Travel Guides: Poland
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland is positioned in Central Europe and is bordered by Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, Lithuania, Russia and Baltic Sea to the north.
The state also has maritime borders with Denmark and Sweden. The objectives included on the UNESCO World Heritage list are the old historical centers in Krakow, Warsaw, Zamosc, Torun, Wieliczka salt mine, Teutonic Order Castle in Malbork, Zebrydowska pilgrimage area, centennial Hall in Wroclaw, Muzakowski Park, Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland, Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Warsaw is Poland’s capital, the official name being Stoleczne Miasto Warszawa. It is located in Mazowia region, in the center of the country. The cities in this area are rich in monuments, museums, hotels and inns. The capital is a city famous for its indestructibility.
Although it was destroyed many times it managed to become one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The Royal Palace was rebuilt after the original plans and hosts exhibitions and art galleries. The Palace of Culture and Science was built by a plan of the Moscow Lomonosov University and due to its location in downtown it offers a wonderful view on it. The Uprising Museum is one of the most beautiful museums in Poland, offering all information about the country’s tragic past. The market of the town is surrounded by Mermaid statue, symbol of Warsaw and here are found plenty of shops, souvenir stalls and can ride with in a horse-drawn cart.
Krakow is a port town, one of the few places where works of art collected over time were not destroyed. Its name derives from Krak, a chief of a tribe in that place, which is said to have killed a dragon at the foot of the hill on which is the city of Wawelun today. Wroclaw is a city with a very troubled history, believed to be a copy in miniature of Prague. Wawel Castle is above Vistula, the most beautiful and most visited architectural complex, which belongs to the former royal residences. From it is part the Wawelska, fortified cathedral. Between the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, the castle’s residential palace served as the Polish monarchs, the crowning place of kings and necropolis. Today it houses the National Art Collection, consisting of upholstery fabrics and embroidered with gold thread, ceramics, and a collection of weapons and treasure of the Crown.
Wawelska Cathedral was the coronation site of Polish kings, the Gothic church body being surrounded by 18 heads, in Renaissance and Baroque style. The Cathedral has the largest bell in Poland, called Sigismund’s with a diameter of 2, 48 m. Podkarpacie is located in south-east, at the foot of the Carpathians, being one of the most popular parts of Poland among tourists. Bieszczady Mountains and the Beskid Niska, forms the massive Beskidy in East being very attractive because of the many hiking trails and the beauty of the area. In the Bieszczady National Park you can see different species of lynx, bears, wolves, wild cats, birds and Hucul horses, preferred by riding enthusiasts. Krasiczyn and Przemy host many castles, in Lesko is the most beautiful synagogue in Poland and in Biala Gna is the largest outdoor museum with different models of wooden houses.
Although the landscape is predominantly plain, it presents a unique diversity and complexity on the gap height: Tatra Mountains massif Rysy that reach 2500 m, while Vista River Delta has 2 m below sea level. The country has a temperate climate, transitional between oceanic and continental. In tourism sense, Poland is a blend of old and new. There are ancient cities, where traditional culture has been preserved almost intact and at the same time, new cities, completely rebuilt after World War II. Past memories, beautiful or sad (medieval castles, the Nazi concentration camps) reflect the rich history of this country. Today Poland is modern, economically strong and socially in harmony: though divided into different regions, is spoken the same language and Poles are Catholics and believe in the inheritance of the same history. This harmony attracts more and more tourists to visit the beautiful Poland.
Located in central Europe, Poland has found its purpose as a holiday destination. In the first years after the revolutions of 1989, Budapest and Prague and appeared in all the headlines. Now, travelers are looking for something new and more distant. Polish beauty can be admired in old cities, landscape and wildlife in national parks and natural reserves. The country’s regions are largely divided into horizontal – the Baltic coast and post-glacial lakes region. Central Poland is divided between low lands of northern and southern highlands of which include the Krakow-Wielum limestone, caves and medieval castles. In south, the Carpathian and Tatra Mountains offer you facilities for various sports and folk tradition. Poland is a nation that prides itself on its cultural heritage, music and theater and opera companies being found in abundance.
