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Poland is a large country in the central Europe with almost 38 million citizens, the capitol of which is Warsaw. It has a 1000-year history and is a land of rich culture and heritage.

The Kraków Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) on the Market Square in Kraków. Photo: A. Godfrejów-Tarnogórska

The Kraków Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) on the Market Square in Kraków. Photo: A. Godfrejów-Tarnogórska

The name "Poland" originates from the name of the tribe Polanie, meaning "people living in open fields”. Established as a state in 10th century, the borders of the country have since changed several times. Poland has had to fight for its freedom. Its first constitution was enacted in 1791, one of the earliest modern constitutions. Shortly after its introduction, the country lost independence and was partitioned for 123 years. World War 2 was a time of destruction and suffering, with many lives lost.

An abundance of cultural history

Poland is a beautiful country with beaches, sand dunes, lakes, forests, mountains and even a desert. It has a moderate climate. Thirty percent of land area is forested, with animal life such as bison, moose, beaver, wolf, lynx and brown bear. Birdlife includes the aquatic warbler, corncrake, spotted eagle and white-backed woodpecker.

Poland has developed extensive infrastructure with national road and railway networks, and has many historical buildings, such as Europe’s largest medieval castle, at Malbork. Poland is the world's biggest exporter of amber.

Poland remains one of the most religious countries in Europe. The Roman Catholic Church is the predominant church, and was once a great influence on Polish culture and traditions. Polish society is homogenous. Ethnic, religious and denominational minorities make up only a small percent of the population. Polish cuisine is full of meat, dumplings, cabbage and mushrooms, with the best known dishes being pierogies (dumplings), bigos (hunters stew), barszcz (beetroot soup) and żurek (fermented rye soup). The Polish are friendly and renowned for their hospitality. The national saying is “Guest in the house, God in the house”.

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