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Poland is an ancient nation that was conceived near 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. In a series of agreements between 1772 and 1795, Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland amongst 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, but its government 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, but Poland still faces the lingering challenges of high unemployment, underdeveloped and dilapidated infrastructure, and a poor rural underclass. Solidarity suffered a major defeat in the 2001 parliamentary elections when it failed to elect a single deputy to the lower house of Parliament, and the new leaders of the Solidarity Trade Union subsequently pledged to reduce the Trade Union's political role. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country largely completed,
Poland is an increasingly active member of Euro-Atlantic organizations"Poland (Polish: Polska), officially the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, and the Baltic Sea, Lithuania, and Russia (in the form of the Kaliningrad Oblast exclave) to the north. It also shares a maritime border with Denmark and Sweden. The total land area of Poland is about 312,685 sq km [1] (120,728 sq mi) making it the 69th largest country in the world with population over 38.5 million people concentrated mainly in large cities, including the first capital of Poland, Cracow (Polish: Krak󷩬 and present capital, Warsaw (Polish: Warszawa).

The first Polish state was born in 966. Poland became a kingdom in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by uniting to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth collapsed in 1795, and the Poles were without a state for 123 years. Poland regained its independence in 1918 after World War I but lost it again in World War II, emerging several years later as a communist country within the Eastern Bloc under control of the former Soviet Union. In 1989 it threw off the communist yoke and became what is informally known as the "Third Polish Republic". Today, as the 6th most populated member state of the European Union, Poland is a liberal democracy made up of sixteen voivodeships (Polish: wojew󤺴wo). Poland is also a member of NATO, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization"

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Quick Facts

Population: 38,415,284
Capital: Warsaw
Per-capita GDP: $ 20600
Size: 312,685 km2
Time Zone: (GMT + 01:00 hour) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris

US State Department

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Country information is adapted from public domain resources including the CIA World Fact Book and
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