Polish Geographical Review (Przegląd Geograficzny)

The longest-running (since 1919) Polish geographical journal with countrywide coverage. In the years 1919-1953, it appeared under the sponsorship of the Polish Geographical Society, and later on, since 1954 – it has been published by the Institute of Geography (and Spatial Organization) Polish Academy of Sciences.

The journal publishes original papers that cover a range of theoretical, methodological, and empirical issues, with subject-matter reflecting both main trends as well as an evolution going on in Polish geography. The majority of papers is published in Polish, and only occasionally in English. Among the Authors are not only Poles but also foreigners. Since 2001, the particular issues have been dedicated to two broadly defined geographical fields, i.e. being entirely focused on either physical or socio-economic geography.

A Quarterly – in the past, some of the numbers were published as combined issues (in the years 1941-1946 one issue per year). In 2019, 90th volume appeared. The journal is prepared and edited by the Committee of Editors; since 2001, the editorial works have been conducted in cooperation with consultative and advisory body in the form of Editorial Board, consisting of renowned representatives of geographical sciences both from Poland and abroad.

The journal is indexed by Scopus, GeoRef, ProQuest-IBBS, Geobase, Current Geographical Publications – Contents, Bibliographie Géographique Internationale.

The primary version of the journal is printed version.

Open Access journal. Papers are published under a Creative Common Attribution CC BY 4.0 licence without embargo period. 

Current issue


Changes in population in rural areas of Poland as set against their levels of socio-economic development

Andrzej Rosner, Monika Wesołowska

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 2, pp. 175-198 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.2.1

Further information


Rural areas in Poland have recently been witnessing an intensive process of transformation of economic structure inter alia manifesting in a change of the occupational structure characterising inhabitants. Development of non-agricultural ways of utilising the farms present in rural areas is tending confer a multifunctional character upon these, with populations growing even as the role of agriculture as a source of income for inhabitants is in decline. On the other hand, marginal areas with a still-dominant agricultural function continue to experience considerable loss of population. One of the effects of these observable process entails change in types of rural settlement.

Considering Poland’s local-authority areas (at the level of the so-called gmina), the authors here hypothesise that levels of socio-economic development correlate with trends as regards population change, in that gminas already enjoying a high(er) level of development undergo population increase, while the rural areas lagging behind in terms of development continue to depopulate.

The aim of the work presented here has that been to consider a method by which to better determine gminas’ levels of socio-economic development, as developed within the Monitoring of Rural Development in Poland framework. A further objective is to ensure enhancement of existing knowledge regarding changes in the spatial distribution of rural populations in line with both levels of socio-economic development in given areas and structural features characterising those levels. Comparisons with the statistical databases of Poland’s Central Statistical Office (Statistics Poland) are then made, to allowing growing and depopulating villages to be distinguished from each other.

Results confirm a steady evolution of the spatial differentiation characterising Poland’s rural population, with the actual effect being for population in regions located far from larger cities to decrease, even as that in suburban areas goes on increasing. However, the work also confirms how developmental differences arising during the era of Poland’s (18th-20th-century) Partitions between Russia, Prussia and Austria continue to influence the condition and development of particular parts of the country.

Relationships between levels of socio-economic development and migration processes are also to be observed, in that: where the level of socio-economic development is higher, the inflow of population from cities is also greater, even as rates of outflow of population abroad decrease.

In juxtaposing information on gminas’ directions of socio-economic development and demographic situations, the authors demonstrate how rural areas of economic structure still dominated by agriculture are the ones most affected by loss of inhabitants, while areas with relatively developed multifunctionality or multifunctionality of households are less involved in processes by which the distribution of population in the countryside is changing. A diversified economic structure of villages, and especially a high degree of deagrarianisation to livelihoods in the rural population, is a factor doing much to counteract processes of rural depopulation. In turn, it is readily observable that population concentrates in the central villages of local (gmina) systems – at the expense of small villages located on these systems’ peripheries. As a result, centralised villages gain population, strengthen their position as local centres, and eventually achieve town status in a process that is therefore conducive to a strengthening of the network of small Polish towns enjoying local importance.

