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 (// VOY-vohd-ship; Polish: województwo [vɔjɛˈvut͡stfɔ] i; 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".
The Polish local government reforms adopted in 1998, which went into effect on 1 January 1999, reduced the number of voivodeships to sixteen. These 16 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 palatinates 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 in English.
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||Ter. code||Voivodeship||Polish name||Capital cities||Area (km2)||Population (2022)||Pop. per km2||Car plates|
|LB||08||Lubusz||lubuskie||Gorzów Wielkopolski1, Zielona Góra2||13,988||995,000||72||F|
|1 Seat of voivode. 2 Seat of sejmik and marshal.|
Main article: List of Polish voivodeships by GRP
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).
Further information: Subdivisions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Voivodes of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
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, in various periods it comprised the following voivodeships in varying combinations:
Further information: Administrative division of Congress Poland
From 1816 to 1837 there were 8 voivodeships in Congress Poland.
Further information: Administrative division of Second Polish Republic
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 registration plates from 1937, please use table-sort buttons.
|Car plates (from 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 registration plates from 1956 – please use table-sort buttons
|Car plates (from 1956)||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|
|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|