The characteristics of urban areas

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Urban areas at often distinguished by population size, but the threshold from rural to urban differs from country to country - it can be from 2000 up to 10,000. It also depends upon the surrounding areas - in an area where houses are mainly isolated, a village will seem large in comparison, even if it only has 1000 inhabitants - so urban is relative. To help to distinguish between urban and rural areas, there are general features of urban areas - the urban character.

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General features of the urban environment

Exclusion of the natural world

Dominance of buildings and transport networks

High levels of environmental pollution - water, air, sound, light, visual

Congestio, particularly of traffic, due to high building densities

Fast pace of life

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General features of the urban economy

Employment mainly in secondary, tertiary, and quaternary sectors

Provision of commercial and social services for local residents and those living in tributary area

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General features of the urban population

High population population density

Distinctive lifestyles, values and behaviour

Diversity - in terms of wealth, age and ethnicity

Raised stress levels

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The five different elements of urbanisation

Shift in economy

Emphasis moves from farming and the primary sector to manufacturing and service provision

Change in population density

Density increases in growing towns and cities. Rural-urban migration contributes to this

Change in way of life

Change in occupation, lifestyle, values, codes of behaviour and social institutions

Spread of built up area

The natural environment is lost beneath a man-made one

Shift in size and character

Some settlements grow more quickly than others - depending on location and resources

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