Ferroelectric, dielectric and piezoelectric properties of ferroelectric thin films and ceramics are reviewed with the aim of providing an insight into different processes which may affect the behaviour of ferroelectric devices, such as ferroelectric memories and micro-electro-mechanical systems. Taking into consideration recent advances in this field, topics such as polarization switching, polarization fatigue, effects of defects, depletion layers, and depolarization fields on hysteresis loop behaviour, and contributions of domain-wall displacement to dielectric and piezoelectric properties are discussed. An introduction into dielectric, pyroelectric, piezoelectric and elastic properties of ferroelectric materials, symmetry considerations, coupling of electro-mechanical and thermal properties, and definitions of relevant ferroelectric phenomena are provided.