Today, with increasing digitalization, the importance of physical distance is diminishing. The size of functional regions, i.e. the geographical areas in which many people both live and have their daily work and social life, is expanding beyond administrative borders. The last issue of Nordregio News this year focuses on the connections between the urban and the rural areas which is also the major topic of Nordregio Forum that was held in Oslo at the end of November, 2017. What opportunities are offered by better linkages between the urban and the rural areas? Or, is it utopian to believe that rural areas can develop and prosper in parallel with ongoing urbanization? Finally, what could the rest of the world learn from the Nordic approach to sustainable small and medium-sized cities?