Silesian Voivodship
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Silesian Voivodship
Silesian Voivodeship

Województwo ?l?skie
Location within Poland
Location within Poland
Division into counties
Division into counties
Coordinates (Katowice): 50°15?N 19°0?E / 50.250°N 19.000°E / 50.250; 19.000
Country Poland
 o VoivodeJaros?aw Wieczorek (PiS)
 o MarshalJakub Che?stowski (PiS)
 o Total12,333.09 km2 (4,761.83 sq mi)
 o Total4,524,091
 o Density370/km2 (950/sq mi)
 o Urban
 o Rural
ISO 3166 codePL-24
Vehicle registrationS
HDI (2018)0.866[2]
very high · 6th
* further divided into 167 gminas

Silesian Voivodeship, or Silesia Province[3] (Polish: województwo ?l?skie [v?j?'vut?stf? '?lsk]) is a voivodeship, or province, in southern Poland, centered on the historic region known as Upper Silesia (Górny ?l?sk), with Katowice serving as its capital.

Despite the Silesian Voivodeship's name, most of the historic Silesia region lies outside the present Silesian Voivodeship - divided among Lubusz, Lower Silesian, and Opole Voivodeships. The eastern half of Silesian Voivodeship (and, notably, Cz?stochowa in the north) was historically part of Lesser Poland.

The Voivodeship was created on 1 January 1999 out of the former Katowice, Cz?stochowa and Bielsko-Bia?a Voivodeships, pursuant to the Polish local government reforms adopted in 1998.

It is the most densely populated voivodeship in Poland. Within the area of 12,300 square kilometres, there are almost 5 million inhabitants.[4] It is also the largest urbanised area in Central and Eastern Europe.[5] In relation to economy, over 13% of Poland's gross domestic product (GDP) is generated here, making the Silesian Voivodeship one of the wealthiest provinces in the country.[5][6][7]


The first Silesian Voivodeship was created in the Second Polish Republic. It had a much wider range of autonomy than other contemporary Polish voivodeships, and it covered all the historical lands of Upper Silesia which ended up in Interwar period Poland. Among these were Katowice (Kattowitz), Rybnik (Rybnik), Pszczyna (Pleß), Wodzis?aw (Loslau), ?ory (Sohrau), Miko?ów (Nikolai), Tychy (Tichau), Królewska Huta (Königshütte), Tarnowskie Góry (Tarnowitz), Miasteczko ?l?skie (Georgenberg), Wo?niki (Woischnik), Lubliniec (Lublinitz), Cieszyn (Teschen), Skoczów (Skotschau), and Bielsko (Bielitz). This Voivodeship did not include - as opposed to the present one - lands and cities of old pre-Partition Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Among the last ones the Southern part was included in Kraków Voivodeship ?ywiec (Saybusch), Wilamowice (Wilmesau), Bia?a Krakowska (Biala) and Jaworzno), and the North Western part B?dzin (Bendzin), D?browa Górnicza (Dombrowa), Sosnowiec (Sosnowitz), Cz?stochowa (Tschenstochau), Myszków, Szczekociny (Schtschekotzin), Zawiercie, S?awków) belonged to Kielce Voivodeship.

After the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany on 8 October 1939, Hitler published a decree called, "About division and administration of Eastern Territories". A Silesian Province (Gau Schlesien) was created, with a seat in Breslau (Wroc?aw). It consisted of four districts: Kattowitz, Oppeln, Breslau and Liegnitz.

The following counties were included in Kattowitz District: Kattowitz, Königshütte, Tarnowitz, Beuthen Hindenburg, Gleiwitz, Freistadt, Teschen, Biala, Bielitz, Saybusch, Pleß, Sosnowitz, Bendzin and parts of the following counties: Kranau, Olkusch, Riebnich and Wadowitz. However, according to Hitler's decree from 12 October 1939 about establishing General Government (Generalgouvernement), Tschenstochau (Cz?stochowa) belonged to GG.

