It’s the process by which people are attracted to settlements of large human population. It may be described as a city or town; it may have more than 20,000 people.

A town: over 20,000 people and up to 100,000 people.

A city between 100,000 -500,000 people.

An urban centre with population of over 500,000.

There are various factors that determine the location of urban centres like commercial activities, like trade and transport; others were strategically placed for defence.

Administrative centres would also grow and develop into urban centre.

Early urbanization in Africa.

The process of urbanisation dates back to the new Stone Age and it occurred due to a variety of reasons.

Factors that led to early urbanisation in Africa.

  • The presence of major centres of education such as universities contributed to the growth of urban centres.
  • The issue of religion also led to urban development like timbukutu.
  • Urban centres grew around fresh water sources like rivers, springs and oases.
  • There were administration centres like emperors and kingdom.
  • Mineral deposits like iron-ore, gold and salt led to urbanization.
  • There was also trade in Africa this lead to urbanization.
  • Route junctions also led to urbanization.


It’s the capital city of present day Egypt. It was founded in 969AD. It’s located on an old Greek settlement that was protected by the Romans against any external attacks.

Egypt faced number of invasions on a number of occasion’s e.g. by the Syrians (1171-1249) Turkish mamaluks (1249-1517), ottoman Turks (1517-1798) and the French (1798-1801).

Egypt acquired self-governance in 1922 but the Turkish dynasty continued dominating them until 1936 when they were overthrown. It attained in 1952 after the monarch was overthrown by Colonel Abdel Nasser in 1952.

Factors for the growth of Cairo.

  • It was centre for education and medicine like university of Cairo, America University and Azhar University.
  • The development of various industries in Cairo including food processing and construction attracted people to Cairo.
  • It’s a cultural centre being home to treasure preserved from the early Egyptian civilization and Islamic culture in their museum.
  • International trade between Egypt and other regions was disrupted during the two wars.
  • The Aswan high dam was opened in 1902 which enhanced food production through irrigation.
  • The Suez Canal was opened in 1869 and opened new trade route which encouraged the arrival of thousands of Europeans.
  • Transport services during the 19th century improved due to the construction of railway lines and roads.
  • Through Nile, the town attracted caravans which would pass through Cairo from north, west and central Africa.
  • Cairo has continued to expand along the river Nile to the north and the south, the Nile not only provides water, for domestic use, but as also a means of communication.

Functions of Cairo.

  • It was a national capital and a political centre of the Arab world.
  • It serves as the transport and communication centre.
  • It has many recreational facilities like stadiums and entertainment halls.
  • Cairo has been a historical centre being house to the Egyptian civilization for over 5000 years.
  • It also serves as an industrial centre.

Problems facing Cairo.

  • There is high population pressure.
  • Due to population there is scarcity of food.
  • There is unemployment among the people.
  • Housing problems.
  • There is traffic jams.
  • There is industrial pollution.
  • High crime rate due to unemployment.
  • Solutions to the problems.
  • Food shortage has been addressed by reclaiming land for agriculture and water for irrigation from Aswan high dam.
  • Housing problem as the government has developed industries in the suburbs.


It was situated on the bank of the river Nile about 130 miles north of modem Khartoum; it is believed to have emerged at around 350 AD.

It was founded by the Nubian origins, and that they were the former rulers of Egypt.

Meroe increasingly became an important centre for iron working, an important industry that produced not only weapons, but also hunting and farming tools.

Factors for growth.

  • It had abundant wood fuel, which was key to the prosperity of the iron working industry, because the town was located at the meeting point of blue and white Nile.
  • It was strategically located at the intersection of different transportation and communication routes.
  • It was located in a region whose soils were rich in iron; indeed, archaeological evidence has shown that iron working started as early as 500BC.

Social effects of growth.

  • Meroitic language was developed.
  • New architectural developments took place in the region.
  • In addition to iron working other industries also developed.

Functions of Meroe.

  • It served as a capital of the kingdom of Kush.
  • It was a major iron-smelting centre in the region.
  • It served as a major centre for agriculture and trade in the Kush kingdom and upper Nile.
  • It was a religious centre where the lion-god-Apedemek was worshipped in the lion temple.

Decline of Meroe.

