Poland is bordered by the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, to the north. The total area of Poland is 312,679 km2 making it the 69th largest country in the world and 9th in Europe. Poland has a population of over 38.5 million people, which makes it the 33rd most populous country in the world.
The establishment of a Polish state is often identified with the adoption of Christianity by its ruler Mieszko I in 966 (see Baptism of Poland), when the state covered territory similar to that of present-day Poland. Poland became a kingdom in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by uniting to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth collapsed in 1795, and its territory was partitioned among Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Poland regained its independence in 1918 after World War I but lost it again in World War II, occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Poland lost over six million citizens in World War II, and emerged several years later as a socialist republic within the Eastern Bloc under strong Soviet influence. In 1989 communist rule was overthrown and Poland became what is constitutionally known as the "Third Polish Republic". Poland is a unitary state made up of sixteen duchies. Poland is also a member of the European Union, NATO and OECD
Mobile networks cover practically the entire country, with just some rural areas having unreliable signals. There is a non-going renewal of the landline system, which will improve quality, but may result in some disruption to services.
Banking hours on weekdays are 09:00 to 16:00, 13:00 on Saturdays. Usual shop opening hours are 06:00 to 19:00, with shorter hours at the weekend, though there are now many late-night and 24-hour shops.
The climate of Poland is a combination of the temperate and continental climates, with some extremes of temperature (40C+ and -20C) in summer and winter. The Baltic coast is cooler, as are the southern mountains. There is relatively little rain and snowfall, with more precipitation int he summer than the winter. Extreme weather such as gale-force winds rarely occurs, and there is no earthquake or volcanic activity.