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Lesser Poland Voivodship

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The Lesser Poland Voivodship (in Polish województwo małopolskie) is an administrative region or voivodship in the south of Poland that contains most of the area of the historical and geographical region of Lesser Poland (Malopolska).

It bounded by the Gory Swietokrzyskie (Holy Cross Mountains) on the north, the broad range of hills stretching down from Czestochowa to Cracow (Jura Cracowsko-Czestochowska) on the west, and the Tatra, Pieniny Mountains and Beskidy Mountains on the south.
It is an ancient region forming, together with Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) and Silesia (Slask), the early medieval Polish state. Almost all of Lesser Poland lies in the Vistula river catchment area. The structure of the Tatra Euroregion allows border co-operation between areas of Poland and Slovakia. The Lesser Poland voivodship features diversified industries, a developing advanced technology sector, great scientific and cultural potential, diversified tourist and sports areas, an active population and a business-friendly environment. The city of Cracow, the ancient capital of Poland and for centuries the residence of Polish kings, is a convenient place for meetings, conferences, as well as for trade and cultural exchanges. It is a city where two Nobel Prize winners in the field of literature, Wislawa Szymborska and Czeslaw Milosz, come from. Following the decision of the European Union's Ministers of Culture, Cracow was one of the European Cities of Culture of the year 2000.
Cracow has convenient railway and road connections with Katowice (expressway), Warsaw, Wroclaw and Rzeszow. It lies at the crossroads of major international routes linking Dresden with Kiev, and Gdansk with Budapest. The second largest international airport in Poland (after Warsaw) is located here.

Economy

The most visible feature of the region's economy is its great diversity. All significant branches of economy are represented here - from high technologies and banking to chemical and metallurgical industries, coal, ore, food processing, spirit and tobacco industries. The most industrialised city of the voivodship is Cracow. The largest regional enterprise is operating here - the Tadeusz Sendzimir Steelworks employing 17,000 people. Another major industrial centre is located in the west, in the neighbourhood of Chrzanow (production of railway engines) and Oswiecim (chemical works). Cracow Park Technologiczny, a special economic zone, has been established within the voivodship. There are almost 210,000 registered economic entities operating in the voivodship, mostly small and medium-sized, of which 234 belong to the state-owned sector. Foreign investment, constantly growing in the region, reached approximately USD 1,5 billion by the end of 1997.

Universities

Cracow's scientific potential is a powerful asset. 102,000 students attend fifteen Cracow academic institutions. The Jagiellonian University, the biggest university in the city (27,000 students), was founded in 1364 and enjoys a well-deserved reputation. Nicholas Copernicus and Karol Wojtyla (the Pope, John Paul II) graduated from it. The Mining and Steelwork Academy (18,700 students) is considered to be the best technical university in Poland. The Academy of Economics, the Pedagogical University, the Cracow Technical University and the Agricultural Academy are also very highly regarded. There are also the Fine Arts Academy, the State Theatre University and the Musical Academy. Nowy Sacz has become a significant scientific and educational centre in the region thanks to its Higher School of Business and Administration, with an American curriculum, founded in 1992. The school, considered to be the best private educational establishment in Poland, has 2,200 students. There are also two private higher schools in Tarnow.

Tourism

Four national parks and numerous sanctuaries have been established in the voivodship in order to protect and save the exceptional values of the natural environment of Lesser Poland. The region has superb tourist and recreational areas, including Zakopane (the most popular Polish winter resort) and the Tatra, Pieniny and Beskidy Mountains. The abundant natural landscape features many historical places and sites. The salt mine in Wieliczka, the pilgrimage town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and Cracow's Old Town are ranked by UNESCO among the most precious sites of the world heritage. In Wadowice, the birthplace of John Paul II (50 kilometres south-west from Cracow) one can visit a museum dedicated to the Pope's childhood. The area of Oswiecim, the former Nazi concentration camp (Auschwitz-Birkenau), is visited by about half a million visitors annually.



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