Voivodeships of Poland

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The voivodeship,[1] or province,[2] called in Polish województwo [vɔjɛˈvut​͡stfɔ] (plural województwa), has been a high-level administrative subdivision of Poland since the 14th century.

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.

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 voivodeship level is shared between a government-appointed governor called a voivode (Polish wojewoda), an elected assembly called a sejmik, and an executive chosen by that assembly. The leader of that executive is called the marszałek województwa (voivodeship marshal). Voivodeships are further divided into powiats (counties) and gminas (communes or municipalities): see Administrative division of Poland.


Voivodeships since 1999

Administrative powers

Competences and powers at voivodeship level are shared between the voivode (governor), the sejmik (regional assembly) and the executive. 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 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. Its offices collectively are known as the urząd marszałkowski.

Map and table of voivodeships

Poland administrative division 1999 literki.png
Polish voivodeships since 1999
AbbreviationCoat of
VoivodeshipCapitalArea km²Population
(December 31, 2003)
(June 30, 2004)
DSPOL woj dolnoslaskie COA 2009.svg02DLower Silesian (dolnośląskie)Wrocław19 947.762 898 3132 895 729
KPPOL województwo kujawsko-pomorskie COA.svg04CKuyavian-Pomeranian (kujawsko-pomorskie)Bydgoszcz¹
17 969.722 068 1422 067 548
LUPOL województwo lubelskie COA.svg06LLublin (lubelskie)Lublin25 114.482 191 1722 187 918
LBPOL województwo lubuskie COA.svg08FLubusz (lubuskie)Gorzów Wielkopolski¹
Zielona Góra²
13 984.441 008 7861 009 177
LDPOL województwo łódzkie COA.svg10EŁódź (łódzkie)Łódź18 219.112 597 0942 592 568
MPPOL województwo małopolskie COA.svg12KLesser Poland (małopolskie)Kraków15 144.103 252 9493 256 171
MAPOL województwo mazowieckie COA.svg14WMasovian (mazowieckie)Warsaw35 597.805 135 7325 139 545
OPPOL województwo opolskie COA.svg16OOpolskieOpole9 412.471 055 6671 053 723
PKPOL województwo podkarpackie COA.svg18RPodkarpackieRzeszów17 926.282 097 2482 097 325
PDPOL województwo podlaskie COA.svg20BPodlaskie (podlaskie)Białystok20 179.581 205 1171 204 036
PMPOL województwo pomorskie COA.svg22GPomeranian (pomorskie)Gdańsk18 292.882 188 9182 192 404
SLPOL województwo śląskie COA incorrect.svg24SSilesian (śląskie)Katowice12 294.044 714 9824 707 825
SWPOL województwo świętokrzyskie COA.svg26TŚwiętokrzyskieKielce11 672.341 291 5981 290 176
WMWarminsko-mazurskie herb.svg28NWarmian-Masurian (warmińsko-mazurskie)Olsztyn24 202.951 428 8851 428 385
WPPOL województwo wielkopolskie COA.svg30PGreater Poland (wielkopolskie)Poznań29 825.593 359 9323 362 011
ZPPOL województwo zachodniopomorskie COA.svg32ZWest Pomeranian (zachodniopomorskie)Szczecin22 901.481 696 0731 695 708
(¹) – seat of voivode, (²) – seat of sejmik and marszałek


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Former voivodeships

Poland's voivodeships 1975–1998

Poland's voivodeships after 1975.

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.


Polish voivodeships and separate cities 1975-1998
AbbreviationVoivodeshipPolish nameCapitalArea
km² (1998)
No. of citiesNo. of communes
bpBiała Podlaska VoivodeshipbialskopodlaskieBiała Podlaska5 348286 400635
bkBiałystok VoivodeshipbiałostockieBiałystok10 055641 1001749
bbBielsko-Biała VoivodeshipbielskieBielsko-Biała3 704829 9001847
byBydgoszcz VoivodeshipbydgoskieBydgoszcz10 3491 036 0002755
chChełm VoivodeshipchełmskieChełm3 865230 900425
ciCiechanów VoivodeshipciechanowskieCiechanów6 362405 400945
czCzęstochowa VoivodeshipczęstochowskieCzęstochowa6 182747 9001749
elElbląg VoivodeshipelbląskieElbląg6 103441 5001537
gdGdańsk VoivodeshipgdańskieGdańsk7 3941 333 8001943
goGorzów VoivodeshipgorzowskieGorzów Wielkopolski8 484455 4002138
jgJelenia Góra VoivodeshipjeleniogórskieJelenia Góra4 378492 6002428
klKalisz VoivodeshipkaliskieKalisz6 512668 0002053
kaKatowice VoivodeshipkatowickieKatowice6 6503 733 9004346
kiKielce VoivodeshipkieleckieKielce9 2111 068 7001769
knKonin VoivodeshipkonińskieKonin5 139441 2001843
koKoszalin VoivodeshipkoszalińskieKoszalin8 470462 2001735
krKraków VoivodeshipkrakowskieKraków3 2541 167 5001038
ksKrosno VoivodeshipkrośnieńskieKrosno5 702448 2001237
lgLegnica VoivodeshiplegnickieLegnica4 037458 9001131
leLeszno VoivodeshipleszczyńskieLeszno4 254357 6001928
luLublin VoivodeshiplubelskieLublin6 793935 2001662
loŁomża VoivodeshipłomżyńskieŁomża6 684325 8001239
ldŁódź VoivodeshipłódzkieŁódź15231 127 800811
nsNowy Sącz VoivodeshipnowosądeckieNowy Sącz5 576628 8001441
olOlsztyn VoivodeshipolsztyńskieOlsztyn12 327681 4002148
opOpole VoivodeshipopolskieOpole8 535975 0002961
osOstrołęka VoivodeshipostrołęckieOstrołęka6 498371 400938
piPiła VoivodeshippilskiePiła8 205437 1002435
ptPiotrków VoivodeshippiotrkowskiePiotrków Trybunalski6 266604 2001051
plPłock VoivodeshippłockiePłock5 117496 100944
poPoznań VoivodeshippoznańskiePoznań8 1511 237 8003357
prPrzemyśl VoivodeshipprzemyskiePrzemyśl4 437380 000935
raRadom VoivodeshipradomskieRadom7 295702 3001561
rzRzeszów VoivodeshiprzeszowskieRzeszów4 397648 9001341
seSiedlce VoivodeshipsiedleckieSiedlce8 499616 3001266
siSieradz VoivodeshipsieradzkieSieradz4 869392 300940
skSkierniewice VoivodeshipskierniewickieSkierniewice3 959396 900836
slSłupsk VoivodeshipsłupskieSłupsk7 453369 8001131
suSuwałki VoivodeshipsuwalskieSuwałki10 490422 6001442
szSzczecin VoivodeshipszczecińskieSzczecin9 981897 9002950
tgTarnobrzeg VoivodeshiptarnobrzeskieTarnobrzeg6 283556 3001446
taTarnów VoivodeshiptarnowskieTarnów4 151607 000941
toToruń VoivodeshiptoruńskieToruń5 348610 8001341
wbWałbrzych VoivodeshipwałbrzyskieWałbrzych4 168716 1003130
waWarsaw VoivodeshipwarszawskieWarsaw3 7882 319 1002732
wlWłocławek VoivodeshipwłocławskieWłocławek4 402413 4001430
wrWrocław VoivodeshipwrocławskieWrocław6 2871 076 2001633
zaZamość VoivodeshipzamojskieZamość6 980472 100547
zgZielona Góra VoivodeshipzielonogórskieZielona Góra8 868609 2002650

Poland's voivodeships 1945–1975

Poland's voivodeships after 1957.

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 addition, three more cities were granted voivodeship status: Wrocław, Kraków and Poznań.


Polish administrative division 1945-1975
Car plates
(since 1956)
km² (1965)
AbiałostockieBiałystok23 1361 160 400
BbydgoskieBydgoszcz20 7941 837 100
GgdańskieGdańsk10 9841 352 800
SkatowickieKatowice9 5183 524 300
CkieleckieKielce19 4981 899 100
Ekoszalińskie ¹Koszalin17 974755 100
KkrakowskieKraków15 3502 127 600
FŁódzkieŁódź17 0641 665 200
LlubelskieLublin24 8291 900 500
OolsztyńskieOlsztyn20 994956 600
Hopolskie ¹Opole9 5061 009 200
PpoznańskiePoznań26 7232 126 300
RrzeszowskieRzeszów18 6581 692 800
MszczecińskieSzczecin12 677847 600
TwarszawskieWarsaw29 3692 453 000
XwrocławskieWrocław18 8271 967 000
Zzielonogórskie ¹Zielona Góra14 514847 200
car plates
(since 1956)
Separate cityArea
km² (1965)
IŁódź214744 100
WWarsaw4461 252 600
 ?Kraków ²230520 100
 ?Poznań ²220438 200
 ?Wrocław ²225474 200
¹ – new voivodeships created in 1950; ² – cities separated in 1957

Poland's voivodeships 1921–1939

The administrative division of Poland in the interwar period included 16 voivodeships and Warsaw (with voivodeship rights).  

