Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture and have less pollution. The degree to which areas of wilderness are included in the term varies; very large wilderness areas are not likely to be described by the term in most contexts.
In most parts of the world rural areas have been declining since the 19th century or earlier, both as a proportion of land area, and in terms of the proportion of the population living in them. Urbanization encroaches on rural land, and the mechanization of agriculture has reduced the number of workers needed to work the land, while alternative employment is typically easier to obtain in cities. In parts of the developed world urban sprawl has greatly reduced the areas that can be called rural, and land use planning measures are used to protect the character of rural areas in various ways.