Economics and business
Although only 2 per cent of GDP comes from the
earthquake, Poland is in many ways still an agricultural
country. However, since the transition to the market economy
in the early 1990s, other sectors of the business sector
have developed faster, such as the light manufacturing
industry and the trade and service industries. However, the
traditional heavy industry and the engineering industry,
including the shipbuilding industry, have drastically
decreased in importance.
During most of the 1990s, economic growth was good, on
average 5 percent, and the country coped with the
international financial crisis in 2008 better than many
other European countries. During the 2010s, growth continued
to be good (3 percent). According to
countryaah, the positive economic development
depends, among other things, on on an increase in exports
since EU accession in 2004, fiscal stimulus packages and
cheap imports of oil and natural gas. Concern for Poland's
future economic development is that the country has a
backlog of infrastructure and that a relatively small amount
of research has been invested. In 2010, 0.75 percent of GDP
was spent on research (the EU average was 2 percent).
During the period 1945–49, the Polish economy was focused
on rebuilding the almost completely devastated industry
during the war. Subsequently, (as in all other Eastern Bloc
countries) the planning economy was introduced, and
following an early Soviet model, a unilateral investment in
the construction of a heavy industrial sector (primarily the
iron, steel and engineering industries) was initiated. At
the same time, the country's former leading industry,
agriculture, as well as the consumer goods industry were
neglected. Without investment and modernization, agriculture
and other parts of the industry became ineffective.
In the 1970s, to improve the abuses and bring about a
renewal in business, large loans were taken in the West.
Poland overcame its assets, and around 1980 there were
obvious difficulties in providing for its residents. This,
in conjunction with developments in other Eastern Europe,
contributed to the fall of communism, and an economic system
shift occurred at the New Year 1990. Free prices were
introduced and several subsidies were abolished. Złotyn was
devalued and made convertible and foreign competition was
admitted to the Polish market. Extensive privatization of
Polish business was also begun. On a smaller scale, this
privatization has gone fast, while the process for large,
state-owned companies has been slower.
During the first years of the 1990s, the country's GDP
fell sharply, but in 1992 came a turning point for business:
industrial production showed an upturn for the first time in
four years, and then GDP has gradually increased. A
contributing reason for this was the increase in exports
since joining the EU in 2004.
About half of the country's area is usable land. Poland
is among the world's largest producers of rye, buckwheat,
currant and raspberry. Other important crops are wheat,
potatoes and apples. Livestock management and animal
production are of greater economic importance than
cultivation. It specializes in dairy products, beef, pork,
chicken meat and eggs.
By far the largest proportion of agriculture is still
small and mainly produces food for household needs. Only 1.5
percent of agriculture has over 200 hectares of land; these
account for 90 percent of production.
About 1/3 of the area of Poland is forested. Coniferous
forest dominates and is used in the pulp and paper industry
as well as in the furniture industry. In recent years,
significant new planting has taken place.
The total catch of the Polish fishing fleet in 2009 was
approximately 224,000 tonnes, mainly crustacean, herring and
cod. In the same year, about 36,000 tonnes of fish were
grown, mainly carp and rainbow. The fisheries sector
contributes below 0.01% to GDP.
Polish fishing covers three sectors:
- Coastal fishing conducted by smaller boats, often by
part-time fishermen, and mainly fishing for cod,
flatfish and herring.
- Fishing in the real Baltic Sea, which is mainly
carried out by trawlers and which mainly fishes for
herring and herring. Baltic fishing accounts for an
overwhelming majority of the total Polish fishing catch.
The catch is landed primarily in Polish ports and sold
to the fish processing industry.
- Deep-sea fishing with trawl in the North-East and
North-West Atlantic as well as in the Antarctic. The
catch is dominated by krill (shrimp), but also acadian
kingfish (Sebastes fasciatus), herring, cod and
graylingare fished. The catch is cleared on board,
landed in foreign ports and exported, mainly to the EU
Poland imports almost as much fish as you fish. Imports
are dominated by herring products and by raw salmon, which
are processed and then exported again, mainly to Germany and
Raw material resources and energy supply
Mining, mainly coal mining, has played a leading role in
Poland's business for centuries, but accounted for only 2
percent of GDP in 2010. The absolute majority of companies
in the mining industry are now privately owned, although the
state has significant (albeit decreasing) ownership in the
fossil fuel production sector. Although the Katowice area in
Górny Śląsk has suffered many closures in recent years, the
area together with Wałbrzych in Dolny Śląsk is still the
backbone of the country's coal production. Lignite deposits
are found in three areas in western Poland. Large deposits
are also found of sulfur in the Kielce area in southeastern
Poland and of copper in Głogów in western Poland.
Poland is the leading producer of coal in the EU, and one
of the largest producer countries of lignite in the world.
Total coal production in 2010 amounted to just over 130
million tonnes and the production trend is slowly declining.
