The Republic of Poland is a democratic republic consisting of 16 voivodeships. It is bordered to the east by Ukraine and Belarus, to the northeast by Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Oblast, to the west by Germany, and to the south by the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Poland also borders the Baltic Sea to the north. The country has an area of 312,696 square kilometres and a population of 38.38 million. The capital is Warsaw and the main river is the Vistula (Wisła).

The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025 AD. In 1569, together with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, it formed the Polish-Lithuanian Union and became one of the European powers. The decline began in the second half of the 18th century. Poland was partitioned by Russia, Prussia and Austria. During the Napoleonic Wars, with the support of France, there was a short-lived reconstruction of the state and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw was established. After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, the country was divided again. When independence was regained after World War I, it was restored and a republic was established. However, during World War II it was promptly divided between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. After the war, the People’s Republic of Poland was established.

Solidarity strikes broke out in 1980, a presidential-parliamentary system was introduced in 1989, and in the same year the name was changed to the Republic of Poland. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2003.

Since 1992, the Polish economy stopped declining and recovered, and Poland gradually became one of the fastest growing countries in Central and Eastern Europe. After joining the European Union, the economy grew even more.

Poland’s terrain is flat – the land is high in the south, low in the north and flat in the central part. There are numerous moraine lakes in the north and low hills in the south. Near the border with the Czech Republic there are the Sudetes and the Beskids. The lake country in the northeast is densely forested and has a small population.

The main mountains in Poland are the Carpathians and the Sudetes. The Carpathians form the border between Poland and the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ukraine.