Language: Polish
Currency: Zloty (PLN)
Calling Code: 48


Poland (Polish: Polska) is located in Central Europe. Many cities with historic cores and a variety of landscapes that are particularly worth seeing make the country a worthwhile travel destination. Poland originally goes back to the West Slavic tribes who had settled between the Oder and Vistula rivers since the 7th century and came under the rule of the Polans from the 9th century. Poland's written history begins with the adoption of Latin Christianity by the Polish Piasts in the mid-10th century and the country's rise to kingdom status in the early 11th century. A little over a hundred years later, as part of Polish particularism, the kingdom split into many duchies ruled by different Piast lines and only loosely united as a seniorate under the ruler of Kraków. During this time, numerous settlers from Germany and the Netherlands as well as Jews came to Poland, cities and trade flourished. In the 14th century, the last two Piasts from the Kujaw line succeeded in reuniting large parts of Poland into one kingdom and strengthening the country economically and politically.

After the death of Casimir III. In 1370 the Kingdom of Poland became an elective monarchy, paving the way for the emergence of the noble republic under the Jagiellonians in the 15th century, when the Polish three-chamber parliament prevailed over the king as the sovereign of the state. After several ever closer unions with Lithuania since the 14th century, the Polish-Lithuanian noble republic was founded in Lublin in 1569, one of the largest states in Europe at the time and, along with Venice, the only early modern republic on the Old Continent. The rise to become a major European power began in the early 15th century, when the Polish-Lithuanian Jagiellonians also succeeded in ascending the thrones of Hungary and Bohemia and thus ruling from the Baltic to the Black Sea and the Adriatic. Since around the middle of the 16th century the Protestants, especially the Calvinists - later Polish Brethren - had the majority in the Polish parliament, they forced the newly elected king of France Henri Valois in 1572 to recognize the Sandomir Zedict of Tolerance as the constitutional right of the republic. The 16th century is therefore regarded as the golden age in Polish cultural history, and the early 17th century as the silver age.

The weakness of the republican form of government compared to the absolutist neighboring states became noticeable from the middle of the 17th century, when the republic was unable to set up a powerful army that could prevent foreign powers from penetrating its territory. Thus, by the end of the century, Poland-Lithuania was successively plundered by Cossacks, Swedes, Brandenburgers and Transylvanians, Russians, Turks and Swedes again. Finally, in the 18th century, the republic came under full Russian influence, when the tsars used corruption and violence to paralyze the Polish-Lithuanian Parliament. The reform movement in the spirit of the Enlightenment in the second half of the 18th century under the last Polish-Lithuanian king Stanislaus II August was fruitful in the adoption of Europe's first modern constitution in 1791, but the partitions of Poland-Lithuania ended the reform process.

Even after the Congress of Vienna, Poland only emerged as a vassal state of Russia, whose autonomy was gradually abolished in the 19th century. It was not until after World War I that Poland gained independence as the Second Republic for twenty years before being divided again as part of the Hitler-Stalin pact. Even after the Second World War, Poland as a people's republic remained a vassal state of the Soviet Union, which only regained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Third Polish Republic joined NATO in 1997 and the European Union in 2004. The economic crisis of the 1980s and especially the 1990s seems to have been overcome and Poland has experienced a minor economic miracle since joining the EU, with the lowest unemployment rate for 30 years (3.7% according to Eurostat) and one of the highest economic performances (4.5% annual Economic growth) among the countries of the European Union (as of summer 2019).

Located in the center of Europe Poland is washed in the north by the Baltic Sea. It has a land border with Russia (Kaliningrad region), Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany.

The majority of believers (about 87% of the population) profess Catholicism, which makes Poland the country with the largest Catholic population in Central Europe.



Poland is divided into 16 voivodeships: its territory consists of five geographical areas. In the northwest is the Baltic Sea coast, which stretches from the Pomeranian Bay to the Bay of Gdańsk on the Vistula Delta, which is characterized by numerous spits (e.g. Hel Peninsula, Fresh Spit), inland waters and dunes (e.g. Lotzker Düne). The largely straight coastline is interrupted by the Szczecin Lagoon, the Vistula Lagoon and the Puck Lagoon. In the north and center of Poland, the lowlands formed by the Ice Age join the Central European plain, in which four large lake districts (the Masurian Lake District, the Kashubian Lake District, the Pomeranian Lake District and the Wielkopolska Lake District) lie, whose numerous bodies of water are embedded in a hilly moraine landscape are (cf. Kashubian Switzerland). South of the lowlands lie the landscapes of Lower Silesia, Upper Silesia, Masovia and the Carpathian foothills, which are shaped by the glacial valleys of the great rivers.

In particular, the Lublin region on the middle Vistula with its loess soil is strongly characterized by sunken roads. To the south are the Polish low mountain ranges (the Kraków-Częstochowa Jura, the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, the Beskydy, the Pieniny, the Forest Carpathians and the Sudetes with the Giant Mountains). The highest peak, the Tatra, is a geologically very diverse high mountain range and the highest peak in the Carpathians.



West Pomeranian (Województwo zachodniopomorskie) - region in north-western Poland on the Baltic Sea with shares in the historic regions of Western Pomerania, Eastern Pomerania and Neumark. Numerous water sports opportunities on the coast and the Pomeranian Lake District. The kayak route along the Drawa is very varied. The most beautiful beaches are on the islands of Wollin and Usedom (Swinemünde, Międzyzdroje) and near Kolberg. Szczecin offers an interesting cultural program.
Pomeranian (Województwo pomorskie) − region in northern Poland. After Lesser Poland, probably the most beautiful voivodeship in Poland around the tricity of Danzig, Sopot and Gdynia. Endless sandy beaches on the Baltic Sea coast with the desert-like sand sea of dunes in the Slowinski National Park. Gdansk as the mannerist gate of Poland. Numerous crusader castles, with the Marienburg on the Nogat as the largest castle in the world. Lake District in Kashubian Switzerland. Fantastic water sports (surfing, wreck diving, sailing) on the Gdańsk Bay, especially on the Hel Peninsula.
Warmian-Masurian (Województwo warmińsko-mazurskie) − region in north-eastern Poland with numerous lakes and crusader castles made of brick. As the name suggests, the voivodeship consists of two historical regions, Warmia and Mazury. The latter is considered the center of water sports in Poland, especially the area around the Great Masurian Lakes. The kayak route along the Krutynia is considered the most beautiful in Europe. But hiking, cycling, gliding and ballooning are also very popular.



Lebus (Województwo lubuskie) − region on the middle Oder on the border with Germany. Around Zielona Góra there is a large wine-growing area.
Greater Poland (Województwo wielkopolskie) − historical region around Poznań, considered the Polish heartland with Bronze Age settlements and the cradle of the Polish state around Gniezno, Giecz and Ostrów Lednicki. Many Romanesque buildings around Gniezno, many Baroque palaces around Poznań (e.g. Rogalin or Kórnik). Kalisz, which was mentioned in documents in 150, is considered the oldest town in Poland. In Stary Licheń is one of the largest churches in the world - modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The Wielkopolskie Lake District invites you to water sports.



Kuyavian-Pomeranian (Województwo kujawsko-pomorskie) − region on the Lower Vistula, characterized by Brick Gothic. After Kraków, Toruń has the most protected monuments in Poland. Kayaking on the Brda is popular. Bydgoszcz, Włocławek and the spa town of Ciechocinek are worth seeing. Kruszwica is one of the oldest places in Poland.
Łódź (Województwo łódzkie) − region in central Poland around the secession city of Łódź, whose original capital was Łęczyca. Łowicz is considered the center of Polish folklore. Baroque palace and romantic landscape park in Nieborów and Arkadia.
Masovia (Województwo mazowieckie) − region around Warsaw. A wide landscape characterized by endless fields and avenues with weeping willows that shaped Chopin's music. In the 11th century, Płock was the capital of Poland, and Czersk was the seat of the Mazovian dukes. Numerous typical mansions of Polish nobles from the 18th century and romantic landscaped parks. Water sports on the Zegrze reservoir near Warsaw and on the Narew. Numerous baroque and classicism palaces and gardens in Warsaw. Modern architecture in the capital, which is considered one of the highest cities in Europe. Nightlife in Warsaw.



Podlachia (Województwo podlaskie) - the "wild east" of Poland with the last primeval forest in Central Europe. The last European bison live here in the wild. Moose, wolves and brown bears can also be found. Numerous testimonies of Jewish culture and the wealth of Polish magnates. The Branicki Palace in Białystok is considered the Polish Versailles. The Renaissance synagogue in Tykocin is considered the most beautiful in Europe. The Polish Muslims also live here - the Tatars together with Orthodox and Catholic Poles. Probably the most beautiful orthodox church in Poland is in Supraśl. The kayak route along the Czarna Hańcza is one of the most attractive in Poland. There are excellent water sports facilities around the Wigry lake complex in the extreme north-east of Poland. The associated lake Hańcza is over 100m the deepest in Poland and the entire northern European lowlands from France to Estonia.
Lublin (Województwo lubelskie) − region in eastern Poland on the border with Ukraine and Belarus. Numerous Renaissance towns bear witness to the wealth of the Polish-Lithuanian noble republic in the early modern period, e.g. B. Kazimierz Dolny, Zamość, Lublin. There are numerous traces of Jewish culture. Castles and castle ruins are in Puławy, Kozłówka, Lublin, Kazimierz and Janowiec. The landscape of the Roztocze National Park invites you to go on long hikes along the Tanew.



Lower Silesia (Województwo dolnośląskie) − region in southwestern Poland with the main ridge of the Sudetes (Giant Mountains, Jizera Mountains, Glatzer Bergland) and numerous baroque buildings. The ski resorts of Karpacz, Kowary and Szklarska Poręba in the Giant Mountains are easy to reach from Germany. Wroclaw has an interesting nightlife and numerous sights in the old town. Many palaces, monasteries, castles and ruins along the Oder.
Opole (Województwo opolskie) − region in southern Poland on the Oder. Numerous wooden Schrotkirchen and historic towns.
Silesia (Województwo śląskie) − region in southern Poland. Most populous metropolitan area in Katowice with rich cultural offerings. Winter sports in the Silesian Beskids in Szczyrk, Żywiec, Ustroń and Wisła and the Jura with its numerous castles. The castle ruins of Ogrodzieniec are considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe. The most important place of pilgrimage in the baroque monastery on the Hellen Berg in Czestochowa, one of the largest in Europe.



Świętokrzyskie (Województwo świętokrzyskie) − region around one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, the Świętokrzyskie Mountains in south-east central Poland. In Ujazd (Krzyżtopór Castle) and Chęciny there are large ruins of castles and chateaus, and the Raj cave is considered the most beautiful in Poland. Sandomierz is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Central Europe.
Lesser Poland/ Małopolskie (Województwo małopolskie) − probably the most beautiful region of southern Poland with five national parks and five world heritage sites. Here are the highest mountains, High Tatras, Western Tatras, Gorce, Pieniny, Babia Góra, Beskydy and Jura. The former capital Kraków is considered the most beautiful city in Poland and was European Capital of Culture in 2000. The old town complex with the Wawel complex is on the list of the twelve most worthy of protection of mankind's monuments. Kraków's nightlife with its numerous student basements is legendary. In addition, numerous monasteries, castles and Renaissance palaces. Zakopane is considered the winter sports capital of Poland with après-ski at its best. Zawoja, Krynica-Zdrój and Rabka-Zdrój are other important ski resorts. Water sports are possible at the reservoirs near Czorsztyn, Żywiec and Tarnów. Raft and kayak tours in the Dunajec Gorge in the Pieniny are a special experience. A must-see is the 800-year-old Wieliczka Salt Mine. Niepołomice is known for its royal castle and Nowy Wiśnicz and Niedzica for their magnate castles.
Subcarpathian (Województwo podkarpackie) − region of historical Red Rus' in the extreme south-east of Poland with the "wild" mountains of Bieszczady and Beskid Niski. With the deserted high meadows, the Bieszczady Mountains have a special charm. Brown bears, wolves and lynxes still live here. Water sports are possible at the Solina Dam surrounded by mountains. Numerous Renaissance palaces, first of all Łańcut, Baranów Sandomierski and Krasiczyn and beautiful Renaissance towns of Przemyśl, Jarosław, Leżajsk.

Important regions (selection) from north to south, from west to east:
The Polish Baltic Sea coast is more than 500 km long sandy balance coast from the Pomeranian Bay in the west to the Gdańsk Bay in the east. It is characterized by fine sandy beaches, high shifting dunes, some with cliffs, and numerous beach lakes and spits. Here are the major cities of Szczecin, Gdansk, Gdynia and Elbing.
The Polish Lake District connects to the south and south-east of Poland's Baltic Sea coast and covers around 20% of Poland's land area. After Finland, Poland is the country with the highest density of lakes (number of lakes per square kilometer) in Europe. Here are the major cities of the region, Poznań, Bydgoszcz, Toruń and Olsztyn.
The Polish lowlands join south of the lake districts. The largest conurbations in Poland are located here with Warsaw, Łódź and Wroclaw.
The Polish Highlands follow the lowlands in a crescent-shaped arc from Upper Silesia in the west to Roztocze in the east. Here are the big cities of the Upper Silesian industrial area as well as Czestochowa, Kielce and Lublin. The highlands consist of very old mountain regions, including the Świętokrzyskie Mountains and the Kraków-Częstochowa Jura, most of which have already been eroded over time. In the middle, the region is divided from south to north by the Lesser Poland Vistula Gorge.
The Sudetes are an old mountain range in south-western Poland and their main ridge largely forms the border with the Czech Republic. They join the middle Oder valley to the south. The highest part of the Giant Mountains is south of Jelenia Góra, reaching over 1,600 meters above sea level.
Like the Alps, the Carpathians are relatively young mountains. In Poland they are in the southeast on the border with Slovakia. They join the Polish Highlands to the south. The Beskydy, Bieszczady and Gorce are heavily forested low mountain ranges that reach over 1,700 meters above sea level. The Pieniny represent a rugged karst belt between the Beskids in the north and the Western Tatras and High Tatras in the south. The latter is the only high mountain range in Poland that reaches almost 2,500 meters above sea level here. The cities of Kraków, Tarnów and Rzeszów are located in the foothills of the Carpathians.



Most major Polish cities have a medieval core with a brick-Gothic old town. Insofar as these old towns were destroyed in the Second World War, such as the old and new towns in Warsaw, they were largely reconstructed true to the original in the period that followed. The old royal city of Kraków is one of the few major Polish cities whose medieval core has survived the turmoil of time unscathed.

