Oświęcim County (Polish: powiat Oświęcimski) is a unit of territorial administration and local government (powiat) in Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Malopolskie, in southern Poland. It came into being on January 1, 1999, as a result of the Polish local government reforms passed in 1998.
Its administrative seat and largest town is Oświęcim, which lies 51 kilometres (32 miles) west of the regional capital Kraków. The county contains four other towns: Kęty, 17 km (11 miles) south of Oświęcim, Brzeszcze, 9 km (6 miles) south-west of Oświęcim, Chełmek, 8 km (5 miles) north of Oświęcim, and Zator, 16 km (10 miles) east of Oświęcim.
The county covers an area of 406.03 square kilometres (156.8 sq miles). As of 2006 its total population was 153,390, out of which the population of Oświęcim was 40,979, Kęty was 19,252, Brzeszcze was 11,730, Chełmek was 9,065, Zator was 3,726, and the rural population was 68,638.
The county contains the sites of the Auschwitz concentration camp complex (Auschwitz being the German name for Oświęcim).
Oświęcim County is bordered by the city of Jaworzno to the north, Chrzanów County to the north-east, Wadowice County to the south-east, Bielsko County to the south, Pszczyna County to the west and Bieruń-Lędziny County to the north-west.
An asset of the Oświęcim County is that it belongs to one of the most industrialized and urbanized powiats in Małopolska. The district has a chemical industry in Oświęcim, metal industry in Kęty, light industry in Chełmek and the mining industry at Brzeszcze. The largest companies of the region are:
In the smaller communities of the county agriculture is the main industry, and Oświęcim has also a freshwater fish industry, mainly carp. Local traditions connected with carp breeding have been passed down from the 13th century.
The powiat of Oświęcim has many sport and recreation facilities. The county bosts that there are over 70 associations and sporting organizations.
Beautiful landscapes with fish ponds which are characteristic for this area like ‘Dolina Karpia’ [Valley of Carp] in the vicinity of Zator, clean rivers and many interesting historic buildings as well as good transport connections have made Oświęcim County an attractive place of recreation. Walking trails on the Skawa River along the green osier bed and ponds with bulrush as well as numerous water fowl habitats such as: Herons, Swans and Cormorants are a favourite place for hikers and bird watching.
Oświęcim County is a kind of a culture melting pot where the elements of folk culture from nearby places such as Kraków, Silesia, Żywiec, Podhale and Nowy Sącz all mix to make numerous cultural and educational institutions act locally, nationally and internationally.
The county is subdivided into nine gminas (one urban, four urban-rural and four rural). These are listed in the following table, in descending order of population.
|Gmina Oświęcim||rural||74.5||16,708||Oświęcim *|
|Gmina Polanka Wielka||rural||24.1||4,136||Polanka Wielka|
|* seat not part of the gmina|
The editor acknowledges with grateful thanks that some of the above information is from Wikipedia.
A Powiat (pronounced povyat) is the second level of Polish administrative division, between Voivodships and Communes. As such it is roughly equivalent to counties or districts in the United Kingdom. There is no official equivalent of the name in English.
Some of the towns in a Voivodship can be centres of more than one powiat. The reason is that in several cases the town itself and its surroundings form separate entities of administrative division. This is usually the case for large Polish cities, but can also apply to several smaller towns.
Powiat Oświęcimski - Malopolskie - Poland - Polska - Poland Travel Guide