Evolving Urban Form: Development Profiles of World Urban Areas

The Evolving Urban Form: The Rhine-Ruhr (Essen-Düsseldorf)


Rhine-Ruhr, or Essen-Düsseldorf, is among the world's least recognized larger urban areas (Figure 1).  Germany does not designate urban areas according to the international standard, and for that reason the Rhine-Ruhr does not appear on the United Nations list of largest urban areas. Yet, in reality this contiguous urban area is Germany's largest urban area, a position as it has held since at least the end of World War II. The Rhine-Ruhr is the third largest urban area in Western Europe, trailing only Paris and London.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Toronto


Toronto is the largest city (metropolitan area) in Canada and its principal commercial center. However, this is a relatively recent development. Toronto displaced Montréal is Canada's largest city during the 1960s. Since the 1971 census, when the two Metropolitan areas were nearly identical size, Toronto has added approximately 3 million people, while Montréal has added approximately 1,000,000 (Figure 1).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Nanjing


Nanjing is one of China's most historic cities. It is one of the four great ancient capitals of the nation, along with Beijing, Chang'an (Xi'an) and Luoyang. Its name means southern capital (Nan=south, Jing=capital), while the name of the current capital, Beijing means Northern capital.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Athens


Around the fifth century BCE, Athens may have been the most important city in the West. Like China's Chang'an (modern Xi'an), the "on and off" capital of China, Athens has experienced many severe "ups and downs" throughout its remarkable history. At its ancient peak, Athens is estimated to have had more than 300,000 residents (historic population estimates vary greatly).  read more »

Dispersion in the World's Largest Urban Areas


No decade in history has experienced such an increase in urban population as the last. From Tokyo-Yokohama, the world's largest urban area (population: 37 million) to Godegård, Sweden, which may be the smallest (population: 200), urban areas added 700 million people between 2000 and 2010.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Rio de Janeiro


Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil from before independence from Portugal was declared in 1822. That all changed in 1960, when the capital moved to the modern planned city of Brasilia, more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) inland. The move, however, did nothing to slow Rio de Janeiro's growth, as the metropolitan area (as designated by Brazil's census agency, the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística),  added 7 million people – a 150 percent increase in population – over the ensuing 60 years  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Kuala Lumpur


The Kuala Lumpur region of Malaysia is generally defined by the state of Selangor and two geographical enclaves (the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya), carved from the state. These enclaves are the two seats of the federal government. Kuala Lumpur houses the national parliament and Putrajaya the executive and judicial branches.

Population Growth in the Kuala Lumpur Region

The Kuala Lumpur region had a population of approximately 7.1 million, according to the 2010 census. This includes 1.6 million in the federal territory (core city) of Kuala Lumpur and 5.5 million in the suburbs (which include Putrajaya).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Bangkok


Since 2000, the Bangkok region has experienced annual population growth 2.5 times the rate of growth from 1980 to 2000. By 2010, the Bangkok region – which includes the provincial level city of Bangkok and the provinces of Samat Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Nakhon Pathom –  was nearing a population of 15 million (Note 1).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Addis Abeba


Addis Abeba is the capital of Ethiopia and calls itself the "diplomatic capital" of Africa, by virtue of the fact that the African Union is located here. Yet Ethiopia is still one of the most rural nations in both Africa and the world. Ethiopia also appears to be among the most tolerant. Various forms of Christianity claim account for approximately 65 percent of the population, with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Coptic) holding the dominant share. At the same time there is a sizable Muslim minority, at more than 30 percent of the population.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Barcelona


Among those for whom Paris is not their favorite European city, Barcelona often fills the void. Barcelona is the capital of Spain's Catalonia region. Catalonia has been in the news in recent weeks because of the rising a settlement for independence from Spain, or at a minimum, considerably expanded autonomy. In part, the discontent is driven by a concern about the extent to which more affluent Catalonia subsidizes the rest of Spain. Another driving factor is the interest in separating Catalonian language and culture from that of Spain.  read more »