Urban regionRegion It is the denomination of a territorial fraction delimited according to geographical, economic, administrative or other characteristics. Urban, for its part, is what is linked to a town (the set of streets and buildings administered by a municipality, which has a high population density and whose main economic activity is not agricultural).

In its broadest meaning, a urban region is a zone where they are grouped numerous buildings, unlike what happens in a rural region. Typically, the urban region is surrounded by rural regions: that is, one region ends where the other begins.

The urban region can also be a administrative unit made up of several cities or a city next to its area of ​​influence. In this case, all the territories that are included in the same urban region share productive, historical, natural and cultural characteristics.

These urban regions can develop from the growth of a city. For the possibilities of growth that they offer, these cities tend to attract people from other towns and villages. Thus, the nucleus of the city begins to expand and other surrounding towns emerge, creating a large urban region.

In short, the idea of ​​an urban region can be associated with a agglomeration of urbanizations that transcends administrative borders and can be made up of a main city and several smaller cities that function as satellites.

In any case, the boundary between urban and rural is often confused. It is usually defined as urban zone to that inhabited by more than 2,000 people permanently.

A concept that is often confused with that of urban region is that of Metropolitan area, although it presents a different meaning. It is a set formed by a metropolis (the central city of the group) and others, which fulfill different functions, such as being industrial, service provision, commercial or residential (the so-called dormitory cities are those large communities whose residents usually commute to work in another city).

Urban regionOn the other hand, it is known as polycentric urban region to the one that has more than one center urban importance, and all of them have a close relationship with each other and with external cities. Other names with which this concept is identified are city ​​networks or city ​​clusters. Among its weaknesses is the lack of a mayoralty or a government of its own, of a presidency, for which it depends on a regional policy network, a kind of cooperation framework with a certain degree of institutionality.

Since the early 1990s, many researchers have devoted their efforts to the study of the polycentric urban region and its supposed advantages over the metropolitan area. Groups of sociologists, politicians, economists, geographers and planners, among other professionals, show a deep interest in this conglomerate of cities because they ensure that they can compete perfectly with highly prestigious metropolitan areas (such as Montreal, New York or London, for example).

What are the advantages that a polycentric urban region can offer compared to a metropolitan area? One of the arguments points to the fact that the first offers a system economic scale that does not entail costs related to the agglomeration itself, and that also helps to preserve the territory more effectively, limiting the volume of expansion of each urbanization and its diseconomies (the factors that cause the increase in prices of goods and services as production grows).

In a project sponsored by the European Union The following three features of the urban region stand out: it accumulates a variety of resources that allow the sharing of technical knowledge and services; develops and exploits complementary resources that are compatible and necessary; protects the quality of the territory and preserves the diversity.