poland was ranked 40th in the Global Innovation Index in 2021.[281]

Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th century Polish astronomer who formulated the heliocentric model of the solar system

Poland's tertiary education institutions; traditional

Radium Institute.[277]

In the first half of the 20th century, Poland was a flourishing centre of mathematics. Outstanding Polish mathematicians formed the

Warsaw School of Mathematics (with Alfred Tarski, Kazimierz Kuratowski, Wacław Sierpiński and Antoni Zygmund). Numerous mathematicians, scientists, chemists or economists emigrated due to historic vicissitudes, among them Benoit Mandelbrot, Leonid Hurwicz, Alfred Tarski, Joseph Rotblat and Nobel Prize laureates Roald Hoffmann, Georges Charpak and Tadeusz Reichstein


Poland has a population of approximately 38.2 million as of 2021, and is the

median age of roughly 42.[286]

Population of Poland from 1900 to 2010 in millions of inhabitants

Around 60% of the country's population lives in urban areas or major cities and 40% in rural zones.

detached dwellings and 44.3% in apartments.[288] The most populous administrative province or state is the Masovian Voivodeship and the most populous city is the capital, Warsaw, at 1.8 million inhabitants with a further 2–3 million people living in its metropolitan area.[289][290][291] The metropolitan area of Katowice is the largest urban conurbation with a population between 2.7 million[292] and 5.3 million residents.[293] Population density is higher in the south of Poland and mostly concentrated between the cities of Wrocław and Kraków.[294]

In the

2011 Polish census, 37,310,341 people reported Polish identity, 846,719 Silesian, 232,547 Kashubian and 147,814 German. Other identities were reported by 163,363 people (0.41%) and 521,470 people (1.35%) did not specify any nationality.[2] Official population statistics do not include migrant workers who do not possess a permanent residency permit or Karta Polaka.[295] More than 1.7 million Ukrainian citizens worked legally in Poland in 2017.[296] The number of migrants is rising steadily; the country approved 504,172 work permits for foreigners in 2021 alone.[297]

Largest cities or towns in Poland
Statistics Poland (GUS) 2021[298] and GUS BDL 2021[299]
Voivodeship Pop. Rank
Voivodeship Pop.
1 Warsaw Masovian 1,860,281 11 Katowice Silesian 285,711 Wrocław
2 Kraków Lesser Poland 800,653 12 Gdynia Pomeranian 245,222
3 Wrocław Lower Silesian 672,929 13 Częstochowa Silesian 213,107
4 Łódź Łódź 670,642 14 Radom Masovian 201,601
5 Poznań Greater Poland 546,859 15 Toruń Kuyavian-Pomeranian 198,273
6 Gdańsk Pomeranian 486,022 16 Rzeszów Subcarpathian 195,871
7 Szczecin West Pomeranian 396,168 17 Sosnowiec Silesian 193,660
8 Bydgoszcz Kuyavian-Pomeranian 337,666 18 Kielce Świętokrzyskie 186,894
9 Lublin Lublin 334,681 19 Gliwice Silesian 174,016
10 Białystok Podlaskie 294,242 20 Olsztyn


bilingual Polish-Kashubian
road sign with the village name

homogeneous nation, with 97% of respondents declaring Polish as their mother tongue.[303] There are currently 15 minority languages in Poland,[304] including one recognised regional language, Kashubian, which is spoken by approximately 100,000 people on a daily basis in the northern regions of Kashubia and Pomerania.[305] Poland also recognises secondary administrative languages or auxiliary languages in bilingual municipalities, where bilingual signs and placenames are commonplace.[306] According to the Centre for Public Opinion Research, around 32% of Polish citizens declared knowledge of the English language in 2015.[307]


Roman Catholic Pope

According to the 2011 census, 87.6% of all Polish citizens adhere to the

Roman Catholic Church, with 2.4% identifying as having no religion.[3] Poland is one of the most religious countries in Europe, where Roman Catholicism remains a criterion of national identity and Polish-born Pope John Paul II is widely revered.[308] In 2015, 61.6% of respondents outlined that religion is of high or very high importance.[309] Important pilgrimages to the Jasna Góra Monastery, a shrine dedicated to the Black Madonna, take place annually.[310] However, church attendance has decreased in recent years; only 38% of worshippers attended mass regularly on Sunday in 2018.[311]

