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In economically advanced, postindustrial countries such as the United States, the proportion of people living in towns, cities, and metropolitan areas reached 75% or more by the late 20th century in developed countries. In the world as a whole, the proportion of urban population rose from less than 5% in 1800 to slightly more than 50% of a much larger aggregate world population by the early 21st century. Numerically, world urban residents expanded from perhaps 30 million in 1800 to about 3 billion in 2000. Matters of urban spatial structure, which pertain to the geographical patterns and characteristics of urban places, thus concern a very large and expanding share of the world's people. This entry examines the factors that influence urban spatial structure and how ...

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