Once the largest country in Europe, with a more democratic history than most, Poland is a former communist country, member of the EU and committed supporter of NATO.
Having been swallowed up by Prussia, Austria and Russia in the 18th Century, traversed by armies in the First World War and conquered by both the Nazis and the USSR in the Second, Poland’s support for international alliances is hard-wired.
Poland is in many ways proudly international. Former prime minister, Donald Tusk, was president of the European Council; with 20 million Poles abroad it has one of the largest diasporas of any nation. Much of the world’s Ashkenazi Jewish population is descended from Polish Jews, an echo of a time when Poland was home to the majority of the world’s Jewish population.
When it comes to business, Poland ranks a poor 40th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business, though joint first (with other members of the EU) for trade across borders. Starting a business can be laborious, including the requirement to deposit capital and have documents notarised.
On the other hand, Poland’s costs are lower than in its EU neighbours, and is becoming something of a tech hub with a technically trained and English-speaking urban population.
Culture wars are alive and well in Poland, as the conservative Government seeks to ban gay pride parades and limit the role of the European Union, while many cities continue to be open and cosmopolitan places.
Poland is often lazily described as being on the frontier between east and west, but that is to underestimate the place itself.
Entrepreneurs should make sure to avoid that mistake. With the right advice, Poland is a land of opportunity.