A nation with a proud cultural heritage, Poland can trace its roots back over 1,000 years. Positioned at the centre of Europe, it has known turbulent and violent times.
There have been periods of independence as well as periods of domination by other countries. Several million people, half of them Jews, died in World War II.
A new era began when Poland became an EU member in May 2004, five years after joining Nato and 15 years after the end of communist rule.
It was the birthplace of the former Soviet bloc’s first officially recognised independent mass political movement when strikes at the Gdansk shipyard in August 1980 led to agreement with the authorities on the establishment of the Solidarity trade union.
- Republic of Poland
- Capital: Warsaw
- Population 38.3 million
- Area 312,685 sq km (120,728 sq miles)
- Major language Polish
- Major religions Christianity
- Life expectancy 72 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN)
- Currency zloty