Silesian Voivodeship (also
known as Silesian Province, or by its Polish name of województwo śląskie
or simply Śląskie) is a voivodeship, or province, in southern Poland, centring on
the region known as Upper Silesia
(Górny Śląsk). Its capital is Katowice.
It was created on January 1, 1999, out of the former Katowice
and Bielsko-Biała Voivodeships
, pursuant to the Polish local government
adopted in 1998.
Voivodeship borders both the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the
south. It is also bordered by four other Polish
voivodeships: those of Opole (to the
west), Łódź (to the north), Świętokrzyskie (to the north-east), and Lesser
Poland (to the east).
The region includes the Silesian Upland (Wyżyna Śląska
the centre and north-west, and the Krakowsko-Częstochowska Upland
) in the north-east. The southern border is
formed by the Beskidy
Mountains (Beskid Śląski and Beskid Żywiecki).
The current administrative unit of Silesian Voivodeship is just a
fraction of the historical Silesia
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 and the
Voivodeships. On the other hand, a large part of the
current administrative unit of the Silesian Voivodeship is not part
of historical Silesia (e.g., Częstochowa, Zawiercie, Myszków, Jaworzno, Sosnowiec, Żywiec, Dąbrowa
Górnicza, Będzin and east
part of Bielsko-Biała, which are historically 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.
Cities and towns
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
). In all it has 71 cities and towns (with
legal city rights), listed below in descending order of population
(according to official figures for 2006):
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).
||Ustroń, Skoczów, Wisła, Strumień
||Rydułtowy, Radlin, Pszów
||Czeladź, Wojkowice, Sławków, Siewierz
||Czechowice-Dziedzice, Szczyrk, Wilamowice
|Tarnowskie Góry County
||Radzionków, Kalety, Miasteczko
||Poręba, Łazy, Ogrodzieniec, Szczekociny, Pilica
||Knurów, Pyskowice, Toszek, Sośnicowice
||Kuźnia Raciborska, Krzanowice
||Łaziska Górne, Orzesze
|* seat not
part of the county
The Silesian voivodship is predominantly an industrial region. Most
of themining is derived from one of the world's
largest bituminous coalfields of the Upper
Silesian Industrial District (Gornoslaski Okreg
Przemyslowy) and the Rybnik Coal
District (Rybnicki Okreg Weglowy) with its major cities
Zdrój, Żory and Wodzisław
Śląski. Lead and zinc can be found near Bytom, Zawiercie and Tarnowskie Góry; iron ore and raw materials
for building - near Częstochowa.
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
Auto-Poland S.A. in Bielsko-Biała with a revenue of PLN 6.2 billion in 1997.
Recently a new car
factory has been opened by GM Opel
Gliwice. There are two Special
in the area: Katowice and Częstochowa. The
voivodship's economy consists of about 323,000, mostly small and
medium-sized, enterprises employing over 3 million people.
biggest Polish steel-works "Huta Katowice" is situated in Dąbrowa
Silesian Voivodship is also one of the richiest regions in Poland.
Average salary is about 3 800 zlotychs (over 1 200 EUR).
International Airport (in Tarnowskie Góry County) is used for domestic and international flights
and the Silesian agglomeration railway network has the largest
concentration in the country. The voivodship
capital enjoys good railway and road connections with Kraków (motorway
A4), Wrocław (motorway A4), Łódź and Warsaw. It is also the crossing point for many
international routes like E40
connecting Calais, Brussels, Cologne, Dresden, Wrocław, 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
There are eleven public universities in the voivodship.
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. Częstochowa is the seat of the Częstochowa University
of Technology and Pedagogic University. The Silesian University of
Technology in Gliwice is nationally renowned. Bielsko-Biała is home of the Technical-Humanistic Academy.
In addition, 17 new private schools have been established in the
There are more than 300,000 people studying in the
Voivodeship include eight areas designated as Landscape Parks
Both northern and southern Silesia
surrounded by a green belt
. Bielsko-Biała is enveloped by the magnificent Beskidy
Mountains which are particularly popular with winter sports
This genuine skier's paradise 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, Wisła and
Ustroń are the
most popular winter mountain resorts.
Rock climbing sites
can be found in admirable corners of Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska
The ruins of castles forming the Eagle
are a famous attraction of the region. While in Silesia, one
cannot miss the Black Madonna's
Góra Sanctuary in Częstochowa - the annual destination of over 4 million pilgrims
from all over the world.
With its more than two centuries of industrialisation history,
region has a number of technical heritage memorials. These include
narrow and standard gauge railways
and silver mines
, shafts and its equipment from 19th and 20th
Most popular surnames in the
- Nowak: 31,838
- Kowalski: 11,811
- Wójcik: 11,440