Freedom of religion in Poland is guaranteed by the Constitution, and the

Ashkenazi Jewish culture and traditional learning until the Holocaust.[314]

Contemporary religious minorities comprise

neopagans, some of whom are members of the Native Polish Church.[315]


Medical service providers and

Ministry of Health; it provides administrative oversight and scrutiny of general medical practice, and is obliged to maintain a high standard of hygiene and patient care. Poland has a universal healthcare system based on an all-inclusive insurance system; state subsidised healthcare is available to all citizens covered by the general health insurance program of the National Health Fund (NFZ). Private medical complexes exist nationwide; over 50% of the population uses both public and private sectors.[316][317][318]

According to the

medications and pharmaceutical products.[323]


Jagiellonian University in Kraków

The Jagiellonian University founded in 1364 by Casimir III in Kraków was the first institution of higher learning established in Poland, and is one of the oldest universities still in continuous operation.[324] Poland's Commission of National Education (Komisja Edukacji Narodowej), established in 1773, was the world's first state ministry of education.[325][326]

The framework for primary, secondary and higher tertiary education are established by the Ministry of Education and Science. Kindergarten attendance is optional for children aged between three and five, with one year being compulsory for six-year-olds.[327][328] Primary education traditionally begins at the age of seven, although children aged six can attend at the request of their parents or guardians.[328] Elementary school spans eight grades and secondary schooling is dependent on student preference – a four-year high school (liceum), a five-year technical school (technikum) or various vocational studies (szkoła branżowa) can be pursued by each individual pupil.[328] A liceum or technikum is concluded with a maturity exit exam (matura), which must be passed in order to apply for a university or other institutions of higher learning.[329]

In Poland, there are over 500 university-level institutions,

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ranked Poland's educational system higher than the OECD average; the study showed that students in Poland perform better academically than in most OECD countries.[334]


The Polish White Eagle is Poland's enduring national and cultural symbol.

The culture of Poland is closely connected with its intricate 1,000-year

National Heritage Board of Poland.[338] Over 100 of the country's most significant tangible wonders were enlisted onto the Historic Monuments Register,[339] with further 17 being recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.[340]

Holidays and traditions

All Saints' Day on 1 November is one of the most important public holidays in Poland.

There are 13 government-approved annual public holidays –

Independence Day on 11 November and Christmastide on 25 and 26 December.[341]

Particular traditions and superstitious customs observed in Poland are not found elsewhere in Europe. Though

carolers journey around smaller towns with a folk Turoń creature until the Lent period.[344]

A widely-popular

Holy Sunday are painted and placed in decorated baskets that are previously blessed by clergymen in churches on Easter Saturday. Easter Monday is celebrated with pagan dyngus festivities, where the youth is engaged in water fights.[346][345] Cemeteries and graves of the deceased are annually visited by family members on All Saints' Day; tombstones are cleaned as a sign of respect and candles are lit to honour the dead on an unprecedented scale.[347]


Fryderyk Chopin
Fryderyk Chopin was a renowned classical composer and virtuoso pianist.
Artur Rubinstein
Artur Rubinstein was one of the greatest concert pianists of the 20th century.

Artists from Poland, including famous musicians such as

Artur Rubinstein, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Wieniawski, Karol Szymanowski, and traditional, regionalised folk composers create a lively and diverse music scene, which even recognises its own music genres, such as sung poetry and disco polo.[348]

The origins of Polish music can be traced to the 13th century; manuscripts have been found in

polonaise tune for Polish kings by an unknown composer), may also date back to this period, however, the first known notable composer, Nicholas of Radom, lived in the 15th century. Diomedes Cato, a native-born Italian who lived in Kraków, became a renowned lutenist at the court of Sigismund III; he not only imported some of the musical styles from southern Europe but blended them with native folk music.[349]

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Polish baroque composers wrote

polonaise. Wojciech Bogusławski is accredited with composing the first Polish national opera, titled Krakowiacy i Górale, which premiered in 1794.[350]

Poland today has an active music scene, with the jazz and metal genres being particularly popular among the contemporary populace. Polish jazz musicians such as


Jan Matejko
Jan Matejko, leading Polish history painter whose works depict Poland's heritage and key historical events
Lady with an Ermine
Lady with an Ermine (1490) by Leonardo da Vinci is displayed in the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków.

