Poland is a country of approximately 38.7 million people and 312,685 square kilometers, in what the British historian Norman Davies (1984) called “the heart of Europe”. The history of Poland reaches back over 1,000 years, to the beginning of Polish statehood in the 10th century. Poland lost its independence in 1795, and regained it after World War I under the Treaty of Versailles. After World War II, Poland fell into the Soviet sphere of influence as part of the Warsaw Pact until the collapse of communism in 1989. Since then, Poland has been a parliamentary democracy with direct elections for the parliament and for the presidency. In 1999, Poland joined NATO, and joined the European Union more recently.