In the former textile city of Lodz is a film school, alma mater to directors Roman Polanski and Krzysztof Kieslowski. Although there were born composer Frederick Chopin, chemist Marie Curie and the astronomer Nicholas Copernicus, Poland is best known for the Gdansk shipyard strikes, when Lech Walesa and the Solidarity trade union rose for the first time against the communist government, in 1980. Main attractions: Visit Warsaw, where the historic center was renovated after the original plans and paintings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Visit a coffee shop in the market (Rynek) in the historic center, the Museum of History and antiques shops. Go up the elevator to the 30th floor of the Palace of Culture and Science, where there is an observation deck that offers panoramic views of Warsaw. This building was given to Poland by Stalin in 1953 as a symbol of “Polish-Soviet friendship.”
Warsaw Uprising Museum offers educational and interactive video experiences, testimonies and artifacts from times when people were activists of the Warsaw resistance movement. Visit the mansion where Frederick Chopin was born in Zelazowa Wola, 53 km west from Warsaw. Highlights include an attractive park, recitals during the summer and furniture and musical instruments from the nineteenth century. Visit the market in the Renaissance style of Zamosc, Poland, one of the many places listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. Pass through the gate at the end of the fourteenth century in Krakow built and rebuilt in 1782. This gate is considered to be an architectural symbol of the city of Lublin and is the main entrance to the historic center. It also houses a history museum.
Immerse yourself in the historical center of Krakow. In the middle is the biggest market in Europe and the Town Hall building, which was rebuilt in the nineteenth century, a shopping center in the fourteenth century. Also in Krakow, visit Jagiellonska University, founded in 1364, one of the oldest in Europe. In the former Hebrew district is found the synagogue Remuh. Wawel Castle has the largest collection of tapestries in the world, and alongside is a Gothic cathedral. Discover the Wieliczka salt mine. Of the 359 km of the corridor, 2 km are available to visitors. Hiking trail goes up to 135 m deep and includes impressive rooms, bas-reliefs, chandeliers and a chapel carved in salt. Admire the miraculous icon of the Virgin mourning, huge monastic complex of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, 100 km to the north of Krakow.
Search the 100 bridges in the city of Wroclaw. Other attractions include the town hall from the fifteenth century, the Ethnographic Museum of the Royal Palace and Cathedral on Ostrow Tumski (Cathedral Island). Head on for Gdansk to see the largest Gothic church in the world – St Mary’s Basilica. The nearby seaside resort, Spot, has the longest dock in Europe (500 m). In short distance is Hel Peninsula, Kashubian lake region and the Teutonic castles at Malbork and Gniew. Visit the medieval city of Torun and its historical Gothic center. Hike in national parks and natural reserves of Poland – Kampinos National Park is located near Warsaw. Further, the Bieszczady National Park is part of the Carpathian Mountains and contains portions of the Great Bieszczady Forest, where dwell brown bears, lynx and wild cats are found. Bialowieza National Park is one of the last refuges of the European bison.
Go skiing or mountain climbing in the Tatra Mountains. Zakopane is a center for mountaineering and winter sports, which also offers a fairytale atmosphere – wooden houses and locals who still use traditional clothing. Visit Koscieliska valley, mountain Kasprowy Wierch and glacial Lake Morskie Oko. Relax on the beaches of the coast of Pomerania – Kolobrzeg or Leba. The beach is connected to Slowinski National Park, famous for its sand dunes that move a few centimeters each year. Bring a tribute to Holocaust victims at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, 70 km from Krakow. It is a sad experience, but will offer a perspective of historical facts.
