|Voivodeships of Poland|
Województwa Polski (Polish)
|Category||Unitary local government states|
|Location||Republic of Poland|
|Populations||986,506 (Opole) – 5,403,412 (Masovian)|
|Areas||9,413 km2 (3,634.2 sq mi) (Opole) - 35,580 km2 (13,737 sq mi) (Masovian)|
|Government||Voivodeship government, National government|
A voivodeship (//; Polish: województwo [vɔjɛˈvut͡stfɔ]; plural: województwa) is the highest-level administrative subdivision of Poland, corresponding to a "province" in many other countries. The term has been in use since the 14th century, and is commonly translated in English as "province" or "state".
The Polish local government reforms adopted in 1998, which went into effect on 1 January 1999, created 16 new voivodeships. These replaced the 49 former voivodeships that had existed from 1 July 1975, and bear 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 one million (Lubusz 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): see Administrative divisions of Poland.
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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". However, this is an antiquarian consideration, since "province" has not been used in this sense in Poland for over two centuries, and in any case the former larger political units—all now obsolete—can be referred to in English as "Regions" (which, in English parlance, is what they were).
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."
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 (2018 was the start of the first 5-years term; previous terms lasted four years), at the same time as the local authorities at powiat and gmina level. It passes bylaws, 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.
|Voivodeship||Polish name||Capital cities||Area
(December 31, 2018)
|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).
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.
|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.
|Voivodeship(Polish name)||Capital||Area in km² (1965)||Population (1965)|
|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|
|zg||Zielona Góra Voivodeship||zielonogórskie||Zielona Góra||8,868||609,200||26||50|
|European countries with|
similar GDP (PPS) per capita
(in billions EUR)
|European countries with|
similar GDP (nominal)
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