Poland is located on the Baltic Sea in east-central Europe. It borders four former Soviet republics (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania), as well as Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia. In the 18th century, it was apportioned among Prussia, Russia and Austria.
Its independence was recognized in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, but Germany and Russia invaded Poland in September 1939 and divided the country. After World War II it became a Soviet satellite state, but its government was tolerant and progressive.
In 1990 an independent trade union called "Solidarity" became a political force, with its leader, Lech Walesa, winning the presidency.
Poland is one of 12 countries to have participated in every Olympic Winter Games. It has won eight medals (one gold, three silver, four bronze).
2006 bronze medalist Justyna Kowalczyk is one the top female cross-country skiers in the world and could win multiple medals in Vancouver. Poland could also win a medal in men's biathlon with 2006 silver medalist Tomasz Sikora.