Art in Poland has invariably reflected

art nouveau. Since the 20th century Polish documentary art and photography has enjoyed worldwide fame, especially the Polish School of Posters.[352] One of the most distinguished paintings in Poland is Lady with an Ermine (1490) by Leonardo da Vinci.[353]

Internationally renowned Polish artists include

art deco), and Zdzisław Beksiński (dystopian surrealism).[354] Several Polish artists and sculptors were also acclaimed representatives of avant-garde, constructivist, minimalist and contemporary art movements, including Katarzyna Kobro, Władysław Strzemiński, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Alina Szapocznikow, Igor Mitoraj and Wilhelm Sasnal

Notable art academies in Poland include the

MOCAK art galleries.[355]


Main Market Square in Kraków is an example of Brick Gothic architecture.
Poznań City Hall
The 16th-century City Hall of Poznań illustrates the Renaissance


city tenements and town halls.[358] Cloth hall markets (sukiennice) were once an abundant feature of Polish urban architecture.[359] The mountainous south is known for its Zakopane chalet style, which originated in Poland.[360]

The earliest architectonic trend was

Polish Mannerism, found in Poznań, Lublin and Zamość.[364][365] Foreign artisans often came at the expense of kings or nobles, whose palaces were built thereafter in the Baroque, Neoclassical and Revivalist styles (17th–19th century).[366]

Primary building materials comprising


Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Mickiewicz, whose national epic poem Pan Tadeusz (1834) is considered a masterpiece of Polish literature
Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski
Joseph Conrad, author of popular books such as Heart of Darkness (1899) and Nostromo (1904)


Old Polish are the Holy Cross Sermons and the Bible of Queen Sophia,[375] and Calendarium cracoviense (1474) is Poland's oldest surviving print.[376]

The poets

Baroque era, Jesuit philosophy and local culture greatly influenced the literary techniques of Jan Andrzej Morsztyn (Marinism) and Jan Chryzostom Pasek (sarmatian memoirs).[378] During the Enlightenment, playwright Ignacy Krasicki composed the first Polish-language novel.[379] Poland's leading 19th-century romantic poets were the Three BardsJuliusz Słowacki, Zygmunt Krasiński and Adam Mickiewicz, whose epic poem Pan Tadeusz (1834) is a national classic.[380] In the 20th century, the English impressionist and early modernist writings of Joseph Conrad made him one of the most eminent novelists of all time.[381][382]

Contemporary Polish literature is versatile, with its

sci-fi novel Solaris by Stanisław Lem and The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski are celebrated works of world fiction.[384] Poland has six Nobel-Prize winning authors – Henryk Sienkiewicz (Quo Vadis; 1905), Władysław Reymont (The Peasants; 1924), Isaac Bashevis Singer (1978), Czesław Miłosz (1980), Wisława Szymborska (1996), and Olga Tokarczuk (2018).[385][386][387]


The cuisine of Poland is eclectic and shares similarities with other regional cuisines. Among the staple or regional dishes are

żurek (soured rye soup), oscypek (smoked cheese), and tomato soup.[388][389] Bagels, a type of bread roll, also originated in Poland.[390]

Traditional dishes are hearty and abundant in

makowiec (poppy seed roll), or napoleonka cream pie.[392]

Traditional alcoholic beverages include honey mead, widespread since the 13th century, beer, wine and vodka.[393] The world's first written mention of vodka originates from Poland.[394] The most popular alcoholic drinks at present are beer and wine which took over from vodka more popular in the years 1980–1998.[395] Grodziskie, sometimes referred to as "Polish Champagne", is an example of a historical beer style from Poland.[396] Tea remains common in Polish society since the 19th century, whilst coffee is drunk widely since the 18th century.[397]