Gastronomy: Polish cuisine has a special flavor; typical ingredients are dill, marjoram, cumin, mushrooms and cream, which is added to soups, sauces and boiled meat. Soups are an important part of regular meals and are usually thick and rich. Unlike soups, borsch is served with thin pastry with meat or cabbage. For dessert apple pie is served (szarlotka), jelly donuts (Pack) and cake with poppy (makowiec). National specialties include – bigos, cabbage, meat, herring fillets with pickles and onions, Kaban sausages, pierogi, dumplings filled with meat, cabbage, cheese or fruit and kasza, buckwheat.
The golden years for Poland are represented by the 16th century. In the following centuries the Polish power gradually declined, reaching in 1772 to be divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria. Poland has regained independence in 1918 but was invaded by Germany and the Soviet Union in the Second World War. It became a satellite of the Soviet Union after the war, but its government was comparatively tolerant and reformer. In 1980 was formed the Trade Union “Solidarity”, which in time became a political force and managed to win elections in 1990. Shock therapy in the 1990s transformed the economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe, but Poland now boasts a low economic growth and faces a high rate of unemployment. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.
Area: Total: 312,685 sq km, Land: 8220 sq km, Water: 304,465 sq km. Climate: Temperate – cold winters with moderate frequent precipitation and cool summers. Extreme points: The deepest point: -2 m Raczki Elblaskie, Highest point: 2499 m Rysy. Population: 38,622,660 (July 2003 estimate). Age structure: Between 0 and 14 years: 17.5% (male 3,458,844; female 3,284,995), 15-64 years: 69.8% (male 13,407,012; female 13,547,728), over 65 years: 12.7% (male 1,879,445; female 3,044,636) (2003 estimate). Ethnic groups: Polish 97.6%, German 1.3%, Ukrainian 0.6%, Belarus 0.5%. Religion: 95% Catholic, Orthodox, Protestants. Languages spoken: Polish. Capital: Warsaw. Independence Day: November 11 (proclamation of the republic – 1918). Coin: Zloty (PLN).
Means of communication: Telephones: 8.07 million (1999), Mobile: 13 million (1999), TV stations: 179, Internet country code: .pl, Internet users: 6.4 million (2002 estimate), Airports: 150 (2002 estimate). On June 4, 1989, Poland has entered a new era in its history. On that day, for the first time in the communist bloc, the democratic opposition won the election. Two months later, the non-communist government was formed, shaking the entire Central and Eastern Europe, marking the beginning of the end of an era, which culminated in the same year with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the revolution in Bucharest. It gained independence and sovereignty and Poland entered the transformations necessary to integrate quickly into the market economy of Western Europe.
Located in the heart of Europe, between the Baltic and the Carpathian Mountains, Poland is where major highways intersect connecting the extremes of the continent: from Norway to Greece, and Portugal to the Ural mountains in Russia. Area of 312,000 square kilometers a nine rank in size among European countries. Since 1945, Poland’s neighbors are: West Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania in Eastern Europe and Russia (Kaliningrad district) to the North. According to census data from 2001, Poland has 38.6 million inhabitants, which means that every 8th inhabitant of Europe’s population is Polish. The average age of Poles is about 35 years; about 60% of the population is under 40 years. Each 10th Polish is a graduate Polish and nearly half have graduated from a high school.
In the past 10 years, the number of students has tripled. Economic development has led to migration to urban areas, which means that almost 24 million inhabitants (60%) live in cities. After the Second World War, minorities in Poland have fallen so far represent only 2-3% of the total population or 1.2 million. Most are 450,000 Germans, followed by 350,000 Ukrainians, Belarusian 300,000, 25,000 Lithuanians, Slovaks 25,000 and 15,000 Hebrew. Other minorities are Gypsies, Greeks, Macedonians, Russians and Tatars. Over 90% of Poles are Roman Catholics, the rest being Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists, and Muslims and Mosaic. Polish language belongs to the West Slavic group of Indo-European languages as Czech and Slovakian. It is estimated that outside Poland live 14-17 million Poles.
