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In our context here, structure is mean to be geo-political structure.

First - I.E. how does a province come about? 

Here's the answer, thanks to Marie Dallas, PolandGenWeb Country Coordinator.

""Powiat" is a Polish term which roughly translates to "district."  Poland's interior is divided into 16 wojewodztwa (provinces - more accurately voivodships). Each woj. is divided into powiaty - in the case of Podkarpackie, there are 20 powiaty. It's kind of like a U.S. state being divided into counties. Each powiat is further divided into gminy (municipalities), and there can be several villages within a gmina. These terms are political in nature. A gmina is the lowest level of governmental divisions."

For details of 1 Jan 1999 restructuring of Poland's 49 provinces into 16, refer to Poland: The 49 Provinces, 1975-1998.

Thanks Marie.

Second - What about the structure prior to 1975 ?

This comes from some background supplied by Marge Galus Sandlier in reply to a query about an individual (Here's a link to the full text of the response as it appears in the list archives).

bullet A brief history of Poland in the last 200 years.
This includes maps and links to various earlier territories - a map of the Kingdom of Poland about 1772, "Partitions" of Poland between 1772 and 1795, the autonomous "Kingdom of Poland" as a result of the Vienna Congress in 1815, the independent Republic of Poland after WWI in 1920 and the current day (2000).
bulletGalicia is one of the historical regions of Poland
Since you are at the Podkarpackie Province site, we'll draw your attention to a specific link above for the area know as Galacia.  Between 1772 and 1795 the southern Polish territories around Kraków and Lwów were incorporated into the Austrian Empire and renamed "Galicia".
bullet Galician Administrative Districts
bullet Galician Maps
bulletAlso - "The Partition of Poland - 1772, 1793 & 1795" from a  Germanic Genealogy Guide book site
(Thanks Michael Leonard, co-ordinator of the Pomorskie Province site of PGW)
[Webmaster's note:  Sorry, this link no longer works, so the hyperlink has been removed.  If anyone can provide a new link or similar service via a different site, please advise in Feedback and use the "Submit link" category.  Many thanks in advance.]
Don't forget the link about history above but in addition our own brief investigation has discovered a site's page covering the partitioning with a number of links to even more info - Poland Border Changes.

We can't even begin to described the excitement this brings.  Especially when the history "story" can be translated to actual historical documents, some of them online at Vital Records for Galician Towns.  My quick search didn't reveal anything, but we are sure it will for some who review.

We look forward to any reports, and thanks again Marg.

We also welcome any further clarification, details or links about geo-political structure.

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