Silesian Voivodeship (Polish: województwo śląskie [vɔjɛˈvut͡stfɔ ˈɕlɔ̃skʲɛ] ) is a voivodeship, or province, in southern Poland centered on the historic region known as Upper Silesia (Górny Śląsk), with Katowice serving as its capital.

Silesian Voivodeship
Województwo śląskie
Location within Poland
Location within Poland
Division into counties
Division into counties
Coordinates (Katowice): 50°15′N 19°0′E / 50.250°N 19.000°E / 50.250; 19.000
Country Poland
 • BodyExecutive board
 • VoivodeMarek Wójcik (PO)
 • MarshalWojciech Saługa (PO)
 • EPSilesian constituency
 • Total12,333.09 km2 (4,761.83 sq mi)
 • Total4,524,091
 • Density370/km2 (950/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Rural
 • Total€68.692 billion
 • Per capita€15,300
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
ISO 3166 codePL-24
Vehicle registrationS
HDI (2021)0.883[3]
very high · 5th
Primary airportKatowice Airport
* further divided into 167 gminas

Despite the Silesian Voivodeship's name, most of the historic Silesia region lies outside the present Silesian Voivodeship – divided among Lubusz, Lower Silesian, and Opole Voivodeships. The eastern half of Silesian Voivodeship (and, notably, Częstochowa in the north) was historically part of Lesser Poland.

It is the most densely populated voivodeship in Poland. Within the area of 12,300 square kilometres, there are almost 5 million inhabitants.[4] It is also the largest urbanised area in Central and Eastern Europe.[5] In relation to economy, over 13% of Poland's gross domestic product (GDP) is generated here, making the Silesian Voivodeship one of the wealthiest provinces in the country.[5][6][7]


Historical regions in present-day Silesian Voivodeship and in Poland

The first Silesian Voivodeship was created in the Second Polish Republic. It had a much wider range of autonomy than other contemporary Polish voivodeships, and it covered all the historical lands of Upper Silesia which ended up in Interwar period Poland. Among these were Katowice, Rybnik, Pszczyna, Wodzisław Śląski, Żory, Mikołów, Tychy, Chorzów, Tarnowskie Góry, Miasteczko Śląskie, Woźniki, Lubliniec, Cieszyn, Skoczów, and Bielsko. This Voivodeship did not include – as opposed to the present one – lands and cities of old pre-Partition Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Among the last ones the Southern part was included in Kraków Voivodeship Żywiec, Wilamowice, Biała Krakowska and Jaworzno), and the North Western part Będzin, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Sosnowiec, Częstochowa, Myszków, Szczekociny, Zawiercie, Sławków) belonged to Kielce Voivodeship.

During the invasion of Poland, German troops committed several massacres of Polish civilians and defenders, including children, and Jews within the territory of the current Silesian Voivodeship, including the largest at Parzymiechy, Albertów, Częstochowa, Katowice, Będzin, and Sławków.[8] During the subsequent occupation, on 8 October 1939, Hitler published a decree called, "About division and administration of Eastern Territories". A Silesian Province (Gau Schlesien) was created, with a seat in Breslau (Wrocław). It consisted of four districts: Kattowitz, Oppeln, Breslau and Liegnitz.

The following counties were included in Kattowitz District: Kattowitz, Königshütte, Tarnowitz, Beuthen Hindenburg, Gleiwitz, Freistadt, Teschen, Biala, Bielitz, Saybusch, Pleß, Sosnowitz, Bendzin and parts of the following counties: Kranau, Olkusch, Riebnich and Wadowitz. However, according to Hitler's decree from 12 October 1939 about establishing General Government, Częstochowa belonged to GG.

In 1941 the Silesian Province (Provinz Schlesien) underwent new administrative division and as a result Upper Silesian Province was created (Provinz Oberschlesien):

  • Kattowitz District (Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz) – entire Silesian Voivodeship without Lubinitz county, Bendzin County, part of Olkusch county, Biala county, Saybusch and parts of Kranau and Wadowitz counties.
  • Oppeln District (Regierungsbezirk Oppeln) – Lubinitz county and parts of Tschenstochau and Warthenau counties.

Nazi Germany established and operated a network of Polenlager forced labour camps and multiple subcamps of the Auschwitz concentration camp in the area.[9]

After the War during 1945–1950 there existed a Silesian Voivodeship, commonly known as Śląsko-Dąbrowskie Voivodeship, which included a major part of today's Silesian Voivodeship. In 1950 Śląsko-Dąbrowskie Voivodeship was divided into Opole and Katowice Voivodeships. The latter had borders similar to the borders of modern Silesian Voivodeship.