The greatest concentration is in the U.S. (about 9 million), Canada, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Polish state was formed 1,000 years ago under the Piast dynasty and has experienced its golden age in the late sixteenth century under the dynasty of Jaglieloniana when Poland was one of the most extensive, powerful and wealthy countries in Europe. In 1791, the Polish-Lithuanian Sejm voted union Constitution of May 3, the first modern constitution in Europe and second in the world after the U.S. Constitution. Immediately afterwards, the country ceased to exist after being partitioned by its neighbors Russia, Austria and Prussia. It regained independence in 1918 in the First World War as the Second Polish Republic.
In the aftermath of the Second World War it became a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union known as the People’s Republic of Poland. In 1989 the first partially free elections in Poland after World War II ended the historic uprising Solidarity movement (Solidarnosc) who fought for freedom, thus removing the communist rulers. The current Third Polish Republic was created, several years later by the new constitution in 1997. The country names used since the early eleventh century, comes from an ancient Slavic tribe “Polana”, which means “inhabitants of the plain”, which was established by about the fifth century in the southern regions between Odra (Oder) and Vistula (Visla) rivers.
The greatest distance from east to west is 680 km and from north to south is 790 km. Poland’s borders are formed by the Southern Mountains in southwest, the Carpathians mountains to the southeast, the rivers Odra and Nysa Bug River in the west and east. In the northeast a part of the country is bordered by the Baltic Sea. Although Poland appears to be an uninterrupted plain, the landscape is very complex. The average elevation is 175 m, but reaches the top of the mountain at 2499 m in Rysy Tatra Mountains and Vistula delta in south reaches 2 m below sea level. Poland is divided into a number of parallel regions coming from east to west. Occupying the northern, two thirds of the territory is a region of plains and low hills, divided into Polish central plains, the heights and plains of the Baltic littoral. Central Plain is crossed from east to west by a series of wide valleys, wetlands.
To the north of central plain is the Baltic Heights (Hills Pomeranian and Masurian Hills) with hills and lakes. Low littoral plain is a strip of 40-100 km wide, stretching on the entire length of the Baltic Sea. The coast of 491 km length is very smooth except in the West Pomeranian Bay and Gulf of Gdansk in the east. A few natural harbors are located along the Baltic Sea. Territory-third of southern Poland is composed of highly varied terrain (hills, plateaus and mountains). A narrow belt of mountains occupies the extreme south and southwest. Carpathian Mountains are located on the southeast border and include the groups Beskizi and Tatra. Southern Mountains, another important group of mountains are located at the southwest border. In their northern area of low hills there is a plain called Polish Silesia and low plateaus.
Nearly all waters in Poland flow into the Baltic Sea by the two great rivers Vistula and Odra and their tributaries of the Warta and Bug. Poland lakes that are close to 9300 are concentrated in the Baltic Heights and seaside strip. Poland has about 120 ponds located mainly in the height of the Baltic and southern mountains. Natural Resources: coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land. Natural tourist attractions in Poland: Prestigious European cultural center, renowned worldwide for its monuments and its history is impressive from the first visit – Krakow is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Between 1038 and 1596 was in fact the Polish capital before Warsaw, a period more than favorably for the city’s development. Then, famous architects and artists have created some architectural projects, so beautiful, full of meanings with time.
Today Krakow is an outdoor museum, whether it’s Wawel, Old Town, Kazimierz (former district Hebrew) or churches (one percent), castles, old houses, all attract and fascinate. In addition to museums and sightseeing in Krakow, there are also numerous restaurants, cafes, shops for all tastes, theaters and many other interesting places, perfect for a visitor. For now Krakow is one of the most visited cities in Poland and a destination among tourists who want to discover the beauty of classical Europe. Harmony and the atmosphere are hard to describe the city and throughout its history many artists, musicians, actors, writers and have put in one way or another fingerprint on Krakow. Traditional and modern space blend into an inspired Krakow; it is always full of groups of tourists coming from around the world.
