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Silesian Voivodship

The Silesian Voivodship (in Polish województwo slaskie) is an administrative region or voivodship in the south of Poland.

The Silesian voivodship lies in the south of Poland and is bordered by the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Silesian Upland (Wyzyna Slaska) is situated in the central and the north western part, with the hills of the Krakowsko-Czestochowska Upland (Wyzyna Krakowsko-Czestochowska) in the north-eastern area. The southern border is formed by the scenic Beskid[?] Mountains (Beskid Slaski[?] and Zywiec Zywiecki[?]). Strong links of the present Silesian voivodship (comprising area known as the Upper Silesia) with the Opole and Lower Silesian Voivodships is justified and motivated by historical identity of the Duchy of Silesia (Ksiestwo Slaskie) divided in the 13th century into the Upper and Lower Silesia.

The Silesian voivodship has the highest population density in the country (398 people, as compared to the national average of 124 people, per square kilometre). The region's considerable industrialisation contributes to the lowest national unemployment rate of 6.2%. The Silesian region is the most industrialised, but also considered the greatest environmental hazard among all Polish voivodships (acid rains and mining damage). It is also the most urbanised region and that is why it has the largest number of towns with county status. Katowice airport is used for domestic and international flights and the Silesian agglomeration railway network has the largest concentration in the country. The voivodship capital enjoys good railway and road connections with Cracow (highway), Wroclaw, Lodz and Warsaw. It is also the crossing point for many international routes like the one connecting Berlin, Dresden, Wroclaw, Cracow and Kiev and the other from Gdansk to the Balkans. A relatively short distance to Vienna facilitates cross-border co-operation and may positively influence the process of European integration.

Economy

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 (Gornoslaski Okreg Przemyslowy) and the Rybnik Coal District (Rybnicki Okreg Weglowy) with its major cities Rybnik, Jastrzebie[?] Zdroj, Zory[?] and Wodzislaw[?] Slaski. Lead and zinc can be found near Bytom, Zawiercie[?] and Tarnowskie[?] Gory; iron ore and raw materials for building - near Czestochowa. 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-Biala 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 Czestochowa. The voivodship's economy consists of about 323,000, mostly small and medium-sized, enterprises employing over 3 million people. The mining industry is the most distinctive employer in the region. 160 mining companies employ almost 558,000 employees. 97.5% of all firms operating in the region belong to the private sector. The greatest challenge facing Silesia is to restructure the area with the largest in Poland concentration of traditional industries and transform it into a modern, multifunctional region competitive under the market economy conditions. The biggest Polish steel-works "Huta Katowice" is situated in Dabrowa Gornicza

Universities

There are eleven public universities in the voivodship. The biggest university is the [Silesian University (http://www.us.edu.pl)] in Katowice, with 37,000 students. The region's capital boasts the Medical Academy, the Economic Academy, the Musical Academy, the Physical Education Academy and a branch of the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts. Czestochowa is the seat of the Czestochowa Technical University and Pedagogic University. The Silesian Technical University in Gliwice is nationally renowned. Bielsko-Biala is home to a branch of the Lodz Technical University. In addition, 17 new private schools have been established in the region.

Tourism

Both northern and southern Silesia is surrounded by a pollution-free green belt. Bielsko-Biala is enveloped by the magnificent Beskidy[?] Mountains which are particularly popular with winter sports fans. This genuine skier's paradise 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[?], Wisla[?] and Ustron[?] are the most popular winter mountain resorts. Rock climbing sites can be found in admirable corners of Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska[?]. The ruins of castles forming the trail of Eagle Nests are a famous attraction of the region. While in Silesia, one cannot miss the Black Madonna[?]'s Jasna Gora[?] Sanctuary in Czestochowa - the annual destination of over 4 million pilgrims from all over the world.



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