Metropolitan area

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A metropolitan area is a large population center consisting of a large city and its adjacent zone of influence, or of several neighboring cities or towns and adjoining areas, with one or more large cities serving as its hub or hubs.

A metropolitan area usually combines an agglomeration (the contiguous built-up area) with peripheral zones not themselves necessarily urban in character, but closely bound to the centre 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, Warren, Michigan would be added to Detroit, Michigan's metro area. While it isn't the same city, it is connected.

The core cities in 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.

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".

The term metropolitan area is sometimes abbreviated to 'metro', for example in Metro Manila and Washington, DC Metro Area, which in the latter case should not be mistaken to mean the metro rail system of the city. In France the term for a metropolitan area is an aire urbaine (urban area).

In Australia, Statistical Divisions (SDs) are defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as areas under the unifying influence of one or more major towns or cities. Each capital city forms its own Statistical Division, and the population of the SD is the most-often quoted figure for that city's population. Statistical Districts are defined as non-capital but predominantly urban areas (for example that of Newcastle). The statistical divisions that encompass the capital cities are commonly though unofficially called 'metropolitan areas'. <ref>1217.0.55.001 - Glossary of Statistical Geography Terminology, 2003, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003</ref>

If several metropolitan areas are located in succession, metropolitan areas are sometimes grouped together as a megalopolis (plural megalopoleis, also megalopolises). A megalopolis consists of several interconnected cities (and their suburbs), between which people commute, and which are so close together that suburbs can claim to be suburbs of more than one city. Another name for a megalopolis is a metroplex (short for metropolitan complex).

This concept was first proposed by the French geographer Jean Gottmann in his book Megalopolis, a study of the northeastern United States. One famous example is the BosWash megalopolis consisting of Boston, Hartford, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and vicinity. The biggest one is the Taiheiyo Belt (the Pacific Megalopolis) in Japan consisting of Tokyo MA, Shizuoka MA, Nagoya MA, Osaka MA, Okayama MA, Hiroshima MA, Fukuoka MA and vicinity. The megalopolis in Europe is the Ruhr Area and parts of the Low Countries. Africa's first megalopolis is said to be 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 the whole of south-eastern, Midland and parts of northern England will 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 agglomerations or metropolitan areas usually with a total population in excess of 10 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 urban area, as many cities so named have both rural and urban portions, and do not necessarily constitute a large metropolis. Their definition is thus close to the metropolitan area concept.

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 near 4,000,000, but has two metropolitan area populations, depending on definition, 13 million and 18 million.


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Preceding: Conurbation
Subsequent: Megalopolis

ca:Àrea metropolitana da:Metropolis de:Metropolregion es:Área metropolitana fr:Aire urbaine gl:Área metropolitana id:Metropolitan it:Area metropolitana he:מטרופולין mk:Метрополитенска област nl:Metropool ja:都市圏 pl:Obszar metropolitalny pt:Região metropolitana sk:Metropola fi:Metropolialue sv:Metropolis uk:Метрополія zh:城市群

Metropolitan area

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