In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographic area that is located outside towns and cities. Typical rural areas have a low population density and small settlements. Agricultural areas and areas with forestry typically are described as rural. Different countries have varying definitions of rural for statistical and administrative purposes.
In rural areas, because of their unique economic and social dynamics, and relationship to land-based industry such as agriculture, forestry and resource extraction, the economics are very different from cities and can be subject to boom and bust cycles and vulnerability to extreme weather or natural disasters, such as droughts. These dynamics alongside larger economic forces encouraging to urbanization have led to significant demographic declines, called rural flight, where economic incentives encourage younger populations to go to cities for education and access to jobs, leaving older, less educated and less wealthy populations in the rural areas. Slower economic development results in poorer services like healthcare and education and rural infrastructure. This cycle of poverty in some rural areas, means that three quarters of the global population in poverty live in rural areas according to the Food and Agricultural Organization.
Some communities have successfully encouraged economic development in rural areas, with some policies such as giving increased access to electricity or internet, proving very successful on encouraging economic activities in rural areas. Historically development policies have focused on larger extractive industries, such as mining and forestry. However, recent approaches more focused on sustainable development are more aware of economic diversification in these communities.