Asia

Asia Urbanization

Urbanism had its origins in Asia. The first cities are those that arose with the imposition of irrigated agriculture and the economic and territorial organization initiated by river civilizations. The Asian city, from Mesopotamia to China, was born as an area consecrated to the divinity, destined to house the sovereign. Its urban structure adapted to the image of the world, which depended on the way in which those civilizations annexed the river territories. Image of the world were the Chinese city, the city of the Khmer and the Annamites, the Hindu city dominated by sikhara or “mountain of the world”. The city occupied a well-defined area, with a square or rectangular plan. Beyond the central nucleus or sacred enclosure there could be suburbs or neighborhoods inhabited by artisans and traders. But these were secondary and not very prominent elements in the Asian city, which had above all symbolic functions, as the center of religious or temporal power. More markedly commercial functions, such as the European city, have instead taken on the Muslim city, although even in the Islamic world the urban center coincides with the mosque, the element that first justifies the city. The mosque is flanked by the sultan’s bazaar and citadel. In general, however, the relationship between city and countryside has always been weak in Asia: village and city were and still are largely two antithetical elements, without ties. The ancient order of the typical Asian city was disturbed by the commercial activities of a Western imprint; and we understand how it has caused real crises in the Asian city, unable to assimilate the new economic and social proposals. The rush to the city recorded paroxysmal phenomena in Asia in the twentieth century. See countryaah for a list of countries in Asia.

Large urban agglomerations continue to be crowded, especially in countries such as India or China, where rural settlement remains prevalent (71% and 55.1% of the total population respectively), which nevertheless continues to emit large flows of emigration to cities. The growth of the Japanese metropolises is less intense. Some of the cities that developed in relatively recent years have assumed industrial functions (the Japanese, Manchurian and Siberia cities), but in general it cannot be said that it is industry that has aroused Asian urbanism, in its most characteristic expressions. The reasons are various. Colonialism is responsible for the commercial enhancement of large port cities, outlet centers for products conveyed from within, such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, Kolkata, Mumbai, Karāchi, to name the major ones, while others, placed on the great shipping routes between Europe and the Far East, they developed as secondary ports or as strategic centers of colonialism (as in the case of Singapore, Aden, etc.). Capital cities have had great development, which have associated industrial, commercial and cultural activities with administrative functions. There are cities in Asia that perform very particular functions, such as to mention the major ones, while others, located on the great shipping routes between Europe and the Far East, have developed as secondary ports or as strategic centers of colonialism (this is the case of Singapore, Aden, etc.). Capital cities have had great development, which have associated industrial, commercial and cultural activities with administrative functions. There are cities in Asia that perform very particular functions, such as to mention the major ones, while others, located on the great shipping routes between Europe and the Far East, have developed as secondary ports or as strategic centers of colonialism (this is the case of Singapore, Aden, etc.). Capital cities have had great development, which have associated industrial, commercial and cultural activities with administrative functions.

There are cities in Asia that perform very particular functions, such as Vārānasi (old Benares), the center of Hinduism, while theocratic capitals such as Lhasa and Ulaanbaatar have been re-transformed, one by the annexation of Tibet to China, the other by the communist-inspired regime of Mongolia. In former Soviet Asia, large pioneer cities such as Omsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk have developed, the same strategic Vladivostok (city of Tsarist colonization) in the Siberian region, such as Tashkent, Alma-Ata, Ašgabat in Central Asia, where the old and historic cities of the great Islamic frontier have undergone a “rejuvenation”, and in particular Samarkand. Pioneer cities, such as Ürümqi, are also developing in Chinese Turkestan, while numerous large cities are springing up throughout the inner belt of the Chinese region. In all Asian countries, with the exception of Singapore, the growth rates of the urban population are significantly higher than the overall demographic growth rates: about fifteen agglomerations exceed 10 million inhabitants, even apart from the huge Tōkyō-Yokohama conurbation , now accredited by nearly 35 million residents. That of Seoul exceeds 20 million, those of Ōsaka-Kōbe-Kyōto and Jakarta have exceeded 18 million inhabitants, to more than 20 million people live in Mumbai, 18 million in Delhi and nearly 15 million in Kolkata; Manila, Beijing, Shanghai and Tehran have between 12 and 18.5 million inhabitants. each. Many other cities have at least 3 million residents. It is not surprising, of course, that these agglomerations were formed above all in the most populous countries: nevertheless, as previously mentioned, India and China have urban population percentages below 50% of the total population.

Asia Urbanization