Between Urban and Rural: Sustainability of Small Towns in the Czech Republic

Antonín Vaishar 1 , Jana Zapletalová 1  and Eva Nováková 1
  • 1 Institute of Geonics, Czech Academy of Sciences Ostrava, v.v.i., Department of Environmental Geography, 602 00 Brno, Drobného 28, Czechia


The paper analyses the position of small towns in the Czech settlement system. It deals with the definition of small towns, their geographical positions, demographic characteristics and functions in the national settlement system. A typology of small towns aimed at individual pillars of their sustainability is one of the results of the paper. The article discusses the position of small towns as part of the urban world and their position as a part of the countryside. It concludes that small towns are functionally important as rural centres. However, differences between urban and rural seem to be less important than differences among individual types of the Czech countryside (suburban, intermediate, inner periphery, borderland).

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • [1] Bell, D., Jayne, M. (2009). Small cities? Towards a research agenda. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33(3), 683-699. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2427.2009.00886.x.

  • [2] Besser, T. (2013). Resilient small rural towns and community shocks. Journal of Rural and Community Development 8(1), 117-134.

  • [3] Belova, A. V., Levchenkov, A. V. (2012). Innovation centres as growth points for smaller towns and rural areas. Baltic Region 4(3), 388-397. DOI: 10.5922/2079-8555-2012-3-8.

  • [4] Borsdorf, A., Paal, M. (2000). Die „Alpine Stadt“ zwischen lokaler Verankerung und globaler Vernetzung. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

  • [5] Borsig, A., Burdack, J., Knappe, E. (2010). Small towns in Eastern Europe: local networks and urban development. Leipzig: Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde.

  • [6] Burdack, J., Kriszan, A. (2013). Kleinstädte in Mittel- und Osteuropa: Perspektiven und Strategien lokaler Entwicklung. Leipzig: Leibnitz-Institut für Länderkunde.

  • [7] Bürk, T. (2013). Voices from the margin: the stigmatization process as an effect of sociospatial peripheralization in small-town Germany. In Fischer-Tahir, A., Naumann, M., eds., Peripheralization (pp. 168-186). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

  • [8] Capel, H. (2009). Las pequeñas ciudades en la urbanización generalizada y ante la crisis global. Investigaciones geográficas Vol. 70, p. 7-32.

  • [9] Cigale, D., Lampič, B., Ogrin, M., Plut, D., Rebernik, D., Špes, M., Vintar Mally, K., Cetkovský, S., Kallabová, E., Mikulík, O., Vaishar, A., Zapletalová, J. (2006). Sustainable development of small towns a Slovenian-Moravian comparative methodological approach. Moravian Geographical Reports 14(1), 17-28.

  • [10] Collins, J. L. (2010). Small town in the internet society. Chapleau is no longer an island. American Behavioral Scientists 53(9), 1344-1366. DOI: 10.1177/0002764210361689.

  • [11] Convertino, A., ed. (2006): AlpCity Project [Final Report of the INTERREG IIIB Project]. Torino: Regione Piemonte.

  • [12] Courtney, P., Errington, A. (2003). Small towns as “sub-poles” in European rural development: Policy, theory and methodology. Agricultural Economics Society Annual Conference, University of Plymouth.

  • [13] Courtney, P., Mayfield, L.., Tranter, R., Jones, P., Errington, A. (2007): Small towns as subpoles in English rural development: investigating urban-rural linkages using sub-regional social accounting matrice. Geoforum 38(6), 1219-1232. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2007.03.006.

  • [14] Cudny, W. (2012). Socio-economic transformation of small towns in East Germany after 1990. Colditz case study. Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series 17(1), 33-43. DOI: 10.2478/v10089-012-0004-6.

  • [15] Édouard, J. C. (2012). La place de la petite ville dans la recherche geographique en France: de la simple monographie au territoire témoin. Annales de Geographie 121(683), 25-42. DOI: 10.3917/ag.683.0025.

  • [16] Everitt, J. C., Gill, A. M. (1993). The social geography of small towns. In Bourne, L. S., Ley, D. F., eds., The changing social geography of Canadian cities (pp. 252-264). Montreal: McGill-Queen´s University Press.

  • [17] Fertner, Ch., Groth, N. B., Herslund, L. B., Carstensen, T. A. (2015). Small towns resisting urban decay through residential attractiveness. Findings from Denmark. Geografisk Tidsskrift 115(2), 119-132. DOI: 10.1080/00167223.2015.1060863.

  • [18] Fonseca, M. L. (2008). New waves of immigration to small towns and rural areas in Portugal. Population, Space and Place 14(6), 525-535. DOI: 10.1002/psp.514.

  • [19] Fuguit, G. V., Brown, D. L., Beale, C. L. (2012). Rural and small town America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

  • [20] Gunko, M. S. (2014). Small towns in the central part of European Russia: Socioeconomic state and the role in organizing territory. Regional Research of Russia 4(4), 231-239. DOI: 10.1134/S2079970514040054.