In 1941 the Silesian Province (Provinz Schlesien) underwent new administrative division and as a result Upper Silesian Province was created (Provinz Oberschlesien):

  • Kattowitz District (Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz) - entire Silesian Voivodeship without Lubinitz county, Bendzin County, part of Olkusch county, Biala county, Saybusch and parts of Kranau and Wadowitz counties.
  • Oppeln District (Regierungsbezirk Oppeln) - Lubinitz county and parts of Tschenstochau and Warthenau counties.

After the War during 1945-1950 there existed a Silesian Voivodeship, commonly known as ?l?sko-D?browskie Voivodeship, which included a major part of today's Silesian Voivodeship. In 1950 ?l?sko-D?browskie Voivodeship was divided into Opole and Katowice Voivodeships. The latter one had borders similar to the borders of modern Silesian Voivodeship.

The present Silesian Voivodeship was formed in 1999 from the following voivodeships of the previous administrative division:

  • Katowice Voivodeship excluding some gminas and powiats
  • Bielsk Voivodeship excluding some gminas and powiats
  • Cz?stochowa Voivodeship excluding some gminas and powiats


The Silesian Voivodeship borders both the Moravian-Silesian Region (Czech Republic), ?ilina Region (Slovakia) to the south. It is also bordered by four other Polish voivodeships: those of Opole (to the west), ?ód? (to the north), ?wi?tokrzyskie (to the north-east), and Lesser Poland (to the east).

The region includes the Silesian Upland (Wy?yna ?l?ska) in the centre and north-west, and the Krakowsko-Cz?stochowska Upland (Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska) in the north-east. The southern border is formed by the Beskidy Mountains (Beskid ?l?ski and Beskid ?ywiecki).

The current administrative unit of Silesian Voivodeship is just a fraction of the historical Silesia which is within the borders of today's Poland (there are also fragments of Silesia in the Czech Republic and Germany). Other parts of today's Polish Silesia are administered as the Opole, the Lower Silesian Voivodeships and the Lubusz Voivodeship. On the other hand, a large part of the current administrative unit of the Silesian Voivodeship is not part of historical Silesia (e.g., Cz?stochowa, Zawiercie, Myszków, Jaworzno, Sosnowiec, ?ywiec, D?browa Górnicza, B?dzin and east part of Bielsko-Bia?a, which are historically parts of Lesser Poland).


Silesian Voivodeship has the highest population density in the country (379 people per square kilometre, compared to the national average of 124). The region's considerable industrialisation gives it the lowest unemployment rate nationally (6.2%). The Silesian region is the most industrialized and the most urbanized region in Poland: 78% of its population live in towns and cities.


Both the northern and southern parts of the voivodeship are surrounded by a green belt. Bielsko-Bia?a is enveloped by the Beskidy Mountains which are popular with winter sports fans. It offers over 150 ski lifts and 200 kilometres of ski routes. More and more slopes are illuminated and equipped with artificial snow generators. Szczyrk, Brenna, Wis?a and Ustro? are the most popular winter mountain resorts. Rock climbing sites can be found in Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska. The ruins of castles forming the Eagle Nests Trail are a famous attraction of the region. Often visited is the Black Madonna's Jasna Góra Sanctuary in Cz?stochowa - the annual destination of over 4 million pilgrims from all over the world. In the south-western part of the voivodeship are parks, palaces and old monasteries (Rudy Raciborskie, Wodzis?aw ?l?ski). Along the Oder River are interesting natural reserves and places for swimming during the summer.

