Economically, spatially, environmentally and socially, rural and urban areas can no longer be considered completely separate, distinct phenomenon. Improved transportation and communication networks and the need to diversify livelihoods are among some of the factors giving rise to a rural-urban continuum, in which many facets of life are inexorably linked. The rural-urban linkages and interactions vary considerably between regions, with sub-Sahara African peri-urban areas having few similarities to South-east Asia “desakota” areas. This paper provides an overview of the trends in peri-urbanism between four regions: sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Amazon-Andean region and China. Population, economic, and peri-urbanisation trends are examined within the context of their effects on local ecosystem services and provisioning.