Voivodeships of Poland
|Category||Provinces (unitary local government subdivision)|
|Location||Republic of Poland|
|Populations||966,000 (Opole) – 5,432,000 (Masovian)|
|Areas||9,413 km2 (3,634.2 sq mi) (Opole) – 35,580 km2 (13,737 sq mi) (Masovian)|
A voivodeship ( // ; Polish : województwo [vɔjɛˈvut͡stfɔ] ; plural: województwa) is the highest-level administrative division of Poland, corresponding to a province in many other countries. The term has been in use since the 14th century and is commonly translated into English as 'province' or 'state'.
The Polish local government reforms adopted in 1998, which went into effect on 1 January 1999, created sixteen new voivodeships. These replaced the 49 former voivodeships that had existed from 1 July 1975, and bear a greater resemblance (in territory, but not in name) to the voivodeships that existed between 1950 and 1975.
Today's voivodeships are mostly named after historical and geographical regions, while those prior to 1998 generally took their names from the cities on which they were centered. The new units range in area from under 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) (Opole Voivodeship) to over 35,000 km2 (14,000 sq mi) (Masovian Voivodeship), and in population from nearly one million (Opole Voivodeship) to over five million (Masovian Voivodeship).
Administrative authority at the voivodeship level is shared between a government-appointed governor called a voivode (wojewoda), an elected assembly called a sejmik , and an executive board (zarząd województwa) chosen by that assembly, headed by a voivodeship marshal (marszałek województwa). Voivodeships are further divided into powiats ('counties') and gminas ('communes' or 'municipalities'), the smallest administrative divisions of Poland.
Some English-language sources, in historic contexts, speak of palatinate s rather than voivodeships. The term "palatine" traces back to the Latin palatinus.
More commonly used now is province or voivodeship. The latter is a loanword-calque hybrid formed on the Polish województwo.
Some writers argue against rendering województwo in English as province, on historic grounds. Before the third and last Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which occurred in 1795, each of the main constituent regions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth—Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Lithuania, and Royal Prussia—was sometimes idiosyncratically referred to as a "Province" ( prowincja ). According to the argument, a province (such as Greater Poland) cannot consist of a number of subdivisions ("województwa", the plural of "województwo") that are likewise called "provinces". This is an antiquarian consideration, as " province" has not been used in this sense in Poland for over two centuries. The former larger political units, all now obsolete, can be referred to in English as they were, "regions".
The Polish województwo, designating a second-tier Polish or Polish–Lithuanian administrative unit, derives from wojewoda, (etymologically, a 'warlord', 'war leader' or 'leader of warriors', but now simply the governor of a województwo) and the suffix -ztwo (a "state or condition").
The English voivodeship, which is a hybrid of the loanword voivode and -ship (the latter a suffix that calques the Polish suffix -ztwo), has never been much used and is absent from many dictionaries. According to the Oxford English Dictionary , it first appeared in 1792, spelled "woiwodship", in the sense of "the district or province governed by a voivode." The word subsequently appeared in 1886 also in the sense of "the office or dignity of a voivode."
Poland's Commission on Standardization of Geographic Names outside the Republic of Poland, prefers the form which omits the 'e', recommending the spelling "voivodship", for use.
Competences and powers at voivodeship level are shared between the voivode (governor), the sejmik (regional assembly) and the marshal. In most cases these institutions are all based in one city, but in Kuyavian-Pomeranian and Lubusz Voivodeship the voivode's offices are in a different city from those of the executive and the sejmik. Voivodeship capitals are listed in the table below.
The voivode is appointed by the Prime Minister and is the regional representative of the central government. The voivode acts as the head of central government institutions at regional level (such as the police and fire services, passport offices, and various inspectorates), manages central government property in the region, oversees the functioning of local government, coordinates actions in the field of public safety and environment protection, and exercises special powers in emergencies. The voivode's offices collectively are known as the urząd wojewódzki.
The sejmik is elected every five years. (The first of the five-year terms began in 2018; previous terms lasted four years.) ) Elections for the sejmik fall at the same time as that of local authorities at powiat and gmina level. The sejmik passes by-laws, including the voivodeship's development strategies and budget. It also elects the marszałek and other members of the executive, and holds them to account.
The executive (zarząd województwa), headed by the marszałek drafts the budget and development strategies, implements the resolutions of the sejmik, manages the voivodeship's property, and deals with many aspects of regional policy, including management of European Union funding. The marshal's offices are collectively known as the urząd marszałkowski.
|Abbr.||Flag||Coat of arms||Teryt. code||Car plates||Voivodeship||Polish name||Capital cities||Area (km2)||Population (2022)||Pop. per km2|
|KP||04||C||Kuyavian-Pomeranian||kujawsko-pomorskie||Bydgoszcz 1, Toruń 2||17,971||2,056,000||115|
|LB||08||F||Lubusz||lubuskie||Gorzów Wielkopolski 1, Zielona Góra 2||13,988||995,000||72|
|1 Seat of voivode. 2 Seat of sejmik and marszałek.|
According to 2017 Eurostat data, the GDP per capita of Polish voivodeships varies notably and there is a large gap between the richest per capita voivodeship (being the Masovian Voivodeship at 33,500 EUR) and the poorest per capita (being the Lublin Voivodeship at 14,400 EUR).
