An urban area is an area with an increased density of human-created structures in comparison to the areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.
Urban decay is a process by which a city, or a part of a city, falls into a state of disrepair. It is characterized by depopulation, economic restructuring, property abandonment, high unemployment, fragmented families, political disenfranchisement, crime, and desolate and unfriendly urban landscapes. Urban decay was associated with Western cities, especially North America and parts of Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. During this time period major changes in global economies, transportation, and government policies created conditions that fostered urban decay. There is no single cause of urban decay, though it may be triggered by a combination of interrelated factors, including urban planning decisions, poverty, the development of motorways and railway lines, suburbanisation, and immigration. Since antiquity some people have chosen to live in cities for financial, social, religious or cultural reasons. Urban areas encourage the economical use of infrastructure, transportation and space. Urban areas offer the widest variety of opportunities for education and financial betterment. They are the meeting places where business is conducted and goods are exchanged. They are the ports of entry for immigrants and the seats of power for governments. Urban places are held together by the human desire to form societies, celebrate culture and establish meaningful social relations. Cities are the essential element of almost all civilizations. The word civilization shares the same root as city.