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A conurbation is an urban area or agglomeration comprising a number of cities, large towns and larger urban areas that, through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban and industrially developed area. In most cases, a conurbation is a polycentric agglomeration, 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 as a neologism 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 "Midlandtonmarker" in England, the Ruhr in Germany, and New Yorkmarker-Bostonmarker in the USA.

A conurbation can be confused with a metropolitan area. As the term is used in North America, a metropolitan area consists of many neighborhoods, while a conurbation consists of many different metropolitan areas that are connected with one another. Internationally, the term "urban agglomeration" is often used to convey a similar meaning to "conurbation".

Examples of Conurbations


The East Coast of Australia has two notable conurbation corridors. In Queensland is the Sunshine Coast - Brisbanemarker - Ipswichmarker - Gold Coast corridor. In New South Wales is the Newcastlemarker - Central Coast - Sydneymarker - Wollongongmarker corridor which stretches from North to South over 250kms, and includes almost 6 million people.

Randstad, The Netherlands

The Randstadmarker, which is a densely populated area in the Netherlands consisting of a cluster of the four biggest cities of the country and several smaller cities, towns and urbanized villages, is another appropriate example of a conurbation. The Brussels-Capital Regionmarker in Belgium, by contrast, is an agglomeration centered on one city.

Rhine-Ruhr, Germany

The Rhine-Ruhr is a densly populated polycentric metropolitan area in the western part of Germany, comprising the three subregions of Ruhr Metropolitan Region, Düsseldorfmarker-Mönchengladbach-Wuppertal Region and Cologne/Bonn Metropolitan Region. These three are all interlinked by a continuous urban settlement, while at the same time having different cultural and economic agendas. All three regions are also conurbation areas by themselves.

United Kingdom

Industrial and housing growth in the United Kingdommarker during the 19th and early 20th centuries produced many conurbations. Greater Londonmarker 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 focussed on a single central area. In the mid-1950s the Green Belt was introduced to stem the further urbanisation of the countryside in England.

The list below shows the most populous urban areas in the UK as defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). (It should be noted that the Greater London Urban Area contains the whole of what is commonly called Londonmarker, but ONS definitions divide London into a large number of smaller localities of which the largest is Croydon.)

Rank Urban Area Population(2001 Census) Localities Area (km²) Density (People/km²) Major localities
1 Greater London Urban Areamarker 8,278,251 67 1,623.37 5,099.4 Croydonmarker, Barnetmarker, Ealingmarker, Bromleymarker
2 West Midlands Urban Areamarker 2,284,093 22 599.72 3,808.6 Birminghammarker, Wolverhamptonmarker, Dudleymarker, Walsallmarker
3 Greater Manchester Urban Areamarker 2,240,230 57 556.72 4,024.0 Manchestermarker, Salfordmarker, Boltonmarker, Stockportmarker, Oldhammarker, Rochdalemarker, Burymarker
4 West Yorkshire Urban Areamarker 1,499,465 26 370.02 4,052.4 Leedsmarker, Bradfordmarker, Huddersfieldmarker, Wakefieldmarker
5 Greater Glasgowmarker 1,199,629 48 368.47 3,171.0 Glasgowmarker, Paisleymarker, Coatbridgemarker, Clydebankmarker, Bearsdenmarker, Milngaviemarker, Motherwellmarker
6 Newcastle-upon-Tynemarker 879,996 25 210.91 4,172.4 Newcastle-upon-Tynemarker, Gatesheadmarker, Gosforthmarker, South Shieldsmarker, Felling, Whickhammarker


The "Golden Horseshoe" is a densely populated and industrialized region centred around the west end of Lake Ontariomarker in Southern Ontario, Canadamarker. Most of it is also part of the Windsor-Quebec City corridor. With a population of 8.1 million people, it 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.

United States of America

Greater New York City and the Northeast Megalopolis

Greater New York City, New York metropolitan areamarker, Tri-state Area, and Tri-State Region are names used more or less interchangeably for the largest conurbation in the United States of Americamarker, centered around New York Citymarker, including 23 counties spread between New York Statemarker, New Jerseymarker, and Pennsylvaniamarker, with an estimated population of 21,961,994 in 2007. Approximately 1 out of 15 U.S. residents live in the Greater New York City area.

Historically, New York City itself is the product of a conurbation between New York City and the City of Brooklyn, accelerated after the construction in 1883 of the Brooklyn Bridgemarker. This connection was cemented after the 1898 incorporation of the City of Brooklyn into New York City, along with areas of Long Islandmarker, and part of what is now the Bronxmarker. For a short time, this expanded area was known as the City of Greater New York.


AKA Great Lakes Megalopolis includes Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Detroit and Pittsburgh

Greater Los Angeles

includes Los Angeles, Riverside, Anaheim, San Bernadino, etc.

San Francisco Metropolitan Bay Area

Includes San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and their suburbs, forming a true megalopolis
NOTE: The San Francisco Bay Area is usually understood to be the 9 counties which border on San Francisco Bay (City & County of San Francisco, Counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin).

Dallas-Ft. Worth

Twin Cities

Twin Citiesmarker in Minnesotamarker are composed of Minneapolismarker and Saint Paulmarker. This conurbation houses over 3.5 million inhabitants.

See also


Further reading

Patrick Geddes - In Evolution"
Edward Soja - "Postmetropolis"

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