What’s the difference between Metropolitan area and Urban Area ?


What’s the difference between Metropolitan area and Urban Area ?

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Think of it as urban as the city party only and Metropolitan is the city and the surrounding areas (suburban areas usually densely populated)

Generally if you live in the urban area, your address will be the major city. But if you live in the metro area, your address will be that of a smaller city close by.

So a Seattle, WA address would be considered urban, while a Bellevue, WA address would be considered the Seattle metro.

As to what constitutes a “metro area”, I believe the census bureau has some definition of something like residents living within a 50 miles radius or something like that.

In regular speech it’s pretty easy, usually, know what a city is – New York is one. Paris is another. So is Tokyo etc.

But where the boundary of the city ends and who counts as living there is not at all easy.

Political boundaries are largely useless because different cities and countries draw their boundaries in different places. You’ll often hear of Chinese cities with *huge* populations (usually as a form of trivia – e.g. “China has X cities over 10m population”) but the boundaries often include all sorts of towns and villages that other countries and cities (e.g. in Europe and the US) wouldn’t count when defining their boundaries.

At the other end of the scale, *technically* the City of London is just a tiny part of the centre of London where only a few thousand people live – the rest being in other “boroughs” of the “county”.

So geographers will create their own definitions to allow more sensible comparisons between countries. It’s still much of an art as it is a science as to what you include or don’t include, but it’s better than political boundaries.

And in the geographers’ definitions there is still no one agreement on how to draw the boundaries. However, an urban area is smaller than a metropolitan area. The urban area you can think of as the continuously built-up area surrounding a centre (or plural centres) and the metropolitan area as additionally including towns which are separated from the urban area by rural areas (countryside) but whose inhabitants will commute and travel regularly into the urban centre(s).

Urban = area with very high population density.

Metropolitan = within commuting distance of the urban area, including suburbs.