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Metropolitan areas

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Metropolitan areas

"Metro area" redirects here. For the dance music duo, see Metro Area.

A metropolitan area, sometimes referred to as a metro area or metro, is a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories, sharing industry, infrastructure, and housing.[1] A metropolitan area usually comprises multiple jurisdictions and municipalities: neighborhoods, townships, cities, exurbs, counties, and even states. As social, economic and political institutions have changed, metropolitan areas have become key economic and political regions.[2] Metropolitan areas, include one or more urban areas, as well as satellite cities and intervening rural areas that are socio-economically tied to the urban core, typically measured by commuting patterns.[3]

General definition

A metropolitan area combines an urban agglomeration (the contiguous, built-up area) with zones not necessarily urban in character, but closely bound to the center by employment or other commerce. These outlying zones are sometimes known as a commuter belt, and may extend well beyond the urban zone, to other political entities. For example, El Monte, California is considered part of the Los Angeles' metro area in the United States.

In practice, the parameters of metropolitan areas, in both official and unofficial usage, are not consistent. Sometimes they are little different from an urban area, and in other cases they cover broad regions that have little relation to a single urban settlement; comparative statistics for metropolitan area should take this into account. Population figures given for one metro area can vary by millions.

There has been no significant change in the basic concept of metropolitan areas since its adoption in 1950,[4] although significant changes in geographic distributions have occurred since then, and more are expected.[5] Because of the fluidity of the term "metropolitan statistical area," the term used colloquially is more often "metro service area," "metro area," or "MSA" taken to include not only a city, but also surrounding suburban, exurban and sometimes rural areas, all which it is presumed to influence.

A polycentric metropolitan area is one not connected by continuous development or conurbation, which requires urban contiguity. In defining a metropolitan area, it is sufficient that a city or cities constitute a nucleus with which other areas have a high degree of integration.

Country official unique definitions


The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines 'statistical divisions' as areas under the unifying influence of one or more major towns or a major city.[6] Each of the state and territory capital cities as well as the national capital, Canberra, forms its own statistical division, and the population of the statistical division is the figure most often quoted for that city's population. However, this definition has largely become obsolete with the conurbation of several statistical divisions into a larger metropolitan areas. For example, the City of Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, has long since become contiguous with the surrounding cities of Ipswich, Logan City, Redland City, Redcliffe, Pine Rivers, Caboolture and the Gold Coast. This conurbation is common to all the major metropolitan areas of Australia which include all the capital cities and many major regional centres such as the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Wollongong, Geelong, Townsville, Cairns and Toowoomba.


In Brazil, metropolitan areas are called 'metropolitan regions'. Each State defines its own legislation for the creation, definition and organization of a metropolitan region. The creation of a metropolitan region is not intended for any statistical purpose, although the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics uses them in its reports. Their main purpose is to allow for a better management of public policies of common interest to all cities involved. They don't have political, electoral or jurisdictional power whatsoever, so citizens living in a metropolitan region do not elect representatives for them. There are currently 52 metropolitan regions, distributed in all major regions of the country, the largest of them being the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo with over 20,900,000 inhabitants, making it the largest metropolitan area in the southern hemisphere, and the 7th largest in the world.


Statistics Canada defines a census metropolitan area (CMA) as an area consisting of one or more adjacent municipalities situated around a major urban core. To form a CMA, the metropolitan area must have a population of at least 100,000, at least half within the urban core. To be included in the CMA, adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the core, as measured by commuter flows derived from census data.[7] As of the Canada 2011 Census, there were 33 CMAs in Canada, including six with a population over one million—Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton.[8]

European Union

The European Union's statistical agency, Eurostat, has created a concept named Larger Urban Zone (LUZ). The LUZ represents an attempt at a harmonised definition of the metropolitan area, and the goal was to have an area from a significant share of the resident commute into the city, a concept known as the “functional urban region”.[9]


In France the term for the region around an urban core linked by commuting ties is an aire urbaine (officially translated as "urban area").[10]


In India, the Census Commission defines a metropolitan city as one having a population of over 1 million[11] and Megacity as one having population over 4 million.[12] As of 2011 there are 46 metropolitan cities in India among which Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Surat are those Indian cities that have over 4 million people.[13] Residents of these cities are also entitled to a higher house rent allowance. The figure only applies to the city region and not the conurbation.


