Voivodeships of Poland

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A województwo [vɔjɛˈvut͡stfɔ]; plural: województwa) is the highest-level administrative subdivision of Poland, corresponding to a "province" in many other countries. The term "województwo" has been in use since the 14th century, and is commonly translated in English as "province".[1] The word "województwo" is also rendered as "voivodeship" or a variant spelling.[2]

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 divisions of Poland.

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Voivodeships since 1999[edit]

Map of Polish voivodeships since 1999.

Administrative powers[edit]

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.

List of voivodeships[edit]

Polish voivodeships since 1999
Abbr.Coat of
VoivodeshipPolish nameCapital citiesArea
(December 31, 2012)
per km²
DSPOL województwo dolnośląskie COA.svg02DLower SilesiandolnośląskieWrocław19,9472,914,362146
KPPOL województwo kujawsko-pomorskie COA.svg04CKuyavian-Pomeraniankujawsko-pomorskieBydgoszcz ¹,
Toruń ²
LUPOL województwo lubelskie COA.svg06LLublinlubelskieLublin25,1222,165,65186
LBPOL województwo lubuskie COA.svg08FLubuszlubuskieGorzów Wielkopolski ¹,
Zielona Góra ²
LDPOL województwo łódzkie COA.svg10EŁódźłódzkieŁódź18,2192,524,651139
MPPOL województwo małopolskie COA.svg12KLesser PolandmałopolskieKraków15,1833,354,077221
MAPOL województwo mazowieckie COA.svg14WMasovianmazowieckieWarsaw35,5585,301,760149
OPPOL województwo opolskie COA.svg16OOpoleopolskieOpole9,4121,010,203107
PKPOL województwo podkarpackie COA.svg18RSubcarpathianpodkarpackieRzeszów17,8462,129,951119
PDPOL województwo podlaskie COA.svg20BPodlaskiepodlaskieBiałystok20,1871,198,69059
PMPOL województwo pomorskie COA.svg22GPomeranianpomorskieGdańsk18,3102,290,070125
SLPOL województwo śląskie COA.svg24SSilesianśląskieKatowice12,3334,615,870374
SKPOL województwo świętokrzyskie COA.svg26TŚwiętokrzyskieświętokrzyskieKielce11,7111,273,995109
WMWarminsko-mazurskie herb.svg28NWarmian-Masurianwarmińsko-mazurskieOlsztyn24,1731,450,69760
WPPOL województwo wielkopolskie COA.svg30PGreater PolandwielkopolskiePoznań29,8263,462,196116
ZPPOL województwo zachodniopomorskie COA.svg32ZWest PomeranianzachodniopomorskieSzczecin22,8921,721,40575
(¹) Seat of voivode. (²) Seat of sejmik and marszałek.
Map of Polish voivodeships (1975–1988).

Former voivodeships[edit]

Poland's voivodeships 1975–1998[edit]

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
Abbr.VoivodeshipPolish nameCapitalArea
km² (1998)
No. of
No. of
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 VoivodeshipwarszawskieWarsaw
3 7882 319 1002732
wlWłocławek VoivodeshipwłocławskieWłocławek4 402413 4001430
wrWrocław VoivodeshipwrocławskieWrocław6 2871 076 2001633
zaZamość VoivodeshipzamojskieZamość6 980472 100547
zgZielona Góra VoivodeshipzielonogórskieZielona Góra8 868609 2002650
Map of Polish voivodeships (1957–1975).

Poland's voivodeships 1945–1975[edit]

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.

Polish administrative division 1945-1975
Car plates
(since 1956)
(Polish name)
in 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
 ?Kraków (city) ²Kraków230520 100
FłódzkieŁódź17 0641 665 200
IŁódź (city)Łódź214744 100
LlubelskieLublin24 8291 900 500
OolsztyńskieOlsztyn20 994956 600
Hopolskie ¹Opole9 5061 009 200
PpoznańskiePoznań26 7232 126 300
 ?Poznań (city) ²Poznań220438 200
RrzeszowskieRzeszów18 6581 692 800
MszczecińskieSzczecin12 677847 600
TwarszawskieWarsaw29 3692 453 000
WWarszawa (city)Warsaw4461 252 600
XwrocławskieWrocław18 8271 967 000
 ?Wrocław (city) ²Wrocław225474 200
Zzielonogórskie ¹Zielona Góra14 514847 200
(¹) New voivodeships created in 1950. (²) Cities separated in 1957.
Map of Polish voivodeships (1921–1939)
Poland's prewar and postwar borders, 1939–1945

Poland's voivodeships 1921–1939[edit]

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

They were very similar to the current voivodeships.

Polish voivodeships in the interbellum (data as per April 1, 1937)
Car plates
(since 1937)
VoivodeshipPolish nameCapital cityArea
in km² (1930)
20–24BiałystokbiałostockieBiałystok26 0001 263 300
25–29KielcekieleckieKielce22 2002 671 000
30–34KrakówkrakowskieKraków17 6002 300 100
35–39LublinlubelskieLublin26 6002 116 200
40–44LwówlwowskieLwów28 4003 126 300
45–49ŁódźłódzkieŁódź20 4002 650 100
50–54NowogródeknowogródzkieNowogródek23 0001 057 200
55–59PolesiepoleskieBrześć nad Bugiem36 7001 132 200
60–64PomeranianpomorskieToruń25 7001 884 400
65–69PoznańpoznańskiePoznań28 1002 339 600
70–74StanisławówstanisławowskieStanisławów16 9001 480 300
75–79?SilesianśląskieKatowice5 1001 533 500
80–84TarnopoltarnopolskieTarnopol16 5001 600 400
85–89WarsawianwarszawskieWarsaw31 7002 460 900
00–19Warsaw (city)WarszawaWarsaw1401 179 500
90–94WilnowileńskieWilno29 0001 276 000
95–99WołyńwołyńskieŁuck35 7002 085 600

Congress Poland 1816–1837[edit]

Voivodeships 1816-1820

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

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1569–1795[edit]

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

Greater Poland (Wielkopolska)[edit]

Lesser Poland (Małopolska)[edit]

Grand Duchy of Lithuania[edit]

Duchy of Livonia[edit]

Etymology and use of "voivodeship"[edit]

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]


  1. ^ The word "voivodeship", as an equivalent for "województwo", appears in some large English dictionaries such as the OED and Webster's Third New International Dictionary but is not in common English usage. Hence 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 9781602397279, 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.
    • Professor Paul Best, of Southern Connecticut State University, writes: "[I]n standard dictionaries the Polish word [województwo] is translated as 'province.'" Paul Best, review of Bogdan Horbal, Lemko Studies: A Handbook (2010), in The Polish Review, vol. 58, no. 4 (2013), pp. 125–26.
  2. ^ Alternate English renderings include "voivodship," "voievodship," "voievodeship" and "woiwodship".
  3. ^ "Voivodeship," The Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, volume XIX, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989, p. 739.


External links[edit]

See also[edit]