Objectives and attractions: Kazimierz: the old Hebrew quarter Hebrew is one of the most interesting places in Krakow, testament to the importance of the Mosaic community in history. It has no less than seven synagogues, impressive architectural masterpieces. Unfortunately, after the persecution during the Second World War the neighborhood was ruined and at the price of decades, many old buildings were almost destroyed. Only much later the former owners and their followers were once again in possession of many of the houses, rebuilding them and turning them into modern homes and offices, while respecting the traditional architectural lines. Extraordinary is the Hebrew district in Krakow that there are two of the most beautiful Gothic churches in Poland, St Catherine and Corpus Christi, demonstrating that the price for centuries the two communities lived together in a cosmopolitan and tolerant climate, which helped rapid development of the city.
In fact, Kazimierz was formerly famous for its scholars and artists from here. Today the old quarter Hebrew is an interesting mix of unique and elegant hotels, restaurants and luxury villas, modest building with small shops and workshops, cafes, art galleries. The atmosphere has made it very popular for special guests and often cobbled streets you can see groups of tourists coming from all over the world. Wawel Royal Castle on the Hill: Perhaps the best known tourist attraction and historical monument in the city, a symbol of Krakow. You can reach Kanonicza easy, a narrow street, one of the oldest and most important cities, which has kept very good atmosphere and architecture, is now an attractive place to promenade. The castle itself is simply wonderful, carefully restored and turned into a giant museum. It once housed the kings and queens of Poland and is always busy, because of its attractions.
Here are the official royal apartments and rooms, collections of Oriental art, weapons and armor, one of the most valuable collections of Flemish tapestries, archaeological pieces, vintage items, portraits of monarchs and many others. Here you can visit Wawel Cathedral, the Royal Crypt, Sigismund bell or you can see and you can enjoy the collected works of Art and Technology Center Manggha, Japanese. Rynek Glowny: The central square in Krakow is a meeting place, hosts many festivals and cultural events, very popular tourist attraction. The market dates from the thirteenth century, this finding is some of the oldest buildings in Krakow as well as Sukiennice (Room fabric) – former textile exchange, today is a subsidiary of National Museum – Church of St. Adalbert, St Mary – a symbol of city, easily recognized because of the two towers – and more.
The buildings surrounding the market, many of them very old house turned into prestigious institutions such as the Historical Museum of Krakow, International Cultural Center, with shops, restaurants, clubs and cafes. Interestingly decorated facades and well maintained, classic architecture, with many original features, pleasant atmosphere, all make Central Square a recommended place. In the summer you can come here for concerts and festivals, and many locals choose to spend their New Year in the market. City center: here you will find numerous museums, old houses, antique shops and bookstores, large and small shops, historic monuments, some gardens, hundreds of restaurants, cafes and bars. Always busy life seems to flow here in a much more hectic pace than the rest of Krakow. It is worth a visit to the museums – Jan Matejko House, Museum of Archaeology – the few art galleries – especially Jan Fejkiel Gallery – Churches – Franciscan Church, Dominican Church, St Peter and Paul, St Andrews.
