Skip to main content

Integrated forms of urban settlement pattern in Russia, Europe, and worldwide


This paper explores a set of concepts denoting a hierarchy of integrated systems of urban settlement patterns ranging from the most common urban agglomeration to the still quite uncommon global city area, including concepts such as conurbation, metropolis, megapolis, megapolis, world city, and global city. The interpretations of these terms in different countries are discussed. Some terms are widely used, while others are used only in some countries, for example, the settlement system or the urban framework in Russia. Some terms are only used by researchers, while others have been turned into categories which are also applied by national statistical and regional planning agencies. Specifically, urban agglomerations are not yet officially identified in Russia, although there is discussion about the possibility of merging some closely located cities into uniform administrative entities, which are called agglomerations. In contrast, in France, a sophisticated and extensive system of terms defining urban agglomerations of different levels has been put in place. This paper is part of a thematic set of five articles published in the “Urban Geography” category of the current journal issue. These papers review key terms and concepts used in geographic urban studies in Russia, France, and other European countries (in addition to the current paper, see also the following articles: “Cities, Rural Areas and Urbanization: Russia and the World”, “City and Countryside under World-Wide Urbanization”, “Types of Cities in Russia and Across the Globe”, “Cities and Social Processes: Rethinking Notions and Concepts”.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Alaev, E.B., Sotsial’no-ekonomichaskaya geografiya: Ponyatiyno-terminologicheskii slovar’ (Social-Economic Geography: Terminological Dictionary), Moscow: Mysl’, 1983.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Vladimirov, V.V. and Naimark, N.I., Problemy razvitiya teorii rasseleniya v Rossii (Problems of Development of the Theory of Settlement Pattern in Russia), Moscow: Editorial URSS, 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Glezer, O.B. and Vainberg, E.I., A life space of the population and settlement pattern as the factors and conditions of modernization of Russia, Reg.: Ekon. Sotsiol., 2013, no. 3, pp. 21–38.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Gorod v kontekste global’nykh protsessov (A City in the Context of Global Process), Abylgaziev, I.I., Il’in, I.V., and Sluka, N.A., Eds., Moscow: Mosk. Gos. Univ., 2011.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Kovalev, S.A., Geografiya naseleniya (Geography of Population), Moscow: Mosk. Gos. Univ., 1975.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Colle, J.-L., Changes occurring within the administrative borders and management of urban agglomerations, in Krupnye goroda i vyzovy globalizatsii (Large Cities and Challenges of Globalization), Kolosov, V.A. and Ekkert, D., Eds., Moscow: Oikumena, 2003, pp. 253–260.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Kostinskii, G.D., Megalopolis as the phenomenon of economic polarization: assessment of a concept, in Polyusa i tsentry rosta v regional’nom razvitii (The Role of Poles and Centers of Growth in Regional Development), Moscow, 1998, pp. 68–73.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Kostinskii, G.D., General features and tendencies of formation of megalopolises in different capitalist countries, Izv. Akad. Nauk SSSR, Ser.: Geogr., 1977, no. 7, pp. 39–46.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Lappo, G.M., Razvitie gorodskikh aglomeratsii v SSSR (Development of Urban Agglomerations in USSR), Moscow: Nauka, 1978.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Lappo, G.M., Geografiya gorodov (Urban Geography), Moscow: VLADOS, 1997.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Lappo, G.M., Polyan, P.M., and Selivanova, T.I., Urban agglomerations in Russia, in Regional’noe razvitie i regional’naya politika Rossii v perekhodny period (Regional Development and Policy of Russia during Transitional Period), Artobolevskii, S.S. and Glezer, O.B., Eds., Mosk. Gos. Tekh. Univ., 2011, pp. 264–280.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Pertsik, E.N., Geourbanistika (Geographical Urban Science), Moscow, 2009.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Polyan, P.M., Opornyi karkas rasseleniya. Ego uzlovye i lineinye elementy (Basic Framework of Settlement Pattern: Its Key and Linear Elements), Moscow, 1983.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Popov, I.I and Sluka, N.A., Largest megalopolises in developing countries of the world, Geogr. Shkole, 2005, no. 2, pp. 10–19.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Khorev, B.S., Problemy gorodov: Urbanizatsiya i edinaya sistema rasseleniya v SSSR (Problems of the Cities: Urbanization and Integrated System of Settling in USSR), Moscow: Mysl’, 1975.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Guy Di Méo, in Encyclopédie de Géographie, Bailly, A., Ferras, R., and Pumain, D., Eds., Paris: Economica, 1995.

  17. Doxiadis, C., Ekistics: An Introduction to the Science of Human Settlements, London, 1968.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Gontarski, Z., Obszary metropolinalne w Polsce, Biul. KPZK, 1980, no. 109.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Gottman, J., Megalopolis. The Urbanized Northeast Seaboard of the United States, Cambridge, 1962.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Marszał, T. and Markowski, T., Metropolie, obszary metropolitalne, metropolizacja, in Problemy i Poj cia Podstawowe, Komitet Przestrzennego Zagospodarowania Kraju, 2006.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Papaioannou, J., The city of the future project, Ekistics, 1980, vol. 47, no. 282.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Pumain, D., Paquot, T., and Kleinschmager, R., Dictionnaire. La Ville et l’urbain, Paris: Anthropos, 2006.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Slownik Jezyka Polskiego, 2012.

  24. Wielka Encyklopedia, Warszawa: Powszechna PWN, 1966, vol. 7.

  25. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2000–2011: Revision, New York, 2000–2011.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to O. B. Glezer.

Additional information

Original Russian Text © O.B. Glezer, V.A. Kolosov, I. Brade, L. Coudroy de Lille, N.A. Sluka, 2014.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Glezer, O.B., Kolosov, V.A., Brade, I. et al. Integrated forms of urban settlement pattern in Russia, Europe, and worldwide. Reg. Res. Russ. 4, 80–89 (2014).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: