of world cities
A conurbation is a region comprising a number of cities, large towns, and other urban areas that, through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban or industrially developed area. In most cases, a conurbation is a polycentric urbanised area, in which transportation has developed to link areas to create a single urban labour market or travel to work area.
The term “conurbation” was coined in 1915 by Patrick Geddes in his book Cities In Evolution. He drew attention to the ability of the then new technology of electric power and motorised transport to allow cities to spread and agglomerate together, and gave as examples “Midlandton” in England, the Ruhr in Germany, Randstad in the Netherlands and North Jersey in the United States.
The term as described is used in Britain, whereas in the United States each polycentric “metropolitan area” may have its own common designation, such as San Francisco Bay Area or the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex. Conurbation consists of adjacent metropolitan areas that are connected with one another by urbanization[clarification needed] Internationally, the term “urban agglomeration” is often used to convey a similar meaning to “conurbation.”[clarification needed] A conurbation should also be contrasted with a megalopolis, where the urban areas are close but not physically contiguous and where the merging of labour markets has not yet developed.
The cities and towns of Port Louis, Beau Bassin-Rose Hill, Curepipe, Quatre Bornes, Vacoas-Phoenix and other urbanized villages form a large and central conurbation on the island of Mauritius. A large part of this conurbation is located in the district of Plaines Wilhems. This network of urban areas has a total population of 606,650 (49% of the island’s population) as of 2011.
Lagos is a conurbation formed through the merged development of the initial Lagos city area with other cities and towns, such as Ikeja, Ojo, along with various suburban communities like Agege, Alimosho, Ifako-Ijaiye, Kosofe, Mushin, Oshodi and Shomolu.
Conurbation Population Year Note Greater Buenos Aires 13,641,973 2010 Metro region excluding La Plata and its metro area (an additional 694,253 [ INDEC ]).
The entire Rio–São Paulo area is also sometimes considered a conurbation, and plans are in the works to connect the cities with a high-speed rail. Yet the government of Brazil does not consider this area a single unit for statistical purposes, and population data may not be reliable.
Conurbation Population Year Note RM Rio de Janeiro 12,330,186 2016 Metropolitan region. CME São Paulo 27,640,577 2009 The CME of São Paulo is federally defined as the São Paulo Metro region (RMSP) and its conurbations.
Golden Horseshoe (Ontario)
The “Golden Horseshoe” is a densely populated and industrialized region centred on the west end of Lake Ontario in Southern Ontario, Canada. Most of it is also part of the Windsor-Quebec City corridor. With a population of 8.8 million people, the Golden Horseshoe makes up slightly over a quarter (25.6%) of the population of Canada and contains approximately 75% of Ontario’s population, making it one of the largest population concentrations in North America. Although it is a geographically named sub-region of Southern Ontario, “Greater Golden Horseshoe” is more frequently used today to describe the metropolitan regions that stretch across the area in totality. The largest cities in the region include Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catherines, Brampton, and Hamilton.
Greater Montreal (Quebec)
Greater Montreal is Canada’s 2nd largest conurbation, with Statistics Canada defining the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) as 4,258.31 square kilometres (1,644.14 sq mi) and a population of 3,824,221 as of 2011, which represents almost half of the population of the province of Quebec. Slightly smaller, there are 82 municipalities grouped under the Montreal Metropolitan Community to coordinate issues such as land planning, transportation, and economic development.
Lower Mainland (British Columbia)
British Columbia’s Lower Mainland is the most populated area in Western Canada. It consists of many mid-sized contiguous urban areas, including Vancouver, North Vancouver (city and district municipality), Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, and Coquitlam. The Lower Mainland population is around 2.5 million (as of 2011) and the area has one of the highest growth rates on the continent of up to 9.2 percent from the 2006 census.
National Capital Region (Ontario and Quebec)
The National Capital Region (NCR) is made up of the capital, Ottawa, and neighbouring Gatineau which is located across the Ottawa River. As Ottawa is in Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec, this is a unique conurbation. Federal government buildings are located in both cities and many workers live in one city and work in the other. The National Capital Region consists of an area of 5,319 square kilometres that straddles the boundary between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The area of the National Capital Region is very similar to that of the Ottawa-Gatineau Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), although the National Capital Region contains a number of small neighbouring communities that are not contained within the CMA. When all the communities are added, the population is around 1,500,000. Ottawa-Gatineau is the only CMA in the nation to fall within two provinces.
