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In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographic area that is located outside
town A town is a . Towns are generally larger than s and smaller than , though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. Origin and use The word "town" shares an origin with the word , the word ...

town
s and
cities A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings grouped to ...

cities
. The
Health Resources and Services Administration The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services located in North Bethesda, Maryland. It is the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for peopl ...
of the
United States Department of Health and Human Services The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is a cabinet-level executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a ...
defines the word ''rural'' as encompassing "...all population, housing, and territory not included within an
urban area An urban area, or built-up area, is a human settlement with a high population density and infrastructure of built environment. Urban areas are created through urbanization and are categorized by urban morphology as city, cities, towns, conurbati ...
. Whatever is not urban is considered rural." Typical rural areas have a low
population density upright=2.05, Population density (people per km2) map of the world in 2005 Population density (in agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the ri ...

population density
and small settlements.
Agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors such as watching tele ...

Agricultural
areas and areas with
forestry Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing forest A forest is an area of land dominated by s. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating fac ...
typically are described as rural. Different countries have varying definitions of ''rural'' for statistical and administrative purposes. Rural areas, because of their unique economic and social dynamics, and relationship to land-based industry such as
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of , whereby farming of species created food that enabled people to live in cities. The began thousands of ...

agriculture
,
forestry Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing forest A forest is an area of land dominated by s. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating fac ...
and
resource extraction Extractivism is the process of extracting natural resource , Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitutional monarchy consists of States and federal territories of Malaysia, thirteen states and ...
, the economics are very different from cities and can be subject to
boom and bust The business cycle, also known as the economic cycle or trade cycle, are the fluctuations of gross domestic product Gross domestic product (GDP) is a money, monetary Measurement in economics, measure of the market value of all the final goods a ...
cycles and vulnerability to
extreme weather Extreme weather or extreme climate events includes unexpected, unusual, severe, or unseasonal weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear o ...

extreme weather
or natural disasters, such as
droughts A drought is an event of prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric (below-average precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric ...

droughts
. These dynamics alongside larger economic forces encouraging to
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000.">South_Karelia.html" ;"title="Lappeenranta, South Karelia">Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finla ...
have lead to significant demographic declines, called
rural flight Rural flight (or rural exodus) is the Human migration, migratory pattern of peoples from rural sociology, rural areas into urban areas. It is urbanization seen from the rural perspective. In modern times, it often occurs in a region following t ...

rural flight
, where economic incentives encourage younger populations to go to cities for education and access to jobs leaving older, less educated and less
wealthy Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset In financial accountancy, financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned or controlled by a business or an economic entity. It is anything ( ...

wealthy
populations in the rural areas. Slower economic development results in poorer services like healthcare and education and rural infrastructure. This cycle cycle of poverty in some rural areas, means that three quarters of the global population in poverty live in rural areas according to the Food and Agricultural Organization. Some communities have successfully encouraged economic development in rural areas, with some policies such as giving increased access to
electricity Electricity is the set of physical Physical may refer to: *Physical examination, a regular overall check-up with a doctor *Physical (album), ''Physical'' (album), a 1981 album by Olivia Newton-John **Physical (Olivia Newton-John song), "Physi ...
or
internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected s that uses the (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ' that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to ...
, proving very successful on encouraging economic activities in rural areas. Historically development policies have focused on larger extractive industries, such as mining and forestry. However, recent approaches more focused on
sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services Social forestry in India, Social ...

sustainable development
are more aware of economic diversification in these communities.


Regional definitions


North America


Canada

In Canada, the
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
defines a "predominantly rural region" as having more than 50% of the population living in rural communities where a "
rural community Sociology, Sociologists have identified a number of different types of rural communities, which have arisen as a result of changing economics, economic trends within rural sociology, rural regions of industrialism, industrial nations. The basic tr ...

