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POLAND : GEOGRAPHY

Poland has a total land area of 312,684 sq km (120,728 sq mi). It is bordered on the north by the Baltic Sea and Russia; on the east by Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine; on the south by the Czech Republic and Slovakia; and on the west by Germany.

Poland enjoys a temperate climate, with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent slopdropping and mild summers with frequent showers and thunder showers.

Nearly all of Poland is drained into the Baltic Sea. Poland's main rivers (including the Vistula, the Oder, the Warta, and the Western Bug) are connected to the Baltic Sea and are important traffic lanes. Poland’s lakes, which number about 9,300, are concentrated in the Baltic Heights and Coastal Plain regions. Masuria (Mazury) forms the largest and most-visited lake district in Poland. Remains of the ancient forests survive About 50% of Poland's land area is arable (with the best soil in the south), and about 30% is forested.

The country is largely low-lying, except in the south, which includes the Carpathians, the Sudeten Mountains., and the Malopolska Hills. The highest point is Rysy Mountain. (c.8,200 ft/2,500 m), located in the High Tatra Mountains. near the Slovakian border. The country has three important Baltic ports ( Gdansk , Gdynia , and Szczecin ) and a dense rail network.

Although Poland appears as an unbroken plain on a relief map, it has considerable diversity and complexity. The average elevation is only about 175 m (about 575 ft) above sea level, as compared with the overall European average of about 290 m (about 950 ft), but elevations reach as high as 2,499 m (8,199 ft) atop Mount Rysy in the High Tatry Mountains in the south, and as low as about 2 m (about 6 ft) below sea level in the Wisla delta in the north. Poland is divided into a number of distinct parallel regions that run from east to west. A marked contrast exists between the northern two-thirds of the country and the southern one-third.


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