Located in Central Europe, Poland is bordered on the west by Germany, in the north by the Baltic Sea, in the north-east by Russia and Lithuania, in the east by Belarus and Ukraine, and in the south by Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Poland covers a total area of 312,685 square kilometers (120,728 square miles), making it slightly smaller than the state of New Mexico. The capital city, Warsaw, is situated in the center of the country.
The natural landscape of Poland can be broadly divided into three relief groups: lowlands, highlands, and mountains.
The eastern extremes of Poland are typical for eastern Europe, while the rest of the country is more like western Europe by climate, structure and the character of its vegetation.
Poland is a relatively low-lying country. 91.3 percent of its territory lies below 300 m above sea level.
The highest point is Mt Rysy in the Tatras (2499 m), while the lowest point is located west of the village of Raczki Elbląskie (1.8 m below sea level).
The highest-lying settlement is Gubałówka (today part of the municipality of Zakopane; 1125 m), the lowest-lying settlement is Żółwiniec (1.3 m below sea level).
There are three main mountain ranges in Poland: the Carpathians, the Sudetan Mountains, and the Góry Świętokrzyskie (Holy Cross Mountains).
The longest rivers are the Vistula (1047 km), Oder (854 km), Warta (808 km), Bug (772 km), Narew (484 km), San (443 km), Noteć (388 km), Pilica (319 km), Wieprz (303 km) and the Bóbr (272 km).
Poland has some 9,300 lakes with surface areas over 1 ha; they make up 1 percent of the country's territory. The largest is Lake Śniardwy (11,383 ha) in the Mazurian Lake District, and the deepest is Lake Hańcza (108.5 m) north of Suwałki.
Poland has a moderate climate with both continental and maritime elements. This is due to humid Atlantic air which collides over its territory with dry air from the Eurasian interior.
The average annual temperature ranges from 7 deg. C (44.6 F) to 10 deg. C (50 F). Only in the upper parts of the Carpathians and Sudetes the average temperature is about 0 deg. C (32 F)
The hottest month is July with the average temperature standing at 17.5 deg. C (63.5 F). The coldest month in Poland is January. Cold continental air flowing in from the east in January makes the eastern part of Poland one of the coldest areas in the country.
Sub-zero temperatures are recorded between November and March. The number of freeze days, typically in late spring and early autumn, ranges in the lowlands from 90 (at the seaside) to 130, while in the mountains it exceeds 200.
Today Poland is a democratic republic with two legislative bodies. These bodies are the upper Senate or Senat and a lower house called the Sejm. Each of the members for these legislative bodies are elected by the public. Poland's executive branch consists of a chief of state and a head of government. The chief of state is the president, while the head of government is the prime minister. The legislative branch of Poland's government is the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Tribunal.
Poland is divided into 16 provinces for local administration.
Poland currently has a successfully growing economy and has practiced a transition to more economic freedom since 1990. The largest economies in Poland are machine building, iron, steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages and textiles. Poland also has a large agricultural sector with products that include potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat, poultry, eggs, pork and dairy products.