A metropolitan area is a region consisting of a populous urban core with a high density of employment plus surrounding territory that is socio-economically linked to the urban core by commuting. A metropolitan area is also sometimes known as a commuter belt or a labor market area.

General definition[]

A metropolitan area usually combines an urban agglomeration (the contiguous built-up area) with peripheral zones not themselves necessarily urban in character, but closely bound to the center by employment or commerce. These zones are also sometimes known as a commuter belt, and may extend well beyond the urban periphery depending on the definition used. It is mainly the area that is not part of the city but is connected to the city. For example, Pasadena, California would be added to Los Angeles' metro area. While it is not the same city, its socioeconomic identity is intimately tied to that of Los Angeles.

In practice the parameters of metropolitan areas, in both official and unofficial usage, are not consistent. Sometimes they are little different from an urban area, and in other cases they cover broad regions that have little relation to the traditional concept of a city as a single urban settlement. Thus all metropolitan area figures should be treated as interpretations rather than as hard facts. Metro area population figures given by different sources for the same place can vary by millions, and there is a tendency for people to promote the highest figure available for their own "city". However the most ambitious metropolitan area population figures are often better seen as the population of a "metropolitan region" than of a "city".

There has been no significant change in the basic metropolitan area "concept" since its adoption in 1950,[1] though significant changes in geographic distributions have occurred since, and is expected to further evolve through time.[2] Because of the fluidity and evolution of the "term" metropolitan statistical areas, the colloquial reference by the general population and media to define an MSA is with a more familiar reference to "metro service area, metro area, metro, or MSA" and widely intimated to mean the total geographic area inclusive of not only a well known city population, but also its inner city, suburban, exurban and sometimes rural surrounding populations, all which are influenced by employment, transportation, and commerce of the more largely well known urban city.

A polycentric metropolitan area need not be physically connected by continuous built-up development, distinguishing the concept from conurbation, which requires urban contiguity. In a metropolitan area, it is sufficient that central cities together constitute a large population nucleus with which other constituent parts have a high degree of integration.

Country official unique definitions[]

Perth is arguably the most isolated metropolitan area in the world.

Vancouver, on Canada's Pacific Coast

Istanbul, 2010 European Capital of Culture, and Financial Capital of Turkey

Paris, one of Europe's major centers

Mumbai, Financial Capital of India.

Chicago, on the Great Lakes.


"Statistical divisions" are defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as areas under the unifying influence of one or more major towns or a major city. Each State's capital city and the Federal capital of Canberra forms its own statistical division, and the population of the statistical division is the figure most often quoted for that city's population.

Statistical districts are defined as non-capital but predominantly urban areas. An example of these is the city of Newcastle, New South Wales. Others can be found in the Gold Coast, Queensland and in Cairns, Queensland.

The statistical divisions that encompass the seven capital cities are commonly, though unofficially, called "metropolitan areas", borrowing the common term that is used in the United States and in Canada.[3]


Statistics Canada defines a census metropolitan area (CMA) and census agglomeration (CA) as an area consisting of one or more adjacent municipalities situated around a major urban core. To form a CMA, the urban core must have a population of at least 100,000, of which 50,000 or more live within the urban core. To form a CA, the urban core must have a population of at least 10,000. To be included in the CMA or CA, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the central urban area, as measured by commuting flows derived from census place of work data.[4]

European Union[]

The European Union's statistical agency, Eurostat, has created a concept named Larger Urban Zone (LUZ). The LUZ represents an attempt at a harmonised definition of the metropolitan area, and the goal was to have an area from a significant share of the resident commute into the city, a concept known as the “functional urban region”.[5]


In France the term for the region around an urban core linked by commuting ties is an aire urbaine (officially translated as "urban area").


The word metropolitan, describes as main city in turkish. The city which is dominant to others both in financial and social.[6]


In India, the Census Commission defines a metropolitan city one having a population of over 4 million.[7] Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Pune, Nashik and Surat[8] are the ten cities that qualify. Residents of these cities are also entitled to a higher House rent allowance. The figure only applies to the city region and not the conurbation.


In Japan a metropolitan area would be toshiken (都市圏? lit. bloc of cities).

United States[]

The Office of Management and Budget defines "Core Based Statistical Areas" used for statistics purposes among federal agencies. Each CBSA is based on a core urban area and is composed of the counties which comprise that core as well as any surrounding counties that are tightly socially or economically integrated with it. These areas are designated as either metropolitan or micropolitan statistical areas, based on population size; a "metro" area has an urban core of at least 50,000 residents, while a "micro" area has less than 50,000 but at least 10,000.[9]


This concept of a "megalopolis" was first proposed by the French geographer Jean Gottmann in his book Megalopolis, a study of the northeastern United States. One prominent example of a megalopolis is the Northeast megalopolis consisting of Boston, Hartford, Greater New York City, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Delaware, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and their vicinities. Two other prominent megalopolises in North America are as follows:

1. In California and Baja California, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Diego County, part of Riverside County, part of San Bernardino County, Tijuana Municipality, Rosarito Beach Municipality, and Tecate Municipality. There are hundreds of cities and towns in this megalopolis, with the largest ones being Los Angeles, Long Beach, Irvine, Anaheim, San Diego, and Tijuana.

