Poland Overview

Poland Overview

Poland, officially Polish Rzeczpospolita Polska [ ʒ εt ʃ p ɔ s p ɔ lita -], German Republic of Poland, State in Central Eastern Europe (2018) 38.0 million residents; The capital is Warsaw.

National symbols

The national flag comes from the Duchy of Warsaw (1772) and was legally established on November 11, 1918 for the newly established Republic of Poland. The flag is divided into two equal stripes of white over red.

The coat of arms can be traced back to the 13th century. It shows a gold armored and crowned white eagle on a red shield. On December 29, 1989 it was decided that the crown removed under communist rule would be added to the heraldic animal again.

National holidays: Since 1990 (as in 1918–39), May 3rd commemorates the first constitution of 1791. November 11th, Independence Day, commemorates the regaining of independence in 1918.


Since the democratic transformation of Poland and the self-dissolution of the communist Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), which had supported the state until then, in January 1990, a broad spectrum of political parties, groups and alliances has emerged. Important parties are the Civic Platform (PO; founded 2001, conservative-liberal), the Law and Justice party (PiS; founded 2001, conservative-national), the Kukiz’15 party (K; founded 2015, populist), the Modern Party (N; founded in 2015, economically liberal), the Polish People’s and Peasants’ Party (PSL; founded in 1990 from predecessor organizations), the Alliance of the Democratic Left (SLD; emerged in 1999 as a party from the movement of the same name, founded in 1991, which comprised almost 30 left-wing groups and above all by the successor organization of the PZPR, the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland [SdRP], which existed until 1999). The Alliance of the Democratic Left joined forces with other groups on the United Left (ZL) for the 2015 parliamentary elections. – The German minority, which has no party of its own nationwide, relies on ethnic group organizations and is exempt from the electoral threshold.


In the early 1990s around three quarters of the workers were union members, now only around 10% are unionized. In addition to the NSZZ Solidarność (Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarity; founded in 1980), the OPZZ (All-Poland Trade Union Alliance; founded in 1984) and Forum FZZ (founded in 2002) there are numerous small local individual trade unions.


The total strength of the professional army (2010 abolition of compulsory military service) is around 100,000 men. The army (48,200 soldiers) is divided into two army corps with three mechanized infantry divisions, one armored division, two artillery, engineer and airmobile brigades, three reconnaissance regiments, two army aviation regiments, one engineer regiment and one regiment for anti-C weapons. The Air Force has 16,600 and the Navy 7,700. Around 3,000 soldiers belong to the special forces, 14,300 paramilitary units.


At the regional level, there have been 16 voivodeships since the administrative reform that came into force in 1999, headed by the voivode appointed by the head of government. In October 1998, regional parliaments (with their own budget law) were elected for the first time for the voivodships to shape independent local politics; its executive body is the management with a marshal. On the second regional level, there are 380 districts (powiaty), the local political body of which is the district council. The local level of municipal self-government is represented by 2,478 municipalities.

Administrative division in Poland

Administrative structure (December 31, 2018)
Voivodeship Area (in km 2) Population (in 1,000) Residents (per km 2) capital city
Warmia-Masuria 24 173 1,429.0 59 Olsztyn
Greater Poland 29 827 3,494.0 116 Poznan
Holy Cross 11 711 1,241.5 106 Kielce
Lesser Poland 15 183 3,400.6 224 Krakow (Kraków)
Kuyavian Pomeranian 17 971 2,077.8 116 Bydgoszcz 1), Toruń 2)
Lebus 13,988 1,014.5 73 Gorzów Wielkopolski 1), Zielona Góra 2)
Lodz 18 219 2,466.3 135 Lodz (Łódź)
Lublin 25 122 2,117.6 84 Lublin
Mazovia 35 558 5,403.4 152 Warsaw
Lower Silesia 19 947 2,901.2 145 Wroclaw (Wroclaw)
Opole 9 412 986.5 105 Opole
Podlaskie 20 187 1,181.5 59 Białystok
Pomerania 18 322 2,333.5 127 Gdańsk
Silesia 12 333 4,533.6 368 Katowice
Subcarpathian 17 846 2 129.0 119 Rzeszów
West Pomerania 22 897 1,701.0 74 Szczecin
1) Seat of the voivod.2) Seat of the Parliament (Sejmik) of the Voivodeship.


In 2017, Poland implemented an educational reform. Compulsory schooling was reduced by one year. It lasts from 8 to 16 years of age. According to topschoolsintheusa, the eight-year primary school follows the well-developed, non-compulsory elementary area. Afterwards, either the four-year lyceum (general higher education entrance qualification), the five-year technical college (technical college) or the three-year vocational school can be attended. Graduates of the vocational school have the opportunity to acquire the higher education entrance qualification after completing the two-year supplementary lyceum. The grammar schools introduced in 1999, which had to be attended after a six-year primary school, were abolished in 2017. This means that the school system is only two-tiered.

In the higher education sector there are 19 universities as well as numerous other public, church and private academies and higher education institutions. The oldest universities are the Jagiellonian University in Krakow (founded in 1364) and the Universities of Wroclaw (founded in 1702, re-established as a Polish university in 1945) and Warsaw (1818).


The media landscape is diverse and reporting is free. Foreign media groups have a strong presence, including Axel Springer SE, Bauer Media Group and Verlagsgruppe Passau (regional newspapers).

Press: Among the 45 daily newspapers with the highest circulation, in addition to various free papers, are the tabloids »Fakt« (founded in 2003) and »Super Express« (founded in 1991) as well as the »Gazeta Wyborcza« (founded in 1989), which emerged from the Solidarność trade union movement, the conservative » Rzeczpospolita “(founded in 1982), the business newspaper” Dziennik-Gazeta Prawna “(founded in 2002) and the Warsaw newspaper” Życie Warszawy “. News magazines are “Newsweek Polska” (founded in 2001), “Polityka” (founded in 1957), and “Wprost” (founded in 1982).

News agencies: Polska Agencja Prasowa (PAP), Katolicka Agencja Informacyjna (KAI, founded in 1992).

Broadcasting: Public broadcasting consists of Telewizja Polska (TVP) and Polskie Radio (PR). TVP broadcasts three full programs nationwide and, in addition to several special interest channels, also operates »TV Polonia« for Poland abroad; »TVP Regionalna« is the cover for 16 regional studios. The largest private television stations are »Polsat TV«, »TVN« (with news channel »TVN 24«) and the Catholic »TV Puls«. Pay TV is very important. Polskie Radio includes four national radio stations, 17 regional companies and “Polskie Radio dla Zagraniczy” (Polish radio for foreign countries). The most popular private radio stations are “Radio Muzyka Fakty” (RMF FM) and “Radio Zet” as well as the Catholic “Radio Maryja”.

Poland Overview

Comments are closed.