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What do you need to know about Poland?

Posted by Damian Novitzky on 18/04/2019
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Poland is not only becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination every year, but its economic and scientific conditions attract more and more people from all over the world. Writing the history of Poland in one article is impossible, so we decided to shorten it to an absolutely necessary minimum, which will help every foreigner student in their daily functioning.

What do you mean, by Poland?

Situated in central Europe, Poland serves as the geographical and cultural crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe. With a population of over 38 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member of the European Union. Since the foundation of the first Polish state more than 1000 years ago, by connecting a few territories ruled by local Slavic tribes, the country rose and fell through its turbulent history, full of wars and conflicts. But Poles have managed to maintain their identity. Since overthrowing the communist regime in 1989, Poland rebuilt the democratic institutions and become truly free country after all events of the XX century.

Krakow, Poland. Wawel Castle In Summer Day. Famous Landmark. UNE
Krakow, Poland. Wawel Castle In Summer Day. Famous Landmark. UNE

If you decide to study in Poland, you will definitely enjoy its unique location. Its territory extends from the Baltic Sea in the North, to the Tatra Mountains in the South. All this makes Poland an ideal destination for international students who would like not only to get a degree but also explore some countries of the European continent. In 2004 Poland has been a member of the European Union and since 2007, member of Schengen Agreement which gives the possibility to travel within the European Union without internal border controls. It practically means that people admitted to the Schengen Area can travel hassle-free from Portugal to Poland and from Greece to Finland.

Religion in Poland

Roman Catholic Church is the dominant religious institution in Poland, but practicing other religions is possible. Orthodox, Greek Catholic, and protestant churches are present in almost all big cities, as well as Muslim prayer centers and Jewish Kehilla. Many other religious societies and their institutions are available and active.

Safety in Poland

The crime rate in Poland is much lower than in EU countries. This applies to most kinds of crime, including murders, car theft, rapes, and robberies. Walking alone at night in dangerous looking locations and keeping an eye on personal belongings should be avoided, as well as leaving apartments without locking or bicycles on the streets.

Polish politics

Poland is a parliamentary republic. The leading institutions are the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister led by him. The Parliament is bicameral and consists of a 460-member Sejm (the lower house) and a 100-member Senat. The President is a head of state and is elected every five years in a popular election. Presidential and general elections take place every four years. Sejm is elected under d’Hondt proportional representation method, with 5% election threshold, and Senat under plurality voting system with 2-4 Senators elected from each constituency.

More about polish institutions

Basic facts about Poland

10 must-know pieces of information about Poland

The climate of Poland is moderate continental, with relatively cold winters (from December to March) and hot summers which extend from June to August. January temperatures average -1°C to -5°C. July and August average temperatures range from 16.5°C to 19°C, though some days the temperature can reach even 35°C. The official currency is zloty (PLN). 1 zloty is 100 groszy. Current exchange rates can be found anywhere on the internet. The calling code is +48 and Internet domain is .pl

The official name is Republic of Poland (short form: Poland), Rzeczpospolita Polska (or shorter: Polska). The official language is obviously Polish. Poland is located in Central Europe and borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Russia (the Kaliningrad exclave). Up north we have 440 km along the Baltic Sea coast, which also is our northern border. Capital of Poland is Warszawa (Warsaw). With a population of 1.7 million people (and 2.5 million in all Warsaw agglomeration), Warsaw is the biggest city in the country. Total population: 38 million. Poland has the seventh largest population in Europe (omitting Russia) and the sixth largest in the European Union. Poland belongs to the Central European time zone (GMT + 1 hour / UTC + 1 hour), except for between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October when it switches to daylight saving time.

Poland is a member of plenty international organisations, such as the European Union (EU), the Schengen Area, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural  Organisation (UNESCO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations (UN), World Health Organisation (WHO) and many others.

Notable Poles

Poland is a birthplace of various famous writers, scientists, politicians, and artists, such as Wisława Szymborska, Stanislaw Lem, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Frederic Chopin, Lech Walesa, Agnieszka Holland, Roman Polanski,

Main Polish cities

Main Polish cities

Thanks to the status of capital, Warszawa is popular destinations for education and job opportunities. It’s an important scientific and cultural center with many higher education institutions.

Center of Warsaw
Downtown of Warsaw

Stunning architecture and historic treasures of Krakow, attract thousands of tourists each year. Former capitol (for 691 years) is an important cultural and academic center with over 730,000 residents. Krakow is also considered the cradle of Polish science because of the first Polish university, the Jagiellonian University, which was founded in 1364.

The old market in Krakow

In terms of the population, Łódź is the third-largest city in Poland, located in the center of the country. In the 19th century, it used to be the main industrial power of Poland because of its textile industry. Today, the city turned into a cinematic center of Poland, because of the world-famous Łódź Film School, the birthplace of actors, camera operators and directors such as Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda.

Check it 10 most important polish movies

Piotrkowska Street in Łódź

Poznań is a mixture of traditionalism and modernity – one of the oldest and largest Polish cities is also the second fastest developing city in Poland, thanks to a great number of universities and research institutes. Since 1925, International Trade Fairs have been held in Poznań annually, and today, the city’s economic power peaks due to numerous foreign investments.

Old Market Square - Poznan
Old Market Square – Poznan

Together with Gdynia and Sopot, Gdańsk forms a metropolis called Tricity (Trójmiasto) with approximately 750,000 inhabitants. It’s beautiful architecture reflecting its turbulent history divided between Poland and Germany. Gdańsk is a major Polish seaport where World War II began and the birthplace of the Polish Solidarity movement.

The Crane in Gdansk
The Crane in Gdansk

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