rural community
" has a population density less than 150 people per square kilometer. In Canada, the census division has been used to represent "regions" and census consolidated sub-divisions have been used to represent "communities". Intermediate regions have 15 to 49 percent of their population living in a rural community. Predominantly
urban region Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas * Urban culture, the culture of towns and cities. Urban may also refer to: General * Urban (name), a list of peop ...
s have less than 15 percent of their population living in a rural community. Predominantly rural regions are classified as rural metro-adjacent, rural non-metro-adjacent and rural northern, following Philip Ehrensaft and Jennifer Beeman (1992). Rural metro-adjacent regions are predominantly rural
census divisionCensus divisions, in Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and nor ...
s which are adjacent to metropolitan centers while rural non-metro-adjacent regions are those predominantly rural census divisions which are not adjacent to metropolitan centers. Rural northern regions are predominantly rural census divisions that are found either entirely or mostly above the following lines of latitude in each province:
Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador (; sometimes abbreviated as NL) is the easternmost provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic Canada, Atlantic region. It is composed of the island of Newfoundland (island), Newf ...
, 50th;
Manitoba Manitoba ( ) is a Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada at the Centre of Canada, longitudinal centre of the country. It is Canada's Population of Canada by province and territory, fifth-most populous province, with a population o ...

Manitoba
, 53rd;
Alberta ("Strong and free") , image_map = Alberta in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English , capital = Edmonton , largest_city = Calg ...

Alberta
,
British Columbia ( en, Splendour without diminishment) , image_map = British Columbia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = None , Slogan = Beautiful British C ...

British Columbia
,
Ontario ("Loyal she began, loyal she remains") , Label_map = yes , image_map = Ontario in Canada 2.svg , map_alt = Map showing Ontario's location east/central of Canada. , coordinates = , cap ...

Ontario
,
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...

Quebec
, and
Saskatchewan ("From Many Peoples Strength") , image_map = Saskatchewan in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English language, English , capital = Regina, S ...
, 54th. As well, rural northern regions encompass all of the
Yukon Yukon ( ; ; formerly called Yukon Territory and sometimes referred to as The Yukon) is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three territories. It also is the least populated province or territory in Canada, with a population of 35,874 peo ...

Yukon
,
Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories (commonly abbreviated as NT or NWT; french: Territoires du Nord-Ouest) is a federal territory A territory is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subd ...

Northwest Territories
and
Nunavut Nunavut ( ) ( iu, ᓄᓇᕗᑦ) is the newest, largest, and northernmost territory of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories exten ...
. Statistics Canada defines rural areas by their population counts. This definition has changed over time (see Appendix A in du Plessis et al., 2002). Typically, it has referred to the population living outside settlements of 1,000 or fewer inhabitants. The current definition states that census rural is the population outside settlements with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants and a population density below 400 people per square kilometer (Statistics Canada, 2007).


United States


South America


Brazil

In Brazil, there are different notions of "rural area" and "countryside". Rural areas are any place outside a municipality's urban development (buildings, streets) and it is carried by informal usage. Otherwise, countryside (''interior'' in
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
) are officially defined as all municipalities outside the state/territory capital's metropolitan region. Some states as
Mato Grosso do Sul Mato Grosso do Sul () is one of the Midwestern states of Brazil. Neighboring Brazilian states are (from north clockwise) Mato Grosso, Goiás, Minas Gerais, São Paulo (state), São Paulo and Paraná (state), Paraná. It also borders the countries ...
do not have any metropolitan regions, thus all of the state, except its capital is officially countryside.
Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro (; ), or simply Rio, is the List of largest cities in Brazil, second-most populous city in Brazil and the Largest cities in the Americas, sixth-most populous in the Americas. Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the Rio de Janeiro (s ...

Rio de Janeiro
is singular in Brazil and it is de facto a metropolitan state, as circa 70% of its population are located in Greater Rio. In the
Federal District A federal district is a type of administrative division of a federation, usually under the direct control of a federal government and organized sometimes with a single municipal body. Federal districts often include Capital districts and territori ...
it is not applicable and there is no countryside as all of it is treated as the federal capital. Brasília is nominally the capital, but the capitality is shared through all Federal District, because Brazil de facto defines its capital as a municipality, and in municipal matters, the Federal District is treated and governs as a single municipality,
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance la ...
-like (Brasília, DF).


Europe


France

15% of French population live in rural areas, spread over 90% of the country. President
Emmanuel Macron Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron (; born 21 December 1977) is a French politician who has been serving as the since 14 May 2017. Born in , Macron studied at , later completing a master's degree in public affairs at and graduating fr ...
government launched an action plan in 2019 in favour for rural areas named "Agenda Rural". Among many initiatives recommended to redynamize rural areas,
energy transition Energy transition is a significant structural change in an energy system. Historically, these changes have been driven by the demand for and availability of different fuels. Energy transitions can also result from depletion of energy sources, fo ...
is one of them. Research is being carried out to assess the impact of new projects in rural areas.