The present Silesian Voivodeship was formed on 1 January 1999 from the following voivodeships of the previous administrative division:



The Silesian Voivodeship borders both the Moravian-Silesian Region (Czech Republic), Žilina Region (Slovakia) to the south. It is also bordered by four other Polish voivodeships: those of Opole (to the west), Łódź (to the north), Świętokrzyskie (to the north-east), and Lesser Poland (to the east).

The region includes the Silesian Upland (Wyżyna Śląska) in the centre and north-west, and the Krakowsko-Częstochowska Upland (Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska) in the north-east. The southern border is formed by the Beskidy Mountains (Beskid Śląski and Beskid Żywiecki).

The current administrative unit of Silesian Voivodeship is just a fraction of the historical Silesia which is within the borders of today's Poland (there are also fragments of Silesia in the Czech Republic and Germany). Other parts of today's Polish Silesia are administered as the Opole, the Lower Silesian Voivodeships and the Lubusz Voivodeship. On the other hand, a large part of the current administrative unit of the Silesian Voivodeship is not part of historical Silesia (e.g., Częstochowa, Zawiercie, Myszków, Jaworzno, Sosnowiec, Żywiec, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Będzin and east part of Bielsko-Biała, which were historically parts of Lesser Poland).


Historical population

Silesian Voivodeship has the highest population density in the country (379 people per square kilometre, compared to the national average of 124). The region's considerable industrialisation gives it the lowest unemployment rate nationally (6.2%). The Silesian region is the most industrialized and the most urbanized region in Poland: 78% of its population live in towns and cities.


"Szyndzielnia" gondola lift in Bielsko-Biała, north part of Beskid Śląski

Both the northern and southern parts of the voivodeship are surrounded by a green belt. Bielsko-Biała is enveloped by the Beskidy Mountains which are popular with winter sports fans. It offers over 150 ski lifts and 200 kilometres of ski routes. More and more slopes are illuminated and equipped with artificial snow generators. Szczyrk, Brenna, Wisła and Ustroń are the most popular winter mountain resorts. Rock climbing sites can be found in Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska. In the south-western part of the voivodeship are parks and old monasteries (Rudy Raciborskie, Wodzisław Śląski). Along the Oder River are interesting natural reserves and places for swimming during the summer.

There are numerous castles and palaces in the voivodeship, including the medieval castles of the Piast dynasty in Będzin, Gliwice, Racibórz, and the castles forming the Trail of the Eagle's Nests, including at Bobolice, Mirów, Ogrodzieniec and Olsztyn. The best-preserved palaces include those at Brynek, Kłobuck, Koniecpol, Kończyce Wielkie, Pławniowice, Sosnowiec and Złoty Potok.

Often visited is the Black Madonna's Jasna Góra Sanctuary in Częstochowa – the annual destination of over 4 million pilgrims from all over the world. Another local pilgrimage destination is the Basilica of St. Mary and St. Bartholomew in Piekary Śląskie. Other notable historic churches include the St. Nicholas' Chapel in Cieszyn, a Romanesque rotunda, depicted on the 20 złotych note, and the St. Mary Magdalene Church in Cieszyn, which contains a number of sarcophagi of Polish dukes from the Piast dynasty.

There are three spa towns in the voivodeship: Goczałkowice-Zdrój, Jastrzębie-Zdrój, and Ustroń.

With its more than two centuries of industrial history, the region has a number of technical heritage memorials. These include narrow and standard gauge railways, coal and silver mines, and shafts and their equipment from the 19th and 20th centuries. The historic coal mine complex in Zabrze is listed as a Historic Monument of Poland,[11] and the Historic Silver Mine in Tarnowskie Góry is listed as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Historic Monument of Poland.

There are numerous memorials to Polish uprisings against foreign rule, including the January Uprising of 1863–1864 and Silesian Uprisings of 1919–1921, and Świętochłowice hosts the Silesian Uprisings Museum.

There are numerous World War II memorials in the voivodeship, including at the sites of Nazi massacres of Poles and Jews, and at the sites of former Nazi German forced labour camps and prisons. The Gliwice Radio Tower and Katowice Parachute Tower are local symbols of German provocation and Polish resistance during the war, respectively.

