PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (3): 280-289.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2015.03.003

• Urban Agglomeration • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Delineating the scope of urban agglomerations based upon the Pole-Axis theory

Xiaolu GAO1, Zening XU1,2(), Fangqu NIU1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2015-02-01 Revised:2015-03-01 Online:2015-03-25 Published:2015-03-25


Delineating the scope of urban agglomerations is a basic condition for understanding the evolution of cities and regions and for developing strategies and planning of urban agglomerations. At present, the scope of urban agglomerations in China are mainly decided based upon analyses of center cities and their connections with other cities by viewing them as separate points, but there is few consensus on how to define the spatial boundary of urban agglomerations other than using the jurisdiction border of the cities. In practice, there is a tendency to take urban agglomeration as a policy tool for raising the importance of certain areas and promoting regional development. As a result, the number and scope of urban agglomerations have been exaggerated. In order to solve these problems, in this article a methodology for delineating the scope of urban agglomerations is discussed from an economic geographic perspective based on the 'Pole-Axis Theory'. A four-step process was proposed: (1) to make judgment of the existence of central cities; (2) to examine the cities' rank system and the resources and environment base of the region to see if an urban agglomeration can be sustained; (3) to analyze the social and economic connections between central cities and other cities in the region; (4) to evaluate the development level of urban agglomerations with the scale of 'Pole-Axis Theory'. A case study is conducted in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, and a comparison is made about the formation and development of the five main urban agglomerations in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta, Perl River Delta, Middle Yangtze River, and Chengdu-Chongqing regions.

Key words: city boundary, Pole-Axis theory, Densi-Graph, centricity, regional development