Poland was independent between the two World Wars of the 20th century, but shortly thereafter emerged as a socialist republic under strong Soviet influence. It regained its independence as recently as 1989. Now a member of the EU, Poland is rapidly developing its facilities and an infrastructure to better look after its foreign visitors. One of the best places for mountain adventures in Poland is in the south, amongst the Carpathian Mountains on the border with Slovakia. Accessed through the cosmopolitan city of Krakow and the colourful mountain resort town of Zakopane, this region is one of the best-kept secrets of the European adventure travel scene. The highest part of the Carpathians is known as the Tatras and has a well-established network of hiking trails, leading to lofty summits such as Rysy (2499m / 8199ft), Poland's highest peak.