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, conurbations or suburbs. In urbanism, the term contrasts to rural areas such as villages and hamlet (place), hamlets; in urban sociology or urban anthropology it contrasts with natural environment. The creation of early predecessors of urban areas during the urban revolution led to the creation of human civilization with modern urban planning, which along with other human activities such as exploitation of natural resources led to a human impact on the environment. "Agglomeration effects" are in the list of the main consequences of increased rates of firm creation since. This is due to conditions created by a greater level of industrial activity in a given region. However, a favorable environment for human capital development would also be generated simultaneously. The world's urban population in 1950 of just 746 million has increased to 3.9 billion in the decades since. In 2009, the number of people living in urban areas (3.42 billion) surpassed the number living in rural areas (3.41 billion), and since then the world has become more urban than rural. This was the first time that the majority of the world's population lived in a city. In 2014 there were 7.3 billion people living on the planet, of which the global urban population comprised 3.9 billion. The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs at that time predicted the urban population would grow to 6.4 billion by 2050, with 37% of that growth to come from three countries: China, India and Nigeria. Urban areas are created and further developed by the process of urbanization. Urban areas are measured for various purposes, including analyzing population density and urban sprawl. Unlike an urban area, a metropolitan area includes not only the urban area, but also Satellite town, satellite cities plus intervening rural land that is socio-economically connected to the urban core city, typically by employment ties through commuting, with the urban core city being the primary labor market. The concept of an "urban area" as used in economic statistics should not be confused with the concept of the "urban area" used in road safety statistics. The last concept is also known as "Built-up area (Highway Code), built-up area in road safety". According to the definition by the Office for National Statistics, "Built-up areas are defined as land which is 'irreversibly urban in character', meaning that they are characteristic of a town or city. They include areas of built-up land with a minimum of . Any areas [separated by] less than 200 metres [of non-urban space] are linked to become a single built-up area.


European countries define urbanized areas on the basis of urban-type land use, not allowing any gaps of typically more than , and use satellite imagery instead of census blocks to determine the boundaries of the urban area. In less-developed countries, in addition to land use and density requirements, a requirement that a large majority of the population, typically 75%, is not engaged in agriculture and/or fishing is sometimes used.

East Asia


Since 2000, China's cities have expanded at an average rate of 10% annually. It is estimated that China's urban population will increase by 292 million people by 2050, when its cities will house a combined population of over one billion. The country's urbanization rate increased from 17.4% to 46.6% between 1978 and 2009. Between 150 and 200 million migrant workers work part-time in the major cities, returning home to the countryside periodically with their earnings. Today, China has more cities with one million or more long-term residents than any other country, including the three global city, global cities of Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai; by 2025, the country will be home to 221 cities with over a million inhabitants. The figures in the table below are from the 2008 census, and are only estimates of the urban populations within administrative city limits; a different ranking exists when considering the total municipal populations (which includes suburban and rural populations). The large "floating populations" of migrant workers make conducting censuses in urban areas difficult;Francesco Sisci. "China's floating population a headache for census". ''The Straits Times''. 22 September 2000. the figures below include only long-term residents.


In Japan urbanized areas are defined as Geographic contiguity, contiguous areas of densely inhabited districts (DIDs) using census enumeration districts as units with a density requirement of .

South Asia


For the Census of India 2011, the definition of urban area is a place having a minimum population of 5,000 of density or higher, and 75% plus of the male working population employed in non-agricultural activities. Places administered by a municipal corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee are automatically considered urban areas. The Census of India 2011 also defined the term "urban agglomeration" as an integrated urban area consisting of a core town together with its "outgrowths" (contiguous suburbs).


In Pakistan, an area is a major city and municipality if it has more than 100,000 inhabitants according to census results. Cities include adjacent Cantonments (Pakistan), cantonments. Urbanisation in Pakistan has increased since the time of independence and has several different causes. The majority of southern Pakistan's population lives along the Indus River. Karachi is its most populous city. In the northern half of the country, most of the population lives in an arc formed by the cities of Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat city, Gujrat, Jhelum, Sargodha, Sheikhupura, Nowshera, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Nowshera, Mardan and Peshawar. During 1990–2008, city dwellers made up 36% of Pakistan's population, making it the most urbanised nation in South Asia. Furthermore, 50% of Pakistanis live in towns of 5,000 people or more. Karachi is the most populated city in Pakistan closely followed by Lahore according to the 2017 Census of Pakistan, 2017 Census.


