A conurbation is a region comprising a number of cities, large towns, and other 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 urban agglomeration, in which transportation has developed to link areas to create a single urban labour market or travel to work area.[1]

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 "Midlandton" in England, the Ruhr in Germany, Randstad in the Netherlands, New York-Boston in the United States,[2] and the Greater Tokyo Area and Taiheiyō Belt in Japan.

A conurbation can be confused with a metropolitan area. As the term is used in North America, a metropolitan area can be defined by the Census Bureau or it may consist of a central city and its suburbs, while a conurbation consists of adjacent metropolitan areas that are connected with one another by urbanization.[clarification needed][citation needed] Internationally, the term "urban agglomeration" is often used to convey a similar meaning to "conurbation".[clarification needed][3] A conurbation should also be contrasted with a megalopolis, where the urban areas are close but not physically contiguous and where the merging of labour markets has not yet developed.



The "Golden Horseshoe" is a densely populated and industrialized region centred around the west end of Lake Ontario in Southern Ontario, Canada. 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,[4] 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. The region incorporates Toronto, Mississauga, York, Peel Region, Hamilton, Oakville and Scarborough.

The National Capital Region (NCR) is made up of the capital, Ottawa, and neighbouring Gatineau which is located across the Ottawa River. As Ottawa is in Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec, this is a unique conurbation. Federal government buildings are located in both cities and many workers live in one city and work in the other. The National Capital Region consists of an area of 5,319 square kilometres that straddles the boundary between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The area of the National Capital Region is very similar to that of the Ottawa-Gatineau Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), although the National Capital Region contains a number of small neighbouring communities that are not contained within the CMA. When all the communities are added, the population is around 1,500,000. Ottawa-Gatineau is the only CMA in the nation to fall within two provinces.

British Columbia's Lower Mainland is the most populated area in Western Canada. It consists of many mid sized continuous urban areas, including Vancouver, North Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, and Coquitlam.


Germany has three concurbations along the River Rhine, namely Rhine-Main, Rhine-Neckar and Rhine-Ruhr. The Rhine-Ruhr is a densely populated polycentric metropolitan region in the western part of Germany, comprising the three subregions of Ruhr Metropolitan Region, Düsseldorf-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.




The National Capital Region (NCR - the Tri-State Region) is a name for the conurbation or metropolitan area which encompasses the entire National Capital Territory of Delhi as well as urban areas ringing it in neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. With a total area of about 33,578 km2 (12,965 sq mi)it has an estimated population of 21,961,994 in 2007.


The Taiheiyō Belt is the largest conurbation in Japan in every term, extending from Ibaraki Prefecture to Fukuoka Prefecture, running almost 1,200 km, with the total population of 82.9 million. The Greater Tokyo Area, also called Shutoken (the National Capital Region), is a metropolitan area in the Kantō region, with the estimated population of 35,676,000 in 2007, often referred to as the most populous and economically largest metropolitan area in the world.


The Randstad, 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 Region in Belgium, by contrast, is an agglomeration centered on one city.


Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia (Górnośląski Związek Metropolitalny) is the biggest conurbation in Poland, located in Upper Silesia, southern Poland. In GOP lives around 2 million people, which makes 5.26% of population of Poland.

South Africa

Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni (East Rand), and Tshwane (greater Pretoria) are currently merging to form a region that comprises a population of 14.6 million people.[5]

South America

The Greater Buenos Aires conurbation, which also includes several Buenos Aires Province districts, constitutes the third-largest conurbation in Latin America, with a population of around 13 million, coming right after Mexico City and Greater São Paulo and followed by Greater Rio de Janeiro.

United Kingdom

Industrial and housing growth in the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries produced many conurbations. Greater London 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 focused on a single central area.[3] In the mid-1950s the Green Belt was introduced to stem the further urbanisation of the countryside in England. Note that as used in the United Kingdom, the term "conurbation" is closer to the meaning of urban agglomeration.

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

United States

[clarification needed]

New York Tri-State Area

One example of a conurbation is the expansive concept of the New York metropolitan area (the Tri-State Region) centered around New York City, including 30 counties spread between New York State, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, with an estimated population of 21,961,994 in 2007.[6] Approximately one-fifteenth of all U.S. residents live in the Greater New York City area. This conurbation is the result of several central cities whose urban areas have merged together.

San Francisco Bay Area

Another conurbation is the combination of the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose and several minor urban centers, known as the San Francisco Bay Area.

Greater Los Angeles Area

The Greater Los Angeles Area consists of the merging of several distinct central cities and counties, including Los Angeles, Orange County, California, Riverside, and San Bernardino. This area is also often referred to simply as Southern California or colloquially as Socal (a larger region which tends to include San Diego).

Baltimore-Washington Area

The traditionally separate metropolitan areas of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. have shared suburbs and a continuous urbanization between the two central cities (Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area).

