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. Poland is a democratic republic, located in Central Europe. It has had a colorful history since its founding in the year 966. Overrun by German and Soviet armies in September 1939, it suffered terrible destruction and a loss of 20% of its population. Under a communist government subservient to the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1989, its recovery was seriously hampered. A member of NATO since 1999 and of the European Union since May 2004.
Surface area 312,685 sq. km. (120,728 sq. mi.); Population 38, 622, 000 (2003).
Capital: Warsaw (Warszawa) - pop. >2 million. Other large cities: Łódż, Cracow (Kraków), Wroclaw, Poznan, Gdansk.

Primarily an agricultural country, it is becoming rapidly industrialized. Its only significant mountains run along the southern borders. their names are shown in red on the map. The coasts on the Baltic Sea enjoy sandy beaches.
The most interesting tourist destinations are the old cities of Warsaw, Cracow and Gdansk; the mountain areas in the south and the lakeland region in the north. Many of the smaller towns are very charming, with old palaces and castles, see below the links to tours.

23 National Parks protect significant areas of natural beauty, many added or enlarged in recent years. The largest and most interesting for tourists are (numbers shown on map):
  1.   Bialowieza - listed by UNESCO as one of the largest reserves o`f primeval virgin forest in Europe, on the border of Belarus. - 4km of trails.
  2.   Biebrza - lowland river valley and forest. - 195km. hiking and kayaking trails.
  3.   Bieszczady - rolling mountains, wild meadows and forest. - 138km. hiking and skiing trails.
  4.   Kampinos - forest and meadows. Accessible by city bus from Warsaw. - 358km. hiking and riding trails.
  5.   Magura - rolling Low Besdidy mountain range, old wooden churches of the Lemko people. - 49km. hiking trails.
  6.   Slowinski - huge shifting sand dunes, beaches and lake. - 140km. hiking and kayaking trails.
  7.   Tatry - high mountain range, near Zakopane. - 245km. hiking and skiing trails.
  8.   Wigry - lakeland. - 151km. kayaking and hiking trails.
  9.   Drawa - lowland forest and lakes - - 44km. hiking and kayaking trails.
  10.   Ojców - small park in the Eagles Valley with interesting rock formations, close to Cracow

For more information see the following links: Recommended guide book: DK Eyewitness "Poland" (ISBN 0789497360). It is not too bulky, is beautifully illustrated and has a wealth of information about all the smaller towns with anything of interest. Order now from (and support this Web site at the same time.)

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Last updated April 2008