Urban agglomeration: An evolving concept of an emerging phenomenon

Chuanglin Fang, Danlin Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

602 Scopus citations


Urban agglomeration is a highly developed spatial form of integrated cities. It occurs when the relationships among cities shift from mainly competition to both competition and cooperation. Cities are highly integrated within an urban agglomeration, which renders the agglomeration one of the most important carriers for global economic development. Studies on urban agglomerations have increased in recent decades. In the research community, a consensus with regard to what an urban agglomeration is, how an urban agglomeration is delineated in geographic space, what efficient models for urban agglomeration management are, etc. is not reached. The current review examines 32,231 urban agglomeration-related works from the past 120 years in an attempt to provide a theoretically supported and practically based definition of urban agglomeration. In addition, through this extensive literature review and fieldwork in China, the current research identifies the four stages of an urban agglomeration's spatial expansion and further proposes operable approaches and standards to define urban agglomerations. The study aims to provide a scientifically sound basis for the healthy and sustainable development of urban agglomerations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-136
Number of pages11
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Definition standards
  • Progress
  • Scientific definition
  • Urban agglomeration


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