In Bangladesh, there are total 532 urban areas, which are divided into three categories. Those are List of City Corporations of Bangladesh, City Corporation, List of Municipal Corporations of Bangladesh, Municipal Corporation (Pourasova) and Upazila, Upazila town. Among those urban areas, Dhaka is the largest city by population and area, with a population of 19.10 million. In Bangladesh, there are total 11 City Corporations in Bangladesh, City Corporations and 329 Municipal Corporations in Bangladesh, Municipal Corporations and 203 Small towns, which serves as the center for Upazilas. According to 2011 population census, Bangladesh has an urban population of 28%, with a growth rate of 2.8%. At this growth rate, it is estimated that the urban population of Bangladesh will reach 79 million or 42% of total population by 2035.

Southeast Asia


With an estimated population of 16.3 million, Metro Manila is the most populous metropolitan area in the Philippines#Metropolitan areas, Philippines and the List of metropolitan areas by population, 11th in the world. However, the greater urban area is the List of urban areas by population, 5th largest in the world with a population of 20,654,307 people (2010 estimate).


As an island city-state, about 5.6 million people live and work within . With 64 List of islands of Singapore, islands and islets, Singapore Island makes up the largest urban area in the country. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the country has the highest urbanised population in Southeast Asia, with 100 percent of its population living in an urban area. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is responsible for the urban land-use planning, which designates land use and Urban density, urban density of the country. The country is divided into 5 Regions of Singapore, regions for planning purposes by the URA, even though as a city state Singapore is defined as a single continuous urban area. It is further subdivided into 55 Planning Areas of Singapore, urban planning areas, which acts as the boundaries of New towns of Singapore, planned towns within the country.


In Vietnam, there are 6 types of urban areas: * Special urban area (2 municipalities): Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. * Type I urban area (18 provincial cities and 3 municipalities): Long Xuyên, Pleiku, Mỹ Tho, Thủ Dầu Một, Bắc Ninh, Biên Hòa, Hải Dương, Thanh Hóa, Hạ Long, Việt Trì, Thái Nguyên, Nam Định, Vũng Tàu, Buôn Ma Thuột, Đà Lạt, Quy Nhơn, Nha Trang, Huế, Vinh, Cần Thơ, Đà Nẵng and Hải Phòng. * Type II urban area (21 provincial cities and 1 district):Châu Đốc, Đồng Hới, Uông Bí, Bắc Giang, Ninh Bình, Bạc Liêu, Bà Rịa, Thái Bình, Rạch Giá, Cà Mau, Phan Rang–Tháp Chàm, Tuy Hòa, Phan Thiết, Vĩnh Yên, Lào Cai and Phú Quốc. * Type III urban area (31 provincial cities and 12 towns). * Type IV urban area (35 towns and 35 townships). * Type V urban area (586 townships and 54 communes).



Urban areas in the Nordic countries, As in other Nordic countries, an urban area (''taajama'' in Finnish language, Finnish) in Finland must have a building at least every and at least 200 people. To be considered a town or a city (''kaupunki'') for statistical purposes, an urban area must have at least 15,000 people. This is not to be confused with the city / town designation used by Municipalities of Finland, municipalities.


In France, an urban area (''Fr: aire urbaine'') is a zone encompassing an area of built-up growth (called an "urban unit" (''unité urbaine'') – close in definition to the North American urban area) and its commuter belt (''couronne périurbaine, couronne''). Americans would find the INSEE definition of the urban area to be similar to their metropolitan area, and the INSEE sometimes uses the term ''aire métropolitaine'' to refer to the country's largest ''aires urbaines''. The List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, largest cities in France, in terms of urban area population (2017), are Paris (12,628,266), Lyon (2,323,221), Marseille (1,760,653), Toulouse (1,360,829), Bordeaux (1,247,977), Lille (1,191,117), Nice (1,006,201), Nantes (972,828), Strasbourg (790,087) and Rennes (733,320).


Germany has a number of large List of cities in Germany, cities. The largest conurbation is the Rhine-Ruhr region (11 million ), including Düsseldorf (the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia), Cologne, Bonn, Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, and Bochum.


The Netherlands is the 30th List of countries by population density, most densely populated country in the world, with —or if only the land area is counted. The Randstad is the country's largest conurbation located in the west of the country and contains the four largest cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht (city), Utrecht. The Randstad has a population of 7 million inhabitants and is the List of metropolitan areas in Europe by population, 6th largest metropolitan area in Europe.


Urban areas in Sweden (''tätorter'') are statistically defined localities, totally independent of the administrative subdivision of the country. There are 1,956 such localities in Sweden, with a population ranging from 200 to 1,372,000 inhabitants.

United Kingdom

In 2013 the United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics (ONS) published ''2011 Built-up Areas - Methodology and Guidance'' which sets out its definition of a built-up area as an area of built-up land of at least , separated from other settlements by at least . For 2011 census data there are 5,493 built-up areas, of which 501 are divided into sub-divisions for which data is also available. Each built-up area is named algorithmically, using Ordnance Survey place-name data. The ONS has produced census results from urban areas since 1951, since 1981 based upon the extent of irreversible urban development indicated on Ordnance Survey maps. The definition is an extent of at least 20 ha and at least 1,500 census residents. Separate areas are linked if less than 200 m (220 yd) apart. Included are transportation features. The UK has five Urban Areas with a population over a million and a further sixty nine with a List of urban areas in the United Kingdom#List of urban areas in the UK with a population over 100,000, population over one hundred thousand.


Statistics Norway defines urban areas ("tettsteder") Urban areas in the Nordic countries, similarly to the other Nordic countries. Unlike in Denmark and Sweden, the distance between each building has to be of less than 50 m, although exceptions are made due to parks, industrial areas, rivers, and similar. Groups of houses less than 400 m from the main body of an urban area are included in the urban area.


In Poland, official "urban" population figures simply refer to those localities which have the status of towns (''miasta''). The "rural" population is that of all areas outside the boundaries of these towns. This distinction may give a misleading impression in some cases, since some localities with only village status may have acquired larger and denser populations than many many smaller towns with most excessive example of Poznań, most spread urban area of the country with population of the city app. 534 thousand and urban area above 1,100 thousand inhabitants. On the other hand, the Upper Silesian Industrial Region conurbation with numerous large and medium cities covers 3,200 km and has approximately 3 million people.


Moscow, the capital and List of cities and towns in Russia by population, largest city of Russia, has a population estimated at 12.4 million residents within the city limits, while over 17 million residents in the urban area, and over 20 million residents in the Moscow metropolitan area, Moscow Metropolitan Area. It is among the List of largest cities, world's largest cities, being the List of European cities by population within city limits, most populous city entirely within Europe, the List of urban areas in Europe, most populous urban area in Europe, the List of metropolitan areas in Europe, most populous metropolitan area in Europe, and also the largest city by land area on the European continent. Saint Petersburg, the cultural capital, is the second-largest city, with a population of roughly 5.4 million inhabitants. Other major urban areas are Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, and Chelyabinsk. File:Business Centre of Moscow 2.jpg, Moscow, the capital and largest city of Russia File:Spb 06-2017 img01 Spit of Vasilievsky Island.jpg, Saint Petersburg, the cultural capital and the second-largest city File:E-burg asv2019-05 img46 view from VysotSky.jpg, Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest city in the country.



The Australian Bureau of Statistics refers to urban areas as Urban Centres, which it generally defines as population clusters of 1,000 or more people. Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with more than 50% of the population residing in Australia's three biggest urban centres.

New Zealand

Statistics New Zealand defines urban areas in New Zealand, which are independent of any administrative subdivisions and have no legal basis. There are three classes of urban area: main urban areas are the 17 urban areas which have a population of 30,000 or more; secondary urban areas are the 14 urban areas which have a population of 10,000 or more but less than 30,000, and minor urban areas are the 103 urban areas which have a population of 1,000 or more but less than 10,000. Urban areas are reclassified after each New Zealand census, so population changes between censuses does not change an urban area's classification.

North America


According to Statistics Canada, an urban area in Canada is an area with a population of at least 1,000 people where the density is no fewer than . If two or more urban areas are within of each other by road, they are merged into a single urban area, provided they do not cross census metropolitan area or census agglomeration boundaries. In the Canada 2011 Census, Statistics Canada redesignated urban areas with the new term "Population centre (Canada), population centre";"From urban areas to population centres"
. Statistics Canada, May 5, 2011.
the new term was chosen in order to better reflect the fact that urban vs. rural is not a strict division, but rather a continuum within which several distinct settlement patterns may exist. For example, a community may fit a strictly statistical definition of an urban area, but may not be commonly thought of as "urban" because it has a smaller population, or functions socially and economically as a suburb of another urban area rather than as a self-contained urban entity, or is geographically remote from other urban communities. Accordingly, the new definition set out three distinct types of population centres: small (population 1,000 to 29,999), medium (population 30,000 to 99,999) and large (population 100,000 or greater). Despite the change in terminology, however, the demographic definition of a population centre remains unchanged from that of an urban area: a population of at least 1,000 people where the density is no fewer than 400 persons per km2.

United States

In the United States, there are two categories of urban area. The term ''urbanized area'' denotes an urban area of 50,000 or more people. Urban areas under 50,000 people are called ''urban clusters''. Urbanized areas were first delineated in the United States in the 1950 census, while urban clusters were added in the 2000 census. There are 1,371 List of United States urban areas, urban areas and urban clusters with more than 10,000 people. The United States Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau defines an urban area as "core census block groups or census block, blocks that have a population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile (386 per square kilometer) and surrounding census blocks that have an overall density of at least 500 people per square mile (193 per square kilometer)". The largest urban area in the United States is the New York metropolitan area. The population of New York City, the core of the metropolitan area, exceeds 8.5 million people, its List of metropolitan statistical areas, metropolitan statistical area has a population that is over 20 million, and its List of Combined Statistical Areas, combined statistical area population is over 23 million. The next seven largest urban areas in the U.S. are Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, and Atlanta. About 82 percent of the population of the United States lives within the boundaries of an urbanized area as of December, 2010. Combined, these areas occupy about 2 percent of the land area of the United States. Many Americans live in agglomerations of cities, suburbs, and towns that are adjacent to a metropolitan area's largest city. The concept of Urbanized Areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau is often used as a more accurate gauge of the size of a city, since in different cities and states the lines between city borders and the urbanized area of that city are often not the same. For example, the city of Greenville, South Carolina has a city population just over 68,000 and an urbanized area population of around 400,000, while Greensboro, North Carolina has a city population just over 285,000 and an urbanized area population of around 300,000 — meaning that Greenville is actually "larger" for some intents and purposes, but not for others, such as taxation, local elections, etc. In the U.S. Department of Agriculture's natural resources inventory, urban areas are officially known as developed areas or urban and built-up areas. Such areas include cities, ethnic villages, other built-up areas of more than 10 ac (4 ha), industrial sites, railroad yards, cemeteries, airports, golf courses, shooting ranges, institutional and public administration sites, and similar areas. The 1997 national resources inventory placed over 98,000,000 ac (40,000,000 ha) in this category, an increase of 25,000,000 ac (10,000,000 ha) since 1982.

South America


Argentina is highly urbanized. The ten largest metropolitan areas account for half of the population, and fewer than one in ten live in rural areas. About 3 million people live in Buenos Aires City and the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area totals around 15 million, making it one of the largest urban areas in the world, with a population of 18 million all up. Córdoba, Argentina, Córdoba has around 1.5 million people living in the urban area, while Rosario, Santa Fe, Rosario, Mendoza, Argentina, Mendoza and San Miguel de Tucumán, Tucumán have around 1.2 million inhabitants each and La Plata, Mar del Plata, Salta and Santa Fe, Argentina, Santa Fe have at least 500,000 people each.


According to IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) urban areas already concentrate 84.35% of the population, while the Southeast region remains the most populated one, with over 80 million inhabitants. The largest metropolitan areas in Brazil are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte — all in the Southeastern Region — with 21, 12, and 5 million inhabitants respectively. In general, state capitals are the largest cities in their states, except for Vitória, Brazil, Vitória, the capital of Espírito Santo, and Florianópolis, the capital of Santa Catarina. There are also non-capital metropolitan areas in the states of São Paulo (Campinas, Santos, São Paulo, Santos and the Paraíba Valley), Minas Gerais (Vale do Aço metropolitan area, Steel Valley), Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Sinos Valley) and Santa Catarina (Vale do Itajaí, Itajaí Valley).

See also

* Developed environments * Urban climatology * Urban culture * Urban decay * Urban exploration * Urban planning * Urban renewal * Urbanization


External links

United Nations Statistics Division (UNSTAT): Definition of "urban"

World Urban Areas
All identified world urbanized areas 500,000+ and others: Population & Density.
research group, University of Paris-Diderot, France for world urban areas
Gridded Population of the World
– contains links to urban area definitions and maps for over 230 countries/territories

* [http://www.populationdata.net/index2.php?option=palmares&rid=4&nom=grandes-villes PopulationData – World's largest urban areas 1,000,000+ population] {{Authority control Urban areas, Urban design Urban planning