May 20, 2022
Upper Silesia (Silesian Górny Ślůnsk or Gōrny Ślōnsk, Silesian Aeberschläsing, German Oberschlesien, Polish Górny Śląsk, Latin Silesia Superior) is the southeastern part of Silesia, one of the two - next to Lower Silesia - the main areas in which this traditional European country divides. The term Silesia Superior first appears in written sources at the end of the 15th century. It was an area east of the Silesian Crossing, which formed the natural border between the Opole and Wrocław principalities. At present, the determination of the borders of Upper Silesia is based primarily on the form of the Opole government district in the Prussian province of Silesia and the later province of Upper Silesia. Upper Silesia also includes Těšín and other territories of the former Austrian Silesia, but due to the different identity of the inhabitants and the different course of modern history, they are not always included. Most of the region, which has a total area of 20,373 km² (comparable to Slovenia) and more than 5 million inhabitants, has been part of Poland (Silesian and Opole voivodships) since the end of World War II, while the smaller southwestern part is in the Czech Republic (Moravian-Silesian and according to some definitions in the Olomouc region). The historical capitals are Opole, Racibórz, Opava and Těšín, the largest town at present in Katowice and the most populous area is the Katowice conurbation together with the Rybnický coal circuit. There are also some parts of Ostrava and a substantial part of the Ostrava agglomeration in Upper Silesia. A large part of the region is marked by hard coal mining (see Upper Silesian Basin) and related industrialization and urbanization in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it also includes the agricultural Opole region and the Beskydy and Jeseníky mountains. The ethnic and linguistic issues of Upper Silesia are very complex, due to the presence of a German minority of 100,000 in Poland (see also Upper Silesian bilingualism) and the Polish minority in the Czech Republic, the autonomy requirements of the Polish part of the region, Silesian nationality over eight hundred thousand Upper Silesians, and efforts to codify standard Silesian, whose status as a Polish dialect or an independent West Slavic language is disputed. In the 20th century, Upper Silesia was the subject of several territorial disputes (see the Czechoslovak-Polish dispute over the Těšín region, the Upper Silesian uprisings, the Upper Silesian plebiscite, the Hlučín region).