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Municipality level variation in urban areas of Finland resulting from different urban area definitions

Authors: Jaana Vanhatalo*, Tampere University
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Urban area, definition, urban population percentage, urbanization, GIS, municipality level, local scale
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban area definitions yielding the urban population percentages are based on a division into urban and rural areas. However, this dichotomy is controversial. In recent decades the obscuring of the urban-rural boundary has become established in urban theory (see e.g. Ascher 2004; Oswald&Baccini 2003; Sieverts 2003). Furthermore, urban area definitions vary nationally. Therefore, it is important to study how different urban area definitions actually embrace the built environment and how reliable they are.

The prior research indicates that according to different European national definitions, the urban Finland is ambiguous. In the study, the area definitions behind urban population percentages of 16 European countries were compared in the case of Finland. According to these definitions, the urban population percentage of Finland varied between 72% and 98.9% (without generalization to LAU-areas: 63.6%-98.9%). (Vanhatalo&Partanen 2020)

In this research I explore how the urban areas and their borders resulting from different definitions vary on the municipality level. Does the size of the municipality affect the variation of the urban areas? In this study, the urban area units formed according to 11 different European definitions are examined on the municipality level in Finland. The municipalities are classified into three classes according to the population. The borders and characteristics of the urban areas are examined both statistically and spatially, e.g. by comparing different key figures such as population and its density, workplaces and building foot prints. The analyses are based on GIS.

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