Polish voivodeships in the interbellum
(data as per April 1, 1937)
car plates
(since 1937)
Separate city
in 1000 km² (1930)
in 1000 (1931)
00-19City of WarsawWarsaw0.141179.5Poland administrative division 1922 literki.png
55-59poleskieBrześć nad Bugiem36.71132.2
75-79 ?śląskieKatowice5.11533.5

Congress Poland 1816–1837

Voivodeships 1816-1820

From 1816 to 1837 there were 8 voivodeships in Congress Poland.

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1569–1795

Voivodeships of the Republic of the Two Nations ("Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth").
Voivodeships of the Commonwealth of the Two Nations in 1635

Greater Poland (Wielkopolska)

Lesser Poland (Małopolska)

Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Here the first name given is English, then in brackets – Lithuanian, and then Polish.

Duchy of Livonia

Etymology and use of "voivodeship"

Some English-language sources, in historic contexts, speak of "palatinates" rather than "voivodeships"; the former term traces back to the Latin palatinus ("palatine"). More commonly used now is "voivodeship", a loanword-calque hybrid formed on the Polish "województwo". Other sources refer instead to "provinces" (Polish singular: "prowincja"), though in pre-1795 contexts this may be confusing because the cognate Polish "prowincyja" (as it was then spelled) was idiosyncratically applied, until the last of the three Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, in 1795, to each of the three main Regions (Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, and Lithuania) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, each of those Regions in turn comprising a number of województwa (plural of "województwo").

The Polish "województwo", designating a second-tier Polish or Polish–Lithuanian administrative unit, derives from "wojewoda" (etymologically, a "war leader" or "leader of warriors", but now simply the governor of a województwo) and the suffix "-stwo" (a "state or condition").

The English "voivodeship", which is a hybrid of the loanword "voivode" and "-ship" (the latter a suffix, likewise meaning a "state or condition", that calques the Polish "-stwo"), 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 also appeared in 1886 in the sense of "the office or dignity of a voivode."[3]

An official Polish body, the Commission on Standardization of Geographic Names outside the Republic of Poland, recommends the spelling "voivodship", without the e.[1] This is consistently reflected in publications [2] and in the international arena, e.g., at the United Nations.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Also spelled "voivodship," "voievodship," "voievodeship".
  2. ^ The word "voivodeship" appears in some larger English dictionaries, such as the OED and Webster's Third New International Dictionary, but it is not in common usage. Thus, to facilitate understanding outside Poland, the word "province" is a recommended translation: "Jednostki podziału administracyjnego Polski tłumaczymy tak: województwo—province..." ("Polish administrative units are translated as follows: województwoprovince..."). Arkadiusz Belczyk, "Tłumaczenie polskich nazw geograficznych na język angielski" ("Translation of Polish Geographical Names into English"), 2002-2006. Examples: New Provinces of Poland (1998), Map of Poland, English names of Polish provinces. More examples:
    • "Following the reform of the administrative structure in 1973-1975, the number of provinces (województwa) was increased from 22 to 49... [I]ncreasing the number of provinces meant the reduction of each in size. In this way Warsaw was able to dilute the political importance of the provincial party chiefs." "Poland", The Encyclopedia Americana, 1986, volume 22, p. 312.
    • "Poland is divided into 49 provinces." "Poland", The Columbia Encyclopedia, sixth edition, edited by Paul Lagassé, Columbia University Press, 2000, p. 2256.
    • "Local government in Poland is organized on three levels. The largest units, at the regional level, are the województwa (provinces)..." "Poland", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, 2010, Macropaedia, volume 25, p. 937.
    • "GOVERNMENT... Administrative divisions: 16 provinces (wojewodztwa, singular–wojewodztwo)..." "Poland," in Central Intelligence Agency, The CIA World Factbook 2010, New York, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2009, ISBN 978602397279, p. 546. The same information appears in the current online CIA World Factbook --> "Poland --> Administrative divisions". Note that in this source, where "English translations" of province names are given, they are in the noun ("Silesia"), not the adjective ("Silesian"), form.
  3. ^ "Voivodeship," The Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, volume XIX, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989, p. 739.


External links