Germany

Germany is divided into 402 administrative districts, 295
rural districts Rural districts were a type of local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of ...
and 107 urban districts. As one of the largest agricultural producers in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, more than half of Germany's territory which is almost 19 million hectares, is used for farming, and located in the rural areas. Almost 10% of people in Germany have jobs related to the agricultural, forest and fisheries sectors; approximately a fifth of them are employed in the primary production. Since there is a policy of equal living conditions, people see rural areas as equivalent as urban areas. Village renewal is an approach to develop countryside and supports the challenges faced in the process of it.


United Kingdom

In Britain, "rural" is defined by the government
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the government department Ministry or department, also less commonly used secretariat, office, or directorate are designations used by a first-level executive Executive may ref ...
(DEFRA), using population data from the latest
census A census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In ...

census
, such as the
United Kingdom Census 2001 A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th Census in the United Kingdom, UK census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194. The 2001 UK census was organis ...
. These definitions have various grades, but the upper point is any local government area with more than 26% of its population living in a rural settlement or
market town A market town is a European that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the , a market right, which allowed it to host a regular ; this distinguished it from a or . In Britain, small rural towns with a hinterland of villages are still com ...
("market town" being defined as any settlement which has permission to hold a
street market fa:بازار A market, or marketplace, is a location where people regularly gather for the purchase and sale of provisions, livestock, and other goods. In different parts of the world, a market place may be described as a ''souk'' (from the ...
). A number of measures are in place to protect the British countryside, including green belts.


Asia


India

Rural areas are also known as the 'countryside' or a '
village A village is a clustered human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena ...

village
' in India. It has a very low population density. In rural areas,
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of , whereby farming of species created food that enabled people to live in cities. The began thousands of ...

agriculture
is the chief source of livelihood along with
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, ...

fishing
,
cottage industries The putting-out system is a means of subcontracting work. Historically, it was also known as the workshop system and the domestic system. In putting-out, work is contracted by a central agent to subcontractors who complete the work in off-site facil ...
,
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with and other materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include , and . The place where such wares are mad ...

pottery
etc. The quest to discover the real rural India still continues in great earnest. Almost every economic agency today has a definition of rural India. Here are a few definitions: According to the Planning Commission, a town with a maximum population of 15,000 is considered rural in nature. In these areas the
panchayat The Panchayat raj (''panchayat'' "village council", '' raj'' "rule") is a political system In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and ...
makes all the decisions. There are five people in the
panchayat The Panchayat raj (''panchayat'' "village council", '' raj'' "rule") is a political system In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and ...
. The National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) defines ‘rural’ as follows: * An area with a population density of up to 400 per square kilometer, * Villages with clear surveyed boundaries but no municipal board, * A minimum of 75% of male working population involved in agriculture and allied activities. RBI defines rural areas as those areas with a population of less than 49,000 (tier -3 to tier-6 cities). It is generally said that the rural areas house up to 70% of India's population. Rural India contributes a large chunk to India's GDP by way of agriculture, self-employment, services, construction etc. As per a strict measure used by the National Sample Survey in its 63rd round, called monthly per capita expenditure, rural expenditure accounts for 55% of total national monthly expenditure. The rural population currently accounts for one-third of the total Indian FMCG sales.


Japan

In Japan, rural areas are referred to as "Inaka" which translates literally to "the countryside" or "one's native village".


Pakistan

According to the 2017 census about 64% of Pakistanis live in rural areas. Most rural areas in Pakistan tend to be near cities and are peri-urban areas. This is due to the definition of a rural area in Pakistan being an area that does not come within an
urban Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas * Urban culture, the culture of towns and cities. Urban may also refer to: General * Urban (name), a list of people ...
boundary. Rural areas in Pakistan that are near cities are considered as
suburban areas File:Husby Kista.jpg, The Swedish suburbs of Husby/Kista/Akalla are built according to the typical city planning of the Million Programme. A suburb (or suburban area or suburbia) is a Mixed-use development, mixed-use or residential area, exist ...
or
suburb A suburb (or suburban area or suburbia) is a commercial Commercial may refer to: * a dose of advertising conveyed through media (such as - for example - radio or television) ** Radio advertisement ** Television advertisement * (adjective ...
s. The remote rural villagers of Pakistan commonly live in houses made of bricks, clay or mud.
Socioeconomic status Socioeconomic status (SES) is an economic and sociological combined total measure of a person's work experience and of an individual's or family's economic access to resources and social position in relation to others. When analyzing a family's ...
among rural Pakistani villagers is often based upon the ownership of
agricultural land Agricultural land is typically land ''devoted to'' agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whe ...

