The city is located in the northwestern part of the country, on the Koszalin Coast, from the Baltic Sea, on the Słupia River. It is the administrative seat of Słupsk County, although it is not part of that county (the city has county status in its own right). It has a population of 98,757 and occupies , being one of the most densely populated cities in the country according to the Central Statistical Office. The neighbouring administrative districts (gminas) are Gmina Kobylnica and Gmina Słupsk. There is ongoing discussion regarding extension of the city boundaries to include some territory belonging to those two gminas.
The city rights of Słupsk, probably given by Świętopełk II, the duke of Gdańsk (Danzig) in 1265, were extended in 1310 and confirmed in 1313 by the margraves of Brandenburg. By then, the city had become a centre of local administration and trade and a Hanseatic League associate. Between 1368 and 1478 it was the capital of the Duchy of Stolp; it then came under the sovereignty of the Duchy of Pomerania. In 1648, according to the peace treaty of Osnabrück, Słupsk and its surrounding territories were awarded to Brandenburg-Prussia and later formed the Province of Pomerania. The city became part of Poland in 1945.
Slavic names in Polish — Słupsk — and Pomeranian — Stolpsk, Stôłpsk, Słëpsk, Słëpskò, Stôłp — may be etymologically related to the words słup ("pile") and stołp ("keep"). Two hypotheses regarding the origins of those names exist: one claims that it refers to a specific way of constructing buildings on boggy ground with additional pile support, which is still in use, while the other says that it is connected with a tower or other defensive structure built on the banks of the Słupia River
In the Polish language, the citizens of Słupsk are called słupszczanie (singular słupszczanin).
Administratively, the city of Słupsk has the status of both urban gmina and city county (powiat). The city boundaries are generally artificial, with only short natural boundaries with the villages of Kobylnica and Włynkówko on the Słupia River. The boundaries have remained unchanged since 1949, when Ryczewo became a part of the city. In March 2008, Mayor Maciej Kobyliński put forward a proposal to expand the city limits by incorporating some territory from neighbouring districts.
Słupsk shares about three-quarters of its boundaries with the rural district called Gmina Słupsk, of which Słupsk is the administrative seat (although it is not part of the district). The city's other neighbouring district is Gmina Kobylnica, to the south-west. The Słupsk Special Economic Zone is not entirely contained within the city limits: a portion of it lies within Gmina Słupsk, while some smaller areas are at quite a distance from Słupsk (Debrzno), or even in another voivodeship (Koszalin, Szczecinek, Wałcz).
The city has a fairly irregular shape, with its central point at Plac Zwycięstwa ("Victory Square") at .
Słupsk lies in the pradolina (ancient river valley, also known in German as Urstromtal) of the Słupia River. The city centre is situated significantly lower than its western and easternmost portions. Divided into two almost equal parts by the river, Słupsk is rather hilly when compared to other cities in the region. About of the city's area is covered by forests, while is used for agricultural purposes.
Słupsk is rich in natural water bodies. There are more than twenty ponds, mostly former meanders of the Słupia, within the city limits. There are also several streams, irrigation canals (generally unused and abandoned) and a leat. Except in the city centre, all these watercourses are unregulated.
There is generally little human influence on landform features visible within the city limits. However, in the northwestern part of the city there is a huge hollow, a remnant of a former sand mine. Although there were once plans to build a waterpark in this area, they were later abandoned and the site remains unused.
The settlement was probably given city rights in 1265. In 1308 Gdańsk Pomerania was attacked and then conquered by the Teutonic Knights. Stolp and its surroundings, however, came under Brandenburgian influence. The city privileges were reconfirmed in 1310 and 1313 by the margraves of Brandenburg. The governors of Stolp had bought Stolpmünde and then built a port there, enabling a maritime economy to begin to develop. In 1368 the Duchy of Stolp (Fürstentum Stolp) became independent from the Duchy of Wolgast (Fürstentum Wolgast) and later became a part of the united Duchy of Pomerania in 1478.
The united duchy of Farther and Hither Pomerania kept its independence until 1648, when the Thirty Years' War ended. The local ruling house, the Griffits, became extinct in 1637. The teritorry of the Duchy was partitioned between Brandenburg-Prussia and Sweden. After the Peace of Westphalia Stolp came under Brandenburgian control and became one of the cities of the Province of Pomerania, in which it remained until 1945. Before the Second World War, Stolp was conquered only once, in 1807 during the Napoleonic Wars.
