Urban Environment: Characteristics, Activities, Advantages, Disadvantages

An urban environment, urban area or urban spaceIt is a geographical region in which there are settled human groups with a large population density. Its main characteristic is that it is made up of many infrastructures. For example, it could be said that an urban environment is the space that makes up a city and its surroundings.

Urban areas are often more developed than rural areas in a country. At present, despite the fact that the spatial percentage of urban areas on the planet is much lower than that of rural areas, most of the world’s population tends to accumulate in cities.

According to data from the European Environment Agency, approximately 80% of the planet’s inhabitants will live in urban areas by the year 2025. Throughout history, the greatest migration activity that humans have carried out within their countries has been the mobilization of the countryside to the city.

Characteristics of an urban environment

– Urban areas can include spaces such as towns, cities, and suburbs.

– They are composed in their nucleus by a city but include all the areas that surround it.

– They are usually classified as “metropolitan” areas, referring to the term “metropolis” for large cities with a high population density.

– The urbanization process is the factor whose development originates the cities.

– Urban areas also require the construction of structures for humans. Among these are houses, infrastructure for commerce, communication routes such as streets, highways and bridges, and transport systems such as subways, trams or trains.

– Urban areas are the opposite of rural areas.

– At present, the phenomenon of urbanization can be planned. There are cities that are designed before they are built. Within the design, the commercial, residential and work areas are established, thus allowing an organized structure.

– They usually have local governments.

Types of urban areas

Since urban areas include both the city and the regions that surround it, there are various types of urban developments that can be classified into: towns, suburbs and cities.


They are characterized by being areas smaller than cities. Its population is also smaller. The number of characteristic inhabitants of a town can vary depending on the country and the total population number of this.

For example, in the United States geographers determine that an area with a population between 2,500 and 20,000 inhabitants can be considered a town. In contrast, in places like Japan, only regions with more than 30,000 inhabitants are considered urban.

The towns can arise around a specific economic activity, often related to the proximity to sources of industrial work. For example, the mining towns that are formed around the places where mining activities take place.


Another type of urban settlement smaller than the cities, however, much closer. They are usually close in distance and are usually residential areas for those who work within the city.

Its composition in terms of structure is based on houses, shops or nearby businesses and services. A migration phenomenon is also generated around the suburbs, since some people prefer to move their residence from the city to the outskirts for certain benefits such as more spacious houses, greater access to green areas or less noise pollution.

The invention of transportation systems such as the subway or trams are one of the factors that have strengthened the links for moving from the suburbs to the city.


It is the largest human settlement within urban areas. Its population density is usually constant and within it economic activities other than agriculture are developed.

Its distribution and infrastructure include the various types of systems that allow interaction between people, businesses, work activities, organizations and government entities.

Transportation, communication routes, health systems, residential structures and services are determining factors in the functioning of a city.

The large population that inhabits the city is a phenomenon that has developed throughout history, however, it was in the mid-20th century when it intensified massively due to the Industrial Revolution . During this time, the city became synonymous with better employment, well-being, access to services and opportunities.

Advantages and disadvantages of living in urban areas

The difference between urban and rural areas can mean certain advantages and disadvantages of one with respect to the other:


– Better communication routes and higher quality of infrastructures.

– Access to transport services and a greater number of alternatives to move from one place to another.

– Greater proximity to recreational activities or places of entertainment such as theaters, cinemas, clubs, restaurants and more.

– Easy access to health care services.

– Urban areas have greater cultural variety.

– More job opportunities.

– Better conditions for the satisfaction of basic needs such as sanitation, health, drinking water, telecommunications services and more.

– Greater possibility of accessing education


– Exposure to higher levels of pollution such as pollution or noise.

– Facing higher levels of stress or pressure due to overpopulation.

– Urban spaces can be more expensive. The prices of properties and services are usually high.

– Houses and domestic spaces in general tend to be smaller.

– Less amount of green areas, especially in city areas.

– The same factor of overcrowding can generate many traffic problems.

Urban activities

The main activities that take place at the urban level have to do with education, housing, government, commerce and sources of employment. 

Non-economic activities

Within this classification can be found those activities that are not related to the economy. They are related to recreational or leisure activities. For example:

– Religious services, such as Masses.

– Recreational activities such as exercising or enjoying green areas such as parks.

Economic activities

They are those that involve the production of a good or service from its raw material to its distribution. In urban areas, economic activities are usually carried out in the secondary sector, such as industrial processes and manufacturing; from the tertiary sector such as services; and the quaternary sector that have to do with activities related to information, the media or research.

Political and governmental activities

Many of the important seats of government are located within cities. It is mainly in these places where political life takes place.

Educational activities

Urban areas generally have a greater number of educational centers compared to rural areas. This is how education is one of the most frequent activities in an urbanized area, with a greater number of schools, universities and research centers.


  1. What is economic activity? Definitions and examples. Marketing Business News. Recovered from marketbusinessnews.com
  2. Vicent S. Rural Exodus. Economipedia. Recovered from economipedia.com
  3. Advantages and disadvantages of Urban Living. Heart. Recovered from haart.co.uk
  4. Urban Area. National Goegraphic. Recovered from natinalgeographic.org
  5. McGlade J (2010). The urban environment. European Environment Agency. Recovered from eea.europa.eu
  6. Urban area. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Recovered from en.wikipedia.org

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *