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Church of St Mary, Cloth Hall, Main Market Square, Krakow
Main Market Square, Krakow, © Can Stock Photo / SteveAllen

The Republic of Poland has nearly 40 million inhabitants.  It is bordered by the Baltic Sea and numerous countries, including Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast.  The Kingdom of Poland was established in the 11 Century, but the most significant recent impact on Poland has been the result of World War II.  Although Poland was a member of Allied Forces, the Nazis took control and established concentration camps such as Auschwitz in Poland.  After World War II Poland was denied independence and fell under the control of the Soviet Union.  It wasn't until the 1980s that the labor movement led by Lech Wałęsa eventually led to Polish independence in the 1990s.  Today Poland is a full member of the European Union and also joined the Schengen Zone in 2007.


Poland participates in the Schengen Zone and Schengen Visa requirements.  That means there are no border controls between members and no border inspections by rail or vehicle when traveling from Poland to Germany, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  Some countries that are not members of the Schengen Zone require a Schengen Visa to enter Europe.  More than 40 countries outside the Schengen Zone do not require a visa.  Exemptions include citizens of Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.  For a list of countries that will not require a visa, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Poland or check your specific country at VisaHQ.  For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.


Poland's official currency is the złoty.


Poland's climate is moderated in its northern and western regions by the Baltic Sea, but this is offset by a colder continental climate along its eastern border.  In general, temperatures are warm and comfortable in summer, while temperatures hover near freezing in winter.

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