Krakow is the capital of the Malopolska wojewodztwo, one of the most prominent provinces among the country’s 16. As in the case of other major Polish cities, Krakow’s local government is county and commune rolled into one municipality. The legislative City Council numbers 43 members, voted in every four years in a popular ballot by way of proportional representation. The executive powers lie with Krakow's mayor, called the president of the city (prezydent miasta), elected by the citizens for a four-year tenure.
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Krakow lies in the very center of continental Europe, i.e. roughly halfway between the westernmost Lisbon in Portugal and the easternmost Urals, and equidistant from the Mediterranean and the arctic Barents Sea. The 800,000 Krakow is Poland’s second largest city and the unquestioned metropolis of its southern half. The city’s area of 326.8 sq. km (0.1% of Poland’s territory) spreads on both banks of the Vistula river, c. 219 meters above the sea level.
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The high-tech gets high profile by day in Krakow. The city boasts Poland’s first and third most-visited internet portals. It can boasts a special economic zone (Krakow Technological Park, meant for major high-tech investments) with the Motorola’s European R&D center, 4 enterprise incubators, 3 commercial-fair grounds, 7 higher economics schools.
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Culture has always been all-important in Krakow.
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Poland's currency is zloty (PLN). It is divided into one hundred smaller units called grosz (abbreviation gr).
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There is a number of wildlife preserves within the city limits, established mostly for the protection of endangered flora species. The 21.5 sq. km Ojcow National Park lies just 24 km northwest of Krakow. Larger woodlands, the 27,000-acre Puszcza Niepolomicka, stretch some 25 km east from the city center. The forest bison, zubr, reintroduced to the area in 1936, roam that remnant of Poland’s primeval forests among its rich fauna. While stray deer or roe, to say nothing of fox, can be seen occasionally anywhere in Krakow’s outskirts.
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In 1000 Krakow got its own bishop, and in 1038 the city became Poland’s capital. Krakow’s Golden Age came by the end of the 15th century when it was the thriving metropolis of a vast and prosperous kingdom stretching from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea.
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In the past ten years every part of Krakow managed to meet the air-quality standards. For instance, fine particulate matter stayed within the range between 46% and 78% of the acceptable concentration. And the sulfur dioxide, responsible for acid rain, stayed in Krakow’s central Grand Square at half the level UNESCO allows for its World Heritage Sites.
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