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About Poland

Why Poland

Poland is a fascinating country that serves as the geographical and cultural crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe. Located at the center of the Northern European plain, Poland has been a nation of survivors since the foundation of the first Polish state more than 1000 years ago. Through its turbulent history its people have managed to maintain their identity, and today, the country enjoys a crucial position as the largest of the former Eastern European states and one of the most populous members of the European Union.

Poland is a member of the European Union. It joined the Schengen Area in 2007. As a result passport checks are abolished on Poland’s borders to Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Lithuania. It practically means that persons admitted to the Schengen Area can travel hassle-free between the countries of the Schengen Area without internal land and sea border controls, from Portugal to Poland and from Greece to Finland.

Thanks to its location, Poland occupies a special place in the European Union. Poland’s border on the river Bug became the EU’s eastern border. In the wider geographical and geopolitical sense Poland occupies a central position. More and more foreign investment from Western Europe is to be shifted to Poland, as well as from the US and Asia. Poland’s geographic location facilitates the logistics activities and forecasts indicate an increase in the number of immigrants to the country.

Polish institutions of higher education participate in international student exchange programmes and engage in bilateral agreements and individual exchange programmes pursued by particular schools. All these initiatives enhance the development of relations between Polish and foreign institutions of higher education. The number of Polish institutions of higher education awarded an Erasmus University Charter approach 200 and the mobility of Polish students grows rapidly.

polandPoland’s education market has been the most dynamically developing one in Europe during the last twelve years.

The number of higher education institutions has increased five fold while the number of students quadrupled.Each year almost half a million young people begin their education at universities and colleges.

Polish academic traditions reach back to 14th century,some of the Europe’s oldest universities can be found here. The Jagiellonian University of Cracow was established in 1364. Nicholas Copernicus and Marie Skłodowska-Curie are among great names of Polish scientists known and admired worldwide.

Polish universities offer high quality studies and are an integral part of the European education space. All leading universities offer programmes thought in English, these include medicine, engineering, humanities, business and finance. Poland takes active part in the Bolonia Process. Thanks to the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) students can be fully mobile, and continue education in other countries.

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Poland in short

  • Official name:  Republic of Poland /Rzeczpospolita Polska (short form: Poland/ Polska)
  • Government type: republic
  • Location: Central Europe
  • Border countries: Belarus 416 km, Czech Republic 790 km, Germany 467 km, Lithuania 103 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 210 km, Slovakia 541 km, Ukraine 529 km
  • Language: Polish
  • Capital city: Warsaw
  • Major cities: Gdańsk, Kraków, Łódź, Poznań, Wrocław
  • Population: around 38 mln inhabitants
  • Total area: 312 685 sq km (304 465 sq m – land, 8220 sq m – water)
  • Climate: temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers
  • Local time: GMT + 1 hr
  • Member of the European Union: Since 2004
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 89,8%, Eastern Orthodox 1,3%, Protestant 0,3%, other 0,3%, unspecified 8,3%
  • Monetary unit: zloty (PLN)
  • Actual exchange rates:

General information about Poland


Poland is located in the very centre of Europe. With the total area of 312,679 km² (120,728 sq mi) it’s the seventh biggest country on the continent. Polish population is over 38,5 million people. The capital city is Warsaw (around 2 million inhabitants). Poland borders 7 countries: Germany on the west, Czech Republic and Slovakia on the south, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania on the east, and Russia on the north. Most of the country is located on lowlands. On the south there are upland areas with two major mountain chains – the Carpathians (Karpaty) and the Sudetes (Sudety). The Baltic sea coastline on the north measures 770 km. The longest river, Vistula (Wisła) is 1,047 km (678 miles) long.

The highest point of Poland is the peak of Rysy, 2,499 meters (8, 199 ft) in elevation. The lowest point in Poland is at 2 meters (7 ft) below sea level, located in the Vistula Delta.

The climate is moderate. The average summer temperature ranges from 20 °C (68 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F). Winters are cold – the average ranges from 3 °C (37,4 °F) in the northwest to –8 °C (17,6 °F) in the northeast.


General information about PolandFirst Polish state was recognized in second half of Xth century, when the Piast dynasty connected a few territories ruled by local Slavic tribes. In 966 Poland was baptized, and in 1025 the first king- Bolesław Chrobry – was enthroned. In the twelfth century Poland was divided to a few smaller states. The reunification took place in 1320. In 1385 Poland and Lithuania formed a commonwealth. The common Polish-Lithuanian state (named the Republic of Both Nations) became one of the biggest and strongest countries in Europe. The crisis emerged in the half of XVIIth century with the Swedish invasion, which caused a serious social and economical damage. Between 1772 and 1795 Poland went through a series of wars, ending with partitioning the country between Russia, Prussia, and Austria. The independence was lost for 123 years.

