Poland is a rather monocultural country so every foreign visitor is welcome
Poland has a population of 38 million people. This figure makes Poland the 5th most populated country in Europe. Contemporary Poland is almost homogenous ethnically; most of its residents are native Polish. The biggest minorities are are the Germans, then Belarusians and Ukrainians. Religiously, Poland is predominantly Roman Catholic.
Beware! The language is full of tongue twisters!
Polish is an Indo-European language, belonging to the West-Slavonic group. Most foreigners find it quite difficult to master, probably because of the inflectional character of the grammar and the fact that it is full of exceptions. Foreign guests also curse the specific spelling (consonants like “ś”, “ć”, “ż” or “ź”), which are part of almost every Polish proper noun and surname. Polish has many borrowings from other languages, mainly from Latin as well as German, Russian and French. More recently Polish has been borrowing from English.
Polish economy is one of the fastest developing economies in central Europe In the last several years
Our country is also the only EU member that managed to avoid a decline during the latest 2000s recession. Poland’s location is beneficial for business. It is also worth noticing that Poland has a lot of gifted graduates who constitute a great human resource base for business.
Poland is a land of natural diversity
Polish artists throughout the centuries used to depict the character of the country’s nature as a melancholic image of blurred, deserted plains with rows of weeping willows. Indeed Poland is a rather low-lying country. In the north we have 440 km of Baltic coastline. Beautiful golden sandy beaches are highly recommended for holidays. The northern “half” of Poland delights us with its abundance of forests and lakes. The other half has picturesque mountains too, all along the southern border, with the two main ranges in that part of Europe: the Carpathians and the Sudetes. The highest peak is Rysy (2499m) in the range of the Tatras. There are still many places hardly touched by the civilization, e.g. the Bieszczady Mountains, the plains along the Biebrza River, or the ancient woodland of Białowieża, with the diversity of plants, birds and animals. Poland can boast many species that have already died out in other parts of Europe, such as brown bears, grey wolves, beavers, Eurasian Lynx and bisons.
There are many things worth seeing in Poland as it is full of cultural treasures
Its magnificent architecture reflects one thousand years of historical heritage, with plenty of Gothic, Baroque or Art Nouveau buildings, churches, cathedrals, castles, and manors. Thirteen sites are included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, among them the historic centres of Cracow and Warsaw (the capital), the medieval town of Toruń, the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork. It is difficult to be bored in Poland, especially during the summer season, with plenty of festivals all over the country. Some of them have already gained an international reputation.
Polish cuisine has much to offer, (but forget about counting calories)
Although you can find McDonald’s, pizza, sushi and Chinese bars everywhere around the country, Poles still prefer eating traditional home meals. Traditional dishes are rather fat but most of them are really worth trying. You just have to try pierogi (dumplings filled with cabbage and mushrooms, meat or cheese), or bigos (a stew based on sauerkraut, mushrooms and meat). Another specifically Polish specialty is oscypek, a chunk of smoked cheese made of salted sheep’s milk, which originates from Tatra Mountains region. Most foreigners love popular Polish sweets, like Ptasie mleczko, Krówki or pączki. Polish beer is appreciated worldwide for its taste and refinement.
Polish savoir vivre – nothing to worry about
The rules of behaviour are pretty much the same as the rules in other European countries. They are based on general kindness towards strangers and the respect to women and elderly people. We greet each other by shaking hands or nodding, saying “Hi” or “Good morning”, sometimes kissing on the cheek. Travelling by public transport, it is expected that a young person should give up their seat for an elderly passenger person. Tips in restaurants amount to about 10 percent of the bill. Polish men are considered very gallant, following some old-fashioned rules like kissing a woman on a hand while greeting or letting a woman go first through the doorway.
Polish people love to celebrate
Apart from birthdays, we also celebrate the name day, which some people consider even more important than birthday. Most calendars contain the names of the holidays to be celebrated each day. The most important national holidays are: the anniversary of the restoration of independence in 1918 (11 November) and the passing of the Poland’s first Constitution of 1791 (3 May), which conveniently combines with International Labor Day – 1 May into extremely long weekends (depending on which day of the week it falls on). Although Halloween is getting more and more popular, the traditional All Saints’ Day (1 November) is a rather solemn day, when people visit the graves of their late relatives, burn candles and recall those who passed away. Most shops are closed both on public and church holidays.
The most popular stereotypes about poland
Poland is a land of frost and polar bears
This stereotype probably originates from the misleading similarity of words: Poland/Pole and North Pole/polar. Actually winter in Poland lasts about three months with the average temperature of -6 to 0 Celsius. This is a temperature range more suitable for brown bears which do inhabit the mountainous regions, but are rather reluctant to come out of their dens.
Polish people do not speak any foreign languages at all
The situation is not as bad as it seems. Most young people know some English and are able to communicate. People from the older generations usually speak a bit of German or Russian once an obligatory foreign language in Polish schools. Nowadays it is almost impossible to get a good job without some knowledge of one European language, which is why learning languages has become fashionable and language schools are thriving.
Poles do always complain
It is pretty hard to deny that people in Poland always find something to complain about. We generally complain about everything: the weather, salaries, high prices, unemployment, the government, and finally – health (there is a saying among the elderly people, that if you wake up in the morning and nothing hurts at all, you are probably dead). The tendency to complain seems to have originated under the communist system, when life was hard and there were hardly any opportunities for people to develop or succeed. On the other hand, Poles definitely laugh at themselves even in the most difficult situations and have a great sense of humour, so there is a balance between complaining and joy.
Polish people drink too much alcohol
A custom of drinking vodka is deeply rooted in Polish culture. It always accompanied different celebrations. In fact today most people prefer drinking beer and wine, and the consumption rate does not seem to be higher than in other European countries.
Polish people are intolerant
Many centuries ago Poland was a multinational country where lots of different ethnic minorities lived together. Unfortunately the country became more and more homogeneous, and today we have to learn once again how to cooperate with others. The stereotype however concerns mostly the older generations. The majority of young people are open to different cultures, cosmopolitan and mu