Urban areas in Sweden

Statistics Sweden Stad (Sweden) Swedish language

An urban area or tätort (lit. 'dense locality') in Sweden has a minimum of 200 inhabitants and may be a city, town or larger village.[1] It is a purely statistical concept, not defined by any municipal or county boundaries.[2][3] Larger urban areas synonymous with cities or towns (Swedish: stad for both terms) for statistical purposes have a minimum of 10,000 inhabitants.[4] The same statistical definition is also used for urban areas in the other Nordic countries.

In 2018, there were nearly two thousand urban areas in Sweden, which were inhabited by 87% of the Swedish population.[5]

Urban area is a common English translation of the Swedish term tätort. The official term in English used by Statistics Sweden is, however, "locality" (Swedish: ort). It could be compared with "census-designated places" in the United States.


Until the beginning of the 20th century, only the towns/cities were regarded as urban areas. The built-up area and the municipal entity were normally almost congruent. Urbanization and industrialization created, however, many new settlements without formal city status. New suburbs grew up just outside city limits, being de facto urban but de jure rural. This created a statistical problem. The census of 1910 introduced the concept of "densely populated localities in the countryside". The term tätort (literally "dense place") was introduced in 1930. The municipal amalgamations placed more and more rural areas within city municipalities, which was the other side of the same problem. The administrative boundaries were in fact not suitable for defining rural and urban populations. From 1950 rural and urban areas had to be separated even within city limits, as, e.g., the huge wilderness around Kiruna had been declared a "city" in 1948. From 1965 only "non-administrative localities" are counted, independently of municipal and county borders. In 1971 "city" was abolished as a type of municipality.


Map of Sweden showing all urban areas (cities and towns) with a population of more than 20,000 (Mora is not correct; Varberg and Falkenberg missing).

Urban areas in the meaning of tätort are defined independently on the division into counties and municipalities, and are defined solely according to population density. In practice, most references in Sweden are to municipalities, not specifically to towns or cities, which complicates international comparisons. Most municipalities contain many localities (up to 26 in Kristianstad Municipality), but some localities are, on the other hand, multimunicipal. Stockholm urban area is spread over 11 municipalities.

When comparing the population of different cities, the urban area (tätort) population is to prefer ahead of the population of the municipality. The population of, e.g., Stockholm should be accounted as about 1.2 million rather than the approximately 800,000 of the municipality, and Lund rather about 75,000 than about 110,000.

Swedish definitions

Terms used for statistical purposes

Popular and traditional terms

Seasonal areas and suburbs


Before 2015 delimitation of localities were made by Statistics Sweden every five years, since then it is trialling a three-year update period.[4] The number of urban areas in Sweden increased by 56 to 1,956 in 2010. A total of 8,016,000 – 85 per cent – of the Swedish population lived in an urban area; occupying only 1,3 per cent of Sweden's total land area, and the most populous urban area is Stockholm at 1,4 million people.[3][9]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Localities and urban areas". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  2. ^ a b c "Nationalencyklopedin - Tätort". Nationalencyklopedin. Retrieved 21 July 2014. Translation: 'a for the Nordic countries shared statistical definition of built-up area with at least 200 residents, not more than 200 m between each other (without regard to the ward, municipal or county boundaries)'
  3. ^ a b "Fortsatt stor ökning av befolkning i tätorter". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 21 July 2014. Definitionen av en tätort är i korthet att den skall bestå av sammanhängande bebyggelse med högst 200 meter mellan husen och ha minst 200 invånare. Ingen hänsyn tas till kommun- eller länsgränser
  4. ^ a b c d "Localities 2015" (PDF) (in Swedish). Statistics Sweden. 2016-10-25..
  5. ^ "Roughly 87 percent of the population lives in localities and urban areas". Statistics Sweden. 2019-03-28.
  6. ^ "Smaller localities". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  7. ^ Statistics Sweden. Population in the metropolitan areas on Dec. 31, 2002 and 2003, SCB Befolkningsstatistik del 1-2, 2003. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  8. ^ Statistics Sweden.Press release Archived 2011-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, Household budget survey (HBS), 2006-06-01 Nr 2006:079A. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  9. ^ "Stor andel unga i mindre tätorter". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 21 July 2014.