Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (11): 1761-1780.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1811-y

• Special Issue: Urbanization, Resources and Environment in Central Asia • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Comprehensive urbanization level and its dynamic factors for five Central Asian countries

MA Haitao1,2(), SUN Zhan1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2020-03-18 Accepted:2020-07-21 Online:2020-11-25 Published:2021-01-25
  • About author:Ma Haitao (1979–), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in urban geography and planning. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Strategic Priority Research Program of the CAS, Pan-Third Pole Environment Study for a Green Silk Road(XDA20040402)


In the context of accelerated development of the Silk Road Economic Belt, it is necessary to conduct in-depth research on urbanization of Central Asian countries. This paper analyzes the spatial and temporal patterns and evolution dynamics of urbanization during the period 1991-2017 from the perspective of internal-external forces. The results are as follows. (1) The urbanization process of the five Central Asian countries studied is significantly influenced by their political and economic situations and displays periodic characteristics. All five countries experienced a stagnation development stage at the beginning of independence, and then a rapid growth stage since the year 2000. The average annual growth rates of the two stages were 0.19% and 1.45%, respectively. (2) Differences in the urbanization of the studied countries are obvious, and the evolutionary characteristics of each subsystem of urbanization are different. It is therefore necessary to distinguish and clearly understand the urbanization process of each country. (3) Internal and external factors play a role in the urbanization processes of Central Asian countries. External railway transportation facilities are particularly important for the development of urbanization in these countries. The regression coefficients of railway construction length, total merchandise trade and actually utilized foreign capital are 0.5665, 0.0937 and 0.0806, respectively. (4) Countries with smaller populations and economic scales need to engage in international cooperation to promote healthy development of urbanization. The results of the study indicate that internal and external factors work together in the urbanization process of Central Asian countries, and external forces are particularly important for the development of such urbanization.

Key words: Central Asia, national scale, comprehensive urbanization, dynamic factors, external dynamics, Silk Road Economic Belt