Voivodeships of Poland

Appearance move to sidebar hide

Voivodeships of Poland
  • Also known as:
  • provinces
Pomeranian Warmian-Masurian Podlaskie Lubusz Greater Poland Kuyavian-
Lower Silesian Opole Silesian Świętokrzyskie Łódź Masovian Lublin Lesser Poland Subcarpathian
CategoryProvinces (unitary local government subdivision)
LocationRepublic of Poland
Number16 voivodeships
Populations966,000 (Opole) – 5,432,000 (Masovian)
Areas9,413 km2 (3,634.2 sq mi) (Opole) – 35,580 km2 (13,737 sq mi) (Masovian)

A voivodeship (/ˈvɔɪvoʊdʃɪp/ VOY-vohd-ship; Polish: województwo ; 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.

Etymology and use

Some English-language sources, in historical contexts, speak of "palatinates" rather than "voivodeships". The term "palatinate" traces back to the Latin palatinus, which traces back to palatium ("palace").

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 historical grounds: before the third, last Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, in 1795, each of the main constituent regions of the Polish–Lithuanian CommonwealthGreater Poland, Lesser Poland, Lithuania, and Royal Prussia—was sometimes idiosyncratically referred to as a "province" (prowincja). According to the argument, such a prowincja (for example, Greater Poland) cannot consist of a number of subdivisions ("województwa", the plural of "województwo") that are likewise called "provinces". This, however, is an antiquarian consideration, as the word "province" has not been used in Poland in this sense of a region for over two centuries; and those former larger political units, all now obsolete, can now be referred to in English as what they actually 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.


Map of Polish voivodeships since 1999 (abbreviations)

Administrative powers

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.


Polish voivodeships since 1999
Abbr. Flag Coat of arms Ter. code Voivodeship Polish name Capital city/cities Area (km2) Population (2022) Pop. per km2 Car plates
DS 02 Lower Silesian dolnośląskie Wrocław 19,947 2,903,000 145 D
KP 04 Kuyavian-Pomeranian kujawsko-pomorskie Bydgoszcz1, Toruń2 17,971 2,056,000 115 C
LU 06 Lublin lubelskie Lublin 25,123 2,104,000 83 L
LB 08 Lubusz lubuskie Gorzów Wielkopolski1, Zielona Góra2 13,988 995,000 72 F
LD 10 Łódź łódzkie Łódź 18,219 2,443,000 134 E
MA 12 Lesser Poland małopolskie Kraków 15,183 3,399,000 225 K
MZ 14 Masovian mazowieckie Warsaw 35,559 5,432,000 153 W
OP 16 Opole opolskie Opole 9,412 966,000 104 O
PK 18 Subcarpathian podkarpackie Rzeszów 17,846 2,098,000 119 R
PD 20 Podlaskie podlaskie Białystok 20,187 1,182,000 58 B
PM 22 Pomeranian pomorskie Gdańsk 18,323 2,355,000 128 G
SL 24 Silesian śląskie Katowice 12,333 4,501,000 364 S
SK 26 Holy Cross świętokrzyskie Kielce 11,710 1,216,000 105 T
WN 28 Warmian-Masurian warmińsko-mazurskie Olsztyn 24,173 1,423,000 59 N
WP 30 Greater Poland wielkopolskie Poznań 29,826 3,486,000 117 P
ZP 32 West Pomeranian zachodniopomorskie Szczecin 22,905 1,694,000 74 Z
1 Seat of voivode. 2 Seat of sejmik and marshal.


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).

Historical development

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Greater Poland (Wielkopolska)

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:

Lesser Poland (Małopolska)

The following is a list of the Voivodeships within Lesser Poland over the period of the mid-16th century until the late 18th century:

Grand Duchy of Lithuania

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:

Duchy of Livonia

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:

Congress Poland

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

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)
20–24 Białystok białostockie Białystok 26,000 1,263,300
25–29 Kielce kieleckie Kielce 22,200 2,671,000
30–34 Kraków krakowskie Kraków 17,600 2,300,100
35–39 Lublin lubelskie Lublin 26,600 2,116,200
40–44 Lwów lwowskie Lwów (Lviv) 28,400 3,126,300
45–49 Łódź łódzkie Łódź 20,400 2,650,100
50–54 Nowogródek nowogródzkie Nowogródek (Navahrudak) 23,000 1,057,200
55–59 Polesie poleskie Brześć nad Bugiem (Brest) 36,700 1,132,200
60–64 Pomeranian pomorskie Toruń 25,700 1,884,400
65–69 Poznań poznańskie Poznań 28,100 2,339,600
70–74 Stanisławów stanisławowskie Stanisławów (Ivano-Frankivsk) 16,900 1,480,300
75–79? Silesian śląskie Katowice 5,100 1,533,500
80–84 Tarnopol tarnopolskie Tarnopol (Ternopil) 16,500 1,600,400
85–89 Warsaw (voivodeship) warszawskie Warsaw 31,700 2,460,900
00–19 Warsaw (city) Warszawa Warsaw 140 1,179,500
90–94 Wilno wileńskie Wilno (Vilnius) 29,000 1,276,000
95–99 Wołyń wołyńskie Łuck (Lutsk) 35,700 2,085,600

Polish People's Republic

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)
A białostockie Białystok 23,136 1,160,400
B bydgoskie Bydgoszcz 20,794 1,837,100
G gdańskie Gdańsk 10,984 1,352,800
S katowickie Katowice 9,518 3,524,300
C kieleckie Kielce 19,498 1,899,100
E koszalińskie1 Koszalin 17,974 755,100
K krakowskie Kraków 15,350 2,127,600
? Kraków (city)2 Kraków 230 520,100
F łódzkie Łódź 17,064 1,665,200
I Łódź (city) Łódź 214 744,100
L lubelskie Lublin 24,829 1,900,500
O olsztyńskie Olsztyn 20,994 956,600
H opolskie ¹ Opole 9,506 1,009,200
P poznańskie Poznań 26,723 2,126,300
? Poznań (city)2 Poznań 220 438,200
R rzeszowskie Rzeszów 18,658 1,692,800
M szczecińskie Szczecin 12,677 847,600
T warszawskie Warsaw 29,369 2,453,000
W Warszawa (city) Warsaw 446 1,252,600
X wrocławskie Wrocław 18,827 1,967,000
? Wrocław (city)2 Wrocław 225 474,200
Z zielonogórskie1 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
bk Białystok Voivodeship białostockie Białystok 10,055 641,100 17 49
bb Bielsko-Biała Voivodeship bielskie Bielsko-Biała 3,704 829,900 18 47
by Bydgoszcz Voivodeship bydgoskie Bydgoszcz 10,349 1,036,000 27 55
ch Chełm Voivodeship chełmskie Chełm 3,865 230,900 4 25
ci Ciechanów Voivodeship ciechanowskie Ciechanów 6,362 405,400 9 45
cz Częstochowa Voivodeship częstochowskie Częstochowa 6,182 747,900 17 49
el Elbląg Voivodeship elbląskie Elbląg 6,103 441,500 15 37
gd Gdańsk Voivodeship gdańskie Gdańsk 7,394 1,333,800 19 43
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
kl Kalisz Voivodeship kaliskie Kalisz 6,512 668,000 20 53
ka Katowice Voivodeship katowickie Katowice 6,650 3,733,900 43 46
ki Kielce Voivodeship kieleckie Kielce 9,211 1,068,700 17 69
kn Konin Voivodeship konińskie Konin 5,139 441,200 18 43
ko Koszalin Voivodeship koszalińskie Koszalin 8,470 462,200 17 35
kr Kraków Voivodeship krakowskie Kraków 3,254 1,167,500 10 38
ks Krosno Voivodeship krośnieńskie Krosno 5,702 448,200 12 37
lg Legnica Voivodeship legnickie Legnica 4,037 458,900 11 31
le Leszno Voivodeship leszczyńskie Leszno 4,254 357,600 19 28
lu Lublin Voivodeship lubelskie Lublin 6,793 935,200 16 62
lo Łomża Voivodeship łomżyńskie Łomża 6,684 325,800 12 39
ld Łódź Voivodeship łódzkie Łódź 1523 1,127,800 8 11
ns Nowy Sącz Voivodeship nowosądeckie Nowy Sącz 5,576 628,800 14 41
ol Olsztyn Voivodeship olsztyńskie Olsztyn 12,327 681,400 21 48
op Opole Voivodeship opolskie Opole 8,535 975,000 29 61
os Ostrołęka Voivodeship ostrołęckie Ostrołęka 6,498 371,400 9 38
pi Piła Voivodeship pilskie Piła 8,205 437,100 24 35
pt Piotrków Voivodeship piotrkowskie Piotrków Trybunalski 6,266 604,200 10 51
pl Płock Voivodeship płockie Płock 5,117 496,100 9 44
po Poznań Voivodeship poznańskie Poznań 8,151 1,237,800 33 57
pr Przemyśl Voivodeship przemyskie Przemyśl 4,437 380,000 9 35
ra Radom Voivodeship radomskie Radom 7,295 702,300 15 61
rz Rzeszów Voivodeship rzeszowskie Rzeszów 4,397 648,900 13 41
se Siedlce Voivodeship siedleckie Siedlce 8,499 616,300 12 66
si Sieradz Voivodeship sieradzkie Sieradz 4,869 392,300 9 40
sk Skierniewice Voivodeship skierniewickie Skierniewice 3,959 396,900 8 36
sl Słupsk Voivodeship słupskie Słupsk 7,453 369,800 11 31
su Suwałki Voivodeship suwalskie Suwałki 10,490 422,600 14 42
sz Szczecin Voivodeship szczecińskie Szczecin 9,981 897,900 29 50
tg Tarnobrzeg Voivodeship tarnobrzeskie Tarnobrzeg 6,283 556,300 14 46
ta Tarnów Voivodeship tarnowskie Tarnów 4,151 607,000 9 41
to Toruń Voivodeship toruńskie Toruń 5,348 610,800 13 41
wb Wałbrzych Voivodeship wałbrzyskie Wałbrzych 4,168 716,100 31 30
wa Warsaw Voivodeship warszawskie Warsaw (Warszawa) 3,788 2,319,100 27 32
wl Włocławek Voivodeship włocławskie Włocławek 4,402 413,400 14 30
wr Wrocław Voivodeship wrocławskie Wrocław 6,287 1,076,200 16 33
za Zamość Voivodeship zamojskie Zamość 6,980 472,100 5 47
zg Zielona Góra Voivodeship zielonogórskie Zielona Góra 8,868 609,200 26 50