Cities and towns

Katowice is the capital of the Silesian Voivodeship
Jasna Góra in Częstochowa is the holiest Roman Catholic shrine in Poland
Gliwice, one of the oldest cities in Silesia
Bielsko-Biała is a major industrial, transport and touristic hub

Due to its industrial and urban nature, the voivodeship has many cities and large towns. Of Poland's 40 most-populous cities, 12 are in Silesian Voivodeship. 19 of the cities in the voivodeship have the legal status of city-county (see powiat). In all, it has 24 cities and 47 towns, listed below in descending order of population (as of 2019):[1]

Cities (governed by a city mayor or prezydent miasta):
  1. Katowice (293,636)
  2. Częstochowa (221,252)
  3. Sosnowiec (201,121)
  4. Gliwice (179,154)
  5. Zabrze (172,806)
  6. Bielsko-Biała (170,953)
  7. Bytom (165,975)
  8. Rybnik (138,319)
  9. Ruda Śląska (137,624)
  10. Tychy (127,664)
  11. Dąbrowa Górnicza (119,800)
  12. Chorzów (107,963)
  13. Jaworzno (91,263)
  14. Jastrzębie-Zdrój (88,808)
  15. Mysłowice (74,515)
  16. Siemianowice Śląskie (66,963)
  17. Żory (62,462)
  18. Będzin (56,624)
  19. Piekary Śląskie (55,088)
  20. Racibórz (54,778)
  21. Świętochłowice (49,762)
  22. Zawiercie (49,334)
  23. Wodzisław Śląski (47,992)
  24. Knurów (38,310)


  1. Tarnowskie Góry (61,422)
  2. Mikołów (40,898)
  3. Czechowice-Dziedzice (35,926)
  4. Cieszyn (34,513)
  5. Myszków (31,650)
  6. Czeladź (31,545)
  7. Żywiec (31,194)
  8. Czerwionka-Leszczyny (28,156)
  9. Pszczyna (26,804)
  10. Lubliniec (23,784)
  11. Łaziska Górne (22,298)
  12. Rydułtowy (21,616)
  13. Orzesze (21,043)
  14. Bieruń (19,539)
  15. Pyskowice (18,432)
  16. Radlin (17,776)
  17. Radzionków (16,826)
  18. Lędziny (16,776)
  19. Ustroń (16,073)
  20. Skoczów (14,385)
  21. Pszów (13,896)
  22. Kłobuck (12,934)
  23. Wisła (11,132)
  24. Blachownia (9,545)
  25. Imielin (9,175)
  26. Wojkowice (8,927)
  27. Kalety (8,607)
  28. Poręba (8,525)
  29. Miasteczko Śląskie (7,437)
  30. Sławków (7,017)
  31. Łazy (6,811)
  32. Koniecpol (5,910)
  33. Szczyrk (5,734)
  34. Siewierz (5,581)
  35. Kuźnia Raciborska (5,359)
  36. Żarki (4,556)
  37. Krzepice (4,456)
  38. Woźniki (4,305)
  39. Ogrodzieniec (4,282)
  40. Strumień (3,718)
  41. Szczekociny (3,612)
  42. Toszek (3,600)
  43. Wilamowice (3,100)
  44. Olsztyn
  45. Koziegłowy (2,245)
  46. Krzanowice (2,157)
  47. Pilica (1,936)
  48. Sośnicowice (1,919)
  49. Przyrów
  50. Włodowice



The gross domestic product (GDP) of the province was 61 billion € in 2018, accounting for 12.3% of the Polish economic output. GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was 22,200 € or 74% of the EU27 average in the same year. The GDP per employee was 83% of the EU average. Silesia Voivodship is the province with the fourth highest GDP per capita in Poland.[12]

The Silesian voivodship is predominantly an industrial region. Most of the mining is derived from one of the world's largest bituminous coalfields of the Upper Silesian Industrial District (Górnośląski Okręg Przemysłowy) and the Rybnik Coal District (Rybnicki Okręg Węglowy) with its major cities Rybnik, Jastrzębie-Zdrój, Żory and Wodzisław Śląski. Lead and zinc can be found near Bytom, Zawiercie and Tarnowskie Góry; iron ore and raw materials for building – near Częstochowa. The most important regional industries are: mining, iron, lead and zinc metallurgy, power industry, engineering, automobile, chemical, building materials and textile. In the past, the Silesian economy was determined by coal mining. Now, considering the investment volume, car manufacturing is becoming more and more important. The most profitable company in the region is Fiat Auto-Poland S.A. in Bielsko-Biała with a revenue of PLN 6.2 billion in 1997. Recently a new car factory has been opened by GM Opel in Gliwice. There are two Special Economic Zones in the area: Katowice and Częstochowa. The voivodship's economy consists of about 323,000, mostly small and medium-sized, enterprises employing over 3 million people. The biggest Polish steel-works "Huta Katowice" is situated in Dąbrowa Górnicza.

