At A Glance: Poland

From Soviet satellite state to NATO stronghold in Central Europe
Poland's flag features its national colors, red and white, displayed in two equal fields. The...
Poland's flag features its national colors, red and white, displayed in two equal fields. The free elections in 1990 brought an end to Communist control of the country and paved the way for its eventual accession to the European Union in 2004.(Source: MGN Online)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 6:33 AM CDT
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Poland’s history as a state began near the middle of the 10th century. By the mid-16th century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ruled a vast tract of land in Central and Eastern Europe. During the 18th century, internal disorders weakened the nation, and in a series of agreements between 1772 and 1795, Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland among themselves. 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 state following the war. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union “Solidarity” that over time became a political force with over 10 million members. Free elections in 1989 and 1990 won Solidarity control of the parliament and the presidency, bringing the communist era to a close. A “shock therapy” program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.


POPULATION: 38,093,101 (2022 est.)

GOVERNMENT TYPE: Parliamentary republic

CHIEF OF STATE: President Andrzej DUDA (since August 6, 2015)

HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: Prime Minister Mateusz MORAWIECKI (since December 11, 2017)

NATIONAL SYMBOLS: white crowned eagle; national colors: white, red; Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; colors derive from the Polish emblem - a white eagle on a red field; National anthem name: “Mazurek Dabrowskiego” (Dabrowski’s Mazurka)

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH: bicameral Parliament consists of: Senate or Senat (100 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms). Sejm (460 seats; members elected in multi-seat constituencies by party-list proportional representation vote with 5% threshold of total votes needed for parties and 8% for coalitions to gain seats; minorities exempt from threshold; members serve 4-year terms).

JUDICIAL BRANCH: Supreme Court or Sad Najwyzszy (consists of the first president of the Supreme Court and 120 justices organized in criminal, civil, labor and social insurance, and extraordinary appeals and public affairs and disciplinary chambers); Constitutional Tribunal (consists of 15 judges, including the court president and vice president)

LANGUAGES: Polish (official) 98.2%, Silesian 1.4%, other 1.1%, unspecified 1.3%; note - data represent the language spoken at home; shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census; Poland ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2009 recognizing Kashub as a regional language, Czech, Hebrew, Yiddish, Belarusian, Lithuanian, German, Armenian, Russian, Slovak, and Ukrainian as national minority languages, and Karaim, Lemko, Romani (Polska Roma and Bergitka Roma), and Tatar as ethnic minority languages (2011 est.)

RELIGIONS: Catholic 85% (includes Roman Catholic 84.8% and other Catholic 0.3%), Orthodox 1.3% (almost all are Polish Autocephalous Orthodox), Protestant 0.4% (mainly Augsburg Evangelical and Pentecostal), other 0.3% (includes Jehovah’s Witness, Buddhist, Hare Krishna, Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Muslim, Jewish, Church of Jesus Christ), unspecified 12.9% (2020 est.)

GDP: $1,223,460,000,000 (2020 est.)

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 5.43% (2019 est.)

EXPORTS: cars and vehicle parts, seats, furniture, computers, video displays. Top export partners include: Germany 27%, Czechia 6%, United Kingdom 6%, France 6%, Italy 5% (2019).

IMPORTS: cars and vehicle parts, crude petroleum, packaged medicines, broadcasting equipment, office machinery/parts. Top import partners include: Germany 25%, China 10%, Italy 5%, Netherlands 5% (2019).

MILITARY BRANCHES: Polish Armed Forces: Land Forces (Wojska Ladowe), Navy (Marynarka Wojenna), Air Force (Sily Powietrzne), Special Forces (Wojska Specjalne), Territorial Defense Force (Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej); Ministry of Interior and Administration: Border Guard (includes coast guard duties) (2022)

MILITARY EXPENDITURES: 2.3% of GDP (2021 est.)

REFUGEES AND INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS: 9,870 (Russia) (2019); 1,246,315 (Ukraine) (as of 26 July 2022); 1,389 stateless persons (mid-year 2021).

Source: 2022 CIA World Factbook

KLTV & KTRE anchor Lane Luckie is traveling with a delegation from the City of Tyler to its sister city in Poland to get a closer look at ties between the two communities and the impact of citizen diplomacy. Click here for more coverage.