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In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographic area that is located outside
town A town is a human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a minuscule number of dwellings group ...
s and
cities A city is a human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a minuscule number of dwellings grouped ...
. Typical rural areas have a low
population density Population density (in agriculture: Stock (disambiguation), standing stock or plant density) is a measurement of population per unit land area. It is mostly applied to humans, but sometimes to other living organisms too. It is a key geographical ...
and small settlements.
Agricultural Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
areas and areas with
forestry Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing forests, woodlands, and associated resources for human and environmental benefits. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural Stand level ...
typically are described as rural. Different countries have varying definitions of ''rural'' for statistical and administrative purposes. In rural areas, because of their unique economic and social dynamics, and relationship to land-based industry such as
agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
,
forestry Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing forests, woodlands, and associated resources for human and environmental benefits. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural Stand level ...
and
resource extraction Extractivism is the process of extracting natural resources from the Earth to sell on the world market. It exists in an economy that depends primarily on the extraction or removal of natural resources that are considered valuable for exportation w ...
, the
economics Economics () is the social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and intera ...
are very different from cities and can be subject to
boom and bust Business cycles are intervals of Economic expansion, expansion followed by recession in economic activity. These changes have implications for the welfare of the broad population as well as for private institutions. Typically business cycles are ...
cycles and vulnerability to
extreme weather Extreme weather or extreme climate events includes unexpected, unusual, severe weather, severe, or unseasonal weather; weather at the extremes of the historical distribution—the range that has been seen in the past. Often, extreme events are b ...
or natural disasters, such as
droughts A drought is defined as drier than normal conditions.Douville, H., K. Raghavan, J. Renwick, R.P. Allan, P.A. Arias, M. Barlow, R. Cerezo-Mota, A. Cherchi, T.Y. Gan, J. Gergis, D.  Jiang, A.  Khan, W.  Pokam Mba, D.  Rosenfeld, J. Tierney, an ...
. These dynamics alongside larger economic forces encouraging to
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from Rural area, rural to urban areas, the corresponding decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which societies adapt to this change. It is predo ...
have led to significant demographic declines, called
rural flight Rural flight (or rural exodus) is the Human migration, migratory pattern of peoples from rural sociology, rural areas into urban areas. It is urbanization seen from the rural perspective. In Industrialisation, industrializing economies like Indu ...
, where economic incentives encourage younger populations to go to cities for education and access to jobs, leaving older, less educated and less wealthy populations in the rural areas. Slower economic development results in poorer services like healthcare and education and rural infrastructure. This cycle of poverty in some rural areas, means that three quarters of the global population in poverty live in rural areas according to the Food and Agricultural Organization. Some communities have successfully encouraged economic development in rural areas, with some policies such as giving increased access to
electricity Electricity is the set of physics, physical Phenomenon, phenomena associated with the presence and motion of matter that has a property of electric charge. Electricity is related to magnetism, both being part of the phenomenon of electromagne ...
or
internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a '' network of networks'' that consists of private, p ...
, proving very successful on encouraging economic activities in rural areas. Historically development policies have focused on larger extractive industries, such as mining and forestry. However, recent approaches more focused on
sustainable development Sustainable development is an organizing principle for meeting Human development (economics), human development goals while also sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services on which the econom ...
are more aware of economic diversification in these communities.


