Mega-regions have been defined as the extended networks of metropolitan centers and the surrounding areas that include layers of relationships in environmental systems, infrastructure systems, economic linkages, settlement pattern and land use, and shared culture and history. In the US, 10 mega-regions have been proposed by the Regional Plan Association (2006). They include the Northeast, Piedmont Atlantic mega-region, the Florida mega-region, the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes, the Texas Triangle, the Cascadia, Northern California, the Southern California and Arizona Sun Corridor. Most of the rapid population growth, and an even larger share of its economic expansion, is expected to occur in these 10 or more emerging mega-regions, with each mega-region spanning multiple state and regional boundaries, and covering thousands of square miles. The increasingly linked metropolitan areas and the increasingly decentralized nature of the U.S. economy led the Regional Plan Association to promote the mega-region as a key framework for economic analysis and urban policies.
Similar mega-regions have been identified in EU. Europe’s largest mega-region spans Amsterdam-Rotterdam, Ruhr-Cologne, Brussels-Antwerp and Lille. Other mega-regions include the British mega-region, the Italian mega-region, Greater Paris and the Euro-Sunbelt mega-region.
China’s mega-regions, together with metropolitan cities, become the engine for economic development, and the target areas for regional and national policies. Apart from the three giant mega-regions—Capital Economic Zone, Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta—which account for a large share of the country’s economic output, several other inland mega-regions are also emerging and developing. These 10 mega-regions as identified by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, cover around 20% of the total area of China, and include more than half of national population (census 2000 data) and 52% of GDP
In addition to industrial coordination (moving some government functions and industry out of Beijing to the surrounding are to relieve traffic and reduce air pollution), efforts should be made in building an efficient traffic network to get Beijing, Tianjin and the cities in Hebei fully connected, a move which will jump-start the integration in days to come.
It’s expected that by the year 2020, the Jing-Jin-Ji traffic network will comprise 9,500-km railways and 9,000-km expressways, keeping travel times between any major cities in the regions under one hour by train or three hours by car.
According to the Outline of Beijing Traffic Development (2004-30), Beijing is committed to building a large outer ring road running 940 km and high-speed channels in six directions to link it to adjacent areas. So far, roughly half of the outer ring road has been completed, leaving 490 km still under construction.
Tianjin has also gotten its teeth into weaving its own traffic grid, including Binshi Expressway, Jingtai Expressway, Jingqin Expressway, the first phase of Tanglang Expressway, the second phase of Tangcheng Expressway and Jishan Expressway, ensuring that there are three high-speed channels between the cities of Beijing, Tianjin and Shijiazhuang.
Teaming up with Beijing, Hebei will concentrate on building the large outer ring road in order to relieve the capital’s inward and outward traffic pressures, because 850 km of the 940 km ring road lies in the territory of Hebei, linking the Jingzhang, Jingshen, Jinghu, Jingtai, Daguang and Jingzhu expressway.
For megaregions to work it cannot be dominated by one central city with everything else being a suburb. There need to be multiple relatively equal cities within the megaregion.
Details on US, China and Europe Megaregions.
A more detailed, region-by-region typology of the country’s mega-regions is below, arranged from largest to smallest by population.
• Bos-Wash stretches from Boston through New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore to Washington, D.C., a total of 500 miles. It is home to 18 percent of the U.S. population – 56.5 million people. The region generates $3.75 trillion in economic output, meaning that, if Bos-Wash were a separate country, it would be the fourth largest economy in the world, behind only the U.S., China, and Japan and ahead of Germany.
• Chi-Pitts extends north and west from Pittsburgh through Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Minneapolis, taking in more than 50 metros in all. Home to 41.8 million individuals, this mega-region generates $2.3 trillion in output. Its economy is just a bit smaller than the United Kingdom’s, about the same size as Brazil’s, and bigger than all of Russia’s – equivalent to the world’s seventh largest nation.
• Char-lanta, which is home to 22 million people, takes in 45 metros, including Atlanta, Georgia; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Birmingham, Alabama. With more than a trillion in economic output, its economy is bigger that South Korea’s, placing it among the world’s fifteen largest economies.
• So-Cal runs from L.A. through San Diego and spills into Tijuana, Mexico, accounting for 21.8 million people and more than one trillion in economic output. Even excluding its Mexican component, its economy is bigger than all of Mexico’s and just a bit smaller than Spain’s, also putting it among the world’s fifteen largest economies.
