OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Poland
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 312,612 Sq Km (120,700 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 39,223,300
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Poland is located in Central Europe.
It is bound by the Baltic Sea to the north, Germany to the
west, Lithuania to the northeast, Belarus and the Ukraine
to the east as well as the Czech Republic and Slovakia to
the south. The country is mostly part of the Great European
Plain while north of the Polish Plateau there are lowlands
of clay and sand as well as the Baltic Sea coast which is
flat and contains numerous lagoons. To the south, the plateau
rises to the Carpathian and Sudetes Mountains. Around 30%
of the land area is covered by Pine, Beech and Birch forests
while patches of tundra are found along the Baltic Sea coast
and steppe covers the Polish Plateau. The principal rivers
are the Wisla or Vistula and Oder or Odra. Major Cities
(pop. est.); Warsaw 1,642,700, Lodz 833,700, Krakow 745,100
(1994). Land Use; forested 28%, pastures 13%, agricultural-cultivated
47%, other 12% (1993).
CLIMATE: Poland has a continental climate with severe winters
and mild summers. Rainfall mostly occurs during the summer months and the
average annual precipitation varies from 500 mm (20 inches) to 1,220 mm
(48 inches) depending on the region. Average temperature ranges in Warsaw
are from -5 to 0 degrees Celsius (23 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit) in January
to 15 to 24 degrees Celsius (59 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) in July.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Poles who account
for almost 99% of the population and are predominantly of west Slavic origin.
Other ethnic minorities include Ukrainians, Belarussians, Germans and Jews.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 122 persons per sq km
(317 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 61.4% urban, 38.6% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 48.7% male, 51.3% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
66.1 years male, 75.3 years female (1991). Age Breakdown; 25% under 15,
21% 15 to 29, 24% 30 to 44, 15% 45 to 59, 11% 60 to 74, 4% 75 and over
(1990). Birth Rate; 13.4 per 1,000 (1992). Death Rate; 10.3 per 1,000 (1992).
Increase Rate; 3.1 per 1,000 (1992). Infant Mortality Rate; 14.2 per 1,000
live births (1992).
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 95% of the population Roman
Catholic while the remainder are Eastern Orthodox or Protestant.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Polish which is spoken and
understood by nearly all of the population.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
2.8%, incomplete primary 12.7%, primary 44.9%, secondary 33.9%, higher
5.7% (1978). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 98.7% (1988).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In July 1945 the Polish Government
of National Unity, which was dominated by the communist Polish Workers' Party
(PPR), was formed and Poland's present day boundaries were established. In
1947 the PPR won parliamentary elections and banned all opposition parties.
In 1949 the Socialists and PPR united to form the Polish United Workers' Party
(PZPR). The PZPR then embarked on socialist policies of industrial nationalization
and the establishment of collective agricultural farms. In 1956 anti-government
demonstrations and strikes, although crushed by troops, brought Wladyslaw
Gomulka to power as head of the PZPR communist party which resulted in the
abandonment of compulsory collective farms. In Aug. 1968 Gomulka sent Polish
troops to participate in the invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1970 violent suppression
of strikes and riots resulted in Gomulka being ousted and replaced by Edward
Gierek. In Oct. 1978 Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected as Pope John
Paul II and in June 1979 visited his homeland. In 1980 Stanislaw Kania replaced
Gieredk as head of the PZPR after thousands of workers went on strike demanding
economic and political reforms. In 1981 Wojciech Jaruzelski replaced Kania
after economic problems increased and in December Martial Law was imposed
until July 1983. In Oct. 1984 Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a pro Solidarity priest,
was abducted and murdered. In 1988 strikes and riots took place in protest
of economic austerity measures which resulted in the announcement in Apr.
1989 of the planned introduction of market economy, the legalization of Solidarity
and constitutional changes. In July, Jaruzelski was elected President and
in Aug. 1989 Solidarity's Tadeusz Mazowiecki was elected as the first non-communist
Prime Minister and formed a Solidarity coalition government. In Nov. 1990
Lech Walesa who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 was elected as the
country's new President. In Jan. 1991 Jan Krzysztof Bielecki of the Liberal
Democratic Congress succeeded Mazowiecki as Prime Minister and in Oct. 1991
parliamentary elections were held following their postponement from May 1991.