The following is a list of the Voivodeships within Greater Poland at various points over the period from the mid-16th century until the late 18th century:
The following is a list of the Voivodeships within Lesser Poland over the period of the mid-16th century until the late 18th century:
Voivodeships of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania during the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth were based on the administrative structure that existed in the Duchy prior to the Commonwealth's formation, from at least the early-15th century. They were:
While the Duchy of Livonia was part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, approximately 1569–1772, it was constituted by the following Voivodeships in varying combinations at different times:
From 1816 to 1837 there were 8 voivodeships in Congress Poland.
The administrative division of Poland in the interwar period included 16 voivodeships and Warsaw (with voivodeship rights). The voivodeships that remained in Poland after World War II as a result of Polish–Soviet border agreement of August 1945 were very similar to the current voivodeships.
Collapsed list of car plates since 1937, please use table-sort buttons.
|Car plates (since 1937)||Voivodeship||Polish name||Capital city modern name in parentheses||Area in km2 (1930)||Population (1931)|
|55–59||Polesie||poleskie||Brześć nad Bugiem (Brest)||36,700||1,132,200|
After World War II, the new administrative division of the country within the new national borders was based on the prewar one and included 14 (+2) voivodeships, then 17 (+5). The voivodeships in the east that had not been annexed by the Soviet Union had their borders left almost unchanged. The newly acquired territories in the west and north were organized into the new voivodeships of Szczecin, Wrocław and Olsztyn, and partly joined to Gdańsk, Katowice and Poznań voivodeships. Two cities were granted voivodeship status: Warsaw and Łódź.
In 1950, new voivodeships were created: Koszalin (previously part of Szczecin), Opole (previously part of Katowice), and Zielona Góra (previously part of Poznań, Wrocław and Szczecin voivodeships). In 1957, three more cities were granted voivodeship status: Wrocław, Kraków and Poznań.
Collapsed list of car plates since 1956 – please use table-sort buttons
|Car plates (since 1956)||Voivodeship (Polish name)||Capital||Area in km2 (1965)||Population (1965)|
|Z||zielonogórskie 1||Zielona Góra||14,514||847,200|
|1 New voivodeships created in 1950. 2 Cities separated in 1957.|
Poland's voivodeships 1975–1998
Administrative division of Poland between 1979 and 1998 included 49 voivodeships upheld after the establishment of the Third Polish Republic in 1989 for another decade. This reorganization of administrative division of Poland was mainly a result of local government reform acts of 1973–1975. In place of the three-level administrative division (voivodeship, county, commune), a new two-level administrative division was introduced (49 small voivodeships, and communes). The three smallest voivodeships—Warsaw, Kraków and Łódź—had the special status of municipal voivodeship; the city president (mayor) was also provincial governor.
Collapsed list of Voivodeships: 1975–1998, please use table-sort buttons.
|Abbr.||Voivodeship||Polish name||Capital||Area km2 (1998)||Population (1980)||No. of cities||No. of communes|
|bp||Biała Podlaska Voivodeship||bialskopodlaskie||Biała Podlaska||5,348||286,400||6||35|
|go||Gorzów Voivodeship||gorzowskie||Gorzów Wielkopolski||8,484||455,400||21||38|
|jg||Jelenia Góra Voivodeship||jeleniogórskie||Jelenia Góra||4,378||492,600||24||28|
|ns||Nowy Sącz Voivodeship||nowosądeckie||Nowy Sącz||5,576||628,800||14||41|
|pt||Piotrków Voivodeship||piotrkowskie||Piotrków Trybunalski||6,266||604,200||10||51|
|wa||Warsaw Voivodeship||warszawskie||Warsaw (Warszawa)||3,788||2,319,100||27||32|
|zg||Zielona Góra Voivodeship||zielonogórskie||Zielona Góra||8,868||609,200||26||50|
Silesian Voivodeship, or Silesia Province is a voivodeship, or province, in southern Poland, centered on the historic region known as Upper Silesia, with Katowice serving as its capital.
A voivodeship is the area administered by a voivode (Governor) in several countries of central and eastern Europe. Voivodeships have existed since medieval times and the area of extent of voivodeship resembles that of a duchy in western medieval states, much as the title of voivode was equivalent to that of a duke. Other roughly equivalent titles and areas in medieval Eastern Europe included ban and banate.
The Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, known also as the Polish Crown, is the common name for the historic Late Middle Ages territorial possessions of the King of Poland, including the Kingdom of Poland proper. The Polish Crown was at the helm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1569 to 1795.