• So-Flo includes Miami, Orlando and Tampa and is home to 15 million people. It produces more than $750 billion in economic output, making it about the same size as the Netherlands or Turkey, and would therefore rank among the world’s twenty largest economies.
• Nor-Cal includes San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and 14 other metros surrounding San Francisco Bay. It has a population of 13 million people and produces more than $900 billion in output, roughly the same as Indonesia, and more than Turkey. This also lands it among the world’s twenty largest economies.
• Tor-Buff-Chester stretches north from Buffalo and Rochester, taking in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal in Canada. It has an estimated population of more than 16 million (several smaller Canadian metros are not included in this tally). It generates output of nearly $600 billion, more than Sweden, placing it among the world’s 25 largest economies.
• Dal-Austin encompasses Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, Texas. Its population is just under 12 million. It produces more than $700 billion in economic output, more than Sweden or oil-rich Saudi Arabia. It also would rank among the 25 biggest economies in the world.
• Hou-Orleans, the great energy-producing belt that stretches from Houston through Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans, is home to more than 10 million people. It produces more than $750 billion in economic output, about the same as the Netherlands, placing it among the world’s 25 largest economies. (Some researchers have suggested combining Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Austin into a single “Texas Triangle.” This mega would include 20 million people, and its $1.5 trillion economy would be comparable to Australia’s and just a bit smaller than India’s or Canada’s.)
• The Cascadia mega-region, which stretches up from Portland, Oregon through Seattle and into Vancouver, Canada, is home to nearly 10 million people. It generates economic output of about $600 billion, comparable to Switzerland, also placing it among the world’s top 25 nations.
• Phoenix-Tucson is home to more than 5 million people and generates economic output of more than $250 billion, just slightly less than Hong Kong. This makes it one of the fifty largest economies in the world.
• Denver-Boulder has 4.2 million people and $256 billion in economic output, more than Finland, Greece or Ireland. If it were a nation, it would also rank among the world’s 50 largest economies.
The boundary of China’s ten mega-regions follows the most commonly accepted definition, which is listed below.
• Capital Economic Zone: the core centers of Capital Economic Zone are Beijing and Tianjin, surrounded by 8 cities from Hebei Pronvince, including Shijiazhuang, Baoding, Qinhuangdao, Langfang, Cangzhou, Chengde, Zhangjiakou, and Tangshan.
• ChuanYu Mega-Region: the core center of ChuanYu Mega-Region are Chongqing and Chengdu, surrounded by 13 cities from Sichuan Princince, including Zigong, Luzhou, Deyang, Mianyang, Suining, Neijiang, Leshan, Nanchong, Meishan, Yibin, Guan’an, Ya’an, and Ziyang.
• GuanZhong Mega-Region: the core center of GuanZhong Mega-Region is Xi’an, surrounded by Xianyang, Baoji, Tongchuan, and Weinan.
• HaiXia West Mega-Region: the core centers of Haixia West Mega-Region are Fuzhou and Xiamen, surrounded by Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, Putian, and Ningde.
• LiaoNing Mega-Region: the core centers of Liaoning Mega-Region are Shenyang and Dalian, surrounded by Anshan, Fushun, Benxi, Dandong, Liaoyang, Yingkou, Panjin, and Tieling.
Pearl River Delta: the core centers of Pearl River Delta are Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, surrounded by Zhuhai, Huizhou, Dongguan, Qingyuan, Zhaoqing, Foshan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, and Macao.
• ShanDong Mega-Region: includes Jinan, Qingdao, Yantai, Zibo, Weifang, Weihai, Dongying, and Rizhao.
• Wuhan Mega-Region: the core center of Wuhan Mega-Region is Wuhan, surrounded by 14 cities from 3 pronvinces, including Huangshi, Ezhou, Huanggang, Xiantao, Qianjiang, Xiaogan, Xianning, Tianmen, Suizhou, Jingmen, Jingzhou, Xinyang , Jiujiang, and Yueyang.
• Yangtze River Delta: the core center is Shanghai, surrounded by 6 cities from Zhejiang Pronvince and 8 cities from Jiangsu Province. These cities include Hangzhou, Jiaxing, Huzhou, Shaoxing, Ningbo, Zhoushan, Nanjing, Yangzhou, Changzhou, Taizhou, Zhenjiang, Wuxi, Nantong, and Suzhou.
• ZhongYuan Mega-Region: the core centers are Zhengzhou and Luoyang, surrounded by 7 cities from Henan Province, including Kaifeng, Xinxiang, Jiaozuo, Xuchang, Pingdingshan, Luohe, and Jiyuan
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