Podlasie (Podlaskie) is primarily rural and remote with the exception of a few urban centres and is located on the east side of Poland bordering Lithuania and Belarus. The voivodeship constitutes a part of the ecologically clean area known as “the Green Lungs of Poland” and is a lush expanse of forest, farmland and lakes boasting four national parks, three Landscape Parks, 88 nature reserves and 15 protected landscape areas.
The most famous of the national parks is Bialowieza, which is well-known for two reasons. Firstly, it is home to Europe’s largest land mammal, the European bison and secondly, the park shelters a sizeable chunk of original lowland primeval forest; which has remained undisturbed for hundreds of years. The forest has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve.
The other three national parks are Narew and Biebrza, known for their marshlands and Wigry; which is known for its lakes.
The province has a number of forests, some of which are the only ones in Europe to have retained their original character. The forests of Białowieża, Augustów, Knyszyń and Kurpiowska have an extremely diverse selection of flora and fauna. Visitors may see bison, wolves, lynx and moose.
The capital of Podlasie is the large, busy city of Białystok. Its proximity to the region’s national parks makes it a good base.
Of the sixteen Polish voivodeships, Podlasie has the lowest population density and its largely unspoiled nature is its biggest attraction. Around 30% of the area of the voivodeship is under legal protection.
Podlasie is the most diverse of all Polish voivodships and has been inhabited for hundreds of years by members of different religions and nations.
Nature also plays a big part in the region’s economy. The province is the largest milk producer in Poland and it also has a thriving wood and furniture industry.
The Podlaskie Museum of Folk Culture is not far from Białystok and features a great collection of the local folk art and typical examples of peasant houses and farm buildings characteristic of the region. The museum is located at the northern borders of Białystok, in the settlement of Wasilków, on the road to Augustów.