The unemployment rate stood at 3.9% in 2017 and was lower than the national average.[13]

Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Unemployment rate
(in %)
14.2 8.1 6.6 6.7 9.2 9.2 9.4 9.7 8.6 7.2 5.4 3.9


Terminal A at Katowice International Airport

Katowice International Airport (in Tarnowskie Góry County) is used for domestic and international flights, with the other nearby airports being John Paul II International Airport Kraków-Balice. The Silesian agglomeration railway network has the largest concentration in the country.

The voivodship capital enjoys good railway and road connections with Gdańsk (motorway A1) and Ostrava (motorway A1), Kraków (motorway A4), Wrocław (motorway A4), Łódź (motorway A1) and Warsaw. It is also the crossing point for many international routes like E40 connecting Calais, Brussels, Cologne, Dresden, Wrocław, Kraków and Kyiv and E75 from Scandinavia to the Balkans. A relatively short distance to Vienna facilitates cross-border co-operation and may positively influence the process of European integration.

Linia Hutnicza Szerokotorowa (known by its acronym LHS, English: Broad gauge metallurgy line) in Sławków is the longest broad gauge railway line in Poland. The line runs on a single track for almost 400 km from the Polish-Ukrainian border, crossing it just east of Hrubieszów. It is the westernmost broad gauge railway line in Europe that is connected to the broad gauge rail system of the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Large part of the Upper Silesia conurbation features the Silesian Interurbans, the longest tram network in Poland, and one of the largest in the world. Bus and tram transport in and around Katowice and surrounding cities is managed by the Metropolitan Transport Authority (ZTM) since 2019.


Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Faculty of Chemistry

There are eleven public universities in the voivodship. The biggest university is the University of Silesia in Katowice, with 43,000 students. The region's capital boasts the Medical University, The Karol Adamiecki University of Economics in Katowice, the University of Music in Katowice, the Physical Education Academy and the Academy of Fine Arts. Częstochowa is the seat of the Częstochowa University of Technology and Pedagogic University. The Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice is nationally renowned. Bielsko-Biała is home of the Technical-Humanistic Academy. In addition, 17 new private schools have been established in the region.

There are over 300,000 people currently studying in the Voivodeship. The biggest universities [14] (for day 30.11.2016 r.) are:

  1. Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach (23 133 students),
  2. Politechnika Śląska w Gliwicach (21 366 students),
  3. Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny w Katowicach (10 345 students),
  4. Śląski Uniwersytet Medyczny w Katowicach (9 870 students),
  5. Politechnika Częstochowska (7 881 students),
  6. Akademia Techniczno-Humanistyczna w Bielsku-Białej (5 482 students),
  7. Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego im. Jerzego Kukuczki w Katowicach (4 727 students),
  8. Uniwersytet Humanistyczno-Przyrodniczy im. Jana Długosza w Częstochowie (4 525 students).


Silesian Regional Assembly

The Silesian voivodeship's government is headed by the province's voivode (governor) who is appointed by the Polish Prime Minister. The voivode is then assisted in performing his duties by the voivodeship's marshal, who is the appointed speaker for the voivodeship's executive and is elected by the sejmik (provincial assembly). The current voivode of Silesia is Jarosław Wieczorek, whilst the present marshal is Wojciech Saługa.

The Sejmik of Silesia consists of 48 members.

2018 election

Political groups[15] Mandates
Prawo i Sprawiedliwość 22
Koalicja Obywatelska 20
SLD Lewica Razem 2
Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe 1
Total 45

Administrative division


Silesian Voivodeship is divided into 36 counties (powiats). These include 19 city counties (far more than any other voivodeship) and 17 land counties. The counties are further divided into 167 gminas.

The counties are listed in the following table (ordering within categories is by decreasing population).

