Regions and Cities at a Glance

Regions and Cities at a Glance provides a comprehensive assessment of how regions and cities across the OECD are progressing in a number of aspects connected to economic development, health, well-being and the net zero-carbon transition. It presents indicators on individual regions and cities to assess disparities within countries and their evolution since the turn of the new millennium. Each indicator is illustrated by graphs and maps. The report covers all OECD countries and, where data is available, partner countries and economies.

The data in this note reflect different sub-national geographic levels in OECD countries:

  • Regions are classified on two territorial levels reflecting the administrative organisation of countries: large regions (TL2) and small regions (TL3). Small regions are classified according to their access to metropolitan areas (Fadic et al. 2019).

  • Functional urban areas consist of cities – defined as densely populated local units with at least 50 000 inhabitants – and adjacent local units connected to the city (commuting zones) in terms of commuting flows (Dijkstra, Poelman, and Veneri 2019). Metropolitan areas refer to functional urban areas above 250 000 inhabitants.

In addition, some indicators use the degree of urbanisation classification (OECD et al. 2021), which defines three types of areas:

  • Cities consist of contiguous grid cells that have a density of at least 1 500 inhabitants per km2 or are at least 50% built up, with a population of at least 50 000.
  • Towns and semi-dense areas consist of contiguous grid cells with a density of at least 300 inhabitants per km2 and are at least 3% built up, with a total population of at least 5 000.
  • Rural areas are cells that do not belong to a city or a town and semi-dense area. Most of these have a density below 300 inhabitants per km2.


Well-being, liveability and inclusion in regions

Regional well-being

Iceland faces stark regional disparities across one well-being dimensions, with the starkest disparities in terms of jobs, safety and access to services.

Figure 3: Regional gaps in well-being

Note: Regional indices provide a first comparative glance of well-being in OECD regions. The figure shows the relative ranking of the regions with the best and worst outcomes in the eleven well-being dimensions, relative to all OECD regions. The eleven dimensions are ordered by decreasing regional disparities in the country. Each well-being dimension is measured by the indicators in the table below.

Relative to other OECD regions, Iceland performs best in the access to services dimension, with all of Islandic regions lying in the top 20% of OECD regions.

The top 20% of Islandic regions rank above the OECD median region in 11 out of 14 well-being indicators, performing best in terms of life satisfaction and employment rate.

Figure 4: How do the top and bottom regions fare on the well-being indicators?

Note: Regional well-being indices are affected by the availability and comparability of regional data across OECD countries. The indicators used to create the indices can therefore vary across OECD publications as new information becomes available. For more visuals, visit

The digital divide

Fixed Internet connections in Islandic cities and rural areas deliver speeds significantly faster than the OECD average (88% and 34%, respectively). This gap (54 percentage points) is larger than in most other OECD countries.

Figure 5: Speed of fixed Internet connections relative to the OECD average, by degree of urbanisation, 2021Q4