AQA Geography A2 World Cities

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  • Created on: 05-06-13 15:45

Global pattern of urbanisation

  • Rapid urbanisation over the last 50 years
  • 50% of worlds population lives in towns and cities.
  • 19% lives in cities with more than 1 million people
  • most urbanised continents are Europe, N America, S America and Oceania
  • Least urbanised are Asia and Africa
  • number of urban dwellers largest in Asia
  • increasing most rapidly in Asia and Africa
  • consequence of rapid economic development in china, india and southeast Asia is that level of urbanisation will increase very rapidly here
  • Key terms
  • Counter-urbanisation -  movement from large urban areas to smaller ones or rural areas.
  • Re-urbanisation - movement of people and economic activities back into city centres.
  • Gnetrification - Refurbishment of old housing stock in former run-down inner-city areas.
  • Suburbanisation - movement of people from living in the inner parts of a city to living on the outer edges.
  • Urban growth - increase in the number of urban dwellers
  • Urbanisation - increase in the proportion of a countries population that lives in towns and cities.
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Growth of millionaire cities and megacities

Increased global urbanisation has resulted in the development of many millionaire cities. There is also a significant number of megacities, some of which are classed as world cities.

  • Millionaire cities have more than 1 million people . India and China have the most of these.
  • Megacities havce more than 10 million people, of which there are 20.
  • World cities have great influence on a global scale because of their financial status and worldwide commercial power. New Yowk, London and Tokyo are 3 of these world cities.
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Causes of urban growth

Natural population growth - urban areas tend to have relatively low age profiles. Young adults have traditionally migrated from rural areas. they are in their fertile years and so the rates of natural increase are higher in cities that in the surrounding rural areas.

Rural-urban migration - reasons for rural-urban migration are usually divided into 'push' and 'pull' factors. Push factors cause people to move away from rural areas, whereas pull factors attract them to urban areas. In countries with lower levels of economic development push factors tend to be more important than pull factors.

Push factors are largely due to poverty caused by:

  • population growth, same area of land has to support increasing numbers of people - over-farming, soil erosion and low yields.
  • agricultural problems, including desertification becuase of low rainfall, systems of inheritance that cause land to be subdivided into small plots, systems of tenure and debt on loans taken out to support agricultural change
  • high levels of local diseases and inadequate medical provision
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Causes of urban growth

  • changes introduced to try and pay off the interest on national debts. Land used to gro food for locals now used to produce cash crops
  • natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms, and earthquakes
  • wars and civil strife

Pull factors include the prospect of:

  • employment in factories and service industries, better pay then in rural areas
  • earning money from the informal sector e.g. selling goods on the street and providiing transport
  • better quality social provisions, basic needs such as education and healthcare to entertainment and tourism
  • percieved better quality of life in the city, fed by images in media
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Urbanisation is Sao Paulo, Brazil

  • largest city in the Northern hemisphere
  • population of the metropolitan area in 2008 was 19 million
  • population density is 21,000 persons km2
  • between 1991 and 2001 the population increased by 16% - rate of increase is slowing
  • reduced rural-urban migration and rate of natural increase has slowed
  • initially grew as a centre of agriculture, exporting coffee and cotton
  • is now a major industrial centre with manafacturing and service industries

The environment

  • 25% of all vehicles in Brazil circulate in Sao Paulo
  • much has been done to improve air quality and reduce the levels of sulphur dioxide and lead
  • however, levels of other pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide and suspended particulates are still of concern
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Variations in the quality of life

  • Although Sao Paulo is prosperous compared with the country as a whole, the city has the highest unemployment rate in the country and a huge divide between rich and poor
  • in 2002, the city conducted a survey of living standards. the richest district had HDI equivalent to the Portugese national average; the poorest district had a HDI lower than Sierra Leone
  • in 1999, Sao Paulo recorded 11,500 homicides, compared with 670 in New York
  • the affluent use helicopters to go from rooftop to rooftop to escape the squalor and danger of the streets
  • sao Paulo has 240 helipads compared with 10 in New York

Three different housing types dominate:

  • condiminiums - luxury housing blocks for the affluent both within the city and on the periphery, protected by high walls and security gates
  • corticus - inner-city delapidated rental accomodation in sibdivided nineteenth century tenement buildings. Many consist of one-room dwellings where up to 4 people live.
  • favelas - informal settlements made up of small, poorly built dwellings
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Variations in the quality of life