With its more than two centuries of industrial history, the region has a number of technical heritage memorials. These include narrow and standard gauge railways, coal and silver mines, and shafts and their equipment from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Cities and towns

Katowice is the capital of the Silesian Voivodeship
Jasna Góra in Cz?stochowa is the holiest Roman Catholic shrine in Poland
Gliwice, one of the oldest cities in Silesia
Bielsko-Bia?a is a major industrial, transport and touristic hub

Due to its industrial and urban nature, the voivodeship has many cities and large towns. Of Poland's 40 most-populous cities, 12 are in Silesian Voivodeship. 19 of the cities in the voivodeship have the legal status of city-county (see powiat). In all it has 71 cities and towns (with legal city rights), listed below in descending order of population (as of 2019):[1]

  1. Katowice (293,636)
  2. Cz?stochowa (221,252)
  3. Sosnowiec (201,121)
  4. Gliwice (179,154)
  5. Zabrze (172,806)
  6. Bielsko-Bia?a (170,953)
  7. Bytom (165,975)
  8. Rybnik (138,319)
  9. Ruda ?l?ska (137,624)
  10. Tychy (127,664)
  11. D?browa Górnicza (119,800)
  12. Chorzów (107,963)
  13. Jaworzno (91,263)
  14. Jastrz?bie-Zdrój (88,808)
  15. Mys?owice (74,515)
  16. Siemianowice ?l?skie (66,963)
  17. ?ory (62,462)
  18. Tarnowskie Góry (61,422)
  19. B?dzin (56,624)
  20. Piekary ?l?skie (55,088)
  21. Racibórz (54,778)
  22. ?wi?toch?owice (49,762)
  23. Zawiercie (49,334)
  24. Wodzis?aw ?l?ski (47,992)
  25. Miko?ów (40,898)
  26. Knurów (38,310)
  27. Czechowice-Dziedzice (35,926)
  28. Cieszyn (34,513)
  29. Myszków (31,650)
  30. Czelad? (31,545)
  31. ?ywiec (31,194)
  32. Czerwionka-Leszczyny (28,156)
  33. Pszczyna (26,804)
  34. Lubliniec (23,784)
  35. ?aziska Górne (22,298)
  36. Rydu?towy (21,616)
  37. Orzesze (21,043)
  38. Bieru? (19,539)
  39. Pyskowice (18,432)
  40. Radlin (17,776)
  41. Radzionków (16,826)
  42. L?dziny (16,776)
  43. Ustro? (16,073)
  44. Skoczów (14,385)
  45. Pszów (13,896)
  46. K?obuck (12,934)
  47. Wis?a (11,132)
  48. Blachownia (9,545)
  49. Imielin (9,175)
  50. Wojkowice (8,927)
  51. Kalety (8,607)
  52. Por?ba (8,525)
  53. Miasteczko ?l?skie (7,437)
  54. S?awków (7,017)
  55. ?azy (6,811)
  56. Koniecpol (5,910)
  57. Szczyrk (5,734)
  58. Siewierz (5,581)
  59. Ku?nia Raciborska (5,359)
  60. ?arki (4,556)
  61. Krzepice (4,456)
  62. Wo?niki (4,305)
  63. Ogrodzieniec (4,282)
  64. Strumie? (3,718)
  65. Szczekociny (3,612)
  66. Toszek (3,600)
  67. Wilamowice (3,100)
  68. Kozieg?owy (2,245)
  69. Krzanowice (2,157)
  70. Pilica (1,936)
  71. So?nicowice (1,919)


The gross domestic product (GDP) of the province was 61 billion EUR in 2018, accounting for 12.3% of the Polish economic output. GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was 22,200 EUR or 74% of the EU27 average in the same year. The GDP per employee was 83% of the EU average. Silesia Voivodship is the province with the fourth highest GDP per capita in Poland.[8]

