Poland currently borders seven countries, a fact that would not normally be all that interesting except when you consider that none of those countries existed as recently as 1989.
From 1949-90, Poland bordered three countries: East Germany, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. That’s when everything changed all around Poland despite that country remaining stable.
The first rumblings occurred to the west: the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989. However, East Germany continued to exist as an independent country for almost a year after that historic moment despite mostly free movement between East and West Germany now taking place between the two countries. Germany was reunified on Oct. 3, 1990, resulting in Poland now bordering Germany.
To the east, the Soviet Union was getting ready to break up into 15 countries, four of whom now border Poland. The first of the 15 was Lithuania, which declared independence on March 11, 1990, and which forms Poland’s northeast boundary. This is Poland’s shorter border at 65 miles.
Ukraine, which is to the southeast, declared independence on Aug. 24, 1991, while Belarus, to the east of Poland, did so on the following day. Russia was the final part of the Soviet Union to declare its independence, which it did on Dec. 12, 1991. Poland’s second-shortest border is with Russia (130 miles).
The Soviet Union’s dissolution was finalized on Dec. 26, 1991.
The final adjustment occurred on Jan. 1, 1993, which is when Czechoslovakia separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, both of whom now make up Poland’s southern border. This is also where Poland’s two longest borders are. The Poland-Czech Republic border is 495 miles long while the Poland-Slovakia one is 335 miles in length.
All of these changes on all sides of Poland occurred in a relatively brief 26-month period.