In this article, You will read Conurbations and Metropolitan Regions & Megalopolis – for UPSC (Settlement Geography – Geography Optional).

Conurbations and Metropolitan Regions

The urbanization process is given in the flow diagram below –

Urbanization process upsc

Metropolitan regions

  • The term ‘metropolitan city’ was first termed by Murphy (‘metro city’) and Mumford (‘metropolitan city’). According to Mumford, a metropolis is one of the stages in the evolution of urban settlement.
  • As per Census Commission of India, a metropolitan city is one having a population of over 4 million (metropolitan city is the Umland of a metropolitan city). A wider definition would however, include all the cities that are having a population of more than 1 million.
  • The areas of influence of metropolitan cities have been demarcated on the basis of
    • Air travel
    • Railway passenger and commodity flows
    • Lang distance telephone calls
Metropolitan regions
  • Current trends:
    • Secondary metropolitan regions are developing within the primary metro regions except Kolkata region, basically due to linguistic states. The process will accelerate in future which will lead to the emergence of new secondary metro centres, especially the state capitals.
    • But the primary metro regions will continue to have pre-eminent position. Delhi’s importance will increase disproportionately since it is the national capital.
    • Looking at the meso level, Srinagar in the valley of Kashmir, Shillong in Meghalaya, Aizawl in Mizoram, Agartala in Tripura, Imphal in Manipur and Gangtok in Sikkim are all primate cities in their own way.


  • Conurbations are coined by Patrick Geddes in 1915 in his book ‘Cities in evolution’. The concept was proposed by empirical studies for the New England region of USA. Conurbation refers to the continuous urban growth along the major transportation line connecting the urban centre. It has mostly linear growth pattern and is contiguous to the metropolitan or metropolis city.
  • Conurbation (i.e. continuous urbanisation) is a region comprising a number of cities, large towns, and other urban areas that through population growth and physical extension, have merged to form one continuous urban and industrial developed area.
  • A Conurbation can capture several townships, suburbs, satellite towns, and may connect two or more mega cities. This presents a picture of tremendous urban growth along the arterial lines of the urban autonomy. They are part of urban ecology, as functionally integrated with the megalopolis or the larger urban centres. They are characterised by fused growth pattern and fillups.
  • They represents the horizontal urban sprawl, massive building structures, hypermarkets, residential colonies and intervening slums adjacent to the industrial sectors.
  • Conurbations are the part of metropolisation which is a process related to the unprecedented physical growth of city in the fringe areas. The wider meaning is not only the physical expansion but also the fusion of various cultures and emergence of new culture and lifestyle, predominantly cosmopolitan in nature and signifying centrifugal forces.
  • The emergence of metropolitan cities have been phenomenal after 2nd World war especially in developing countries like India, which has 35 metropolitan cities, showing high primacy, disproportionately larger than other urban centres. Thus, metropolisation has agglomeration effect and primacy shows polarization and centralisation of economic activities.

Some examples

  • The most populous Conurbation in the world is the Greater Tokyo Area– comprising of the main cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Saitama, and Chiba. This area has largest metropolitan economy in the world.
Greater Tokyo Area
  • The first and the largest (in terms of are) Conurbation of the world may be observed in the eastern sea-board of USA. In this region, there is coalescence of the million cities of Boston, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, New port, Columbia, and Columbus.
eastern sea-board of USA
  • In India, there is huge Conurbation in the process of development from Agra -> Delhi -> Kalka. On branch of this Conurbation moves towards Saharanpur from Delhi.
Agra Delhi Kalka

There are three types of Conurbation in India

  • Uni-nuclear Conurbation– Conurbation is the resultant of a single city
  • Bi-nuclear Conurbation– Conurbation is formed when two expanding cities merge with each other like Kanpur and Lucknow.
  • Poly-nuclear Conurbation– It is the coalescence of more than two cities like Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan.
nuclear conurbation
  • Delhi Metro Region was a uni-nuclear conurbation but presently it is becoming a polynuclear conurbation. The conurbation of Patna is uni-nuclear.
Conurbation of Patna
  • Although there are more than 60 conurbations in India, but the concept of conurbation has presently become obsolete in the literature of urban geography, regional science, and regional planning. In fact, this concept failed to get an appreciation of American geographers. After World War II, the concept of the metropolitan region has got more recognition. It is principally due to the tendency of urban concentration, while the tendency of sprawl has caused the rise of the concept of the Metropolitan region. It is more effective for development and planning proposes. But the concept of conurbation continues to be important for urban sociologists and those who are in the study of urban behaviour, urban intra migration, and neighborhood interactions.


  • The term ‘megalopolis’ was coined by Gottmann. It reflects the later stage of metropolisation and it is generally studied under urban ecology, which includes the physical morphology and the socio-economic morphology with spatial interactions and the processes resulting in the unprecedented profuse growth of the city.
  • Megalopolis =(Metropolisation + Cosmopolisation), and it represents the following characteristics
    • High industrial growth
    • Centrifugal force
    • High growth of service sector
    • Isolationism of the society
    • Nuclearisation of family
    • Luxurious lifestyle
    • High consumption (represents Rostov Stage V)
    • High per-capita income
    • Agglomerative growth pattern
    • Development of derived economic sectors.
  • Some examples
    • London, Paris, Rome, Moscow
    • Chicago
    • Shanghai, Tokyo
    • Sydney, Toronto
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Pratik Sahana



Indian examples are well thought out…. Thanks a lot 🙂