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In the study of human settlements, an agglomeration is an extended city or town area comprising the built-up area of a central place (usually a municipality) and any suburbs linked by continuous urban area. In France, INSEE the French Statistical Institute, translate it as "Unité urbaine" which means continuous urbanized area. However, because of differences in definitions of what does and does not constitute an "agglomeration", as well as variations and limitations in statistical or geographical methodology, it can be problematic to compare different agglomerations around the world. It may not be clear, for instance, whether an area should be considered to be a satellite and part of an agglomeration, or a distinct entity in itself.

The term "agglomeration" can also be linked to "Conurbation," which is a more specific term for large urban clusters where the built-up zones of influence of distinct cities or towns are connected by continuous built-up development (Essenmarker - Dortmundmarker and others in the Rhine-Ruhr district), even in different regions, states or countries, Lillemarker - Kortrijkmarker in France and Belgium). Each city or town in a conurbation may nevertheless continue to act as an independent focus for a substantial part of the area.

Metropolitan Area: Extended definition

A metropolitan area may be defined as an extended agglomeration or conurbation that also includes peripheral areas not themselves necessarily urban in character but closely bound to the urban area by flows linked to employment or commerce. The population may easily travel within an agglomeration by car or mass transit system. For example if one lives a 30-minute rail trip away from downtown New York City, yet in a separately-named smaller county or state outside the city limits, that district or town would be considered a part of the New York agglomeration.

Metropolitan Area : Administrative definition

The agglomeration can also consist of legal administrative divisions where data is easily available because coming from one administrative level (Metro Area, City, Town, County, ...)The Greater Tokyo Areamarker provides an example of the difficulties involved because estimates of its population vary according to how it is defined. While the prefectures of Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama are commonly used to define Greater Tokyo, the Japan Statistics Bureau simply measures the area within 50 kilometers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices in Shinjuku[32641] [32642].

Specific legal definitions


An agglomeration, or urban agglomeration, is an administrative subdivision of Quebecmarker at the local level that may group together a number of municipalities which were abolished as independent entities on 1 January 2002 but reconstituted on 1 January 2006.

The eleven agglomerations of Quebec, under this legal definition, range in population from 2,000 to 2 million. In fact, only the agglomerations of Montrealmarker, Quebec Citymarker, and Longueuilmarker exceed 12,000 inhabitants.

Agglomerations are administered by agglomeration councils, and comprise a central municipality as well as a number of related municipalities, and their powers are defined by the Act respecting the exercise of certain municipal powers in certain urban agglomerations. Agglomerations have certain powers which, elsewhere in Quebec, are exercised by individual municipalities. (These powers are not the same as those of the metropolitan communities of Montreal and Quebec, which cover geographically larger areas than the corresponding agglomerations.) In some cases, agglomerations also have powers ordinarily exercised by regional county municipalities.

Largest Urban Agglomerations

The term "agglomeration" is more appropriate for determining the populations of large super-cities like Tokyo, Mexico City, and Seoul. These examples are super-cities which have expanded enough to consume other neighborhoods. Although administration may be separate for outlying districts, the population might say they are from the central city.

There are various lists of agglomeration populations. Three are presented here.

According to one list (2008-10-01), the largest agglomerations in the world are as follows :
Rank City name English name Country Population
1 東京 (Tōkyō) Tokyomarker Japanmarker 33,800,000
2 서울 (Sŏul) Seoulmarker South Koreamarker 23,800,000
3 Ciudad de México Mexico Citymarker Mexicomarker 22,800,000
4 नई िदल्ली New Delhimarker Indiamarker 22,200,000
5 मुंबई (Mumbaī) Bombaymarker Indiamarker 22,200,000
6 New Yorkmarker - USAmarker 21,900,000
7 São Paulomarker São Paulo Brazilmarker 20,900,000
8 Maynila Manila Philippinesmarker 19,000,000
9 Los Angelesmarker USAmarker 18,000,000
10 上海 (Shànghǎi) Shanghai Chinamarker 17,900,000
11 大阪市 (Ōsaka-shi) Osaka Japanmarker 16,700,000
12 কলকাতা (Kolkata) Kolkatamarker Indiamarker 16,000,000
(The above information was gathered from: [32643])

And the list from 2006-11-22 :
Rank City name English name Country Population
1 東京 (Tōkyō) Tokyomarker Japanmarker 33,400,000
2 서울 (Sŏul) Seoulmarker South Koreamarker 23,100,000
3 Ciudad de México Mexico Citymarker Mexicomarker 22,000,000
4 New Yorkmarker USAmarker 21,800,000
5 मुंबई (Mumbaī) Bombaymarker Indiamarker 21,100,000
6 नई िदल्ली New Delhimarker Indiamarker 20,800,000
7 São Paulomarker São Paulo Brazilmarker 20,300,000
8 上海 (Shànghǎi) Shanghai Chinamarker 18,600,000
9 Los Angelesmarker USAmarker 17,900,000
10 Jakarta Jakartamarker Indonesiamarker 16,900,000
11 大阪市 (Ōsaka-shi) Osaka Japanmarker 16,600,000
12 القاهرة (Al-Qāhirah) Cairomarker Egyptmarker 15,800,000
(The above information was gathered from: [32644])

Another list indicates substantially smaller populations for some urban agglomerations in 2007. This list uses a “build up” method of population estimation of administrative jurisdictions within the confines of the continuously built up area (except where a census authority estimate is available). The principal difference between the population figures in the two lists is that the first list substitutes metropolitan area populations in urban agglomerations such as New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mumbai and Delhi, which explains the higher figures.

Currently (2008), the agglomerations of more than 10,000,000 population are as follows :

Rank Agglomeration name Country Population Annual change
1 Tokyomarker Japanmarker 34,400,000 0.2%
2 Jakartamarker (Jabotabekmarker) Indonesiamarker 21,800,000 2.4%
3 New Yorkmarker USAmarker 20,090,000 0.2%
4 Seoulmarker-Incheonmarker South Koreamarker 20,010,000 0.4%
5 Manila Philippinesmarker 19,550,000 2.3%
6 Mumbaimarker Indiamarker 19,530,000 2.0%
7 São Paulomarker Brazilmarker 19,140,000 0.8%
8 Mexico Citymarker Mexicomarker 18,430,000 0.6%
9 Delhimarker Indiamarker 18,000,000 2.4%
10 Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto Japanmarker 17,270,000 0.0%
11 Cairomarker Egyptmarker 16,750,000 1.5%
12 Kolkatamarker Indiamarker 15,010,000 1.8%
13 Los Angelesmarker USAmarker 14,730,000 0.8%
14 Shanghai Chinamarker 14,460,000 1.5%
15 Moscowmarker Russiamarker 13,260,000 0.2%
16 Beijing Chinamarker 12,770,000 1.6%
17 Buenos Airesmarker Argentinamarker 12,390,000 0.5%
18 Guangzhoumarker-Foshanmarker Chinamarker 11,810,000 1.5%
19 Shenzhenmarker Chinamarker 11,710,000 2.1%
20 Istanbulmarker Turkeymarker 11,220,000 1.1%
21 Rio de Janeiromarker Brazilmarker 11,160,000 0.8%
22 Parismarker Francemarker 10,430,000 0.1%

(The above information is modeled for 2008 from population growth rates and is from [32645] and [32646]. The Jakarta figure is considerably higher than some estimates because it includes the continuous urbanization extending outward into the Tangerang, Bogor and Karawang regencies. The Manila figure are considerably higher than most lists, which limit their data to the administrative boundaries of Metro Manilamarker. However, the continuous urbanization extends into Cavitemarker, Lagunamarker, Rizalmarker and Bulacanmarker provinces and is reflected in the higher figure in this list. London is not included because the continuous urbanization is interrupted by the green belt. The 2001 census (United Kingdom Statistics Authority) placed the population of the London urban area at 8,278,000, well below the 10,000,000 threshold.)

Businesses can also "agglomerate." For theoretical aspects see economies of agglomeration.

See also

External links

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