  • substandard housing occupies 70% of the area
  • up to 60% of the population growth of recent years has been absorbed by the favelas
  • they occupy the most hazardous areas - floodplains and steep hill slopes
  • Heliopolis is Sao Paulos largest area of favelas, 10,000 people live in a mix of absolute and semi-poverty
  • Services are poor, with little running water, mains drainage or rubbish collection
  • streets are frequently open sewers that flood when it rains
  • electrical power is limited, and there is a lack of schools, teachers, hospitals and healthcare proffesionals
  • drinking water is often polluted causing disease (typhoid, cholera and dysentry)
  • many people living in the favelas are unemployed or underemployed, finding work in the informal sector of the economy
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Housing improvement schemes

some large-scale improvement in favelas has occured as a result of:

  • residents expecting to remain where they are
  • changes in public policies during the past 20 years, from slum removal to slum upgrading
  • number of attempts have been made to tackle the housing problem by building new housing, upgrading slums or funding self-help projects
  • 1990s, city supplied funding directly to community groups, allowing families to either build their own or to renovate existing housing
  • also provided serviced plots for building with mains water, electricity, sewerage and roads
  • despite a great deal of publicity, annual house building total only increased to 8,000
  • since 2000, greater investment in such projects has been made
  • cooperation between the authorities and the local community is essential to provide the best services
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Elsewhere in the world

Most newcomers to a city in the less developed world would like to rent a proper house. However, even if they could afford to rent, there are usually not enough houses available. Instead:

  • Many new arrivals move in with friends or relatives
  • some people sleep on the streets. in some cities, thousands of people live rough
  • Many people squat, build makeshift houses on unused land

People squate on 3 main types of land:

  • land that is not suitable for building because it is too steep, too marshy or too polluted
  • land close to the city centre that has not been built on because no one knows who owns it
  • land on the edge of the city that was once farmland but was abandoned as the city spread
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Elsewhere in the world

It is not uncommon for local authorities to help people in such settlements by providing them with water and electricity, while leaving them to do most of the building work. Around the world, squatter settlements (shanty towns) have a variety of local names:

  • Spanish-speaking Latin American - barrios
  • Portugese-speaking Brazil - favelas
  • Mumbai, India - zopadpattis
  • Calcutta, India - bustees

Squatter settlements are often seen as places of deprivation - slums of depair. It is true that in many cases the physical, economic and social conditions are very poor. However, it is all a matter of perception. Other people see them as 'slums of hope'. In reality, most settlements have some features of both hope and despair.

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Uban regeneration in the developing world

City authorities in these areas are aware of the problems of large squatter settlements, but rarely have enough resources to tackle them.

  • In some cities, such as Lagos in Nigeria and Caracus in Venezuela, the authorities have built high-rise apartment blocks to re-house people. However, in most places there is not enough money available to do this
  • In some countries, the authorities have helped migrants to the city by allowing them to build houses in site and service schemes. An area of land that is not too far from workplaces in the city is divided into individual plots by the authorities. Roads, water and sanitation may be provided. Newcomers can rent a plot of land and build their own house, following certain guidelines. When they have more money, they can improve their house
  • Once people have built a house, no matter how basic it is, they are likely to improve it - providing they are confident they will not be evicted from the land. If people are to improve their homes they must be given legal ownership of the land. Self-help schemes are important in almost all big cities. People improve their houses slowly.City authorities usually provide water from standpipes in the street and, later help with sanitation and waste collection.
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The brown agenda

Cities in the less developed world are affected by the brown agenda, a mix of social and environmental problems brought about by rapid growth and industrialisation associated with economic development. It has two components:

  • traditional issues associated with the limited availability of good-quality land, shelter and services such as clean water
  • problems resulting from rapid industrialisation, such as toxic or hazardous waste, water, air and noise pollution, and industrial accidents owing to poor standards of health and safety

In all cases it is the low-income groups in the cities that suffer most. International bodies have propsed city-specific solutions to the brown agenda.

