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Urban and Rural Classification

The Census Bureau’s urban-rural classification is fundamentally a delineation of geographical areas, identifying both individual urban areas and the rural areas of the nation.  The Census Bureau’s urban areas represent densely developed territory, and encompass residential, commercial, and other non-residential urban land uses.  The Census Bureau delineates urban areas after each decennial census by applying specified criteria to decennial census and other data.

The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas:

  • Urbanized Areas (UAs) of 50,000 or more people;
  • Urban Clusters (UCs) of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people.

“Rural” encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area.


For more information about the history of Urban and Rural Classification, please see:


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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Geography | (301) 763-1128 |  Last Revised: September 09, 2014