  • The rise of the Aksum kingdom in modern Ethiopia.
  • The increasing desertification of the region, perhaps due to the rapid deforest ration also led to meroes decline.
  • Iron-smelting consumed a lot of wood fuel. This exposed the soils to soil erosion through clearing of forest.
  • Attack and conquest of king Ezana of Axum in 350AD


It was located on the east coast of Africa between the mafia islands and the mouth of the Ruvuma River. It was established by Swahili-speaking Muslims who had migrated from the northern cities of shunwaya and lamu to make room for migrants from Persia and the gulf.

It was prosperous and powerful autonomous city and had conquered most of the settlements between Zanzibar and sofala.

Factors for the growth of kilwa.

  • It was strategically placed for the Indian Ocean trade and ship could sail.
  • It participated in the Indian Ocean trade and became both wealthy and powerful as a result.
  • The majority of the people on the island were Muslims, thus the region was used by the rulers to unify the people, especially in times of war.
  • Gold was one of the major commodities of the Indian Ocean trade.
  • The shirazi leaders founded a dynasty which provided able leadership.

Functions of kilwa.

  • Kilwa served as a major trading centre in the Indian Ocean trade.
  • It was a centre of Islamic religion in the southern coast of east Africa.
  • It was a major Arab and Muslim settlement along the east African coast.
  • It served as a link between the coast and southern Tanzania hinterland.
  • It was an administrative centre which housed palace of the rulers.

Factors for decline of kilwa.

  • The disruption of the gold trade due to civil wars.
  • There were dynastic revelries caused by competition for power by some royal families.
  • Constant rebellion by vassal states weakens the city state.
  • Attack, conquest and eventual occupation by the Portuguese.

Early urbanization in Europe.

Early urbanization in Europe dates back several thousand years and has its cradle in the Greco-roman civilisations.

The early inhabitants of the continent were mainly rural folk who engaged in subsistence farming, hunting and gathering.

There was also crafting such as blacksmiths and carpenters.



Is the capital city of the United Kingdom and is located on the banks of the Thames River.

Roman soldiers occupied the current location in 43AD and built an early precursor to the London Bridge in 50AD.

Factors for the growth of London.

  • The location of London on the banks of river Thames enabled the city to access both the interior and the sea.
  • Trade has taken place in the London since the roman times.
  • London was a cultural focal point for the whole of Britain.
  • London was also a religious centre from 597 AD when st. Pauls cathedral was built.
  • There was educational centre financed by the city to build public schools such as charterhouse and st. Pauls.
  • London had good administration which was laid down by Romans.
  • London developed into a trading centre, the city also grew into financial hub of Britain.
  • Throughout the history of the city, the building industry has played a significant role.
  • There were industries like cloth production was England’s biggest industry and vast amounts were exported through London.
  • London had an effective and efficient city administration.

Functions of London.

  • London served as an important part of the United Kingdom for exports and imports.
  • It was a major trading and commercial centre.
  • The city was a major religious and cultural centre with monasteries, cathedrals and churches.
  • It was a financial centre.
  • It served as the capital city of the United Kingdom and the administrative centre of the city government of London.


It’s one of the early states in ancient Greece.

The Athenians were thinkers and liked to talk. They spent much time developing theories of the who’s and whys of the world.

Athens was a beautiful city; it is most famed for its carvings, pottery and buildings which were done by very fine workman ship.

Athenians were divided into four classes.

The 1st class was made up of the richest that were the most heavily taxed.

The 2nd class provided cavalry for the army.

The 3rd class provided soldiers for the infantry.

The 4th consisted of the poorest and who paid no taxes.

Factors that led to the growth of Athens.

  • The town engaged in trade, selling wine, olive oil, wool and ceramics in exchange for grain.
  • The city had good security located on a hill, making discreet ascent by enemies difficult.
  • Athens was an important cultural centre in the ancient world.
  • There was good education like mathematic, astronomy, medicine and philosophy.
  • It was a religious centre with a large temple, the Parthenon.

Functions of Athens.

  • It was a major trading centre for wines, oil, and wool, ceramic and agricultural products.
  • It was served as a major cultural and arts centre with well developed theatre and play grounds.
  • It served as an educational centre with well developed academic centre led by great philosophers and scientist.
  • It was a religious centre of traditional Greek goddess Athena and later to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Emergence of modern urban centres in Africa.


It’s the capital city of the republic of Kenya situated on the Athi plains. Originally it was a meeting point of the kikuyu and maasai communities.

The area was inhabited by the maasai who called it enkare Nairobi “the place of cool waters”

In June 1899, the railway reached the Athi plains and Nairobi.

