The urban landscape of Poland is characterised by its policentricity, with 913 cities in total (as for 2014). There are 17 Metropolitan European Growth Area, all over 200,000 inhabitants, among which the biggest are: Warsaw, Krakow, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Poznań, Katowice with the Upper-Silesian conurbation, Łódź and Szczecin. The whole urban population represents over 61% of the country population.
Although Polish cities still play a weak role in the processes of globalisation, a growing degree of spatial and functional complementarity characterises the development of cities located in the centre and west of the country, with the west and partly with central Europe.
There are urban and post-industrial areas that lag behind the recent development of the country, especially in the former industrialised centres and the pace of urban regeneration still cannot inhibit the processes of resource degradation.
In the recent decades, the weakness or lack of actualised local plans results in the shrinkage of public spaces and uncontrolled urban sprawl characterised by gated residential areas with deficiencies in estate infrastructure.
Low demographic growth and unemployment in conjunction with emigration are the main reasons for the beginning of cities shrinkage.
The need for better strategic spatial planning, a more inclusive governance and a better inter-communal cooperation is obvious. These problems are being faced in the new National Conception of Spatial Development and the new National Urban Policy, in relation with an important share of EU structural funds for the period 2014-2020.