World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

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Poland Travelling Guide
Poland Travelling Guide

General background: Poland is an ancient nation that was conceived around the middle of the 10th century. Its golden age occurred in the 16th century. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation, until an agreement in 1772 between Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland. Poland regained its independence in 1918 only to be overrun by Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. It became a Soviet satellite country following the war, but one that was comparatively tolerant and progressive. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity" that over time became a political force and by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A "shock therapy" program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe, boosting hopes for acceptance to the EU. Poland joined the NATO alliance in 1999.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than New Mexico.

Climate: Temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers.

Terrain: Mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border.

Population: 38,625,478 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Polish 97.6%, German 1.3%, Ukrainian 0.6%, Belarusian 0.5% (1990 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 95% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and other 5%

Language: Polish

Government type: Republic

Capital: Warsaw

Legal system: Mixture of Continental (Napoleonic) civil law and holdover Communist legal theory; changes being gradually introduced as part of broader democratisation process; limited judicial review of legislative acts although under the new constitution, the Constitutional Tribunal ruling will become final as of October 1999; court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg.

Economic overview: Poland has steadfastly pursued a policy of liberalizing the economy and today stands out as one of the most successful and open transition economies. GDP growth had been strong and steady in 1993-2000 but fell back in 2001 with slowdowns in domestic investment and consumption and the weakening in the global economy. The privatisation of small and medium state-owned companies and a liberal law on establishing new firms have allowed for the rapid development of a vibrant private sector. In contrast, Poland's large agricultural sector remains handicapped by structural problems, surplus labour, inefficient small farms, and lack of investment. Restructuring and privatisation of "sensitive sectors" (e.g., coal, steel, railroads, and energy) has begun. Structural reforms in health care, education, the pension system, and state administration have resulted in larger than expected fiscal pressures. Further progress in public finance depends mainly on privatisation of Poland's remaining state sector. The government's determination to enter the EU as soon as possible affects most aspects of its economic policies. Improving Poland's outsized current account deficit and reining in inflation are priorities. Warsaw leads the region in foreign investment and needs a continued large inflow.

Communication/Telephone system: Underdeveloped and outmoded system.

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