Poland: Country and Foreign Investment
Geography, Climate, Population and Culture
Poland is named after the Polanie tribe, which established the Piast dynasty in the 10th century, under the leaderhip of Mieszko I, marking the start of Poland as a nation proper, and increasing its importance within Central Europe.
After what was widely acknowledged as a 'golden age' in the 16th century, the country was undermined by a Swedish invasion and various internal disputes, and was subsequently parcelled out between Russia, Prussia and Austria, reconstituted as the Duchy of Warsaw by France's Napoleon I, and then divided again, following French defeats, at the Congress of Vienna.
Poland eventually regained its independence in 1918 only to lose it again just decades later to Germany and the Soviet Union in the Second World War, becoming a Soviet satellite state in the post-war period.
The formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity" ("Solidarnosc"), which was the country's first non-communist controlled trade union, was one of the factors which led to a period of martial law in early 1980s as the government attempted to crack down on opposition to the communist leadership, followed by several years of repression.
However, by 1990 Solidarity leader,Lech Walesa, had become President, hastening the weakening of the hold of Communism on Eastern Europe.
During the 1990s, the Polish economy was transformed, although a relative lack of investment in infrastructure (especially in the areas of electricity generation and power dstribution, and with regard to road and rail links) over the years has undermined this somewhat, as have high unemployment levels.
The workforce is generally viewed as well-educated and skilled labor force, although foreign language skills and training in contemporary management, finance, and marketing are in relatively short supply.
Significant events for the Polish nation in more recent years have included joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999, and becoming a member of the European Union in 2004. The government had hoped to adopt the euro (EUR) currency in 2012, although this will required various changes, including to the Polish constitution, so was thought to be an ambitious target. This proved to be the case and a new date for joining the currency union cannot now be set until after the next general election due in 2015. Experts predict that the time for Poland to join the Euro will not be until 2019 at the earliest.
Poland has a land area of 312, 685 sq km (according to government estimates), making it the 69th largest country in the world, and the 9th largest in Europe. It is located in Central Europe, to the east of Germany, with a northern coastline on the Baltic Sea.
There are shared borders with Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany. Approximately 40% of the land in Poland is arable, with forests occupying an estimated 28%, and the country has various natural resources, including coal, sulphur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead and salt. The climate is temperate but changeable.
The population is approximately 38.3 million (2013 est), with the vast majority of Polish origin, and a strong (90%) Roman Catholic influence.