  • [21] Halonen, M., Kotilainen, J., Tykkyläinen, M., Vatanen, E. (2015). Industry life cycles of a resource town in Finland - the case of Lieksa. European Countryside 7(1), 16-41. Doi: 10.1515/euco-2015-0002.

  • [22] Hampl, M., Marada. M. (2015). Sociogeografická regionalizace Česka. Geografie 120(3), 397-421.

  • [23] Hannemann, Ch. (2002). 'Soziales Kapital' kleiner Städte - Perspektive für schrumpfende Städte in Ostdeutschland? In Hannemann, Ch., Kabisch, S., Weiske, Ch.: Neue Länder - neue Sitten? Transformationsprozesse in Städten und Regionen Ostdeutschlands (p. 11-28). Berlin: Schelzky & Jeep.

  • [24] Hansmann, R., Mieg, H. A. & Frischknecht, P. (2012). Principal sustainability components: Empirical analysis of synergies between three pillars of sustainability. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology 19(5), 451-459. DOI: 10.1080/13504509.2012.696220.

  • [25] Heffner, K., Marszał, T., eds. (2005). Problemy rozwoju małych miast w wymiarze lokalnym i regionalnym. Warszawa: Komitet przestrzennego zagospodarowania kraju PAN.

  • [26] Hinderink, J., Titus, M. (2002). Small Towns and Regional Development: Major Findings and Policy Implications from Comparative Research. Urban Studies 39(3), 379-391. DOI: 10.1080/00420980220112748.

  • [27] Horeczki, R. (2014). A Dél Dunántúli kisvárosok a fejlesztési tervek tükrében. DETEUROPE 6(3), 97-111.

  • [28] Ježek, J., (2011). Small towns attractiveness for living, working and doing business. Case study the Czech Republic (pp. 4-11). In Ježek, J., Kaňka, L., eds., Competitiveness and sustainable development of the small towns and rural regions in Europe. Plzeň: University of West Bohemia.

  • [29] Keckstein, V. (1999). Kleinstädte und Marktgemeinden zwischen Urbanität und Zersiedelung. Revue de Géographie Alpine 87(2), 89-103. DOI: 10.3406/rga.1999.2946.

  • [30] Knox, P. L., Mayer, H. (2009). Kleinstädte und Nachhaltigkeit. Basel, Boston, Berlin: Birkhäuser.

  • [31] Kobojek, E., Marszał, T. (2014). Local development and the role of small towns in space organization in Contemporary Poland (pp. 37-60). In Marszał, T., ed., Origin Spatial Development of Contemporary Poland in Łódź University Geographical Research. Łódż: Uniwersytet Łódżki.

  • [32] Krzysztofik, R., Dymitrow, M., eds. (2015). Degraded and restituted towns in Poland. Göteborg: University of Gothenburg.

  • [33] Kühn, M. (2015). Small towns in peripheral regions in Germany. In Annales Universitatis Pedagogicae Krakoviensis. Studia Geographica 8, 29-38.

  • [34] Kusis, J., Abele, J. (2008). Development strategies of small towns as the basis of sustainability. In Majerová, V., ed.: Countryside - our world (pp. 371-379), Praha: Česká zemědělská univerzita.

  • [35] Kwiatek-Śołtys, A. (2004). Małe miasta województwa małopolskiego w okresie transformacji systemowej. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Akademii Pedagogicznej.

  • [36] Laborie, J.-P. (1997). Les petites villes et la métropolisation. In: Laborie, J.-P., Renard, J. (eds.): Bourgs et petites villes (s. 21-48). Toulouse: Presses universitaires du Mirail.

  • [37] Lampić, B., Špes, M. (2007). Sustainable development of small towns. Ljubljana: Univerza v Ljubljani.

  • [38] Lazzeroni, M., Bellini, N., Cortesi, G. & Loffredo, A. (2014). The territorial approach to cultural economy. New opportunities for the development of small towns. European Planning Studies 21(4), 452-472. DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2012.722920.

  • [39] Lorentzen, A. & van Heur, B. (2012). Cultural political economy of small cities. Milton Park: Routledge.

  • [40] Mainet, H. (2015). The paradoxical place of small towns in sustainable development policies. What is beyond the images of “places where the living is easy”? Annales Universitatis Pedagogicae Krakoviensis. Studia Geographica 8, 5-11.

  • [41] Niedermayer, M. (2000). Regulationsweisen der Kleinstadtentwicklung. Eine Analyse peripherer Kleinstädte im Grenzraum von Südthüringen und Nord-Unterfranken. In: Niedermayer, M. (ed.): Kleinstadtentwicklung (pp. 47-375). Würzburg: Geographisches Institut der Universität Würzburg.

  • [42] Perlik, M., Bätzing, W. (1999). L’avenir des villes des Alpes en Europe. Bern: Verlag des Geographischen Institutes der Universität Bern.

