Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (6): 986-1000.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201706004

• Urban Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Comparative research on regional differences in urbanization and spatial evolution of urban systems between China and India

Jiaming LI1(), Yu YANG1,2, Jie FAN1,2, Fengjun JIN1,2, Wenzhong ZHANG1,2, Shenghe LIU1,2, Bojie FU2,3()   

  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
    3. State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, CAS, Beijing 100085, China
  • Received:2017-03-28 Revised:2017-05-23 Online:2017-06-25 Published:2017-07-13
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41230632, No.41671166, No.41571159, No.41430636


As two rising great powers, China and India have undergone similar development processes, but they also exhibit significant differences in development paths and patterns. The significant differences in political systems, economic systems, and developmental environment between the two countries have attracted great attention from scholars. This research focuses on the regional differences and spatial evolution processes in urbanization and urban systems between the two countries from a geographical perspective. Based on the demographic censuses of both countries and the urban population data from the United Nations, this paper systematically compared and analyzed the spatial characteristics of urbanization and urban systems in China and India using various methods including spatial analysis, parameter estimation, and nonparametric estimation. The results indicate that: (1) Since the 1990s, the regional differences in urbanization in China have transformed from south-north differences to coastal-inland differences, whereas the north-south differences in India have been stable. (2) In terms of the spatial scale at the province (state) level, the population densities and urbanization rates were positively correlated in both countries. The correlation is more significant when the urbanization rate is higher than 50%. However, in recent years, the correlation between population density and urbanization rate kept increasing in China, while such correlation has been decreasing in India. (3) Currently, the urban system is dominated by large and medium-sized cities in China and India, which complies with the characteristics of the rank-size distribution. But the economic reform has exerted significantly different effects on the spatial evolution of the urban systems in the two countries. The economic reform has changed the major driving force for urban development in China from geological and historical factors to the spatial structure of the economic system. However, in India, the driving forces for urban development have always been geological and historical factors, and the economic reform even decreased the effect of the spatial structure of the economic system on urban development.

Key words: urbanization, urban system, spatial pattern, spatial evolution, China, India