General information about Poland
The Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska) is one of the largest countries in Central Europe, bordering Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany. Its northern frontier on the Baltic Sea gives it easy access to Scandinavian and North Sea ports. Poland's shape is roughly square, measuring 400-440 miles across.
The capital, Warsaw, is situated in the centre of the country. Poland's surface area of 120,727 sq. miles ranks eighth in Europe. The country lies almost entirely on the North European Plain and is a land of gentle relief, rarely rising above 350 feet except along the southern border with the Sudety and Carpathian mountain ranges. Rysy is the highest mountain peak, 8200 feet above sea level.
The longest rivers which cross the country north-ward are the Vistula (667 miles in length) in the centre, and the Odra (530 miles) which flows along Poland's western border.
Climate Poland has a temperate climate characterised by relatively cold winters and warm summers. Winters become increasingly severe inland from the Baltic coast, with January temperatures averaging -1° C in the north and going as low as -5° C in the southeast. July temperature: range from 16.5° C near the coast to 19° C in the south. Rainfall varies with altitude, ranging from less than 20 inches a year to as much as 50 inches in the southern mountains.
Poland is in the Central European time zone and is thus one hour ahead of standard GMT in the winter months and two hours ahead from April to October.
Poland has substantial mineral and agricultural resources. It has the world's fifth largest proven reserves of hard and brown coal in addition to deposits of copper, sulphur, zinc, lead, and silver, as well as magnesium and rock salt. All of these contribute significantly to Poland's exports. There are also commercially viable deposits of chalk, kaolin, clays, potash, and natural gas.
The main agricultural crops are wheat and other grains, potatoes, sugar-beets, and fodder crops. The livestock sector comprises 8 million beef and dairy cattle and 19 million pigs. Total arable land is 18.7 million hectares (47 mn. acres). In addition 8.9 million hectares (22 mn. acres) are forested, making timber an important resource.