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Calcutta, India

  • lies in the Ganges delta
  • centre of an area that has a dense, overcrowded rural population
  • soils are fertile but the area suffers many natural disasters
  • in the late 20th century, the area suffered from wars and civil conflicts
  • each new war or flood brings refugees flocking to Calcutta


  • land is low-lying so squatter settlements flood easily
  • floods not only destroy homes but bring disease in polluted water
  • had a reputation for some of the worst slums in the world
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Calcutta, India - Solutions

The Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority has tried to improve the infrastructure by:

  • reinforcing the banks of the River Hooghly and attempting to stop people from squatting on the lowest-lying land
  • improving sewerage disposal - 1960s there were about 1000 sewerage related deaths a year
  • improving the water supply - now one tap for every 25 bustee houses
  • replacing mud tracks between the shacks with concrete roads
  • installing street lighting in many bustees, improve safety and give light to people with no electricity in their homes
  • widening roads and improving public transport from bustees to the city centre

The CMDA does not work on the bustee houses. The occupiers must improve their homes themselves.

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Characterisitics, causes and effects

  • suburbanisation has resulted in the outward growth of urban development engulfing surrounding villages and rural areas
  • towns a cities of the UK demonstrate past suburbanisation
  • in the 1930s there were few planning controls and urban growth took place alongside main roads
  • this lead to the creation of green belts - areas of open space and low-density land use
  • since 1950 suburban expansion has increased and has been better planned
  • during 1950s and 1960s large-sclae construction of council housing took place on the only land available, which was the suburban fringe
  • 1970s, there was a move towards home ownership, which led to private housing estates being built, also on the urban fringe
  • the edge of towns, where there is more land available for car parking and expansion,became the favoured location for new offices, factories and shopping outlets.
  • in a number of cases, the green belts was ignored
  • in recent years houses have been built in suburban areas
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Characteristics, causes and effects

  • migration of people from major urban areas to smaller urban settlements and rural areas
  • does not lead to suburban growth, but to growth in rural areas beyond the main city
  • difference between rural and urban is reduced as a consequence os this movement
  • a number of factors have caused the growth of counter-urbanisation
  • people want to escape from air pollution, dirt and crime of the urban environment
  • see rural as pleasant, quiet and clean, where land and house prices are cheaper
  • car ownership and greater affluence allow people to commute to work from such areas
  • between 1981 and 1996, rural areas gained more than 1 million jobs
  • Improvements in technology (internet) have allowed more freedom of location
  • at the same time there has been a rising demand for second homes and early retirement
  • counter-urbanisation effects the layout of rural settlements
  • Modern housing estates built on outskirts of small settlements and on main roads leading into the settlement
  • Former open areas built on, old properties and agricultural buildings converted and modernised
  • as with gentrified areas in inner cities, there is tension between newcomers and locals
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  • main area of conflict, despite influx of new people, local services often close down
  • reason for this is newcomers have the welath and mobility to continue to use urban services some distance away

Evidence of counter-urbanisation in an area includes:

  • increase in the use of commuter railway stations in the area
  • increased value of houses in the area
  • construction of more executive housing in the area
  • conversions of former farm buildings to exclusive residents
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Counter urbanisation

Counter-urbanisation is one of a number of processes contributing to social and demographic change in rural settlements. The main changes include:

  • out-migration of young village born adults seeking education and employment oppotunities elsewhere
  • decline of elderly village-born population through deaths
  • in-migration of young to middle aged married couples or families with young children
  • in-migration of younger, more affluent people resulting in increased house prices

These changes do not take place uniformly in all rural settlements. There are considerable variations between and within parishes. The ones with the most change are key settlements that have a range of basic services and good access to commuter routes. Such settlements are called suburbanised villages.

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Characteristics, Causes and effects

  • movement of people into the city centre or inner city as part of urban regeneration

three main processes:

  • in-movement by individuals or groups of individuals into older housing that was in a state of disrepair and improvement of that housing - gentrification
  • in-movement by people as part of large-scale investment programmes aimed at urban regeneration in a wider social, economic and physical sense - property-led regenration schemes
  • the move towards sustainable communities, allowing individuals and communities who live in city centres to have access to a home, job and a reliable income, with a reasonable quality of life and opportunities to maximise personal potential through education and health provision, and through participation in local democracies
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  • a process of housing improvement
  • change in neighbourhood composition in which low-income groups are displaced by more affluent people, usually in professional or managerial occupations
  • carried out by individuals or groups of individuals, not supported by bodies
  • involves rehabilitation of old houses and streets on an individual basis but is openly encouraged by groups such as estate agents and building societies
  • positive outcome of gentrification is that the social mix of the area is changed and becomes more affluent
  • refurbishment that takes place in each house leads to the creation of employment in areas such as design, building work, furnishings and decoration
  • clear disadvantages of gentrification
  • local people on low income find it increasingly difficult to purchase houses
  • size of the privately rented sector diminishes as more properties are sold off
  • friction may arise between newcomers and original residents
  • gentrification is taking place in the central parts of many towns and cities in the UK
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Gentrification in Notting Hill, London