In 1918 Poland regained its sovereignty as a parliamentary republic. The borders were formed after three years of wars against Germany, Soviet Russia, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and Ukrainian forces. In 1926 Józef Piłsudski, the most popular leader and World War hero, organized a coup, transforming the country to presidential republic.

In September 1939 Poland was attacked by joint German (1 IX) and Soviet (17 IX) forces. Until 1945 the country was occupied. Over 6 000 000 people (half of them Polish Jews) perished. Polish troops fought against Germany on numerous fronts of World War II.

Between 1945 and 1989 Poland was ruled by communist governments installed by Soviet Union under the name of People's Republic of Poland. The country had some social and economical achievements, but human rights were abused and many civil liberties suspended. In 1989 the independent trade union „Solidarność” under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa has overthrown the regime. Poland built the democratic institutions and joined the international organizations: NATO in 1999 and European Union in 2004.


Poland is a parliamentary republic. Prime Minister and Council of Ministers led by him are the leading institutions. The President is a head of state and is elected every five years in a popular election. The Parliament is bicameral and consists of a 460-member Sejm (the lower house) and a 100-member Senat. The elections take place every four years. Sejm is elected under d'Hondt proportional representation method, with 5% election threshold, and Senat under plurality voting system with 2-4 Senators elected from each constituency.


After 1989 Poland came through a shock therapy liberal project by Leszek Balcerowicz, the then Minister of Finances. It caused serious social damages, as in other former Eastern Bloc countries, although Poland was the first of them to regain the pre-1989 GDP level. Since last 15 years Polish GDP grows rapidly, with an average rate of 5% per year. The inflation rate is low and the wages have grown. The unemployment, very high until 2004, is rapidly decreasing. Right now its level is about 5 %. These economical factors, along with the modest living costs, make Poland an attractive location for both studying and working.

Weather in Poland

Poland is placed in a moderate zone with mixed continental and oceanic climate influences. The average annually temperature is about 6-8 degrees Celsius while the rainfall is estimated at 700 mm. The weather in Poland is also characterised by transitional periods between the four seasons of the year.The weather in Poland is rather unpredictable and varied. Spring is often changeable. There are rather moderate temperatures. The summertime can be really hot, even 35 °C. Autumn is usually sunny, but November is frequently very wet and can be cold.

Winters can be really cold, with the chance of snow from November till March. The temperatures from December to late February usually fluctuate around 0 °C to -10°C. In the mountains snow usually covers slopes in the period.

Poland in short

Border countries: Belarus 416 km, Czech Republic 790 km, Germany 467 km, Lithuania 103 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 210 km, Slovakia 541 km, Ukraine 529 km Language: Polish Capital city: Warsaw Official name: Republic of Poland /Rzeczpospolita Polska (short form: Poland/ Polska) Independence: 11 November 1918 (republic proclaimed) Government type: republic Location: Central Europe Border countries: Belarus 416 km, Czech Republic 790 km, Germany 467 km, Lithuania 103 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 210 km, Slovakia 541 km, Ukraine 529 km Language: Polish Capital city: Warsaw Major cities: Gdańsk, Kraków, Łódź, Poznań, Wrocław Population: around 38 000 000 Total area: 312 685 sq km (304 465 sq m - land, 8220 sq m - water)

Climate: temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers Local time: GMT + 1 hr Member of the European Union: Since 2004 Religions: Roman Catholic 89,8%, Eastern Orthodox 1,3%, Protestant 0,3%, other 0,3%, unspecified 8,3% Monetary unit: zloty (PLN)

Living in Poland

Working in Poland

In Polish cities it's easy for a student to find a part-time job. The wages increase systematically, so many Polish students choose paid studies and start working. Although the permission to work in Poland depends on your country of origin.

EU/EEA citizens

Citizens of the European Union and EEA countries (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland are eligible to work in Poland without a work permit.

Citizens of Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine If you're a citizen of Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia or Ukraine, you may work in Poland without a work permit for six months in a period no longer than 12 months. Declaration of employment must be registered by the employer at the local job centre.

