In general, a rural area or countryside is a geographic area that is
located outside towns and cities. The Health Resources and Services
Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
defines the word rural as encompassing "...all population, housing,
and territory not included within an urban area. Whatever is not urban
is considered rural."
Typical rural areas have a low population density and small
settlements. Agricultural areas are commonly rural, as are other types
of areas such as forest. Different countries have varying definitions
of rural for statistical and administrative purposes.
1 North America
1.2 United States
1.2.1 Rural schools
1.2.2 Rural health
2 South America
3.2 United Kingdom
3.2.1 Rural health
5 Human fertility
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
In Canada, the Organisation 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" has a
population density less than 150 people per square kilometre. 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 regions
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
Ehrensaft and Beeman (1992). Rural metro-adjacent regions are
predominantly rural census divisions which are adjacent to
metropolitan centres while rural non-metro-adjacent regions are those
predominantly rural census divisions which are not adjacent to
metropolitan centres. Rural northern regions are predominantly rural
census divisions that are found either entirely or mostly above the
following lines of parallel in each province: Newfoundland and
Quebec 54th; Ontario, 54th; Manitoba, 53rd;
Alberta and British Columbia, 54th. As well, rural
northern regions encompass all of the Yukon,
Northwest Territories and
Statistics Canada defines rural for 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 kilometre (Statistics Canada, 2007).
Main article: Rural areas in the United States
84% of the United States' inhabitants live in suburban and urban
areas, but cities occupy only 10 percent of the country. Rural
areas (villages) occupy the remaining 90 percent. The U.S. Census
Bureau, the USDA's Economic Research Service, and the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) have come together to help define rural
Census Bureau: The
Census Bureau definitions (new
to the 2000 census), which are based on population density, defines
rural areas as all territory outside
Census Bureau-defined urbanized
areas and urban clusters.
An urbanized area consists of a central surrounding areas whose
population ("urban nucleus") is greater than 50,000. They may or may
not contain individual cities with 50,000 or more; rather, they must
have a core with a population density generally exceeding 1,000
persons per square mile; and may contain adjoining territory with at
least 500 persons per square mile (other towns outside an urbanized
area whose population exceeds 2,500).
Thus, rural areas comprise open country and settlements with fewer
than 2,500 residents; areas designated as rural can have population
densities as high as 999 per square mile or as low as 1 person per
Office of Rural Development may define rural by various
population thresholds. The
2002 farm bill
2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171, Sec. 6020)
defined rural and rural area as any area other than (1) a city or town
that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants, and (2) the
urbanized areas contiguous and adjacent to such a city or town.
The rural-urban continuum codes, urban influence code, and rural
county typology codes developed by USDA’s Economic Research Service
(ERS) allow researchers to break out the standard metropolitan and
non-metropolitan areas into smaller residential groups. For
example, a metropolitan county is one that contains an urbanized area,
or one that has a twenty-five percent commuter rate to an urbanized
area regardless of population.
Under the Core Based Statistical Areas used by the OMB (commonly
referred to as 'CBSA Codes'),
a metropolitan county, or Metropolitan Statistical Area,(MSA) consists
of (1) central counties with one or more urbanized areas (as defined
Census Bureau) and (2) outlying counties that are economically
tied to the core counties as measured by worker commuting data (i.e.
if 25% of workers living there commute to the core counties, or if 25%
of the employment in the county consists of workers coming from the
Non-metro counties are outside the boundaries of metro areas and are
further subdivided into Micropolitan Statistical Areas centered on
urban clusters of 10,000–50,000 residents, and all remaining
In 2014, the
USDA updated their rural / non-rural area definitions
based on the 2010
National Center for Education Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) revised its definition
of rural schools in 2006 after working with the
Census Bureau to
create a new locale classification system to capitalize on improved
Rural health definitions can be different for establishing
under-served areas or health care accessibility in rural areas of the
United States. According to the handbook, Definitions of Rural: A
Handbook for Health Policy Makers and Researchers, "Residents of
metropolitan counties are generally thought to have easy access to the
relatively concentrated health services of the county's central areas.
However, some metropolitan counties are so large that they contain
small towns and rural, sparsely populated areas that are isolated from
these central clusters and their corresponding health services by
physical barriers." To address this type of rural area, "Harold
Goldsmith, Dena Puskin, and Dianne Stiles (1992) described a
methodology to identify small towns and rural areas within large
metropolitan counties (LMCs) that were isolated from central areas by
distance or other physical features." This became the Goldsmith
Modification definition of rural. "Bhoomeet rural education The
Goldsmith Modification has been useful for expanding the eligibility
for federal programs that assist rural populations—to include the
isolated rural populations of large metropolitan counties."
