Poland will host the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the first ever FIFA tournament held in the country. Poland has a great footballing tradition and has hosted important events in the past, including UEFA EURO 2012, which they co-organised with Ukraine, and the UEFA U-21 Championship in 2017.
Origins and geography
Poland is located in Central Europe, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, with a population of around 38 million people. Poland's capital and largest city is Warsaw.
The establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to A.D. 966, when ruler Mieszko I converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025. Throughout the centuries Poland has had its ups and downs. More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union attack. More than six million Polish citizens perished in the war. After the war, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In 1989, thanks to the Solidarity movement, the sovereign state of Poland re-established itself.
Poland has borders with Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany.
Climate and tourism
Summers are generally warm, with average temperatures between 18 and 30°C depending on the region. Winters are rather cold, with average temperatures around 3°C in the northwest and −6°C in the northeast.
Tourist attractions in Poland vary, from the mountains in the south to the sandy beaches in the north. The most visited city is Krakow, which was the former capital of Poland. Among other notable sites is Wroclaw, one of the oldest cities in Poland. The Polish capital Warsaw and its historical Old Town were reconstructed after wartime destruction. Other cities attracting tourists include Gdansk, Poznan, Lublin, Torun and the historic site of the German Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim.
Tourist destinations include the Baltic Sea coast in the north, the Masurian Lake District and the Bialowieza Forest in the east, the south Tatra Mountains and the Pieniny and Bieszczady Mountains in the extreme southeast. There are over 100 castles in the country.
Economy and currency
Poland's economy is one of the fastest growing within the European Union. The privatisation of state-owned companies and a law on establishing new firms have allowed the development of private businesses. The Polish banking sector is the largest in the Central and Eastern European region, while Poland also has a large number of private farms in its agricultural sector.
Poland is one of the world's biggest producers of copper and coal.
The Polish currency is the Zloty. 3,70 Zloty is equivalent to 1 USD, and 4,30 Zloty is equivalent to 1 EUR.
Football in Poland
Football is the most popular sport in Poland. The first professional clubs were founded in the early 1900s, and the Polish national team played its first international match in 1921. Poland have participated in three UEFA EURO finals so far: 2008, 2012 (as co-hosts) and 2016.
Poland have qualified for the FIFA World Cup™ finals on eight occasions, the latest being Russia 2018. They played out an epic game in their first World Cup campaign in 1938, losing 6-5 to Brazil after extra-time with the legendary Ernst Wilimowski scoring four goals in that dramatic match.
Their biggest success in the world finals was a third-place finish on two occasions (in 1974 and 1982). Names like Grzegorz Lato (top scorer at the World Cup in Germany in 1974 with seven goals), Andrzej Szarmach (the second-highest goalscorer with five, along with Dutchman Johan Neeskens), legendary goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski and dazzling playmaker Kazimierz Deyna formed the core of that golden generation in 1974.
Then there were younger ones like current Polish Football Association President Zbigniew Boniek, who also showed their class at the World Cup in 1982, repeating the success of the 1974 side. Boniek joined Juventus after that tournament and became one of the greatest players in Polish history. When speaking about football legends, Wlodzimierz Lubanski also deserves a mention. For many years he was the all-time top scorer for the Polish national team with 48 goals. It was only recently that Robert Lewandowski, the symbol of the Polish national team's renaissance in recent years – passed him to become the country's all-time goalscorer.