Conurbation Population Year Note Metropolitan Area of Bogotá 10,733,206 2014 Conurbation only between Bogota and Soacha Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley 3,821,797 2014 Metro region
Lima Metropolitan Area 9,500,000 2017 Lima is expected to become a megacity before the end of the decade, and this conurbation is estimated to have grown by over one million people between 2007 and 2017.
The Caribbean area, which is generally not considered to be part of a continent geographically speaking, has a conurbation in Puerto Rico consisting of San Juan, Bayamón, Guaynabo, Carolina, Canóvanas, Trujillo Alto, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Cataño, and Caguas. This area is colloquially known as the “Área Metropolitana“, and houses around 1.4 million inhabitants spread over an area of approximately 396.61 square kilometers (153.13 sq mi). Thus, making it the largest city in the Caribbean by area.
New York Tri-state area
One example of a conurbation is the expansive concept of the New York metropolitan area (the Tri-state region) centered on New York City, including 30 counties spread among New York State, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, with an estimated population of 21,961,994 in 2007. Approximately one-fifteenth of all U.S. residents live in the Greater New York City area. This conurbation is the result of several central cities whose urban areas have merged.
Greater Boston Area
Holding a population of 7,427,336 as of 2005, the Combined Statistical Area including Greater Boston consists of Boston proper and a collection of distinct but intertwined cities including Providence, Rhode Island, Worcester, Massachusetts, and Manchester, New Hampshire. Most importantly, the cities that compose the Greater Boston CSA are interlinked by heavy public transportation infrastructure, maintain continuously urban interstices, and hold mutual commuting patterns.
San Francisco Bay Area
Another conurbation is the combination of the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose and several minor urban centers with a combined population of over 7 million people, known as the San Francisco Bay Area.
Greater Los Angeles Area
The Greater Los Angeles Area consists of the merging of several distinct central cities and counties, including Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura. This area is also often referred to simply as Southern California or colloquially as SoCal (a larger region which includes San Diego). In 2016, Southern California had a population of 23,800,500, making it slightly larger than the New York Tri-State Area, and is projected to remain so due to a faster growth rate. But because Southern California is not yet a recognized Combined Statistical Area by the United States Office of Management and Budget, the New York Tri-State Area officially remains the nation’s largest as of now.
The traditionally separate metropolitan areas of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. have shared suburbs and a continuous urbanization between the two central cities (Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area).
Three large cities, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington, make up this area. Each city is linked by bordering city limits or suburbs. This area is also commonly known as the Metroplex and is included in the emerging megalopolis known as the Texas Triangle.
The major U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan lies immediately across the Detroit River from Windsor, Ontario in Canada. In many respects—economically, historically, culturally, socially, and, of course, geographically—Windsor is more a part of Metro Detroit than of Ontario. The two cities and their surrounding suburbs are commonly referred to collectively as the Detroit–Windsor area. The Detroit-Windsor border is the largest commercial border crossing in North America and the busiest between the two countries.
The entire tri-county area also known as the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area is now continuously urbanized along a roughly 100 miles (161 km) length of the Florida east coast as well as extending inland and continuing south of Miami as far as Florida City. Although this is generally all referred to as a single metropolitan area, not a conurbation, it is sometimes broken up into the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach metros.
Minneapolis – St. Paul
Minneapolis–Saint Paul is the most populous urban area in the state of Minnesota, and is composed of 182 cities and townships built around the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix rivers. The area is also nicknamed the Twin Cities for its two largest cities, Minneapolis, with the highest population, and Saint Paul, the state capital.
The Valley of the Sun
Phoenix, Arizona is the capital and most populous city in Arizona. It is the center of The Valley of the Sun, recognized by the United States Census Bureau as Chandler, Mesa, and Phoenix in the MSA. Other communities in the metropolitan area include Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Gilbert, and Peoria.
