Small town is an expression for the classification of a city in terms of population - generally about under 20,000 - and function, but also with other regional definition.


Small towns are seeking a definition of the German Reich statistics of 1871 and the International Statistics Conference of 1887, all cities with a population 5000-20000 - towns with less than 5000 inhabitants are then country towns, larger steps are the medium-sized town with 20,000 to 100,000 inhabitants and the city from 100,000 inhabitants.

This definition is now considered outdated, in spatial planning is more likely to be of up to 50,000 inhabitants.

The definition of small town using statistical characteristics is a solid, quantitative parameter for their categorization, but not the only defining characteristic. Equally important for the characterization are population density or geographic location (peripheral or suburban areas ), social and cultural importance central place function, and more. From these factors, there is also a very specific organization of social life.

Economic structure

Small towns are economically specializes in general, eg as an agricultural town, industrial, tourism and commercial town. This can be seen on the one hand related to the size of the small town and the other with its economic history tradition.

Social structure

From the social structure produces the small town is partial of a mold also influenced group-specific, social contacts. This allows, in contrast to the core cities of large agglomerations within a reasonable space of perception. At the same time the social control also serves as an instrument of integration of the individual in a territorial group.

With respect to their labor market function are small towns as part of the group " central places " recognized as a centered labor market area, keeps the jobs available especially for the population from the rural areas, where regional hierarchies dominate. Although the job spectrum higher than that of urban areas and rural areas, but provides only modest career opportunities. This small town also features in some regions a low participation rate of female populations that depend, however, by biographic cuts.