Metropolitan area

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A metropolitan area is a region consisting of a populous urban core with a high density of employment plus surrounding territory that is socio-economically linked to the urban core by commuting. A metropolitan area is also sometimes known as a commuter belt or a labor market area.


General definition

A metropolitan area usually combines an agglomeration (the contiguous built-up area) with peripheral zones not themselves necessarily urban in character, but closely bound to the center by employment or commerce. These zones are also sometimes known as a commuter belt, and may extend well beyond the urban periphery depending on the definition used. It is mainly the area that is not part of the city but is connected to the city. For example, Pasadena, California would be added to Los Angeles' metro area. While it is not the same city, its socioeconomic identity is intimately tied to that of Los Angeles.

In practice the parameters of metropolitan areas, in both official and unofficial usage, are not consistent. Sometimes they are little different from an urban area, and in other cases they cover broad regions that have little relation to the traditional concept of a city as a single urban settlement. Thus all metropolitan area figures should be treated as interpretations rather than as hard facts. Metro area population figures given by different sources for the same place can vary by millions, and there is a tendency for people to promote the highest figure available for their own "city". However the most ambitious metropolitan area population figures are often better seen as the population of a "metropolitan region" than of a "city".[citation needed]

There has been no significant change in the basic metropolitan area "concept" since its adoption in 1950,[1] though significant changes in geographic distributions have occurred since, and is expected to further evolve through time.[2] Because of the fluidity and evolution of the "term" metropolitan statistical areas, the colloquial reference by the general population and media to define an MSA is with a more familiar reference to "metro service area, metro area, metro, or MSA" and widely intimated to mean the total geographic area inclusive of not only a well known city population, but also its inner city, suburban, exurban and sometimes rural surrounding populations, all which are influenced by employment, transportation, and commerce of the more largely well known urban city.

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