The Republic of Poland, officially known as Rzeczpospolita Polska, is a democratic country located in Central Europe. It covers an area of roughly 312,000 square kilometers. Based on its geographical size, it ranks as the seventh-largest country in Europe, and the 62nd largest in the world. Seven other countries border Poland. To the west it shares borders with Germany; to the south, the Czech Republic; to the east, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine; and to the north, Russia and the Baltic Sea. Its population is roughly 38.5 million.

The geography of Poland is mostly plain, but there is some diversity. Along the southern border run the Carpathian Mountains and the Sudety Mountains. In the center of the country lie some lowlands and rolling hills. The north contains forested areas and lakes, which lead up to the beaches on the Baltic Sea coast.

Poland’s national flag consists of two stripes, one white and one red. Its national emblem is a white eagle, spreading its wings against a red background, and wearing a golden crown.

The dominant religion of Poland is Catholicism.

The national language of Poland is Polish. There are several dialects, which demonstrate German and Ukrainian influence; however, it is mostly the older populations who use these dialects. While Polish is the dominant language, German, Lithuanian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian are spoken as minority languages.

Poland’s official currency is the Złoty.

Its capital city, and largest city, is Warsaw with a population of approximately 1,700,000. Poland’s longest river, the Vistula, runs through the city of Warsaw.

After Warsaw, the other major cities in Poland are: Krakow, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Katowice, Lodz, Poznan and Szczecin.

Poland joined the European Union as a Member State on May 1, 2004. Poland is also part of the UN, OECD, NATO, and the OSCE.

There are two executive leaders of Poland: the President, who acts as head of state; and the Prime Minister, who acts as the head of government and the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister makes suggestions for all of the ministers, who are then appointed by the President, and later approved by Poland’s legislative branch.

Poland’s legislative branch consists of two chambers, the Sejm and the Senate. The Sejm is comprised of 460 seats, and its members are elected by their constituents to serve out a 4-year term. Members represent the regions of Poland proportionally. By contrast, the Senate is smaller and is comprised of only 100 seats. Similarly, its members are elected by their constituents to serve out a 4-year term, but members only need a simple majority of votes in order to be elected.

The remaining government is broken up into sixteen individual provinces (called Voivodships), which can then be broken down into 380 counties or districts (called Powiants), and then into 2,478 communes or municipalities (called Gminas). However, there are 66 major cities that have Powiat status.