Geographical centrality is an evolving concept that differs from one perspective to another at different stages. The unprecedented development of high-speed information and transportation networks has highlighted the important role of space of flows and has restructured the mode of spatial interaction. The geographical centrality analysis method based on relational networks currently becomes the mainstream, but most related methods ignore the spatial structure. In this study, we first analyze the impacts of space of flows on geographical space based on spatial interaction theory. We argue that geographical space and space of flows dominate short- and long-distance interactions, respectively. Based on this hypothesis, the concept of geographical centrality based on space of flows is proposed. The new concept categorizes spatial units into four types: global centers, isolated units, externally oriented units, and locally oriented units. Then, two quantitative measures, namely, global and local geographical centrality indexes, are defined. In the case study, we analyze the geographical centrality of cities in China at three different spatial scales and compare the result with three other geographical centrality analysis methods. City attribute is concluded to be more important than spatial distance in urban spatial interaction at the national scale, and this situation is caused by the effect of space of flows on geographical space. The similarities and differences between the proposed geographical centrality analysis method and the classic spatial autocorrelation analysis method of Moran’s I are also discussed.
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