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Summary: Poland is in central Europe, east of Germany, and is mostly flat plain with mountains along the southern border. Poland was conceived around the middle of the 10th century and stands out as a success story among transition economies as privatization continues to liberalize state-run industries, with growth expected in the agricultural and private business sectors.

Capital: Warsaw
Time Zone: DST +0200 UTC
Population: 38,626,349
Languages: Polish
Power: 230 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Zloty - Currently 1 PLN = 0.4078 USD $
Climate: Poland has a temperate climate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation, and mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers.

Warsaw: Located near the middle of the country, Warsaw was founded in the 14th century and settled as the come-again capital of the country since 1611. With the majority of sights rebuilt or renovated after World War II, Warsaw offers sights like the Historical Museum of Warsaw, the Lazienki Palace with its ampitheater and monument to Chopin, and the Palace of Culture and Sciences which also has a great view of the whole city.

Cracow: At the foot of the Tatra Mountains, you can find the Stare Miasto, or Old Town section of Cracow, with the 14th century Cloth Hall and Saint Mary's Church, as well as the Royal Castle and the Royal Cathedral on top of Wawel Hill, a testament to its former status as capital of Poland.

Credit Cards: Credit cards are accepted at most places in large cities, but they are often not in smaller towns, so it is wise to ask first.

Exchange: The Polish exchange offices, Kantor Wymiany Walut, offer better hours than local banks, as well as better rates when exchanging currencies.

Culture: While you may find smoking commonplace, and bureaucratic red tape thick and sticky, locals are friendly and welcoming. The Catholic Church is an important part of the local society, in particular since the passing of Poland's holy father, Pope John Paul II.

When To Visit: The Polish tourist season runs from May to September, serving hikers, sailors and beach goers. The beginning and end of that period can still give great weather while avoid most of the crowds.

Food: Local foods include bigos, a meat and sauerkraut meal, and barszcz, a beetroot soup, and popular drinks are vodka and tea.

Phrases: Common phrases include: Hello: Czesc, Goodbye: Do widzenia, Yes: Tak, No: Nie, and Thank you: Dziekuje.

Tipping: Service charges are included in most bills, but leaving change is welcomed.

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