  • [43] Pumain, D. (1999). Quel rôle pour les villes petites et moyennes des régions périphériques Revue de Géographie Alpine, 2, 169-184. DOI: 10.3406/rga.1999.2950.

  • [44] Rebernik, D. (2005). Small towns in Slovene urban system. In: Murayama, Y., Du, G. (eds.): Cities in global perspective - diversity and transition (pp. 172-180). Tokyo: College of Tourism of the Rikkyo university / International Geographical Union - Urban Commission.

  • [45] Repaská, G. (2011). Malé mestá Nitrianského kraja - urbanizácia či suburbanizácia? Geografické informácie 15, 52-63.

  • [46] Rodríguez Gonzáles, R. (1997). La urbanización del espacio rural en Galicia. Barcelona: Oikos-tau.

  • [47] Rydz, E. (2006). Rola małych miast w rozwoju obszarów wiejskich. Warszawa: Instytut geografii i przestrzennego zagospodarowania PAN.

  • [48] Servillo, L., Atkinson, R., Smith, I., Russo, A., Sýkora, L., & Demazière, Ch. (2013). Small and medium sized towns in their functional territorial context (ESPON interim report]. Luxembourg: ESPON coordination unit.

  • [49] Slavík, V. (2002). Small Towns of the Slovak Republic within the transformation stage. In: Matlovič, R., Žigrai, F.: Wandel der regionalen Strukturen in der Slowakei und im österreichischslowakischen Grenzgebiet (pp. 146-154). Prešov: Prešovská univerzita.

  • [50] Sokołowski, D. (1999). Funkcje centralne w zbiorze małych miast i większych osiedli wiejskich w Polsce. Przegląd geograficzny 71(3), 295-316.

  • [51] Spasić, N., Petrić, J. (2006). The role and development perspectives of small towns in Central Serbia. Spatium (13-14), 8-15, DOI: 10.2298/SPAT0614008S.

  • [52] Steinführer, A., Kabisch, S. (2005). Images einer langfristig schrumpfenden Stadt. Das Beispiel Johanngeorgenstadt (Sachsen). Berichte zur deutschen Landeskunde 79(1), 5-31.

  • [53] Sýkora, L. & Mulíček, O. (2009). The micro-regional nature of functional urban areas (FUAs): Lessons from the analysis of Czech urban and regional system. Urban Research & Practice 2(3), 287-307. DOI: 10.1080/17535060903319228.

  • [54] Vaishar, A., Greer-Wootten, B. (2006). Sustainable development in Moravia: an interpretation of the role of the small-town sector in transitional socioeconomic evolution. In: Bochniarz, Z., Cohen, G. B. (eds.): The environment and sustainable development in the new central Europe (p. 217-231). New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books.

  • [55] Vaishar, A. et al. (2008). Geografie malých měst. Brno: Ústav geoniky AV ČR.

  • [56] Vaishar, A., Šťastná, M., Vavrouchová, H., Stejskal, B., Hlisnikovský, L., Kniezková, T., Lipovská, Z., Novotná, K., Pákozdiová, M. Z. (2012). Malá města - motory rozvoje jihomoravského venkova. Brno: Mendelova univerzita.

  • [57] Vaishar, A., Zapletalová, J. (2007). Suburbanization in small towns - case study Modřice near Brno. Analele Universitatii din Craiova - seria geografie. 10, 112-126.

  • [58] Vaishar, A., Zapletalová, J. (2009). Small towns as centres of rural microregions. European Countryside 1(2), 70-81. DOI: 10.2478/v10091-009-0006-4.

  • [59] Vaz, T. N., Nijkamp, P. (2013). Small towns of hope and glory In Vaz, T. N., van Leeuwen, E., Nijkamp, P., eds., Towns in rural world (pp. 3-10). Farnham: Ashgate.

  • [60] Waitt, G. R., Gibson, C. R. (2006). Creative small cities: Rethinking the creative economy in place. Urban Studies 46(5), 1223-1246. DOI: 10.1177/0042098009103862.

  • [61] Wuthnow, R. (2013). Small town America. Finding community, shaping the future. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  • [62] Zamfir, D., Tălăngă, C., Stoica, I. V. (2009). Romanian small towns searching for their identity. Journal of Urban and Regional Analysis 1(1), 41-53.

  • [63] Zemanová, J. (2012). Vývoj struktury obyvatelstva malých měst v České republice v letech 1869 - 2001 [Diploma thesis]. Plzeň: West Bohemian University.

  • [64] Zsilincsar, W. (2003). Future Perspectives for Small Urban Centres in Austria. Geografický časopis 55(4), 309-324.

  • [65] Zuzańska-Żysko, E. (2004). Przemiany gospodarcze małych miast wojewódzstwa śląskiego. In: Jaźdźewska, I. (ed.): Zróznicowanie warunków źycia ludności w mieście (pp. 131-140). Łódź: Wydawnicztwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego.


Journal + Issues