• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Urban Hierarchy

  • By: Lisa Theo
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Urban areas exhibit a large range of population sizes—from hamlets to global cities—each having a corresponding economic role within the urban system. Settlements with larger populations that provide more and diverse services are higher up the urban hierarchy. Settlements with smaller populations and a limited number and type of services are further down the urban hierarchy. The size and distribution of urban areas within this system have important implications for economic development.

The urban hierarchy may be illustrated by a pyramid where the smallest settlements (hamlets) are at the bottom of the pyramid and global cities are at the top (Figure 1). Settlements at the bottom of the pyramid have small, rural populations and contain a small number and limited variety of economic services within ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles