Poland, an EU member since 2004, is the birthplace of the Solidarity movement, which helped bring down Soviet-style communism in the late 1980s. It was also the site of some of the 20th century's greatest tragedies.
Home to 38.5 million people, Poland sits in the near heart of Europe, bordered by Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and the Russian enclave Kaliningrad. The prime location and large amount of land (more than 300,000 square kilometers) Poland enjoys have enticed more than one of the country's neighbors to attempt to take it over. Poland survived the 1939-45 Nazi occupation, however, and endured over four decades of Soviet dominance to emerge as one of the EU's shining stars in Central Europe.
The Nord Stream 2 Pipeline project to ship gas from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany has put Berlin at odds with Eastern Europe and the US, who worry about Moscow tightening its hold on Europe. Russian state media reported earlier this week that the pipeline is nearly 60% complete.
The surge predicted by far-right and nationalist parties in the European parliamentary elections has not materialized. While very successful in some countries, they don't appear to have done well enough in others to fulfill dreams of transforming the EU from within.