San Diego–Tijuana

The largest conurbation between the United States and Mexico, San Diego–Tijuana includes the two countries' busiest border crossing and a shared economy.[7]


Two major metropolitan areas (Greater Milwaukee, and Greater Chicago) that are linked through several midsized suburban and urban cities, mainly Racine, Kenosha, Waukegan, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, and the rest of the Northern Chicago suburbs between Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI.

Dallas-Fort Worth

Three large cities, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington, make up this area. Each city is linked by touching city limits or suburbs. This area is also commonly known as the Metroplex and is included in the emerging megalopolis known as the Texas Triangle.


The major U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan lies immediately across the Detroit River from Windsor, Ontario in Canada. In many respects—economically, historically, culturally, socially, and, of course, geographically—Windsor is more a part of Metro Detroit than of Ontario. The two cities and their surrounding suburbs are commonly referred to collectively as the Detroit-Windsor area. The Detroit-Windsor border is the largest commercial border crossing in North America and the busiest between the two countries. With a combined total population of nearly six million, Detroit-Windsor is the world's largest trans-border metropolitan area (since Hong Kong was returned to the Chinese in 1997).

See also


  1. ^ conurbation – Dictionary Definition of conurbation | FREE Online Dictionary
  2. ^ Hall, Peter (2002). Cities of Tomorrow. ISBN 0631232524. 
  3. ^ a b Vision of Britain article on use of this and similar terms
  4. ^ "Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006: Subprovincial population dynamics, Greater Golden Horseshoe". Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population. 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  5. ^ Baker, Deane-Parker (15 September 2010). "South Africa's threat environment: a guide for the National Planning Commission". African Security Review (Pretoria: Routledge) 19 (3): 54–64. doi:10.1080/10246029.2010.519878. ISSN 1024-6029. Retrieved 9 May 2011. ""...what military force would relish tackling Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni (the East Rand) and Tshwane (greater Pretoria), which will by 2015 be a single polycentric urban region..."" 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population of Combined Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007" (CSV). 2007 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  7. ^ [|Loucky, James], ed. Transboundary policy challenges in the Pacific border regions of North America. University of Calgary Press. p. 8. ISBN 1-55238-223-0. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 

Further reading

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

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • conurbation — [ kɔnyrbasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1922; de con « autour » et lat. urbs « ville », probablt par l angl. ♦ Géogr. Agglomération formée d une ville et de ses banlieues, ou de villes voisines réunies par suite de leur expansion. ● conurbation nom féminin… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • conurbation — con‧ur‧ba‧tion [ˌkɒnɜːˈbeɪʆn ǁ ˌkɑːnɜːr ] noun [countable] a group of towns that have spread and joined together to form an area with a high population, often with a large city as its centre: • the densely populated conurbations of Britain * * * …   Financial and business terms

  • conurbation — 1915, from L. com with, together (see COM (Cf. com )) + urbs city + ation. Coined by Scottish biologist and urban planner Patrick Geddes (1854 1932) in Cities in Evolution …   Etymology dictionary

  • conurbation — ► NOUN ▪ an extended urban area, typically consisting of several towns merging with the suburbs of a central city. ORIGIN from Latin urbs city …   English terms dictionary

  • conurbation — [kän΄ər bā′shən] n. [< CON + L urbs, city + ATION] an extremely large, densely populated urban area, usually a complex of suburbs and smaller towns together with the large city at their center …   English World dictionary

  • Conurbation — Une conurbation est un ensemble urbain constitué de plusieurs noyaux urbains (ou villes) dont les banlieues finissent par se rejoindre. Ce terme a tendance à être remplacé, souvent improprement, par celui de mégalopole. La notion et le terme ont… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Conurbation — Con|ur|ba|tion 〈[ əbɛıʃn] f. 10〉 = Konurbation * * * Conurbation   [kɔnəː beɪʃn, englisch] die, / s,    1) Konurbation, Form der Agglomeration, Ballungsgebiet.    2) städtische Ballung in Großbritannien; …   Universal-Lexikon

  • conurbation — UK [ˌkɒnɜː(r)ˈbeɪʃ(ə)n] / US [ˌkɑnərˈbeɪʃ(ə)n] noun [countable] Word forms conurbation : singular conurbation plural conurbations a large city area that develops when towns that are close to each other get bigger and join together …   English dictionary

  • Conurbation — Con|ur|ba|tion [kɔnə: beiʃən] die; , s u. Konurbation [kɔnurba tsi̯o:n] die; , en <aus engl. conurbation »städtisches Ballungsgebiet« zu lat. con (vgl. ↑kon...) u. urbs »Stadt«> besondere Form städtischer ↑Agglomeration, die sich durch… …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • conurbation — A term coined by Patrick Geddes in 1915 to describe large scale city regions such as Greater London, New York/Boston, or the Ruhr. It is not a statistically based concept, but normally refers to one city or a conglomerate of very large cities… …   Dictionary of sociology

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