Warsaw (Warszawa) – the modern capital and the dominant economic center of the country. The city was almost completely destroyed during World War II after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. However, the old town, new town and Kraków suburbs were largely rebuilt true to the original and are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. In the other parts of the city, however, there is a lot of post-war architecture and also numerous modern skyscrapers, which make Warsaw one of the "tallest" cities in Europe.

Cracow (Kraków) – the historic royal residence and capital of Poland and Poland-Lithuania (from c. 1040 to 1596). In the First and Second World Wars, the building fabric of Kraków was only slightly damaged compared to other Polish cities, so that today it is considered the best-preserved historic city in Poland. The university is the second oldest in Central Europe, making Kraków a real student city. The medieval town centre, the Wawel Hill with the castle and cathedral and the town of Kazimierz with the Jewish quarter, which was incorporated in 1800, are all part of the world cultural heritage.

Łódź (Lodz) – an insignificant small town until the 19th century, it grew into the second largest city in the country thanks to the textile factories in the age of industrialization. As a result, there are entire districts and streets from the Wilhelminian era and Art Nouveau. Since the collapse of industry, the city has been in transition and upheaval. Capital of Polish Film ("HollyŁódź").

Wrocław (Breslau) – the historical capital of Silesia and an important trading town since the Middle Ages, which in its history has successively belonged to Bohemia, Austria, Prussia and Germany. Since the city was almost completely destroyed in World War II, many historical buildings are (very well done) reconstructions or restorations. European Capital of Culture (2016). The main attractions are the old town with buildings ranging from brick Gothic to late Baroque and the monumental Centennial Hall from 1913.

Poznan (Poznań) – one of the oldest cities in Poland and one of its first capitals. The first dukes and kings of Poland were buried in Poznań Cathedral. At the end of the 13th century, Poznań Castle briefly became the royal seat again. The heyday of the city was the Renaissance and the Baroque. The city was partially damaged during World War II. However, the historic building structure in the old town was restored relatively quickly.

Bydgoszcz (Bromberg) – the city at the confluence of the Brda and the Vistula was one of the most important trading centers on the lower Vistula during the early modern period. A second economic boom came in the 19th century, when Bydgoszscz was an important transport hub in eastern Prussia. Architecturally, the city is strongly influenced by the Gründerzeit and Art Nouveau. Bydgoszcz is considered one of the greenest cities in the country.

Gdańsk (Gdańsk) – Poland's main port city on the Baltic Sea is also one of the country's oldest cities. In the Middle Ages, it was a Hanseatic city in the state of the Teutonic Order, and it flourished in the 15th to 17th centuries. The defining architectural style is accordingly the brick Gothic and the Dutch Mannerism. Under Napoleon and after the First World War there was a Free City of Danzig. Gdańsk was badly damaged during World War II, but the old and legal town were rebuilt true to the original.

Elbląg (Elbląg) – not far from the Baltic Sea coast, the city is a foundation of the Teutonic Order. The heyday of the city was the late Middle Ages and the formative architectural style was brick Gothic. However, it was almost completely destroyed in World War II. Unlike Gdansk, the old town was initially only partially reconstructed. The reconstruction of the old town continues in the 21st century.

Katowice (Kattowitz) – The capital of the Upper Silesian industrial area is traditionally characterized by coal mining and heavy industry. Since Katowice only developed into a city during industrialization in the 19th century, there are hardly any older buildings, but mainly Wilhelminian, Art Deco and socialist architecture. In the course of the structural change towards the service and IT economy, more and more modern skyscrapers have recently been added. But Katowice is also the cultural capital of Upper Silesia with a Silesian Museum, theater and philharmonic hall.

Lublin (German: Lüben) – Located on the medieval royal road from Kraków to Vilnius, the Lublin Union of Poland and Lithuania was concluded here in 1569. The style of the Lublin Renaissance became influential for the whole region. Lublin was also an important center of Jewish life. With the exception of the Jewish district, the city's historic buildings were hardly destroyed during the Second World War, so that numerous Gothic and Renaissance buildings have been preserved. After the war, Lublin grew into an industrial city.

Szczecin (Stettin) – Hanseatic city and historical capital of the Duchy of Pomerania. Later, Sweden and Prussia left their mark. Architecturally, the brick Gothic, Mannerism, late Baroque and especially historicism were formative, which turned the city into a "Little Paris" in the 19th century. Almost completely destroyed in the Second World War, the old town was partially reconstructed - the reconstruction of the old town will continue in the 21st century.

Toruń (Thorn) – in the Middle Ages the first town in the Teutonic Order state and Hanseatic city. The heyday of the city was the late Middle Ages and the defining architectural style is still the brick Gothic. The city's most famous son is the astronomer Nicholas Copernicus. The old town was reconstructed after being destroyed in World War II, is considered one of the most beautiful Gothic brick towns in Europe and is a World Heritage Site. The city is also known for its gingerbread.

Czestochowa (Częstochowa) – The icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa in the Jasna Góra Monastery makes the city the most important Marian sanctuary in Poland and all of Central Europe. Apart from that, the steel industry played an important role as there are numerous iron ore deposits in the area.
But there are also numerous smaller towns that have preserved a beautiful historic old town or reconstructed it after the Second World War. Other interesting cities can be found on the pages of the respective voivodeships.


Łazienki Palace


Wilanów Palace

Niedzica Castle

Słowiński National Park

Wolf's Lair

Paradise Cave

Białowieża National Park
Biebrza National Park


Getting here

Poland has been a member of the Schengen Agreement since 2007. This eliminates border controls at the internal borders between Poland and other EU member states. For EU citizens, the identity card is sufficient as an entry document.

Air transport in Poland experienced a wave of privatization in the 1990s. From 1995 to 2000, the number of aircraft movements rose by 17 percent, passenger growth by around 12 percent and cargo growth by around 10 percent. In 2018, passenger numbers grew by 14.3% to over 45.7 million passengers.

The largest airline is LOT, which flies to Polish airports from Germany in codesharing with Lufthansa. Low-cost carriers such as WizzAir, Easyjet, Eurowings and Ryanair also fly to Polish airports.

By far the largest and most important airport in Poland is Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport (IATA: WAW), followed by those in Kraków “John Paul II” (IATA: KRK) and Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport (IATA: GDN).

Direct arrival by train from Germany and Austria is easily possible. The rail network is very dense and amounts to 22560 km. Long-distance trains are operated by the state railway PKP (Polskie Koleje Państwowe). The rail network is laid out in a star shape with Warsaw as the centre. Other important transport hubs are Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Wroclaw, Katowice and Kraków. There is a new line (CMK) from Warsaw to Katowice/Krakow as well as to Poznań, Łódź and Wroclaw. The most important cities are connected by InterCity trains, in the above-mentioned metropolitan agglomerations there are suburban train systems similar to the S-Bahn. Train travel in Poland is very cheap.

Direct connections with Warsaw:
(Status: winter timetable 2018/2019)

Berlin, reservation required EuroCity "Berlin-Warszawa-Express", daily, 6-7 hours
Vienna, three trains directly during the day, one night train with a change in Katowice.
Prague, four direct trains, daytime only, 8-9 hrs.
Budapest, night train to Budapest-Keleti, change in Kraków 13 hours, during the day reservation required to Budapest-Keleti in 10 hours 20.
Kiev, three trains during the day with a change in Przemyśl, 16 hours. Direct night train, 17 hours.
Lviv, night train, 23 hours.

Cross-border transport
Fixed prices apply to the following routes (only 2nd class; 2018):
Szczecin Główny - Grambow = 10.00 zł / 2.50 €
Szczecin Główny - Tantow = VBB tariff
Słubice - Frankfurt (Oder) = PLN 4.00 / €1.00
Ascents - Forst (Lausitz) = 4.00 zł / 1.00 €
Zgorzelec - Görlitz = 0.00 PLN / 0.00 €.

Numerous bus companies offer connections to Poland from Germany and Austria by bus, e.g. E.g. Sinbad, Eurolines, Touring, Omnia. Public transport, which is still very important in Poland despite growing private transport, is served by an extensive intercity bus network. In addition to the state bus lines PKS, there is a wide range of private providers. Traveling by bus is one of the most affordable ways to explore Poland.

The road network has a total length of 364,697 km. Almost all the planned motorways are now in place. The expressways either have four lanes or are wide enough for trucks to use the slow lane on the side of the road so that they can overtake when there is oncoming traffic. The smaller and smallest country roads are sometimes quite bumpy and the center marking is occasionally missing. Here it is necessary to adapt accordingly.

In Poland, there is no vignette requirement for cars. However, some motorway sections are subject to tolls. A distinction must be made between:

State motorways with a toll obligation (A2 Konin-Lodz, A4 Brelau-Gleiwitz): since the end of 2021, paying the toll at toll stations on site has no longer been possible. The use of an app is expected, which requires a smartphone with at least Android 8.0/iOS 14 and a mobile data connection plus GPS signal. If you don't have that, the only option is to simply cheat the toll.
private motorways with tolls (A1 Gdansk-Thorn, A2 border (D)-Konin, A4 Katowice-Krakow): here there are still the classic toll booths where you can pay in cash or by card.

Most of the time, you bypass the toll routes, but this is only worthwhile in the rarest of cases: on the one hand, the toll in Poland is relatively low, on the other hand, you lose a lot of time and fuel by bypassing them. Vehicles with a total weight of more than 3.5 t must also carry a box and pay a toll even on toll-free roads.

Existing highways
A1 - is almost ready, there is still a link under construction near Częstochowa. Planned route: Gdańsk - Łódź - Gliwice - Ostrava. Some sections are toll roads.
A2 - is completed from Frankfurt/Oder via Poznań to Warsaw, the Warsaw South Ring is under construction (as of 2019), the section from Warsaw to the Belarusian border near Brest is still being planned. Almost the entire motorway is toll road.
A4 - is ready. Route: Görlitz - Bunzlau - Wroclaw - Opole - Gleiwitz - Katowice - Kraków -Tarnow - Rzeszów - Przemyśl. Some parts of the motorway are toll roads.
A6 - is ready. Szczecin South Ring. Is not subject to toll.
A8 - is ready. Wroclaw South Ring. Is not subject to toll.
A18 (formerly A12) - is ready, the southern lane is currently being extensively renovated. Route Forst - Bunzlau, mostly signposted as the N18 expressway and not subject to toll.

Longer waiting times may have to be expected at the EU's external borders with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The current waiting times are provided by the border police in real time (wjazd = import, wyjazd = export, osobowe - car, autob. - bus, ciężarowe - truck).

The traffic rules roughly correspond to those in German-speaking countries. Speed Limits: 50/90/120/140 (urban/rural/divided expressway/motorway). Alcohol limit: 0.2. It must also be driven with dipped headlights during the day. Petrol and diesel are cheaper than in German-speaking countries. You can also pay by credit card at almost all petrol stations. Compared to Germany, traffic in Poland is thin, but driving is rougher.

There are 3812 km of navigable waterways in Poland. The most important seaports in Poland are in Gdańsk, Gdynia, Świnoujście and Szczecin.

There are the following regular ferry connections:
Gdynia to Helsinki, Oxelösund and Malmo
Świnoujście to Ystad and Trelleborg (both Sweden) with Unity Line, Polferries and TT-Line

Some examples:
Pole Ferries:
Ystad (9.5 h, 230 zł) - Polferries
Copenhagen (9-11 h, 220 zł)
Nynäshamn (18 h, near Stockholm) from Gdánsk
Karlskrona (10 h, 140-220 zł) - Stena Line


Getting around

air traffic
Polish domestic flights are operated by LOT and Ryanair. There are direct flights between Krakow and Olsztyn, Gdańsk and Szczecin on the one hand and between Wroclaw and Gdańsk on the other. Otherwise, one has to change planes in Warsaw, which is directly connected to all other regional airports that offer domestic flights, except Olsztyn.

By train
See also Traveling by train in Poland

The train is a good means of transport in Poland, as there is a relatively dense rail network. There are the very slow regional trains of the POLREGIO, for which you have to plan more time than in Germany, for example. But driving it is an experience in itself. Reservations are compulsory for some train classes (Express, EC, IC) operated by PKP. Ticket machines are the exception; at most stations tickets are sold at the counter. The fare is highly dependent on the type of train. The 320-kilometer route from Warsaw to Kraków costs 52.60 zł in the regional train, 60 zł in the TLK, a kind of cheap express train, and 127 zł in the intercity train.
A version that can be used on weekdays is the personalized "REGIOKarnet" - for PLN 75 you can use it for unlimited travel on three freely selectable calendar days within two months on regional trains of the types Regio, Arriva RP, KS, KW, KMŁ and ŁKA (not CD). PKP Intercity trains can be used by seniors over the age of 60 with a 30% discount. Seniors (also over 60 years of age) receive a 25% discount on single tickets on Polregio local trains.

weekend tickets
Personal weekend tickets are valid from Friday 7 p.m. to Monday 6 a.m. (in the case of long weekends including the associated public holiday). There are several types.
In long-distance PKP trains of the TLK, IC, EIC types, you can buy a bilety weekendowe. It costs in 2019 in II class PLN 81.00, in I: PLN 110.00. If you want to use all express trains, in addition to the EIP mentioned above, you need Bilety weekendowe max for 164.00 or 264 zł.
Bilet Turystyczny is valid from 48 zł only on regional trains of the types Regio, Arriva RP, KD, KS, KW, KMŁ and ŁKA (around Łódź, without “Sprinter”), but not interREGIO and superREGIO.

The bus providers are also cheap. Tickets can usually be bought directly from the driver. In tourist areas there are many companies that offer shorter minibus trips, the price is around 1 euro per person.

There is a good network of trunk roads - mostly national roads (red numbers). The provincial roads (yellow numbers) and the regional roads are mostly in good to acceptable condition. Some motorways are toll roads. Caution: there are differentiated speed limits in urban areas; unless otherwise stated, the speed limit is 50 during the day. A large number of speed measurement systems are installed, and there are often mobile surveillance systems. It must be driven with dipped headlights on all day. Parking claws for parking violations are common.

On the web you can read that caution is occasionally required at small, independent petrol stations because the fuel is allegedly adulterated and tourists are charged fantastic prices. Whether you believe such stories or not: large gas stations with well-known brand names offer the advantage that you can pay with Eurocard or credit card (Visa). If you put cash in a foreign currency (e.g. euros) on the table in the gas station, you run the risk of not getting a good exchange rate.