Foreign students in Poland

Non-EU/EEA citizens

Non-EU citizens enrolled as regular, full-time  studies in Poland are allowed to work in July, August and September. For the rest of the year a work permit is needed. A work permit can be granted but only if no EU citizen is found to fill the vacancy. Formalities must be done by the employer. International students are not allowed to work on a student visa basis only. Students who have residence permits in Poland are entitled to work without authorization.

Legalizing your stay

EU/EEA citizens

UE and EEA citizens do not need a visa to stay in Poland. After no longer than 91 days of stay they need to visit local Voivodship Office and register. The applicant must prove that he's subject to a public healthcare insurance, and has enough money to cover the cost of stay in Poland.

Non- EU/EEA citizens

Non EU and EEA citizens must apply for a long term visa at their local Polish consulate. The certificate of enrollment is required. The visa is valid for no longer than 12 months and must be revalidated in a local Voivodship Office. The visa allows to stay in Poland, and, for the first three months also to visit the other Schengen Agreement member countries. The prolongation of visa may occur only in exceptional circumstances. The general rule is, in the case of the planned extension of the period of stay in Poland over the period specified in the visa, to apply for residence permit. In order to acquire the permit, international students must have a valid health insurance policy and enough money to cover the costs of stay and return travel to the country of origin.

All international students must apply for a temporary residence certificate within 3 days from the date of crossing the Polish border. In order to apply, it's necessary to visit the local Population Registry Bureau in the Municipal Office.


It's mandatory for international students to have a health insurance in Poland. EU/EEA citizens are allowed to exercise their healthcare rights on a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) basis. Citizens of other countries must buy the commercial insurance policy covering the healthcare costs in their countries, or pay for a voluntary policy in Polish National Healthcare Fund. The policy cost ranges from 36 PLN to 279 PLN monthly, depending on a number of medical procedures included. To get a policy it's necessary to present the university certificate of enrollment, student ID card, the temporary residence certificate and passport with valid visa or residence permit. More information on


Studies in Poland cost around 2000 - 5000 Euro yearly, but it's necessary to check out the price of the course of your choice, as it may by higher, depending on particular university's decision. Scholarships are available for students with proven Polish origin. For graduate students the amount is 850 PLN, for postgraduate students 1270 PLN a month. All students from Belarus who are subject to political repression may participate in Kalinowski Scholarship Fund, offering 1270 PLN a month. The scholarship application must be posted to local Polish consulate before coming to Poland. Polish consulates provide all the necessary information.

Practicing religion

Although the Roman Catholic Church is the dominant religious institution in Poland, practicing other religions is possible. Poland has a history of religious tolerance. The hate crimes on religious basis are very rare. Orthodox, Greek Catholic and protestant churches are present in almost all big cities, as well as Muslim prayer centers. Jewish Kehillas are available in ten cities. Many other religious societies are active, and their institutions available.

Personal safety

The crime rate in Poland is much lower than in EU countries, and significantly lower than in the USA. This applies to most kinds of crime, including murders, car theft, rapes and robberies. The safety level is high. Although, common sense behavior is necessary. One should avoid walking at night in most dangerous locations, keep an eye on personal belongings, remember about locking the apartments, and do not leave opened cars, or unprotected bicycles on the streets.

Polish main cities

Warsaw – the capital of Poland (Polish: Warszawa) is the capital and largest city of Poland. It stands on the Vistula River in east-central Poland, roughly 260 kilometres (160 mi) from the Baltic Sea and 300 kilometres (190 mi) from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population is estimated at 1.740 million residents within a greater metropolitan area of 2.666 million residents, which makes Warsaw the 9th most-populous capital city in the European Union. The city limits cover 516.9 square kilometres (199.6 sq mi), while the metropolitan area covers 6,100.43 square kilometres (2,355.39 sq mi). In 2012 the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Warsaw as the 32nd most liveable city in the world. It was also ranked as one of the most liveable cities in Central Europe. Today Warsaw is considered an "Alpha–" global city, a major international tourist destination and a significant cultural, political and economic hub.

Krakow – the second largest city of Poland and the country's ancient capital is sometimes spelled as Cracow in English although its correct English name is Krakow nowadays. Krakow is the top tourist destination of Poland. The city basks in glory of its long history and it greatly treasures its reputation of the culture capital of Poland. Cracow's seven universities plus almost twenty other institutions of higher education make it the country’s leading center of science and education. The city's expanding service sector is the lifeblood of local economy but varied industry and production still provide substantial proportions of jobs and wealth. Cracow is the metropolis of southern Poland and the capital city of the Malopolska Province.

