Country of the World Poland

About the country Poland, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.

NATIONS AND THEIR RULERS

POLAND

NITTY-GRITTY

Lay of the Land: This Eastern European nation stretches low and flat from the Baltic Sea in the north, rising gradually to the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and the Sudeten range in the south.

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

Population: 34.7 million.

Who Rules: Supreme authority is vested in the Sejm, a 460-member body which elects the Council of State.

Who REALLY Rules: The Politburo of the Polish United Workers' (Communist) party, led by First Secretary Edward Gierek, who serves at the pleasure of the U.S.S.R.

Roman Catholicism is still a strong force in Poland, despite years of official harassment. Church and State have settled into an uneasy coexistence. Priests are no longer rounded up, and the State allows its Communist party members to belong to the Church. However, outward displays of faith are still discouraged. A glimpse of the state of religious freedom in Poland was provided on June 8, 1977, when Polish writer Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski read before a U.S. congressional committee a statement prepared by Adam Michnik, then in a Polish jail for his part in a demonstration protesting the death of a student in Krakow three weeks earlier. Wrote Michnik: "By law freedom of religion is guaranteed. There are no laws prohibiting participation in religious activities. Nevertheless, a practicing Catholic's chances for professional advancement in the Polish state are about equal to those of an atheist in the Vatican state. . . ."

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