By bicycle
Cycle paths in the cities are the exception, cyclists often dodge the sidewalks.
Cycle touring routes are often on side roads and unpaved paths that can muddy up when it rains. Maps with a scale of up to 1:50,000 are recommended for cyclists.
Touring is becoming increasingly popular in Poland, especially among local drivers. A first national long-distance cycle path has been completed and others are in preparation (as of 2017).
The supply of spare parts with common material is continuously guaranteed, in larger cities a difference to the supply in Western Europe can no longer be determined. Services are slightly cheaper than in Germany, parts cost about the same. Resourceful Polish fitters tend to look for a solution to every problem and usually find it.
The acceptance of cyclists has improved significantly in the last 20 years (as of 2017), which leads to more relaxed driving, even in large cities, despite a significant increase in traffic density.
Alcohol is also completely forbidden to cyclists. Penalties equivalent to those for motorists will be imposed.



The official and national language is Polish. Many people speak local dialects/languages such as Silesian, Kashubian, Greater Polish, Lesser Polish or Masovian. However, the dialects of Polish do not differ significantly, so that their speakers can understand each other without any problems. However, Standard Polish is understood and spoken by almost all residents of Poland.

According to language school EF’s English Proficiency Index 2021, Polish language students rank 16th in the world.

Most Poles working in the tourism sector regularly speak another foreign language, such as French, German, Spanish or Russian, in addition to English. Since many Poles have spent a longer period of life abroad, there are also relatively many people in the country who have a good command of Scandinavian or Benelux languages, for example.

It helps if you can say basics like "thank you" (dziękuję), "the bill please" (rachunek proszę) and "it tasted good" (było smaczne) in Polish. See the Polish phrasebook.


What to do

Sightseeing: Despite the numerous wars in Poland, many monuments have been preserved or lovingly reconstructed. Castles, palaces and palaces invite you to visit. In the north, brick Gothic dominates, for example the Crusader castles, in the south it is more late Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, for example the Eagle's Nest or Dunajec castles. Finally, there are numerous Historicist castles in the Hirschberg Valley and throughout Silesia.
Cycling: In Poland there is a network of relatively well signposted cycling routes. Many cycle routes lead along rivers, have correspondingly low gradients and are also suitable for families with children. The quality of cycle paths and their signage varies on the individual long-distance cycle paths.
Hiking: The mountain regions of Tatra, Beskydy, Pieniny, Forest Carpathians, Kraków-Częstochowa Jura, Świętokrzyskie Mountains, Sudetes with the Giant Mountains invite you to hiking holidays. But there are also numerous marked hiking trails on the lake district and the coastal region as well as in the national parks. Hiking has a long tradition in Poland. The most well-known hiking trails include B. the main Beskydy hiking trail and the Small Beskydy hiking trail, the Sudetes main hiking trail or the Pieniny Trail.
Mountaineering: All 71 Polish two-thousanders are in the Tatras. In the mountains, the Eagle Trail in the High Tatras, the Falcon Trail in the Pieniny and the Trail of Polish-Czech Friendship in the Giant Mountains lure with magnificent views. You can even walk to Poland's highest mountain, the Meeraugspitze. Another popular climbing area are the limestone cliffs of the Kraków-Częstochowa Jura.
Water hiking: Especially the smaller Polish rivers and canals are ideal for water hiking. The classics include Krutynia and Czarna Hańcza. Water sports can be practiced on the Baltic Sea, the lake districts in Masuria, Kashubia, Pomerania and Greater Poland and some mountain rivers, including Dunajec, San, Poprad and Bóbr, and the numerous reservoirs such as the Solina, Czorsztyn or Saybusch.
Winter sports: Of course, the ski areas in the Tatras are well-known, but the Polish low mountain ranges also have attractive areas. Zakopane is the winter sports capital of Poland. Other important centers are Szczyrk, Wisła, Ustroń, Korbielów, Karpacz, Szklarska Poręba and Zieleniec.
Wellness: Recreation areas and health resorts can be found in the south in the mountains and north of Poland on the Baltic Sea and the lake districts, especially in the Warmian-Masurian, West Pomeranian, Pomeranian, Kuyavian-Pomeranian, Lesser Poland, Subcarpathian and Lower Silesian Voivodeships.
Beach holiday: Poland has more than 500 km of fine sandy beaches on the Baltic Sea, which invite you to sunbathe, walk on the beach and enjoy water sports. But you can also swim in the numerous Polish lakes, the lake districts in the north and west or the reservoirs in the mountains.



Currency Exchange
The national currency is the złoty (pronounced "swoti", international abbreviation PLN) with one złoty equaling one hundred groszy (pronounced "groschi", derived from the dime). One euro corresponds to approximately 4.72 zł, one CHF to approximately 4.77 zł. There are enough exchange offices in the big cities, the Polish term for this is Kantor; However, their prices and fees are usually quite unfavorable to fraudulent.

It used to make sense to withdraw money from an ATM (ATM) by debit or credit card. Of course, you have to make sure that the card-issuing bank does not charge excessive fees. However, many Polish banks and ATM operators now charge high fees of well over 10%, with the exception of PKO BP and Bank Pekao (as of 2020). In addition, one should reject the immediate conversion into euros (“dynamic currency conversion” or similar): With this variant, a particularly unfavorable conversion rate is applied at the expense of the customer.

One way to exchange money cheaply is to pay with a debit or credit card when shopping in some chain stores, such as Źabka, and get złoty issued at the same time.

Another strategy can be to pay by debit or credit card as often as possible.

In cities near the border, such as Swinemünde, you can sometimes pay in euros, but the exchange rate is usually also unfavorable.

Many shops in the big cities are quite expensive by Polish standards, but still cheaper than in Western Europe. Petrol, tobacco products, local alcohol and medicines are in some cases significantly cheaper than in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (example: a carton of cigarettes from €20). For a long time, there were no restrictions on shop opening hours in Poland, but in 2020 Sunday opening was almost completely abolished. The so-called "Poland markets" near the border, such as the Odercenter Berlin on the Polish side of Hohenwutzen or in Swinemünde, offer cheap petrol and tobacco products as well as food, clothing and other goods, but these are often not cheaper than in Germany.

Bottle and can deposit
In Poland there is a deposit of 50 groszy on some beer bottles, such bottles are then marked with butelka zwrotna, zwrotna or Z. Beer bottles without a deposit are occasionally marked with bezzwrotna or B. Accordingly, as in Germany, there are now bottle collectors in everyday life in larger cities who collect empty bottles, return them and collect the deposit.



Polish cuisine
See also: Polish cuisine

Polish cuisine is diverse and has numerous specialties to offer, with meat playing a major role. Poland has a lot of forests and water bodies, so mushrooms, forest fruits, fish and game are often on the table. The Kashubians, Silesians and Gorals in particular have regional cuisines.

meat dishes
Polish meat products - especially the many different types of sausage - enjoy a high reputation worldwide. The Krakauer, Saybuscher, Kabanos, Goralenwurst, Jägerwurst, blood sausage Kaszanka etc. should be mentioned here. Other traditional free-food dishes in Poland are the knuckle of pork, venison-style roast, roast hussar, rabbit in cream, pheasant old-Polish style, ribs in honey, duck with Apples, Roast Roast, pork chop, pulpety, zrazy or gołąbki. Bigos is the ultimate Polish national dish.

fish dishes
At the Baltic Sea people like to eat herring and cod. Carp, tench, trout and crayfish are popular in southern Poland. Catfish, zander, pike, eel, perch and bream predominate in the lake areas. Popular fish dishes are spiced herring, chopped herring fillets, Warsaw-style carp, Jewish-style carp, Polish-style zander, Masurian-style fish, Tatar-style fish and Greek-style fish.

Polish national dishes include pierogi and Lithuanian Kołduny pierogi, Pyzy potato dumplings, dumplings, egg pancakes, yeast pancakes, Polish omelets, poppy seed noodles, kopytka, Silesian dumplings, croquettes, kołaczyki and uszka.

Poles like to eat soups, especially in winter. Borscht, Żurek, flaczki, czernina, botwina, chicken broth, mushroom soup, tomato soup, cucumber soup, sorrel soup, sauerkraut soup and barley soup are very popular. In the warm season, people like to eat soups that are served cold, such as blueberry soup.

The extensive range of bread and rolls (e.g. Polish onion roll "Cebularz") is excellent and very cheap. The obwarzanek and the bagel are from Kraków. Podpłomyk, a kind of tarte flambée, and zapiekanka are now popular across Poland.

milk products
Many types of cheese are common, especially in the mountains. Cottage cheese Oscypek and Bryndza are mainly available in the Tatras. Baltic Sea cheese and Zamość cheese are also regional products. White cheese and cottage cheese are eaten all over Poland.

Cakes are very popular in Poland. The most popular types include cheesecake, apple pie, poppy seed pie, mazurek, babka, placek, kołacz, donuts, cream puffs, krówki. A specialty of Thorn are the gingerbread katarzynki. Rogal świętomarciński squirrels come from Poznan, while Kołocz śląski crumble cake and Begle lard rings come from Silesia. Kashubians like to eat ruchanki yeast pancakes and Szczecin people like Pasztecik szczeciński yeast pie.

As a non-alcoholic drink, people in Poland like to drink kompot (a kind of diluted fruit syrup) or juice.

The most famous Polish beers include Żywiec (from Żywiec), Żubr (from Białystok), Lech (from Poznań), Tyskie (from Tychy), Warka (from Warka), Leżajsk (from Leżajsk), Okocim (from near Kraków) , EB (from Elblag), Bosman (from Stettin) and Piast (from Wroclaw). Most Polish beer brands belong to global brewery groups such as Heinecken or Carlsberg.

Poland has a long wine tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages but was interrupted by World War II. In the meantime, more and more vineyards are being planted again, especially in the south of the country. The most important wine-growing regions include Lebus (here especially Zielona Góra), Lesser Poland and especially the Carpathian foothills.

drinking honey
Drinking honey (Miód pitny) is an old Polish speciality. The sweet honey wine can be purchased almost everywhere. Many beekeepers also make this themselves.

A Polish specialty is nalewka (plural: nalewki) – vodka-based vodka, usually flavored with fruit, but also with herbs or honey.

Poland is the country of origin of vodka, which was first mentioned here around the turn of the 14th century. The vodka is offered either clear (e.g. Wyborowa) or with flavors (e.g. Żubrówka, is exported as "Grasowka"; Żołądkowa).

Food and restaurant visits in Poland are now almost at German price levels. Among the best restaurants are Wierzynek (serving royally as early as 1364) in Kraków and Belweder in Warsaw. Duck or goose dishes are often found on the menu; Kotlet are cutlets.

Typical for Poland are the folk canteens called bar mleczny (literally "milk bar", although there is usually no milk there). Traditional Polish cuisine is offered in self-service, a full meal with a starter soup and a drink (kompot, a kind of diluted fruit syrup) costs from around PLN 20 (€5) (as of 2020). They are usually only open during the day, so not suitable for dinner.

In addition, international cuisine has largely established itself in Poland; Asian restaurants, pizzerias and kebab shops and, of course, system gastronomy dominate the street scene alongside Polish restaurants. Especially in larger restaurants, menus are mostly bilingual Polish-English, sometimes also in German.



You can go out especially well in the big cities. Above all, Warsaw, Kraków and Łódź should be mentioned here. Kraków in particular, as a city with hundreds of pubs, cellars, bars in the Old Town and in the Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz, may have made a name for itself as a top European destination in terms of nightlife. On the market square - the largest medieval one in the world - it would probably be difficult to find a building without a basement with a pub or disco. Partially, the noble pavement of the "Rynek" also serves as a dance floor. Warsaw and Łódź, on the other hand, boast large discos and dance halls. But there are also very good nightlife options in Warsaw's Old Town and around Łazienki Park. The prices are very moderate for Western European standards. Other student cities such as Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Toruń, Lublin and Katowice also have an intense nightlife.



Youth hostels and hiking huts are e.g. B. operated by PTTK. These are mostly relatively large and anonymous, often with gender-separated rooms. Important: The youth hostels close very early in the evening (even in Warsaw no later than 11 p.m.) and are also closed during the day (usually 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Exceptions can often be agreed with the staff. There are also youth hostels that are open all day. There are campsites all over the country. But wild camping is also tolerated. There is also no shortage of luxurious hotels and castle hotels. The Polish Association of Youth Hostels PTSM is available at tel.: (0048-22) 8498128, 8498363; tel./fax: 8498354 and hostellingpol.ptsm@pro.onet.pl.

Although the use of credit cards is also becoming increasingly common in Poland, some hotels still only accept cash today. The best thing to do is to ask which means of payment are accepted when booking.

The mains voltage corresponds to that in Germany. Polish sockets are shaped almost like German sockets, but have an additional grounding prong protruding from the socket. Schuko plugs (round plugs) therefore do not fit. Euro plugs (flat plugs), on the other hand, can be used without any problems.

Wild camping is forbidden in principle and especially in national parks (penalty: € 125). However, as of 2021, camping is permitted in 425 designated forest areas as long as you don't leave rubbish, don't light a fire, and don't stay longer than two nights.


Learning and studying

School education in Poland begins at the age of five with compulsory pre-school, followed by eight years of primary school. In the secondary schools, there is the three-year liceum ogólnokształcące (“general secondary school”) which leads to the higher education entrance qualification, a technical school which combines the Abitur with vocational training, or a vocational school.

Polish universities maintain exchange programs, e.g. B. Erasmus, with universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The oldest university in Poland and the second oldest in Central Europe is the Jagiellonian University in Kraków from 1364. On the international level, however, Polish universities do not play a particularly important role (cf. CHE-Raanking). While Polish courses for foreigners are offered by various organizers (including universities) in several cities, e.g. B. in Kraków and Warsaw, the foreign language skills of the Poles are relatively manageable on average. The most commonly learned first foreign language is English, if a second foreign language is learned, German is widely spoken alongside Russian.

Science in Poland has a difficult history:

On the one hand, one of the main goals of the Nazis was to eliminate intelligence and thereby prevent internal resistance from Poland. As a result, professors were arrested and school attendance was suspended for all children.
On the other hand, the education system also suffered greatly under the Soviet era, so that educational reforms became necessary from 2000 and still manage to advance education and research in Poland today. However, the current government is now working against this, with its Holocaust law preventing a well-founded academic examination of history.
The DAAD education system analysis for Poland lists many interesting key figures for the Polish university and education system with comparative values for Germany, which once again clarify the differences between the two countries.



