Poland: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Poland.



Location--In Eastern Europe, bounded on the north by over 300 mi. of Baltic seacoast, on the west by East Germany, the east by the Soviet Union, and the south by Czechoslovakia.

How Created--Tribes known as the Western Slavs settled in the fertile river valleys of present-day Poland before Christ. In 966 A.D., the Slavs converted to Roman Catholicism and the Polish state was officially born. The spirit of Polish nationalism grew strong enough to survive a 125-year period when Poland did not exist because Prussia, Russia, and Austria had divided the country among themselves. An independent Poland returned to the map following W.W.I.

Size--120,725 sq. mi. (312,677 sq. km.), almost the size of New Mexico.

Population--34,500,000: Polish, 98.5%; Ukrainian, 0.6%; Byelorussian, 0.5%; other, 0.4%. 90% Roman Catholic, 10% none or other.

Who Rules--There is a unicameral legislature, the Sjem, and 3 political parties--the Polish United Workers' party (the Communist party), United Peasants' party, and Democratic party. People's councils, elected at the commune, district, and province levels, are the local governments.

Who REALLY Rules--Political power is concentrated in the Politburo of the Communist party. Foreign policy is made in consultation with the U.S.S.R. and all important decisions are affected by the knowledge that any attempt to drift away from the Eastern bloc would trigger a Soviet military invasion such as the one that restored Czechoslovakia to the Russian sphere in 1969. Although they have no power to rule, the industrial workers of Poland's major cities have brought down governments by strikes and rioting (1956 and 1970). The country's only mass organization not controlled by the Communist party, the Catholic Church, allows the party to monopolize political power, but competes with it for control over the beliefs and attitudes of the people.

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