Urban areas in Sweden

Urban area is a common English translation of the Swedish term tätort. The official term in English used by Statistics Sweden is, however, "locality." It could be compared with "census-designated places" in the United States.

A tätort in Sweden has a minimum of 200 inhabitants and may be a city, town or larger village.[1] It is a purely statistical concept, not defined by any municipal or county boundaries.[2][3] Urban areas referred to as cities or towns (Swedish: stad) for statistical purposes have a minimum of 10,000 inhabitants.[4] In 2010, there was 1,956 urban areas in Sweden, covering 85% of the Swedish population.[3]


Until the beginning of the 20th century, only the cities were regarded as urban areas. The built-up area and the municipal entity were normally almost congruent. Urbanization and industrialization created, however, many new settlements without formal city status. New suburbs grew up just outside city limits, being de facto urban but de jure rural. This was of course a statistical problem. The census of 1910 introduced the concept of "densely populated localities in the countryside". The term tätort (literally "dense place") was introduced in 1930. The municipal amalgamations placed more and more rural areas within city municipalities, which was the other side of the same problem. The administrative boundaries were in fact not suitable for defining rural and urban populations. From 1950 rural and urban areas had to be separated even within city limits, as, e.g., the huge wilderness around Kiruna had been declared a "city" in 1948. From 1965 only "non-administrative localities" are counted, independently of municipal and county borders. In 1971 "city" was abolished as a type of municipality.


Map of Sweden showing all urban areas (cities and towns) with a population of more than 20,000.

Urban areas in the meaning of tätort are defined independently on the division into counties and municipalities, and are defined solely according to population density. In practice, most references in Sweden are to municipalities, not specifically to towns or cities, which complicates international comparisons. Most municipalities contain many localities (up to 26 in Kristianstad Municipality), but some localities are, on the other hand, multimunicipal. Stockholm urban area is spread over 11 municipalities.

When comparing the population of different cities, the urban area (tätort) population is to prefer ahead of the population of the municipality. The population of, e.g., Stockholm should be accounted as about 1.2 million rather than the approximately 800,000 of the municipality, and Lund rather about 75,000 than about 110,000.

Swedish definitions

Terms used for statistical purposes

Popular and traditional terms

Seasonal areas and suburbs


Delimitation of localities are made by Statistics Sweden every five years.[4] The number of urban areas in Sweden increased by 56 to 1,956 in 2010. A total of 8,016,000 – 85 per cent – of the Swedish population lived in an urban area; occupying only 1,3 per cent of Sweden's total land area, and the most populous urban area is Stockholm at 1,4 million people.[3][8]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Localities 2010: Population, age and gender" (PDF) (in Swedish and English). Statistics Sweden. p. 21. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 "Nationalencyklopedin - Tätort". Nationalencyklopedin. Retrieved 21 July 2014. Translation: 'a for the Nordic countries shared statistical definition of built-up area with at least 200 residents, not more than 200 m between each other (without regard to the ward, municipal or county boundaries)'
  3. 1 2 3 "Fortsatt stor ökning av befolkning i tätorter". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 21 July 2014. Definitionen av en tätort är i korthet att den skall bestå av sammanhängande bebyggelse med högst 200 meter mellan husen och ha minst 200 invånare. Ingen hänsyn tas till kommun- eller länsgränser
  4. 1 2 3 4 Statistics Sweden. Be 16 SM 9601, Tätorter 1995, p. 2: "Towns (localities with more than 10,000 inhabitants)".
  5. "Smaller localities 2010" (PDF) (in Swedish and English). Statistics Sweden. p. 81. Retrieved 21 July 2014. A smaller locality consists of a group of buildings not more than 150 met res apart from each other and has 50 – 199 inhabitants.
  6. Statistics Sweden. Population in the metropolitan areas on Dec. 31, 2002 and 2003, SCB Befolkningsstatistik del 1-2, 2003. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  7. Statistics Sweden.Press release, Household budget survey (HBS), 2006-06-01 Nr 2006:079A. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  8. "Stor andel unga i mindre tätorter". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 21 July 2014.

External links

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