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A variety of definitions, invoking population, population density, number of dwellings, economic function, and infrastructure, are used in national censuses to classify populations as urban. Typical working definitions for small city populations start at around 100,000 people. Common population definitions for an urban area (city or town) range between 1,500 and 50,000 people, most U. S. states using a minimum between 1,500 and 5,000 inhabitants. Some jurisdictions set no such minimums. In the United Kingdom, city status is awarded by the Crown and then remains permanently. (Historically, the qualifying factor was the presence of a cathedral, resulting in some very small cities such as Wells and St Davids). According to the "functional definition" a city is not distinguished by size alone, but also by the role it plays within a larger political context. Cities serve as administrative, commercial, religious, and cultural hubs for their larger surrounding areas. Examples of settlements called city which may not meet any of the traditional criteria to be named such include Broad Top City, Pennsylvania (pop 452), and City Dulas, Anglesey, a hamlet.

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