There are 3 well-known conurbations in China:
- The Yangtze River Delta comprising Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Ningbo, houses 150 million people and in 2016 it generated $2.76 trillion, 20 percent of China’s national GDP. It is responsible for one-third of China’s imports and exports.
- The Jingjinji, comprising Tianjin, Beijing, Tangshan and Qinhuangdao, houses an estimated 130 million people and is responsible for a GDP of $1.1 trillion.
- The Pearl River Delta including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Hong Kong and Macau houses 60 million people and is responsible for a GDP of $1,5 trillion, 9% of China’s national GDP.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) consists of Mumbai and its satellite towns. Developing over a period of about 20 years, it consists of seven municipal corporations and fifteen smaller municipal councils. The region has an area of 4,355 km² and with a population of 20.5 million, and is among the top ten most populated urban agglomerations in the world. It is linked together through the Mumbai Suburban Railway system and a large network of roads.
The National Capital Region (NCR) is a name for the coordinated planning region which encompasses the entire National Capital Territory of Delhi as well as several surrounding districts in the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. However, since not all of the aforementioned areas are completely urban, the Delhi conurbation is actually limited to the NCT of Delhi and the neighbouring contiguous urban areas comprising Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida, (Greater Noida) and Ghaziabad lying in “Central National Capital Region (CNCR)”, a small part of overall NCR. The population of this conurbation was estimated 21.7 million in 2011. It is the world’s third most populous urban agglomeration.
The APCRDA of Andhra Pradesh is a conurbation of two cities, namely Vijayawada and Guntur and 11 other towns which include Mangalagiri, Tadepalle, Tenali, Ponnuru, Chilakaluripeta, Narasaraopeta, Sattenapally, Nandigama, Jaggayyapeta, Nuzividu, Gudivada and Vuyyuru. The new capital city of the state, Amaravati, is being developed between the cities of Vijayawada and Guntur at the center of the conurbation. The region holds a total population of 58 lakhs.
Greater Jakarta or Jabodetabek comprises the largest urban area in Indonesia and the second-largest in the world with a population of around 30 million. The center and national capital, Jakarta, has a population of 10.3 million within its borders.
The second-most populated city in Indonesia, Surabaya, also forms a conurbation known as Gerbangkertosusila with a metropolitan population of about 10 million compared to the city proper of 3 million. Conurbations are also present around Bandung and Medan.
The Taiheiyō Belt is the largest conurbation in Japan in every sense, extending from Ibaraki Prefecture to Fukuoka Prefecture, running almost 1,200 km, with the total population of 82.9 million. However, it is rarely referred to in Japan itself with each Prefecture maintaining separate identities. The Greater Tokyo Area, also called Shutoken (the National Capital Region), is a metropolitan area in the Kantō region, with the estimated population of 35,676,000 in 2007, often referred to as the most populous and economically largest metropolitan area in the world.
- Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia;
- Petaling Jaya;
- Ampang Jaya;
- Pandan Indah;
- Subang Jaya;
- Cyberjaya; and
The second largest conurbation by population in Malaysia is Greater Penang. Centred in George Town, the capital city of the State of Penang, the conurbation also includes the following towns in Penang, and within the neighbouring states of Kedah and Perak.
- Bukit Mertajam
- Batu Kawan
- Nibong Tebal
- Sungai Petani, Kedah
- Kulim, Kedah
- Bandar Baharu, Kedah
- Parit Buntar, Perak
- Bagan Serai, Perak
The third largest conurbation by population in Malaysia is Iskandar Malaysia. Centred in Johor Bahru, the capital city of the state of Johor, the conurbation also includes the following towns in Johor that composed of:
- Johor Bahru, the centre of Iskandar Malaysia
- Pasir Gudang
- Ulu Tiram
- Iskandar Puteri
- Pekan Nenas
- Karachi–Hyderabad, Sindh, is one of the largest metropolitan areas of the world, with a population exceeding 20 million (2017).
- Rawalpindi–Islamabad, also known as the twin cities of Pakistan, were built about 8 miles apart and have now completely intertwined into each other due to massive population growth and the expansion of both cities.
