The Silesian Voivodeship is the most important Polish industrial region, located in the southern part of Poland. The unique economic position occupied by the Silesian Voivodeship is owed to the fact that its share in the GDP is one of the highest in the country. The region neighbours Opolskie, Łódzkie, Świętokrzyskie and Małopolske voivedeships, bordering the Czech Republic and Slovakia from the south. Six European capitals are within the reach of 600 kilometres from Katowice, namely Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava and Berlin.
Silesia is polycentric, with no single centre to fulfil metropolitan functions (administration, finances, insurance systems, universities, culture). The systems of administration, universities, cultural establishments, and major companies are mostly concentrated in large cities belonging to the Silesian agglomeration, such as Katowice, Sosnowiec, Bytom, Gliwice, Zabrze, Tychy and Chorzów. Significant role is also played by the capitals of sub-regions, that is Rybnik, Bielsko-Biała and Częstochowa.
A high degree of urbanisation is reflected by the fact that almost 79% of Silesians live in 71 cities, of which:
- 3 have over 200,000 citizens,
- 9 have from 100,000 to 20,000 citizens,
- 11 have from 50,000 to 100,000 citizens.
What follows from the above is that every third Polish major city is located in the Silesian Voivodeship. The Voivodeship is the 14th largest, and 2nd most populous in Poland. This relatively small territory, covering an area of 12 334 km2, which is 3.9% of Poland's total area, is inhabited by 4,645,665 people, which accounts for 12.2% of Poland's population - the highest in the country's population density index, i.e. 377 people/km2 against 122 people/km2 for Poland and 116 people/km2 reported in the UE. Such high human concentration in a relatively small area creates a potential ready market for consumables.
Being the largest urbanised area in the Central-Eastern Europe, the Upper Silesian agglomeration decides about the uniqueness of the region. The local urban network is very dense and consists of cities and towns which are actually connected with one another, stretching for approximately 70 km - from Dąbrowa Górnicza to Gliwice. This network covers around 18% of the total area of the Voivodeship (1,200 km2), and the average population density amounts to approximately 1,900 people/km2. The region boasts more than 30 universities, hundred thousands of companies and Poland's most concentrated railway and streetcar networks.
In September 2007 the Agreement on the Establishment of the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Union came into force. The Union is comprised of 14 largest neighbouring cities with more than 100,000 citizens, whose total population reaches over 2 million. Consequently, the region is more populated than Warsaw.