Facts about Poland – quick guide for foreigners
The Republic of Poland (from what we know that’s the official name of our land…at least that’s what people say) is a country situated in Central Europe. We have many friends around us, following the rule “the more, the merrier” – Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Lithuania. Our country has access to the Baltic Sea in the north and is surrounded by mountains (Tatry, Bieszczady, Karpaty) in the south.
It’s been a while since our country became a member of European Union (2004), United Nations (1945), NATO (1999) and dozens of other international organizations, however, if you are thinking of developing your own one, let us know about it – we will be more than happy to be a part of it as well!
The total area of Poland is 312,679 square kilometers (9th largest country in Europe) with a population of over 38.5 million people. You should know the name of our capital city but just to make sure you are well-informed, we want you to keep in mind that it’s Warszawa (Warsaw) – not Krakow ;).
After joining the European Union we decided not to change our currency from Polish Złoty (PLN) to Euro (because we are not ready) and not to add any additional official languages (Polish is the only one, but you will have no problems if you start speaking in English).
There was a time where we had a king who ruled all across the country, but after a few centuries and generations we decided to get rid of this idea and we left the power to the Prime Minister. Yes, we also have a President but as Poland is a parliamentary republic – the first one has more power, so if you want to get things done at the moment you should speak to Donald Tusk (our current prime minister) rather than Bronislaw Komorowski (president).
The great majority of Polish people are Christians (probably this is why Christmas is so popular here) – 86.7% belong to the Roman Catholic Church. There’s even a catholic TV channel and a catholic radio station.
If you like huge monuments, you might want to go to Świebodzin in the western Poland, where you can see a statue of Jesus Christ called “Christ the King (Polish: Pomnik Chrystusa Króla). Completed in November 2010, with the total height of 33 meters it is the tallest statue of Jesus in the world (sorry, Rio de Janeiro…). By the way, have you ever heard of Karol Wojtyła? No? Let’s try with his better known name – John Paul II. He was the the head of the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005, the second longest-serving pope in history and the first non-Italian since Pope Adrian VI, who died in 1523. Till date – he remains one of the most well-known Poles in history.
Polish language is one of the most difficult languages to learn. It has seven cases and grammar that has actually more exception than rules (sorry for that!). But imagine how proud of yourself you’ll be when you finally get through all of this things (if you do…). We don’t know why our ancestors decided to create a language so difficult and full of exceptions, but we know that even Polish people have a lot of problems with learning it.
If there’s a thing about Poland we are really, really proud of, the cuisine will be probably number one. Before you try it we have to warn you – it is extremely tasty but also fatty and calorific (however, you can get rid of extra calories by visiting Polish pubs or monuments after that…).
The most popular Polish meals are pierogi (dumplings), kotlet schabowy (type of breaded cutlet), bigos (a mix of cabbage, meat and mushrooms), gołąbki (cabbage leaves stuffed with meat), rosół (chicken soup), zupa ogórkowa (cucumber soup – it’s really sour!!!) and żurek (sour soup with egg and sausage).
We won’t be modest here – our cuisine is great and it’s totally worth trying. It’s also especially good when accompanied by vodka or beer! Try it!
Other facts about Poland
In Poland we drive on the right (if somebody told you differently, don’t believe them!).
We kiss each other three times during official situations, for example family meetings during holidays or when we meet with our friends. The cheek kiss is a very important part of family and friend interactions during traditional ceremonies BUT! if you see somebody for the first time it might be better if you just stick to a handshake ;).
The most popular alcohols in Poland are beer and vodka. Poland is increasingly well-known for its many small breweries which are becoming better and better (Belgium – we’re right behind you!). Vodka is normally drank straight, rather than as a part of cocktail or with mixer, and during winter season we like to drink mulled, spicy beer and wine.
That’s all for now! We could write even more about our country – its secrets, mysteries, traditions , other facts but it is better if you simply come here and find them out for yourself!