After the Thirty Years' War Stolp lost much of its former importance — despite the fact that Stettin was then a part of Sweden, the province's capital was situated not in the second-largest city of the region, but in the one closest to the former ducal residence — Stargard. However, the local economy stabilized. The constant dynamic development of the Kingdom of Prussia and good economic conditions saw the city develop. After the major state border changes (modern Vorpommern and Stettin joined the Prussian state after a conflict with Sweden) Stolp was only an administrative centre of the Kreis within the Regierungsbezirk of Köslin. However, its geographical location led to rapid development, and in the 19th century it was the second city of the province in terms of both population and industrialization. In 1869 a railway from Danzig reached Stolp.
During the 19th century the city's boundaries were significantly extended towards the west and south. The new railway station was built about 1,000 metres from the old city. In 1901 the construction of a new city hall was completed, followed by a local administration building in 1903. In 1910 a tram line was opened. The football club Viktoria Stolp was formed in 1901. In 1914, before the First World War, Stolp had 34,340 inhabitants.
In 1926 members of the National Socialist German Workers Party organized a public meeting of citizens. This led to the party's gaining widespread support in the city.
The beginning of the Second World War halted the development of the city. The Nazis created a labour camp there, later becoming Außenarbeitslager Stolp, a subcamp of the Stutthof concentration camp. On March 7, 1945, 24 forced labourers from the camp were killed in the Southern Wood, the day before the Red Army entered the city. Almost no-one remained in the city; most of the inhabitants fled and Nazi soldiers abandoned it. However, Russian soldiers were ordered to set fire to the centre of the city. The Red Army initially set up administrative headquarters in the city hall.
Słupsk later became part of Szczecin Voivodeship and then Koszalin Voivodeship, and in 1975 became the capital of the new province of Słupsk Voivodeship. The city was a cultural centre. The Millennium Cinema was one of the first in Poland to have a cinerama. The puppet theatre Tęcza used to collaborate with the similar institution called Arcadia in Oradea, Romania, but the partnership ceased after 1989.
During the 1970 protests there were minor strikes and demonstrations. No-one was killed during the militia's interventions.
Słupsk is a raliway junction, with four lines running north, west, east and south from the city. Currently, one station, opened January 10, 1991 serves the whole city. This is a class B station according to PKP (Polish Railways) criteria. The city has rail connections with most major cities in Poland: Białystok, Gdańsk, Gdynia, Katowice, Kraków, Lublin, Łódź, Olsztyn, Poznań, Szczecin, Warsaw and Wrocław, and also serves as a junction for local trains from Kołobrzeg, Koszalin, Lębork, Miastko, Szczecinek and Ustka. Słupsk is the westernmost terminus of the Fast Urban Railway serving the Gdańsk conurbation.
The first railway reached Słupsk (then Stolp) from the east in 1869. The first rail station was built north of its current location. The line was later extended to Köslin (now Koszalin), and further lines were built connecting the city with Neustettin (Szczecinek), Stolpmünde (Ustka), Zezenow (Cecenowo) (narrow gauge) and Budow (Budowo) (narrow gauge). The narrow gauge tracks were rebuilt as standard gauge by 1933, but were demolished during the Second World War. After the war, the first train connection to be restored was that with Lębork, reopened May 27, 1945. Between 1988 and 1989 almost all of the lines traversing the city were electrified.
The city's network of streets is well developed, but many of them require general refurbishment. The city is currently investing significant sums of money in road development.
Słupsk is the regular venue for a number of festivals, most notably:
Słupsk currently has three theatres:
At one time Słupsk had five functioning cinemas, but only one, the Millennium Cinema, remains open today. There is also a small specialist cinema on 3 Maja street.
Słupsk has a developing economy based on a number of large factories. The footwear industry has been particularly successful in the region, expanding its exports to many countries.
The Scania commercial vehicles plant also plays a very significant role in Słupsk's economy, generating the highest revenue out of all companies currently based in Słupsk. Most of the buses currently manufactured there are exported to Western Europe.
Several retail developments have been carried out, with others either awaiting approval or already approved by the municipal authorities. Below is a list of some of Słupsk's existing or planned retail sites.
Słupsk has many restaurants, pizzerias, cafés and other catering establishments. One of the most famous pizzerias is that located in the Poranek café, which was the first pizzeria established in post-war Poland.
The European Interceptor Site (EIS) of the US will be placed in nearby Redzikowo, forming a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system in conjunction with a US narrow-beam midcourse tracking and discrimination radar system in the Czech Republic. It consists of up to 10 silo-based interceptors, a two-stage version of the existing three-stage Ground Based Interceptor (GBI), with Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV).
The missile shield has received much local opposition in the area, including several protests. This included a protest in March 2008, when an estimated 300 protesters marched on the proposed site of the missile base.