  • now a bustling urban area but mid 18th century it was a country hamlet
  • later, industrialisation brought workers from the countryside with landlords building tiny terraced houses to rent to them
  • in victorian times, Notting Hill was a rough, working-class area and by the 1950s it was an area of slums and inner-city deprivation
  • 1958 it wasd the scene of race riots following continuous harassment of the newly arrived Afro-Caribbean community
  • in the past 30 years, gentrification of previously working class neighbourhoods has sent property prices rocketing
  • movie stars, rock singers, media types and fashion designers have moved into the area
  • On August bank holiday, Notting Hill hosts the famous carnival attended by over 1 million people and lasts for 3 days
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Urban decline and regeneration

Characteristics and causes

  • inequalities occur in all urban areas with enormous contrasts in wealth over small distances

there are a number of reasons for this:

  • housing - developes, builders and planners tend to build housing on blocks of land with a particular market in mind. Wealthier groups can choose where to live whereas poorer people have no choice
  • changing environments - housing neighbourhoods change over time. Houses built for families in Georgian and Victorian times are no too big for the average UK family. Converted into low rent apartments for people on low incomes
  • the ethnic dimension - ethnic groups originally come to the country as new immigrants. Discriminated when they first arrive and therefore can only afford cheap housing. Newly arrived immigrants concentrate in poor areas of the city, often clustered into multicultural areas.
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Retailing and other services

Changing patterns in the UK

The traditional pattern of retailing is based on two key factors:

  • easy, local access to goods such as bread, milk and newspapers whiah are purchased on a regular basis
  • willingness to travel to a shopping centre for goods with a higher value which are purchased less often e.g. clothes, household and electrical goods

For many years, these factors led to a two-tier structure of retailing. Local needs were met by corner shops in areas of terraced housing, and by suburban shopping parades. Higher-value goods were pruchased in the town centre (CBD) and required a trip by bus or car. In the last 30 years technology (cars, public  transport) has had a major influence on the patterns of retailing.

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Retailing and other services

  • 1970s, supermarkets and superstores began to be built in residential areas and town centres
  • sold a full range of food and non-food items at the same check-out
  • expanded into larger hypermarkets that also sold electrical goods and clothing
  • important factor in the development of these establishments was the use of the private car to load up once or twice a week
  • 1908s, non-food retail parks expanded and housed DIY, carpet and fruniture stores.
  • built on the outskirts of towns or cities, with easy access to main roads, again to attract the car user
  • 1990s, huge out-of-town shopping centres were built on the periphery of large urban areas
  • 21st century, e-commerce and e-tailers are growing - electronic home shopping using the internet and digital and cable television systems
  • impact of this from of shopping is yet to be seen, but seems unlikely to effect shopping locations seriously
  • more traditional farmers markets, selling local fresh produce, are growing in numbers for those customers who are willing to pay more than supermarket prices for healthier food with fewer food miles
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Redevelopment of urban centres

  • CBD of a city contains the principal commercial areas and major public buildings and is the centre for business and commercial activities
  • accessible from all parts of the urban area and has the highest land values in a city
  • in some CBDs reatiling is declining because of out-of-town developments
  • means there is a greater emphasis on offices and services
  • often segregation of different types of businesses within a CBD
  • retailing tends to be seperate from commercial and professional offices and forms a distinct inner core
  • outer core is made up of offices and entertainment centres with some smaller shops
  • the outer part of the CBD contains service industries, wholesalers and car parks, among other features
  • CBD has been effected by changes in retailing over the past 30 years in the UK
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Sustainability issues in urban areas

Waste management

  • average person in the UK produces 517kg of household waste every year
  • this is increasing and so is its toxicity and the length of time it is toxic for
  • The Uk has lagged behind many other countries, particularly some in the EU, in recycling, reusing and managing household waste
  • Least sustainable option for managing waste is landfill
  • 2005, 73% of UK household waste was treated in this way
  • Reduction - best way of managing waste is to prevent it. Reduce the amount of pakaging used. Refusing to accept plastic bags
  • Re-use - some re-use of milk containers, soft drinks bottles, jam jars has been attempted. Most successful is 'bag for life'
  • Recycling - Waste products such as paper, glass, metal cans, plastics and clothes can be recycled if they can be collected economically. However start up costs of recycling schemes can be high
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