In Israel there are four metropolitan areas: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba. Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area in late 2005 numbered about three million inhabitants. This is a center of metropolitan employment and business in Israel. Today, some argue that the Tel Aviv metropolitan area—Gush Dan, will be deployed in future from Hadera to Gedera (for all "rings" – inner, middle and outer).


In Japan a metropolitan area would be toshiken (都市圏?, lit. block of cities).


In Korea, the term of metropolitan area is gwang-yeoksi (광역시, officially translated in Korean) and Teukbyeolsi (특별시).


The word metropolitan, describes a major city in Turkey like Istanbul, a city which is dominant to others both financially and socially.[14] There are 16 officially defined "state metropolitan areas" in Turkey, for governing purposes.[15] More than ten of these metropolitan areas are populated with more than one million people: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, Adana, Gaziantep, Konya, Antalya, Samsun, Kayseri, Eskişehir and Mersin.

Istanbul-Kocaeli-Sakarya-Yalova-Bursa metropolitan areas, almost continuously inhabited, form one single megalopolitan area around the eastern part of Marmara Sea, with total population of almost 20 Million and with the combined economy of US$750 Billion. Istanbul metropolitan area itself has a population of 12+ Million and an economy of almost US$500 Billion.

United States

Main article: Statistical area

Most recently on February 28, 2013, the United States Office of Management and Budget defined 1098 statistical areas for the metropolitan areas of the United States and Puerto Rico.[16] These 1,098 statistical areas comprise 929 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs)[17] and 169 Combined Statistical Areas (CSAs).[18] The 929 Core Based Statistical Areas are divided into 388 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs – 381 for the U.S. and seven for Puerto Rico)[19] and 541 Micropolitan Statistical Areas (μSAs – 536 for the U.S. and five for Puerto Rico).[20] The 169 Combined Statistical Areas (166 for the U.S. and three for Puerto Rico) each comprise two or more adjacent Core Based Statistical Areas.


Vietnam's two metropolitan areas are the Hanoi Capital Region and Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Area.


For further information see Megalopolis.

This concept of a "megalopolis" was first proposed by the French geographer Jean Gottmann in his book Megalopolis, a study of the northeastern United States. One prominent example of a megalopolis is the Northeast megalopolis consisting of Boston; Providence, RI; Hartford, CT; Greater New York City; Philadelphia; Wilmington, DE; Baltimore; Washington, DC and their vicinities. Two other prominent megalopolises in North America are as follows:

  1. In California and Baja California, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Diego County, part of Riverside County, part of San Bernardino County, Tijuana Municipality, Rosarito Beach Municipality, Mexicali Municipality, and Tecate Municipality. There are hundreds of cities and towns in this megalopolis, with the largest ones being Los Angeles, Long Beach, Irvine, Anaheim, San Diego, and Tijuana.
  2. The bi-national Great Lakes Megalopolis consists of the group of North American metropolitan areas surrounding the Great Lakes region within the Midwestern United States, Southern Ontario, and parts of Pennsylvania, New York, and Quebec. The region extends from the MilwaukeeChicago corridor to the DetroitToronto corridor, and includes Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Erie, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Louisville, Ottawa, Rochester, and Toledo, reaching as far as Pittsburgh and St. Louis. The region had an estimated population of 54 million for the 2000 Census and is projected to reach about 65 million by 2025.

The world's largest megalopolis is probably the Taiheiyō Belt (the Pacific megalopolis) of Japan on southeastern Honshu that consists of the metropolis of Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka and their surrounding cities and towns. Major means of ground transportation in Japan such as its railroad network (for both passengers and freight), many expressways, and the "Shinkansen" bullet train are concentrated in this region, which also includes the northern shore of the Inland Sea of Japan. This is a highly-industrialized part of Japan, and it is also the location of its most important seaports in Japan - such as at Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima and Kure - and its most important international airports - such as at Tokyo and Osaka. The population of this megalopolis can be considered to be as high as 83 million people, depending on where one draws its boundaries.