Poland is actually quite safe, but care should not be neglected in crowds - as anywhere in the world - unwary travelers are easier targets for thieves. According to the U.S. Department of State, gangs of thieves often operate on public transport and (night) trains. If you are traveling by car, you should also be suspicious if you are informed of an alleged defect. Furthermore, travelers with darker skin color may be confronted with racist remarks. The Foreign Office also warns against thefts from the car or the entire car. Furthermore, the unclear border marking at the border to the Russian Kaliningrad should be taken into account. If you accidentally cross the border, you can have serious problems with the Russian border officials.

Consumption of alcohol in public is forbidden and quickly leads to trouble with the police. Even those who stand in front of a bar as a local guest, since smoking is banned inside, are better off leaving their beer inside. However, this does not apply to the outdoor seating areas of restaurants, which are usually provided with a symbolic fence.

Homophobia is widespread in Poland, which has now also manifested itself politically in the so-called LGBT ideology-free zones. Even if these zones are only symbolic, they show that LGBTQ people could be openly attacked, especially outside of the big cities.



Medical care is good. As a traveller, whether for tourism or business, the European health insurance agreements apply to those with statutory health insurance. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from health insurance companies in Germany is accepted. Statutory health insurance doctors are in the Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia (NFZ), which is clearly written on the respective sign. There is an overview on the NFZ website, only in Polish, under Poradnie/gabinety podstawowej opieki zdrowotnej (POZ). German employees who receive an AÜ certificate must have the IDC-10 coded diagnosis entered by hand; such information is not common in Poland. Not all practitioners work with the statutory system, some only bill privately. This should be discussed prior to treatment. Of course there is an emergency medical service. In cities there are always some pharmacies on night duty.

Dental costs are only covered by health insurance in a few emergencies. There is an overview of the emergency services after 7 p.m.

In the event of illness in Poland, the same regulations apply as apply in the Polish social security system. Therefore, co-payments for treatments and medicines may apply. Private international travel insurance is recommended for more complete protection.

The bathing waters are regularly of good quality, especially in the north. Tick bites can be problematic in Masuria. Vaccination or regular body checks are recommended. In Masuria, a remedy against mosquitoes should not be missing. But it can also be bought cheaply on site.


Climate and travel time

The climate is temperate, becoming more and more continental to the east and south-east. Summers are generally warm, with average temperatures between 16°C and 19°C, and winters are cold, with average temperatures around 0°C in the north-west and down to -5°C in the south-east. This temperate transitional climate is created by the collision of continental air from Europe and Asia with Atlantic air. Precipitation falls mainly in spring and autumn. In the north, the precipitation is higher than in the southern part of Poland. The highest precipitation falls in the Tartra with 1700mm per year. The wind mostly blows from the west in summer, while in winter the wind mostly blows from the east.


Rules and respect

The memory of the Second World War is more present in Poland than in any other country in Europe. In places with a reminder character, e.g. B. former concentration camps, one should behave tactfully.

religiosity in Poland
Religion plays a crucial role in Poland. Over 90% of the population believe in God and 50% practice their faith regularly. The dominant religion in Poland is the Roman Catholic Church, with a following of 87% of the population. Only 0.4% of the population are evangelical. Today there are still about 10,000 Jews living in Poland and several thousand Muslim Tatars. In churches, synagogues or mosques you should be dressed appropriately and as a tourist you should not go during the service.


Post and telecommunications

Telephoning: Poland is well covered with landline connections and the mobile network is also very well developed and usually offers good connections even in rural areas. Telephone machines are numerous and work with cards. There are three mobile network providers: Plus GSM (code 260 01), [15] (260 02), Orange (260 03). Since 2016, an identity document has to be presented when purchasing a SIM card. In the cities there are numerous Internet cafes with reasonable prices. The first Wi-Fi hotspot in Europe was on the Kraków Market Square.

Mobile Internet:
Mobile internet is available everywhere.

Post Office:
The Polish Post (Poczta Polska) is represented in almost every town. Letters and postcards usually arrive quickly. Parcels usually take a little longer. Parcels are also carried by private carriers. The shipping cost is lower than Western Europe.
A postcard abroad worldwide costs 5 PLN (as of March 2020).


General information

Poland covers an area of ​​312,679 km², according to this indicator, the country is in 69th place in the world and tenth in Europe. The population is 38 million people (33rd in the world). The country is divided into 16 voivodships, which in turn are divided into powiats (counties) and gminas (volosts).

The date of creation of the first Polish state is considered to be 966, when Mieszko I converted to Christianity. Poland became a kingdom in 1025, and in 1569 united with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (I Rzeczpospolita). In 1795, as a result of three partitions, when the territory was divided between Prussia, Austria and Russia, the Polish state ceased to exist. During the Napoleonic wars in the period 1807-1813. there was the Duchy of Warsaw, most of which in 1815 became part of Russia as the so-called Kingdom of Poland. Poland regained its independence in 1918 after the First World War (II Rzeczpospolita), but in 1939 was divided between Germany and the USSR. After the war, Poland within the new borders (without Western Belarus and Western Ukraine, but with significant territorial acquisitions at the expense of Germany) became a "country of people's democracy" dependent on the USSR (People's Republic of Poland). In 1989 there were changes in the political system, the transition to a market economy (III Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth).

It has been a member of NATO since March 12, 1999, and a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004. December 21, 2007 entered the Schengen area. Member of the UN (1945), OSCE (1973), Council of Europe (1991), World Trade Organization (1995), OECD (1996), Visegrad Group.



After the introduction of the official name - "Rzeczpospolita Polska" - for some time it was translated into Russian as the Polish Republic, because the word Polska simultaneously means both "Poland" and "Polish". This was followed by an explanation from the Polish Foreign Ministry that the adequate translation was "Republic of Poland". The official name of the country does not use the modern Polish word "republika" (republic), but the outdated one - "rzeczpospolita" (Rzeczpospolita), which is a literal translation into Polish of the Latin term "rēs rublica" (public cause). The Russian name "Poland" goes back to the local case of the singular w Polszcze (modern Polish w Polsce) from Polish. Polska is a substantiated adjective "Polish" from ziemia polska - "Polish land", that is, "land of glades" (the name of the tribe, in turn, comes from the word "field").



The total area of ​​Poland is 312,658 (312,683) km² (in terms of area, it ranks 69th in the world, and 10th in Europe). Land - 304,459 km², water - 8220 km². About 2/3 of the territory in the north and in the center of the country is occupied by the Polish lowland. In the north - the Baltic Ridge, in the south and southeast - the Lesser Poland and Lublin Uplands, along the southern border - the Carpathians (the highest point 2499 m, Mount Rysy in the Tatras) and the Sudetes. Large rivers - Vistula, Odra; dense river network. Lakes are predominantly in the north. Under forest 28% of the territory.

The status of UNESCO biosphere reserves has 10 protected areas, including nat. parks Słowiński (protection of the unique massif of the Lebski dunes), Babegurski (high-altitude range of Beskid landscapes), landscape park Tucholsky pine forest (the second largest forest after Belovezhskaya Pushcha), etc.



In the north it is washed by the Baltic Sea; borders:
In the west with Germany - 467 km,
In the southwest with the Czech Republic - 796 km,
In the south with Slovakia - 541 km,
In the southeast with Ukraine - 535 km,
In the east with Belarus - 418 km,
In the northeast with Lithuania - 104 km and Russia (Kaliningrad region) - 210 km.

In addition, Poland, through the economic zone in the Baltic Sea, borders on the zones of Denmark and Sweden.

The total length of the borders is 3511 km, of which 3071 km are land and 440 sea.



The climate is temperate, transitional from maritime to continental with mild (cold in the mountains) winters and warm (cool in the mountains) summers. The continentality of the climate is lower than in Belarus and Ukraine, which is expressed primarily in milder winters. Average January temperatures are from -1 to -5 °C (up to -8 °C in the mountains), July from +17 to +19 °C (up to +10 °C in the mountains); precipitation 500-800 mm on the plains; in the mountains in some places more than 1000 mm per year.



At the beginning of our era in Poland, the fact of the residence of the Germanic tribes of Skirs and Lugievs is known. Then they were replaced by the Goths of the Velbar culture. In the middle of the 1st millennium south of Poland, the Alans and Turkic tribal associations controlled. The Crimean Goths are unprovenly associated with the Baltic Velbar culture. At the end of the 1st millennium, such tribes were known on the territory of Poland as Western glades (from them the name of the country), Lendzyans (from them the name of the Poles from their neighbors: “Poles”), Kuyavians, Pomeranians, Mazovans, Wieslans, Slzes (in Silesia), etc. D. Gradually, on the basis of large tribal principalities, proto-state associations arise; Of these principalities, the principalities were the Principality of Wislans in present-day Lesser Poland (the Krakow region) and glades in Greater Poland (the Poznan region).

Gniezno Poland (877–1320)
In 877, after the conquest of Lesser Poland by Great Moravia, the center of the formation of the Polish state remained Great Poland, whose capital was the city of Gniezno. The first known ruler of Poland was the Great Poland Prince Meshko I of the Piast clan (960–992); in 966 he adopted Christianity in the Western rite. Under his son - Boleslaw the Brave - the Polish Principality reached the peak of power.

In 877, after the conquest of Lesser Poland by Great Moravia, the center of the formation of the Polish state remained Great Poland, whose capital was the city of Gniezno. The first known ruler of Poland was the Great Poland Prince Meshko I of the Piast clan (960–992); in 966 he adopted Christianity in the Western rite. Under his son - Boleslaw the Brave - the Polish Principality reached the peak of power.

In 1320, Kuyavsky Prince Vladislav Loketek (1305–1333), having annexed Great Poland to his possessions, was crowned in Krakow by the Polish king. From now on, Krakow becomes the new capital of Poland. Under his successor Casimir III the Great (1333–1370), Poland experienced its heyday. In 1349, Galicia was annexed to Poland. In 1370, the king of Poland was the nephew of Casimir - the king of Hungary, Louis (Lajos) I, from the Anjou dynasty (1370–1382) - the first foreign king on the Polish throne. Having no solid support in the country, he published the Kosice Privilege in 1374, according to which magnates and gentry were exempted from all duties, except military service and a small tax of 2 pennies from the land.

In 1384, Jadwiga became the Queen of Poland (according to Polish law - the king). The tycoons began to look for Jadwig her husband, who could be a full-fledged Polish monarch, and found such a person in the person of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jagiello (in the Polish pronunciation of Jagiello). In 1385, the Polish-Lithuanian Union was concluded in Kreva, according to which Jagiello was baptized according to the Catholic rite, introduced Catholicism as the state religion in Lithuania, married Jadwig and entered the Polish throne under the name of Vladislav II. Thus, in the East of Europe, a Polish-Lithuanian state arose. Under Jagail, the infringement of the Orthodox population of the Russian lands captured by the Poles began. Jagiello handed over to the Catholics the Orthodox Cathedral in Przemysl which was built under the Russian prince Volodar Rostislavovich, laying the foundation for the catholicization and polonization of this city. The Orthodox Metropolitan of Galitsky was taken away in favor of the Catholic Archbishop of all his land holdings.

In 1410, the Battle of Grunwald took place - the defeat of the Teutonic Order.

The son of Jagiello Vladislav III (tsar. 1434-1444) became simultaneously the king of Hungary and Poland, but died in the battle with the Turks near Varna. After this, the Polish-Hungarian union ceased, but the Polish-Lithuanian union was restored (which was stopped), thanks to the election of the brother of Vladislav, the Lithuanian prince Casimir Jagiellonchik, to the Polish throne (Casimir IV, 1447-1492).

In 1454, according to the Neszaw statutes, Poland turned into a republic, where the supreme power belonged to the Sejm (Parliament).

Wars with the Teutonic Order resumed. In 1466, in the Second Torun Peace, Poland annexed Pomerania with Gdansk and gained access to the Baltic Sea. The son of King Vladislav in 1471 became the king of the Czech Republic, and since 1490 - and the king of Hungary.


In 1505, the Nihil novi law was passed, limiting the king’s power in favor of the nobility. Since that time, the term Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth has become common with the Polish system of government.

After the Mohach battle with the Turks, when the Czech-Hungarian king Louis (Lajos) Jagiellon died, the geopolitical situation changed dramatically in 1526: there was no trace of the predominance of the Jagiellonian dynasty, the territories south of Poland were divided between Turkey and Austria. During the reign of the last Jagiellon, Sigismund II Augustus, the Polish-Lithuanian union again had to face the strengthening of the Moscow state, where Ivan IV the Terrible reigned. Since 1562, Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Union were drawn into a fierce, long and devastating Livonian war for both sides.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1795)
Sigismund Augustus was childless, and as he grew older, the question arose of the further fate of the Polish-Lithuanian state, kept only by the unity of the dynasty. The need to build it on new principles led to the conclusion of the Union of Lublin (1569), according to which Poland formed a united confederate state with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, headed by a diet and a king chosen by him. The state went down in history as the “Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth” (Polish Rzeczpospolita, copy from the Latin res publica (“republic”), “common cause”; with respect to the Polish state, it was first used in the 13th century by Vincent Kadlubek).


After the death of Sigismund, the era of elected kings began, in accordance with the new constitution. The Frenchman Heinrich Valois (1572-1574) appeared on the throne and soon fled back to France, while Ivan the Terrible again went on the offensive in Livonia. The election of the Transylvanian prince Stephen Batory in 1576 turned the situation in favor of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: he returned the lost Polotsk (1579), then, in turn, invaded Russia itself and besieged Pskov. Peace in the Pit-Zapolsky (1582) restored the old border.

After the death of Batory in 1586, the Poles elected the Swedish king Sigismund III Waza; however, he soon lost the Swedish throne because of his Catholic fanaticism. Three important events are connected with his rule: the transfer in 1596 of the capital from Krakow to Warsaw (coronations were still held in Krakow); The Brest Union of the Orthodox and Catholic churches (1596), ending traditional Polish tolerance and creating the prerequisites for the Khmelnitsky uprising and Polish intervention in Russia during the Time of Troubles.

Polish intervention in Russia
The Polish magnates Mnisheki supported the impostor False Dmitry and equipped him with an army of Zaporizhzhya Cossacks and Polish volunteers. In 1604, the army of the impostor invaded Russia, the cities and the armies sent to meet him swore allegiance to the new tsar. In 1605, the impostor entered Moscow and was crowned, but was soon killed.

