Urban life and employment promises attract people to big cities


Phase 1.- Ancient civilizations of the riverbanks

The first phase of city development began around four thousand years ago, A.C. The settlements developed on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia - today, Iraq - the Nile in Egypt, the Ganges in India, the Yellow River in China.

These are known as "river civilizations." The physical terrain played an important role. The first cities were located on fertile lands near large rivers and access to pasture land for animals. They also benefited from the warm weather and permanent water supply.

These conditions were necessary to help the first settlers domesticate animals and grow cereals such as rice, wheat and corn. Over time, small and simple settlements grew, becoming large and more complex centers of varied activities, including agriculture, commerce and manufacturing.

The large volume of trade and the slow growth of the settled population, led to more specific work. Some families and individuals dedicated themselves to tasks such as merchant craftsman, for example.

This made production more efficient and society more organized, providing greater collective security to the population. The change to an organized and specialized urban environment is one of the most important in the history of human development.

Phase II.- The Industrial Revolution (1750-1850)

This type of city began to take shape, as a result of the industrial revolution, in what we now call developed countries of Europe and North America.

It was a time of great changes in the development of cities.

New cities were emerging, which were more populated and more alien than ever before, cities that at the same time were more automated and more chaotic than ever; cities that were more efficient but also more polluted and with more garbage; cities that offered contact with many people and diverse job opportunities, but also caused loneliness, unemployment and poverty.

Two significant factors contributed to the rapid change in size and lifestyle of cities.

The first was the development of a large-scale infrastructure of the mining and manufacturing industries that were the result of advances in technology, such as the steam engine in the industrial field, and that required a large number of workers who emigrated from the countryside to the city and, sometimes, from other countries.

Urban life and promises of employment attracted people in large numbers to cities.
The second factor was the expansion of trade routes and access to cheap raw materials, acquired through the European colonization of other lands that fed industries.

The combination of wealth, the large population and the diversity of goods, created a market of consumption of goods that, over time, led to the consumption patterns we see today.

Phase III.- World urban growth

What distinguishes the current phase of urban growth from the previous ones is that it is not limited to a specific region, but is a worldwide phenomenon. It must be taken into account that the majority of the population in developed countries is already living in cities.

At the end of the 19th century many cities in Europe and North America had high growth rates, often doubling their size in a span of 20 years. Towards the end of the 19th century many cities in developed countries stopped growing; However, 75% of the population of these countries lives in urban centers.

On the contrary, today's high growth rates are in what are called developing countries where only 40% of the population is urbanized. However, this will surely change in the near future. Some cities in the developing world have tripled in the last 45 years.

Since 1950, rapid urban growth has become a global phenomenon. For most cities, their growth has been the result of three stages: "economic growth", "natural increase" and "rural - urban migration". Population growth occurs when there is a positive index of natural increase.

This is the biggest factor in the growth of cities in developing countries. "Migration" also affects the growth of cities. "Rural-urban migration" is aroused when rural people move or emigrate to the cities, which was the biggest factor of urban growth after industrialization and until the 70s.

Today, international migrations or movements of people from one country to another add in large numbers to the largest cities in the world.

Most large cities have been important urban centers for a long time. Others became important during colonization, when they served as administration or supply centers for European powers.

After World War II the economy became more global and many colonized lands gained their independence.

Developing countries have limited and more managed resources to address growth, so they have social imbalances.

Some cities are "created" by governments that want to take away the weight that other cities bear; others are created as capitals of their respective countries, such as Yamoussoukrou, which replaced Abidjan as the capital of Ivory Coast.

A new capital usually means the transfer of government offices, embassies and businesses to a smaller city to attract people, as is the case of the city of Brasilia, in Brazil, located in a region that had no other development options.

People go to the city for several reasons, but the most significant is the economic one, because when the economy of a prosperous city attracts people.

The illusion of work, comfort, charm and flash, attracts people, in addition to the factors of "momentum", such as droughts or the exploitation of peasants, "drives" people to leave the field. The city cannot always handle the number of people who reach it, so urban poverty and the homeless have become a worldwide problem.


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