The purpose of this study is to find out how the settlement systems in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia changed during the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century, and what the trends for further urban change are. In the Soviet period, single farms that existed in all three east Baltic countries were destroyed. The inhabitants of single farms were moved to central settlements. Cities grew in all the republics, especially in the largest centres. A network of satellite settlements grew up around the capitals, which was particularly dense around Tallinn and Riga. The capitals and their surrounding settlements are currently growing at a very high speed in all the east Baltic countries. This concentrates administrative functions and a highly skilled workforce, and attracts the most investment. As a result, peripheral areas, especially villages, are disappearing, and their inhabitants are emigrating. Such areas are becoming unattractive to business.In order to show the situation, the authors used a comparative analysis method, as well as cartographic, graphic and other methods. The anticipation of settlement principles and trends is one of the most important tasks of regional policy in each country. Therefore, an interpolation method was used to make estimates of the urban population in the three largest cities in the east Baltic countries from 2020 to 2023. The trend analysis indicates that the populations of most of the largest cities in the east Baltic countries will decrease.