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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1888, noun of action from urbanize.


alt. 1 the process of the formation and growth of cities 2 the change in a country or region when its population migrates from rural to urban areas 3 the proportion of a region's population that live in towns and cities; the rate at which this proportion is growing n. 1 the process of the formation and growth of cities 2 the change in a country or region when its population migrates from rural to urban areas 3 the proportion of a region's population that live in towns and cities; the rate at which this proportion is growing

  1. n. the condition of being urbanized [syn: urbanisation]

  2. the social process whereby cities grow and societies become more urban [syn: urbanisation]


Urbanization is a population shift from rural to urban areas, "the gradual increase in the proportion of people living in urban areas", and the ways in which each society adapts to the change. It is predominantly the process by which towns and cities are formed and become larger as more people begin living and working in central areas. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008. It is predicted that by 2050 about 64% of the developing world and 86% of the developed world will be urbanized. That is equivalent to approximately 3 billion urbanites by 2050, much of which will occur in Africa and Asia. Notably, the United Nations has also recently projected that nearly all global population growth from 2016 to 2030 will be absorbed by cities, about 1.1 billion new urbanites over the next 14 years.

Urbanization is relevant to a range of disciplines, including geography, sociology, economics, urban planning, and public health. The phenomenon has been closely linked to modernization, industrialization, and the sociological process of rationalization. Urbanization can be seen as a specific condition at a set time (e.g. the proportion of total population or area in cities or towns) or as an increase in that condition over time. So urbanization can be quantified either in terms of, say, the level of urban development relative to the overall population, or as the rate at which the urban proportion of the population is increasing. Urbanization creates enormous social, economic and environmental changes, which provide an opportunity for sustainability with the “potential to use resources more efficiently, to create more sustainable land use and to protect the biodiversity of natural ecosystems.”

Urbanization is not merely a modern phenomenon, but a rapid and historic transformation of human social roots on a global scale, whereby predominantly rural culture is being rapidly replaced by predominantly urban culture. The first major change in settlement patterns was the accumulation of hunter-gatherers into villages many thousand years ago. Village culture is characterized by common bloodlines, intimate relationships, and communal behavior whereas urban culture is characterized by distant bloodlines, unfamiliar relations, and competitive behavior. This unprecedented movement of people is forecast to continue and intensify during the next few decades, mushrooming cities to sizes unthinkable only a century ago.

Today, in Asia the urban agglomerations of Osaka, Karachi, Jakarta, Mumbai, Shanghai, Manila, Seoul and Beijing are each already home to over 20 million people, while Delhi and Tokyo are forecast to approach or exceed 40 million people each within the coming decade. Outside Asia, Mexico City, São Paulo, New York, Lagos, Los Angeles, and Cairo are, or soon will be, home to over 20 million people.

Usage examples of "urbanization".

Urbanization around the world has generally marked a radical shift in environment and values from culturally homogenous small towns and rural areas to heterogenous, ethnically, culturally and even racially mixed cities.

The Gallic way of life was rural, as much pastoral as agricultural, and they spurned urbanization, preferring to cluster in farmsteads and villages.

It is a way to make up for the loss of bat habitats through urbanization.

Iran’s revolutionary iniquities were partly the result of fast-forward urbanization and modernization.

A society experiencing chronic internal conflict because of resource scarcities, rapid urbanization, pollution, and other “.

There was a billboard at the entrance, announcing to all travelers that they were passing the El Jippo Urbanization.

Like all men, we avoided areas of previous urbanization, for nose plugs were inferior in those days, and Muskies were omnipresent and terrifying.

They are all of them pastorals, having in common a closeness to the countryside and the forces of nature in days just before heavy urbanization and mechanization.

Deforestation, pollution, urbanization, had all progressed so far now that various points of no return had been passed.

However, to keep it that way in the face of both increasing urbanization (the number of shantytowns has tripled in twenty years to 370) and foreign cultural influences—evinced by the profusion of television antennas that beam in not just Moslem sermons but Western-style soap operas— requires an increasingly conservative social glue, which, in turn, can provide an ignitable surface for the spread of Islamic radicalism.