Keywords: zmiany zaludnienia, obszary wiejskie, poziom rozwoju społeczno-gospodarczego, Polska

Andrzej Rosner [arosner@irwirpan.waw.pl], Instytut Rozwoju Wsi i Rolnictwa PAN
Monika Wesołowska [monika.wesolowska@umcs.pl], Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, Instytut Geografii Społeczno-Ekonomicznej i Gospodarki Przestrzennej

The classification of small towns – a review of research approaches and an attempt at multi-criteria classification

Jerzy Bański

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 2, pp. 199-218 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.2.2

Further information


Small towns have specific social, economic and cultural features that distinguish them from medium-sized and large urban centres on the one hand, and rural areas on the other. They are a significant component in the settlement structures of regions that determine their polycentricity or monocentricity. At present it is possible to observe a rise in the level of functional diversity characterising small towns i.a. as a result of the ongoing economic diversification of rural areas. In part this also reflects small centres taking on certain urban functions that had previously been the preserve of large cities, or at least urban centres of medium size.

A reconnaissance of the tasks small towns discharge on a local or regional scale typically entails analysis of dominant economic sectors, or – more broadly – the role different socioeconomic spheres play in the given centre and its immediate surroundings. It is to this kind of subject matter that the work described here has been devoted, with the basic aim being to discuss and assess different classifications and research approaches to small towns that take their social and economic functions into account, as well as relations with surrounding areas. However, the very concept of the small town poses certain problems, not least because definitions generally simplify down to the criterion of population size. Depending on the country, the size criterion differs and is generally in the range 5000‑25,000 inhabitants.

The subject literature typically includes three types of approach to the classification of small towns: 1) the structural, 2) the location-related, and 3) the mixed. Each differs from the others in terms of the criteria defined, and the functions served by the minor urban centres taken account of. The structural approach allows for the grouping of towns from the point of view of the social, cultural and economic functions they discharge. Typically, structural classifications tend to single out the leading economic sector represented in the given town, allowing each to be analysed individually. This approach may be either static or dynamic, with the first case entailing reference to a given time at which categories identified offer information on socioeconomic structure. In contrast, a dynamic approach sees the degree of variability of such structures analysed, with this making it possible to indicate categories of town discernible in line with identified directions and rates of development.

The location-related approach draws on the idea of there being a continuum between the centre and the periphery, with significance therefore attached to the location of a given small urban centre vis-à-vis large centres undergoing development to the greatest extent. In very general terms, this approach allows a distinction to be drawn between satellite towns located in the zone of impact of large agglomerations and metropolises, towns that are traditional foci of the settlement network, and centres in isolated locations out on the peripheries. Location is rarely the sole element used to differentiate between small urban centres; and it is present regularly as just one among a number of criteria by which a classification or typology can be arrived at. We are then dealing with a so-called mixed approach. A mixed classification making simultaneous use of the different approaches to research brings the most information to bear in regard to categories of urban locality, but their results may therefore prove hard to interpret, given the more-complex research procedure and number of possible classes, categories or types.

Bearing in mind the approaches to classification, it is possible to propose a synthetic method for classifying small towns that takes account of economic structure, location, and the relationship between the towns and their surroundings. In the case of economic structure, the small centres may be divided into two basic groups – those featuring a multi-branch structure, and those that are specialised economically. A second element to the classification reflects the locations of urban centres. Two basic types can be identified – the small town within the range of impact of a large agglomeration, or else the town outside such areas – which is to say located peripherally. The third component of the classification arises out of small towns’ relations with their surroundings – as 1) local centres or 2) supra-local centres. In consequence, it is possible to indicate 8 types of small town.

