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METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS
A city is defined as an urban settlement that is legally part of a larger governing entity. Cities have local officials, can raise taxes, and are responsible for providing services to local residents. The central city is a city that is also surrounded by suburbs and together is called an urbanized area. Census counts suggest that 70 percent of Americans live in an urbanized area.
The U.S. Bureau of the Census has created a way of measuring the influence cities have on surrounding regions, called the metropolitan statistical area (MSA). An MSA is defined as an urbanized area with at least 50,000 residents, includes the county the city exists within, and any surrounding counties if a high percentage of the residents within those counties work in the central city’s county. The federal government has also created smaller designations for urban areas smaller than 50,000 residents and is called a micropolitan statistical area. If there is any overlap between these two statistical areas, usually in the form of commuting and transportation patterns, the census has created the term combined statistical area.
There has been an ongoing conflict between cities and peripheral urbanized areas outside of the central city who want to maintain their independence. This becomes problematic for housing, taxes for schooling, transportation, garbage disposal, and law enforcement. If urbanized areas are legally incorporated into an existing city, the process is called annexation. In order for annexation to occur, the majority of the residents in the outer regions must vote to approve such an acquisition. The debate over annexation varies throughout the United States and truly is a local issue.
Open Geography Education by R. Adam Dastrup is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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