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Poland

Basic Information

Area: 312,679 km²

Calling code: +48

Population: 38,116,000

Official Language: Polish

Time zone: CET (UTC+1), Local time: 09:48

Overview

The Republic of Poland is situated in Central Europe, bordering the countries of Belarus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia and the Ukraine. Its total territory spans 312,685km2, and it has a population of 38.48 million, 61% of which live in urban areas. The capital city of Warsaw is located in central Poland, along the banks of the Vistula River, covering an area of 516km2. It is both the largest and most populated city in Poland, and it is also the countries central economical, political and commercial area. Other large cities with a population higher than 500,000 include Lodz, Krakow, Wroclaw, Poznan and Gdansk.

Poland is divided into 16 large volvodeships (boroughs), each of which are delegated administrative powers. These boroughs are further divided into counties and communes, purely for geographical purposes. Poland is a full member of the WTO, NATO, and the UN. In 2004 it joined the European Union (EU), although it has yet to meet the requirements needed to join the eurozone, and it currently uses the Polish zloty (PLN) for its national currency.

Economy

Like most European countries the service sector generates the most amount towards the countries GDP of $427 billion. Warsaw is the prime economic area, and it is where large corporations such as Orlen (energy and water), PKO Bank Polski (banking), TPSA (telecommunications), and Zaklady Chemiczne Police SA (chemicals) all choose to locate their headquarters.

Industries present in the country include machine building, coal mining, chemical iron and steel work and food processing, with the industrial sector contributing almost a third of the countries GDP. In 2009 Poland exported $135.7 billion worth of goods to Germany, France, Italy, the UK, the Czech Republic and Russia. Roughly 28% of all goods imported to the country come from Germany, while the most popular imported items include machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals, minerals and fuels.

The agricultural sector employs 17.4% of the workforce and stands for 4.6% of the GDP. Over 60% of all land in Poland is used for agricultural purposes, with the country being home to over 2 million private farms. Most agricultural land is used for the cultivation of potatoes, fruits, vegetables and wheat.

Infrastructure

Poland has a modernized transportation infrastructure, with travel possible by rail, road and air. The country has a total of 125 airports, the largest being Warsaw Frédéric Chopin Airport (WAW), which is situated 10km away from Warsaw city centre. The airport handles over 8.3 million passengers annually, which is over 50% of the countries total passenger traffic. It is a hub for Wizz Air and LOT Polish Airlines, and flights to London take approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Government spending on the road system has increased over recent years, which has helped the development of expressways which now span most of the country. Three roadway projects are underway, which when due for completion in 2012, will see major expressways connecting all large cities in Poland. Toll booths are located on some expressways, which collect a fee that is partially re-invested back into the transportation infrastructure. Most of the railway network is owned by the PLK group, and rail transportation is available to the 7 adjacent European countries.

Poland has a total of 15 merchant marine, and 3,997 km of navigable waterways. There are four major ports which are used for the transportation of both cargo and passengers, they are Gdansk, Gdynia, Swinoujscie and Szczecin.

Workforce

Poland has a total labour-force of 16.99 million, 53.5% of which work in the service sector, 29.2% in industry and 17.4% in agriculture. Polish nationals make-up 96.7% of the total population, while the remaining percentage consist mainly of German, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Russian nationals. The majority of the workforce speak the countries sole official language of Polish as their first language, although unofficial immigrant languages such as Czech, Lithuanian and Greek are also spoken. In most Polish schools students are taught either one or two foreign languages, the most common being English, followed by German, Spanish and French.

Poland has a school life expectancy of 15 years, and education is mandatory for all citizens up until the age of 18. The country has a number of private and public higher education institutes, many of which are located in the capital city of Warsaw. In 2009, 5.5% of the total GDP was re-invested back into the education infrastructure, which helped to improve the quality of teaching and the standard of education. Poland has a high national literacy rate of 99.8%.

Despite the unemployment rate rising slightly to 8.9% in January 2010, it still remains lower than the European average.

Business Costs

Both personal and corporate taxes are relatively low and favourable in the country. The individual tax rate ranges from 0% to 32%, depending on the amount earned by the individual in one tax year. Corporate taxes are fixed at just 19% of gross annual income, and social security contributions are payable at 20.4% by the employer and 17.31% by the employee. VAT is charged at 22% on most goods and services, although discounted rates of 7% and 3% are available for educational, financial and health related services.

Office rental rates are low, with rates in the Wroclaw CBD and Krakow CBD costing an average of $28.18 and $30.05 per square foot per annum respectively. Rates are highest in the CBD of Warsaw, where it costs an average of $41.33 per annum, which puts it on par with costs in cities such as Beirut and Copenhagen.

Labour costs are low throughout the country, the minimum wage pact ensure all legal workers over the age fo 23 are paid at least 1,317 zlotys a month, which is the equivalent of £280.12 a month, or £3361.44 a year. The average wage in Poland is 3,170 zylots per month, which converts to £675.04 a month.
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