Each of these churches is a work of architectural art, especially paintings and stained glass and will surely impress you. Poland’s main cities are Warsaw and Krakow. Warsaw: It is the capital of Poland until 1596, when King Sigismund III changed the capital from Krakow. The municipality is also the capital of Mazowieckie Voivodship being located in the central-eastern part of the country. Warsaw is notable among the capitals of Europe not for its size, age, or beauty, but for its indestructibility. It is a phoenix that was reborn from the ashes of war several times. Having suffered great damage during the Swedish and Prussian occupation of 1655-1656, it was assaulted again in 1794, when the Russian army massacred the population in the suburbs. During the Second World War, the city was completely destroyed on the orders of Hitler, suburbs evacuated and all buildings demolished. After the war people returned, and the city returned to its role as the capital of Poland and the center of social, political, economic, scientific and cultural country. Many of the streets, historical buildings and churches have been restored under their original shape. Historic Centre of Warsaw in 1980 became a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In the second part of the eighteenth century, the emblem of Warsaw was a mermaid with sword and shield in hand, representing the creature that, according to legend, a prince led to this spot, asking him to build the city. City motto is “Contemnit procellas” (Beat the Storm). Point of interest: Museum of Warsaw; Royal Palace, beautifully rebuilt after the original plans. Often hosts exhibitions and art galleries. Culture and Science Palace, built by the architectural model of the Lomonosov University in Moscow, located downtown, offers a superb panorama of Warsaw who climbs the building terrace. Warsaw Uprising Museum, one of the most beautiful museums in the country, offers visitors information on the most tragic episodes in the history of the city. Łazienski Park and Palace, offers an interesting insight on Poland’s former imperial lands. A walk on park paths frequent encounters with squirrels occasions, very friendly with tourists. Old Town Square is guarded by the Mermaid statue, symbol of Warsaw. Here you will find most shops and souvenir stalls, or you can opt for a ride in a cart pulled by horses; Wilanow Palace; Zoo.
Krakow: It is one of the oldest and largest cities of Poland. Located in Upper Vistula Valley, now the capital of the principality, the port city, visited with delight over 4 million tourists is one of the few places where works of art gathered while during the centuries have been destroyed during World War II. History of Krakow is down over 1000 years ago, when it was known as Residence of Bishops. In 1364 was established here the first University in Poland “Jagellon University” to train staff who were outstanding. Today, Krakow, considered the most beautiful city in Poland, added to its long coat the attribute of the “capital of art and youth”. In May-June, during annual Days of Krakow, is held here the Juvenalia, a carnival in which students take the exam at the university Youth.
Krakow has traditionally been regarded as one of Poland’s major cities in terms of artistic, cultural and scientific. It also represents the former residence of Polish kings and is considered by many as the heart of Poland, with a history of over 1000 years. Krakow is also a major tourist center, the target of over 7 million tourists annually. Poznan is a city surprisingly diverse architectural style of churches, homes and museums. Important economic and cultural center, it has gained fame due craftsmen fairs that attract crowds. Wrocław is a very busy city with history, one of the most exciting cities in Central Europe, often considered a miniature version of Prague. Many buildings in the Gothic style capture the eyes of tourists. Other attractions: Wawel Hill, above the Vistula, sits the most beautiful and most visited architectural complex belonging to former royal residence: Fortified Castle and cathedral Wawelska Wewel.
Wawel Castle, originally Gothic, was transformed by Sigismund I, between 1507 and 1536, in a royal residence in the stately Renaissance. Between the fourteenth century and sixteenth century, the building served as the presidential palace of Polish monarchs, instead of coronations and the necropolis of kings. Today the castle houses the National Art Collection, consisting of fabric, tapestries, embroidered with gold thread, painting, ceramics, an impressive collection of weapons, and treasure the Crown, including the coronation sword of Polish kings, and perhaps what’s most unusual, a collection of Oriental objects, of which the most remarkable is the collection of tents in the seventeenth century and the eighteenth century, one of the richest in the world.
Wawelska Cathedral, built between 1320 and 1390, was the coronation site of Polish kings, Gothic church body after being surrounded by 18 chapels, the Renaissance and Baroque style. Chair has the biggest bell in Poland, called “Sigmund,” with a diameter of 2.48 m, cast in 1520 by order of King Sigismund.
