Podlaskie Voivodeship, situated in the north-eastern part of Poland, neighbours with three voivodeships: warminsko-mazurskie, mazowieckie and lubelskie. It also shares north-eastern border with Lithuania and eastern border with Belarus. Podlaskie Voivodeship is an internal (with Lithuania) and external (with Belarus) border of European Union as well.
Area - 20 180 km2.
Population (30th August 2008) - 1191861
Number of civil parishes - 118 - including 3 cities with district rights: Podlaskie Voivodeship's capital - Bialystok, Lomza and Suwalki.
Number of districts - 17 - including 3 urban districts (cities with district rights: Podlaskie voivodeship's capital - Bialystok, Lomza, Suwalki) and 14 land districts.
The region has 11 boundary passages: across the border with Lithuania - Budzisko, Ogrodniki, Trakiszki (railway); Belarus - Bialowieza, Bobrowniki, Czeremcha (railway), Kuznica Bialostocka (both, cars and railway), Polowce, Plaska, Rudawka (river passage), Siemianowka (railway – commodities exchange).
Voivodeship's capital - Bialystok. It's developement started in XVIII th century, during great chief hetman Jan Klemens Branicki reign. Most of the cultural and higher education institutions, such as: theatres, philharmonics, museums, university, medical academy, polytechnic, universities of economics works here. Bialystok therefore is a main industrial, cultural and scientific center of the region, moreover distinguishing among other polish cities in doll-making art. Nearby the Bialystok Doll Theatre works higher education institution teaching actors and directors of future doll and puppet plays.
Geographical and historical conditions caused that Podlaskie Voivodeship is a place of coexistance of many various nations and cultures characterized by faith diversity and multitude of rituals. Poles, Belarussians, Tartars, Russians and Jews has been living here together for centuries. This cultural variety was, inter alia, a reason of creating by born in Bialystok Ludwik Zamenhof (1859-1917) an universal language for everyone - Esperanto.
Untill nowadays in Podlaskie Voivodeship we can see natural landscapes, forests and woods, lakes or river bands. Four national parks show us outstanding as for Poland or Europe natural values of the region:
Bialowieski National Park - Bialowieska Forest is the best preserved in Europe natural forest with a primeval character. In 1977 UNESCO acknowledged Bialowieski National Park as a Biosphere Preserve of M&B and in 1979 wrote onto the list of World's Heritage as an only natural object from Poland.
Biebrzanski National Park - The biggest polish national park (59 223 hectares) was created in 1993. Tree stands occupy 15 544 hectares, agricultural lands - 18 180 hectares and waste lands - well renowned Biebrzanskie Swamps, in reality ecosystems of the biggest value - 23 428 hectares.
Narwianski National Park - Whole, created in 1996, park's area amounts to 7350 hectares. It's situated in the Upper Narwia Valley and comprises swampy Narwia valley between Suraz and Rzedziany.
Wigierski National Park - lies in north-eastern Poland in Podlaskie Voivodeship on the Mazursko-Podlaska land in north-eastern part of Mazury and northern part of Augustowska Forest.
Podlaskie Voivodeship is mostly a farming region. Corn and potatoes are grown here in majority. Agriculture is mainly connected with a private sector. Our milk, poultry and meat products are well known and valued in and beyond the country.
Industry specializes in production and processing food articles. Machine, textile and wood industry is meaningful as well. Production capacity is concentrated in the biggest cities - Bialystok, Suwalki and Lomza.
The voivodeship tightens cooperation with the countries of the Baltic Basin in coherence with Transborder Euroregion "Niemen" Association (Poland, Lithuania and Belarus) and with friend regions: Trento, Lombardy, Bolzano – Upper Adyga (Italy), Burgundy (France), Häme (Finland), the Rhineland Northern Westfaly (Germany) and Värmländ (Sweden).