They tend to fall between what is perceived as the more deserving rural areas and larger towns that remain within the purview of national power-holders such as politicians and administrators who tend to live there. This bias towards ‘rural development’ and ‘primary’ or ‘mega-cities’ not only neglects the number of people living in smaller towns, but also overlooks the development potential of secondary towns – both at the national level and in terms of the intermediary role that such towns form by their connections with the surrounding rural areas and larger towns.

A closer look at Nepal and Bolivia

There is no agreed international consensus on the size of a small or medium-sized town; they come in all shapes and sizes. Classifications of towns vary according to national contexts and may be either purely in terms of population numbers, or include population density.

As part of Nepal’s recent transition to a federal republic (which began in 2017), the country is now divided into 753 administrative divisions which include gaunpalika, or rural municipalities, and nagarpalika, referred to here as (urban) municipalities, although the official translation of the latter is simply a municipality.