Industries: machine building and metal processing, mining, chemical, and constructions, shipbuilding, glass and ceramics, food (an important exporter of pork producer), textiles, wood processing. Agriculture: 7% of GDP, 75% of their earnings from private farms, the remaining 25% coming from state farms. Productivity remains low in comparison with European standards. It is the European leader in the production of rye, rape and potatoes. Inland waters: 3,997 km navigable rivers and canals. Railways: total 25,528 km, of which 11,496 km electrified. Highways: total 367,000 km of which 235,247 km asphalt. Ports: Gdansk, Gdynia, Gliwice, Kolobrzeg, Szczecin, Swinoujscie. Resources: coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, salt. Arable land: 48%. Meadows and pastures: 13%. Forests: 28%, other 13%. GDP: 227 billion USD (1998), 5800 USD / capita. Life expectancy: men 68.1 years, women 76.6 years.
After the fall of communism, Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization and today is one example of successful transition from a state-run economy to a market economy. The privatization of small and medium-sized companies that were controlled by the government and the right freely to set up new firms has allowed aggressive private sector development. As a result, organizations have emerged to defend consumers’ rights. Restructuring and privatization of “sensitive sectors” such as mining, metallurgy, railway and energy have been launched since 1990. Between 2007 and 2010, the Polish government planned to list the twenty public companies on the Polish stock market, including mining companies.
The largest privatization was the sale of national telecommunications company, Telekomunikacja Polska, the operator France Télécom in 2000 and the sale of a 30% stake in Poland’s largest bank, PKO Bank Polski, Warsaw Stock Exchange in 2004. In agriculture, Poland has a large number of private farms, with the potential to become the most important state food producers throughout the EU. But there are a number of problems, mostly related to lack of investment in certain economic sectors. Structural reforms in health care, education, pension system and state administration have ended up causing a huge tax burden on Polish contributors. GDP growth was strong and stable between 1993 and 2000, with a short period of slowdown in the period 2001-2002. The prospect of closer integration into European Union caused a sustained economic development, with an annual growth of 3.7% in 2003, compared to 1.4% in 2002.
In 2004, GDP growth was 5.4% in 2005 – 3.3% in 2006 – 6.1%. For 2007, the government has forecasted a growth of 6.5 to 7%. Poland saw in 2008 a GDP of 530 billion dollars, while GDP per capita reached $ 17,500. In 2009, Poland has recorded a growth of 1.7%, the only EU country that has registered growth in that year, while all other member states were in recession. Although the Polish economy is today in a process of rapid development, there are still many challenges. The most important economic task is to prepare future economy to allow Poland to meet the criteria for adopting the euro as their currency. The education system in Poland is composed of kindergartens, elementary schools, secondary schools (gymnasiums), colleges and other schools, post-gymnasium schools, colleges, art schools and more.
Universities and other high schools are not part of the education system and have the right to autonomy. Under the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, everyone has the right to learn. Education is mandatory to 18 years, but only elementary and secondary schools have mandatory status institutions. Education is free in public schools. Polish culture has a rich history that dates back a thousand years, with influences from both West and East. Today, these influences are visible in the architecture, folklore and art of the country. Poland is the birthplace of many famous people throughout the world, Pope John Paul II, Marie Sklodowska-Curie, Kazimierz Pulaski, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Nicolaus Copernicus, Frederic Chopin and other.
The unique character of Polish art always reflected world trends. Famous Polish painter Jan Matejko, included many important historical events in his pictures. Polish literature dates from the twelfth century and includes many famous poets and writers such as Jan Kochanowski, Adam Mickiewicz, Henryk Sienkiewicz (1905 Nobel Prize winner), Boleslaw Prus, Władysław Reymont (1924 Nobel Prize winner), Juliusz Slowacki, Witold Gombrowicz, Czeslaw Milosz (Nobel Prize winner in 1980), Wisława Szymborska (1996 Nobel Prize winner), Stanisław Lem, Ryszard Kapuściński. Directors include famous Polish Academy Award winners Roman Polanski, Andrzej Wajda, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Janusz Kaminski and Krzysztof Kieslowski.
