Chaging Urban Environments

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mes hThe different pace and causes of urbanisation in the rich and poor world

Urbanisation is the growth in the proportion of a country's population living in urban areas. More than 50% of the world's population currently lives in urban areas (3.4 billion people) and this is increasing every day. Urbanisation differs between richer and poorer countries:

  • Most of the population in richer countries already live in urban areas eg. over 80% in the UK
  • Not many of the population in poorer countries live in urban areas eg. 25% in Bangladesh
  • Most urbanisation is happening in poorer countries and at a faster pace

Urbanisation is caused by rural-urban migration - the movement of people from the countryside to the cities. It occurs in rich and poor countries but for different reasons.

Reasons for urbanisation in poorer countries

  • Shortage of services in rural areas eg. education, access to water and power
  • People believe the standard of living is better in cities (this often turns out not to be the case)
  • More jobs in urban areas. eg. maufacturing clothes. Industry attracted to cities because there's a larger workforce and better infrastructure.

Reasons for urbanisation in richer countries

  • Most occured during the 18th and 19th centuries due to Industrial and Agricultural revolutions. Machinery replaced farm labour and jobs were created in new urban factories.
  • In the late 20th century people left run-down inner city and moved to the country. They are now being encouraged back by redevelopment.

Urbanisation is also caused by good healthcare and a high birth rate in cities

Different functional parts of an urban settlement

CBD - found right in the centre. Commercial centre with shops and offices, where transport routes meet. Very high land values and lots of competition for space. Buildings are tall and building density is very high. Very few people live there.

Inner city - fond around the CBD. Mix of poor quality houses (high-rise tower blocks) and older industrial buildings. Can be quite run down and deprived but there's also newer housing and industry where derelict land has been cleared and redeveloped.

Suburbs - housing areas found towards the edge of a city. Cheaper land, still close enough to commute. In the UK and USA, middle class families tend to live here as it's a nicer environment and there's less crime and pollution than the inner city.

Rural-urban fringe - right at the edge of a city, where there are both urban (eg. factories) and rural (eg. farming) land uses. Fewer, larger houses

Land uses don't always match model eg. in France, Italy and Sweden the inner city is the wealthier, middle class area and the suburbs are more deprived

Land uses have also changed over time eg. recently shopping centres have been built out of town which causes CBDs to close down; inner city tower blocks have been replaced with estates on the rural-urban fringe; new housing built on brownfield sites (cleared, derelict land) in the inner city instead of the suburbs

Issues facing


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