|Language(s):|| Silesian language,|
|Time zone:|| CET (UTC+1)|
Geographically, the area is very accessible but terminates within several mountain ranges making it historically a border region when incorporated amongst larger nation-states. It is primarily located in a swath flanking along both banks of the upper and middle Oder River, but extends to the upper Vistula River, and into and along the Sudetes, and arms of the Carpathian (both the Silesian Beskids, Silesian-Moravian Beskids) mountain ranges.
As a region, "national" ownership and borders have changed radically over the past millennium both as a heredity possession of noble houses and after the rise of modern nation-states; but, at present, most of the area is now within the borders of Poland where it is administered by the following sub-divisions: Silesian Voivodeship, Opole Voivodeship, Lower Silesian Voivodeship and Lubusz Voivodeship. Additional parts of the region are now in the Czech Republic (Czech Silesia) and Germany (Silesian-Lusatian Region or Silesian Lusatia: Niederschlesien-Oberlausitz/Schlesische Oberlausitz).
Silesia has been inhabited by people of multiple ethnic groups, primarily Germanic tribes and Slavic tribes. The first known states in Silesia were those of Greater Moravia and Bohemia. In the 10th century, Mieszko I incorporated Silesia into the Polish state; in the Middle Ages, Silesia was divided among many independent duchies ruled by various Silesian dukes of the Piast dynasty. During this time, cultural and ethnic German influence increased. Silesia fell under the influence of the Bohemian crown under the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century, and passed with that crown to the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria in 1526. In 1742, most of Silesia was seized by King Frederick the Great of Prussia in the War of the Austrian Succession and subsequently made the Prussian Province of Silesia. After World War I, parts of Silesia were transferred to the Second Polish Republic. The Prussian Province of Silesia within Germany was divided into the Provinces of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia. Austrian Silesia (now Czech Silesia), the small portion of Silesia retained by Austria after the Silesian Wars, became part of the new Czechoslovakia. In 1945 following World War II, all of Silesia was seized by the Soviet Union and most of it transferred to Poland.
One theory claims that the name Silesia is derived from the Silingi, who were most likely a Vandalic (East Germanic) people migrated towards south of the Baltic Sea along the Elbe, Oder, and Vistula Rivers in the 2nd century. When the Silingi moved from the area during the Migration Period, they left remnants of their society behind.
The most evident remnants are in the names of places, which were imposed (in Slavic form) by the new inhabitants, who were in fact Slavic (Śląsk; Old Polish: Śląžsk [-o]; Old Slavic: *Sьlęžьskъ [<*sǐlęgǐskǔ], from Old Vandalic *Siling-isk [land]). These people became associated with the place, and were thenceforth known as Silesians (using a Latinized form of the Polish name, Ślężanie), even though they may have had little in common with the original Silingi. The critics claim that neither the Polish name Śląsk nor German Schlesien show resemblance to the alleged tribe of "Silingi", and that the Latin name Silesia originated in 11th century.
The other theory (supported by archaeological finds) claims that the original name of the region Śląsk, is derived from the West Slavic word ślągwa meaning high humidity (to this day the region of Mountain Ślęża, the original Polish settlement, has a coastal climate).
Silesia has been inhabited from time immemorial by people of multiple ethnic groups. Germanic tribes were first recorded within Silesia in the 1st century. Slavic White Croats arrived in this territory around the 6th century establishing White Croatia. The first known states in Silesia were those of Greater Moravia and Bohemia. In the 10th century, Mieszko I incorporated Silesia into the Polish state.
In the Middle Ages, Silesia was divided among many independent duchies ruled by various Silesian dukes of the Piast dynasty. During this time, cultural and ethnic German influence increased due to immigrants from the German-speaking components of the Holy Roman Empire. Between the years 1289–1292 Bohemian king Wenceslaus II became suzerain of some Upper Silesian duchies. Silesia subsequently became a possession of the Bohemian crown under the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century, and passed with that crown to the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria in 1526. The Duchy of Crossen was inherited by Brandenburg--> in 1476 and, with the renunciation by King Ferdinand I and estates of Bohemia in 1538, it became an integral part of Brandenburg.
After World War I, parts of Silesia were transferred to the Second Polish Republic and administered as the Autonomous Silesian Voivodeship. A plebecite (results of which were contested by Poland) recorded the majority of the population of all of Upper Silesia wished to remain part of Germany. However, the easternmost portion of Upper Silesia, with a majority ethnic Polish population, was transferred to Poland. The Prussian Province of Silesia within Germany was divided into the Provinces of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia. Austrian Silesia (now Czech Silesia), the small portion of Silesia retained by Austria after the Silesian Wars, became part of the new Czechoslovakia.
In 1945 following World War II, all of Silesia was seized by the Soviet Union and most of it transferred to Poland. As a result a vast majority of the native ethnic German population was expelled by force and replaced by Polish settlers who had themselves been expelled from eastern Poland.