The impostor promised the Polish king Sigismund III, in return for help, to return Smolensk. Under the pretext of these promises, Sigismund in 1610 begins a siege of Smolensk. The army, sent to the rescue by the new tsar Vasily Shuisky, was defeated by the hetman Zholkevsky at the Battle of Klushin, after which the Poles approached Moscow, while the troops of the new impostor False Dmitry II besieged her from the other side. Shuisky was overthrown and subsequently extradited to Zholkevsky. The Moscow boyars swore allegiance to the young son of Sigismund, Vladislav, and then let the Polish garrison enter Moscow. Sigismund did not want to let his son go to Moscow and baptize him in Orthodoxy (as was assumed under the terms of the agreement), but tried to rule Moscow personally through Alexander Gonsevsky, who led the Polish garrison in Moscow after the departure of Zholkevsky. The result was the unification of the former "Tushino thieves" - Cossacks with the nobles of Shuisky against the Poles (early 1611) and their joint campaign against Moscow, supported by the uprising in Moscow itself, which the Poles were able to suppress only by setting fire to the city.

The siege of Moscow by the first militia was unsuccessful due to contradictions in its ranks. The campaign of the second militia led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky put the Poles in a critical position. Sigismund, who took Smolensk, dismissed his army, unable to contain it. On November 1, 1612 (according to the new style), the militia took Kitay Gorod, the Poles took refuge in the Kremlin. On November 5, the Poles signed a surrender, releasing Moscow boyars and other noblemen from the Kremlin, and surrendered the next day.

In 1617, Vladislav, who continued to bear the title of Grand Duke of Moscow, invaded Russia, trying to take possession of the “legitimate” throne, reached Moscow, but could not take it. According to the Deuli Armistice, the Commonwealth received Smolensk and Seversky land. Vladislav retained the title of Grand Duke of Moscow. At the end of the ceasefire, Russia unsuccessfully tried to return Smolensk, but after the defeat under its walls in 1633 according to the Polyanovsky peace, it recognized Smolensk for Poland, and Vladislav refused the Moscow title.


The beginning of state disasters

Vladislav IV as king did not allow the Commonwealth to take part in the Thirty Years' War, adhered to religious tolerance and carried out military reform. Unsuccessfully sought to strengthen royal power, opposing the magnates. The reign of Vladislav IV was the last stable era in the history of royal Poland.

At the same time, in the sixteenth century, rapid polonization took place, followed by the transition to Catholicism of the Western Russian gentry, for a long time the transition was spontaneous and voluntary, caused by status superiority. By the end of the 16th century, the Ukrainian-Belarusian Orthodox peasantry was ruled by the Catholic polonized nobility. This situation, along with the strengthening of the counter-reformation and the influence of the Jesuits, gave rise to the desire to translate "slaves" into Catholicism. The result of the oppression of the Orthodox is an increase in tension and, ultimately, a catastrophic uprising for the Commonwealth of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, which began in 1648. In 1654, Russian troops invaded Poland; the following year - the Swedes who occupied Warsaw, King Jan II Casimir fled to Silesia - anarchy began, known in Poland as the "Flood".


In 1657, Poland renounced sovereign rights to East Prussia. The Swedes could not stay in Poland due to the outbreak of guerrilla warfare. On the other hand, part of the Cossack foremen, frightened by the influence of the Moscow governors, recoiled from Moscow and tried again to establish relations with the Commonwealth, thanks to which the Poles returned Belarus and the Right-Bank Ukraine. According to the Andrusovsky truce (1667), Poland lost Kiev and all areas east of the Dnieper.



The short reign of the young Vishnevetsky was not very successful; Poland lost the war against the Ottoman Empire, which occupied Podolia and forced the surrender of the Kamenets fortress. Jan III Sobieski carried out a radical reform in the armament and organization of the army. Under his command, a coalition of Christian powers inflicted a crushing defeat on the Turks in the battle of Vienna on September 12, 1683 and halted the advance of the Ottoman Empire to Europe.

The reign of Jan Sobieski was the last brilliant episode in the history of the Commonwealth, then the steady decline begins. In 1697, the King of Poland was elected Saxon Elector Augustus II the Strong, who opened the era of Saxon kings. His plans for the return of Livonia ended in the Northern War, during which Charles XII of Sweden swept into Poland, defeated August II, occupied Warsaw and established his creed Stanislav Leshchinsky on the Polish throne. In 1709, Peter I expelled the Swedes and their protege from Poland and restored Augustus the Strong to the throne. A country deprived of internal resources, having no tax service, no customs, no regular army, or any capable central government - was henceforth doomed to serve as a toy for strong neighbors. After the death of Augustus the Strong in 1733, a “war for the Polish inheritance” broke out, during which the Saxons and Russians expelled Stanislav Leschinsky, supported by the French, from the country and seated the new Saxon Elector, Augustus III (1734-1763), on the Polish throne.

At the end of the reign of Augustus III came the era of the Seven Years War, when Poland turned into a battlefield between Prussia and its opponents. Frederick II of Prussia was already the bearer of the idea of ​​the partition of Poland, but his defeat in the war postponed this project. In 1764, under the Russian pressure, the little-known and less powerful Stanislav Augustus Ponyatovsky was elected king of Poland. In fact, a Russian protectorate was established over Poland. Poniatowski was an educated and intelligent man, but he lacked the political will sufficient to act in such a difficult environment.

The actual protectorate of Russia was expressed, in particular, in the fact that Russia, with the support of Prussia, forced Stanislav to solve the "dissident question" - to equalize the rights of Orthodox and Protestants with Catholics. The king was also forced to cancel the reforms he had begun; Catherine proclaimed herself the guarantor of the Libero Veto. The nobility's response was the “Bars Confederation” (1768), which launched a guerrilla war against the Russian troops. Soon the uprising was crushed and the rebels were exiled to Siberia; for their part, Austria and Prussia, jealously watching the approval of Russia in Poland and taking advantage of its difficulties in the war with Turkey, demanded their share.


The division

In 1772, the first division of the Commonwealth took place between Prussia, Austria and Russia, according to which Galicia went to Austria, West Prussia to Prussia, and the eastern part of Belarus (Gomel, Mogilev, Vitebsk, Dvinsk) to Russia.

The gloomy years following the first section gave way to a new social upsurge in the late 1780s. In 1787, a new Russo-Turkish war began, the Russian occupation forces were withdrawn from Poland. In 1788, the Four-Year Diet began work, setting itself the task of implementing fundamental reforms that could renew the country. A constitution was developed that was supposed to eliminate the pernicious principle of “liberum veto”, curb gentry anarchy, mitigate serf social inequality, introduce the foundations of civil society and establish a strong and capable centralized power. The Constitution of May 3 (1791) became one of the first constitutions in the world.

Dissatisfied with the abolition of the "golden liberties" the magnates in search of support went to St. Petersburg and agreed on Russian intervention. To justify the intervention, they compiled an act of confederation, actually in St. Petersburg, but falsely labeled Targovitsa - the estate of one of the confederates, as a result of which the confederation was called Targovitskaya.


Empress Catherine II sent troops to Poland. A fierce struggle began among the adherents of the new constitution against the Confederates and the Russian army. After the victory of the Russian troops, the constitution was repealed, the dictatorship of the Targovitsa Confederates was established; at the same time, Prussian troops entered Poland, and the Second Partition between Prussia and Russia (1793) of the lands of the Commonwealth was made. A diet was convened in Grodno at which the restoration of the previous constitution was proclaimed; Warsaw and several other cities were occupied by Russian garrisons; the Polish army was sharply reduced.

In March 1794, the national liberation uprising of Kosciuszko began. Kociuszko, proclaimed “leader of the uprising” in Krakow, defeated the Russian detachment at Racławice and moved to Warsaw, where the rebel population destroyed the Russian garrison; Vilna was busy. In summer, the rebels withstood the siege of Warsaw by Russian-Prussian troops. However, in the fall, the rebels suffered a series of crushing defeats. The lack of support for the uprising by the Belarusian and Ukrainian populations was revealed. Kociuszko was defeated at Matsejovice and captured, the suburb of Warsaw Prague was stormed by Suvorov; Warsaw surrendered. After this, the third section occurred (under an agreement concluded between Russia, Prussia and Austria in 1795) and Poland as a state ceased to exist.

The period of lack of statehood (1795-1918)
For more than a century, Poland did not have its own statehood, Polish lands were part of other states: Russia, Prussia (and later the German Empire) and Austria (subsequently Austria-Hungary).


Duchy of Warsaw (1807-1813)

Napoleon, having defeated Prussia, from the part of the Polish lands belonging to it created the Duchy of Warsaw, vassal to France. Russia recognized this principality, headed by the Saxon king Friedrich Augustus, devoted to Napoleon, and received the Bialystok region. In 1809, after the victorious war with Austria (in which the Poles also participated), Little Poland and Krakow were annexed to the Duchy of Warsaw.

The 5th corps of the Great Army consisted of 3 Polish divisions and light cavalry: the 16th division (Zayonchek), the 17th division (Dombrowski), the 18th division (Knyazhevich).

The next partition of Poland took place in the years 1814-1815 at the Vienna Congress between Austria, Prussia and Russia. Most of the former Duchy of Warsaw was transferred to Russia, Poznan was transferred to Prussia, Krakow was declared a “free city”. The Vienna Congress declared granting autonomy to the Polish lands in all three parts, but in fact this was done only in Russia, where, to a large extent, on the initiative of Emperor Alexander I, known for his liberal aspirations, the constitutional Kingdom of Poland was formed.


Kingdom of Poland (1815-1915)

November 27, 1815, Poland, as part of Russia, received its own constitution, linking Poland and Russia with a personal union and allowing Poland to choose a diet, its own government and have its own army. First, the old comrade-in-arms of Kosciuszko, General Joseph Zayonchek, was appointed viceroy of Poland, then the brother of the Russian emperor, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich. The constitution, relatively liberal at first, was later limited. Legal opposition appeared in the Polish Sejm, secret political societies arose.

In November 1830, the “November” uprising broke out in Warsaw, after the suppression of which in 1831, Nicholas I repealed the constitution granted to Poland in 1815. National liberation uprisings took place in 1846 in Poznan (were crushed by Prussia). In the same year there was an uprising in Krakow, as a result of which (with the consent of Nicholas I) the city went to Austria.

After the death of Nicholas I, the liberation movement rose with renewed vigor, which was now divided into two hostile camps: the "red" (democrats and socialists) and the "white" (aristocrats). The general requirement was the restoration of the constitution of 1815. In the fall of 1861, martial law was introduced to end riots in Poland. The liberal grand duke Konstantin Nikolaevich, appointed governor, could not cope with the situation. It was decided to declare a recruitment and send to the soldiers the previously designated "unreliable" young people on special lists. The set, in turn, served as a signal for the massive "January Uprising" of 1863. The uprising was crushed, and a military regime was established in the Kingdom of Poland. The January uprising led Alexander II to deprive the rebellious gentry of social support and to carry out peasant reform - in 1864, a Decree was passed on the device of the peasants of the Kingdom of Poland, which eliminated the remnants of serfdom, and the peasants were endowed with land. The suppression of the January uprising gave an impetus to the development of a policy of liquidating the autonomy of the kingdom of Poland and closer integration of Poland into the Russian Empire.


The accession to the Russian throne of Nicholas II revived hopes for liberalization of Russia's policy towards Poland. In 1897, the emperor visited Warsaw, where he agreed to the establishment of the Polytechnic University and the installation of a monument to Mickiewicz.

In 1897, on the basis of the National League, the National Democratic Party of Poland was created, which, although its strategic goal was to restore Poland’s independence, fought primarily against Russification laws and the restoration of Poland’s autonomy. The National Democratic Party soon became the leading political force in the Kingdom of Poland and took part in the activities of the Russian State Duma (Polish Colo faction).

During the Revolution of 1905-1907, revolutionary actions also took place in the Kingdom of Poland in Russia. The Polish Socialist Party of Jozef Pilsudski, who organized a series of strikes and strikes at the industrial enterprises of the Kingdom of Poland, gained great influence. During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Pilsudski visited Japan, where he tried to finance the uprising in Poland and organize Polish legions to participate in the war against Russia. The National Democrats Roman Dmowski opposed this. Nevertheless, Pilsudsky managed to secure the support of Japan in the purchase of weapons: back in 1904 he created the Polish Socialist Party's Battle Organization, which over the next years carried out several dozen terrorist attacks and attacks on Russian institutions and organizations, of which the Bezdan robbery of 1908 is most famous of the year. Only in 1906, 336 Russian officials and military personnel were killed by Pilsudski militants.


Polish lands as part of Prussia and Austria

Intensive Germanization was carried out on the Polish lands as part of Prussia, Polish schools were closed. In 1848, Russia helped Prussia crush the Poznan uprising. In 1863, both powers concluded the Alvensleben Convention on helping each other in the fight against the Polish national movement.

The position of the Poles on the lands within Austria was somewhat better. In 1861, the provincial Sejm of Galicia was created to solve the problems of the local life of the province, in which the Poles dominated; schools, institutions and courts have used the Polish language; and Jagiellonian (in Krakow) and Lviv universities became all-Polish cultural centers.


World War I

After the outbreak of World War I, on August 14, 1914, after victory in the war, Nicholas II promised to unite the Kingdom of Poland with the Polish lands, which will be taken from Germany and Austria-Hungary, into an autonomous state within the Russian Empire.

The war created a situation in which the Poles, Russian subjects, fought against the Poles who served in the Austro-Hungarian and German armies. The pro-Russian National Democratic Party of Poland, led by Roman Dmowski, considered Germany the main enemy of Poland, its supporters considered it necessary to unite all Polish lands under Russian control with the status of autonomy within the Russian Empire. Anti-Russian supporters of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) believed that the path to Poland’s independence was through Russia's defeat in the war. A few years before the outbreak of World War I, PPS leader Jozef Pilsudski began military training for Polish youth in Austro-Hungarian Galicia. After the outbreak of war, he formed the Polish legions as part of the Austro-Hungarian army.

In 1915, the territory of Russian Poland was occupied by Germany and Austria-Hungary. On November 5, 1916, the German and Austro-Hungarian emperors published a manifesto on the creation of an independent Kingdom of Poland in the Russian part of Poland. Due to the absence of the king, his authority was exercised by the Regency Council.

After the February revolution in Russia, the Provisional Government of Russia on March 16 (29), 1917 announced that it would contribute to the creation of the Polish state on all lands inhabited by most Poles, subject to the conclusion of a “free military alliance” with Russia.


In France in August 1917, the Polish National Committee (PNK) was created, headed by Roman Dmowski and Ignacy Paderewski; there was formed the Polish "blue army" led by Jozef Haller.

