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.
Former Polish President Lech Walesa played a key role in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. At 75, he told DW that retirement is far from his mind and warned against the path Poland's leaders are taking.
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What promises to be Poland's biggest movie hit of the year has incurred the wrath of the country's powerful Roman Catholic church for its frank portrayal of how many of its priests defy its teachings in their private lives. A crusade against the movie, which is called The Clergy, has been launched by state-controlled media and conservative intellectuals. Julian Berner reports from Warsaw.