Keywords: małe miasto, struktura funkcjonalne, klasyfikacja, typologia, rozwój lokalny

Jerzy Bański [jbanski@twarda.pan.pl], Instytut Geografii i Przestrzennego Zagospodarowania im. S. Leszczyckiego PAN

Periodic changes in road-traffic speed as exemplified along selected sections of Polish motorway

Dominika Slawik, Jerzy Chmiel, Tomasz Dybicz

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 2, pp. 219-233 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.2.3

Further information


The speeds at which cars cover individual sections of a route depend on many factors, of which the most important relate to technical conditions in general or on the road surface, speed limits, volumes of traffic and weather conditions. This publication concerns a selected range of issues related to road traffic and is based on research conducted to show periodic changes in vehicle speeds along Polish roads. It represents a step towards increased accuracy of determination of road-traffic conditions, encouraging better prediction and discernment of patterns, as well as greater insight into influential factors. Knowledge of periodic changes in vehicle speeds gains further use in road-traffic modelling, for example at National Traffic Management Centres.

Calculations of the speeds of vehicles covering test-sections of Polish Motorways involved twelve kilometre-long segments of the A1, A4 and A8. Vehicle probe data collected over the four years 2014‑2018 represented the source used in calculating speeds. From within the set of data, further consideration was confined to periods not impacted significantly by such other factors as public holidays, weekends, adverse weather, darkness or maintenance works. The speeds at which vehicles covered the selected sections were calculated, aggregated separately for the light and heavy categories, and then analysed for their daytime and annual variability.

Observed differences in speeds were presented in diagrams, with Fig. 5a for example showing daily variability of speeds achieved by light vehicles under standard working-day conditions. In this case, it is the time around midday that is associated with the lowest values along all sections of Motorway tested. The greatest daily variability in speeds in turn characterises the A8, which in fact as the status of Motorway bypass of Wroclaw, and can thus be treated as a part of that city’s road network. Fig. 5b in turn shows light-vehicle speeds around the year under reference conditions from working days, and indicates a different trend for each section tested. The most marked variability characterizing speeds around the year is noted for the A4 – a Motorway more often serving tourism-related and recreational purposes, an important transit route, and in fact Poland’s only fully-completed Motorway. Where heavy vehicles are concerned, speeds are found to be lower in general, but not greatly different in line with either time of day or month of the year. Almost all sections report a steady average speed of 86 km/h, with only slight fluctuations. Fig. 6 presents the number of journeys on which the study was based. Despite disproportions existing between routes, months and types of vehicle, the samples used in calculations for light vehicles never involved fewer than 100, and those for heavy vehicles a sample size of at least 50.

The first conclusion to be drawn from analysis of the results concerns the inevitable impact on speed of the “traffic volume” factor. However, “traffic vehicular structure” is another factor important in analyses of traffic fluctuations. Were this research to be developed further that would entail further-reaching inference in regard to the nature of traffic and types of trip being made. The research described here can thus be considereda first step in the planning of other, more-accurate measurement campaigns that will require greater preparation in advance, and well as resort to more-specialised equipment. The present homogeneous study nevertheless offers grounds for inferences as to both the nature of the traffic it describes, and the types of trips being made.

A continuation of research would thus extend analyses around the clock (covering 24-hour days rather than just “daytime”), as well as to other days of the week, such as Saturdays and Sundays, to holidays, and even to separate days of the week within the overall set of working days. The number of test-sections might also be increased, and enriched by new types, classes, geometries and locations of routes allowing for fuller inference. In particular, additional locations with Continuous Traffic Measurement Stations would provide for the fuller correlation of vehicle speeds with volumes of traffic. Similarly, filtered datasets factoring in adverse weather conditions, Sun low above the horizon and periods of road maintenance could all provide for more research of a more comprehensive nature.

