Introduction The economic and social well-being of contemporary nations, regions and cities depends more and more on complex interactions framed at the global scale. The influence of these processes, however, depends on the degree of political and economic ‘openness’ of the countries concerned. In 1945, upon the decision of the victorious powers, Poland had to join the bloc of states which were politically and economically dominated by the USSR. Poland was thus cut off from the processes determining the development of the contemporary world economy: the scientific and technical revolution, and the free flow of information, technology, capital, goods and people. The ineffective system of a central steering of the economy was an additional element which delayed the processes of growth and development. It was only in 1989 that the political turn of events in Poland, followed by other ‘socialist countries’, opened up for this part of the world the possibility of following the path of democratic development and the market economy. Thus, mainly for political reasons, Poland is now lagging some fifty years behind the developed countries, and trying within a few years to narrow the gap between itself and the developed world, to join the global economy and become an equal partner in resolving global problems.