- Lahore–Raiwind–Kala Shah Kaku, the second largest city in Pakistan with its adjoining towns of Kala Shah Kaku and Raiwind.
Metro Manila, also known as the National Capital Region, is a conurbation of the capital Manila, fifteen neighboring cities, and a small town to compose the largest urban center in the Philippines. Within the immediate periphery but not administratively part of the region, are cities and towns belonging to various provinces near the capital region. These include the cities of Bacoor, San Pedro, Antipolo, San Jose del Monte, and Meycauayan; and the towns of Angono, Binangonan, Cainta, Cardona, Marilao, San Mateo, Rodriguez, Taytay and Obando.
Asian part of Istanbul forms a conurbation together with Gebze, Darıca and Çayırova. Each province has separate governments but they work in close coordination. Transport between Anatolian part of Istanbul and western end of Kocaeli is coordinated by both provinces and there are interprovincial urban buses between Kartal and İzmit,[a] although each metropolitan municipality has a clear boundary of service.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, while comprising seven distinct entities called emirates, each with its own Emirs, contains a significant conurbation formed by the agglomeration of the urban areas of three cities belonging to three separate Emirates. The Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area contains the urban areas of Dubai to the south, Sharjah in the middle and Ajman toward the north eastern end of the conurbation. The total population is about 5.64 million people as of 2015 and as such, contributes to over 70% of the UAE population. Dubai is the major financial hub and Sharjah serves as an industrial, educational, cultural and major residential centre.
- Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Region: comprising Ho Chi Minh City (itself comprising Saigon, Cholon, Gia Định, Thu Đức, Nhà Bè, Bình Chánh, Hóc Môn and Củ Chi); Bình Dương (itself comprising Thủ Dầu Một, Thuận An and Dĩ An); Đồng Nai (itself comprising Biên Hòa and Long Thành); Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu (itself comprising Vũng Tàu, Bà Rịa, Phu My and Long Hải); Tây Ninh; and Tân An.
- Hanoi Metropolitan Region: comprising Hanoi (itself comprising Hanoi, Gia Lâm, Đông Anh, Mê Linh, Hà Đông, Hoai Đức and Sơn Tây); Bắc Ninh (itself comprising Từ Sơn and Bắc Ninh); Thái Nguyên; Vĩnh Phúc (itself comprising Phúc Yên and Vĩnh Yên); and Việt Trì.
- Qui Nhơn-Nha Trang-Da Lat Conurbation Belt: comprising Qui Nhơn, An Nhơn, Sông Cầu, Tuy Hòa, Vân Phong Bay, Ninh Hòa, Nha Trang, Dien Khánh, Cam Lâm, Cam Ranh, Trường Sa, Phan Rang, and Da Lat.
- Huế-Da Nang-Quảng Ngãi Conurbation Belt: comprising Huế, Hương Tra, Hương Thủy, Lăng Cô, Da Nang, Hòa Vang, Hoàng Sa, Hội An, Tam Kỳ, Chu Lai, Dung Quất, Sơn Tịnh, and Quảng Ngãi.
The Flemish Diamond (Dutch: Vlaamse Ruit) is the Flemish reference to a network of four metropolitan areas in Belgium, three of which are in the central provinces of Flanders, together with the Brussels Capital Region. It consists of four agglomerations which form the four corners of a diamond shape: Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp and Leuven. Over five million people live in this conurbation, with a population density of more than 800 per square kilometre.
Actually, given the high level of commuting from and to Brussels every day, supported by one of the densest networks of railways and motorways in the world, It could be easily argued that the whole Belgium and Luxembourg area is one conurbation or is becoming one.
The most notable conurbation is Lille–Roubaix–Tourcoing–Villeneuve-d’Ascq, located in the north of France, with over 1.2 million people living in the area. That conurbation is actually an international one as Belgian cities such as Tournai are increasingly playing the role of commuter town for Lille.
Germany has three conurbations along the River Rhine, namely Rhine-Main, Rhine-Neckar and Rhine-Ruhr. The Rhine-Ruhr is the largest conurbation in continental Europe and is a densely populated polycentric metropolitan region in the western part of Germany, comprising the three subregions of Ruhr Metropolitan Region, Düsseldorf-Mönchengladbach-Wuppertal Region and Cologne/Bonn Metropolitan Region. These three are all interlinked by a continuous urban settlement, while at the same time having cultural and economic differences.
Valletta Urban Area, the area around the Grand Harbour, is the main conurbation in Malta. It contains 27 of the Malta’s 68 local councils including the capital Valletta. According to the Demographia, Valletta Urban Area has a population of 300,000, while the European Spatial Planning Observation Network states that the functional urban area of Valletta has a population of 355,000, which represents about 75% of Malta’s population.
The Randstad is a densely populated area in the Netherlands with over 7 million inhabitants. It consists of a cluster of the four biggest cities of the country (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) as well as several smaller cities, towns and urbanized villages.
Katowice Urban Area (aglomeracja katowicka’, konurbacja górnośląska, GOP) is the largest conurbation in Poland, located in Upper Silesia, southern Poland. Around 2.5 million people live in the region — up 5.26% of the population of Poland.
Industrial and housing growth in the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries produced many conurbations. Greater London is by far the largest urban area and is usually counted as a conurbation in statistical terms, but differs from the others in the degree to which it is focused on a single central area. In the mid-1950s the Green Belt was introduced to stem the further urbanisation of the countryside in South East England.
The list below shows the most populous urban areas in the UK as defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The Greater London Urban Area contains the whole of what is commonly called London, but ONS definitions divide London into a large number of smaller localities of which the largest is Croydon.
- Important Note: This lists UK urban areas only and excludes UK conurbations by definition of the term. As used in the UK, the term “conurbation” is closer to the meaning of urban agglomeration. For example, the Liverpool–Manchester or the Manchester–Liverpool conurbation is defined as one conurbation by AESOP in a comparison report published by the University of Manchester in 2005 found here. The Liverpool–Manchester Conurbation has a population of 5.68 million.
A cross border built-up area compromising of the nation’s capital Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory and the city of Queanbeyan in New South Wales, which is considered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to have a single labour market.
The Perth Metropolitan Region, City of Mandurah and Pinjarra comprise a continuous urban area in Western Australia more than 130 km (80 miles) long, on a north-south axis – which is sometimes known as “Greater Perth“ – and has a population of more than 2.05 million (2015). Introduction of the Mandurah railway line in 2007 made it possible for commuters to travel the 70 km (43.5 mi) from Mandurah station to Perth station in 48 minutes.
South East Queensland
A built-up area 200 kilometres long, centred on Brisbane, includes the local government areas (LGAs) of Gold Coast, Ipswich, Logan City, Moreton Bay, Redland City, Sunshine Coast and Tweed Heads, New South Wales. This area is served by a single public transport network, Translink.
Broader definitions of South East Queensland are also used, including the separate built-up area of Toowoomba (140 kilometres; 87 miles west of Brisbane), which is not part of the Translink network. Expansive definitions of South East Queensland give it a population of more than 3.4 million people (2014), covers 22,420 square kilometres (8,660 sq mi), incorporates ten LGAs and extends 240 kilometres (150 mi) from Noosa in the north to the Gold Coast (some sources include Tweed Heads).
In 2010 Auckland became a unitary authority encompassing seven former city and district councils including Auckland City, Manukau City, North Shore City and Waitakere City as well as a number of smaller towns, rural area and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Auckland Council is the largest council in Australasia and the region has a population of 1,529,300, being almost 33% of the total population of New Zealand. Long before formal recognition, the entire urban area rather than the constituent administrative city was often referred to as “Auckland” by New Zealanders.
The Wellington Metropolitan Area compromises the four cities of Wellington City, Porirua and the cities of Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt, together known as Hutt Valley. The Wellington Metropolitan Area is the second largest Urban population in New Zealand with a population of 409,200.
- Combined statistical area
- Consolidated city-county
- List of largest cities
- List of metropolitan areas by population
- Merger (politics)
- The Sprawl
- Transborder agglomeration
- Urban area
- Urban sprawl
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