South America: Urbanization
South America is one of the most urbanized world realms [wrurban] [smurban] [smurbgr] [smurbldc]. Furthermore the realm is characterized by widespread rural-to-urban migration resulting in continued urban growth. This is one of the measures of economic development that ranks South America as more developed than the other developing realms [wwldc].
Latin American cities differ from North American cities in their spatial organization [lacity]. A central square usually contains governmental buildings and a cathedral at the center of the city. It also contains commercial activity supported by retail and other business establishments. A commercial spine extends from the central square along a major transportation corridor. The Elite Residential Sector surrounds the commercial spine, since residents are capable of taking advantage of the amenities offered by the spine to include upper class, high quality housing. The Zone of Maturity is in the inner city and contains the best housing outside the elite sector. The residents have the capital to maintain repairs on their houses. The Zone of In-Situ Accretion is modest housing located outside of the Zone of Maturity. Mixed housing ranging from well-kept, modest dwellings to those in disrepair, population density is quite high. The Zone of Peripheral Squatter Settlement, the poorest, outermost ring of the Latin American city. Make-shift houses are made from whatever scraps of material, lumber, or rock are found in the area. This is the area that rural-urban migrants first encounter and stay until they can find better jobs and housing within the city.
[The text of the above was written by Scott Girhard, San Antonio College from his online course GEOG 1301 World Geography. Used with permission.]