Seoul National Capital Area is a megalopolis with a population of 24 million which includes SeoulIncheonSuwonGoyangYongin, and the rest of Gyeonggi-do and extends to some fraction of western Gangwon-do, and Chungcheong-do. Its area is over 10,000㎢ and about 11,745㎢ which is connected by ground transportation such as its railroad network, many expressways, and High-speed rail so-called "KTX".

Guangdong Province's Pearl River Delta is a megalopolis with a population of 48 million that extends from Hong Kong and Shenzhen to Guangzhou. Some projections assume that by 2030 up to 1 billion people will live in China's urban areas. Even rather conservative projections predict an urban population of up to 800 million people. In its most recent assessment, the UN Population Division estimated an urban population of 1 billion in 2050.[21]

The megalopolises in Europe are the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region (pop. 11.5 million) in Germany, Madrid metropolitan area in Spain (pop. 13.5 million) is the third largest in the European Union and the 5th in Europe, the Milan metropolitan area (pop. 7.4 million) in Italy, Barcelona metropolitan area (pop.7.3 million) the Randstad in the Netherlands (pop. 7.4 million), the Silesian metropolitan region in Poland and Czech Republic (pop. 7.0 million, consisting of the Upper Silesian metropolitan area: 5.3 million, Kraków metropolitan area: 1.3 million and Częstochowa metropolitan area: 0.4 million), the Flemish Diamond in Belgium (pop. 5.5 million), Île-de-France in France and the metropolitan area of London, Madrid and Moscow, as well as several 'smaller' agglomerations, such as the Meuse-Rhine Euregion, the Ems-Dollart Region and the Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Euregion. Together this megalopolis has an estimated population of around 50 million. In Turkey, multiple cities around Istanbul, Istanbul-Kocaeli-Sakarya-Yalova-Bursa metropolitan areas, almost continuously inhabited, form one single megalopolitan area to the east of Istanbul around the eastern part of Marmara Sea, with total population of almost 20 Million and with the combined economy of US$750 Billion.

It has been suggested that most of southeastern England, the Midlands and parts of northern England will someday evolve into a megalopolis dominated by London. Clearly when usage is stretched this far, it is remote from the traditional conception of a city; though since England as a whole already had in 2011 a population density of 407 people per square kilometre,[22] higher than the United States Northeast megalopolis, it could already be said to meet the existing criteria.

Africa's first megalopolis is situated in the urban portion of Gauteng Province in South Africa, comprising the conurbation of Johannesburg, and the metropolitan areas of Pretoria and the Vaal Triangle, otherwise known as the PWV.

Brazil has one megalopolis: the Rio de JaneiroSão Paulo Megalopolis, which includes parts of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo states and has a population of over 45 million inhabitants. It spreads throughout much of the Southeast Region of the country, a conurbation which brings together more than 450 cities - defined primarily by metropolitan areas of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and the whole catchment area around and between them (separated by about 300 km) is by far the most urbanized and industrialized in the country and Latin America.

Megacity is a general term for metropolitan areas which usually have a total population in excess of ten million people. In Canada, "megacity" can also refer informally to the results of merging a central city with its suburbs to form one large municipality. A Canadian "megacity", however, is not necessarily an entirely urbanized area, since many of its named "cities" have both rural and urban portions. Also, 10 million inhabitants is an unreasonably high number for Canada. Moreover, Canadian "megacities" do not constitute large metropolitan areas in a global sense. For example, Toronto has a metropolitan population of about five million people, but is part of a much larger metropolitan region called the Golden Horseshoe, which has about eight million people.

The census population of a metro area is not the city population. However, it better demonstrates the population of the city. Los Angeles may only have a city population of slightly less than four million, but depending on the definition, it has a metropolitan area population of either 13 million, or 18 million people in its combined statistical area. A major question is whether or not to include San Diego and Tijuana.

See also


External links

  •, An organisation of world metropolises
  • Urban Employment Areas in Japan (Metropolitan Employment Areas in Japan)
  •, (Metropolis read by maps in Friuli Venezia Giulia - Northeast of Italy - EU)
  • Geopolis : research group, university of Paris-Diderot, France — Urbanization of the world
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