Tropical Geography ›› 2023, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (2): 308-319.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003622

Previous Articles    

County-Town-Village Spatial Pattern Under the Function Evolution of Township: A Case Study of Two Counties in Guangdong Province

Fan Mo1,2(), Yaofu Huang1,2, Xinhui Wu1,2, Jing Wang1,2()   

  1. 1.School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2.China Regional Coordinated Development and Rural Construction Institute, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2022-06-18 Revised:2022-12-01 Online:2023-02-05 Published:2023-02-28
  • Contact: Jing Wang;


Since the launch of the Rural Revitalization Strategy, China's rural construction in county seats and villages has made remarkable achievements. Meanwhile, towns have received insufficient attention as a traditionally important node connecting urban and rural areas. Based on historical literature and the most recent survey of Yangxi and Wengyuan counties in Guangdong Province, this study examines how the relationship between county, town, and village changes over time as the functions of towns change. Data from field investigations and villagers' questionnaires obtained from the evaluation of rural construction by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction in 2021 regarding the two case towns were employed. This study analyzes the function and role of towns in the county-town-village system and further discusses the transformation of the spatial pattern of county-town-village in two case counties. The town has been transformed into a comprehensive functional service space, providing basic services such as daily shopping, preschool education, compulsory education, and basic medical care, and has regained its importance in connecting urban and rural areas in the "hierarchical and open network" spatial structure of county-town-village. As a service center radiating through the entire county, the county seat plays an essential central role in satisfying the rural population with higher-quality modern services in addition to basic services and offering non-routine service functions such as access to medical care and house purchases. According to the differentiated functions of different scales and the contextual geographic conditions in the two case towns, the pattern of county-town-village has diverted into two different spatial structures: the classic "central place" hierarchical and the county-central one. Geographical conditions still matter; in plain areas, transportation links between counties, towns, and villages are more convenient. Therefore, the service needs of villagers are the major influencing factor while they choose where to go. Moreover, a county seat with a stronger comprehensive service capacity is preferred, and the spatial pattern has higher centrality. In hilly areas, topographic barriers, and inconvenient transportation limits public service options. Fewer villagers choose to go directly to county seats owing to the inconvenience, instead, town as a medium space has attracted some village residents. Thus, the spatial pattern of hilly areas is less central and more in the "central place" hierarchical structure. In summary, this study brings town, as a research unit, back to researchers' attention, and demonstrates the shifting roles of towns in the new era. In addition to pursuing the full coverage of facilities, to achieve the rational allocation of resources in the construction of town seats, the study suggests that the demand scale and service threshold of different types of functions should be considered. Meanwhile, the county should be viewed as an inclusive unit that can coordinate the allocation of resources to towns according to their basic conditions. Based on a complete configuration of necessary facilities, towns near urbanized areas can make full use of the radiation capacity of the county or city and reduce the construction of overly urbanized facilities; in areas where transportation within the county is less convenient, the service level of towns needs to be further improved.

Key words: town, town function, spatial structure, central place theory, Guangdong Province

CLC Number: 

  • C912.82