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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » February 23, 2010
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Wonder of Nature
February 23, 2010   
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The northeastern Mazurian Lake District has made it to the finals of a global online poll that aims to pick out the "new seven wonders of nature."

Alongside 76 other sites around the world, Mazuria first made it to the semifinals following a global poll by the Swiss-based New7Wonders Foundation. After the semifinals, a panel of judges selected 28 finalists in July last year. A second global poll will now begin and continue until 2011, when the "new seven wonders of nature" will be announced. Mazuria is competing in the Landscape and Ice Formation category against sites such as the Amazon Rainforest, the Iguazu Falls, the Galapagos Islands, the Dead Sea, the Great Canyon, and the Great Barrier Reef.

Warmia-Mazuria province is home to 1.43 million residents. The unemployment rate in the province is 17.8 percent and is one of the highest in Poland. The biggest city is Olsztyn with a population of around 177,000, followed by Elbląg with 127,000.

Warmia-Mazuria is the only Polish province to border Russia's Kaliningrad district, with the land border stretching for 212 kilometers. The province authorities as well as experts say the border offers huge opportunities for the region's development once a free market system takes firm hold in Russia and Moscow strengthens its economic integration with the EU.

Together with Pomerania and West Pomerania provinces, Warmia-Mazuria is part of what is known as the European Baltic Area. The local authorities want Warmia-Mazuria to become the third province in Poland to have direct access to the Baltic Sea, which can be achieved if a canal is built across the Vistula Spit. A port will be built in Elbląg to accommodate ships with a capacity matching local needs. But all these projects depend on relations between Poland and Russia and agreements concerning shipping on the Vistula/Kaliningrad Lagoon.

The border with the Kaliningrad Oblast can be crossed at six road and rail crossings at Bezledy, Braniewo, Głomno, Gołdap, Gronowo and Skandawa. Sea border crossings are located in Elbląg and Frombork, and there is also an air crossing at Szymany. Under the 2007-2013 Regional Operational Program for Warmia-Mazuria, Szymany is designated to become an international airport by 2010. The province is expected to be incorporated into the main transportation infrastructure of Poland and the cross-European network of transportation routes such as the A-1 freeway and the Via Baltica road.

The development strategy aims to modernize and enlarge existing waterways, with a special focus on those in the Great Mazurian Lakes. The province will ensure appropriate maintenance of the waterway across the Vistula Lagoon and enlarge the port of Elbląg and several other ports and harbors. Last but not least, the strategy aims to complete the Mazuria Canal to link Lake Mamry to the Baltic Sea via the Łyna and Pregoła rivers. The canal will be adapted for tourist purposes.

The main sectors of the local economy are food production, ecotourism, the timber and construction industries, forestry and the production of tires, machines and appliances based on clean technology and renewable energy.

Warmia-Mazuria is a leading producer of car tires and sawn timber in Poland. Wood products, furniture in particular, play an important part in the local economy as well.

Foreign investors can find the most investment-friendly environment in the Warmia-Mazuria Special Economic Zone and its 18 subzones (Bartoszyce, Ciechanów, Dobre Miasto, Elbląg, Iława, Iłowo, Lidzbark Warmiński, Mława, Morąg, Mrągowo, Nowe Miasto Lubawskie, Olecko, Olsztyn, Ostrołęka, Ostróda, Pasłęk, Szczytno and Wielbark), as well as the Ełk and Gołdap subzones of the Suwałki Special Economic Zone. Business services in the zones are provided by local consulting companies, branches of banks, design offices, insurance companies and law firms.

Farmland accounts for over half of the province's area. Warmia-Mazuria wants to increase its competitiveness in organic food. In order to make this happen, food made in Warmia-Mazuria will be labeled for compliance with EU standards and promoted across Poland and abroad.

Warmia-Mazuria boasts outstanding tourist and recreational values that range from spectacular landscapes, forests and lakes to a clean environment and unique animal species. The region is home to many historic sites and architecture. Recreational and tourism opportunities include sailing, horse riding, trekking and cycling. In the summer, Warmia-Mazuria attracts countless fans of sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, scuba diving and angling, while in winter it is perfect for those who enjoy sled dog racing, ice-yachting and skiing. The latter can go skiing on the slopes of Piękna Góra near Gołdap, Góra Czterech Wiatrów near Mrągowo, and Krzyżowa Góra in Lidzbark Warmiński. There are also vast expanses of land suitable for cross-country skiing.
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