Fri, 02 Nov 2001

From: Jawawa


Area: 312,700 square kilometers Population: 38.7 million Capital City: Warsaw Official Language: Polish. Monetary unit: zloty ( rate to the US$?) Temperature:

Spring 12oC,

Summer 24oC

Autumn 8oC

Winter -5oC

Poland's long-term credit ratings --------------------------------------------------------------- Rating agency Standard & Poor's Moody's Fitch IBCA Rating BBB+ Baa1 BBB+ --------------------------------------------------------------- Source: Standard & Poor's, Moody's and IBCA.

Poland lies in the center of Europe and is the ninth largest European country in terms of size and eighth in population. The borders extend for 3,582 km, of which 528 km runs along the coastline of the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea permits easy access to Scandinavian and North Sea ports.

About 62 percent of Poland's population resides in urban areas. The capital of Poland, Warsaw, has 1.7 million inhabitants.

Poland is a parliamentary republic (Republic of Poland). In 1997, a new Constitution was adopted by the Parliament and ratified in a national referendum.

The President is elected to office by a general election for a five-year term. He appoints candidates for the post of Prime Minister and has the right to veto acts passed by Parliament. The President is the Head-of-State and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Since 1995, Aleksander Kwaniewski has been the country's President (re-elected for the second term in October 2000).

Legislative authority is vested in the Parliament (National Assembly), which is composed of two chambers: the lower house called Sejm with 460 seats, and the upper house, or Senat, with 100 seats, both with members elected for a four-year term. The Sejm votes on laws, establishes directives for the activities of the state and supervises the activities of all the other state bodies, including appointments to the Council of Ministers. The Senate has a supervisory function.

As a result of the latest elections, held in September 2001, there are only six parties in the Sejm: the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) - 41.0 percent of the popular vote, the Civic Platform (PO) - 12.7 percent, Samoobrona - 10.2 percent, the Law and Justice Party - 9.5 percent, the Polish Peasants Party (PSL) - 9.0 percent, and the League of Polish Families (LPR) - 7.9 percent.

Executive powers are entrusted to a Prime Minister, who is responsible for domestic and foreign policy, and his Cabinet. The Government is composed of the central (the Council of Ministers) and regional administrations. The administrative division of the country is based on three tiers -- provinces (called voivodship, there are 16), divided into districts (powiat), subdivided in turn into communes (gmina).

Poland is rich in natural resources and ranks among the world's leading producers and exporters of coal, sulfur, copper and silver, and also possesses significant deposits of zinc, lead, natural gas, salt and other minerals.

Mined coal provides the basic source of energy for the country as well as an important source of export revenue. Excluding the Russian Federation, Poland is the largest producer and exporter of coal in Europe and the seventh largest in the world. It is also a major producer of lignite. The country's workable deposits of natural gas are estimated at 122 billion cubic meters.

At the present levels of output, Poland's estimated 1.8 billion tons of workable copper ore deposits are sufficient for 75 years of exploration. Based on economically attractive silver deposits, the Polish ore industry has grown to be the world's eighth largest.

Poland is one of the world's leading producers and exporters of sulfur. The annual production is about two million tons and nearly 85 percent of the sulfur extracted is exported.

Even though the share of agriculture in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is constantly shrinking (3 percent last year) due to the fast development of the manufacturing and services sector, Poland remains an important agricultural producer.

In 1998 it ranked second in the world in the production of rye and potatoes, sixth in the production of oats and pigs, eighth in the production of sugar beets, and ninth in the production of milk. Poland's arable land covers a total of 18.6 million hectares, or 59.6 percent of the country.

Poland is a member of the following international organizations: United Nations (one of the founders of the organization), NATO, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). Poland is also expected to join the European Union in the near future.