Throughout history, it has served as one of the most important trade routes on the continent, connecting the north, south, east and west of Europe together thanks to its geopolitically advantageous location. Poland has belonged to the European Union since 2004, with its eastern border constituting the eastern fringe of the entire community.
At 1,163 km it is the longest exterior land border of the European Union (the total length of Poland’s national borders is 3,511 km). By geographical area, Poland is the ninth largest country in Europe, and the sixth largest in the European Union as a whole, with a surface area of 312,679 km2. Its neighbouring countries are Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, and Lithuania and the Russian province of Kaliningrad to the northeast.
Poland belongs to the Central European time zone, GMT + 1 hour, except for between March and October when it switches to daylight saving time.
Generally, Poland is an unbroken plain stretching from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Carpathian Mountains in the south. Although the average elevation is just 173 m above sea level, with only 3% of Polish territory along the southern border averaging at higher than 500 m, the landscape is relatively diversified with terrain variations generally running in bands from east to west. Poland is traditionally divided into five geographical zones.
The Baltic coastal plains are a low-lying region, which form Poland’s mostly smooth coastline and northern border. It provides many kilometres of sandy beaches, complete with coastal lakes, sand dunes and cliffs.
To the north of the central lowlands, the lake region includes the only primeval forests remaining in Europe. Glacial action in this region formed many lakes and low hills over many centuries. In fact, there’s no other region in Europe outside Finland where so many post-glacial lakes can be found. Small lakes dot the entire northern half of Poland, and the glacial formations that characterise the lake region extend as much as 200 km inland in western Poland.
The largest zone, the central lowlands, is a narrow band in the west which expands to the north and south as it extends eastward. The terrain is relatively flat, cut by several major rivers, including the Oder (Odra), which constitutes Poland’s natural border with Germany in the west, and the Vistula (Wisla) in the centre, which at 1,047 km is the country’s longest river.
To the south are the Malopolska uplands that connect the ranges in south-central Poland – the Sudeten and Carpathian Mountains. The highest peak in the Sudetes is Śnieżka (1,602 m). The Carpathians Mountains in Poland are the highest and most picturesque mountains in the country, with Poland’s highest mountain peak being Rysy (2,499 m) in the Polish Tatras.
Poland has a moderate climate with relatively cold winters from December to March. January temperatures average -1°C (30°F) to -5°C (23°F), but in the mountain valleys they may drop as low as -20°C (-4°F). Summers, which extend from June to August, are usually warm, sunny and less humid than winter.
July and August average temperatures range from 16.5°C (62°F) to 19°C (65°F), though some days the temperature can easily reach even 35°C (95°F). The average annual rainfall for the whole country is 600 mm a year, although isolated mountain locations may receive as much as 1,300 mm a year.
Source: Polish Investment and Trade Agnecy, Investor's Guide - Poland: How to do business 2016.