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Poland Geography

Geography

Fronting the Baltic Sea, a lowland plain blends into sandy beaches and dunes.

The northern regions are somewhat hilly while flat fertile farmlands dominate the Central Lowlands.

Moving south, the land rises into hilly uplands that front the Sudetic and Carpathian Mountain ranges. The tallest peaks are in the Tatra Mountains. The highest point is Rysy at 8,187 ft. (2,499m)

The Oder, Vistula and Warta are the country's major rivers. Numerous small lakes dot the far northeast.

Fronted by the Baltic Sea in the north, Poland has a fairly smooth coastline covered by sand dunes in some areas and indented by scattered low-rising cliffs.

From the Baltic lowlands, Poland's land rises gently into tree-covered hilly areas, with some higher elevations in the Pomeranian Lake District in the northeast.

The Central Lowlands is a flat region of river valleys that blends into a hillier area to the south of the Vistula River.

The southern third of the country is a mountainous region. Major ranges include the Sudetes, and the Tatra Mountains which are the most elevated part of the Carpathian Mountains.

Poland has 21 mountains over 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in elevation, and all are located in the Tatras, along the border with Slovakia. Poland's measured highest-point is Mt. Rysy in the High Tatras; it stands at 2,499 m (8,199 ft) in elevation. The lowest point in Poland at -1.8 m (-5.7 ft) is located at Raczki Elblaskie in the Vistula Delta.

The Bledow Desert, located in southern Poland, is only one of five natural deserts in Europe. It has a total area of 32 sq km (12 sq mi). Some of its dunes extend up to 30 m (98 ft).

As for rivers, the longest river in Poland is the Vistula at 1,047 km (651 mi) long. It is followed by the Oder which forms part of Poland's western border, at 854 km (531 mi) long. Other rivers of note include the Bug and the Warta.

Poland has hundreds of small lakes, and in Europe, only Finland has a greater density of lakes.

Geography Poland
Location: Central Europe, east of Germany

Geographic coordinates:

52 00 N, 20 00 E

Map references:

Europe

Area:

total: 312,685 sq km
land: 304,465 sq km
water: 8,220 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than New Mexico

Land boundaries:

total: 2,788 km
border countries: Belarus 407 km, Czech Republic 658 km, Germany 456 km, Lithuania 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 206 km, Slovakia 444 km, Ukraine 526 km

Coastline:

491 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: defined by international treaties

Climate:

temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers

Terrain:

mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: near Raczki Elblaskie -2 m
highest point: Rysy 2,499 m

Natural resources:

coal, sulfur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt, amber, arable land

Land use:

arable land: 45.91%
permanent crops: 1.12%
other: 52.97% (2001)

Irrigated land:

1,000 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

flooding

Environment - current issues:

situation has improved since 1989 due to decline in heavy industry and increased environmental concern by post-Communist governments; air pollution nonetheless remains serious because of sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the resulting acid rain has caused forest damage; water pollution from industrial and municipal sources is also a problem, as is disposal of hazardous wastes; pollution levels should continue to decrease as industrial establishments bring their facilities up to European Union code, but at substantial cost to business and the government

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94

Geography - note:

historically, an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain

Note: The information tabled directly above was researched by and provided by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency

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This page was last modified on August 13, 2015.