Regional definitions


North America


Canada

In Canada, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development defines a "predominantly rural region" as having more than 50% of the population living in rural communities where a "
rural community In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographic area that is located outside town A town is a human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in whi ...
" has a population density less than 150 people per square kilometer. In Canada, the census division has been used to represent "regions" and census consolidated sub-divisions have been used to represent "communities". Intermediate regions have 15 to 49 percent of their population living in a rural community. Predominantly
urban region An urban area, built-up area or urban agglomeration is a human settlement with a high population density and infrastructure of built environment. Urban areas are created through urbanization and are categorized by urban morphology as city, cit ...
s have less than 15 percent of their population living in a rural community. Predominantly rural regions are classified as rural metro-adjacent, rural non-metro-adjacent and rural northern, following Philip Ehrensaft and Jennifer Beeman (1992). Rural metro-adjacent regions are predominantly rural
census division Census divisions, in Canada and the United States of America, United States, are areas delineated for the purposes of statistical analysis and presentation; they have no government in and of themselves. The census divisions of Canada are second-lev ...
s which are adjacent to metropolitan centers while rural non-metro-adjacent regions are those predominantly rural census divisions which are not adjacent to metropolitan centers. Rural northern regions are predominantly rural census divisions that are found either entirely or mostly above the following lines of latitude in each province:
Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador (; french: Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador; frequently abbreviated as NL) is the easternmost provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic Canada, Atlantic region. The province comprises t ...
, 50th;
Manitoba Manitoba ( ) is a Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada at the Centre of Canada, longitudinal centre of the country. It is Canada's Population of Canada by province and territory, fifth-most populous province, with a population o ...
, 53rd;
Alberta Alberta ( ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada, provinces and territories of Canada. It is part of Western Canada and is one of the three Canadian Prairies, prairie provinces. Alberta is bordered by British Columbia to t ...
,
British Columbia British Columbia (commonly abbreviated as BC) is the westernmost Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. It has a diverse geography, with rugged landscapes that include ...
,
Ontario Ontario ( ; ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada.Ontario is located in the geographic Eastern Canada, eastern half of Canada, but it has historically and politically been considered to be part of Central Canada. Located ...
,
Quebec Quebec ( ; )According to the Government of Canada, Canadian government, ''Québec'' (with the acute accent) is the official name in Canadian French and ''Quebec'' (without the accent) is the province's official name in Canadian English is ...
, and
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan ( ; ) is a Provinces and territories of Canada, province in Western Canada, western Canada, bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, to the northeast by Nunavut, and on t ...
, 54th. As well, rural northern regions encompass all of the
Yukon Yukon (; ; formerly called Yukon Territory and also referred to as the Yukon) is the smallest and westernmost of Provinces and territories of Canada#Territories, Canada's three territories. It also is the second-least populated province or terr ...
,
Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories (abbreviated ''NT'' or ''NWT''; french: Territoires du Nord-Ouest, formerly ''North-Western Territory'' and ''North-West Territories'' and namely shortened as ''Northwest Territory'') is a federal provinces and territo ...
and
Nunavut Nunavut ( , ; iu, ᓄᓇᕗᑦ , ; ) is the largest and northernmost Provinces and territories of Canada#Territories, territory of Canada. It was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the ''Nunavut Act'' ...
. Statistics Canada defines rural areas by their population counts. This definition has changed over time (see Appendix A in du Plessis et al., 2002). Typically, it has referred to the population living outside settlements of 1,000 or fewer inhabitants. The current definition states that census rural is the population outside settlements with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants and a population density below 400 people per square kilometer (Statistics Canada, 2007).


United States


South America


Brazil

In Brazil, there are different notions of "rural area" and "countryside". Rural areas are any place outside a municipality's urban development (buildings, streets) and it is carried by informal usage. Otherwise, countryside (''interior'' in Portuguese) are officially defined as all municipalities outside the state/territory capital's metropolitan region. Some states as
Mato Grosso do Sul Mato Grosso do Sul () is one of the Midwestern states of Brazil. Neighboring Brazilian states are (from north clockwise) Mato Grosso, Goiás, Minas Gerais, São Paulo (state), São Paulo and Paraná (state), Paraná. It also borders the countries ...
do not have any metropolitan regions, thus all of the state, except its capital is officially countryside.
Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro ( , , ; literally 'River of January'), or simply Rio, is the capital of the state of the same name, Brazil's third-most populous state, and the second-most populous city in Brazil, after São Paulo. Listed by the GaWC as a b ...
is singular in Brazil and it is de facto a metropolitan state, as circa 70% of its population are located in Greater Rio. In the
Federal District A federal district is a type of administrative division of a federation, usually under the direct control of a federal government and organized sometimes with a single municipal body. Federal districts often include Capital districts and territo ...
it is not applicable and there is no countryside as all of it is treated as the federal capital. Brasília is nominally the capital, but the capitality is shared through all Federal District, because Brazil de facto defines its capital as a municipality, and in municipal matters, the Federal District is treated and governs as a single municipality,
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including cities such as ...
-like (Brasília, DF).


Europe


France

15% of French population live in rural areas, spread over 90% of the country. President
Emmanuel Macron Emmanuel Macron (; born 21 December 1977) is a French politician who has served as President of France since 2017. ''Ex officio'', he is also one of the two Co-Princes of Andorra. Prior to his presidency, Macron served as Minister of Eco ...
government launched an action plan in 2019 in favour for rural areas named "Agenda Rural". Among many initiatives recommended to redynamize rural areas,
energy transition The energy transition is the process of Fossil fuel phase-out, downshifting fossil fuels and re-developing whole systems to operate on Low-carbon power, low carbon energy sources. More generally, an energy transition is a significant structura ...
is one of them. Research is being carried out to assess the impact of new projects in rural areas.


