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Poland has become one of the major destinations for travellers. Its beauty can be admired in both its old cities and in the wild scenery of its national parks and nature reserves. The country’s regions are largely divided into horizontal bands: the Baltic Coast and the hilly post-glacial lake district. Central Poland is split into northern lowlands and southern uplands, including the Kraków-Wielun Upland with its limestone areas, caves and medieval castles. The Carpathian Mountains, including the Tatras, lie in the extreme south; their mountain scenery, folklore and sports facilities contributing to their charm.

Practical Information

Area: 312 685 km² (120 728 miles²)

Capital: Warsaw. Population: 1.7 million

Population: 38.1 million

Currency: Zloty (PLN symbol Zl) = 100 groszy

Government: Republic since 1918.

Tipping: 10 to 15% is customary in restaurants and cafes. Tipping in self-service restaurants is not expected. Tips for porter’s services in hotels and train stations are customary but amounts are at the traveller’s discretion.

Legal drinking age: 18

Time zone: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)

Languages: Polish

Additional descriptions

Poland: Social customs

Poles are friendly, industrious people and foreigners are usually made very welcome. There are vast contrasts between urban and rural life and the Polish peasantry is very religious and conservative, maintainingRead more a traditional lifestyle. Roman Catholicism plays an important role in daily life and criticism or jokes about religion are not appreciated, despite the general good humour of the people. Music and art are also important aspects of Polish culture. Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Normal courtesies are observed when visiting private homes and it is customary to bring flowers, preferably in odd numbers. Fairly conservative casual wear is the most suitable attire, but dress should be formal when specified for entertaining in the evening or in a smart restaurant. Smoking is restricted in some public buildings. Photography: Military installations including border points should not be photographed.

Poland: Food and local specialties

Poland has a distinctive cuisine, with typical ingredients being dill, marjoram, caraway seeds, wild mushrooms and sour cream, which is frequently added to soups, sauces and braised meats. Soups play anRead more important part at mealtimes and are usually rich and very thick. Barszcz (beetroot soup), however, runs thin and clear and is often served in cups with small hot pasties stuffed with meat or cabbage. There are several salt- and fresh-water fish dishes using trout, carp and herring. Pastries, such as szarlotka (apple cake), packi (jelly doughnuts) and makowiec (poppy seed cake) can be bought at a cukiernia. Note that big cities offer a selection of other world cuisines. The national specialties are: Bigos (sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, onions and any variety of leftover meat). Salted and rolled herring fillets with pickles and onions. Kabanos (long, thick sausages). Pierogi (dumplings stuffed with either meat, mushrooms and cabbage, cheese or fruit). Kasza (buckwheat). Vodka (wódka, in many various flavours - try krupnik and źołądkowa). The best bottled beer is zywiec, a fairly strong lager-type beer.

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