PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (1): 14-24.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.01.003

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Research progress and prospect on quantitative identification of urban hinterland area

Jian PENG(), Yunqian CHEN, Zhichao HU, Hai WEI   

  1. Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, Ministry of Education, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Online:2016-01-31 Published:2016-01-31
  • Supported by:
    Non-profit Industry Financial Program, Ministry of Land and Resources of China, No.201311006-1


Cities and their hinterlands are linked and interact with each other. Urban hinterland area provides important guarantee for the development of central city, and therefore accurate identification of urban hinterland area is beneficial for the assessment of urban development strength and potential. Since the emergence of hinterland theory at the end of the 19th century, urban hinterland study has been a hot topic in the fields of regional economics and urban geography. Meanwhile, under the background of market liberalization and increasing regional interdependencies, the spatial identification of urban hinterland area has become one of the key topics of urban geography study in China. This article systematically introduces the evolution process of research on urban hinterland area both in China and internationally in retrospect. The concept of hinterland mainly includes the following four aspects: (1) it represents fluidity radiation area with fluidity as the core concept;(2) it indicates city’s gravitation regions with gravity as the core concept; (3) it is a part of a center-hinterland system with the interactive relationship between central place and hinterlands as the core concept; and (4) one cannot separate a core city and its hinterland in a clear-cut manner. By comparing the concepts of urban hinterland area, this article summarizes the following: (1) urban hinterland research is changing from examining urban hinterland comprehensively to targeting more specific objects such as industrial, financial, and information hinterlands, which covers various aspects of urban hinterland; (2) object of identification has changed from the traditional city to urban agglomeration in response to the contemporary demand of urbanization; and (3) traditional quantitative identification method such as field spread model is revised according to various factors with the application of GIS technology, which enables visualization of the results. Finally, this article summarizes the research progress on quantitative identification of urban hinterland area, and points out the deficiencies existing in the current research and projects the research trends: (1) the object of quantitative identification will change from real cities to network cities. At the same time, hinterland will change from real hinterland to virtual hinterland; (2) the content of identification will focus more on ecological and cultural hinterlands since geographic research has increasingly taking on ecological and sociological perspectives; and (3) with regard to identification methods, non-parametric models will be widely used in future research.

Key words: urban hinterland area, quantitative identification, economic-ecological-cultural hinterland, research progress and prospect