2.1 Defining urbanization
Urbanization is the process by which large numbers of people become permanently concentrated in
relatively small areas, forming cities. Internal rural to urban migration means that people move from
rural areas to urban areas. In this process the number of people living in cities increases compared
with the number of people living in rural areas. Natural increase of urbanization can occur if the
natural population growth in the cities is higher than in the rural areas. This scenario, however,
rarely occurs. A country is considered to urbanized when over 50 per cent of its population live in
the urban areas (Long 1998).
An urban area is spatial concentration of people who are working in non-agricultural activities. The
essential characteristic here is that urban means non-agricultural. Urban can also be defined as a
fairly complex concept. Criteria used to define urban can include population size, space, density,
and economic organization. Usually, however, urban is simply defined by some base line size, like
20 000 people. Anyway this definition varies between regions and cities (Long 1998).
2.2 The history and emergence of cities
2.2.1 Urbanization has changed
Great Britain and some European countries were the first countries, which become urbanized. They
urbanized relatively slowly, which allowed governments time to plan and provide facilities for the
needs of increasing urban populations. So, a city itself is not a new phenomenon. Only the present
explosive and rapid growth is a new unique feature. In the year 1800, over 97 percent of the world's
population were rural. Hundred years after this, still only 5.5 percent of the world population lived
in cities, but already 2000 slightly over half of the world's population lived in cities (Long 1998).
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, urban growth was occurring mainly in the developed nations.
The reason for this was the spread of industrialization and the associated rapid increase in the use of
fossil fuels. These days the urbanization is much faster than those days and it is most rapid in the
Third World countries. Today the largest and fastest growing cities are in developing countries,
because of the new urban-industrial development (Envio Facts 2001, Girardet 1996).
2.2.2 City as a Capital
In many countries the Capital is the country's most important city. It is typically a center of
population, commerce, government and culture. Capitals are often cultural places with the national
treasures like, museum, symphony, opera, and ballet. Many capitals contain masterpieces of
architecture, parks and monuments. The headquarters of the nation's most powerful businesses are
commonly based in the capital (ENCARTA 2001).
Most of the capitals have grown to the important trade routes, along the shores of rivers or harbors,
or in regions of special agricultural or industrial significance. Anyway some capitals are designed
and constructed by bureaucrats, planners and architects. This sort of development permits the
planners to determine not only the location of the city but also such fundamental aspects as traffic
patterns, the distribution of functional districts, the character of municipal and residential
architecture, and the disposition of public space. Although this is more normal in developed
countries but have sometimes occurred in developing countries too. Thus, nowadays the population
growth in most of the cities of developing countries is so fast that the organization and planning is
almost impossible (ENCARTA 2001).
Because capitals are often the primate cities of their countries, they draw in residents from rural
areas or smaller towns at a significant rate. People move to the capitals in search of economic
advantages, educational opportunities, cultural richness, and diversity of experiences that large
cities provide. As a consequence of this population shift, many capitals have grown rapidly and
spread into the surrounding countryside. The three study regions contain also many mega-cities;
Bangkok, Jakarta, Lagos, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro (ENCARTA 2001).
Picture 2. 1. Mexico City, the rapidly growing mega-city.
“ The city is a place where a lot of problems are concentrated; but the city also has the resources
to overcome these problems and be the place of development.”
Prof. Valentino Castellini, Italy, 1998
2.2.3 Positive about cities
There are also many positive factors in the cities. It would be short-sighted to see only the negative
points in this situation. Large cities are usually dynamic, growing centers for modern production
and industry, financial services, internal commerce and foreign trade, education and government.
That is why cities are more efficient than smaller places in production, economic growth and
contributing to higher incomes. Many people’s economy and life expectancy in the city have
increased, economy has came more stable and stronger and families have got smaller (Brookfield
and Byron 1993, Bilsborrow 1998).