The Ruthenian Voivodeship was a voivodeship of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1434 until the 1772 First Partition of Poland with a center in the city of Lviv. Together with a number of other voivodeships of southern and eastern part of the Kingdom of Poland, it formed Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown, with its capital city in Kraków. Following the Partitions of Poland, most of Ruthenian Voivodeship, except for its northeastern corner, was annexed by the Habsburg monarchy, as part of the province of Galicia. Today, the former Ruthenian Voivodeship is divided between Poland and Ukraine.
Volhynian Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1566 until 1569 and of the Polish Crown within the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from the 1569 Union of Lublin until the Third Partition of Poland in 1795. It was part of the Ruthenian lands in the Lesser Poland Province.
Łęczyca Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in Poland from the 14th century until the partitions of Poland in 1772–1795. It was part of Province of Greater Poland, and its capital was in Łęczyca. The voivodeship had the area of 4,080 square kilometers, divided into three counties. Local sejmiks took place at Łęczyca. The city of Łódź, which until the 19th century was a small town, for centuries belonged to Łęczyca Voivodeship.
Brześć Kujawski Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in the Kingdom of Poland, from the 14th century to the Second Partition of Poland in 1793. It was part of the historic Kujawy region and the Greater Polish prowincja. Originally, its name was Brzesc Voivodeship, but after the 1569 Union of Lublin, it was renamed into Brzesc Kujawski Voivodeship, to distinguish it from Lithuanian Brest Litovsk Voivodeship.
Inowrocław Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in Poland from the 14th century to the First Partition of Poland in 1772. Together with the neighbouring Brześć Kujawski Voivodeship it was part of the Kuyavia region and the Greater Polish prowincja.
The Podolian Voivodeship or Palatinate of Podolia was a unit of administrative division and local government in the Kingdom of Poland, since 1434 until 1793, except for the period of Ottoman occupation (1672–1699), when the region was organized as Podolia Eyalet. Together with the Bracław Voivodeship it formed the region of Podolia, which in the Kingdom of Poland was part of Lesser Poland Province. Its capital was in Kamianets-Podilskyi, where local sejmiks took place and where the seat of the starosta was as well.
The Kiev Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1471 until 1569 and of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1569 until 1793, as part of Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown.
Czernihów (Chernihiv) Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in the Kingdom of Poland from 1635 until Khmelnytsky Uprising in 1648. Also it was used as a fictitious title in the Commonwealth until the Partitions of Poland in 1772/1795. In 1635, Marcin Kalinowski was the first voivode (governor) of the Chernihiv Voivodeship.
Marszałek was one of the highest officials in the Polish royal court since the 13th century and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since the 15th century. He was the oldest-ranking of all court officials and was considered the most important advisor to the King of Poland.
Subdivisions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth evolved over for centuries of its existence from the signing of the Union of Lublin to the third partition.
Voivodes of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth were one of the highest ranking officials who could sit in the Senate of Poland. They were the officials in charge of the voivodeships (provinces/palatinates) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The office first appears as Palatine (Palatinus) who held the foremost position after the King. As Poland broke up into separate principalities, each Prince had his court and his own Palatine. When the Kingdom was consolidated, the Palatines became heads of those former Principalities, which then became Palatinates. As such, the Palatines were members of the King's Council. The title merged with the Polish Voivode or Wojewoda. The difference between Voivode and Duke is that whereas the Duke began as a rank by appointment of the Monarch and later became a hereditary title of honour, the Voivode was appointed for life and maintained real authority as an official—before the Voivodes, too, lost significance to the Starostas. Polish historians, however, use Palatine (Palatyn) and Voivode (Wojewoda) synonymously.
The administrative division of Poland since 1999 has been based on three levels of subdivision. The territory of Poland is divided into voivodeships (provinces); these are further divided into powiats, and these in turn are divided into gminas. Major cities normally have the status of both gmina and powiat. Poland currently has 16 voivodeships, 380 powiats, and 2,478 gminas.
The Podlaskie Voivodeship was formed in 1513 by Sigismund I the Old as a voivodeship in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, from a split off part of the Trakai Voivodeship. After Lithuania's union with the Kingdom of Poland in 1569 and formation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the voivodeship was transferred to the Polish Crown, where it belonged to the Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown.
Kraków Voivodeship 1300–1795 – a unit of administrative division and local government in the Kingdom of Poland from the 14th century to the partitions of Poland in 1772–1795. Located in the southwestern corner of the country, it was part of the Little Poland province.
Poznań Voivodeship 14th century to 1793 was a unit of administrative division and local government in Poland from the 14th century to the Second Partition of Poland in 1793. It was part of the Greater Polish prowincja.
Sieradz Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in the Kingdom of Poland and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, from 1339 to the second partition of Poland in 1793. It was a part of the Province of Greater Poland.
Lesser Poland Province was an administrative division of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1569 until 1795 and the biggest province of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The name of the province comes from historic land of Lesser Poland. The name of the province did not imply its size, but rather seniority.
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