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Geography - note: historically an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain.

total: 312,683 sq km
land: 304,510 sq km
water: 8,173 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than New Mexico.

Coastline: 491 km

Climate: temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers.

Terrain: mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border.

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, timber, nickel.

Environment - current issues: situation has improved since 1989 due to decline in heavy industry and increased environmental concern by postcommunistgovernments; air pollution nonetheless remains serious because of sulfur dioxide
emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the resulting acid rain has caused forest damage; water pollution from industrial and municipal sources is also a problem, as is disposal of hazardous wastes.

Population: 38,615,239 (July 1997 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 21% (male 4,235,659; female 4,038,016)
15-64 years : 67% (male 12,842,909; female 13,020,736)
65 years and over: 12% (male 1,698,505; female 2,779,414) (July 1997 est.)

Population growth rate: 0% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 10.18 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 9.82 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 13.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.47 years
male : 68.27 years
female: 76.91 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.43 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Ethnic groups: Polish 97.6%, German 1.3%, Ukrainian 0.6%, Byelorussian
0.5% (1990 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 95% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox,
Protestant, and other 5%

Languages: Polish

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 98% (1978 est.)

National capital: Warsaw

Independence: 11 November 1918 (independent republic proclaimed)

Constitution: interim "small constitution" came into effect in December 1992 supplementing the heavily amended constitution of 22 July 1952; referendum for a new constitution to be held 25 May 1997.

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal.

Political parties and leaders:
post-Communist: Democratic Left Alliance or SLD (Social Democracy of Poland) [Jozef OLEKSY]; Polish Peasant Party or PSL [Waldemar PAWLAK] post-Solidarity parties: Freedom Union or UW (Democratic Union and Liberal Democratic Congress merged to form Freedom Union) [Leszek BALCEROWICZ]; Christian-National Union or ZCHN [Marian PILKA]; Center Alliance Party or PC [Jaroslaw KACZYNSKI]; Peasant Alliance or PL [Gabriel JANOWSKI]; Solidarity Electoral Action or AWS [Marian KRZAKLEWSKI]; Union of Labor or UP [Ryszard BUGAJ]; Conservative Party or PK [Aleksander HALL]; Nonparty Reform Bloc or BBWR [Jacek LIPINSKI]; Nonparty Reform Block United for Elections or BBWR-SW [Jerzy GWIZDZ]  non-Communist, non-Solidarity : Movement for the Reconstruction of Poland or ROP [Jan OLSZEWSKI]; Confederation for an Independent Poland or KPN [Leszek MOCZULSKI]; German Minority or MN [Gerhardt BARTODZIEJ]; Union of Real Politics or UPR [Janusz KORWIN-MIKKE]

Economy - overview: In 1996, Poland continued to make good progress in the difficult transition to a market economy. The transition began on 1 January 1990, when the new democratic government instituted shock therapy by decontrolling prices, slashing subsidies, and drastically reducing import barriers. Although real GDP fell sharply in 1990 and 1991, in 1992 Poland became the first country in the region to resume economic growth with a 2.6% increase. Growth advanced to 3.8% in 1993, 5.2% in 1994, 6.5% in 1995, and 6.0% in 1996. Most of the growth since 1991 has come from the booming private sector, which now accounts for more than 60% of GDP, attributable mostly to the creation of new private firms. Large-scale industry still remains largely in state hands. The trade and current account balances officially are in deficit but in fact both have comfortable surpluses because of large, unrecorded sales to cross-border visitors. The government has promised to extend privatization and social welfare reform and to maintain fiscal and monetary discipline. As for external debt, the burden was
sharply reduced by reschedulings and write-offs of both private and official debt during 1991-95.

GDP - real growth rate: 6% (1996 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture : 6%
industry: 40%
services: 54% (1996 est.)

Agriculture - products: potatoes, milk, fruits, vegetables, wheat; poultry and eggs; pork, beef.

total value: $30.9 billion (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: intermediate goods 38%, machinery and transport equipment 23%, consumer goods 21%, foodstuffs 10%, fuels 7% (1996 est.)
partners : Germany 35.7%, Netherlands 5.9%, Russia 5.4%, Italy 4.9% (1994)

total value: $34.6 billion (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment 32%, intermediate goods 20%, chemicals 15%, consumer goods 9%, food 9%, fuels 8% (1996 est.)
partners: Germany 27.5%, Italy 8.4%, Russia 6.8%, UK 5.3% (1994)

Debt - external: $45.8 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: Western governments and institutions pledged $22 billion in grants and loans during 1990-94, but much of the money has not been disbursed.

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 10,321,399 (1997 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 8,030,056 (1997 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $3.46 billion (1997)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.3% (1997)

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