The differences between living conditions in cities and rural areas are big-terms of education and
health, safe drinking water, sanitation, electricity, food, recreational and entertainment, jobs,
information and knowledge. These differences can most clearly be seen among the middle and low-
income people. Worldwide the scale and depth of poverty in rural areas are higher. In general,
higher the level of urbanization, lower the level of absolutely poverty (HABITAT 1996, Bilsborrow
2.2.4 The size of the city
There is not actually any optimum size of the city, but environment is putting some borders to it.
Current “mega-city-size” is not sustainable. Urban populations are too concentrated in few large
cities. For example in Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela cities are
very intent, whereas in Niger, Nigeria, Colombia and Brazil are decentralized. Even though, large
cities are becoming our primary habitat (Massay et al. 1999).
The cities are growing in the size and complexity. In 1960 only 100 cities had more than one
million habitants. Now there are almost 400 of those cities and over next decades there may be as
many as 650. Even the growth occurs in all kinds of cities mainly the focus tends to be in mega-
cities. Still the problem is global and concerns every scale of cities. For example, secondary cities
such as Surabaya in Indonesia and Guadalajara in Mexico, have become metropolises of two or
three million in the last decade and continue to grow rapidly in the future (Massay et al.1999,
There are no direct and simple relations between size and power when considering cities. For
example, Sao Paulo is not more powerful than New York even it is bigger. Some cities can be very
large and yet not so powerful on the world stage normally this is the way in developing countries
(Massay et al.1999, Gugler 1997).
“The world’s cities must become sustainable, productive, safe, healthy, humane, and affordable.”
Boutros-Boutros Ghali, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1996
2.2.5 City as a parasite
The are different opinions about the cities and their image. Some think that they are the centers of
culture whereas others else feel that they are the cancers of earth. The latter people have described
city as a parasite. Because it is dependent on another host, hinterlands, from which is it nourished.
This is true the land of which cities are built cannot support the high density of population in the
area. Cities are always dependent on essential supplies of food, timber, firewood and water from
their hinterlands (UNEP 1999, Girardet 1996).
Cities are built on two percent of the land's surface. Their population uses over three-quarters of the
world's resources and discharge similar amounts of wastes. Urban wastes have local impacts but are
also a problem of global dimension. The impacts of the cities are usually felt both locally and
globally. For example, air pollution; city populations, as the major users of energy, cause both
regional and worldwide pollution, with dramatic impacts on health of the people, air quality and
biosphere (UNEP 1999, Girardet 1996).
Input City Output
Food & water Sewage
Fuels & energy
Processed goods Household & factory
Timber, pulp wastes
Building materials Wanton
Figure 2. 1. City consumes.
2.3 The measurements of urbanization
2.3.1 Population growth
Population growth is one of the main reasons to the urbanization. In rural areas natural increase is
not high because fertility rate is often lower compared with rural regions. Fertility rates are largely
dependent on economic considerations. As economic wellbeing increases, the fertility level
decreases. Security about the future and alternatives to family life in the cities are the main reasons
for this decrease (Long 1998).
Education level has similar effect as economic wellbeing to the fertility rates. For example in
Taiwan and South Korea, rising education level has resulted in smaller families, and population
growth has fallen by half. However, women’s knowledge of how to manage their own fertility has
the biggest effects on birth rates. Nowadays only 25 per cent of the women do have access to family
planning materials and the power to control the amount of their children. Another key factor that
influences birth rates is a woman's confidence that the children she bears will survive and be
healthy. If the health care is proper and infant mortality rate low, like in developed countries, the
fertility rate is often also low (ENCARTA 2001).
2.3.2 Rural-urban migration
Migration is a form of geographical or spatial motion between one geographical unit and another.
Internal migration consists of rural-rural, rural-urban, urban-urban and urban-rural migration.
Migration is continuos and repeated process rather than a single event. Because of these facts, it is
difficult to measure and study. The time of migration also varies; it can be periodic, seasonal, or
long-term migration (Bilsborrow 1998b).
Migration is the main reason for rapid growth of mega-cities. Migration has been going on over
centuries and it is normal phenomenon. When considering urbanization rural-urban and urban-rural
and rural-rural migrations are very important. Urban-urban migration means that people move from
one city to another. This is quite common, for example, in Nigeria (Bilsborrow 1998b, Sajor 2001).
Many migrants are environmental refugees from badly depleted rural areas. In developing countries
industrial growth in urban areas offers employment and trading opportunities for rural people which
are faced with declining living standards. Nowadays the urbanization is increasingly occurring also
without any significant opportunities for new migrants and it is fastest in Africa (Bilsborrow
Sometimes people do not have to move to the city even if they are working in it. Transportation is
the biggest question of this movement. With accessible transportation many are able to live as far as
40-50 kilometers away from the city. People can move regularly between urban and rural areas, in
accordance with the demand of the job and of family responsibilities, without a need to make a
permanent change of residence. Advances in transportation, by easing rural access to external
markets, can relax the housing problem in the cities (Brookfield and Byron 1993).
126.96.36.199 Push and pull factors
People may move to the city because they are pushed by poverty from rural communities or they
may be pulled by the attractions of city lives. Combination of these push and pull factors can also
be on reason for moving to cities. In many parts of the world rural population growth and shortage
of arable land are the major problems. Even though the land holdings have been quite big they are
to be divided with several children and eventually, their children. These circumstances make
migration the only opportunity to farming people. Things are made worse by environmental
deterioration (Gugler 1997, Girardet 1996).
188.8.131.52.1 Push factors
The normal push factors to rural people are the circumstances that make their earning of living
impossible, land deterioration, lack of adequate land, unequal land distribution, droughts, storms,
floods, and clean water shortages. These serious disadvantages make farming, the livelihood of
rural people, hard and sometimes hopeless. Lack of modern resources, firewood shortages, religious
conflicts, local economic declines, are also major reasons for moving to the urban areas (Gugler
1997, Girardet 1996).
184.108.40.206.2 Pull factors
High industrial wages in urban areas are one of the biggest attractions for rural people. People will
continue to migrate to cities as long as they expect urban wages to exceed their current rural wages.
Employment opportunities, higher incomes, joining other rural refugees, freedom from oppressive
lifestyle, access to better health care and education, are the “bright lights” for rural people. One of
the main reasons for people to move to the urban areas is that the situation in the rural areas is very
difficult. With the income level they have it is not possible to survive. In this case even the low
salaries in the rural areas are more attractive than non-existing salaries in the rural areas (Gugler
1997, Girardet 1996, Sajor 2001).
220.127.116.11 Migration and gender
Increased industrialization, education and urbanization may provide more opportunities for women
to advance economically and socially. More women will be able to join wage-earning labor force.
Education and industrial activities are viewed as the only two ways for women to advance in
economically underdeveloped countries. These activities are normally associated with lower
fertility rates (Gugler 1997, Girardet 1996).
Men are more active in migration. Many men migrate alone, without family, to the cities to work in
factories, companies or the informal sector. Normally this kind of migration is seasonal or
periodical. Due to this women become head of the families, which puts a lot of pressure on them.
Their responsibility is to take care of the house, children and money. Even the men will send some
money to their families women have to earn some "household money" too. It is common to women
to have their own shops or businesses on top of their household duties. This is very normal
especially in Lagos ( Rinne 2001 ).
18.104.22.168 Modernization theory
The modernization theory means that industrial employment attracts people from rural to urban
areas. In the urban areas people work in modern sector in the occupations that facilitate national
economic expansion. This means that the old agricultural economic is changing to a new non-
agricultural economy. This is the trend, which will create a new modern society (Gugler 1997).
This theory states that inequality in welfare between country and city increases rural to urban
migration and thereby expands urbanization. The city’s “ bright lights” are the main pull factors to
the people. The divergence ultimately reduces economic growth and efficiency in the developing
world (Gugler 1997).
2.3.3 Defining city
The definition of what constitutes a city, changes from time to time and place to place. The United
Nations has recommended that places with more than 20,000 inhabitants living close together are
urban. Still the nations compile their statistics on the basis of many different standards. The United
States, for instance uses “urban place” to mean any locality where more than 2,500 people live
(Envio Facts 2001).
In many cities the city borders are invisible and it is hard to say where the city ends and where it
starts. This confuses the calculation of urban habitants. Because of this many studies give different
data and comparison of the cities becomes unreliable. City description differs between cities and
countries, which makes it hard to know the real size of the cities. Also the cities are growing all the
time, which makes the data quite quickly old. Sometimes even nearby towns are connected to the
city due to the population growth, like for example, in Mexico City.
2.4 Factors that encourage urbanization
2.4.1 Population growth
There are three components of urban population growth: natural growth of urban population, rural-
urban migration and the reclassification of areas previously defined as rural. Natural increase
provides a base for urban population growth rates, and rural-urban migration and reclassification
supplement this growth. Anyhow the natural increase of the population in the city often declines
sharply together with the urbanization process, that has happened for example, in Thailand,
Malaysia and Indonesia. (Stutz and Souza 1998)
2.4.2 Population growth in the future
World population reached 6.1 billion in mid-2000 and is currently growing by 77 million people per
year. By 2025, world population is expected to be between 7.9 billion and 10.9 billion, with the
medium variant 9.3 billion. The different prospects changes with the calculation way and HIV.
Even the fertility is high in many countries the impact of HIV/AIDS epidemic is huge. Morbidity,
mortality and population losses are increasing ( PDDESA 2001).
The population in today's developed countries is not expected to grow in next 50 years because
fertility levels are remaining below replacement level. On the contrary, the population in developing
countries is projected to rise from 4.9 million in 2000 to 8.2 billion in 2050. The rapid growth is
expected among the group of 48 least developed countries. Their population is expected nearly to
triple in the next 50 years. International immigration is projected to remain high in 21st century. The
more developed areas are expected to continue being net receivers of international migrants. This
has an high impact to the population growth in developed areas and cities ( PDDESA 2001).
Poverty is hard to define. Poverty means that human needs are not met. Poverty is every day life in
every country, even in developed areas. In every country can be identified individuals who have so
small income that they cannot afford even the very basic goods. These physical needs are adequate
diet, housing, work, water supply, sanitation and health care. For humans a few mental demands are
also important, like basic civil and political rights and feeling of safety (HABITAT, 1996).
Poverty can be measured by income level. This is not always the best way to define poor people
because some level of personal income cannot substitute problems with health, crime, physical
violence or life expectancy. Still using this kind of income level is normal in every country. People
whose income is under this minimum level are considered poor. At least 20 per cent of the world’s
population live in absolutely poverty. More than 90 percent of these live in the developing
countries. These numbers are only rough averages because it is in reality difficult to estimate the
amount of people who suffer from absolute poverty (HABITAT, 1996).
22.214.171.124 Rural poverty
At the moment in many countries the trend is that the poverty of rural population is growing. In
rural areas poverty is associated with different circumstances like drought, seasonal changes in food
prices and lack of adequate land. Poverty also fluctuates more in rural areas and causes seasonal
migration to the urban areas. When the situation is bad in the rural area migration is evident. By
improving rural economy, migration flows can be better controlled.
The economic situation of the family depends on their family cycle as well. Many families with
small children or elderly people to take care of are poorer than others. Accidents might also change
the whole economic of the family because social security is not often provided in rural areas. In the
developing countries accidents occur more often due to bad roads, vehicles, misused laws and
orders (HABITAT, 1996).
126.96.36.199 Urban poverty
It is not equitable to compare poverty by poverty lines, such as the used income of US$ a day,
between urban and rural areas, because costs in the urban areas are usually higher than in rural. The
costs of fuel, food and shelter are much higher in big cities and central regions. Also people in rural
areas have wider surviving ways; they can grow their food on the wastelands and collect their
firewood from the forests, which is impossible in the crowded urban areas. Environment is also
much more polluted in the urban areas which decreases the health of the urban poor. Due to these
poor people in urban areas are even poorer than they seem to be and the total income level is much
lower than in the rural areas. Studies show that more than half of the urban population is below the
poverty line in several Asian and Latin American countries (HABITAT, 1996).
