poland map    p flag

Location: Central Europe, east of Germany
Area: 312,685 sq km
Area comparative: slightly smaller than New Mexico
Climate: temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers
Terrain: mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border
Natural Resources: coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land

Population: 38,635,144
Age Structure: 0-14 years:
                            15-64 years:
                            65 years and over:
Median Age:  36.43 years
Population Growth Rate: 0.03%
Birth Rate: 10.78 births/1,000 population
Death Rate: 10.01 deaths/1,000 population
Sex Ratio: at birth:
1.06 male(s)/female
                     total population:
0.94 male(s)/female
Life Expectancy at Birth: total population:
74.74 years
70.71 years
79.03 years
Ethnic Groups: Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 2.7%
Religions: Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3%
Language: Polish 97.8%, other and unspecified 2.2%
Literacy:  definition:
age 15 and over can read and write
                   total population:

GDP (purchasing power parity): $489.3 billion
GDP (official exchange rate): $249 billion
GDP - real growth rate: 3.3%
GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture:
Labor Force: 17.1 million
Unemployment Rate: 18.3%
Population Below Poverty Level: 17%
Agriculture Products: potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat; poultry, eggs, pork, dairy
Industries: machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles

Slavs in Europe

Migrated from Central Asia in 3rd or 2nd millenia BCE

East Slavs:  Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians 

West Slavs:  Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, and Wends, or Sorbs

South Slavs:  Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, and Macedonians (Bulgarians, of mixed origin like the Hungarians, speak a Slavic language)


Poland:  Ethnic Origins
W. Slavic tribe the polanie
means “field” in Polish
    reference to geography of Poland

Polish ethnic stock
    Mixed with Germanic tribes from the W
    E Slavs from the Russia, Belarus, Ukraine
    Scandinavians (esp. Swedes) from the N

Peasant Culture

The Polish Peasant, Thomas and Znanecki

peasant woman and girls      

Characteristics of peasant life
familial solidarity

absolute; loyalty/assistance to family demanded by degree of relation

**husband/wife unit
marriage – not based on love/sex/affection
 rather RESPECT

their behaviors reflect upon each other; do nothing that would lower the social standing of one another’s families
e.g. shameful for wife to do hired labor

     dowry – received by the couple from both sides

     [still really the communal property of the family because they are part of the family]

     couple does not become individualized – a new nucleus but forever tied to the larger family network

     parental control/responsibility

the means of family sustenance

father retires when son becomes more able to manage the farm than he

patriarchy-boys more important than girls – they get the land

pride = familial, not individual
   likewise with shame

**collectivity/family group identity
   not indiv.

reinforced by village, community


Is it appropriate to view contemporary E Europeans in terms of peasant culture and sociology?

Did 50 years of communism do nothing to changes these norms?

Plowing in poland



Polish Political History

1st United State:
Mieszko I 966
converted to Christianity (Catholicism)
Founds the Piast Dynasty

Major competitors, invaders
Teutonic Knights

Wladyslaw I reunites in 1320
Kazimierz the Great 1333-1370
Poland 11-14 Century

Jadwiga marries Wladyslaw II Jagiello 1386
Jagiellonian Dynasty

Defeat the Teutons at Battle of Tannenburg in 1410

16th Century
Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania

poland 16-17 Century

Noble Republic 1572-1795
  Elected Monarchy

First Republic/Constitution May 3, 1791

The Second Republic (1918-1939)   

     Interwar Period

     General Pilsudski


     Molotov-Rippentrop Pact

     Invasion September 17, 1939

     Occupation by Nazis

     Eastern Front


Communist Period 1945-1989

Solidarity Movement

     Strikes, Gdansk Shipyards

     Lech Walesa



Pope John Paul II



Martial Law

File written by Adobe Photoshop® 5.0



Legacies of Communism


Traditional bases of National Identity
  Catholicism, Marianism

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 50

Our Lady of Czestochowa (The Black Madonna)
   Poland as Christ in Europe
   nationalism (anti-Germanic, anti-Russian)
   land (the Fatherland)
   the Polish family



Post-Communist trend toward nationalism/racism/anti-foreigner sentiments

Neo-Nationalism in Poland


Polish Euroskeptics


Government Type: Republic
Capital: Warsaw (pictured below)

Legal System:  mixture of Continental (Napoleonic) civil law and holdover Communist legal theory; changes being gradually introduced as part of broader democratization process; limited judicial review of legislative acts, but rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal are final; court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg

Dual Executive
President and Prime Minister each have executive powers
like French system
President directly elected
2 ballot election
has power to sign treaties, control armed forces, must sign bills into law

The Executive Branch

Chief of State: President Lech KACZYNSKI (PiS)

Office of the President’s Website

Head of Government: Prime Minister Donald Tusk (PO)

Cabinet:   Council of Ministers responsible to the prime minister and the Sejm

The Legislative Branch
Bicameral legislature consisting of
Upper House
The Senate(Senat)
100 seats
members are elected by a majority vote on a provincial basis to serve four-year terms

Lower House
The Sejm
460 seats
members are elected under a complex system of proportional representation to serve four-year terms
5% threshhold (except for German minority)

Results of 2006 elections          % Seats
Law and Justice (PiS)                       27 %  155 
Civic Platform (PO)                            24%  133
Self-defence (Samoobrona)              11%   56
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD)         11%   55
League of Polish Families (LPR)        8%    34 
Polish Peasant Party (PSL)                 7%    25
The German minority                                    2

Government Coalition between the PiS and PO

Law and Justice Party
    right wing party
    former AWS and ROP members

    traditional, Euroskeptic, populist
    social policies based on Catholic Church
    pro "lustration" but

        Economically, leftist
        state-guaranteed minimum social safety-net
        intervention of the state into economic issues
        proposes two personal tax rates (18% and 32%)
        tax rebates related to the number of children in a family
        reduction of the VAT rate
        privatisation with the exclusion of several dozen state companies
        of strategic importance for the country
        PiS opposes cutting social welfare spending
        proposes the introduction of a system of state-guaranteed housing loan

        for centralizing power - removing governing bodies over media, monetary policy
       giving president decree powers

       pro-EU and keeping Polish forces in Iraq for one more year (since election)


Civic Platform center-right
    coalition of post-Solidarity party (AWS)
    Freedom Union (UW) (center liberal party)
Freedom Union
    liberal party
    (merger of former Democratic Union and Liberal-Democratic    
    individual liberty, centrist, pro EU integration
    rapid privatization
    former Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek

Democratic Left Alliance (SLD)
    post communist successor party
    former two-term president Aleksander Kwasniewski
    and former PM Wlodimierz Cimosewicz

The Judicial Branch
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the National Council of the Judiciary for an indefinite period)
Constitutional Tribunal (judges are chosen by the Sejm for nine-year terms)