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File:Los Angeles skyline.JPG

The city of Los Angeles is an example of urbanization

Urbanization or Urbanisation means the removal of the rural characteristics of a town or area, a process associated with the development of civilization. Demographically, the term denotes redistribution of populations from rural to urban settlements

Urbanization today

The 2005 and one half Revision of the UN World Urbanization Prospects report described the 20th century as witnessing "the rapid urbanization of the world’s population", as the global proportion of urban population rose dramatically from 13% (220 million) in 1900, to 29% (732 million) in 1950, to 49% (3.2 billion) in 2005. The same report projected that the figure is likely to rise to 60% (4.9 billion) by 2030.[1]

Urbanization rates vary across the world. The United States and United Kingdom have a far higher urbanization level than China, India, Swaziland or Niger, but a far slower annual urbanization rate, since much less of the population is living in a rural area. The immaculate urbanization of Mexico City has invoked environmental reforms to improve the status of its surrounding troposphere and ecology.

  • Urbanization in the United States never affected the Rocky Mountains in locations such as Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Telluride, Colorado, Taos, New Mexico, Douglas County, Colorado and Aspen, Colorado. The lake district of northern Minnesota has also been affected as has Vermont, the coast of Florida, the Birmingham-Jefferson County, AL area, the Pacific Northwest and the barrier islands of North Carolina.
  • In the United Kingdom, two major examples of new urbanization can be seen in Swindon, Wiltshire and Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. These two towns show some of the quickest growth rates in Europe.

Urbanization projections

According to the UN-HABITAT 2006 Annual Report, sometime in the middle of 2007, the majority of people worldwide will be living in towns or cities, for the first time in history; this is referred to as the arrival of the "Urban Millennium". In regard to future trends, it is estimated 93% of urban growth will occur in Asia and Africa, and to a lesser extent in Latin America and the Caribbean. By 2050 over 6 billion people, two thirds of humanity, will be living in towns and cities.

Positive aspects

Urbanization is often viewed as a negative trend but in fact it occurs naturally from individual and corporate efforts to reduce expense in commuting and transportation while improving opportunities for jobs, education, housing, and transportation. Living in cities permits individuals and families to take advantage of the opportunities of proximity, diversity, and marketplace competition.

Economic effects


One of the last houses of the old Russian village of Lukeryino, most of which has been mostly demolished over the last 30 years to make way for 9-story apartment buildings of the growing city of Kstovo, such as the one in the background

Over the last few years urbanization of rural areas has increased. As agriculture, more traditional local services, and small-scale industry give way to modern industry the urban and related commerce with the city drawing on the resources of an ever-widening area for its own sustenance and goods to be traded or processed into manufactures.

Research in urban ecology finds that larger cities provide more specialized goods and services to the local market and surrounding areas, function as a transportation and wholesale hub for smaller places, and accumulate more capital, financial service provision, and an educated labor force, as well as often concentrating administrative functions for the area in which they lie. This relation among places of different sizes is called the urban hierarchy.

As cities develop, effects can include a dramatic increase in rents, often pricing the local working class out of the market, including such functionaries as employees of the local municipalities. For example, Eric Hobsbawm's book The age of the revolution: 1789–1848 (published 1962 and 2005) chapter 11, stated "Urban development in our period [1789–1848] was a gigantic process of class segregation, which pushed the new labouring poor into great morasses of misery outside the centres of government and business and the newly specialised residential areas of the bourgeoisie. The almost universal European division into a 'good' west end and a 'poor' east end of large cities developed in this period." This is likely due the prevailing south-west wind which carries coal smoke and other airborne pollutants downwind, making the western edges of towns preferable to the eastern ones.

Changing form of urbanization

Traditional urbanization exhibits a concentration of human activities and settlements around the downtown area. When the residential area shifts outward, this is called suburbanization. A number of researchers and writers suggest that suburbanization has gone so far to form new points of concentration outside the downtown. This networked, poly-centric form of concentration is considered by some an emerging pattern of urbanization. It is called variously exurbia, edge city (Garreau, 1991), network city (Batten, 1995), or postmodern city (Dear, 2000). Los Angeles is the best-known example of this type of urbanization.

Planning for urbanization


The construction of new towns by the Housing Development Board of Singapore, is an example of planned urbanization

Urbanization can be planned urbanization or organic. Planned urbanization, ie: new town or the garden city movement, is based on an advance plan, which can be prepared for military, aesthetic, economic or urban design reasons. Unplanned (organic) cities are the oldest form of . Examples can be seen in many ancient cities; although with exploration came the collision of nations, which meant that many invaded cities took on the desired planned characteristics of their occupiers. Many ancient organic cities experienced redevelopment for military and economic purposes, new roads carved through the cities, and new parcels of land were cordoned off serving various planned purposes giving cities distinctive geometric UN agencies prefer to see urban infrastructure installed before urbanization occurs. landscape planners are responsible for landscape infrastructure (public parks, sustainable urban drainage systems, greenways etc) which can be planned before urbanization takes place, or afterward to revitalized an area and create greater livability within a region.

New Urbanism

New Urbanism was a movement which started in the 1980s. New Urbanism believes in shifting design focus from the car-centric development of suburbia and the business park, to concentrated pedestrian and transit-centric, walk able, mixed-use communities. New Urbanism is an amalgamation of old-world design patterns, merged with present day demands. It is a backlash to the age of suburban sprawl, which splintered communities, and isolated people from each other, as well as had severe environmental impacts. Concepts for New Urbanism include people and destinations into dense, vibrant communities, and decreasing dependency on vehicular transportation as the primary mode of transit.

Urbanization is an inevitable process, surplus is one of the defining features of urbanization.

See also


  1. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2005 Revision, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN
  • Guy Ankerl: Urbanization Overspeed in Tropical Africa, INUPRESS, Geneva,1986 ISBN 2-88155-000-2

External links


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