The Shadowlands wrap and reflect the living world - every location in the Skinlands has a direct physical analogue in the Shadowlands, although the relationship can sometimes be tenuous. A wraith living in the Shadowlands of New York, for example, can walk from Manhattan to the Bronx. However, objects which are remembered in the living world still exist in the Shadowlands, so that same wraith may be able to climb the memory of the Twin Towers.
Cities in the living world are represented by the Necropoli in the dead world; many of the Western cities are considered independent with tenuous ties to the Hierarchy, although there are exceptions, such as the territories of the Dark Kingdom of Wire.
Each of the Dark Kingdoms in the Shadowlands also roughly corresponds to one of the major continents or cultures in the Skinlands. For example, Stygia encompasses most of Europe and North America, while the Yellow Springs holds sway over China, Japan, and many of the more "oriental" cultures of Asia.
The Shadowlands overlay the Tempest in most places, although it will poke through on occasion. Occasionally, nihils to the Tempest or to Oblivion will open up in in the Skinlands. Even rarer is one that exists as a permanent channel.
The Shadowlands are accessible to any wraith who still possess Fetters, such as Gaunts. Wraiths who have lost their Fetters, such as Domem, will dissolve from the Shadowlands in minutes if they do not return to Stygia or another stable point in the Tempest.