Small towns in Poland, constituting a significant majority of urban centers, grapple with pressing demographic issues, as highlighted by Professor Jerzy Bański from the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Professor Bański’s recent publication, the “Atlas of Small Towns,” provides comprehensive data on 722 small towns in Poland, with information up to 2019.
The Demographic Conundrum
In Professor Bański’s assessment, the most significant contemporary challenges facing these small towns revolve around demographics. Recent research indicates a predominantly negative natural population growth and migration pattern, leading to depopulation and an aging population. These demographic woes affect the majority of these urban centers.
Two Categories of Small Towns
According to Bański, when considering the core-periphery concept, small towns in Poland can be broadly categorized into two groups: those located near major urban hubs and those in remote, peripheral areas. Small towns near large cities generally enjoy better economic and demographic prospects, thanks to residents commuting to the urban centers for work and services. However, those in remote regions face more substantial challenges.
The Significance of Small Towns
Small towns, with their unique socio-economic and functional characteristics, play a pivotal role in rural areas and the urban system. They serve as engines of economic development in rural regions and contribute to the interconnectivity between major urban centers and the countryside. Understanding the development status of small towns holds crucial importance for both research and practical applications.
Professor Bański’s “Atlas of Small Towns” offers a comprehensive perspective on these crucial urban centers in Poland, shedding light on their challenges and potential solutions. In a nation where 739 out of 979 municipalities are classified as small towns, addressing the issues of depopulation and aging populations is paramount for ensuring sustainable development and balanced regional growth.