During the past two decades, starting from the political breakthrough in the early 1990s, both countries have gone a long way towards reinstatement of democracy, self-government and market mechanisms, and recreation of contacts with the world. Today, Poland anci Ukraine arc dtffeTent countries than twenty years ago. Still, much effort is needed from both nations to completely eliminate the economic and social backwardness caused by five decades of ''real socialism'', ''socialist democracy'' and ''centrally planned economy''.
Among major issues that need to be addressed are those relating to spatial development and sustainable socio-economic relations. Large cities are places where concentration of social and economic problems is greatest; at the same time big cities are natural ''growth poles''. The development of large urban agglomerations and metropolitan areas will determine the competitiveness of countries and regions.