The Cloth Hall, Rynek Glowney, Krakow


Europe’s ninth largest country shares its borders with seven other European countries – and the Baltic Sea in the north.

These borders have constantly changed during its turbulent history, and on two occasions the country was nearly wiped out altogether.

91% of this relatively low-lying landscape is below 300 metres, but the Tatra Mountains in the south rise to 3,499m (8,500ft) at Mount Rysy.

27% of the land is covered by forests, and there are 23 National Parks that help to protect species such as White-Tailed Eagles, White Storks, Bison and Wolves.

The population of just over 38 million are mostly staunch Catholics – and Polish, but the once large Jewish population of over 3 million was decimated during the holocaust: Today, there are around 6-10,000.

Traditional industries such as shipbuilding, coal and steel are now giving way to less environmentally damaging sources of income, thanks partly to no longer being part of the communist Eastern Bloc, but also partly due to its economic recovery since joining the European Union.