Press Release

New Definition of Urban Areas Adopted
for Statistical Operations
(PR-200401-SS2-01, Posted 30 January 2004)

The National Statistical Coordination Board recently approved a new definition of urban areas for adoption by all concerned. The new definition is as follows:

  1. If a barangay has a population size of 5,000 or more, then a barangay is considered urban, or
  2. If a barangay has at least one establishment with a minimum of 100 employees, a barangay is considered urban, or
  3. If a barangay has 5 or more establishments with a minimum of 10 employees, and 5 or more facilities within the two-kilometer radius from the barangay hall, then a barangay is considered urban

Further, all barangays in the National Capital Region are automatically classified as urban and all highly urbanized cities would be subjected to the urban-rural criteria in order to determine its urban-rural classification. All other barangays are therefore classified as rural.

This change in definition is intended to improve the statistical measurement of urban areas, and does not in any way imply a change in the general concept of an urban area.

Why the Need For A New Definition of Urban Areas

The classification of urban and rural areas is an important indicator for many data users as it provides a basis for sound policies and decisions pertaining to urban planning and delivery of basic services.

The Philippines presently classifies urban and rural areas using the physical and economic characteristics of barangays. The definition of urban areas, which has been in use since the 1970 census, considers population density, street pattern, and presence of establishments and facilities for basic services. A review of the criteria revealed that some of these were no longer applicable, hence the need to formulate a more up-to-date, practical and realistic definition of urban areas in the Philippines.

The new definition underwent an open and rigorous process of evaluation and revalidation through a series of interagency discussions and consultations with experts, stakeholders and other concerned agencies, including the Technical Committee on Population and Housing Statistics (TCPHS) of the NSCB. The NSCB Executive Board approved the definition on 13 October 2003 through NSCB Board Resolution No. 9, s 2003.

Advocacy on the New Definition of Urban Areas

An advocacy campaign to inform users on the new definition of urban barangays is being spearheaded by the NSO and the NSCB. Data users are therefore advised that starting with the 2005 Mid-Decade Census of Population and Housing, statistics with urban-rural disaggregation need to be analyzed in the light of these changes in measurement, that is, in the criteria for classifying a barangay as to urban or rural. Initially, the NSO will release statistical tables using both the old and the new definition of urban area.

For further inquiries, please contact Ms. Raquel Susan V. Obedoza at telephone no. 890-9678 or e-mail address


Secretary General





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