Any city is a large and permanent settlement. There is no agreement on how any city is distinguished from a town, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on the law of the land.
In the American state of Massachusetts legal modalities by the local state legislature distinguishes a city government from a town. In the United Kingdom and parts of the Commonwealth of Nations, a settlement is called a city with a royal charter. The belief in this distinction is also there in England, where the presence of a cathedral is thought by many to distinguish a ‘city’ sometimes called a ‘cathedral city’ from a ‘town’ which has a parish church.
Cities often have elaborate systems for sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing, and transportation. Concentration of development in a limited space greatly facilitates interaction between people and businesses, benefiting both parties in the process. A big city or metropolis usually has many associated suburbs and exurbs. These cities are usually associated with metropolitan areas and urban areas, forcing numerous business commuters traveling to urban centers for employment. Once a city expands far enough to reach another city, this region can be classified a conurbation or megalopolis.
History of ‘City’
Towns and cities have a long history. A city is often formed as central places of trade. Cities, in fact, have proved very beneficial for human civilization. Benefits of the city include reduced transport costs, exchange of ideas, sharing of natural resources, large local markets, infrastructural amenities such as running water and sewage disposal. Possible harms include the higher rate of crime, higher mortality rates, higher cost of living, worse pollution, traffic and high commuting times. Cities grow when the benefits of proximity between people and firms are higher than the harms.
The first true towns are sometimes considered large settlements where the inhabitants were no longer simply farmers of the surrounding area, but they began to take on specialized occupations, and where trade, food storage and power was centralized. In 1950 Gordon Childe attempted to define a city with 10 general metrics. These are:
• Size and density of the population should be above normal.
• Differentiation of the occupation of the population. Not all residents grow their own food, leading to specialists.
• Payment of taxes to a deity or a king.
• Monumental public buildings.
• Those not producing their own food are supported by the king.
• Systems of recording and practical science.
• A system of writing.
• Development of symbolic art.
• Trade and import of raw materials.
• Specialist craftsmen from outside the kin-group.
This categorization is used as a general touchstone when considering ancient cities, although not all have each of its characteristics.
A very important characteristic that can be used to distinguish a small city from a large town is organized government. A town accomplishes common goals through informal agreements between neighbors or the leadership of a chief. A city has professional administrators, regulations, and some form of taxation (food and other necessities or means to trade for them) to feed the government workers. The governments may be based on heredity, religion, military power, work projects, food distribution, land ownership, agriculture, commerce, manufacturing, finance, or a combination of all these. Societies that live in cities are often called civilizations.