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Sassnitz with port, small town on the island of Rügen with around 9,500 inhabitants (2016, photo: 2011)

Small town in Germany is an expression for the classification of a town according to inhabitants  - according to the definition of 1887 at least 5,000 and under 20,000 - and function, regionally but also with a different definition.


Small towns are for a definition of the German Reich statistics of 1871 and the International Statistics Conference 1887 all cities with populations between 5,000 and 20.000 - towns with less than 5,000 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.

The definition of small town on the basis of statistical characteristics is a fixed, quantitative parameter for its categorization, but not the only defining characteristic. Population density or the geographical location (peripheral or suburban areas), social and cultural significance, central location function and others are just as important for characterization . A very specific organization of social coexistence also results from these factors.

Economic structure

Small towns are usually economically specialized, e.g. B. as a small agricultural town, industrial, tourist or commercial town. On the one hand, this has to be seen in connection with the size of the small town and, on the other hand, with its historical economic tradition.

Social structure

In terms of its social structure , the small town is shaped by a form of partial, also group-specific, social contacts. In contrast to the core cities within large agglomerations, this enables a manageable space to be perceived. At the same time, social control also serves as an instrument for integrating the individual into a territorial group.

With regard to their labor market function, small towns are recognizable as part of the “ Central Places ” group as a centered labor market region that provides jobs especially for the population from rural areas, with regional hierarchies dominating. The range of jobs is higher than that of agglomerations and rural areas, but offers only modest career opportunities. At the same time, the small town is characterized in some regions by a low employment rate of female parts of the population, which, however, depends on biographical cuts.

See also

  • List of cities in Austria - directory also of small towns (for cities with less than 5,000 inhabitants)
  • Marktort (market town), traditional term for places with market rights


  • Christine Hannemann: Marginalized Cities: Problems, Differentiations and Chances of East German Small Cities in the Shrinking Process. Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-8305-0849-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Small town  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Brigitta Schmidt-Lauber, Wiebke Reinert, Georg Wolfmayr, Katrin Ecker: Mittelstädtische Urbanitäten. Ethnographic urban studies in Wels and Hildesheim (Middletown Urbanities. Ethnographic Urban Studies in Wels and Hildesheim). Research project, Institute for European Ethnology, University of Vienna; Conceptual section ( memento of the original dated November 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .
  2. R. Stewig (Ed.): Investigations on the small town in Schleswig-Holstein. In: Kiel Geographical Writings. Volume 66, 1987, ISSN  0723-9874 , p. 8 ff.
  3. ^ E. Lichtenberger: Urban geography 1: terms, concepts, models, processes. 1998, ISBN 3-519-23424-6 , pp. 307 f.
  4. ^ E. Lichtenberger: Urban geography 1: terms, concepts, models, processes. 1998, ISBN 3-519-23424-6 , p. 309.