Factors for the growth of Nairobi.

  • Nairobi had a high attitude which led to cool and pleasant temperatures.
  • The presence of Nairobi River ensured about water supply.
  • Trading activities, 1st between the maasai and the agikuyu and later the Swahili-Arab caravan trade enhanced the growth of the city.
  • The transfer of the colonial government headquarters from Mombasa to Nairobi in 1907 further led to the growth of the city.
  • The site was a level ground or plain which favoured the construction of buildings.
  • The area around Nairobi had great economic potential.

Functions of Nairobi.

  • Nairobi is the administrative headquarters of Kenya government.
  • It’s a transport and communication centre for the east and central Africa with railway, road and air links.
  • The city is a tourist centre with various attractions like Nairobi national park.
  • Nairobi is a commercial and financial centre with various financial institutions e.g. banks and stock exchange.
  • It is a residential centre with schools, polytechnics, colleges and universities.
  • It is a cultural centre with the Kenya national theatre and bomas of Kenya.

Problems facing Nairobi city.

  • The city’s water and sewerage services have been overstretched.
  • There is an increase in slums, where the housing and sanitation conditions are poor, mainly due overcrowding.
  • The city is faced with the daunting task of providing social service such as education and health facilities.
  • There is population growth which leads to traffic congestions.
  • The waste disposal, as it generates mountains of garbage on a daily basis.
  • There is a large number of unemployed people that are drawn to it daily in search in a better life.

Solutions to problems facing Nairobi.

  • Expansion of water projects to supply water to the rising population of the city.
  • The government should partner with the private sector to provide sewerage and garbage collection services.
  • Building of affordable housing to replace the slums.
  • Development of infrastructure such as road bypasses and flyovers to decongest the city.
  • Implementation of cost, sharing programmes to expand social services.


It’s located on the highland plateau of the Gauteng province.

In 1886 gold was discovered in the Witwatersrand region of the province.

This prompted the government to send two officials to go and investigate the claims and identity a suitable site for settlement. These were Johann risk and Johannes Joubert.

It is from their names that the city got its name.

It is nicknamed Egoli, which means “place of gold’’, as 40% of the worlds gold is found there.

Factors for growth of Johannesburg.

  • The discovery of gold led to its growth.
  • There was large number of population to provide labour which was to be used in industries and mines.
  • The government initiated policies that favoured industries and encouraged their establishment in Johannesburg.
  • The location of the town on a veld (plain) near the Vaal River made construction work easy and development.
  • The availabity of coal which served as the major source of the city’s energy.
  • There was a variety of industries like iron, diatomite and chloride.
  • There was availability of food stuffs grown in the province that ensured food stability.
  • The banking services were introduced in Johannesburg to serve the mines.

Functions of Johannesburg.

  • It is a transport and communication centre with road, rail and air links to major towns.
  • It’s an industrial centre with major manufacturing industries.
  • It has commercial, financial institutions and companies from other parts of the world.
  • It is an educational centre with many educational institutions.
  • The city is a tourist centre and attracts many tourists from various parts of the world.

Problems facing Johannesburg.

  • Over population has resulted into shortage of housing and growth of slums.
  • There is a high level of unemployment due to the influx of the people from the neighbouring countries.
  • The city has high crime rate which may be attributed to unemployment.
  • Heavy concentration of industries has led to industrial pollution.
  • In adequate social amenities like schools, hospitals and sanitation.

Solutions to problems facing Johannesburg.

  • Development of infrastructure.
  • Encouragement of investors to start business so as to create employment.
  • Improvement of revenue collection in order to provide better services to the city residents.
  • Building of better and affordable houses to replace the shanties.
  • Partnership between the police and the community to reduce the high rate of crime.

Impact of agrarian and industrial development on urbanization.

  • The practise of agriculture forced human beings to adopt a sedentary lifestyle as they had to settle at specific sites to attend to their crops and livestock.
  • It led to growth of urban centres.
  • There was increased food production.
  • There was promotion of trade due to surplus produces.
  • There was also production of raw materials for industries which led to growth of towns as the industries attracted settlement.
  • Export and imports of agricultural produce and manufactured goods led to expansion and growth of part towns.
  • There was rural-urban migration which resulted into overcrowding and congestion in urban centres.
  • High concentration of industries in the urban centres led to air, noise and water pollution.
  • There was also increase in unemployment rates.
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