Gateway Cities and Urbanisation in Southeast Asia Before World War II
Between the 1870s and World War II, falls in world shipping costs and Western industrialisation gave rise to export-led Southeast Asian growth and specialization in a narrow range of primary commodity exports.� A linked development was the emergence of a few dominant Southeast Asian urban centres, typically primate and always ports.� Drawing on historical census data, this paper uses rank-size distributions and transition matrices to investigate the influence of commodity specialisation and exports on urban systems development in the region.� It is argued that different commodities produced different spread effects, resulting in variation in degrees of urban concentration in the region.� However, geography, path dependence and infrastructrue also shaped urban systems development.� The main cities that emerged during this period became the 'gateways' that connected frontier Southeast Asia to the Global economy,
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