Podkarpackie Voivodeship is one of the 16 voivodeships contributing to Poland's territory. It is located in the south-eastern corner of Poland, thus constituting part of the state borders. The province neighbors Slovakia to the south and Ukraine to the east. Podkarpackie is bounded by the provinces of Lubelskie Voivodeship to the north, Małopolskie Voivodeship to the west, and Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship to the northwest. Podkarpackie stretches over an area of approximately 17,845.76 square kilometers, which is inhabited by circa 2,127,164, thus creating a population density of 119.2 people per kilometer squared. Podkarpackie land is of flat and lowland character to the north. The south constitutes of Lower Beskid Mountains and the Bieszczady Mountains. The most significant river flowing through the region is the Vistula. Rzeszów, the province's capital city, is located in the central part of the region, on the shores of the Vistula river. The area of the city has been inhabited since prehistoric times. However, the city itself was established in the Middle Ages. Nowadays, the city consists of a relatively well-preserved historic district.
Podkarpackie Voivodeship consists of a considerable number of national parks and protected landscape areas. Some of the predominant national parks are, for example, Magura and Bieszczady national parks. The nature of the region presumably is one of the chief touristic attractions of the territory. The Carpathian Mountains offer hiking and skiing options. Over 1,100 miles of cycling routes with varying difficulty levels have been reported to stretch over the Podkarpackie Voivodeship's territory.
In 2013, eight wooden churches located in the Podkarpackie Province were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List under one entry. The churches are examples of medieval liturgical architecture and are unique in the logging technique used for their construction. The Wooden Architecture Route leads through the region and to a relatively large portion of churches. The route also leads to the Open-air Museum of Rural Architecture in Sanok.
Łańcut Castle belongs among the castles of the Podkarpackie Province, which are under the protection of the National Heritage Board of Poland. The castle was built by the end of the 16th century and was later modernized by various owners throughout the time. Classicist, rococo, and Neo-Gothic decorative elements can be seen in the castle interior. The castle is surrounded by gardens in the early English Landscape style. The park stretches over an area of 36 hectares and consists of an Orchid House. The whole complex is open to visitors.
In the Podkarpackie Voivodeship, the town of Nowa Dęba has an operating Christmas tree ball manufacturing company known as the Biliński Company. The Christmas tree balls manufacturer has a long tradition in the area, and the balls are traditionally hand-painted. The company also features a Museum of the Christmas Tree Balls, the only museum in the world of its' kind open for visitors.
From an economic and business point of view, the Podkarpackie Voivodeship is situated in Aviation Valley, the largest aviation industry cluster in Poland. The Aviation Valley is characterized by a high concentration of companies from the aviation industry. The Aviation Valley Center, with most of the research, training, and development facilities, is located in the capital city, Rzeszów.
Northern parts consist of primarily flat and lowland landscapes, whereas southern parts are dominated by Lower Beskid Mountains and the Bieszczady Mountains, which constitute natural borders with Slovakia. The highest peak in the territory is Mount Tarnica, with an altitude of 1,346 m above sea level, which is part of the Bieszczady Mountains. The southern mountainous areas are heavily forested. Forests, in general, cover one-third of the whole territory. Predominant rivers of the territory include the Vistula, San, Wisłoka, and Wisłok.
Approximately half of the Podkarpackie territory is used for agriculture. The chief crops include cereals, potatoes, sugar beets, and vegetables. A considerable part of the southern mountainous areas constitutes natural parks. Magura National Park stretches across the borders with the Małopolskie Voivodeship to the west and protects the fauna and flora of the Carpathian Mountains. Bieszczady National Park is situated in the easternmost parts of the region and protects the nature of the Eastern Carpathians. The national park is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as it is Poland's third largest national park.
The land that encompasses Podkarpackie consists of fossil raw materials, such as sulfur, crude oil, and natural gas. Minerals, mostly sandstone, limestone, gypsum, ceramic clays, sands, gravel, and peat, are mined in the southern parts of the territory, mainly in the mountainous areas. Podkarpackie Voivodeship is also a source of mineral and geothermal waters. In close proximity to the capital city, Rzeszów and the city of Sanok have the most extensive natural gas storage facilities in Poland. For these reasons, the largest Polish oil and gas companies' headquarters are located in the Podkarpackie territory. Crude oil deposits and three refineries are located in Jasło, Jedlicze, and Gorlice.
Regarding the climate of the Pockarpackie territory, the area is located in the continental climate area, which is characterized by an alteration of four seasons throughout the year. Sandomirez Basin, situated in the northern parts of the region, is one of the warmest areas of Poland. The warmest month in the area is August, with an average daily temperature of 22°C. January is reportedly the coldest month, with an average temperature of 0°C. The driest month is February, with an average of 29 mm of rainfall. The most precipitation generally falls during July, with an average of 100 mm.
The area of the capital city, Rzeszów, which constitutes the central part of the Podkarpackie Voivodeship, has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age. Farmers came to the area of the town in the sixth century BC. Lusatians, Przeworsks, and later Slavic tribes inhabited the territory. Podkarpackie land was incorporated into the Polish state in the 10th century. Eastern parts belonged then to the Russian dukes. However, during the rule of Casimir III, the area was annexed to Poland in the 14th century. Considerable business of that time included grain and cloth trade, which were most developed in the area.
In the 17th century, numerous invasions by Swedes, Saxons, Tatars, and Russians brought destabilization to the region. In 1772, 1793, and 1795, three Poland partitions took place. With each partition, the Polish territory shrank until, eventually, Poland ceased to exist as an independent country. The area of Podkarpackie, which was then known as Galicia, came under Austrian rule.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Galicia was regarded as the poorest of the Polish regions. By the end of the century, the region was granted autonomy, which started the development. New roads and railway lines were established, and petroleum reserves near Krosno and Jasło were developed. However, the poverty in the region led to considerable emigration of the inhabitants, mainly to Germany or America.
In 1918, independent Poland was reestablished, which further helped with the development of the Podkarpackie area. Industrial plants were opened in Rzeszów, Mielec, Dębica, and Stalowa Wola to help with unemployment. During the Second World War, there were concentration camps established in the area, and over 140,000 people were deported to Germany as forced laborers. After the Second World War, fights against the Ukrainian Liberation Army took place, resulting in relocating of the Ukrainian and Ruthenian populations from the territory.
Nowadays, the Podkarpackie Voivodeship's most prominent minority is Ukrainians, constituting 0.2% of the total population. Most Ukrainians living in Podkarpackie belong to the Rusyn ethnic group, historically inhabiting Polish-Slovakian border areas. The vast majority of the inhabitants of the Podkarpackie territory belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The populist and eurosceptic parties occupy most seats in the local parliament.
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