On October 6, 1918, the Polish Regency Council announced the creation of an independent Polish state, the Provisional People’s Government of the Republic of Poland (Tymczasowy Rząd Ludowy Republiki Polskiej) was created, and on November 14, after the surrender of Germany and the collapse of Austria-Hungary, he transferred all power to Jozef Pilsudski country.

At this time, an armed conflict arose between the Polish formations and the forces of another newly formed state - the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR) in the territory of Galicia, resulting in large-scale military operations that lasted from November 1, 1918 to July 17, 1919 and ended with the defeat of ZUNR.

On December 27, 1918, the Poles of the German province of Posen raised a Greater Poland uprising, after which until mid-1919 the province became an independent state with its own currency and army.


Polish Republic (1918-1939)

On January 26, 1919, legislative elections were held, which were approved by Jozef Pilsudski as head of state.

The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 transferred to Poland most of the German province of Posen, as well as part of Pomerania, which gave the country access to the Baltic Sea (Polish Corridor); Danzig (Gdansk) received the status of a “free city”.

In Silesia in 1919-1921 there were three uprisings of the Poles against the German authorities. In 1922, after a referendum held in Upper Silesia, in which part of the inhabitants (Poles) favored joining Poland, and some (Germans) chose to live in Germany, the League of Nations considered it reasonable to divide this region into parts, in accordance with the preferences of the inhabitants . The eastern part formed the Silesian Voivodeship autonomous in Poland.

January 1, 1918 declared war on the Ukrainian People’s Republic, due to the Ukrainian side’s refusal to transfer to Poland the Ukrainian-controlled territories claimed by Poland. The Polish-Ukrainian war ended in the complete defeat of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic. In 1919, the Soviet-Polish war began, which was with varying success. In the beginning, the Poles advanced deep into Belarus and Ukraine and captured Minsk and Kiev. Then the Red Army launched a counterattack and reached the Vistula, but they were not able to take the well-fortified Lviv and Warsaw. A “miracle on the Vistula” happened - the Red Army was defeated. In total, up to 200 thousand Red Army soldiers were captured during Polish war, of which, according to various estimates, up to 80 thousand died from hunger and disease. The war was actually lost by Soviet Russia, and according to the Riga Peace Treaty of 1921, the western part of the Ukrainian and Belarusian lands went to Poland.

At the conference of ambassadors on July 28, 1920, the southern border of Poland was agreed. The Cieszyn region was divided between Poland and Czechoslovakia.

In October 1920, Polish troops under the command of General Zheligovsky captured part of Lithuania with the city of Vilnius (Vilnius). The accession of this city to Poland was approved on February 10, 1922 by the Vilnius Sejm.

In 1921, the Legislative Diet adopted the constitution, according to which the Diet became the legislative body, consisting of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, elected on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot, by citizens over 21 years of age, without distinction of sex, religion and nationality, the head of state - The President, elected by the Seimas and performing representative functions, the executive body - the Council of Ministers, appointed by the President and responsible for the Seimas.

November 5, 1922 elections were held in the Sejm.

In 1926, after a coup in Poland, an authoritarian sanitation regime was established, led by Jozef Pilsudski. In 1934, a camp was created for opponents of the ruling regime in Beryoz Kartuzy, Brest trial was held against the opposition, the Great Poland Camp (Polish: Obóz Wielkiej Polski), as well as the National Radical Camp were outlawed, restrictions on freedom of the press and assembly were introduced.


On June 15, 1931, the USSR and Poland concluded the Treaty of Friendship and Trade Cooperation. On January 25, 1932, the USSR and Poland signed the Nonaggression Treaty.

January 26, 1934 Poland and Germany signed the Nonaggression Pact for a period of 10 years. November 4, 1935 Poland and Germany signed the Agreement on Economic Cooperation.

In April 1935, shortly before the death of Pilsudski, a new Constitution was adopted in Poland, which included the basic principles of Reorganization: a strong centralized state with a presidential system of government.

In 1938 (after the Munich Agreement), Poland annexed the Cieszyn region of Czechoslovakia.

On March 21, 1939, Germany demanded that Poland hand over the free city of Danzig to it, join the Anti-Comintern Pact and open the “Polish corridor” for it (created after World War I to ensure Poland’s access to the Baltic Sea). Poland rejected all the demands of Germany.

On March 28, 1939, Hitler tore the Nonaggression Pact with Poland. This happened after taking Memel without a fight. After that, Poland wanted to secure allied guarantees. Poland hoped for help from England. However, Poland refused to enter into an alliance with her, France and the USSR. England gave an oral guarantee for protection from Germany. Upon learning of the English guarantees, Hitler became furious and ordered the development of Operation Weiss.

On August 23, 1939, Hitlerite Germany and the Soviet Union concluded a non-aggression pact. According to the secret supplementary protocol to the treaty, on the delimitation of the areas of mutual interests in Eastern Europe in the event of a "territorial and political reorganization", it was envisaged to include East Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Bessarabia in the sphere of interests of the USSR, Lithuania and Western Poland - in the sphere of interests of Germany .


The Second World War

On September 1, 1939, troops of the Third Reich invaded Poland. By September 16, the Germans reached the Osovets-Bialystok-Belsk-Kamenetz-Litovsk-Wlodawa-Vladimir-Volynsky-Zamost-Lvov-Sambir line and approached a distance of 150-200 km to the Soviet-Polish border. Warsaw was surrounded.

On September 17, Soviet troops entered Poland and occupied Western Belarus and Ukraine. September 27, Warsaw fell and the Polish army actually stopped resistance. On October 5, the last major Polish unit of General Kleeberg capitulated.

The territorial division of Poland between the USSR and Germany was completed on September 28, 1939 by the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and the Border between the USSR and Germany. As a result of the division of Polish territory between Germany and the USSR, Soviet borders moved far to the west, and the USSR began to border Germany and Lithuania. Initially, Germany intended to turn Lithuania into its protectorate, but on September 25, during the Soviet-German contacts on the settlement of the Polish problem, the USSR proposed to begin negotiations on Germany's refusal of claims on Lithuania in exchange for the territory of the Warsaw and Lublin voivodeships of Poland. On this day, the German ambassador to the USSR, Count Schulenburg, sent a telegram to the German Foreign Ministry, informing him that he had been summoned to the Kremlin, where Stalin indicated this proposal as a subject of future negotiations and added that if Germany agreed, “the Soviet Union immediately "he will take up the solution of the problem of the Baltic states in accordance with the protocol of August 23 and expects full support from the German government in this matter."

During the next partition of Poland, the ethnically predominantly non-Polish territories of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus were annexed to the Ukrainian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR. In the spring of 1940, employees of the NKVD of the USSR carried out the Katyn execution - a mass execution of Polish citizens (mainly captured officers of the Polish army).


Germany received ethnically Polish territories, and those that were part of Prussia before the First World War (Poznanschina, Pomerania) were directly included in Germany, a significant part of the Polish population was expelled from there. Until the end of 1944, about 450 thousand citizens of pre-war Poland were called up to the German army, including some members of the Polish underground, situations when someone escaped from mobilization were extremely rare, in general it can be considered that through the German army during the war About half a million citizens of pre-war Poland passed. In the remaining territories, called “Governor-General,” an occupation administration was organized. In the former territories of Poland, completely occupied by Germans, the Polish language was banned, the Polish press was closed, almost the entire clergy was arrested, all Polish universities and secondary schools were closed, Polish cultural institutions were liquidated, and Polish intelligentsia and civil servants were methodically destroyed. Poles lost about 2 million people who were not military personnel, as well as 45% of doctors, 57% of lawyers, 40% of the faculty of universities, 30% of engineers, 18% of priests, almost all journalists. It is believed that during the Second World War, Poland lost more than 20% of its population - about 6 million people.

During World War II, a resistance movement was operating in Poland, consisting of heterogeneous groups, often having opposite goals and reporting to different leadership centers: the Craiova Army, which was led by the Polish government in exile, which organized the Warsaw Uprising of 1944; Ludov Guard - military organization of the Polish Communist Party; the Khlopsky Battalions created by the peasant party, etc .; Jewish militant organizations also organized the Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in April 1943.

July 30, 1941, after the German attack, the USSR recognized the "London" government in exile; on Soviet territory, military units subordinate to him were formed from Polish citizens, withdrawn from the USSR in 1942 and subsequently distinguished themselves in battles in Italy. On April 25, 1943, the USSR broke off relations with the "London" government because of its anti-Soviet position. After this, Stalin created from the remaining Polish citizens in the USSR the 1st Infantry Division of the Polish Army named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko under the command of Colonel Zygmunt Berling, who had deserted Anders from the Polish army.

The instruction of the “London government” for the Home Army developed on October 1, 1943 contained the following instructions in case of the unauthorized “Polish government” of the entry of Soviet troops into Poland: “The Polish government sends a protest to the United Nations against violation of Polish sovereignty - as a result of the Soviets entering the territory Poland without agreement with the Polish government - while simultaneously declaring that the country will not interact with the Soviets. The government at the same time warns that in the event of the arrest of representatives of the underground movement and any reprisals against Polish citizens, the underground organizations will go over to self-defense. ” The fallacy of the geopolitical concept of the London government of Poland, built on anti-Sovietism, has created a belief in the possibility, if not military, then geopolitical defeat of the USSR. The Allies decided the cause of the eastern border of Poland at the Tehran Conference. The commander-in-chief of the Polish Armed Forces subordinate to the Polish émigré government, armor general Kazimierz Sosnkowski believed in the prospect of a third world war and the complete defeat of the USSR in this war.

Together with parts of the Soviet army, the Berling army advanced to the borders of Poland. On July 20, 1944, the Red Army crossed the Curzon Line, and the very next day the Polish Committee for National Liberation (Lublin Committee), led by the Communists, was created, taking over the functions of the interim government with Soviet support. A decree was adopted by the Regional People’s Rada on the unification of the partisan Army of Ludova with the 1st Polish Army into a single Polish Army, as well as a decree on the appointment of the High Command of the Polish Army (General Michal имimerski was appointed commander of the Polish Army). On July 26, 1944, the USSR government and the Polish National Liberation Committee signed an agreement recognizing the power of the PKNO in the liberated Polish territory, the Soviet government recognized the PKNO as the only legal authority in the country.


At the end of July, the question was allegedly outlined whose power - London or Lublin will be established in Poland. Parts of the Red Army approached Warsaw; On August 1, in Warsaw, on the orders of the "London government", an uprising began, led by the Border Army and led by General Bur-Komorowski, with the goal of liberating Warsaw before the arrival of Soviet troops and to prevent the Polish National Liberation Committee from coming to power. Neither the Soviet government, nor the command of the Red Army, nor the High Command of the Polish Army received any official information about the preparation of the uprising in Warsaw, and even more so requests for help to the rebels, coordination with the advancing Soviet units was not organized. Meanwhile, the Germans launched a counterattack near Warsaw, and Rokossovsky (a few hours before the uprising in Warsaw) was forced to order the advancing 2nd Panzer Division to go on the defensive. Stalin ignored the Zhukov-Rokossovsky plan, which suggested a resumption of the offensive after the regrouping, and after the appeal of Winston Churchill, who supported the London government, he did not allow the use of Soviet airfields to help the rebels. As a rule, supporters of the position on the deliberate cessation of the Soviet offensive do not rely on documentary evidence, referring to false documents distributed by the Nazis during the uprising. The Germans brutally crushed the rebellion. The Polish government in exile clearly showed society its powerlessness, for the Poles the terrible collapse of the uprising was a big shock.

The offensive of the Red Army resumed on January 12, 1945; On January 17, Warsaw was liberated by the 1st Army of the Polish Army, and by the beginning of February almost all of Poland was liberated from fascist troops. The Polish Workers' Party finally established itself in power, although for this it was necessary to break the strong resistance of the rebel groups of the Polish nationalist underground, consisting mainly of former soldiers and officers of the Craiova Army, reaching the degree of guerrilla warfare.

During the war in Poland, mass killings of the Jewish population by Germans and participants in the Polish nationalist underground took place. The last major Jewish pogrom occurred in 1946 in Kielce and was attended by Polish police and military. The Holocaust and the anti-Semitic atmosphere of the postwar years caused a new round of emigration of Jews from Poland.

By the decision of the Berlin Conference of 1945, the western border of Poland was established along the rivers Oder (Oder) and Nysa-Luzhicka (Neisse), two-thirds of the territory of East Prussia went to Poland. As a result of the conclusion of the Soviet-Polish border treaty, the Bialystok region (from the BSSR) and the city of Przemysl (from the Ukrainian SSR) departed to Poland. Poland returned Czechoslovakia to the Tieszyn region, captured in 1938.

The extermination of Jews, the post-war eviction of Germans from German lands annexed to Poland, as well as the establishment of new borders with the USSR and the exchange of population with it, made Poland an almost mono-ethnic state.


People's Republic of Poland (1944-1989)

Even before the end of the war in Europe, on April 21, 1945, the Treaty of Friendship, Mutual Assistance and Post-War Cooperation between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Polish Republic was concluded in Moscow. The idea of ​​a boycott of the results of World War II failed. This meant the political bankruptcy of the Polish government in exile and its underground structures in Poland.

The Allies, realizing that they would not succeed in insisting on the transfer of power in Poland to the "London" government, at the Yalta Conference agreed to a compromise option, according to which a coalition government was formed on the basis of the Provisional Government of the Polish Republic with the inclusion of some Polish emigrants who were no longer part of the Polish exile government, which was supposed to hold free elections. In the "Provisional Government of National Unity", formed in June 1945 with the participation of representatives of the USSR, the USA and Great Britain in accordance with the decisions of the heads of these states, adopted at a conference in Yalta and recognized by the allies, most of the portfolios (including all power) were in the hands of left parties (PPR and PPS), therefore, already in the elections held by him in January 1947, according to official data, the pre-election bloc PPR and PPS received 80% (these parties merged in 1948 into the ruling Polish United Workers' Party under the leadership of Bolesław Bierut). At the same time, the Polish “government in exile” continued to exist in London until 1990.

Some of the fighters of the Home Army in 1945 entered into an armed struggle against the regime established in Poland by the communists, which was conducted by the underground organization of the Residency of the Armed Forces in the country, created on May 7, 1945, and from September 1945 to 1948 - the underground organization "Freedom and Independence" . By the early 1950s, anti-communist armed resistance was largely suppressed by the state security forces.

