Poland - Geography
Poland is a country in Central Europe, east of Germany, is situated in the middle of the continent, between two rivers the Vistula and Odra.
The country extends 876 kilometers from north to south and 689 kilometers from east to west. Poland's total area is 312,843 square kilometers, including inland waters. The landscape is diversified with mountain ranges in the South, Lowlands and Uplands stretching across central Poland, and sandy beaches of the Baltic coast and lake lands known for forested rolling hills and thousands of lakes in the north.
Poland borders with 7 countries Lithuania, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany Russia, Belarus, Ukraine. The terrain variations generally run in bands from east to west.The Baltic coast lacks natural harbors except for the Gdańsk-Gdynia region and Szczecin in the far northwest. The northeastern region, called the Lake District, is densely wooded, sparsely populated and lacks agricultural and industrial resources.
To the south and west of the lake district, a vast region of plains extends to the Sudetes on the Czech and Slovak borders to the southwest and to the Carpathians on the Czech, Slovak, and Ukrainian borders to the southeast.The average elevation of Poland is 173 meters, and only 3 % of Polish territory, along the southern border, is higher than 500 meters. The highest elevation is Mount Rysy, which rises 2,499 meters in the Tatra Range of the Carpathians, 95 kilometers south of Kraków. About 60 square kilometers along the Gulf of Gdańsk are below sea level.
Poland is traditionally divided into five topographic zones from north to south. The largest, the central lowlands, is narrow in the west, then expands to the north and south as it extends eastward. Along the eastern border, this zone reaches from the far northeast to within 200 kilometers of the southern border.
The terrain in the central lowlands is quite flat, and earlier glacial lakes have been filled by sediment. The region is cut by several major rivers, including the Oder (Odra), which defines the Silesian Lowlands in the southwest, and the Vistula (Wisla), which defines the lowland areas of east-central Poland.
To the south of the lowlands are the lesser Poland uplands, a belt varying in width from 90 to 200 kilometers, formed by the gently sloping foothills of the Sudeten and Carpathian mountain ranges and the uplands that connect the ranges in southcentral Poland. The topography of this region is divided transversely into higher and lower elevations, reflecting its underlying geological structure. The third topographic area is located on either side of Poland's southern border and is formed by the Sudeten and Carpathian ranges. Within Poland, neither of these ranges is forbidding enough to prevent substantial habitation; the Carpathians are especially densely populated.
The rugged form of the Sudeten range derives from the geological shifts that formed the later Carpathian uplift. The highest elevation in the Sudeten is 1,602 meters, in the Karkonosze Mountains. The Carpathians in Poland, formed as a discrete topographical unit in the relatively recent Tertiary Era, are the highest and most picturesque mountains in the country.
To the north of the central lowlands, the lake region includes the only primeval forests remaining in Europe and much of Poland's shrinking unspoiled natural habitat. Glacial action in this region formed lakes and low hills in the otherwise flat terrain adjacent to Lithuania and the Baltic Sea. Small lakes dot the entire northern half of Poland, and the glacial formations that characterize the lake region extend as much as 200 kilometers inland in western Poland. Wide river valleys divide the lake region into three parts. In the northwest, Pomerania is located south of the Baltic coastal region and north of the Warta and Noteć rivers. Masuria occupies the remainder of northern Poland and features a string of larger lakes.
Most of Poland's 9,300 lakes that are more than 10,000 square metres in area are located in the northern part of the lake region, where they occupy about 10 % of the surface area.The Baltic coastal plains are a low-lying region formed of sediments deposited by the sea. The coastline was shaped by the action of the rising sea after the Scandinavian ice sheet retreated. The two major inlets in the smooth coast are the Pomeranian Bay on the German border in the far northwest and the Gulf of Gdańsk in the east. The Oder River empties into the former, and the Vistula forms a large delta at the head of the latter. Sandbars with large dunes form lagoons and coastal lakes along much of the coast.The southern mountainous part of the country was formed by rock movements.
The oldest of the mountain ranges are Sudety and Swietokrzyskie Mountians. The best-known range of the Sudety Mountians is Karkonosze in Lower Silesia. From the top of Mt. Sniezka (1,602 m) one can admire a splendid view of the natural and manmade wonders of this land. Next in the process of the alpine folds the Carpathian mountains were formed. And among them the forested Beskidy Range as well as the rugged and sharp, truly alpine style the High Tatra Mountain Range.
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