ROCKINGHAM – The question arose last week on KL Media’s “Good Morning, Sandhills” radio broadcast as to what constitutes the difference between a village, a town, and a city.
Well, since I wasn’t sure myself, I looked it up, and now I can authoritatively state the following:
According to an amalgam of various sources, the proper hierarchical listing of places where one might reside is, in ascending order: isolated dwelling; hamlet; village; town; large town; city; large city; metropolis; conurbation; megalopolis; and ecumenopolis.
An “isolated dwelling” seems sufficiently straightforward as to require no further elaboration, I would think. Perhaps it could range from a cardboard box to a pup tent to an apartment to a house, but you get the idea.
A “hamlet,” though, is slightly better defined; a hamlet has a “tiny population of less than 100 and very few, if any, services, and few buildings.” Granted, this is a relatively ambiguous description, but we are talking matters of degree for each and every one of these conceptualizations. (It is acknowledged that our very own “Hamlet” is actually a town – and is now referred to as such – although it was indeed properly denoted at the time of its incorporation in 1897.)
A “village” is next in the hierarchy and comprises “a human settlement or community that is larger than a hamlet but smaller than a town and has very few services available.” Wow! Now THAT is a precise measure.
A “town” is defined in a much more objective manner as a settlement with a population of 1,000 to 20,000.
A “large town” has a population of 20,000 to 100,000.
A “city” is defined as having a population of 100,000 to 300,000. Thus, the “city” of Rockingham is grossly misnamed.
A “large city” is, of course, a “city” of over 300,000 but less than a million.
A “metropolis” consists of a large city and its surrounding suburbs and/or adjacent cities and towns. A metropolis is comprised of a population of one to three million people.
A “conurbation” is basically the same as a large metropolis. It is comprised of a group of large cities and their surrounding suburbs consisting of three to ten million people.
A “megalopolis” is a group of conurbations consisting of more than ten million people each.
And, of course, an “ecumenopolis” is a theoretical construct in which the entire area of the Earth that is inhabited by humans, if it were connected by cotemporaneous borders, would comprise urban area continuums of thousands of kilometers, thus making this nonexistent “settlement” much larger than, and thus not considered to be, a megalopolis.
As of 2009, the United Nations estimated that the percentage of the world’s population living in “urban areas” surpassed 50% for the first time in history. Thus, IF all of these areas were connected into an ecumenopolis, it would have a population of over 3.4 billion as of 2010.