Germany

Germany is divided into 402 administrative districts, 295 rural districts and 107 urban districts. As one of the largest agricultural producers in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
, more than half of Germany's territory which is almost 19 million hectares, is used for farming, and located in the rural areas. Almost 10% of people in Germany have jobs related to the agricultural, forest and fisheries sectors; approximately a fifth of them are employed in the primary production. Since there is a policy of equal living conditions, people see rural areas as equivalent as urban areas. Village renewal is an approach to develop countryside and supports the challenges faced in the process of it.


United Kingdom

In Britain, "rural" is defined by the government
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is a department of His Majesty's Government responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of ...
(DEFRA), using population data from the latest
census A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring, recording and calculating information about the members of a given population Population typically refers to the number of people in a single area, whether it be a city A city is a ...
, such as the
United Kingdom Census 2001 A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th Census in the United Kingdom, UK census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194. The 2001 UK census was organis ...
. These definitions have various grades, but the upper point is any local government area with more than 26% of its population living in a rural settlement or
market town A market town is a Human settlement, settlement most common in Europe that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages, a market right, which allowed it to host a regular marketplace, market; this distinguished it from a village or ...
("market town" being defined as any settlement which has permission to hold a
street market A marketplace or market place is a location where people regularly gather for the purchase and sale of provisions, livestock, and other goods. In different parts of the world, a marketplace may be described as a ''souk'' (from the Arabic lang ...
). A number of measures are in place to protect the British countryside, including green belts.


Asia


India

Rural areas are also known as the 'countryside' or a '
village A village is a clustered human settlement or Residential community, community, larger than a hamlet (place), hamlet but smaller than a town (although the word is often used to describe both hamlets and smaller towns), with a population t ...
' in India. It has a very low population density. In rural areas,
agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
is the chief source of livelihood along with
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are often caught as wildlife from the natural environment, but may also be caught from fish stocking, stocked bodies of water such as fish pond, ponds, canals, park wetlands and reservoirs. ...
,
cottage industries The putting-out system is a means of Subcontractor, subcontracting work. Historically, it was also known as the workshop system and the domestic system. In putting-out, work is contracted by a central agent to subcontractors who complete the proje ...
,
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard and durable form. Major types include earthenware, stoneware and porc ...
etc. Almost every Indian economic agency today has its own definition of rural India, some of which follow: According to the Planning Commission, a town with a maximum population of 15,000 is considered rural in nature. In these areas the
panchayat The Panchayat raj is a political system, originating from the Indian subcontinent, found mainly in India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by ...
makes all the decisions. There are five people in the
panchayat The Panchayat raj is a political system, originating from the Indian subcontinent, found mainly in India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by ...
. The National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) defines ‘rural’ as follows: * An area with a population density of up to 400 per square kilometer, * Villages with clear surveyed boundaries but no municipal board, * A minimum of 75% of male working population involved in agriculture and allied activities. RBI defines rural areas as those areas with a population of less than 49,000 (tier -3 to tier-6 cities). It is generally said that the rural areas house up to 70% of India's population. Rural India contributes a large chunk to India's GDP by way of agriculture, self-employment, services, construction etc. As per a strict measure used by the National Sample Survey in its 63rd round, called monthly per capita expenditure, rural expenditure accounts for 55% of total national monthly expenditure. The rural population currently accounts for one-third of the total Indian FMCG sales.


Japan

In Japan, rural areas are referred to as "Inaka" which translates literally to "the countryside" or "one's native village".


Pakistan

According to the 2017 census about 64% of Pakistanis live in rural areas. Most rural areas in Pakistan tend to be near cities and are peri-urban areas. This is due to the definition of a rural area in Pakistan being an area that does not come within an urban boundary. Rural areas in Pakistan that are near cities are considered as suburban areas or
suburb A suburb (more broadly suburban area) is an area within a metropolitan area, which may include Commercial area, commercial and mixed-use development, mixed-use, that is primarily a residential area. A suburb can exist either as part of a ...
s. The remote rural villagers of Pakistan commonly live in houses made of bricks, clay or mud.
Socioeconomic status Socioeconomic status (SES) is an economic and sociological combined total measure of a person's work experience and of an individual's or family's economic access to resources and social position in relation to others. When analyzing a family's ...
among rural Pakistani villagers is often based upon the ownership of
agricultural land Agricultural land is typically land ''devoted to'' agriculture, the systematic and controlled use of other organism, forms of lifeparticularly the rearing of livestock and production of cropsto produce food for humans. It is generally synonymous ...
, which also may provide
social prestige The reputation of a social entity (a person, a social group, an organization, or a place) is an opinion about that entity typically as a result of social evaluation on a set of criteria, such as behavior or performance. Reputation is a ubiquitous ...
in village cultures. The majority of rural Pakistani inhabitants livelihoods is based upon the rearing of livestock, which also comprises a significant part of Pakistan's gross domestic product. Some livestock raised by rural Pakistanis include cattle and goats.