2. In Ontario, Canada, its largest city, Toronto, is a component of Ontario's Golden Horseshoe, which includes other major cities in Southern Ontario such as Mississauga, Oakville, Hamilton, Brantford, and Niagara Falls. The Golden Horseshoe has about eight million people, which is about a quarter of the entire population of Canada. Also, adjoining the Golden Horseshoe is the metropolis of Buffalo in the State of New York.

The world's largest megalopolis is probably is the Taiheiyō Belt (the Pacific megalopolis) of Japan on southeastern Honshu that consists of the metropolis of Tokyo, Shizuoka, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Okayama, Yokosuka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kure, and their surrounding cities and towns. Major means of ground transportation in Japan such as its railroad network (for both passengers and freight), many expressways, and the "Shinkansen" bullet train are concentrated in this region, which also includes the northern shore of the Inland Sea of Japan. This is a highly-industrialized part of Japan, and it is also the location of its most important seaports in Japan - such as at Yokohama, Osake, Kobe, Hiroshima, and Kure - and its most important international airports - such as at Tokyo and Osaka. The population of this megalopolis can be considered to be as high as 83 million people, depending on where one draws its boundaries.

Guangdong Province's Pearl River Delta is a megalopolis with a population of 48 million that extends from Hong Kong and Shenzhen to Guangzhou. Some projections assume that by 2030 up to 1 billion people will live in China's urban areas. Even rather conservative projections predict an urban population of up to 800 million people. In its most recent assessment, the UN Population Division estimated an urban population of 1 billion in 2050.[10]

The megalopolises in Europe are the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region (pop. 11.5 million) in Germany, the Milan metropolitan area (pop. 7.4 million) in Italy, the Randstad in the Netherlands (pop. 7.4 million), the Flemish Diamond in Belgium (pop. 5.5 million), Ile de France in France and the metropolitan area of London and Moscow, as well as several 'smaller' agglomerations, such as the Meuse-Rhine Euregion, the Ems-Dollart Region, the Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Euregion and Metropoly of Upper Silesia in Poland (17 cities around Katowice with a total population of over 2 million). Together this megalopolis has an estimated population of around 50 million.

Africa's first megalopolis is situated in the urban portion of Gauteng Province in South Africa, comprising the conurbation of Johannesburg, and the metropolitan areas of Pretoria and the Vaal Triangle, otherwise known as the PWV.

It has been suggested that most of southeastern England, the Midlands, and parts of northern England will someday evolve into a megalopolis dominated by London. Clearly when usage is stretched this far, it is remote from the traditional conception of a city.

Megacity is a general term for metropolitan areas which usually have a total population in excess of ten million people. In Canada, "megacity" can also refer informally to the results of merging a central city with its suburbs to form one large municipality. A Canadian "megacity", however, is not necessarily an entirely urbanized area, since many of its named "cities" have both rural and urban portions. Also, 10 million inhabitants is an unreasonably high number for Canada. Moreover, Canadian "megacities" do not constitute large metropolitan areas in a global sense. For example, Toronto has a metropolitan population of about five million people, but is part of a much larger metropolitan region called the Golden Horseshoe, which has about eight million people.

The census population of a metro area is not the city population. However, it better demonstrates the population of the city. Los Angeles may only have a city population of slightly over four million, but depending on the definition, it has a metropolitan area population of either 13 million, or 18 million people in its combined statistical area. A major question is whether or not to include San Diego and Tijuana.

See also[]

  • Developed environments

Metropolitan Planning Theories[]

  • New Urbanism
  • Smart growth
  • Transit-oriented development


  • Megacity
  • Megalopolis (city type)
  • Metrobus
  • Metropolis
  • Overpopulation
  • Urban sprawl
  • Urban area
  • World's largest cities

Lists of metropolitan areas[]

  • List of metropolitan areas that overlap multiple countries
  • List of metropolitan areas by population
    • List of urban areas by population

  • List of metropolitan areas in Asia
  • List of metropolitan areas in Africa
  • List of metropolitan areas in the Americas
  • List of metropolitan areas in Europe
    • List of metropolitan areas (LUZ) in the European Union
    • List of the largest urban areas of the European Union


External links[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Metropolitan area. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.