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primate city, the law of the

  An empirical regularity identified by Mark Jefferson (1939) in the relationship of the populations of a country\'s three largest cities. He noted that the ratio of the three populations approximated the sequence 100:30:20 in many cases (i.e. the third largest is one-fifth the size of the largest), which he attributed to the largest city\'s preeminence in economic, social and political affairs. The sequence he identified is now largely ignored but the concepts of primacy and a primate city are still widely referred to. Accounts usually relate a primate city\'s predominance to the small size of the country, the export orientation of its trade, and a recent colonial past (see also city-size distribution; mercantilist model; rank-size rule). (RJJ)

Reference Jefferson, M. 1939: The law of the primate city. Geographical Review 29: 226-32.



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