Explaining the role of ports in shaping the spatial structure of hinterlands in Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of Arts and Architecture, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, I.R. IRAN

2 Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of Arts and Architecture, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran


In recent decades, in a large number of developing countries, spatial inequalities have been a growing trend, as new forms of regional imbalance are emerging in the context of these countries. In fact, the growth of inequality between cores and peripheral regions has led to the rise of inequality, even nationally. In Iran, especially in the second half of the century, the spatial structure of the country has been heavily influenced by changes in the use of oil resources and its increasing exports. As a result, the capital (Tehran) has been steadily growing at the center of political, economic and social power, and its growth has continued to this day. This has made other peripheral areas increasingly dependent on the capital. It is clear that nodes, corridors, and flows are the basic elements of the spatial structure of a territory. Therefore, the relationship between seaports and hinterlands, due to the intensity of existing interactions, play an important role in shaping the spatial structure of a country. Southern ports in Iran seem to have played a double role in increasing power and concentration in the capital in recent years, but also have added to the severity of spatial inequality in peripheral regions. The basic statistical data and preliminary observations confirm the claim that the most deprived and most undeveloped areas of the country are located in the local hinterlands of the southern ports. This research intends to explore the levels of development and spatial inequality of the national and regional scales in Iran, focusing on the study of ports relations and hinterlands by employing social network analysis and evaluating of related indicators that have been extracted by UCINET and Gephi software. Accordingly, quantitative data (based on commodity flows between nodes) during the period 1996 to 2015 have been collected and analyzed based on the positivism paradigm framework. The findings of this research show that some social network analysis indicators (such as Network Transivity & Density, Weighted & Betweenness centrality, Core-Periphery, Community-levels, and Hubs-Authorities) emphasize that both the two cities of Tehran and Bandar Abbas have been in the first interacting and exchanging commodity flows during these two decades. other peripheral centers are also at the second level with significant differences (including Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz, and Ahwaz). However, cities such as Kerman, Zahedan, and Jahrom, while in the past centuries have been considered as strong logistic hubs for the southern ports, have had a good boom in the local hinterlands of ports; in recent years have not had a proper level and position in the network of spatial interactions. In other words, the results of this study indicate that the local southern hinterlands of the country, in spite of the proximity to the main southern ports of the country, and the huge capacity of development in the storage, processing, and distribution of goods, are suffering the growing spatial inequality compared with other national and regional hinterlands. Overall, according to these findings, we can name this spatial structure as a Constellation Centralized Structure.


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