For most of its history, the United States has measured its progress according to the growth of its cities. In the last 200 years, cities have expanded very fast and many have become centres of commercial and industrial activity, and of political, artistic and social  life.

There has also been an increasing number of foreign immigrants, people from different countries, moving to America to settle down and internal migrants, people within the country, moving from farms and rural areas to cities. In recent years, however, something unexpected has happened and this pattern has changed.

For the first time in two centuries, the countryside is growing faster than the cities. The change from a pattern of migration into the urban areas to one of migration to rural areas happened quite suddenly. For example, from March 1970 to March 1974, almost six million people moved  out of the cities, while only a bit more than four million moved in.

The changing migration pattern can best be seen in the largest cities of America. Five of the eight largest cities – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Detroit – have actually lost population since 1970. The change seems to show that Americans  do not enjoy living in urban areas anymore. Small rural towns have suddenly become more attractive.

Many reasons are offered in explanation of the decrease in movement to the cities. Some of the most recent explanations are those that mention the disadvantages of living in the cities because of  food, energy and job shortages. Other urban problems often mentioned are crime, drugs, pollution and transportation. Another reason why people choose to live in rural areas is probably the growth of colleges and universities in areas outside the cities.

Other reasons are the environmental movement, which has been started by people who are in search of cleaner air and water, and the improvement in the living standards of rural communities. Many people today have bought farmland which belonged to people who migrated to the city, and most have started to provide the major part of their needs by growing crops and raising farm animals.  The setting up of small and medium-sized manufacturing plants (factories) in rural areas has also attracted people from cities. Although such factories pay lower wages than those in large cities, they provide employment for both men and women and help to increase rural income. With the increasing possibility of finding  jobs, rural areas have become more attractive places to live in.

Recent improvements in highway systems and transportation facilities help to keep people in the countryside. Many of the people living in rural areas still work in the city but can easily drive to and from work using the interstate highway system. The return to rural areas, however, does not mean that the United States is going to become a rural society. About 75% of the U.S. population still lives in cities and hundreds of thousands will continue to move to cities each year.


Mark the best choice.

1. Line 6, ‘immigrants’ are people who .

a) leave their own country to live in another country

b) live in big cities c) move from one town to another town within the same country d) live in rural areas


2. Which of the following has happened recently although it wasn’t expected to occur?

a) Immigrants and migrants have moved to the cities in increasing numbers.

b) People have moved to the rural areas in great numbers.

c) People from the countryside have moved to different countries in large numbers.

d) Large numbers of immigrants have moved to the cities and rural areas.


3. Which of the following is true about rural areas?

a) Transportation is a problem. b) There is a shortage of food and energy.

c) There are no educational facilities. d) People are not as well-paid there as they are in cities.

4. Most of the people who live in the countryside .

a) give up their jobs in the city b) gr0w their own food on their own land

c) can’t find jobs d) would prefer to live in the city
5. Today of the U.S. population lives in the cities.

a) more than half b) less than half c) exactly half d) almost half
6. The environmental movement has started because .

a) people have started to move more frequently b) cities are not as clean and healthy places to live in as are rural areas

c) people have realized that it is more exciting to move to small towns d) cities and towns are part of our environment

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