Islands at Risk?

Islands at Risk?

Environments, Economies and Contemporary Change

John Connell

This book provides a wide-ranging comparative analysis of contemporary economic, social, political and environmental change in small islands, island states and territories, through every ocean. It focuses on those island realms conventionally perceived as developing, rather than developed, in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Chapter 5: Urban futures?

John Connell

Subjects: development studies, development studies, environment, climate change, disasters, environmental geography, geography, environmental geography, human geography


As the previous chapter has shown, with or without the creation of a modern economy, one distinctive and visible outcome of change through- out SISI is urbanization. Until the second half of the twentieth century most towns – there were no cities – were tiny, administrative centres: colonial outposts rather than centres of national development. That changed on the eve of independence, as towns took on new functions – a nascent industrialization, that never progressed far, alongside secondary and tertiary education, national hospitals, parliaments, broadcasting and so on. Towns underwent particularly rapid growth, the outcome of which raised difficult management problems rather than stimulating economic development. Urban populations have grown on all but the tiniest of islands (with Pitcairn’s ‘capital’ called Adamstown), but alongside that growth have come social and environmental problems, visibly evident in the emergence of squatter settlements, an informal sector and urban sprawl. Urbanization is a combination of inmigration, usually the out- come of rural–urban migration and less frequently of immigration, and to a lesser extent of urban fertility. To account for urbanization, and its causes and consequences, it is first necessary to trace basic components of population change. Only in parts of the Pacific are any SISI still going through the demographic transition, from high to low fertility and mortality, yet population growth rates remain rapid in some places. However, even basic data on population are often inadequate to assess trends, especially in the Caribbean and, perhaps surprisingly, in some of the smallest SISI,

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