Year of EU entry: 2004 / Capital city: Warsaw / Population: 38.1 million
Poland is the largest of the countries that joined the European Union in 2004, with more than 38 million inhabitants. Modern Poland became independent in 1918 and is nowadays a unitary state, made up of sixteen voivodeships (i.e. provinces).
The north of Poland, stretching to the Baltic Sea, consists almost entirely of lowlands while the Carpathian Mountains form the southern border. The Masuria region forms the largest and most-visited area of lakes in Poland.
Famous Poles include the astronomer Copernicus, the composer Chopin, the scientist Maria Curie-Sklodowska, film-makers Roman Polanski and Krzysztof Kieslowski, and the late Pope, John-Paul II.
Poland’s traditional dishes include beetroot soup, cabbage rolls (cabbage leaves stuffed with meat and rice) and “pierogi” (dumplings stuffed with cabbage and mushrooms).