Urbanization refers to the growth of towns and cities, often at the expense of rural areas, as people move to urban centres in search of jobs and what they hope will be a better life. In most countries the percentage of the total population living in urban areas is increasing. In a number of small countries, such as Guadeloupe, Monaco, and Bermuda, 100 percent of the population lives in urban centres. On the other extreme, several of Africa’s poorest countries have an urban population of less than 10 percent of their total. Canada, with 79 percent of its population in urban centres, ranks 40th on the list of most urbanized countries in the world. It is predicted that by 2025 Canada will have 82 percent of its population in urban centres. Urbanization can have both positive and negative aspects. One of the advantages of living in a city is the market potential of the population; that is, there is a much greater variety of shopping opportunities than in rural areas. This may result in lower prices and longer shopping hours. Most cities have shopping malls and big box centres with many different stores that stay open long hours, and that often include entertainment, food, recreation, and cultural activities to attract consumers. Many stores are owned by national and international chains, making it difficult for small independent businesses to succeed. Urban centres are able to provide a variety of services that small rural centres cannot. These might include a public transportation system, water and sewage services, a greater variety of educational and recreational facilities, and larger and more specialized healthcare facilities. On the negative side, cities may experience traffic jams, infrastructure breakdowns such as watermain breaks, lack of appropriate housing and jobs, and institutions that are so large that they become impersonal. Urban centres also provide a great variety of accommodation for their citizens ranging from...
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