Agriculture and the Countryside 131 Description of the Countryside

The countryside or the rural area can be defined roughly as the land outside the cities. More specific definitions are given by, for example, van Lier [12]:

• "rural areas are the areas composed of the (open) fields";

• "rural areas is all the land outside the urban areas, with a low population density." About 37% of the total land area in the world is in use by agriculture as cropland and permanent pasture [9]. From a global point of view, this means that agricultural activities determine the landscape structure of the countryside. The Agriculture Dictionary [13] gives a definition of rural land that shows this direct relationship between agriculture and the countryside. "Land which is occupied by farmers or used for agricultural purposes as distinguished from urban land, park or recreational land, and wilderness."

Although agriculture is the major land-use type in the countryside, it is not the only one. Outdoor recreation, infrastructure, rural housing, and nature, for example, have a certain share in the spatial structure of the countryside. In general, that share is determined by the geographic and socioeconomic situation of a country.

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