See also


  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: województwo—province..."). Arkadiusz Belczyk, "Tłumaczenie polskich nazw geograficznych na język angielski" Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine ("Translation of Polish Geographical Names into English"), 2002-2006. Examples: New Provinces of Poland (1998) Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine, Map of Poland Archived 26 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine, English names of Polish provinces Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. More examples:
  2. ^ "Voivodeship", The Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, volume XIX, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989, p. 739.
  3. ^ Wolnicz-Pawłowska, Ewa (2002). Toponymic Guidelines of Poland for Map Editors and Other Users (PDF). Główny Urząd Geodezii i Kartografii / Head Office of Geodesy and Cartography. ISBN 83-239-4555-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 November 2019. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  4. ^ "Standardization of Polish Geographical Names". Archived from the original on 7 September 2021.
  5. ^ Granat, Miroslaw; Granat, Katarzyna (28 November 2019). The Constitution of Poland: A Contextual Analysis. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-5099-1396-1. Archived from the original on 3 April 2023. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  6. ^ "Samorządowcy dostali dodatkowy rok. Jak wykorzystają 5-letnią kadencję? - Prawo i finanse". 14 September 2018. Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Powierzchnia i ludność w przekroju terytorialnym w 2021 roku". GUS. 2021.
  8. ^ "Powierzchnia i ludność w przekroju terytorialnym w 2021 roku". GUS. 2021. Archived from the original on 25 March 2022. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Eurostat - Tables, Graphs and Maps Interface (TGM) map". ec.europa.eu. Archived from the original on 17 February 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  10. ^ data as per April 1, 1937


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Voivodeships of Poland.