Keywords: okresowe zmiany w ruchu drogowym, prędkości pojazdów, dane z sondowania pojazdów, czynniki wpływające na ruch drogowy

Dominika Slawik [d.k.slawik@gmail.com], Politechnika Warszawska, Wydział Geodezji i Kartografii
Jerzy Chmiel [jerzy.chmiel@pw.edu.pl], Politechnika Warszawska, Wydział Geodezji i Kartografii
Tomasz Dybicz [t.dybicz@il.pw.edu.pl], Politechnika Warszawska, Wydział Inżynierii Lądowej

Determinants and diversification of socio-cultural activity among Polish migrants as exemplified by those in Berlin and Hamburg

Magdalena Szmytkowska, Dominika Studzińska

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 2, pp. 235-252 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.2.4

Further information


Scientific studies do much to embrace the issue of social activity among immigrants, as well as their participation in projects of various types, in both institutional and non-institutional dimensions. Nevertheless, research into the activity of the Polish community in German cities has only rarely been undertaken. In this context, the studies carried out by the authors are of importance as they make clear an intensification of social activity among Polish immigrants in Berlin and Hamburg. An influx of new migrants, attracted to Germany not only by relevant economic motivations, but also by a perceived need for of self-development and greater acquaintanceship with new communities in place, tends to allow German institutions to take more interest in immigrant groups, while also sustaining activity within newly-created networks of immigrant organisations. The consequences of all that are for the social and cultural activity engaged in within the Polish community in the cities to become more and more visible and diverse. Although it is relatively new for these behaviours to assume such a large scale, the observed intensity and spatial scope may sustain the conclusion that even the near-future will bring a significant increase in visibility for the Polish community vis-à-vis both German citizens and immigrant groups.

Specifically, the work detailed in the present paper has mainly sought to identify socio-cultural activity among the Polish migrants present in both Berlin and Hamburg. This involved the authors in efforts to ascertain: (1) factors determining the socio-cultural activity of Polish communities in the cities studied; (2) any noticeable differences between Berlin and Hamburg when it comes to the social activity undertaken by Polish migrants; (3) the directions of development that characterise the institutional and non-institutional activity of the Polish community present in the cities in question (which were selected in line with the high concentrations of Polish communities in both, as well as differences in periods of influx and of a socio-cultural and economic nature). Only a relatively small number of scientific studies have ever been devoted to the social involvement of Polish migrants in the cities of Berlin and Hamburg.

Relevant research material was collected in 2019, in the course of 7 study visits to Berlin and Hamburg. The authors initiated the research procedure by way of focus-group interviews with 12 members of Polish-diaspora organisations. These respondents represented different age groups and waves of migration, and also occupied different socio-professional positions. 15 in-depth expert interviews were then conducted in Berlin and Hamburg. The survey was participated in by representatives of Polish authorities, German academics, founders and members of immigrant associations, Polish entrepreneurs and representatives of local media. Respondent data was anonymised and coded. A background for the qualitative research was offered by analysis of available statistical information obtained from the German Federal Statistical Office and Statistics Poland (GUS).

Research conducted for the purposes of this article leads to a conclusion that the social activity undertaken by Poles in Berlin and Hamburg is highly diversified, while that in Berlin is developing intensively and in many different directions. Analysis of material collected sustains the conclusion that the Polish communities in question pursue clearly different policies when it comes to the activation and opening-up of Polish organisations. While the activities of Poles living in Berlin are targeted at Poles, Germans and other ethnic groups, those characterising the Polish community in Hamburg are rather exclusive. Moreover, while the offer of the local Polish institutions in Berlin is relatively wide; in Hamburg, social and cultural activity is limited to the learning of Polish, promotion of Polish culture and maintenance of Polish identity.

Activity on the part of Polish migrants in the social space of German cities is thus seen to depend on many factors, of which the most important are: (1) the cultural, social, economic and political specificity of the host city; (2) the period of and motive for migration; (3) external financial support; and (4) migration trends. The openness of the Berlin authorities to initiatives taken by immigrant minorities is what encourages local leaders to take action for the benefit of Polish migrants and inhabitants of Berlin. In turn, the different specificity of Hamburg, and its authorities’ less-pronounced cooperation with immigrant groups, may represent obstacles to social activity being taken up by the Polish community on any larger scale.