The Silesian voivodship is predominantly an industrial region. Most of the mining is derived from one of the world's largest bituminous coalfields of the Upper Silesian Industrial District (Górno?l?ski Okr?g Przemys?owy) and the Rybnik Coal District (Rybnicki Okr?g W?glowy) with its major cities Rybnik, Jastrz?bie Zdrój, ?ory and Wodzis?aw ?l?ski. Lead and zinc can be found near Bytom, Zawiercie and Tarnowskie Góry; iron ore and raw materials for building - near Cz?stochowa. The most important regional industries are: mining, iron, lead and zinc metallurgy, power industry, engineering, automobile, chemical, building materials and textile. In the past, the Silesian economy was determined by coal mining. Now, considering the investment volume, car manufacturing is becoming more and more important. The most profitable company in the region is Fiat Auto-Poland S.A. in Bielsko-Bia?a with a revenue of PLN 6.2 billion in 1997. Recently a new car factory has been opened by GM Opel in Gliwice. There are two Special Economic Zones in the area: Katowice and Cz?stochowa. The voivodship's economy consists of about 323,000, mostly small and medium-sized, enterprises employing over 3 million people. The biggest Polish steel-works "Huta Katowice" is situated in D?browa Górnicza.

The unemployment rate stood at 3.9% in 2017 and was lower than the national average.[9]

Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Unemployment rate
(in %)
14.2 8.1 6.6 6.7 9.2 9.2 9.4 9.7 8.6 7.2 5.4 3.9


Katowice International Airport (in Tarnowskie Góry County) is used for domestic and international flights, Other Nearby Airports are John Paul II International Airport Kraków-Balice and Warsaw Frédéric Chopin Airport. The Silesian agglomeration railway network has the largest concentration in the country. The voivodship capital enjoys good railway and road connections with Gda?sk (motorway A1) and Ostrava (motorway A1), Kraków (motorway A4), Wroc?aw (motorway A4), ?ód? (motorway A1) and Warsaw. It is also the crossing point for many international routes like E40 connecting Calais, Brussels, Cologne, Dresden, Wroc?aw, Kraków and Kiev and E75 from Scandinavia to the Balkans. A relatively short distance to Vienna facilitates cross-border co-operation and may positively influence the process of European integration. Linia Hutnicza Szerokotorowa (known by its acronym LHS, English: Broad gauge metallurgy line) in S?awków is the longest broad gauge railway line in Poland. The line runs on a single track for almost 400 km from the Polish-Ukrainian border, crossing it just east of Hrubieszów. It is the westernmost broad gauge railway line in Europe that is connected to the broad gauge rail system of the countries of the former Soviet Union.


There are eleven public universities in the voivodship. The biggest university is the University of Silesia in Katowice, with 43,000 students. The region's capital boasts the Medical University, The Karol Adamiecki University of Economics in Katowice, the University of Music in Katowice, the Physical Education Academy and the Academy of Fine Arts. Cz?stochowa is the seat of the Cz?stochowa University of Technology and Pedagogic University. The Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice is nationally renowned. Bielsko-Bia?a is home of the Technical-Humanistic Academy. In addition, 17 new private schools have been established in the region.

There are over 300,000 people currently studying in the Voivodeship.


Silesian Regional Assembly

The Silesian voivodeship's government is headed by the province's voivode (governor) who is appointed by the Polish Prime Minister. The voivode is then assisted in performing his duties by the voivodeship's marshal, who is the appointed speaker for the voivodeship's executive and is elected by the sejmik (provincial assembly). The current voivode of Silesia is Jaros?aw Wieczorek, whilst the present marshal is Wojciech Sa?uga.

The Sejmik of Silesia consists of 48 members.

2018 election

Administrative division

Silesian Voivodeship is divided into 36 counties (powiats). These include 19 city counties (far more than any other voivodeship) and 17 land counties. The counties are further divided into 167 gminas.

The counties are listed in the following table (ordering within categories is by decreasing population).

