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Whitaker's Almanack: Poland

Information on Poland

See also QFINANCE article

Rzeczpospolita Polska – Republic of Poland

Whitaker's Almanack Definitions

  • Area – 312,685 sq. km
  • Capital – Warsaw; population, 1,709,560 (2009 est)
  • Major cities – Bydgoszcz, Gdansk, Katowice, Krakow, Lodz, Lublin, Poznan, Szczecin, Wroclaw
  • Currency – Zloty of 100 groszy
  • Population – 38,415,284 falling at 0.08 per cent a year (2012 est)
  • Religion – Christian (Roman Catholic 94 per cent, other 5 per cent) (est)
  • Language – Polish (official)
  • Population density – 126 per sq. km (2010)
  • Urban population – 61.2 per cent (2010 est)
  • Median age (years) – 38.5 (2011 est)
  • National anthem – 'Mazurek Dabrowskiego' ['Dabrowski's Mazurka']
  • National day – 3 May (Constitution Day)
  • Death penalty – Abolished for all crimes (since 1997)
  • CPI score – 5.5 (2011)

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Climate and Terrain

Poland lies mostly in a great plain crossed by the Oder, Neisse and Vistula rivers. The land rises to the Carpathian, Tatra and Sudeten mountains along the southern border. Elevation extremes range from 2,499m (Rysy) to −2m (Raczki Elblaskie). The climate is continental, and average temperatures in Warsaw range from −6°C in January to 24°C in July.

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History and Politics

Under the 1997 constitution, the head of state is the president, who is directly elected for a five-year term, renewable once. The president nominates the prime minister and has the right to be consulted over the appointment of the foreign, defence and interior ministers. The National Assembly is bicameral; the lower house, the Diet (Sejm), has 460 members elected by proportional representation for a four-year term. The senate has 100 members elected on a provincial basis for a four-year term.

President Lech Kaczynski, elected in 2005, was killed in a plane crash in Russia in April 2010; his successor, acting president Bronislaw Komorowski of the PO, was elected in July. The Civil Platform (PO), led by Donald Tusk, remained the largest party in both houses of the National Assembly in the 2011 legislative election, picking up 207 of the 460 seats in the lower chamber.


President, Bronislaw Komorowski, elected 4 July 2010, sworn in 6 August 2010


Prime Minister, Donald Tusk
Deputy Prime Minister, Economy, Waldemar Pawlak
Defence, Tomasz Siemoniak
Finance, Jan Vincent-Rostowski


47 Portland Place, London W1B 1JH
T 020-7291 3520 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Barbara Tuge-Erecinska, apptd 2006


ul. Kawalerii 12, 00-468 Warsaw
T (+48) (22) 311 0000 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Robin Barnett, apptd 2011

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All aged 16–49, 2010 estMalesFemales
Available for military service9,531,8559,298,593
Fit for military service7,817,5567,766,361

Military expenditure – US$9,149m (2011)

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Economy and Trade

Poland's successful transition to a market economy in the 1990s came at the cost of high levels of public debt, unemployment and inflation, which were reduced by subsequent governments. The economy has grown steadily since 1992 and particularly since accession to the EU in 2004, avoiding recession in 2008–9. Further economic development is hindered by inefficiency, rigidity and low-level corruption, although the Tusk government is committed to further privatisation and restructuring public finances.

Poland has vast mineral resources, especially coal, and nearly half its area is fertile arable land. The large agricultural sector has been modernised but remains inefficient; it employs 17 per cent of the workforce but contributes only 3.4 per cent of GDP. The main crops are vegetables, fruit, wheat, meat, eggs and dairy products. The main industries are machine-building, iron and steel production, coal-mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages and textiles. Industry accounts for 33.6 per cent of GDP.

The main trading partners are other EU countries (especially Germany) and Russia. Principal exports include machinery and vehicles, manufactured and semi-manufactured goods, food and livestock. The main imports are machinery and vehicles, semi-manufactured goods, chemicals, minerals, fuels and lubricants.

GNI – US$452,275m; US$12,440 per capita (2010)
Annual average growth of GDP – 3.8 per cent (2011 est)
Inflation rate – 4 per cent (2011 est)
Population below poverty line – 17 per cent (2003 est)
Unemployment – 12 per cent (2011 est)
Total external debt – US$306,900m (2011 est)
Imports – US$173,752m (2010)
Exports – US$155,796m (2010)


Trade – US$17,956m deficit (2010)
Current Account – US$20,982m deficit (2010)

Trade with UK20102011
Imports from UK£3,665,850,931£4,197,322,144
Exports to UK£5,929,319,644£7,108,149,476

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Airports and waterways – Nearly 130 airports and airfields are in use; the principal airports are at Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice and Wroclaw; the principal seaports are Gdansk, Gdynia, Swinoujscie and Szczecin and there are 3,997km of navigable rivers and canals

Roadways and railways – There are 423,997km of roads and 19,428km of railways

Telecommunications – 9.45 million fixed lines and 46 million mobile subscriptions (2010); there were 22.45 million internet users in 2009

Internet code and IDD pl; 48 (from UK), 44 (to UK)

Major broadcasters – State-owned television (TVP) still has the largest national audience share for its output, although there are competitive commercial and subscription services

PressGazeta Wyborcza and Fakt are the principal mass-circulation dailies

WPFI score – 8,88 (32)

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Education and Health

Elementary education (ages seven to 15) is free and compulsory. Secondary education is also free, but optional.

Literacy rate – 99.5 per cent (2009 est)
Gross enrolment ratio (percentage of relevant age group) – primary 97 per cent; secondary 97 per cent; tertiary 71 per cent (2009 est)
Health expenditure (per capita) – US$804 (2009)
Hospital beds (per 1,000 people) – 6.6 (2004–9)
Life expectancy (years) – 76.25 (2012 est)
Mortality rate – 10.24 (2012 est)
Birth rate – 9.96 (2012 est)
Infant mortality rate – 6.42 (2012 est)

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