Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (10): 1699-1712.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1686-y

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The basic law of the formation and expansion in urban agglomerations

FANG Chuanglin   

  1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2018-07-26 Accepted:2018-10-28 Online:2019-10-25 Published:2019-12-09
  • About author:Fang Chuanglin (1966-), specialized in urban geography, urban agglomeration development and the impacts of urbanization on resources and the environment. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    The Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China(No.41590840);The Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China(No.41590842)


Urban agglomerations are formed when a country is in the advanced stages of industrialization and urbanization. They are highly integrated groups of cities that form and develop through a natural, gradual process as the relationship between them changes from one of competition to assimilation following law of natural development. China is currently in a new stage of transitional development characterized by its New-Type Urbanization Plan. It has entered a new era in which it is a global leader in urban agglomeration development, and China’s research and development models are being imitated and adopted by countries around the world. This paper adopts a theoretical approach to propose the basic law governing the formation, development and expansion of urban agglomerations. This includes the stage-based formation and development law, multi-scale intensive-use transmission law, crystal-structure spatial composition law, egg-shaped expansion evolution law, “saplings-to-forest” natural growth law, and sustainable development incremental increase law. Guided by these law, China has created a hierarchical organizational configuration for optimizing the spatial structure of its urban agglomerations. It has also formulated urban agglomeration development plans and proposed research-based measures to resolve problems specific to urban agglomerations and to promote their sustainable development. The law governing the formation, development and expansion of urban agglomerations play an important role in guiding their development in China and will play a greater role in the future.

Key words: urban agglomeration, formation and development, expansion, basic law