The urban environment has some positive sides too; in urban areas it is easier to find a job, health
care, education and other facilities which might help poor people to stand up from the poverty hole.
This is not simple but might be possible. In the cities production and sales jobs are quite easy to get
with adequate language abilities and other skills. Anyhow, informal sector is very important source
of income for many poor people (HABITAT, 1996).
2.4.4 Standard of living
The differences in standard of living are major issues when considering factors that encourage
urbanization. Higher living standards and higher salaries in the city attract people to move to the
cities. As long as the income gap between rural and urban areas is big, people tend to move to the
cities. Economic factors and employment are the main reasons for migration. Sometimes the
employment in rural areas is non-existing. In these cases moving to the city, even for very low
salaries, is more profitable than staying in the countryside (Sajor 2001, Brookfield and Byron
Political and social factors are also better in the urban areas and they are one reason for migration.
In the city health care and social relations are much easier to organize which makes the inhabitants
feeling more secure. In the city people may more easily have they voices heard by joining different
political groups and by this poor people can require better living standards and services.
2.4.5 Environmental pressure
The biggest environmental pressure for rural people is the lack of profitable land. The land inherited
from the parents is divided to the children and their children. At last the land per farmer becomes so
small that it is unprofitable to farm. On the other hand erosion and land deterioration makes farming
even more difficult. Even when poor farmers have enough land space they can’t always afford and
compete for non-sufficient water resources or fertilizers. Water is sometimes very polluted and
regulations forbid the use of that kind of water because of food contamination. This gives no
opportunity to the poor farmers. They can either continue farming with contaminated water and get
caught with the contamination of crops or try to find some other livelihood. This is the problem in
lower basins of many rivers in developing countries (Sajor 2001).
Water shortage increases social inequity. Poor farmers cannot sink boreholes to the necessary
depths to extract water. Wealthier farmers can benefit by moving inland to buy up more land or
water. The only way to survive for these poor farmers is to move to cities to find some non-
agricultural livelihood (UNEP 1999).
2.5 Models to control urbanization
2.5.1 Socialist model
In the past there have been many successful ways of controlling urbanization. Socialism in old
China and Russia was one of these. The method was to control urbanization by the place where
people had born. People who were born in the countryside were not allowed to move permanently
to the urban areas. This means that people have to live at place similar they have been born. They
belong to the rural areas if they were born in there and vice versa. Although, rural people can move
to other rural areas and urban people could move to the similar rural areas. This method was very
effective when controlling urbanization. Thus it doesn’t give alternatives to the inhabitants (Sajor
2.5.2 South-African model
Other successful method was used in South Africa. The main idea of this method was not to control
the migration of single people but decrease migration with families. Normally, if the migration is
permanent, people bring the whole family to the city. This increases the city population with much
more people than only single migration. The method prohibited migrant people to bring their
families with them. This decrease the rate of permanent migration because normally people do not
want to be in the city alone and the family cannot survive without help on the rural areas. Thus, this
method puts lot of pressure to the women in the countryside because they have to take care of the
whole family when their men are working in the city, even for some part of the year (Sajor 2001).
2.5.3 Example of successful countries
Hong Kong and Singapore are success stories. The question arises how these countries have
achieved and maintained their well-being. This question can be examined by looking at migration,
which is the main problem in the rapid urbanization in many countries. These countries are city
states where uncontrolled migration is impossible. Hinterlands are non-existing so the countries do
not have any countryside to support. The city is easy to control and the only urbanization is
occurring by natural increase and international migration. The international migration is much easy
to avoid than internal migration. Because the natural increase in these developed areas is already
low, the city and infrastructure planning in the region is easy to keep in touch with the slowly
growing demand (Sajor 2001).
There is some irony in city management. The situation is not similar in other countries than in the
city states. If the city is properly management and the facilities are offered, people from rural areas
want to move there. Migration again creates new problems, migrant people need more facilities and
city is unable to keep up with the speed of migration. Thousands of people move to the mega-cities
daily. This is why improvements have to start from rural areas. This can be done by increase of land
production, education, and land reform (Sajor 2001).