Upper Silesia (Poland)
The Upper Silesian coal basin used to be the economic engine of Poland for the most part of the 20th century. Coal mining developed here along with iron and steelmaking, shaping an extensive urban network around the industrial cities of Katowice, Chorzów, Bytom, Zabrze and Gliwice. The collapse of the communist regime in 1989 exposed the region's heavy industry to a sudden, dramatic decline. Mines and foundries were closed down for good and turned into ruins, workers neighborhoods were abandoned and unemployment boomed. Despite the accelerating economic transition after Poland's accession to the European Union in 2004, the region's landscape is still littered with scars.