Keywords: migracje, aktywność społeczno-kulturowa, Berlin, Hamburg

Magdalena Szmytkowska [geoms@ug.edu.pl], Uniwersytet Gdański, Wydział Nauk Społecznych
Dominika Studzińska [geods@ug.edu.pl], Uniwersytet Gdański, Wydział Nauk Społecznych

Tourist use of border markers in Poland

Marek Więckowski

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 2, pp. 253-271 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.2.5

Further information


This article has turned its attention to the marking of borders and the way this acts in support of the tourism-related objectives now seen to represent a novel function served by borders. Specifically, results are presented here in relation to the marking and delimitation of borders of Poland both past and present.

The ways in which, and means by which, borders are marked, indicated and delineated have recently emerged as matters of some interest to enthusiasts of this particular activity, to explorers, and to tourists in general. In this way, certain associated places, elements and means of marking borders have become tourist attractions in their own right – to the extent that specific tourist products have even been made ready on the basis of them. Both local and regional authorities have observed this happening and have sought to respond by making relevant areas more ready for the paying of visits by those taking an interest. This trend is also to be noted in Poland, hence the author’s readiness to pursue pioneering research on how border marking(s) may operate in a new role as tourist attractions.

As is implied above, it has only been in the most recent years that there has been any real intensification in the process by which border marking(s) are treated as – or converted into – tourist attractions. In this context, aspects and items of the marking of borders have gained protection, been restored, been reconstructed or augmented, been exchanged, or even been re-established deliberately. Items may indeed be re-created where former border crossings are reconstructed; or else may be transferred to museums. They may also remain in place in their original form, or be renovated, altered or entirely reinstated – sometimes even decades after their disappearance in the field.

In the context of the work, the author has sought to draw a distinction between various different ways of marking and delimiting state borders. Thus there may be border embankments or lines, large stones indicating the course taken, border posts (in the meaning of erect fixtures made of wood, metal, stone, etc.), painted lines or markers made from a wide diversity of materials, and various additional elements (such as written or inscribed names of the countries involved, as well as flags, emblems or other mark(er)s taking a wide variety of more or less tangible forms).

The research as presented here takes account of both the current borders of the Polish state and former ones that assume the status of relict borders given their inability to perform their original functions. The author here takes a constructivist approach, drawing on post-modernist theories as regards building and the shaping of space. Methods used have been of both an indoor nature (with analysis of the literature plus secondary materials like websites) and field-based (even as they related to both spatial aspects sensu stricto and the analysis of content present on tourist boards). The most in-depth analysis was then based around four case studies, i.e. one for each of the following identified periods in existence of given borders in operation at one time or another on the Polish lands, i.e. the borders:

• in place prior to the Partitions of Poland taking place from 1772 (as exemplied by the Bogusze-Prostki section);

• present during the Partitions (Lipa-Dąbrowa Rzeczycka);

• of the (1918‑1939) Second Republic of Poland (Dębki);

• in place following the Second World War (Czelin).

The research sustained several key conclusions, in line with which it has been worth stressing that each of the examples or aspects of border marking serves, not only as a factual tourist attraction, but also as a significant message conveyed. And what is being passed on in that way can be seen to have 3 key thrusts, i.e.:

a) events from history, meaning old divisions (but also the loss of independence due to the Partitions of Poland, and its regaining, as well as the remembrance of heroes, changes to the lines followed by borders, and the associated regaining of land in the west, extending as far as the River Oder);

b) local conditioning;

c) the symbolic significance attachable to the most important border markings.

The results of the work done can be said to offer – at one and the same time – new ideas, approaches and proposals when it comes to borders being understood and appreciated from the point of their newly-acquired role. The attention is furthermore drawn to content of a geographical and historical nature characterising the heritage that remains, as well as to the establishment of cultural attractions as efforts are increasingly made to encourage the development of regional tourism. The latter may prove a factor activating peripheral border-located areas of Poland, given the way their local and/or regional authorities ascribe opportunities for development to border marking(s).

Keywords: granica, znak graniczny, granica reliktowa, atrakcja turystyczna, dziedzictwo, Polska

Marek Więckowski [marekw@twarda.pan.pl], Instytut Geografii i Przestrzennego Zagospodarowania im. S. Leszczyckiego PAN