Poland is mainly a lowland country. A chain of lakes runs across the north, which abounds with natural and artificial bodies of water as diverse in size as they are in depth. The coastline offers a wealth of spits, coastal lakes, dunes and sandy beaches, as well as stretches of steep, craggy cliffs. The country has more than seven thousand lakes with a surface area of over a hectare (2.47 acres). In turn, the south comprises a strikingly diverse chain of mountains and uplands formed by the Sudetes and the Świętokrzyskie (Holy Cross) and Carpathian ranges. The Polish Tatra Mountains feature seventy peaks towering above two thousand metres (6 561 feet), as well as countless caves. Waterfalls are a frequent sight in the Karkonosze (Giant) Mountains.
Unique on a Europe-wide scale, the unspoiled wildness of many places in Poland is one of the greatest glories of her natural world. With their ancient, untouched scenery, the primaeval Białowieża Forest, which is entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as the other forest complexes in the east of the country, are sites unlike any other on the continent.
The climate in Poland is predominantly temperate, passing gradually from maritime to continental. In the north and west of the country, it is temperate maritime conditions prevail; the winters are mild and damp and the summers cool, with a fairly considerable precipitation. Severe winters and hot, dry summers are more a feature of the country’s eastern regions. Marked year-to-year variability in the weather is also a typical feature of the Polish climate.
Given the preponderance of westerly winds, the greatest precipitation occurs on the western sides of the mountains and elevations, reaching maximum levels during the summer months.
As a rule, the winds in Poland are light to moderate. Strong winds, high winds and gales occur by the sea and in the mountains, where they can even reach speeds of thirty metres (one hundred feet) per second.