Poland's Key Facts
August 01, 2008
by World Grain Staff
Population: 38,500,696 (July 2008 est.)
Religions: Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3% (2002).
Location: Central Europe, east of Germany
Government: Republic; chief of state: President Lech Kaczynski (since Dec. 23, 2005); head of government: Prime Minister Donald Tusk (since Nov. 16, 2007).
Economy: Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and today stands out as a success story among transition economies. In 2007, GDP grew an estimated 6.5% based on rising private consumption, a jump in corporate investment and E.U. funds inflows. GDP per capita is still much below the E.U. average but is similar to that of the three Baltic states. Since 2004, E.U. membership and access to E.U. structural funds have provided a major boost to the economy. Unemployment is falling rapidly, though at roughly 12.8% in 2007, it remains well above the E.U. average. Tightening labor markets and rising global energy and food prices pose a risk to consumer price stability. In December 2007, inflation reached 4.1% on a year-over-year basis, or higher than the upper limit of the National Bank of Poland’s target range.
Poland’s economic performance could improve further if the country addresses some of the remaining deficiencies in its business environment. An inefficient commercial court system, a rigid labor code, bureaucratic red tape, and persistent low-level corruption keep the private sector from performing up to its full potential. Rising demands to fund healthcare, education and the state pension system present a challenge to the Polish government’s effort to hold the consolidated public sector budget deficit under 3% of GDP, a target which was achieved in 2007. The PO/PSL coalition government, which came to power in November 2007, plans to further reduce the budget deficit with the aim of eventually adopting the euro. The new government has also announced its intention to enact business-friendly reforms, reduce public sector spending growth, lower taxes and accelerate privatization. However, the government does not have the necessary two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto, and thus may have to water down initiatives in order to garner enough support to pass its pro-business policies.
GDP per capita: $16,300 (2007 est.); inflation: 2.5% (2007 est.); unemployment 12.8% (2007 est.).
Currency: Zloty. 2.02 zlotych equals 1 U.S. dollar (July 18, 2008).
Exports: $144.6 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.): machinery and transport equipment 37.8%, intermediate manufactured goods 23.7%, miscellaneous manufactured goods 17.1%, food and live animals 7.6% (2003).
Imports: $160.2 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.): machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 14.8%, minerals, fuels, lubricants and related materials 9.1% (2003).
Major crops/agricultural products: Potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat; poultry, eggs, pork, dairy.
Agriculture: 4.1% of GDP and 16.1% of the labor force.
Internet: Code. .pl; 5.681 million hosts (2007) and 11 million users (2006).
Source: CIA World Factbook