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Beyond megacities

January 2011

Introducing metacities, mega-regions, smart cities, instant cities, technoscapes and other new types of settlement growth

Beyond megacities

The world is experiencing urban growth on an unprecedented scale. For the first time in human history, people living in towns and cities outnumber those in rural areas.

An entire new vocabulary – comprising words like megacity, metacity and megaregion – is needed to describe the enormous transformations underway, especially in the emerging economies of India and China. Africa is also predicted to experience an enormous fresh wave of urbanisation in coming decades.

This article examines the new characteristics of 21st Century urban growth and analyses the accompanying environmental and social challenges.


This resource may make useful reading for GCSE and A-level candidates who are studying urban settlements and /or economic development. The three strands address the characteristics and consequences of urban growth.

Parts of this resource could also be adapted to support the teaching of KS3 geography (What are the processes of change affecting cities? Can city growth be made sustainable?)

In the Members' Area:

  • Megacities and more
  • Making city growth sustainable
  • The global growth of ‘two-speed’ cities
  • Exam practice zone
  • References

Sign in to read the full article. If you are not already a member you can join us as a School Member or Young Geographer and access our vast library of educational articles.


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