Health care delivery in rural areas of the
United States can be
challenging. From 2005-2011, the rate of potentially preventable
hospitalizations for acute conditions was highest in rural areas (as
compared to large metropolitan, small metropolitan, or micropolitan
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's carried by informal usage. Otherwise,
countryside (interior in 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 doesn't have any
metropolitan region, thus all of the state, except its capital is
officially countryside. Rio de Janeiro is singular in Brazil and it's
de facto a metropolitan state, as circa 70% of its population are
located in Greater Rio. In the Federal District it's not applicable
and there's 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-like (Brasília, DF).
The country is divided into 402 administrative districts: 295 rural
districts and 107 urban districts. Germany is among the largest
agricultural producers in the European Union. More than half of
Germany's territory – almost 19 million hectares – is used for
farming, and are located in the rural areas. Almost 10% of employees
in Germany has work linked directly or indirectly with the
agricultural, forest and fisheries sectors; approximately a fifth of
them are employed in primary production. The implication is that,
unlike in some other European countries, where rural areas are known
for being backward when compared to urban areas, in Germany, the trend
is changing. Due to the country's policy of equal living conditions,
this is not the case in Germany. Rural areas receive nearly equivalent
attention as the urban areas do. Also, through a special approach to
rural development, usually referred to as
Village Renewal, the
challenges of rural Germany are taken care of.
A typical countryside scene in rural Yorkshire Dales, England.
In Britain, "rural" is defined by the government Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), using population data
from the latest census, such as the United Kingdom
Census 2001. 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 ("market town" being defined as any
settlement which has permission to hold a street market). A number of
measures are in place to protect the British countryside, including
England an NHS patient is defined as rural if they live more than 1
mile (1.6 km) from either a doctor or a dispensing chemist. In
Scotland a different definition of rural is used. This is important
for defining whether the patient is expected to collect their own
medicines. While doctors' surgeries in towns will not have a medicines
dispensary instead expecting patients to use a high-street chemist to
purchase their prescription medicines (in Scotland collection not
purchase, as prescriptions are paid by the state), in rural village
surgeries, an NHS medicines dispensary will be built into the same
A rural school in Kannur, India.
Rural areas are also known as the 'countryside' or a 'village' in
India. It has a very low population density. In rural areas,
agriculture is the chief source of livelihood along with fishing,
cottage industries, 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
makes all the decisions. There are five persons in the panchayat. The
National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) defines ‘rural’ as
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
Amra Kalan village in Kharian, 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
boundary. The remote rural villagers of Pakistan commonly live in
houses made of bricks, clay or mud.
Socioeconomic status among rural
Pakistani villagers is often based upon the ownership of 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. However rural areas in
Pakistan that are near cities are considered suburban areas or
Rural residence is a fertility factor, with total fertility rates and
pregnancy being higher among women in rural areas than among women in
urban areas and the rural population is much younger than urban
American Old West
Rural Community Council
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^ a b "Rural, Urban and
Suburban Definitions". GreatData.com.
^ What is Rural? Archived 2007-10-17 at the Wayback Machine. USDA,
National Agricultural Library, Rural Information Center.
^ Torio CM, Andrews RM (September 2014). "Geographic Variation in
Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations for Acute and Chronic
Conditions, 2005-2011". HCUP Statistical Brief #178. Rockville, MD:
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
^ Chigbu, Uchendu Eugene (2012). "
Village renewal as an instrument of
rural development: evidence from Weyarn, Germany". Community
Development. 43 (2): 209–224.
^ "Local Authority Rural-Urban Classification". UK Government. 24 June
^ "About Dispensing Practice". Dispensing Doctors' Association.
Archived from the original on 1 April 2017.
^ a b c
^ Zaidi, S. Akbar (29 August 2017). "Rethinking urban and rural".
^ Knerr, Béatrice (Prof. Dr.). page 102.
^ Knerr, Béatrice (Prof. Dr.). page 105.
^ Knerr, Béatrice (Prof. Dr.). page 106.
^ Rai, Piyush Kant; Pareek, Sarla; Joshi, Hemlata (2013). "Regression
Analysis of Collinear Data using r-k Class Estimator: Socio-Economic
and Demographic Factors Affecting the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in
India" (PDF). Journal of Data Science. 11.
"Definitions of Rural: A Handbook for Health Policy Makers and
Researchers" (PDF). (6.12 MB) 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.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Countryside.
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Look up rural or countryside in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Census 2000 Urban and Rural Classification
North West Rural Affairs Forum (England)