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Unit 6

# 6.4 The Size and Distribution of Cities

Harrison Burnside

### AP Human Geography🚜

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## Rank Size Rule

The Rank Size Rule is a theory of how large the population of the different major cities are in a country should be. The Rank Size Rule, inspired by Zipf’s Law Applied to Distribution of Cities (1935), says if all cities in a country are placed in order from the largest to the smallest, each one will have a population 1/nth the size of the largest city in the country.

### Example:

Largest City in a Country - Population of 1,000,000
1,000,000 / 1
2nd Largest City in a Country - Population of 500,000
1,000,000 / 2
3rd Largest City in a Country - Population of 333,333
1,000,000 / 3
4th Largest City in a Country - Population of 250,000
1,000,000 / 4
5th Largest City in a Country - Population of 200,000
1,000,000 / 5

### Problems with the Rank Size Rule

• Some countries have some cities that fit in the rank size rule but other cities populations in the top 10.
• In the United States, New York City is largest, then Los Angeles, then Chicago, then Houston, then Phoenix, then Philadelphia, etc.
• In the USA, the top 5 cities fit in the Rank Size Rule, but cities 6-10 do NOT.
• Some countries have a largest city that is way more than 2x the size of the 2nd largest city.
• Countries that have this exception generally have Primate Cities.

## Primate City

Often, because of real life, theory doesn’t always match up with reality. In many countries, the largest city in the country is a primate city. This means that the largest city will have a population of over 2x of the 2nd Largest City in the Country. The primate city is usually far more populated and far more economically important. The largest city, when a primate city, has the largest influence in the country.
Paris, which has a population of 9.6 million is the largest city and most economically important city of France, while Marseilles has a population of 1.3 million. This makes Paris a Primate City.
The chart below describes the advantages and disadvantages of a Primate City!

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