Oceania


New Zealand

In
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
census areas are classified based on their degree of rurality. However, traffic law has a different interpretation and defines a Rural area as "''... a road or a geographical area that is not an urban traffic area, to which the rural speed limit generally applies.''"


Economics


Development


Electricity


Migration


Poverty


Rural health


Human fertility

Rural residence is a fertility factor, with total fertility rates and
pregnancy Pregnancy is the time during which one or more offspring develops (gestation, gestates) inside a woman, woman's uterus (womb). A multiple birth, multiple pregnancy involves more than one offspring, such as with twins. Pregnancy usually occur ...
being higher among women in rural areas than among women in urban areas and the rural population is much younger than urban areas.


Academic study

Because of their unique dynamics, different academic fields have developed to study rural communities.


Economics


Rural planning

Rural planning is an academic discipline that exists ''within'' or ''alongside'' the field of
urban planning Urban planning, also known as town planning, city planning, regional planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, ...
,
regional planning Regional planning deals with the efficient placement of land-use activities, infrastructure Infrastructure is the set of facilities and systems that serve a country, city, or other area, and encompasses the services and facilities necessar ...
or
urbanism Urbanism is the study of how inhabitants of urban areas, such as towns and cities A city is a human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. ...
. The definition of these fields differs between languages and contexts. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably.


Sociology


See also

*
American Old West The American frontier, also known as the Old West or the Wild West, encompasses the geography, history, folklore, and culture associated with the forward wave of United States territorial acquisitions, American expansion in mainland North Amer ...
*
Boondocks The boondocks is an American expression from the Tagalog language, Tagalog (Filipino) word ''bundók'' ("mountain"). It originally referred to a remote rural area, but now, is often applied to an out-of-the-way area considered backward and un ...
*
Bushland In Australia, bushland is a blanket term for land which supports remnant vegetation or land which is disturbed but still retains a predominance of the original floristics and structure. Human survival in bushland has a whole mythology evolvin ...
*
Country house An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a Townhouse (Great Britain), town house. This allowed them to spend time in the country and in the cit ...
* Developed areas *
Digital divide The digital divide is the unequal access to information technology, digital technology, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and the internet. The digital divide creates a division and inequality around access to information and resources. I ...
*
Landed gentry The landed gentry, or the ''gentry'', is a largely historical Social structure of the United Kingdom#History, British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income, or at least had a Estate (land), country estate. Whil ...
*
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the physics, physical world or universe. "Nature" can refer to the phenomenon, phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. The study of nature is a large, if not the only, part of science. ...
*
Outback The Outback is a remote, vast, sparsely populated area of Australia. The Outback is more remote than Australian bush, the bush. While often envisaged as being arid, the Outback regions extend from the northern to southern Australian coastlines ...
*
Peasantry A peasant is a pre-industrial farmworker, agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited land-ownership, especially one living in the Middle Ages under feudalism and tenant farmer, paying rent, tax, fees, or services to a landlord. In Europe, ...
* Rural Community Council *
Rural crafts Rural crafts refers to the traditional crafts production that is carried on, simply for everyday practical use, in the agricultural countryside. Once widespread and commonplace, the survival of some rural crafts is threatened.Mapping Heritage Craft' ...
* Rural ghetto *
Rural Internet Rural Internet describes the characteristics of Internet service in rural areas (also referred to as "the country" or "countryside"), which are settled places outside towns and cities. Inhabitants live in villages, Hamlet (place), hamlets, on far ...
*
Urban decay Urban decay (also known as urban rot, urban death or urban blight) is the sociological process by which a previously functioning city, or part of a city, societal collapse, falls into disrepair and decrepitude. There is no single process that l ...
*
Wilderness Wilderness or wildlands (usually in the plural), are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified by human activity or any nonurbanized land not under extensive agricultural cultivation. The term has traditionally re ...


References


Further reading

*  Thomas C. Ricketts, Karen D. Johnson-Webb, Patricia Taylor. Chapel Hill: North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina, 1998. 13 p.


External links


Census 2000 Urban and Rural ClassificationNorth West Rural Affairs Forum (England)Canadian Rural PartnershipThe Better India- Rural IndiaIndia Rural Population
{{DEFAULTSORT:Rural Area City Ecology Human habitats Rural society Rural culture Rural economics Rural geography Settlement geography