English and
Polish names
Seat Other towns Total
City counties
  Katowice 165 293,636 1
  Częstochowa 160 221,252 1
Sosnowiec 91 201,121 1
  Gliwice 134 179,154 1
  Zabrze 80 172,806 1
  Bielsko-Biała 125 170,953 1
  Bytom 69 165,975 1
  Rybnik 148 138,319 1
  Ruda Śląska 78 137,624 1
  Tychy 82 127,664 1
  Dąbrowa Górnicza 188 119,800 1
  Chorzów 33 107,963 1
  Jaworzno 154 91,263 1
  Jastrzębie-Zdrój 85 88,808 1
  Mysłowice 66 74,515 1
  Siemianowice Śląskie 25 66,963 1
  Żory 65 62,462 1
  Piekary Śląskie 40 55,088 1
  Świętochłowice 13 49,762 1
Land counties
Cieszyn County
powiat cieszyński
730 178,145 Cieszyn Ustroń, Skoczów, Wisła, Strumień 12
Bielsko County
powiat bielski
457 165,374 Bielsko-Biała* Czechowice-Dziedzice, Szczyrk, Wilamowice 10
Wodzisław County
powiat wodzisławski
287 157,346 Wodzisław Śląski Rydułtowy, Radlin, Pszów 9
Żywiec County
powiat żywiecki
1,040 152,877 Żywiec 15
Będzin County
powiat będziński
368 148,516 Będzin Czeladź, Wojkowice, Sławków, Siewierz 8
Tarnowskie Góry County
powiat tarnogórski
643 140,022 Tarnowskie Góry Radzionków, Kalety, Miasteczko Śląskie 9
Częstochowa County
powiat częstochowski
1,519 134,637 Częstochowa* Blachownia, Koniecpol, Olsztyn, Przyrów 16
Zawiercie County
powiat zawierciański
1,003 118,020 Zawiercie Poręba, Łazy, Ogrodzieniec, Szczekociny, Pilica, Włodowice 10
Gliwice County
powiat gliwicki
663 115,571 Gliwice* Knurów, Pyskowice, Toszek, Sośnicowice 8
Pszczyna County
powiat pszczyński
473 111,324 Pszczyna 6
Racibórz County
powiat raciborski
544 108,388 Racibórz Kuźnia Raciborska, Krzanowice 8
Mikołów County
powiat mikołowski
232 98,689 Mikołów Łaziska Górne, Orzesze 5
Kłobuck County
powiat kłobucki
889 84,762 Kłobuck Krzepice 9
Rybnik County
powiat rybnicki
225 78,148 Rybnik* Czerwionka-Leszczyny 5
Lubliniec County
powiat lubliniecki
822 76,470 Lubliniec Woźniki 8
Myszków County
powiat myszkowski
479 70,959 Myszków Żarki, Koziegłowy 5
Bieruń-Lędziny County
powiat bieruńsko-lędziński
157 59,715 Bieruń Lędziny, Imielin 5
* seat not part of the county

Protected areas

Little Beskids Landscape Park

Protected areas in Silesian Voivodeship include eight areas designated as Landscape Parks:


Spodek in Katowice

Football, motorcycle speedway, handball, ice hockey and volleyball enjoy the largest following in the voivodeship, with several successful teams. Most accomplished clubs include men's football clubs Górnik Zabrze and Ruch Chorzów, women's football club Czarni Sosnowiec, speedway team KS ROW Rybnik, ice hockey team GKS Katowice, men's volleyball team Jastrzębski Węgiel and women's volleyball team BKS Bielsko-Biała.

Since the establishment of the province, several major international sports competitions were co-hosted by the province, including the EuroBasket 2009, 2014 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship, 2016 European Men's Handball Championship, 2017 Men's European Volleyball Championship, 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship, 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, 2021 Men's European Volleyball Championship, 2023 World Men's Handball Championship.



See also



  1. ^ a b "Population. Size and structure and vital statistics in Poland by territorial division in 2019. As of 30th June". Statistics Poland. 2019-10-15. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  2. ^ "EU regions by GDP, Eurostat". Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  3. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Subnational HDI - Global Data Lab". Radboud University Nijmegen. Retrieved 2021-12-13.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-16. Retrieved 2017-07-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Śląskiego, Urząd Marszałkowski Województwa. "Województwo Śląskie - Śląskie. Pozytywna energia" (PDF). Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Śląski Urząd Wojewódzki w Katowicach - strona oficjalna". Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  7. ^ Art4net. "The Śląskie Voivodeship". Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Wardzyńska, Maria (2009). Był rok 1939. Operacja niemieckiej policji bezpieczeństwa w Polsce. Intelligenzaktion (in Polish). Warszawa: IPN. pp. 98, 124.
  9. ^ "Auschwitz sub-camps". Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. Retrieved 3 June 2024.
  10. ^ "Division of Poland". 2024-04-03.
  11. ^ Rozporządzenie Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z dnia 14 lipca 2020 r. w sprawie uznania za pomnik historii "Zabrze - zespół zabytkowych kopalni węgla kamiennego", Dz. U., 2020, No. 1288
  12. ^ "Regional GDP per capita ranged from 30% to 263% of the EU average in 2018". Eurostat.
  13. ^ "Regional Unemployment by NUTS2 Region". Eurostat.
  14. ^ Lista uczelni i szkół w Województwie śląskim.
  15. ^ "Serwis PKW – Wybory 2018".

50°20′00″N 19°00′01″E / 50.33333°N 19.00028°E / 50.33333; 19.00028