AP Human Geography : Primate Cities

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Human Geography

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Example Questions

Example Question #3 : Cities & Urban Land Use

In Mexico, the population of Mexico City metropolitan area is over 20 million people. The next largest metropolitan area, Guadalajara, has approximately 4.5 million people. This disparity in population sizes makes Mexico City an example of __________.

Possible Answers:

an alpha city

a mercantile city

a world city

a capital city

a primate city

Correct answer:

a primate city

Explanation:

Mexico's population distribution is an example of a primate city. Mexico City has a population that is more than double the population of Guadalajara, therefore not qualifying the population to be under a rank-size rule. Cities can be world cities, alpha cities, or capital cities and not have the population disparities found in countries like Mexico.

Example Question #2 : Primate Cities

A country has a population of twenty million, with a capital city with a population of nine million. That capital city is an example of a __________.

Possible Answers:

urban jungle

primate city

megalopolis

gentrified city

decaying city

Correct answer:

primate city

Explanation:

The term “primate city” is used to refer to a city that functions as by far the largest city in the country it inhabits. It may have a population between a third and a half of that of the whole country. Classic examples of primate cities include Bangkok in Thailand and Seoul in South Korea.

Example Question #3 : Primate Cities

Primate cities have typically arisen in __________ environments.

Possible Answers:

peaceful and vibrant 

poor and impoverished

wealthy and modern

war-torn and violent

post-colonial

Correct answer:

post-colonial

Explanation:

A “primate city” is a city that serves as by far the biggest city in the country that it inhabits. It’s population is exponentially greater than the population of the next largest city in that country. These types of cities typically arise in “postcolonial” settings because during the colonial era it was common for the European governments to carry out all their political and economic activity through one regional center. This led to infrastructure being disproportionately developed in one centralized area. After decolonization this infrastructure remained in place.

Example Question #4 : Cities & Urban Land Use

What is a mercantile city?

Possible Answers:

any coastal city

a city which has a major train route

a city which focuses mainly on exporting goods

any city that is composed of many industries

a city designed by trade routes

Correct answer:

a city designed by trade routes

Explanation:

By definition, mercantile refers to anything of or relating to trade. A mercantile city is a trade city which developed because of the trade routes. Most of these cities benefit from being on the coast because they can have a port, but after train transportation became prominent, having a port was no longer an essential element to being a mercantile city.

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