Lodz - the third-largest city in Poland. Located in the central part of the country, it had a population of 715,360 in 2013. It is the capital of Łódź Voivodeship, and is approximately 135 kilometres (84 mi) south-west of Warsaw. The city's coat of arms is an example of canting: depicting a boat. It alludes to the city's name which translates literally as "boat." Łódź is a thriving center of academic life. Currently Łódź hosts three major state-owned universities, six higher education establishments operating for more than a half of the century, and a number of smaller schools of higher education. The Piotrkowska Street, which remains the high-street and main tourist attraction in the city, runs north to south for a little over five kilometres (3.1 miles). This makes it one of the longest commercial streets in the world.

Gdansk - is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland's principal seaport and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay (of the Baltic Sea), in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the Tricity (Trójmiasto), with a population approaching 1.4 million. Gdańsk itself has a population of 460,427 (December 2012), making it the largest city in the Pomerania region of Northern Poland. There are 14 higher schools including 3 universities. The city has some buildings surviving from the time of the Hanseatic League. Most tourist attractions are located along or near Ulica Długa (Long Street) and Długi Targ (Long Market), a pedestrian thoroughfare surrounded by buildings reconstructed in historical (primarily during the 17th century) style and flanked at both ends by elaborate city gates. This part of the city is sometimes referred to as the Royal Road, since it was once the former path of processions for visiting kings.

Poznan - is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, in the Greater Poland region. It is best known for its renaissance old town, destroyed during World War II and then rebuilt, and Ostrów Tumski cathedral. Today, Poznań is an important cultural and business centre and one of Poland's most populous regions with many regional customs such as Jarmark Świętojański, traditional Saint Martin's croissants and a local dialect. Poznań is among the oldest cities in Poland and was one of the most important centers in the early Polish state in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Poznań is one of the four largest academic centers in Poland. The number of students in the city of Poznań is about 140 000 (fourth/third after Warsaw, Cracow and close to Wrocław student population). Every one of four inhabitants in Poznań is a student. Since Poznań is smaller than Warsaw or Cracow still having a very large number of students it makes the city even more vibrant and dense "academic hub" than both former and current capitals of Poland. The city has many state-owned universities.

Wroclaw - is the largest city in western Poland. It is on the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Central Europe. Wrocław is the historical capital of Silesia and Lower Silesia. Today, it is the capital of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship. At various times in history, it has been part of the Kingdom of Poland, Bohemia, Hungary, the Austrian Empire, Prussia, and Germany. It became part of Poland in 1945, as a result of the border changes after the Second World War. The population of Wrocław in 2015 was 635 759, making it the fourth-largest city in Poland and the main city of Wrocław agglomeration. Wroclaw is classified as a global city by GaWC, with the ranking of high sufficiency and living standard. It was among 230 cities in the world in the ranking of the consulting company Mercer — "Best City to Live" in 2015 and the only Polish city in this ranking has been recognized as a city growing at the business center.

Famous Poles

Frederick Chopin (1810-1849)

Maria Curie Skłodowska

Born in the village of Zelazowa Wola in Warsaw, to a Polish mother and French father, he was regarded early on as a child-prodigy piano virtuoso. He is generally considered to be Poland's greatest composer, and ranks as one of music's greatest tone poets. Always in fragile health, he died in Paris in 1849 from chronic pulmonary tuberculosis. He was only 39.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, classical scholar, translator, Catholic cleric, jurist, governor, military leader, diplomat and economist. He is primarily known, however, for his theory that earth is not the center of the universe. His book, "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy and the defining moment that began the Scientific Revolution.Copernicus was born in 1473 in Thorn. Thorn was a city in Prussia, an autonomous region in the old Kingdom of Poland.

Maria Curie (1867-1934)

Marie Sklodowska - Curie, a Polish physicist and chemist, is arguably the most famous female scientist. She was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, the only person honored with Nobel Prizes in two different sciences, and the first female professor at the University of Paris. Her French husband Pierre Curie and both her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and son-in-law Frederic Joliot-Curie were awarded a Nobel prizes. Marie Curie was born in Warsaw. In 1891 she moved to Paris to further her studies and work on scientific projects. She found the theory of radioactivity and also found two new elements, radium and polonium (the latter being named after her native Poland.)

Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941-1996)

Although probably the best-known Polish film director of the last two decades, Kieslowski began by making documentaries. These films concentrated on aspects of Polish life, culture, and political conditions under the Communist Party. Indeed it was these conditions that helped spark the Solidarity movement that ultimately forced the Party to relinquish power by way of new general elections. Among his best-known films are Camera Buff, A Short Film about Killing and A Short Film about Love, and the The Decalogue cycle. Many of his films were produced in France, such as the Three Colours trilogy and The Double Life of Véronique.

Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817)

This great Polish patriot was leader of the forces taking part in the national uprising of 1794 (the so-called “Kosciuszko insurrection”). He had distinguished himself previously during the American War of Independence, notably as a brigadier at the battle of Saratoga in 1777.

Tamara Lempicka,
commonly known as Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980)

She was a Polish Art Deco painter. Influenced by Cubism, Lempicka became the leading representative of the Art Deco style across two continents, a favorite artist of many Hollywood stars, referred to as 'the baroness with a brush'. She was the most fashionable portrait painter of her generation among the haute bourgeoisie and aristocracy, painting duchesses and grand dukes and socialites. Through her network of friends, she was also able to display her paintings in the most elite salons of the era. Lempicka was criticized as well as admired for her 'perverse Ingrism', referring to her modern restatement of the master Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, as displayed in her work Group of Four Nudes (1925) among other studies.

Pola Negri (1897-1987)

Born as Apolonia Chalupecwas a Polish stage and film actress who achieved worldwide fame during the silent and golden eras of Hollywood and European film for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles.She was the first European film star to be invited to Hollywood, and became one of the most popular actresses in American silent film. Her varied career included work as an actress in theater and vaudeville, as a recording artist, as a ballerina, and as an author.

Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

Karol Józef Wojtyla was born on 18 May, 1920 in the Polish town of Wadowice. At only 58 years of age, he was the youngest pope elected since Pope Pius IX in 1846. He reigned as the 264th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005. His reign of over 26 years was the second-longest after Pius IX's 32-year reign. He has been the only Polish pope, and was the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Adrian VI in the 1520s. The pope traveled extensively, visiting over 100 countries, more than any other pope and was fluent in numerous languages: Polish, Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Croatian, Portuguese, Russian and Latin.

Kazimierz Pulaski (1745-1779)

The commander of the Bar Confederacy and defender of Jasna Gora against the Russians. He commanded a cavalry brigade in George Washington's army during the American War of Independence. He died of wounds inflicted at the Battle of Savannah.

Roman Polanski (1933- )

One of the most famous Polish directors and an Oscar winner. The story of Roman Polanski's life is as tortuous and full of incident and tragedy as one of his dark films. Polanski survived the Nazi atrocities committed in the Krakow ghetto, but lost his mother in a concentration camp gas chamber. He spent a large part of his life in the US and made several important films with top American actors, such as Chinatown (with Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston), and Rosemary’s Baby (with Mia Farrow). In 1969 he experienced another personal tragedy when his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson Family. In 1978 he fled to France where he has directed Frantic, Death and the Maiden, The Ninth Gate, The Pianist, and Oliver Twist (2005).

Helena Rubinstein (1872-1965)

She was a businesswoman, art collector, and philanthropist. A cosmetics entrepreneur, she was the founder and eponym of Helena Rubinstein Incorporated cosmetics company, which the venture made her one of the world's richest women.

Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012)

Was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Prowent, she later resided in Krakow until the end of her life.In Poland, Szymborska's books have reached sales rivaling prominent prose authors: although she once remarked in a poem, "Some Like Poetry" ("Niektórzy lubią poezję"), that no more than two out of a thousand people care for the art. Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality".

Andrzej Wajda (1926- 2016 )

On Sunday 26 March 2003, Hollywood acknowledged the talent of one of the men commonly regarded as the father of modern Polish cinema, by awarding Andrzej Wajda with a special Oscar for lifetime achievement. Andrzej Wajda is considered by the world to be Poland's finest directors, especially respected for his ability to engage the audiences' emotions as well as their intellects. His films were considered political and rebellious, especially the notorious Man of Marble. Many of his films were based on the famous books of Polish writers, such as Ashes and Diamonds, The Wedding, The Promised Land and The Maids of Wilko. In 2007 he finished another important film, Katyn.

Lech Walesa (1943- )

A former President of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Walesa is often credited with changing the Polish political system. He founded the organization "Solidarity," the country's first independent trade union, which was pivotal in bringing about the fall of the communist regime. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his human rights activism. In 1989, after the fall of the Soviet Union, he persuaded leaders from formerly communist parties to form the first non-communist coalition government. He was president of Poland from 1990 to 1995.



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