Volume 22, Issue 1 (2018)                   MJSP 2018, 22(1): 187-218 | Back to browse issues page

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Azizi M M, Zebardast E, Bornafar M. Analysis of the factors and effects of village transformation to city on urban system in Guilan Province, Iran (1956-2016). MJSP 2018; 22 (1) :187-218
URL: http://hsmsp.modares.ac.ir/article-21-14036-en.html
1- Professor, School of Urban Planning, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.
2- Ph.D. Candidate, School of Urban Planning, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.
Abstract:   (9020 Views)
While various political, social and economic factors have changed in Iran during the last decades, the urbanization rate has risen from 28% in 1921 to 74% in 2016. In the last few decades, reclassification of villages to cities can be noticed as one of the most important dimensions of urbanization process in Iran. Among these, factors affecting on reclassification of rural settlements as cities and the impacts of this change on urban system and spatial organization of regions have attracted a lot of attention among researchers. Although the process of reclassification of villages as cities varied with the degrees of intensity and speed across the country, but this has been more important in some regions. One of these regions is Guilan province located in the north of Iran. The existence of susceptible agricultural lands, existence of the most important forestry areas of the country, aggregation of urban and rural settlements in this region are some factors that make this more important subject for wider researches. Accordingly, the questions that this article seeks to respond is, what is the most dominant process in reclassification villages as cities in Guilan and what impacts had on this region's urban system? 
Reclassification of villages as city refers to factors and processes that lead to the recognition of a village as a city. There are three points of view in this regard. The first emphasizes on the transformation of villages to city as a natural process. In this view, the growth of population size of rural communities leads to a change in economic, social and physical dimensions. Economically, the natural process is the same as market process in which economic forces freely lead to the reshaping of human settlements. The second view emphasizes on the involvement of political agents on the reclassification of villages as cities. The recognition of urban and non-urban centers in countries is important for various administrative and political tasks, such as distribution of governmental credits, allocation of facilities and etc. Therefore, it is important for governments to determine relevant criteria for the reclassification of rural settlements as urban areas. However, the reclassification of villages as cities with natural or political interventions cannot always be a reasonable and acceptable process, because of necessities in regional development. It is sometimes necessary to strengthen rural settlements as an urban settlement; that is the third point. The roots of this view, backs to 1960s and 1970s, and emergence of new perspectives between various views of regional development, can be described as small towns approach.
This research can be considered as an inductive-deductive research. The method used in this research is a descriptive-evaluative method and data collection method is documentary. This paper tries to evaluate the status and processes associated with the reclassification of villages as cities in Guilan province in Iran. With the population more than 5,000 people has been assumed as the main criterion for natural changes. Political, centrality as an index for political intervention and introducing in development plans as a potential settlement for reclassifying as city was counted as planning factor.
Results and discussion
The Guilan province in Iran is always considered as one of the agricultural hubs of the country and is divided into 16 counties. In the two censuses before the Islamic Revolution (excluding the 1956 census as the basis), nine cities were added to this region's urban system, where only one city (Rudbar) had less than 5,000 people. In addition, all of these cities had municipalities before being counted as cities. Therefore, it can be said that before the Islamic Revolution, the political process of recognition of a city has preceded from natural changes. After the Islamic Revolution, it was attempted to reconcile the identification of urban areas in the censuses and administrative system. Statistical surveys of cities based on criteria's that set out in the theoretical framework, reveals that 19 cities have been shaped from natural process and 24 cities have been shaped due to political interventions. Study of urban system of this region shows that most of new cities in Guilan province have less than 5,000 inhabitants. Urban Primacy Index reveals that since 1996, there has been a great concentration on Rasht as the primate city. Rank-size rule analysis indicates imbalance in urban hierarchy of this province. Therefore, it can be said that the emergence of low-population cities in this province influenced mainly by the government's policies and decisions, couldn't lead to an efficient change in urban hierarchy of this province.
The results of this research show three basic issues on the Guilan province's urban system: 1) Dominance of Rasht as capital city, which according to the census of 2016, includes near of 42.4% of the province's urban population. 2) The absence of middle size cities in its true meaning, as consolidators of urban network, which has led to an urban bias between primate city and small cities. 3) Sharp increase in the reclassification of villages as cities over the last few decades, especially after the Islamic Revolution. The rapid rate of reclassification of villages as cities in recent decades, has caused these cities not to be able to provide a significant instance on the urban hierarchy. Therefore, the reclassification of villages as cities has not led to adjustment of urban system, and there is a need for some different strategies to reshaping spatial organization of this province. In this case, the middle-size cities development strategy can be considered as one of the efficient strategies.
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Subject: Earth-Surface Processes
Received: 2017/11/18 | Accepted: 2023/10/20 | Published: 2018/04/15

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