In Dec. 1991 Jan Olszewski was elected the new Prime Minister under a center-right
coalition government. Also in the same month associate membership negotiations
with the EU were successfully completed. In 1992 the government announced
plans for a controversial "pact for state enterprise" with the unions,
in which the employees of privatized enterprises would receive 10% of the
shares for free while 60% would be available for Polish citizens through national
investment funds. On June 4, 1992 following rumors of a planned coup and allegations
of corruption Prime Minister Olszewski government was dismissed and Pres.
Walesa chose Waldemar Pawlak of the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) as Olszewski's
successor, although an alliance of the Christian National Alliance (ZChN),
Democratic Union (UD), Liberal Democratic Congress and three other parties
formed a coalition and appointed Hanna Suchocka as the country's first women
Prime Minister. The new government introduced a jobs program that included
retraining, increased public works and incentives for investment in certain
sectors as the country's unemployment soured above 2.5 million. In Nov. 1992
the Parliament (Sejm) passed a plan to increase sales taxes and reduce expenditures,
following which the IMF approved a US $700 million economic aid package. In
Dec. 1992 some 300,000 miners went on strike in protest to low wages and on
Dec. 31, 1992 the government signed an agreement with the strikers for additional
state subsidies. Also in 1992 the government signed an treaty with Ukraine
while relations with Latvia and Lithuania also improved. In Feb. 1993 Prime
Minister Suchocka narrowly succeeded in passing her austerity budget in the
Parliament following stiff opposition from the Solidarity parties, although
on March 18, 1993 the Parliament voted to suspend the government's plan to
privatise some 600 state enterprises. In April 1993 the Parliament agreed
to allow the government to continue its privatization program, although in
May 1993 the Solidarity unions led strikes by teachers and heath workers that
led to a vote of no confidence. On May 28, 1993 Prime Minister Suchocka resigned
and Pres. Walesa announced elections for Sept. 19, 1993. On Sept. 18, 1993
the last Russian troops left Poland on the 54th anniversary of the Red Army's
invasion. In Oct. 1993 the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
announced the approval of US $1 billion loan to support the country's privatization
program. On Oct. 14, 1993 Waldemar Pawlak of the PSL formed a coalition government
with the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and survived a vote of no confidence
on Nov. 10, 1993.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Zloty (Zl) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $87,272,400,000 (1993).
Public Debt; USD $47,200,000,000 (1993). Imports; Zl 340,183,000,000,000
(1993). Exports; Zl 257,568,000,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $4,500,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; Zl -98,630,000,000,000 (1994). Economically Active
Population; 17,356,00 or 45.1% of total population (1993). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the former
USSR, Germany and other former communist East European countries.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Cereals, Coal, Copper, Fish, Iron Ore, Lead,
Livestock, Oil Seed, Potatoes, Sugar Beets, Sulfur, Timber, Zinc.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Chemicals, Fishing, Food Processing,
Forestry, Iron and Steel, Machinery, Mining, Petroleum Refining, Ship Building.
MAIN EXPORTS: Chemicals, Clothing, Coal, Foodstuffs, Iron and Steel,
Machinery, Motor Vehicles, Non-Ferrous Metals, Ships and Boats.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 26,228 km (16,297 mi) (1990),
passenger-km 50,373,000,000 (31,300,000,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo
ton-km 83,530,000,000 (57,210,000,000 short ton-mi) (1990). Roads; length
401,000 km (249,170 mi) (1990). Vehicles; cars 5,261,000 (1990), trucks
and buses 1,137,000 (1990). Merchant Marine; vessels 698 (1990), deadweight
tonnage 4,441,877 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 3,478,584,000 (2,161,491,000
passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 10,479,000 (7,177,000 short ton-mi)
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 72 with a total circulation
of 6,085,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 10,895,500 (1993). Television; receivers
10,087,000 (1993). Telephones; units 4,419,000 (1993).
MILITARY: 283,600 (1993) total active duty personnel with 65.5%
army, 6.7% navy and 27.8% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 2.5% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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