The dependence on coal for the country's economy and energy
supply is unlikely to change significantly in the
foreseeable future, but production is moving in a more
environmentally friendly direction towards less carbon
Poland is also one of the world's leading producers of
rhenium, silver and copper. Production of industrial
minerals such as crushed aggregate, gravel, cement,
feldspar, gypsum, limestone, salt and sulfur is significant.
Economically, coal, cement and copper account for 2/3 of the
production value of minerals.
Coal is the country's most important energy raw material
and export product and accounts for almost all electricity
production. Next to coal, oil and natural gas are the most
important sources of energy. Total production in 2010
amounted to just over 5 million barrels of crude oil and
just under 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Crude oil
is extracted in the Baltic Sea and on the Polish mainland,
but over 95 percent of the country's oil needs are covered
by imports from the Russian Federation. Domestic natural gas
production covers an estimated 1/3 of the total demand
(2010), the remainder being imported mainly from the Russian
Federation but also from Germany.
The production of renewable energy is in the shadow of
primary energy production from fossil fuels. 10 per cent of
domestic energy production is based on renewable sources, of
which 95 per cent comes from the biofuel sector. Nuclear
energy production is missing.
During the 1950s, a strong investment was made in the
heavy industry. A large part of the Polish industry is
currently located in the Katowice area, mainly. adjacent to
the large coal mining district in Górny Śląsk. Here, since
the 1840s, one of Europe's largest industrial concentrations
has been built up. By 1990, 30 major metallurgical
industries had emerged next to 70 mines. The country's by
far the largest steel mill is located in Nowa Huta near
Kraków. In addition, there is an extensive chemical industry
in the Katowice area. The iron and metal sector is Poland's
dominant industry branch. The energy sector and the textile
industry (traditionally located in Łódź) are other important
industries. Along the Baltic Sea coast there are large
shipyards, in Płock there is the petrochemical center of the
country and in Poznań railway equipment is manufactured.
Within the heavy sector of the industry, the privatization
process has been slow and has led to major staff reductions.
Despite large investments and foreign acquisitions, parts of
the heavy industry still have profitability problems.
Poland's foreign trade has undergone major changes in
recent years. Until 1987, foreign trade was a state
monopoly, and trade with the Soviet Union and the rest of
the Eastern Bloc was dominant. As a number of trade
restrictions were removed in 1990, trade with the West
increased significantly; In 2017, the other EU countries'
share of exports and imports was about 70 percent. Trade
with the Soviet Union was discontinued almost entirely in
1990, but in 1992 some recovery with the successor countries
was noted, and the Russian Federation is now one of the
country's most important trading partners. The sharp
increase in imports from the West initially gave Poland a
large trade deficit, but during the 2000s exports increased
and the deficit decreased. The most important individual
trading partners are Germany. Among the export goods are
engineering industrial products, furniture, food and coal.
Tourism and gastronomy
Since the mid-1990s, Poland has had a stable tourist
influx of about 15 million tourists a year. However, as a
result of the weak international economy, the number dropped
to just under 13 million at the end of the 1990s. Almost 40
per cent came from Germany, 12 per cent from Ukraine and 7
per cent from Belarus. The tourists are attracted by a
beautiful and varied nature: in the north there are many
miles of white beaches along the Baltic Sea, while mountain
areas for example. winter sports are available in the south
and southwest. Most famous is the Tatra Mountains.
A peculiar nature type is the Masurian lakes in the
northeastern parts. There are thousands of lakes located in
a very coniferous forest belt. Poland offers several cities
with well-preserved medieval city centers, and the city
centers that were destroyed during the war are rebuilt in
the old style. Mainly mention is Kraków, but Warsaw and
Gdańsk also have interesting inner cities. Other cities
worth visiting are Wrocław, Poznań and Szczecin. Of
particular interest is the brick castle Malbork, located at
one of Wisla's estuary arms. The castle is northern Europe's
largest medieval fortification.
Occupations and political upheavals have meant that
Polish cuisine, which has its roots rooted in its own
cabbage, exhibits distinctly Slavic and Jewish features.
Pork, cabbage, mushrooms, soups, cumin and dumplings form
the basis of the robust diet, characterized by old peasant
traditions. The breakfast usually consists of bread, cheese
and jam, sausage and eggs. The lunch is often a lighter
goal. The main goal includes soup as a mandatory part; some
of the most common are barszcz (beetroot soup),
żurek (rye flour soup with sour cream), kapuśniak
(soup with sauerkraut and potatoes) and krupnik (barley
grain soup with vegetables and meat). Many of the fish
dishes are characterized by Jewish heritage (marinated
herring, herring in sour cream, cooked carp with
horseradish).Bigos (sauerkraut stew with different
kinds of meat, game and sausage) is the national dish in
front of others. Boiled meat, e.g. golonka (pork
belly with horseradish), pots that combine vegetables and
meat and meat that is filled with e.g. Mushrooms are common.
Among the game are wild boar, hare and deer. Vegetables
(usually cauliflower) are eaten with a preference with
chopped eggs and melted butter. Bread is often seasoned with
cumin or poppy seeds, the latter also found in sweeter
pastries, such as honey, nuts and jam.