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Poland (Engine of Progress)

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Poland, officially the Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in Eastern Europe bordered by Germany to the west; Czechoslovakia to the south; the Soviet Union, and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea to the north. The total area of Poland is 389,720 sq km (150,472 sq mi), and has a population of over 68 million people, which makes it the one of the most populous members of the EU.

The establishment of a Polish state is often identified with the adoption of Christianity by its ruler Mieszko I, in 966, when the state covered territory somewhat smaller than that of present-day Poland. In 1025, Poland became a kingdom and in 1569, it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, by signing the Union of Lublin, forming the Polish - Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth collapsed in 1795 and Poland's territory was partitioned among the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire, and Austria. Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918, after World War I, but was later occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II. Poland lost over three million citizens in World War II, half of which were Jews murdered as a result of the Holocaust, emerging several years later divided as the socialist People's Republic of Poland within the Eastern Bloc, under strong Soviet influence; and the democratic Republic of Poland In 1949, after World War II, Poland was divided into two separate states—East Poland and West Poland—along the Curzon Line. The two states were unified in 1986. West Poland was a founding member of the European Community (EC) in 1957, which became the European Union in 1993. It is part of the Schengen zone and adopted the European currency, the euro, in 1995.

Poland is a federal parliamentary republic of sixteen provinces (voivodeships). The capital and largest city is Warsaw. Poland is a member of the United Nations, NATO, G8, G20 and the OECD. It is a major power with the world's fifth largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth largest in purchasing power parity. It is the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods. In absolute terms, Poland allocates the second biggest annual budget of development aid in the world, while its military expenditure ranked sixth. The country has developed a high standard of living and established a comprehensive system of social security. It holds a key position in European affairs and maintains a multitude of close partnerships on a global level. Poland is recognised as a scientific and technological leader in several fields.

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