INTRODUCTION

Location and area

Poland is situated at the very centre of Europe and has borders with seven countries; Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany. The northern border runs along the coast of the Baltic Sea.

In terms of area, Poland ranks seventieth in the world and ninth in Europe. The country lies within the Central European (CET) time zone (UTC + 01:00). Between March and October, Central European Summer Time (CEST; UTC + 02:00) applies.

A three-tier administrative division operates in Poland. The highest level is the voivodship/region (województwo; 16), followed by the poviat (powiat; 379) and then the commune (gmina; 2 479). At the voivodship level, the national government is represented by the voivod (wojewoda).

Population

In terms of population size, the Poles constitute the world’s thirty-fourth largest nation.

The majority live in Poland’s nine hundred and eight cities and towns. The country’s most populous cities are Warsaw, with close to 2 million inhabitants, Krakow and Łódź, each with more than 700 thousand, Wrocław, with over 600 thousand and Poznań, with above 500 thousand.

Poland is relatively homogeneous as far as ethnicity and religion are concerned. The largest ethnic minorities are the Germans, Ukrainians, Russians and Romanies. 

Currency and Prices

Poland is a relatively inexpensive country; food, public transport and accommodation are all cheaper than in Western European countries. Currency can be exchanged in any one of the countless foreign exchange bureaus or banks. Polish banks are open from Monday to Friday. When it comes to shops, however, a great many are open seven days a week.

Visa and MasterCard debit and credit cards are accepted in Poland, as are American Express, Diners Club and JCB, although less widely. Wire transfers and Western Union transactions can be carried out and foreign cheques can be cashed.