English and
Polish names
Seat Other towns Total
City counties
Katowice 165 293,636 1
Cz?stochowa 160 221,252 1
Sosnowiec 91 201,121 1
Gliwice 134 179,154 1
Zabrze 80 172,806 1
Bielsko-Bia?a 125 170,953 1
Bytom 69 165,975 1
Rybnik 148 138,319 1
Ruda ?l?ska 78 137,624 1
Tychy 82 127,664 1
D?browa Górnicza 188 119,800 1
Chorzów 33 107,963 1
Jaworzno 152 91,263 1
Jastrz?bie-Zdrój 85 88,808 1
Mys?owice 66 74,515 1
Siemianowice ?l?skie 25 66,963 1
?ory 65 62,462 1
Piekary ?l?skie 40 55,088 1
?wi?toch?owice 13 49,762 1
Land counties
Cieszyn County
powiat cieszy?ski
730 178,145 Cieszyn Ustro?, Skoczów, Wis?a, Strumie? 12
Bielsko County
powiat bielski
457 165,374 Bielsko-Bia?a* Czechowice-Dziedzice, Szczyrk, Wilamowice 10
Wodzis?aw County
powiat wodzis?awski
287 157,346 Wodzis?aw ?l?ski Rydu?towy, Radlin, Pszów 9
?ywiec County
powiat ?ywiecki
1,040 152,877 ?ywiec 15
B?dzin County
powiat b?dzi?ski
368 148,516 B?dzin Czelad?, Wojkowice, S?awków, Siewierz 8
Tarnowskie Góry County
powiat tarnogórski
643 140,022 Tarnowskie Góry Radzionków, Kalety, Miasteczko ?l?skie 9
Cz?stochowa County
powiat cz?stochowski
1,519 134,637 Cz?stochowa* Blachownia, Koniecpol 16
Zawiercie County
powiat zawiercia?ski
1,003 118,020 Zawiercie Por?ba, ?azy, Ogrodzieniec, Szczekociny, Pilica 10
Gliwice County
powiat gliwicki
663 115,571 Gliwice* Knurów, Pyskowice, Toszek, So?nicowice 8
Pszczyna County
powiat pszczy?ski
473 111,324 Pszczyna 6
Racibórz County
powiat raciborski
544 108,388 Racibórz Ku?nia Raciborska, Krzanowice 8
Miko?ów County
powiat miko?owski
232 98,689 Miko?ów ?aziska Górne, Orzesze 5
K?obuck County
powiat k?obucki
889 84,762 K?obuck Krzepice 9
Rybnik County
powiat rybnicki
225 78,148 Rybnik* Czerwionka-Leszczyny 5
Lubliniec County
powiat lubliniecki
822 76,470 Lubliniec Wo?niki 8
Myszków County
powiat myszkowski
479 70,959 Myszków ?arki, Kozieg?owy 5
Bieru?-L?dziny County
powiat bieru?sko-l?dzi?ski
157 59,715 Bieru? L?dziny, Imielin 5
* seat not part of the county

Protected areas

Little Beskids Landscape Park

Protected areas in Silesian Voivodeship include eight areas designated as Landscape Parks:

See also


  1. ^ a b "Population. Size and structure and vital statistics in Poland by territorial divison in 2019. As of 30th June". Statistics Poland. 2019-10-15. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved .
  3. ^ Arkadiusz Belczyk,T?umaczenie polskich nazw geograficznych na j?zyk angielski Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine [Translation of Polish Geographical Names into English], 2002-2006.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-16. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b ?l?skiego, Urz?d Marsza?kowski Województwa. "Województwo ?l?skie - ?l?skie. Pozytywna energia" (PDF). Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ "?l?ski Urz?d Wojewódzki w Katowicach - strona oficjalna". Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ Art4net. "The ?l?skie Voivodeship". Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ "Regional GDP per capita ranged from 30% to 263% of the EU average in 2018". Eurostat.
  9. ^ "Regional Unemployment by NUTS2 Region". Eurostat.
  10. ^ Serwis PKW - Wybory 2018

External links

Coordinates: 50°20?00?N 19°00?01?E / 50.33333°N 19.00028°E / 50.33333; 19.00028

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