The Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska) is a country in Central Europe, bordered by Germany to the north and west, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Rumania to the south, Ukraine and Byelorussia to the east, and Lithuania to the north. It is completely landlocked, but as a member of the European Community enjoys open borders and a customs union with Germany. With a population of roughly 35 million people, it is one of Europe's most populous states. Poland's government is that of a parliamentary republic with a constitutional President.
Poland was granted independence in 1917 when it was formed out of the former Congress Poland, a client state of Russia, and granted the territory of Bialystok as a concession from the Russians. Poland fought the violent Polish-Byelorussian War of 1919 in an attempt to annex Byelorussian territory that eventually failed, giving the Byelorussians reason to realign with the Russians. Poland then fought the 1921-22 Polish-Lithuanian War when Lithuanian partisans assassinated Polish President Gabriel Narutowicz in Wilno. Under his successor, strongman Józef Pilsudski, Poland remained an unstable, authoritarian state reliant on Germany for much of the interwar period, and was a key site of fighting during World War Two as it was located directly between Russia and Germany. Poland was one of the most heavily affected states in the war and was a key recipient of the Eisenhower Plan. In 1952, Poland invaded Galicia to fight for Polish minorities in that state against Ukraine, beginning the bloody Galician War in which it eventually occupied Ukrainian territory and won total control of the former Republic of Galicia at the First Copenhagen Conference in 1955.
Post-Copenhagen, Poland was dominated by the populist People's Party, with Stanislaw Mikolajczyk winning the first truly democratic elections in Polish history in 1956 after years of rule by a quasi-dictatorial military junta and leading the country for ten years as Prime Minister until his death in 1966. Poland became an advanced economy, a key member of TATO and a staunch ally of Germany. During this time, Poland also struggled internally with ethnic minorities, such as the small Lithuanian minority in its north and its substantial Ukrainian minority in the south. Major fighting in southern Poland ended in 1997 with the Stettin Accord between the Polish government and the Galician Separatist Force.