The concept of smart cities has gained significant momentum in science and policy circles over the past decade. This study aims to provide an overview of the structure and trends in the literature on smart cities. Bibliometric analysis and science mapping techniques using VOSviewer and CiteSpace are used to identify the thematic focus of over 5000 articles indexed in the Web of Science since 1991. In addition to providing insights into the thematic evolution of the field, the three-decade study period is divided into two sub-periods (1991–2015 and 2016–2021). While splitting the dataset into more sub-periods would have been desirable, we decided to only examine two sub-periods as only very few papers have been published until 2010. The annual number of publications has progressively increased since then, with a surge in the annual number of publications observable from 2015 onwards. The thematic analysis showed that the intellectual base of the field has been very limited during the first period, but has expanded significantly since 2015. Over time, some thematic evolutions, such as further attention to linkages to climate change and resilience, and more emphasis on security and privacy issues, have been made. The thematic analysis shows that existing research on smart cities is dominated by either conceptual issues or underlying technical aspects. It is, therefore, essential to do more research on the implementation of smart cities and actual and/or potential contributions of smart cities to solving societal issues. In addition to elaborating on thematic focus, the study also highlights major authors, journals, references, countries, and institutions that have contributed to the development of the smart cities literature.
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