A city is a relatively large and permanent human settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law. Cities generally have complex systems for sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing, and transportation.
The concentration of development greatly facilitates interaction between people and businesses, benefiting both parties in the process, but it also presents challenges to managing urban growth. A big city or metropolis usually has associated suburbs and exurbs. Such cities are usually associated with metropolitan areas and urban areas, creating numerous business commuters traveling to urban centers for employment.
In terms of population, the largest city proper is Shanghai, while the fastest growing is Dubai. There is not enough evidence to assert what conditions gave rise to the first cities. Some theorists have speculated on what they consider suitable pre-conditions, and basic mechanisms that might have been important driving forces.
The governments may be based on heredity, religion, military power, work systems such as canal-building, food-distribution, land-ownership, agriculture, commerce, manufacturing, finance, or a combination of these. Societies that live in cities are often called civilizations.
Public art adorns (or disfigures) public spaces. Parks and other natural sites within cities provide residents with relief from the hardness and regularity of typical built environments.
The term can also refer either to the physical streets and buildings of the city or to the collection of people who dwell there, and can be used in a general sense to mean urban rather than rural territory.
Societies that live in cities are often called civilizations.