In 1947, the State National Council adopted the Small Constitution, according to which the unicameral Seimas, elected by a proportional system in multi-member constituencies, was declared the legislative body, the head of state - the President, was elected by the Seimas, the executive body - the Council of Ministers, appointed by the Seimas, local governments - national councils elected by proportional representation in multi-member constituencies.

In March 1956, after the XX Congress of the CPSU, Boleslav Bierut died, his place was taken by Edward Ochab. These events were accompanied by demonstrations by workers in Poznań. In October, Vladislav Gomulka, recently released from prison, became the first secretary of the PUWP Central Committee. Gomułka managed to resolve the situation. The new Soviet leadership, headed by Khrushchev, made serious concessions, revised its economic agreements with Poland and agreed to the return of advisers to the USSR, including the Minister of Defense of the PPR, Rokossovsky. Gomułka also managed to defend his policy towards the countryside, which was to reject collectivization.

The liberalization trend associated with the first decade of Gomułka's rule ended in 1968, after the suppression of student demonstrations and the announcement of an "anti-Zionist" campaign, which forced most of the Jews who remained in Poland to leave the country. In December 1970, rising prices for consumer goods caused strikes and riots in Gdańsk, Gdynia and Szczecin. The protests were crushed by the army, police and ZOMO. However, there was a change in the party and state leadership: Gomułka was dismissed and replaced by Edward Gierek.

The Gierek government actively took out loans both in the West and in the USSR, which initially contributed to economic growth, but by the end of the 1970s, having made the debt burden unsustainable (by 1980, the debt reached $ 20 billion), plunged the country into a socio-economic crisis . The beginning of the crisis coincided with the election of the Krakow Cardinal Wojtyla as Pope (under the name of John Paul II) in October 1978, which extremely electrified the country, since in Poland the Catholic Church was a force and bulwark of resistance to the authorities.

On July 1, 1980, the government, due to the need to pay off debts, introduced an all-round austerity regime and raised the price of meat. The swept wave of strikes actually paralyzed the Baltic coast by the end of August, the coal mines of Silesia were closed for the first time. The government was forced to make concessions to the strikers. In August-September 1980, interfactory strike committees signed the August Agreements with the government, after which the strike was terminated; similar agreements were signed in Szczecin and Silesia. The key conditions of these agreements were the guarantee of the rights of workers to form independent trade unions and to strike. a new nationwide Solidarity movement, led by Lech Walesa, gained enormous influence, after which Gierek was replaced as first secretary by Stanislav Kanya.


Discontent grew, fueled by revelations of corruption and government incompetence. In the spring of 1981, the Bydgoszcz provocation led to a multi-million warning strike. The government was losing control of the situation. In February 1981, the Minister of Defense, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, was appointed prime minister, and in October, the first secretary of the PUWP Central Committee, concentrating in his hands three posts of the highest state importance.

On December 12-13, 1981, Jaruzelski introduced martial law (which was in effect until July 1983). Power passed to the Military Council of National Salvation and the informal Directory. Almost all the leading Solidarity activists were interned by the state security forces and ZOMO, the strike resistance was crushed.


Modern Poland (since 1989)

The perestroika policy pursued by Gorbachev weakened the influence of the USSR on Poland, which led to changes in the country. A new wave of mass strikes in the spring and autumn of 1988 forced the leadership of the PZPR to negotiate in Magdalenka with Lech Walesa and his supporters. An agreement was reached to convene a "round table" between the government and the opposition, which began on February 6, 1989. On April 4, it ended with the signing of an agreement, the main points of which were the holding of free elections, the introduction of the post of president and the upper house of the Seimas (Senate).

Poland became the first country in the socialist bloc to begin the peaceful dismantling of the socialist system. In the elections held on June 4, 1989, the Solidarity bloc (created around the Solidarity movement and uniting a wide variety of political movements, from left-wing socialists to conservative, Catholic, nationalist groups) received 99% of the seats in the Senate and 35% of the seats in The Sejm, after which he formed a government, which, under the leadership of Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Leszek Balcerowicz, began market reforms: price liberalization and privatization of state property. The consequence of this was a radical transformation of political institutions and local governments. The centrally planned economy, which at that time was dominated by chaos and hyperinflation, was replaced by a market economy that arose in the context of an intensifying economic crisis, political chaos, and the disintegration of central and regional institutions.

Wojciech Jaruzelski became the President of the country. The 1990 direct presidential election was won by Solidarity candidate Lech Walesa. However, in the context of a sharp drop in real incomes of the population, a rapid rise in unemployment, the emergence of new social inequalities and a growing sense of threat and danger, the political consensus that initially united the victorious Solidarity with the forces of the former socialist regime on the issue of reforms was destroyed. Within Solidarity itself, there was also a demarcation between left-liberal and right-wing (mainly conservative Catholic and nationalist) forces.

After the parliamentary elections of 1991, President Lech Walesa offered Jan Olszewski, a member of the conservative party "Agreement of the Center" (Polish: Porozumienie Centrum) (4th place in the elections, 9 seats), to head the government. At the same time, Olszewski insisted that Leszek Balcerowicz, the architect of “shock therapy” in Poland, not enter his government. Olszewski's premiership was, however, overshadowed by a confrontation with the president, which led to the early resignation of the cabinet. Olszewski's main action as prime minister was to pass the lustration law (which, however, was soon declared unconstitutional). On June 5, 1992, a vote of no confidence was passed in his government. Deprived of public support, Olshevsky's cabinet was forced to give way to the centrists - the new government was headed by Hanna Sukhotskaya.

Parliamentary elections in 1993 led to the formation of a coalition government of the Union of Democratic Left Forces (SDLS), which brought together people from the former PZPR, with the Polish Peasants' Party and other political forces, under the premiership of PKP member Waldemar Pawlak, after whose resignation in March 1995, the government was headed by representatives of the SDLS . Beginning in 1992, the GNP began to grow rapidly, and the main market institutions were created.

Aleksander Kwaśniewski, a candidate from the Union of Democratic Left, won the presidential election in 1995, but Solidarity won again in the 1997 parliamentary elections, and Jerzy Buzek, a member of Solidarity, headed the government. In 1997, a constitution was adopted, finally establishing a mixed republic. In 1999, Poland joined the NATO bloc and supported the bombing of Yugoslavia (1999), the bloc's intervention in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).


Kwaśniewski was re-elected president in the 2000 presidential election, the SDLS also won the 2001 parliamentary elections, and SDLS member Leszek Miller became the head of government, who was replaced by Marek Belka in 2004. On May 1, 2004 Poland joined the European Union.

In autumn 2005, right-wing forces returned to power in Poland. At this time, two parties vying for influence on the political scene, originating from the anti-communist opposition and Solidarity: Law and Justice (Polish: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) of the Kaczynski brothers, a conservative party with strong elements of populism and nationalism, and a liberal -conservative "Civil Platform" (Polish Platforma Obywatelska), which was headed by Donald Tusk and Jan Rokita. On September 25, 2005, the Law and Justice party won the parliamentary elections with a score of 26.99% (155 seats out of 460), followed by the Civic Platform - 24.14% (133 seats), then the populist Self-Defense ( Polish Samoobrona Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) Andrzej Lepper - 11.41%. The Kaczynski brothers' party, along with two other smaller parties, Self-Defense and the right-wing nationalist Catholic League of Polish Families, constituted the ruling coalition. First, Kazimierz Martsinkevich became prime minister, and since July 2006, Yaroslav Kaczynski.

On October 9, 2005, Lech Kaczynski and Donald Tusk went to the second round of the presidential elections. On October 23, Lech Kaczynski won and became President of Poland. 54.04% of voters voted for him. His opponent received 45.96% of the vote.

Early parliamentary elections in October 2007 brought victory to the Civic Platform, while the Law and Justice Party and its allies were defeated. Donald Tusk, leader of the Civic Platform, became prime minister.

On April 10, 2010, the president's plane, en route to Smolensk to participate in events dedicated to the anniversary of the Katyn tragedy, crashed. All passengers and crew members were killed, including the president and his wife. Marshal of the Seimas Bronisław Komorowski became acting head of state. On July 4, 2010, the 2nd round of the presidential elections in Poland took place, in which Bronislaw Komorowski scored the most votes, while the gap with Yaroslav Kaczynski was 6%. On August 6, 2010, Bronisław Komorowski took office as President of the Republic of Poland.

On October 9, 2011, regular parliamentary elections were held, in which the ruling coalition of the Civic Platform and the Polish Peasants' Party retained a majority in the Sejm and the Senate. The third largest party in the Seimas was the new liberal anti-clerical party Palikota Movement (since 2013 - Your Movement). In 2014, many deputies moved from it to the Union of Democratic Left Forces and the Security and Economy deputy group.


Administrative division

Poland is divided into 16 voivodships, voivodeships are further divided into powiats, and powiats are divided into gminas.


Political structure

Poland is a member of the European Union and NATO bloc. On May 1, 2004, the country joined the European Union, and on December 21, 2007, it joined the Schengen area.

The legislative body is the Senate and the Sejm.


Political parties

Law and justice
Civic Platform
Polish Peasants' Party

Union of Democratic Left
your move
union of labor
Razem ("Together")


Legal system

The body of constitutional supervision is the Constitutional Tribunal (Trybunał Konstytucyjny),
the highest court is the Supreme Court (Sąd Najwyższy),
courts of appeal – courts of appeal (Sąd apelacyjny),
courts of first instance - district courts (Sąd okręgowy),
the lowest level of the judicial system is the district courts (Sąd rejonowy),
the highest court of administrative justice is the Supreme Administrative Court (Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny),
courts of appeal of administrative justice - voivodship administrative courts (Wojewódzki sąd administracyjny),
body for the trial of senior officials - the State Tribunal (Trybunał Stanu),
courts of appeal of military justice - district military courts (Wojskowe sądy okręgowe),
courts of first instance of military justice - garrison military courts (Wojskowe sądy garnizonowe),
prosecution bodies - the Prosecutor General's Office (Prokuratura Generalna),
prosecutor's offices of appeal (Prokuratury apelacyjne),
district prosecutor's offices (Prokuratury okręgowe),
district prosecutor's offices (Prokuratury rejonowe),
Chief Military Prosecutor's Office (Naczelna Prokuratura Wojskowa),
district military prosecutor's offices (Wojskowe prokuratury okręgowe),
garrison military prosecutor's offices (Wojskowe prokuratury garnizonowe).

The judicial system of Poland has caused claims from the European Commission. In 2022, the European Commission demanded that Poland "restore the independence of the judiciary", linking this to receiving money from the fund for economic recovery after the Covid-19 epidemic. On June 28, 2022, the Commission's lawyers told the EU Court of Justice that the reforms undertaken by Warsaw are not enough to allay Brussels' concerns about the rule of law.



Poland is a former socialist country, so its economy was seriously affected by the political changes that took place in the early 90s. So, at this time, a wave of privatization began, during which the bulk of state property passed into private hands. The wide unfilled niches of the developing economic system are of great interest to many Western investors, which makes the Polish economy significant and important for the entire European market. A developed market economy promotes competition.

The Polish economy also has its weaknesses. Agriculture suffers from a lack of investment, an abundance of small farms and excess staff. The amount of compensation for expropriations during communist rule has not been determined.

The Polish economy is a socially oriented market economy. The sixth largest economy in the European Union and the largest among the former members of the Eastern Bloc and the new members of the European Union. Since 1990, Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization, and its economy was the only one in the EU that avoided recession during the financial crisis of 2007-2008. As of 2019, the Polish economy has grown steadily over the past 28 years, a record high in the EU. This growth has been exponential: GDP per capita in purchasing power parity has grown at an average of 6% per year over the past 20 years, the most impressive performance in Central Europe, causing the country to double its GDP since 1990.

On September 29, 2017, the financial company FTSE Group, which calculates stock indices, announced the results of the annual market classification, according to which it raised the Polish economy from an emerging market to a developed market; Poland is the first post-communist country to achieve this status. Other financial companies (particularly MSCI and S&P) classify Poland as an emerging market.


Standard of living

From January 1, 2019, the minimum wage (gross) per month is PLN 2,250 (EUR 523.54). As of January 1, 2019, the average wage in Poland is PLN 5,071.25 (EUR 1,180.16 gross) and PLN 3,600 (EUR 837.78 net). The Keitz index (the ratio of the minimum wage to the average wage) as of January 1, 2019 is about 44.4%. From August 1, 2019, income tax for employees under 26 years of age has been abolished in Poland, if the employee’s earnings are less than PLN 85,528 (about 20 thousand euros) per year, this will affect about 2 million young workers in Poland.. From October 1, 2019, in Poland reduced income tax from 18% to 17%. From July 1, 2019, the monthly allowance for the first child and each subsequent child is PLN 500 (€116.33, net). From January 1, 2020, the minimum wage (gross) in Poland is PLN 2,600 (EUR 600) per month and PLN 17 (EUR 3.92) per hour. The Keitz index in 2020 will be 49.7%, according to the projected average wage in Poland. From January 1, 2021, the minimum wage (gross) in Poland is PLN 2,800 (EUR 630.55) per month and PLN 18.30 (EUR 4.12) per hour. The Keitz index in 2021 will be 53.2%, according to the projected average wage in Poland. From January 1, 2022, the gross minimum wage is PLN 3,010 (€653.20) and net is PLN 2,363.56 (€512.92).



In 2016, the share of industrial production in the structure of GDP was 38.5%. At the same time, the number of people employed in industry is 30.4% of the able-bodied population. The growth rate is higher than in the economy as a whole - about 4.2% in 2016.

Poland produces: hard and brown coal, natural gas, sulfur and saltpeter, table, rock and potash salts, asbestos, iron, silver, nickel ores, gold, zinc, shale gas.

Leading manufacturing industries
mechanical engineering (Poland occupies one of the leading places in the world in the production of fishing vessels, electric trains, freight and passenger cars, road and construction machines, machine tools, engines, electronics, industrial equipment, etc.),
ferrous and non-ferrous (large zinc production) metallurgy,
chemical (sulfuric acid, fertilizers, pharmaceutical, perfumery and cosmetic products, photographic products),
textile (cotton, linen, wool),
production of porcelain and faience,
production of sports goods (kayaks, yachts, tents, etc.).
furniture manufacture



Poland has a highly developed agriculture. Agriculture is dominated by crop production. The main grain crops are rye, wheat, barley, and oats.

Poland is a major producer of sugar beet (over 14 million tons per year), potatoes, and cabbage. The export of apples, strawberries, raspberries, currants, garlic, and onions is of great importance.