Traditionally, Silesia was bounded to the west by the Kwisa and Bóbr rivers, while the territory west of the Kwisa was in Upper Lusatia (earlier Milsko). However, because part of Upper Lusatia was included in the Province of Silesia in 1815, in Germany Görlitz, Niederschlesischer Oberlausitzkreis and neighbouring areas are considered parts of Silesia. Those districts, along with Poland's Lower Silesian Voivodeship and parts of Lubusz Voivodeship, make up the geographic region of Lower Silesia.
Silesia has undergone a similar notional extension at its eastern extreme. Traditionally it extended only as far as the Brynica river, which separates it from Zagłębie Dąbrowskie. However to most Poles today (excluding those from the area in question), Silesia (Śląsk) is understood to cover all of the area around Katowice, including Zagłębie. This interpretation is given official sanction in the use of the name Silesian Voivodeship (województwo śląskie) for the province covering this area. In fact the word Śląsk in Polish (when used without qualification) now commonly refers exclusively to this area (also called Upper Silesia), to the exclusion of Lower Silesia.
Apart from Silesian Voivodeship, Upper Silesia in a broader sense also includes Opole Voivodeship in Poland and Czech Silesia in the Czech Republic. Czech Silesia consists of a part of the Moravian-Silesian Region and the Jeseník District in the Olomouc Region.
In post-communist times, however, the outdated nature of many facilities has led to environmental problems and substantial transition away from the resource-based to service-based economy.
|Mineral Name||Production (tonnes)||Reference|
The region also has a thriving agricultural sector, which produces cereals (wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn), potatoes, rapeseed, sugar beets and others. Milk production is well developed. The Opole Silesia has for decades occupied the top spot in Poland for their indices of effectiveness of agricultural land use.
Silesia is generally well forested. This is because greenness is generally highly desirable by the local population, particularly in the highly industrialized parts of Silesia.
Before the Second World War, Silesia was inhabited mostly by Germans and Poles, in addition to German and Polish Jews and Czechs. In 1905, a census showed (in Upper Silesia) that 75% of the population was German and 25% Polish. Most Jews were murdered in the Holocaust in the German concentration camps. The vast majority of German Silesians fled or were expelled from Silesia during and after World War II. Most ethnic German Silesians today live in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, many of them working as miners in the Ruhr area, like their ancestors did in the Silesian mines. In order to smooth their integration into West German society after 1945, they were organized into officially recognized organisations, like the Landsmannschaft Schlesien, financed from the federal German budget. One of its most notable but controversial spokesmen was the CDU politician Herbert Hupka. The prevailing public opinion in Germany is that these organisations will achieve reconciliation with the Polish Silesians, which is gradually occurring. Many of the pre-war Germanised Slavic Silesians living in Upper Silesia have remained culturally bound to and have sought work in the Federal Republic of Germany after 1990, along with their ethnic German Silesian countrymen. Examples of mixed Polish-German Silesians include Miroslav Klose; fellow teammate Lukas Podolski who is also Silesian. Both are stars of the German national football team.
Silesia is perceived by many inhabitants as a distinct region with its own culture. Also stereotyping of Silesians and by Silesians themselves is common. The Silesian people are perceived to traditionally exhibit exceptional working ethics, high technical aptitude, dedication to family, team-work orientation, and skepticism to politics and media. The stereotypical way for Silesian men to spend their free time would include pigeon keeping, bee keeping, soccer, gardening, home upgrades, beer drinking, or magazine reading, while stereotypical housewife would prefer to play with kids, chat with a neighbour, or bake elaborate pastry (possibly a poppy-seed cake).
The following table lists the (official) cities in Silesia with a population greater than 100,000 (2006):
|1||Wrocław||635 932||293 km²||Lower Silesian V.|
|2||Katowice||317 220||165 km²||Silesian Voivodeship|
|3||Ostrava *||309 531||214 km²||Moravian-Silesian R.|
|4||Gliwice||199 451||134 km²||Silesian Voivodeship|
|5||Bytom||187 943||69 km²||Silesian Voivodeship|
|6||Zabrze||191 247||80 km²||Silesian Voivodeship|
|7||Bielsko-Biała *||176 864||125 km²||Silesian Voivodeship|
|8||Ruda Śląska||146 658||78 km²||Silesian Voivodeship|
|9||Rybnik||141 580||148 km²||Silesian Voivodeship|
|10||Tychy||131 153||82 km²||Silesian Voivodeship|
|11||Opole||128 268||97 km²||Opole Voivodeship|
|12||Wałbrzych||126 465||85 km²||Lower Silesian V.|
|13||Zielona Góra||118 221||58 km²||Lubusz Voivodeship|
|14||Chorzów||114 686||33 km²||Silesian Voivodeship|
|15||Legnica||105 750||56 km²||Lower Silesian V.|