• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland




    Poland lies in the central part of the European continent, the geometrical centre of which is near Warsaw. This is where the lines from Nordkyn in Norway to Matapan in Greece, and from Cabo da Roca in Portugal to the central Urals intersect. The boundary between the East and West European continental masses also runs through Poland.

    Poland's total surface area is 322,500 sq km (312,600 sq km of land, 1,200 sq km of inland waters, and 8,700 sq km of territorial waters). This makes it the ninth largest country in Europe, after Russia, Ukraine, France, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Finland and Norway, and the 63rd largest in the world.

    Poland's population is about 38,111,000. This figure makes it the 29th most populated country in the world and the 8th in Europe. The first post-war census, held in February 1946, showed that 23.9 million people lived within the new Polish borders; in 1939, just before the war broke out, Poland's population was estimated at about 35 million. The country's losses due to military operations, fighting, extermination in death camps and forced deportations were among the highest in the world. An important factor was the dramatic shift of Poland's borders in 1945, as a result of which some one-fourth of the pre-war territory was lost to the Soviet Union.

    Population density rose from nearly 80 people per sq km in 1946 to almost 124 in 2009. In Europe, this is the same density as Denmark's.
    The first post-war years (1945-1950) saw intensive migrations. The new authorities pursued a program of populating the west and north territories. Most of the resettled people came from central and south-east Poland; others were repatriates from the terrains annexed by the Soviet Union or war emigrants returning from all over the world. It was a virtual exodus - between 1945 and 1947 about 5 million people settled in west and north Poland. While Poles returned to their country, Germans, Ukrainians and Belorussians emigrated or were deported - of the 23.9 million people who lived in Poland in 1946, non-Polish nationality was declared by 3.4 million.

    In later decades (1950-1980) migrations were of an entirely different character. Following large-scale industrial investments undertaken by successive communist governments, people from industrially undeveloped regions moved to areas where extensive construction works were carried out (mainly the cities of Warsaw, Cracow, Katowice, Lodz and Poznan). This was accompanied by the migration of the rural population to urban centres (in the 1950s, 700,000 people moved to towns every year), which led to a dramatic change of the ratio of urban to rural population. While in 1946 about 68 percent of residents lived in rural areas and about 32 percent in towns, today the figures are respectively 38 and 62 percent. The main population concentrations are the industrial agglomerations of Katowice (about 4 million people), Warsaw (about 2.5 million), Gdansk and Poznan (about 1.5 million each). The least populated areas are the north-east and north-west farmlands.

    Poland's most important natural resources are hardcoal and lignite, copper, zinc and lead ores, silver, sulphur, salt, rock salt, building stone, natural gas and oil. Coal is the most abundant of natural resources. The annual production of hardcoal in Poland amounts to 100 million tons. As of the end of 2003, 4.8 billion tonnes of hardcoal deposits were identified (including 3.9 billion tonnes in easily accessible deposits). Poland's output in hardcoal and lignite mining constitutes respectively 2.2% and 7% of the global production of these resources*. The natural gas deposits are smaller (in 2005 the national production of natural gas satisfied about 30% of Poland's demand for this resource), and oil is a rare resource - identified deposits would not cover the annual output of Polish refineries. Power production is coal-based. The main advantage of such structure of energy balance is the fact that power production is based on the cheapest, local fuel. Nevertheless, this structure has been changing in recent years (the share of oil and natural gas has been increasing), but these changes are slow, and, according to the forecasts of International Energy Agency, the share of coal in country's energy generation will be stable (around 96%) even until 2020. Among other resources, copper ore is important. Poland holds a 3.3% share in the global production of refined copper.

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