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Census 2000 Urban and Rural Classification

The Census Bureau identifies and tabulates data for the urban and rural populations and their associated areas solely for the presentation and comparison of census statistical data. If a federal, state, local, or tribal agency uses these urban and rural criteria in a nonstatistical program, it is that agency's responsibility to ensure that the results are appropriate for such use. It also is that agency's responsibility to ensure that it has provided the necessary tools for use in that agency's programs.

The Census Bureau will be glad to answer questions about the Census 2000 urban and rural criteria and products. However, the Census Bureau is not qualified to provide information or assistance to users concerning the uses of urban and/or rural data in the programs of other agencies, nor does it have the resources to perform research to determine whether or not a locality or specific address is inside or outside an urbanized area or urban cluster.

The Census Bureau has produced several products to help users locate Census 2000 Urban Areas and Urban Clusters. See below for more information.

About Urban and Rural Classification

For Census 2000, the Census Bureau classifies as "urban" all territory, population, and housing units located within an urbanized area (UA) or an urban cluster (UC). It delineates UA and UC boundaries to encompass densely settled territory, which consists of:

  • core census block groups or blocks that have a population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile and
  • surrounding census blocks that have an overall density of at least 500 people per square mile

In addition, under certain conditions, less densely settled territory may be part of each UA or UC.

The Census Bureau's classification of "rural" consists of all territory, population, and housing units located outside of UAs and UCs. The rural component contains both place and nonplace territory. Geographic entities, such as census tracts, counties, metropolitan areas, and the territory outside metropolitan areas, often are "split" between urban and rural territory, and the population and housing units they contain often are partly classified as urban and partly classified as rural.

Census 2000 Urban Area Criteria

The Census Bureau is providing information about the Census 2000 Urban Area Criteria and the process used in delineating Census 2000 Urban Areas. We also are providing a synopsis of the differences between the 1990 and Census 2000 criteria.

Census 2000 Urbanized Area and Urban Cluster Information

Lists of Urbanized Areas and Urban Clusters

The Census Bureau has prepared the following four files that list the Census 2000 UAs and UCs, their populations, population densities (square miles) and land area measurements (in square meters):

The contents of the state-sorted UA and UC files are defined in the record layout. (Please note: Some information in these lists have been corrected by the Federal Register Notice published on August 23, 2002. See the August 23, 2002 Correction of Qualifying Urban Areas bullet in the items above. See the links to the corrected files below.)

Lists of Corrected Urbanized Areas and Urban Clusters

Please note: These files below contain the changes to urban areas as published in the Federal Register on November 20, 2002. The Census Bureau's official Census 2000 urban/rural data do not contain these changes, and those data will not match some of the information contained in these files for those urban areas where there were changes.

November 20, 2002 changes:

Please note: The files below contain the changes to urban areas as published in the Federal Register on August 23, 2002. The Census Bureau's official Census 2000 urban/rural data do not contain these changes, and those data will not match some of the information contained in these files for those urban areas where there were changes.

August 23, 2002 changes:

Note: These are fixed field, ASCII text files. The length of each record in the state-sorted files is 92 characters wide and the length of each record in the alphabetically-sorted files is 84 characters wide. To view these files correctly, adjust your document setup to landscape and your page size to legal.

The land area measurements are expressed in square meters. See conversion formulas.

List of Central Places

The Census Bureau identifies one or more central places for each urban area (if an incorporated place or CDP exists within the urban area) using the following criteria:

  • A. Any incorporated place or CDP that has its name in the title of the urban area, and
  • B. Any other incorporated place or CDP that has a population of 50,000 or more within the urban area.

Note: A place that is in more than one urban area is a central place in all urban areas in which it is located as long as it meets the central place criteria for one of the urban areas in which it is located.

Record Layout

  • Column F1 Record Type "P" (Place)
    The Excel version also contains Record Type "C" (Urban Cluster) and Record Type "U" (Urbanized Area)
  • Column F2 contains the 5-digit Urban Area Code
  • Column F4 contains the 2-digit State FIPS Code
  • Column F5 contains the 5-digit Place Code

The Central Place Table

This table contains UA central places and UC central places for Census 2000 and is available in both [EXCEL] and [PDF] formats.

List of Major Airports

The Census Bureau evaluated for inclusion in urban areas those commercial airports that, according to 2000 Federal Aviation Administration statistics, had an annual enplanement of at least 10,000 people and, thus, qualified as a primary airport.

To view the major airports evaluated for inclusion in Census 2000 UAs and UCs, select either the [PDF] or [TEXT] version of the file.

Urbanized Area and Urban Cluster Boundary Information

Information about products, including TIGER/Line products, boundary files and maps, available to assist data users in locating Urbanized Area and Urban Cluster boundaries can be found via the links below.

Contact Information

If you have questions regarding the criteria for Census 2000 urban and rural classifications or geographic products, such as maps and TIGER/Line files, please contact the Geography Division via one of the methods provided on our Contact Us page.


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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Geography | (301) 763-1128 |  Last Revised: July 11, 2013