The first urban areas emerged 8,000 years ago in southwest Asia. For the first time in history, humans banded together in permanent settlements and reaped the benefits of specialised labour. Most people, however, continued to live in rural areas.

A few centuries ago, advances in agriculture led to dramatic increases in food production. People moved to cities from the countryside because fewer farmers were needed and cities offered employment. Today, as cities swell with people and sprawl outward, serious questions are arising about the environmental effects urban areas have both inside and outside city limits.

In a narrow sense, urbanisation is the increase in the proportion of the urban population in a country or region, or globally. In a broader sense, urbanisation is the historic process of the expansion of the role of cities in the life of the community, and the gradual formation of urban environments as more people move to central areas for work, lifestyle and cultural reasons, as a result of the development of civilisation and progress in the fields of science and technology. The main characteristics of urbanisation are therefore the growth of cities, the increase in their influence on the population, and the resulting social, economic and environmental changes.

A modern city is not merely a spatial environment: urban living conditions have a major impact on the population and tend to exacerbate social problems. Cities have always been an indicator of the level of social development that has been achieved. Industrial progress determines the level of urbanisation in a country, and within its individual regions.

Seeing a city
Landscape importance
In Ukraine

© The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe