Poland - a country in the heart of Europe

By Warsaw Trade Office  / 

Tue, Nov 11, 2003 - Page 4

Poland is located in the heart of Europe and covers an area of 312,700 square kilometers. Its boundaries are formed by the Baltic Sea to the north, Germany to the West, the Czech and Slovak Republics to the South and Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Russia to the East.

Although mainly lowland plains characterize Poland's topography, its variable landscape includes important mountain chains, such as the Sudety and Tatra Mountains. Hundreds of freshwater lakes are hidden away in the northern part of the country: the Pomeranian and Mazurian Lake Districts are set amidst picturesque hills and primeval forests. Touching the Baltic Sea in the north, Poland offers 528 km of coastline with sandy beaches.

Poland has 38 million inhabitants, 1,650,000 of whom live in the capital city of Warsaw (Warszawa) and other major cities, such as Cracow (Krakow), Gdansk, Poznan, Lodz, Szczecin, Wroclaw. The population is largely of Polish descent. The official language is Polish. Poland is a parliamentary republic and is divided into 16 administrative provinces (wojewodztwa). Since 1989, the country has been undergoing an important transformation into a market economy.

You can travel to and within Poland by air, land, or sea. Most travelers arrive by air, and then take advantage of the numerous possibilities to see the country by land. If you fly into Poland, you will land either at Okecie Airport in Warsaw, Balice Airport in Krakow or Rebiechowo Airport in Gdansk. The other minor airports in Poland are: Poznan, Wroclaw, Szczecin, and Katowice.

A dense network of rail covers Poland and coach services, which provide easy access to almost any place you, can find on the Polish map. Using public transport in major cities is another convenient method of getting around. In most cases you can use a one day travel card which gives you access to the city integrated transport network.

Poland has a temperate changeable climate. Spring starts in March with temperatures varying from the mid 30's to the low 60's F (-1 to -15 C), until about May or June. July is the hottest month, but the rest of the summer is also quite warm with temperatures ranging from the mid 70's into the low 90's F (21 to 32 C). Initially warm and balmy, September marks the beginning of Poland's autumn. Thereafter, the days become more damp and foggy until December, when winter arrives and the temperature drops to a few degrees below zero. Characterized by abundant snowfall, Poland's winter season caters for winter sports of all types. It is best to assume that the weather will be changeable and pack a variety of layers appropriate to the season.

Most hotels, restaurants, larger shops, travel agencies, airlines and petrol stations accept payments with credit cards . Stickers on the doors and windows of businesses usually indicate which credit cards will be accepted for payment. Major foreign currencies may be exchanged for Polish Zlotys at the airport, banks, larger hotels and border crossings in unlimited amounts and private currency exchange offices identified by the name KANTOR.

Wherever you happen to be in Europe you will find local Polish cuisine most delicious. Such dishes as: pierogi (various dumplings) bigos (made from the best polish sausages and sour cabbage), go??bki (stuffed cabbage rolls) or duck with apples sipping by famous Polish vodka are famous in the whole world. For dessert try papal cream cake, cheese cake or any kind of polish sweets and chocolate.

Legally and duty-free, you can bring in all sorts of goods. If you are over 18, you can bring in alcohol (0.5 L of the hard stuff, 2 L of wine, or 5 L of beer) and tobacco products (250 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 250 g of tobacco). Otherwise, you can bring in prescription medicines, gifts, and personal items. The last includes the normal electronic equipment one might have if traveling for pleasure or business (mobile phones, still and video cameras, laptops, accompanying peripherals, etc.); current voltage in Poland is 220/240 V. It also includes jewelry, walkmans or binoculars, provided that you take all such items with you when you depart.

You can also bring any amount of foreign currency. Sums above 5000 EUR you need to declare upon entry. You cannot bring in any materials which threaten the natural environment, pornography or illegal drugs.

Objects of art created before 9 May 1945 need a permit. If your newest purchase was created after VE Day, then you can prove it with a receipt from the store or a certifying document from a National Museum (almost every major city has got one; you need the Department of Art Certification). As for less durable souvenirs, you can leave Poland with the same amounts of alcohol and tobacco as listed above, provided you're of age. Finally, you are not supposed to take any Polish currency beyond the borders, nor more foreign currency than you brought in.

English and German are among the better known foreign languages spoken in Poland. especially in the larger urban centers and hotels. Medical standards are not far from those found in most western European countries. In major cities hospitals can offer all forms of treatment and modern diagnostic equipment. Private clinics are also available, but treatment is not free of charge.

For more information please visit following websites: www.pot.gov.pl; www.poland.pl www.discover-poland.pl; www.travelpoland.pl; www.poland-tourism.pl; www.staypoland.com; or for tourist/business trips contact Warsaw (Poland) Trade Office in Taipei: warsaw.office@msa.hinet.net, (02) 27222-0139; (02) 2722-0115; fax (02) 2722-0557.