Famous classical music composers are, among others, Frederic Chopin, Karol Szymanowski and Krzysztof Penderecki. Various genres of modern music are popular in Poland today. Most popular now are: pop, rock, dance, hip-hop, R & B and metal. Polish folk artists include: Anita Lipnicka, Behemoth, Decapitated, Edyta Górniak, Ich Troj, Maryl Rodowicz, Riverside and Vader. Polish youth and listen to musicians from other countries. Polish cuisine dishes are recognized by sausage (kielbasa), red beet soup (barszcz czerwony), duck blood soup (Czernin), pierogi, cabbage rolls and meat (gołąbki), pork chops, stew (bigos), various potato-based dishes, zapiekanka (a type of fast food) and other. Typical desserts are donuts, ice creams and sweet cakes.
During training of the state, Poland had an area of approximately 250,000 km², and almost one million inhabitants. During King Kazimierz III the Great, the population grew to 2.5 million inhabitants in an area of 270,000 km². The union with Lithuania has brought an increase in population and territory. During Stephen Bathory, Rzeczpospolita had an area of one million square kilometers and its population reached 9 million. When Poland lost its independence, had a population of about 13 to 14 million, but most of them (in the eighteenth century nearly 60%) did not speak Polish and Polish were not stated. After World War Poland became an independent state, had about 20 million inhabitants, of which one third was not Polish nationality.
Between 1921 and 1939 state population increased from 27.2 million to 35.2 million. Today, national and ethnic minorities represent only 3% of the total population of the state. After the Second World War, in Poland was recorded an incredible population growth. In 50 years of the twentieth century were born 500,000 people per year (which was equal to the contemporary population of Krakow). Then there were two waves of population growth: at the beginning of the ’70s and early ’80s. After the fall of communism, the population growth rate declined in this century and reached 0. Today it is noted that the small increase in the wave of the 70s, entered the reproductive phase began when the Polish state policy of support for families. However, from Poland to the EU went from 500,000 to 2 million young people around. According to sources, the population of Poland will fall to 30 million in 2030.
Polish language is the most widespread in Poland, and the only one with official status. Approximately 97% of people living in Poland declares that language as their native language and speak it at home. Four other auxiliary languages are languages and can be used in fifty-one municipalities: Belarusian (220,000 speakers – can be used in 12 municipalities), casubiana (speakers 3000-200000, outcomes vary – can be used in 10 communes), German (500,000 speakers – can be used in 28 municipalities) and Lithuania (3,000 speakers – can be used in a joint). Other languages used are: Roman (four dialects, 40,000 speakers) and Ukraine (150,000 speakers). Existence Silesian language is a topic of discussion and public opinion of linguists. It recently received an ISO code szl. At the 2002 census, 60,000 people declared Silesian as the language spoken at home.
According to the annual statistical publication, the largest religious community is the Roman Catholic Church, which has about 34.21 million faithful. As are the baptized Roman Catholic citizens of Poland 34,158,305, represent approximately 89% of the total population of the state. Greek-Catholic Church has 53,000 members of the population, the Armenian Church – 5000 Church Neo-United – 195, derived from the Old Catholic Church Roman Catholic Church has 45,000 faithful. Orthodox Church, the second largest, consists of 507,000 people. Protestant religions are about 150,000 faithful. Lutheran Church is the largest and has 77,500 parishioners. Other communities and atheists make up 5-10% of the population (depending on sources).
Today there is evidence of encoding of the language and the most famous is the one created by users of the portal našymu PU. Several languages are studied in Poland. The most popular is English. Before the political changes of 1989, Russian was the most known in society. Other languages: German, French, Italian, Spanish and classical languages (Latin and Ancient Greek) have not been very popular. University students can also learn other languages such as Czech, Greek or Romanian, if they choose philological studies. Metropolitan Areas: the biggest metropolitan areas of Poland are: Upper Silesian Industrial Region, centered in Katowice – about 3.5 million; Agglomeration of Warsaw -approximately 3 million; Congestion in Krakow – about 1.3 million people; Agglomeration City Łódź – about 1.3 million people; Tricity (Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot and environs) – 1.1 million people.11