Urban and rural areas

The Census Bureau identifies both individual urban areas and rural areas of the nation. Urban areas represent densely developed territory, and encompass residential, commercial, and other non-residential urban land uses.

Rural areas encompass all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area. The Census Bureau delineates urban areas after each decennial census by applying specified criteria to decennial census and other data.

Here is an explanatory note from the Census Bureau:

For the 2010 Census, an urban area will comprise a densely settled core of census tracts and/or census blocks that meet minimum population density requirements, along with adjacent territory containing non-residential urban land uses as well as territory with low population density included to link outlying densely settled territory with the densely settled core.  To qualify as an urban area, the territory identified according to criteria must encompass at least 2,500 people, at least 1,500 of which reside outside institutional group quarters.

The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas:

Use the Social Explorer reporting tool to create data reports for urban areas in the United States. Here is an example from the 2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates: https://www.socialexplorer.com/tables/ACS2019_5yr/R12714154

The Census Bureau has officially delineated urban territory, population and housing since the 1910 Census. For more information about the history of urban and rural geographical classification, click here.