Division of Poland into gminas

The gmina (Polish pronunciation [ˈɡmina], plural gminy [ˈɡminɨ]) is the principal unit of administrative division of Poland at its lowest uniform level. It is often translated as "commune" or "municipality." As of 2010 there were 2,479 gminas throughout the country.[1] The word gmina derives from the German word Gemeinde, meaning "community."

The gmina has been the basic unit of territorial division in Poland since 1972, when it replaced the smaller gromada (cluster). There are three types of gminas in Poland:

  1. urban gmina (gmina miejska) consisting of just one city or town,
  2. mixed urban-rural gmina (gmina miejsko-wiejska) consisting of a town and surrounding villages and countryside; and
  3. rural gmina (gmina wiejska) consisting only of villages and countryside.

Some rural gminas have their seat in a town which is outside the gmina's division. For example, the rural Gmina Augustów is administered from the town of Augustów, but does not include the town, as Augustów is an urban type gmina in its own right.

An urban gmina is normally referred to only, by the name of the city or town in question. Other types of gminas are called "Gmina X", where "X" (in the vast majority of cases) is the name of town or village in which the gmina has its seat. Term "Gmina X" featuring the name of settlement is sometimes translated into English as "X Commune".

The legislative and controlling body of each gmina is the elected municipal council (rada gminy), or in a town: rada miasta (town assembly). Executive power is held by the directly elected mayor of the municipality, called wójt in rural gminas, burmistrz in most urban and urban-rural gminas, or prezydent in towns with more than 100,000 inhabitants and some others which traditionally use the title. A gmina may create auxiliary units (jednostki pomocnicze), which play a subordinate administrative role. In rural areas these are called sołectwos; in towns they may be dzielnicas or osiedles. In an urban-rural gmina, the town itself may be designated as an auxiliary unit. For a complete listing of all the gminas in Poland, see List of Polish gminas.


Types of administrative tasks and objectives

Each gmina carries out two types of tasks: its own tasks, and commissioned ones. Own tasks are public tasks exercised by self-government, which serve to satisfy the needs of the community. The tasks can be twofold:

  • compulsory – where the commune cannot resign from their realization, and must set up the budget to carry them out in order to provide the inhabitants with the public benefits of basic character
  • optional – where the commune can carry them out in accordance with available budgetary means, set out only to specific local needs (on the gmina's own responsibility and budget).

Own objectives

Own objectives include a variety of matters such as: the spatial harmony, the real estate management, the environmental protection and nature conservation, the water management, country roads, public streets, bridges, squares and traffic systems, water supply systems and source, the sewage system, removal of urban waste, water treatment, maintenance of cleanliness and order, sanitary facilities, dumps and council waste, supply of electric and thermal energy and gas, public transport, health care, welfare, care homes, subsidized housing, public education, cultural facilities including public libraries and other cultural institutions, historic monuments conservation and protection, the sports facilities and tourism including recreational grounds and devices; marketplaces and covered markets, green spaces and public parks, communal graveyards, public order and safety, fire and flood protection with equipment maintenance and storage, maintaining objects and devices of the public utility and administrative buildings, pro-family policy including social support for pregnant women, medical and legal care, supporting and popularizing the self-government initiatives and cooperation within the commune including with non-governmental organizations, interaction with regional communities from other countries etc.

Commissioned tasks

Commissioned tasks cover the remaining public tasks resulting from legitimate needs of the state, commissioned by central government to be performed by self-government's units. The tasks are handed over on the basis of statutory bylaws, charters and regulations; or, by way of agreements between the self-government units and central government administration.

Overall number of gminas by type

Number of gminas by voivodeship
Urban gminas 36 17 20 9 18 15 35 3 16 13 25 49 5 16 19 11 307
Urban-rural gminas 55 35 22 33 25 43 50 32 31 24 17 22 26 33 90 52 588
Rural gminas 78 92 171 41 134 124 229 36 113 81 81 96 71 67 117 51 1,584
Total gminas 169 144 213 83 177 182 314 71 160 118 123 167 102 116 226 114 2,479
of which: rural gminas with their seat outside the gmina 14 13 17 5 15 9 15 0 12 12 13 0 1 15 11 8 160

Abbreviations used for voivodeships:
LS: Lower Silesian Voivodeship, KP: Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, LBL: Lublin Voivodeship, LBS: Lubusz Voivodeship,
ŁD: Łódź Voivodeship, LP: Lesser Poland Voivodeship, MS: Masovian Voivodeship, OP: Opole Voivodeship,
SK: Subcarpathian Voivodeship, PL: Podlaskie Voivodeship, PM: Pomeranian Voivodeship, SL: Silesian Voivodeship,
ŚWK: Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, WM: Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, GP: Greater Poland Voivodeship, WP: West Pomeranian Voivodeship.

Largest and smallest gminas

LARGEST Population (2006 estimate) Land area in km² Population density
per km²
Urban Warsaw (1,697,596) Warsaw (517.22) Świętochłowice (4,156.80)
Rural Gmina Chełmiec (24,344) Gmina Wałcz (574.89) Gmina Buczkowice (542.70)
Urban-rural Gmina Piaseczno (61,525) Gmina Pisz (633.69) Gmina Wołomin (801.69)
Town in urban-rural gmina Gmina Nysa: Nysa (47,545) Gmina Szczytna: Szczytna (80.38) Gmina Swarzędz: Swarzędz (3,469.23)
Rural part of urban-rural gmina Gmina Wieliczka: rural part (28,864) Gmina Pisz: rural part (623.61) Gmina Świątniki Górne: rural part (407.86)
SMALLEST Population (2006 estimate) Land area in km² Population density
per km²
Urban Krynica Morska (1,364) Górowo Iławeckie (3.32) Krynica Morska (11.74)
Rural Gmina Cisna (1,663) Gmina Jejkowice (7.59) Gmina Lutowiska (4.63)
Urban-rural Gmina Nowe Warpno (1,559) Gmina Świątniki Górne (20.35) Gmina Nowe Warpno (7.88)
Town in urban-rural gmina Gmina Wyśmierzyce: Wyśmierzyce (892) Gmina Stawiszyn: Stawiszyn (0.99) Gmina Suraż: Suraż (28.94)
Rural part of urban-rural gmina Gmina Nowe Warpno: rural part (363) Gmina Suchedniów: rural part (15.54) Gmina Nowe Warpno: rural part (2.09)


  1. ^ Central Statistical Office of Poland, January 1, 2006. (Polish)

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