Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes

Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes (CIIE)


  • Accession to the EU: 2004
  • Accession to the Council of Europe: 1991
  • Surface area: 312 685 km2
  • Population: 38.49 million inhabitants (2014)
  • Capital city: Warsaw (2,2 Million inhabitants)
  • Official languages: Polish
  • Listen to Polish
  • Main religion: Catholic
  • Currency: Zloty
  • Political system: Republic
  • Head of state: Andrzej Duda re-elected July 12, 2020
  • Head of government: Mateusz Morawieck Premier minister reappointed on November 15, 2019
  • Internqtionl code: + 48
  • National holiday: May 3 (anniversary of the constitution of 1791)
  • The Polish members of the European Parliament

Poland boasts more than 1,000 years of history. After a period of great splendour, the State became weak and saw its territory broken up in the late 18th century between Russia, Prussia and Austria. Poland disappeared in 1815, leaving behind a reduced “Kingdom of Poland” under Russian domination.
Old town, Warsaw © Polish National Office of Tourisme
  • 1918 The independence of the country is once again proclaimed.
  • 1923 Following battles and insurrections, the country’s borders are confirmed with Germany and the USSR.
  • 1939 The German army launches a surprise invasion of the country. The Red Army does the same thing. The Soviets and the Germans divide up most of the country’s territory among themselves. From 1941 onwards, only the German army occupies Poland.
  • 1945 A provisional government is set up. The Potsdam agreements establish the new borders of the country: the Oder-Neisse line separates Poland and Germany and huge amounts of territory are transferred to the USSR.
  • 1947 The Communist Party takes power.
  • 1956-1976 Revolts break out with the aim of obtaining greater liberty and better living conditions.
  • 1980 The independent trade union Solidarnosc (Solidarity) is created by Lech Walesa. One year later, a state of war is declared and Solidarnosc is forced underground.
  • 1989 Solidarnosc is legalised once again and wins the first free elections.
  • 1990 Lech Walesa becomes President of the new Republic. Its first task is to ensure the transition towards democracy and multi-party politics, as well as introducing a market economy.
  • 1995 Lech Walesa’s successor is Kwasniewski.
  • 1999 Poland joins NATO.
  • 2004 Poland joins the European Union.
  • 2005 Parliamentary and presidential elections. The party Conservative Rights and Justice win and Lech Kaczynski becomes president.
  • 2006 Lech Kaczynski nominates his brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski to the head of government.
  • 2007 The liberal party of the civil platform wins the parliamentary elections. Donald Tusk become s Prime Minister.
  • 2010 Bronislaw Komorowski becomes Head of state. 
  • 2014 : Donald Tusk becomes the president of the european council

The town of Krakow, one of the oldest towns in Poland, is located in the south of the country. Founded around 700 AD, it was the capital of Poland until 1595. With its many architectural treasures (including 58 churches, palaces from various periods, museums and galleries), Krakow is often referred to as the “Florence of the North” or the “Polish Rome” and has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1980. It was also the European City of Culture in the year 2000. An outstanding city, it has successfully preserved its character throughout the centuries. The old town is a museum in its own right, with a large number of monuments, towers, churches, domes and synagogues, not to mention its many cafes and restaurants, as Krakow is also well known for its gastronomy. Despite having one million inhabitants, Krakow is also a city which has succeeded in retaining its sense of community. A large number of tourists come here every year in order to visit its many festivals, plays, artistic exhibitions and other cultural events to be enjoyed in the town.

Krakow © Polish National Office of Tourisme

Karol Wojtyla was better known under the name of John Paul II. Born in Poland in 1920, he was ordained as a priest in 1946, and worked his way up through the various levels of the Catholic religion until his enthronement in 1978. He was the 264th Pope in history, and the first Pole to hold this position in the Catholic Church. Karol Wojtyla began to fight against communism very early on, and continued to do so after 1978. In Poland, the Pope supported the Solidarity movement, and welcomed Lech Walesa at the Vatican in 1981. During his pontificate, his political commitment, the many diplomatic relationships he developed and his many messages of peace have made him a Pope who has left his mark on his century. A highly publicised person in the media, during his many visits throughout the world he contributed to building up a unique Catholic conscience, but he was also committed to developing Christian unity and ecumenism. A person who was politically open, he nevertheless remained conservative on other social aspects. At the age of 84, Pope John Paul II passed away on April 2, 2005. Cardinal Ratzinger succeded him on April 19, 2005, under the name of Benedict XVI.

© Apostolic Nunciature Paris

The national film, television, and theater school of Lodz was founded in 1948. In the mid-1950s, the political changes underway allowed Polish cinema to develop. The school played an important part in the cultural life of Poland and the town of Lodz took full advantage of this to make a name for itself in the country as the town of cinematic production. The first students included Andrzej Munk and Janusz Morgenstern, founders of the Polish Film School during the 1950s. Created to train elite film-makers, the school saw a number of great names pass through its doors. In 1952, Andrzej Wajda (winner 
of a Palme d’Or in 1981 at the Cannes Film Festival for Man of Iron) graduated from here. In 1954, Roman Polanski (Dance of the VampiresChinatownThe Pianist– a film for which he obtained the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival in 2002 and the César for the best film), the famous producer of Polish origin started his career at the school. In 1958, he won a prize for his film Two Men and a Wardrobe at the Brussels World’s Fair. During the 1960s, producers such as Krysztof Kieslowski (The Double Life of Veronique, and the famous trilogy Blue, White, & Red) and Krysztof Zanussi also studied in Lodz. Today, the school welcomes many foreign students. It operates under the control of the Polish Ministry of Culture and the Arts.

© Guy Ferrandis /H&K.
Photo: collection W.Szpilman, editions Robert Laffont

The old town of Warsaw
Following the destruction of 85% of Warsaw during the Second World War, the old town was painstakingly rebuilt based on drawings providing a faithful image of its 17th century appearance. This unique project made it possible to recreate its churches and palaces, symbols of Poland’s culture and national identity.

© Polish National Office of Tourisme


By publishing his theory that the Earth was not the center of the universe, Copernicus (a famous Polish astronomer from the 16th century), ushered in the scientific revolution of the 17th century.

© European Commission

Robert Korzeniowski
The Polish athlete Robert Korzeniowski has become an Olympic legend. By winning the 50 km walking event in Athens in 2004, the Pole took his third consecutive Olympic title in this sport. Now a national hero in Poland, he has become his country’s most decorated Olympian.


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