The leading branch of animal husbandry is pig breeding; dairy and meat cattle breeding, poultry farming (Poland is one of the largest suppliers of eggs in Europe); beekeeping. Sea fishing and reindeer husbandry (marals and red deer in the Lublin Voivodeship).



Poland has a number of resorts:

machinery and equipment (about 40% of the cost),
aircraft engineering,
chemical products (over 10%),
metals, trams, tractors,
building materials,

The main seaports of the country are Gdansk and Szczecin.



The population of Poland in 2008 was 38,116,000. Thus, it is the eighth most populous country in Europe, and the sixth in the European Union. The average population density is 122 people per km².

Modern Poland is one of the most mono-ethnic states in the world. According to the 2002 census, 96.74% of Poland's population identified themselves as ethnic Poles. 97.8% at the census stated that they speak Polish at home. 1.23% of the country's population identified themselves as other nationalities, of which the largest ethnic groups are Silesians (0.45%), Germans (0.4%), Belarusians (0.1%), Ukrainians (0.1% ), gypsies, Jews, Polish-Lithuanian Tatars. More than 2% of the population refused to answer the question about nationality.

The exceptionally high mono-ethnicity of Poland is a consequence of the historical events of the middle of the 20th century that radically changed the national structure of the country, namely, the Second World War (Holocaust) and the post-war changes in European borders and the associated mass movements of the German, Polish and Ukrainian population, as well as ethnic politics states. As official statistics show, over the past two decades there has been no noticeable influx of immigrants to Poland, with the exception of the acceptance of several thousand refugees from Chechnya. According to Polish law, refugee status gives the right to stay in the country, but does not allow either to work for the purpose of earning money or receive social benefits from the state; international and local humanitarian and charitable organizations are responsible for providing refugees. For this reason, Poland is usually a transit country for refugees.

In recent years, the population of Poland has been gradually decreasing due to an increase in emigration and a drop in the birth rate. After the country joined the European Union, a large number of Poles emigrated to Western European countries in search of work.

Polish diasporas are represented in neighboring states: Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, as well as in other states. The total number of Poles living abroad is estimated at 20 million people. The largest Polish diaspora lives in the USA. The centers of Polish immigration are the USA and Germany. According to the All-Russian census conducted in 2010, 47,125 (0.03%) residents of the Russian Federation considered themselves Poles.



Religion in Poland occupies a fairly significant place in public life. The most influential religion in the country is Christianity (first of all, Roman Catholicism), whose adherents, according to various estimates, are from 86.7 to 95.5 percent of the population.

Representatives of several other faiths are also present: Orthodox, Lutherans, Calvinists and Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses.

One of the most important places of pilgrimage in Poland is the Catholic monastery of Jasna Gora in Częstochowa, which belongs to the Pauline Order and houses the Częstochowa Icon of the Mother of God, which is said to have been painted by the Apostle Luke.

The 264th Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) was a Pole.


Armed forces

Poland is a country with a professional army
Minimum military recruitment age: 18 years old
Available military resources: 9,681,703
Full military personnel: 120,000
Annual military spending: $9.65 billion
Total workforce: 17,100,000
Poland is a nuclear-free country.

Planes and helicopters: 318
Naval forces (warships): 87
Naval forces (transport ships): 11


Humanitarian organizations

The Polish Red Cross (Polish: Polski Czerwony Krzyż) was founded on April 27, 1919. Paweł Sapieha became chairman, after his resignation - Helena Paderewska. On July 24, 1919, the Polish Red Cross Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Czerwonego Krzyża) was registered - the only Red Cross organization operating throughout Poland. In 1927, the Polish Red Cross Society changed its name to the Polish Red Cross.

Mass media
There are many media outlets in Poland. The largest TV channels are state TVP, private Polsat, TVN.

Print media - Gazeta Wyborcza, Rzeczpospolita.

After the wave of migration from the East, which began in 2014-2015, media for foreigners appeared in Poland. In 2016, the first information portal for Ukrainians began operating in Wroclaw. Later, the coverage of the portal expanded to the entire territory of the country.




The Slavic peoples who inhabited the wooded and swampy plain between the Baltic Sea and the Carpathians, the Oder, the Western Bug and the San, initially did not have one common name that unites all of them - the Poles. These were Pomeranians, Polans, Vislyans, Mazury, etc. In Russia, they were all called Poles. These peoples did not have a written language, which appeared in this region along with the adoption of Christianity in 966. Whereas in Christianity, which came from Byzantium, both worship and writing were in the Slavic language, in Christianity, which came from Rome, both worship and writing were exclusively in Latin. In Poland, which adopted Christianity from Rome, the clergy, especially the higher ones, until the 12th century consisted of people of foreign origin, mainly German and Czech. It was only later that Poles gradually began to appear among the higher clergy. However, they also wrote in Latin.

The emergence of Latin literature in Poland dates back to the end of the 10th century. These are the so-called "chronicles" (chronicles) - records of historical events produced by priests. The oldest yearbooks have been lost. The first Polish chronicler, whose work has survived to our time, was a foreigner, most likely a Hungarian. In Poland, he was considered a Frenchman, hence his nickname Gallus. His chronicle (lat. Cronica et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum) has been brought to 1113. The first Polish author was Vikentiy Kadlubek, Bishop of Krakow, a native of Sandomierz. On behalf of King Casimir the Just, Kadlubek wrote a history of Poland (lat. Historia Polonica). The work of Kadlubek is a chronicle brought to the beginning of the 13th century. Jan Długosz (1415-1480), the most famous writer of the 15th century, canon of Krakow, came out of the Krakow Academy. His main work is the History of Poland (lat. Annales seu cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae) - a chronicle starting from ancient times and brought almost to the death of its author.

In the first half of the 16th century, Latin undoubtedly prevailed in Polish literature. Serious scientific writings and poems, which were imitations of Roman poets, were written in Latin. Only popular books were written in Polish. In Latin in 1519, the first printed manual on the history of Poland, “lat. Chronica Polonorum" ("Polish Chronicle"), written by Matvey Miechovsky. In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus’ work “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” (“Circulation of Celestial Bodies”) was written in Latin, as well as his other, at one time well-known work “Optima monetae cudendae ratio” (“On the best foundations of coinage”, "1526"). The first Polish book appeared in Krakow no later than 1514 and no earlier than 1511.

The father of Polish literature is Nikolai Rey from Naglowice (1505-1569), a typical representative of Polish gentry journalism. All of Ray's works, both verse and prose, exclusively serve the purposes of the political struggle. An ardent defender of the interests of the gentry, Rey in his writings gave the gentry moral and political instructions and ridiculed its opponents. Being a Calvinist, he devoted a significant part of his satires to ridicule the Catholic clergy he hated. His manner of writing is sometimes rude, but his language is juicy and well understood by readers. Among the nobility, Ray enjoyed tremendous popularity as a writer who came out of her environment, spoke in her style, expressed her worldview and her political aspirations.

All these Polish writers brilliantly developed the Polish literary language, but genuine great poetry as a special kind of literary creativity did not yet exist. It was created by Jan Kokhanovsky (1550-1584), a wealthy gentry from the vicinity of Radom. Kokhanovsky was educated in Italy, then lived in Paris. He wrote poetry in beautiful classical Latin, but he became famous primarily as a great Polish poet, who, before the appearance of Mickiewicz, was not surpassed in Polish literature by anyone. The first place among the works of Kochanowski is occupied by "Trens" - a lyric poem written by him under the influence of the death of his beloved daughter Ursula. Kokhanovsky follows the same principled political line in Reply to the Greek Ambassadors, a play written in verse, where the poet introduces extremely topical political trends aimed at strengthening royal power into the plot drawn from the Iliad. Kokhanovsky's "Songs" were also widely known, among which a large place is occupied by love poems elegant for that time, which are an imitation of Roman writers (Horace, Catullus, Ovid, Tibullus, and also Petrarch).


The most brilliant poet of Poland and at the same time one of the world's great poets is Adam Mickiewicz, the recognized leader of Polish romanticism. The culminating point in the development of Mickiewicz's work is his poem "Pan Tadeusz", his most mature work and at the same time the "swan song" of the poet. Not inferior in artistic skill to world masterpieces of literature, "Pan Tadeusz", like all the works of Mickiewicz and, in general, all of Polish romanticism, is distinguished at the same time by features of narrowness, insufficient depth in resolving the problems posed.

Juliusz Słowacki (1809-1849) is one of the most outstanding and versatile poets. Słowacki's first writings, which appeared in 1833, heavily influenced by Byron and Shakespeare, show the versatility of his poetic genius. The lyrical genius of Slovacki manifests itself here in all its brilliance. In this respect, Słowacki surpasses Mickiewicz and has few equals in world literature. With flexibility, melodiousness of language, richness of images, flight of creative imagination, Slovak resembles Shelley and Byron. Slovak also shows a first-class dramatic talent. Slovak is a poet, more comprehensive, more receptive to Western influences, more daring and revolutionary than Mickiewicz. Among the Polish romantics, Slovacki stood on the extreme left due to his negative attitude towards the aristocracy and the feudal gentry past.

An important author and probably one of the most famous Polish writers was Joseph Konrad, who wrote in English. After settling in England, Conrad never renounced his Polish nationality. He is the author of the novel Heart of Darkness.

World famous representatives of Polish literature are:
Joseph Conrad,
Isaac Bashevis-Singer,
Stanislav Lem,
Andrzej Sapkowski,
Joanna Khmelevskaya,
Boleslav Prus,
Vladislav Reymont,
Henryk Sienkiewicz,
Janusz Leon Wisniewski,
Maria Konopnitskaya,
Cheslav Milos,
Adam Miscavige,
Eliza Ozheshko,
Tadeusz Ruzewicz,
Wislava Szymborska,
Stanislav Jerzy Lec,
Olga Tokarchuk.



The earliest Polish musical compositions (for example, polyphonic music manuscripts found in Stary Sącz) date back to the 13th century. Around this time, "The Mother of God", the oldest known Polish song, was written. But the first famous Polish composer, Nikolay Radomsky, lived in the 15th century.

In the 16th century, composers such as the Italian Diomedes Kato, who lived in Krakow from the age of five, introduced elements of European music into national Polish melodies. At that time, other later famous composers also lived and worked, for example, Vaclav from Shamotul. At the end of the 16th-beginning of the 17th centuries (the Baroque era), a group of Italian composers worked at the court of Sigismund III, and then Vladislav IV, including Luca Marenzio, Giovanni Francesco Anerio and Marco Scacci. Among the Poles, such composers as Marcin Mielczewski were known. In the late 30s of the 17th century, opera began to develop in Poland. For example, Francesca Caccini wrote the opera La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina for King Vladislav, which premiered in Warsaw in 1628. At the end of the 17th century, Poland fell into decline, which also affected its culture. Nevertheless, it was in the XVII-XVIII centuries that the polonaise arose and became famous. Piano polonaises have been written by many composers, such as Fryderyk Chopin, Mikhail Kleofas Ogiński, Karol Kurpiński, Juliusz Zarembski, Henryk Wieniawski, Mieczysław Janowicz Karlowicz and Józef Elsner. Poland also became famous for pianists such as Arthur Rubinstein.

Polish opera developed thanks to Stanislav Moniuszko, the author of a number of operas, and, in addition, songs, cantatas and ballets. In the middle of the 18th century, the first Polish symphonies appeared (J. Szczurowski, A. Milvid, J. Wanski, V. Dankovsky).

Polish folk dances, in particular the mazurka and the polonaise, spread widely throughout Europe.



At the beginning of the 20th century, the first football clubs were created, for example, in 1906 Wisla (Krakow), LKS (Lodz) and Cracovia. The Polish Football Federation was founded in 1919. Nat. The Polish Olympic Committee was founded in 1919. The Polish national football team won the silver medal at the Barcelona Olympics (1992).

In 1924, Polish athletes made their debut at the Olympic Games in Paris and at the Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix. The first Olympic champion was H. Konopatskaya (1900-89), who won the discus throw in Amsterdam (1928).

Polish athletes performed most successfully at the Olympic Games in athletics (23 gold, 18 silver, 13 bronze medals), boxing (8, 9, 26), freestyle wrestling (5, 9, 11) and modern. pentathlon (5, 6, 21).

The country's men's and women's national volleyball teams have achieved significant international success. The men's volleyball team became the world champion (2014), Europe (2009), World League (2012). In 2014, the men's volleyball world championship was held in 6 cities of the country. Women's volleyball team - 2-time European champion (2003, 2005).

The country hosted the 2012 European Football Championship.



Holiday weekends
January 1 - New Year - Nowy Rock
January 6 - Epiphany - Trzech Króli - closed until 1960 and again since 2011
Easter (2 days: Sunday and Monday) - Wielkanoc
May 1 - Labor Day - Święto Pracy
May 3 - Constitution Day May 3 - Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja
Green holidays or the Descent of the Holy Spirit (49 days after Easter is always on Sunday) - Zielone Świątki / Zesłanie Ducha Świętego
Body of God (60 days after Easter always on Thursday) – Boże Ciało
August 15 - Ascension of Our Lady - Wniebowzięcie NMP
November 1 - All Saints - Wszystkich Świętych
November 11 - National Independence Day of Poland - Święto Niepodległości
December 25 and 26 - Christmas - Boże Narodzenie

Holidays on non-holiday days
January 21 - Grandmother's Day - Dzień Babci
January 22 - Grandfather's Day - Dzień Dziadka
March 1 - Day of the "cursed soldiers" - Narodowy Dzień Pamięci "Żołnierzy Wyklętych"
March 8 - Women's Day - Dzień Kobiet
May 2 - Day of the Flag of the Polish Republic - Dzień Flagi Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej
May 8 - Victory Day - Dzień Zwycięstwa
May 26 - Mother's Day - Dzień Matki
June 1 - Children's Day - Dzień Dziecka
June 23 - Father's Day - Dzień Ojca
August 1 - Memorial Day of the victims of the Warsaw Uprising - Narodowy Dzień Pamięci Powstania Warszawskiego
August 31 - Day of Solidarity and Freedom - Dzień Solidarności i Wolności
October 14 - National Education Day - Dzień Edukacji Narodowej, until 1982 - Teacher's Day
October 16 - Day of Pope John Paul II - Dzień Papieża Jana Pawła II, established by the Sejm after the death of the pope in memory of his choice (October 16, 1978)
November 2 - Day of the Dead - Dzień Zaduszny
December 6 - St. Nicholas Day - Dzień Świętego Mikołaja