agricultural land
, which also may provide social prestige in village cultures. The majority of rural Pakistani inhabitants livelihoods is based upon the rearing of livestock, which also comprises a significant part of Pakistan's gross domestic product. Some livestock raised by rural Pakistanis include cattle and goats.


Oceania


New Zealand

In
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
census areas are classified based on their degree of rurality. However, traffic law has a different interpretation and defines a Rural area as "''... a road or a geographical area that is not an urban traffic area, to which the rural speed limit generally applies.''"


Economics


Development


Electricity


Migration


Poverty


Rural health


Human fertility

Rural residence is a fertility factor, with total fertility rates and
pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young creation of living organisms, produced either by a Asexual reproduction, single organism or, in the case of sexual repr ...

pregnancy
being higher among women in rural areas than among women in urban areas and the rural population is much younger than urban areas.


Academic study

Because of their unique dynamics, different academic fields have developed to study rural communities.


Economics


Sociology


See also

*
American Old West The American frontier, also known as the Old West or the Wild West, includes the geography, history, folklore, and culture in the forward wave of American expansion that began with European colonial settlements in the early 17th century and en ...
*
Boondocks The boondocks is an American expression from the Tagalog word ''bundók'' ("mountain"). It originally referred to a remote rural area, but now, is often applied to an out-of-the-way area considered backward and unsophisticated by city-folk. I ...
*
Bushland In Australia, bushland is a blanket term for land which supports remnant vegetation or land which is disturbed but still retains a predominance of the original floristics and structure. Human survival in bushland has a whole mythology evolving ...

Bushland
*
Country house An English country house is a large house or mansion A mansion is a large dwelling house. The word itself derives through Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European ...

Country house
* Developed areas * Digital divide *
Landed gentry The landed gentry, or the ''gentry'', is a largely historical British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income Renting, also known as hiring or letting, is an agreement where a payment is made for the temp ...
*
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...

Nature
*
Outback The Outback is a remote, vast, sparsely populated area of Australia. The Outback is more remote than Australian bush, the bush, which includes any location outside the main urban areas. While often envisaged as being arid, the Outback regions ...

Outback
*
Peasantry A peasant is a pre-industrial Pre-industrial society refers to social attributes and forms of political and cultural organization that were prevalent before the advent of the Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the tra ...
*
Rural Community CouncilThe rural community councils (RCCs) were established in rural England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish ...
*
Rural craftsRural crafts refers to the traditional crafts production that is carried on, simply for everyday practical use, in the agricultural countryside. Once widespread and commonplace, the survival of some rural crafts is threatened. Mapping Heritage Craft' ...
*
Rural ghetto The term rural ghetto describes the influx of and neglect in the small towns of , and . According to an April 1993 review of the book by Fred Magdoff, s are often "omitted from most people's conception of poverty." Generally, " is less visually ...
*
Rural Internet Rural Internet describes the characteristics of Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate betwee ...
*
Urban decay Urban decay (also known as urban rot, urban death and urban blight) is the sociological process by which a previously functioning city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: ...
*
Wilderness Wilderness or wildlands (usually in the plural), are s on that have not been significantly modified by activity or any nonurbanized land not under extensive agricultural cultivation. The term has traditionally referred to terrestrial environ ...

Wilderness


References


Further reading

*  Thomas C. Ricketts, Karen D. Johnson-Webb, Patricia Taylor. Chapel Hill: North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina, 1998. 13 p.


External links


Census 2000 Urban and Rural ClassificationNorth West Rural Affairs Forum (England)Canadian Rural PartnershipThe Better India- Rural IndiaIndia Rural Population
{{DEFAULTSORT:Rural Area City Ecology
Human habitats This category is for various types of places intended for human residence, as opposed to and often in addition to e.g., places of work, study, or entertainment. The term habitat comes from ecology, and includes many interrelated features, especially ...
Rural society Rural culture Rural economics Rural geography Settlement geography