Division. – The administrative subdivision in the Polish People’s Republic has been changed since 10 June 1975, so that the 312,677 km 2, corresponding to the surface of the country, are divided into 49 voivodships. These modifications, which became necessary for a more rational application of economic-territorial planning, coincided with the elimination of the “intermediate” administrative districts, constituted by the powiati.
Population. – According to Searchforpublicschools, the 1970 census gave a result of 33,589,209 residents; as of December 31, 1975 there were 34,185,000 residents (109 per km 2). The annual growth rate has stabilized, in recent years, at 9.0 ‰, due to the simultaneous reduction of the birth rate (today on 18-19 ‰) and that of mortality (8-8.7 ‰). The phenomenon of urbanization is particularly accentuated, so much so that in 1966 the population of the cities exceeded that of the countryside.
Economic conditions. – The economy is definitely conditioned by the directives of the five-year plans, which comprise the twenty-year or prospective ones. Approximately one trillion złoty were invested in the implementation of the 1966-70 plan: 38.3% in industry, 4.0% in construction, 16.6% in agriculture and forestry, 11.2% % in transport and communications, 3.2% in commerce, 19.2% in municipal services (including a large part of residential construction), the remaining 7.5% in other activities (scientific research, education, culture and art, health and social care, sport).
A considerable share of the investments made in the same period by private individuals concerned agriculture. In fact, four-fifths of the agricultural-forest area is still divided into “individual farms”, in which three-tenths of the Polish working population are concentrated. Only in the western territories is a large share of the surface in the hands of the state or cooperatives.
The strong fragmentation of land ownership into small units hinders both crop specialization and mechanization. However, among the European countries, Poland occupies important positions in various agricultural and zootechnical productions: for rye (2,792,200 ha in 1975 with 62.9 million q) it is preceded only by the Soviet Union; the same goes for oats (1,291,000 ha with 29.3 million q) and potatoes (2,585,000 ha with 465 million q). Among other crops, wheat (1,842,000 ha with 52.1 million q) and sugar beet (495,000 ha with 153 million q) are also important. In the livestock sector, the greatest contribution is given by cattle, which in 1975 rose to 13 million head. Pigs (almost 21.5 million head), sheep and goats (3 million head) follow in importance. The equines, less and less employed in agriculture, and the silkworms reveal, instead, a continuous decline. In sea fishing, the increase in production (over 800,000 t in 1975) was made possible by the improvement of the shipping: two thirds of the catch comes from the Atlantic, one third from the Baltic. Forests give over 22 million m3 of lumber. Most of the product is made up of lumber from sawmills or for the mining industry, but a significant portion (2.5 million m 3) is used by paper mills.
As regards the resources of the subsoil, the production of hard coal is constantly increasing, which in 1977 reached 186 million tons, placing Poland in first place in Europe, apart from the Soviet Union; the wood production was around 40 million tons in the same year. Oil is still extracted to a rather modest extent (456,000 tonnes in 1976), as the country imports large quantities from the Soviet Union. Natural gas production is on the rise, which from 358.2 million m 3 in 1954 went up to 6700 million m 3 in 1976. Among the other mineral products we mention rock salt, whose production exceeded 1,405 in 1974. 000 t.
From an energy point of view, the installed power is constantly increasing: in 1974 it amounted to 16,616,000 kW of which 824,000 hydroelectric (electricity production: 91.6 billion kWh).
In the steel industry (8,316,000 t of cast iron and ferroalloys and 15,636,000 t of steel in 1976) the Upper Silesian complexes emerge and, among those located on the edge of the coal basin, that of Nowa Huta. In the mechanical field, in addition to Żerań (Warsaw), where the Fiat-Polski car factory (173,000 produced in 1975) is in operation, are known Sanok (buses), Wroclaw, Ostrowice and Chorzów (railway equipment), Poznań (agricultural machinery), Warsaw (“Ursus” tractors), Gdansk, Szczecin and Gdynia (ships).
The city of Łódź and some neighboring centers stand out for the development of the cotton industry (2,027,000 spindles and 36,200 looms in 1974); Bielsko Biała, Andrychów, Kamienna and other towns of southern Poland, for wool production.
In the chemical sector, mention should be made of the large center of Dwory, near Oświęcim (plastics and synthetic rubber), and those of Tarnów, Puławy, Mościce, Poznań and Szczecin (fertilizers).
Communications. – The merchant navy, in 1975, was centered on about 700 ships (considering only those with over 100 tons of tonnage), for over 2,800,000 tons. In the same year, the movement of goods in Polish seaports, among which Szczecin, Danzig and Gdynia stand out, exceeded 52 million tonnes (34 in embarkation and 18 in disembarkation). In inland navigation, the Koźle mine on the Odra emerges.
The railway network (26,702 km in 1975) is subject to progressive electrification (19%); the road network is 141,858 km, along which 1,554,800 motor vehicles circulate (1,077,700 private cars, one for every 32 residents).
Civil aviation recorded approximately 1075 passengers / km in 1975. The main airports are those of Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Katowice and Krakow.
Tourism. – The Poland is increasing its importance more and more also from the tourist point of view. The beds, which in 1960 reached the number of 71,333, were, in 1974, 321,740 (one eighth of which in hotels).
The total number of overnight stays in the same year exceeded 37,080,000, that of arrivals 11,701,000. The greatest movement is recorded in the southern mountains (Carpathians, Sudetes), in the lakes region (Masuria, Pomerania) and on the Baltic coast. A considerable part of the tourist movement takes place in an organized form. Citizens of socialist countries prevail among foreign guests (five sixths of the total).
Foreign trade. – The trade balance of Poland, almost always passive for 15 years now, presented, in 1975, a very accentuated deficit (9.5 billion złoty) due to the purchases of petroleum products, cars and other means of transport, of wheat. The countries with which the most intense exchanges are maintained continue to be those of the Comecon (Soviet Union, German Dem. Rep., Czechoslovakia, etc.); with respect to Italy the balance was positive until 1973, but in 1974-75 there was a difference in favor of our country.