Pol. Polska, officially Republic of Poland, republic (1995 est.
pop. 38,792,000), 120,725 sq mi (312,677 sq km), central Europe.
It borders on Germany in the west, on the Baltic Sea and the Kaliningrad
region of Russia in the north, on Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine
in the east, and on the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the south.
Warsaw is the capital and largest city.
The country is largely low-lying, except in the south, which includes
the Carpathians, the Sudeten Mts., and the Malopolska Hills. The
highest point is Rysy Mt. (c.8,200 ft/2,500 m), located in the High
Tatra Mts. near the Slovakian border. Poland's main rivers (including
the Vistula, the Oder, the Warta, and the Western Bug) are connected
to the Baltic Sea and are important traffic lanes. The country has
three important Baltic ports (Gdansk, Gdynia, and Szczecin) and
a dense rail network. There are many lakes, especially in the north.
About 50% of Poland's land area is arable (with the best soil in
the south), and about 30% is forested.
Poland is divided into 49 provinces. In addition to the capital
and major ports, the country's major cities include Bialystok, Bydgoszcz,
Bytom, Czestochowa, Gdansk, Gliwice, Katowice, Kraków, Lódz,
Lublin, Poznan, Radom, Tarnowskie Góry, and Wroclaw.
As a result of World War II, of the 1945 boundary treaty with the
USSR, and of the emigration of most of the German-speaking population,
the country has considerable ethnic homogeneity. Nearly the entire
population is Polish-speaking and the vast majority of those affiliated
with any creed are Roman Catholic. There are universities at Gdansk,
Katowice, Kraków, Lódz, Lublin, Poznan, Torun, Warsaw,