Fashion and design

Traditional polonaise dresses, 1780–1785

Several Polish designers and stylists left a legacy of beauty inventions and

eyelash extensions.[399][400] As of 2020, Poland possesses the fifth-largest cosmetic market in Europe.[401] Inglot Cosmetics is the country's largest beauty products manufacturer,[402] and the retail store Reserved is the country's most successful clothing store chain.[403]


Versailles, where French dresses inspired by Polish garments included robe à la polonaise and the witzchoura. The scope of influence also entailed furniture; rococo Polish beds with canopies became fashionable in French châteaus.[405] Sarmatism eventually faded in the wake of the 18th century.[404]


Honorary Oscar, the Palme d'Or, as well as Honorary Golden Lion and Golden Bear



history, drama, war, culture and black realism (film noir).[406][407] In the 21st-century, two Polish productions won the Academy AwardsThe Pianist (2002) by Roman Polański and Ida (2013) by Paweł Pawlikowski.[407]


Headquarters of the publicly funded national television network TVP in Warsaw

According to the

TVN 24 and Polsat News.[411] Public television extends its operations to genre-specific programmes such as TVP Sport, TVP Historia, TVP Kultura, TVP Rozrywka, TVP Seriale and TVP Polonia, the latter a state-run channel dedicated to the transmission of Polish-language telecasts for the Polish diaspora. In 2020, the most popular types of newspapers were tabloids and socio-political news dailies.[409]

Poland is a major European hub for video game developers and among the most successful companies are CD Projekt, Techland, The Farm 51, CI Games and People Can Fly.[412] Some of the popular video games developed in Poland include The Witcher trilogy and Cyberpunk 2077.[412] The Polish city of Katowice also hosts Intel Extreme Masters, one of the biggest esports events in the world.[412]


The Stadion Narodowy in Warsaw, home of the national football team

Track and field, basketball, handball, boxing, MMA, ski jumping, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, tennis, fencing, swimming, and weightlifting
are other popular sports. The golden era of football in Poland occurred throughout the 1970s and went on until the early 1980s when the Polish national football team achieved their best results in any FIFA World Cup competitions finishing third place in the 1974 and the 1982 tournaments. The team won a gold medal in football at the 1972 Summer Olympics and two silver medals, in 1976 and in 1992. In 2012, Poland co-hosted the UEFA European Football Championship.[415]

As of August 2023, the

as first in the world.[416] The team won a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics and the gold medal at the FIVB World Championship 1974, 2014 and 2018.[417][418]
Mariusz Pudzianowski is a highly successful strongman competitor and has won more World's Strongest Man titles than any other competitor in the world, winning the event in 2008 for the fifth time.[419]

Poland has made a distinctive mark

Ekstraliga division has one of the highest average attendances for any sport in Poland. The national speedway team of Poland is one of the major teams in international speedway. Individually, Poland has three Speedway Grand Prix World Champions, with the most successful being three-time World Champion Bartosz Zmarzlik who won back-to-back championships in 2019 and 2020, and his third in 2022. In 2021, Poland finished runners-up in the Speedway of Nations world championship final, held in Manchester, UK in 2021.[420]

In the 21st century, the country has seen a growth of popularity of

Agnieszka Radwanska, winner of 20 WTA career singles titles including 2015 WTA Finals; Top 10 ATP player Hubert Hurkacz; and former World No. 1 doubles player Łukasz Kubot whose career highlights include winning two Grand Slam doubles titles – 2014 Australian Open and 2017 Wimbledon Championships. Poland also won the 2015 Hopman Cup with Agnieszka Radwańska and Jerzy Janowicz representing the country.[421][422]

Poles made significant achievements in mountaineering, in particular, in the Himalayas and the winter ascending of the eight-thousanders. Polish mountains are one of the tourist attractions of the country. Hiking, climbing, skiing and mountain biking and attract numerous tourists every year from all over the world.[263] Water sports are the most popular summer recreation activities, with ample locations for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and windsurfing especially in the northern regions of the country.[423]

See also


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  3. ^ Poland borders the Kaliningrad Oblast, an exclave of Russia.


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Works cited

External links