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中国株レポート
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新興成長国基礎データ
中華人民共和国
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Geography

The republic of Poland is located in north-eastern Europe. It is bordered by Germany to the west, Czecho and Slovakia to the south, the Russian Federation and Lithuania to the north and Byelorussia and Ukraine to the east. To the north there is a 520-km coastline along the Baltic sea. Following the Second World War Poland lost a considerable amount of territory to the USSR, but gained the former German provinces of Pomerania and Silesia in the west, and part of East Prussia in the east. The country has an area of 312,683 suquare kilometres.

Demography

The total population in 1992 was approximately 38.3 million. The major cities are the capital Warsaw (1.7 million inhabitants), Lodoz (852,000), a major industrial centre, and Krakow (748,000), an important centre of culture and learning. In 1990, 62% of the population lived in urban areas compared with 32% in 1946.

The educational level of the population continued to improve during the 1970s and 1980s. The proportion of the population aged 15 or over with higher education was 2.7% in 1970 and 6.5% in 1988.

At the end of 1991 the economically active population amounted to 16.5 million of which the state sector accounted for 46%. 27.6% of the working population was engaged in agriculture, 28% in industry, 7.5% in construction, 8.4% in trade and 5.9% in transport and communication.

History and Political Situation

Present day Poland traces its origins to the unification, in the second half of the 10th century, when their King, Mieszko, introduced Christianity, ensuring that henceforth Poland's cultural development would be linked to that of Western Europe. In 1386 the Polish Queen, Jadwiga married Jagiello, the Grand-Duke of Lithuania. This alliance eventually paved the way for full political union which was to last until the late 18th century.

In 1572 the last of the Jagiellons died, leaving no heir. For the next 200 years Poland experienced a period of elective monarchy. It was an era marked by numerous wars and military campaigns (against Muscoviets, Turks, Tatars, Cossacks and Swedes) but little economic progress. After this Polish territory was partitioned by Russia, Prussia and Austria, until 1918 when the First World War ended.

Inter-war Poland was restored to statehood at the Treaty of Versailles and became a parliamentary republic. However, Pilsudski staged a coup d'騁at in 1926 and became virtually a dictator. He died in 1935, but his followers continued to rule in his name. In 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, Poland was partitioned again, this time between Nazi Germany and the USSR. Germany launched an invasion deep into USSR territory, capturing the whole of Poland as it went, in 1941. Poland was liberated by the Red army in July 1944 and a Committee of National Liberation (PKWN) was established at Lublin. They took over the administration of the territory liberated by the Soviet advance and became a de facto Government.

The new Poland had a different shape to that of the pre-war republics. At the conference of Teheran and Yalta, the Great Power leaders had agreed that Poland should lose almost one-half of its territory to the USSR, but should receive compensation in the north and west at the expense of Germany. In 1947 when the first election was held the Communist Polish Worker's Party won through manipulation of the results.

The first tentative move towards political pluralism was the birth, in 1980, of Solidarity, the first independent trade union in the Soviet bloc headed by Lech Walesa, which claimed 10 million members. Soon after its emergence this movement was supressed by the declaration of martial law by General Jaruzelski in 1981. However, the deteriorating economic situation and the accession to power of Gorbachov in the USSR brought the "round table" talks between the communists and opposition leaders, led by Walesa, in 1989. In these talks many agreements were made including the legalisation of Solidarity, the creation of an upper chamber, the restoration of the presidency, a gradual return to multi-party, competitive elections and freedom of the press.

Following the "round table" talks it was agreed to hold, in June 1989, the first partially contested election which resulted in a strong expression of support for Solidarity. However as only 35% of seats in the lower house of Parliament were open for election, those associated with the Communist party continued to hold power and the Polish President General Jarulzelski was the man who in 1991 had declared martial law. This precarious balance of power could hardly be expected to last however given the mounting pressure for fundamental change. By July 1990 Mazowiecki's reshuffles had led to the dismissal of all but one communist minister and the demand for entirely free elections grew louder.

The first genuinely free election in post-war Poland was the presidential election in November 1990 which Lech Walesa won. President Walesa appointed Krzytof Bielecki as prime minister until a free general election, held on October 1991, which proved highly inconclusive, with many political groupings represented in Parliament. After the election a centre-right coalition was formed headed by Jan Olsewski, but his government lasted only six months (December 1991 to May 1992). A new centre-left administration led by Hanna Suchocka took over Olszewski's government. It is based on a coalition of political interests apparently strong enough to return steady parliamentary support and which has a good relationship with the President.

Economy

Since the Second World War Poland has become an industrialised economy, though agriculture remains relatively important in employment terms. Compared with Western European countries, however, Poland is still poor. As in other Eastern European countries, central planning was installed by the late 1940s a commitment was made to rapid industrialisation with central planning as the instrument to mobilise and allocate resources. Undoubtedly this contributed to high growth rates in the 1950s, but consumption and real living standards lagged, fuelling discontent and forcing the first reconsideration of the merits of central economic planning. However, reforms legislated in the late 1950s were not properly implemented.

Economic disorganisation deepened until, in 1981, the economy recorded its worst ever disaster with a 12% slump in output. Economic chaos went alongside a political stalemate between Solidarity and the state. After martial law was declared on December 1981, economic decentralisation was partially introduced from January 1982. Meanwhile the authorities developed a three year "stabilisation" plan for 1983-85. A trade surplus with the West emerged in 1982 and was maintained throughout the three year plan, but this owed more to the curbing of imports than to an export drive and was not sufficient to cover the interest payments on Poland's debt.

By the end of 1989 Polish foreign debt had reached US$ 40 billion and monthly inflation rates climbed in excess of 50%. A radical package of measures was introduced by Finance Minister Balcerowicz in January 1990, with IMF approval. A key aim was to free prices from government influence by removing subsidies and cutting defence spending. At the same time wages would be restrained, in an attempt to ease inflation. This plan had two "anchors", a fixed exchange rate and a tough tax-based income policy. These anchors held firm throughout 1991 and only began to shift in 1991, especially following the May devaluation.

The package dampened inflation and stabilised the zloty. The shops are stocked with goods and queues are a thing of the past. However, with the rapid production shift from state-owned to private enterprise, came a sharp rise in the number of unemployed. Encouragingly, 1992 was also a year in which the economy responded to the stimuli of reforms helped by a more competitive zloty and a modest export-led recovery. This has continued into 1993 and Poland now appears to have been one of the most successful of the former Soviet bloc nations at handling the transition towards a free market economy.

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