In the study of human settlements, an agglomeration is an extended city or town area comprising the built-up area of a central place (usually a municipality) and any suburbs linked by continuous urban area. In France, INSEE the French Statistical Institute, translate it as "Unité urbaine" which means continuous urbanized area. However, because of differences in definitions of what does and does not constitute an "agglomeration", as well as variations and limitations in statistical or geographical methodology, it can be problematic to compare different agglomerations around the world. It may not be clear, for instance, whether an area should be considered to be a satellite and part of an agglomeration, or a distinct entity in itself.

The term "agglomeration" can also be linked to "Conurbation," which is a more specific term for large urban clusters where the built-up zones of influence of distinct cities or towns are connected by continuous built-up development (Essen - Dortmund and others in the Rhine-Ruhr district), even in different regions, states or countries, Lille - Kortrijk in France and Belgium''). Each city or town in a conurbation may nevertheless continue to act as an independent focus for a substantial part of the area.

Metropolitan Area : Extended definition

It's an extended agglomeration or conurbation that also includes peripheral areas not themselves necessarily urban in character but closely bound to the urban area by flows linked to employment or commerce (see "Aire Urbaine" in France or "agglomération" in Switzerland which take into account at least 40% of flows from outlying areas to ventral built up area, or agglomeration). The population may easily travel within an agglomeration by car or mass transit system. Example: if one lives a thirty minute local rail trip away from downtown New York City, and officially lives in a separately-named smaller county or state outside the city limits, that district or town would be considered a part of the New York agglomeration.

'40% of flows from outlying areas to "ventral" ' near the end of the first paragraph.

Did the author intend the word ventral - 'relating to the side', or the more obvious 'central' ?

Metropolitan Area : Administrative definition

The agglomeration can also consist of legal administrative divisions where data is easily available because coming from one administrative level (Metro Area, City, Town, County, ...) The Greater Tokyo Area provides an example of the difficulties involved because estimates of its population vary according to how it is defined. While the prefectures of Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama are commonly used to define Greater Tokyo, the Japan Statistics Bureau simply measures the area within 50 kilometers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices in Shinjuku

Specific legal definitions


An agglomeration, or urban agglomeration, is an administrative subdivision of Quebec at the local level that may group together a number of municipalities which were abolished as independent entities on 1 January 2002 but reconstituted on 1 January 2006.

The eleven agglomerations of Quebec, under this legal definition, range in population from 2,000 to 2 million. In fact, only the agglomerations of Montreal, Quebec, and Longueuil exceed 12,000 inhabitants.

Agglomerations are administered by agglomeration councils, and comprise a central municipality as well as a number of related municipalities, and their powers are defined by the Act respecting the exercise of certain municipal powers in certain urban agglomerations. Agglomerations have certain powers which, elsewhere in Quebec, are exercised by individual municipalities. (These powers are not the same as those of the metropolitan communities of Montreal and Quebec, which cover geographically larger areas than the corresponding agglomerations.) In some cases, agglomerations also have powers ordinarily exercised by regional county municipalities.

Largest Urban Agglomerations

The term "agglomeration" is more appropriate for determining the populations of large super-cities like Tokyo, Mexico City, and Seoul. These examples are super-cities which have expanded enough to consume other neighborhoods. Although administration may be separate for outlying districts, the population might say they are from the central city.

There are various lists of agglomeration populations. Two are presented here.

According to one list (11.22.06), the largest agglomerations in the world are as follows :

Rank City name English name Country Population
1 東京 (Tōkyō) Tokyo Japan 33,400,000
2 서울 (Sŏul) Seoul South Korea 23,100,000
3 Ciudad de México Mexico City Mexico 22,000,000
4 New York USA 21,800,000
5 मुंबई (Mumbaī) Bombay India 21,100,000
6 नई िदल्ली New Delhi India 20,800,000
7 São Paulo São Paulo Brazil 20,300,000
8 上海 (Shànghǎi) Shanghai China 18,600,000
9 Los Angeles USA 17,900,000
10 Djakarta Jakarta Indonesia 16,900,000
11 大阪市 (Ōsaka-shi) Osaka Japan 16,600,000
12 القاهرة (Al-Qāhirah) Cairo Egypt 15,800,000
(The above information was gathered from: )

Another list indicates substantially smaller populations for some urban agglomerations in 2007. This list uses a “build up” method of population estimation of administrative jurisdictions within the confines of the continuously built up area (except where a census authority estimate is available). The principal difference between the population figures in the two lists is that the first list substitutes metropolitan area populations in urban agglomerations such as New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mumbai and Delhi, which explains the higher figures.

Currently (2007), the agglomerations of more than 10,000,000 area are as follows :

Rank Agglomeration name Country Population
1 Tokyo Japan 34,450,000
2 New York USA 20,420,000
3 Seoul South Korea 20,090,000
4 Mumbai India 19,380,000
5 Jakarta (Jabotabek) Indonesia 19,300,000
6 Delhi India 18,560,000
7 Mexico City Mexico 18,410,000
8 São Paulo Brazil 18,130,000
9 Manila Philippines 17,320,000
10 Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto Japan 17,280,000
11 Cairo Egypt 16,000,000
12 Los Angeles USA 15,350,000
13 Kolkata India 14,580,000
14 Shanghai China 14,530,000
15 London United Kingdom 14,560,480
16 Moscow Russia 14,100,000
17 Buenos Aires Argentina 13,460,000
18 Beijing China 12,160,000
19 Shenzhen China 11,820,000
20 Rio de Janeiro Brazil 11,080,000
21 Istanbul Turkey 11,000,000
22 Paris France 10,570,000
(The above information is modeled for 2007 from population growth rates and is from and The Manila figure is considerably higher than most lists, which limit their data to the administrative boundaries of Metro Manila. However, the continuous urbanization extends into Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan provinces and is reflected in the higher figure in this list.)

Businesses can also "agglomerate" when they need to be in close contact (for example, Financial Services).

See also

External links

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