Capital | Warsaw
Population | 38,441,588 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 312,685 SQ KM
Official Language | Polish
Holidays | Constitution Day, 3 May (1791)
Currency | Zloty (PLN)
Time Zone | UTC +1
Best Time to Visit | May to June (late spring) and September to mid-October (autumn).
Connecting with the Culture | Seeing Warsaw change before your eyes. Exploring Krakow’s beautiful old town and staying up late to hit the cellar bars. Strolling around Gdansk’s historic streets and then heading to the haunting sands of the Baltic coast. Hiking and climbing the Tatras, home to some of Europe’s finest mountain scenery. Visiting Auschwitz and praying for such tragedies never happen again.
Read | The Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland by Norman Davies, a readable, fascinating insight into the development of the nation.
Listen | to Krzysztof Komeda’s jazz piano compositions, icons of Polish culture.
Watch | anything by Roman Polanski, Poland’s most famous film export—try Knife in the Water, his first feature film.
Eat | bigos (sauerkraut with a variety of meats) and pierogi (stuffed dumplings), both essential to your Polish experience.
Drink | wodka (vodka), the drink of choice- zubrowka (bison vodka) is flavoured with a blade of bison grass, a local wild herb.
In a Word | Na Zdrowie! (Cheers!)
Characteristics | Lech Walesa and striking shipbuilders; Pope John Paul II; bleak Communist architecture; heroic goalkeepers and toasts of wodka to all of the above.
Surprises | The country has some of Europe’s best mountain, coastal and lake scenery; Poland is staunchly Catholic.