Urban Sprawl is a major issue in many countries. Specifically in my country (Switzerland) it is such an issue that truly rural areas (where a majority of people don't go to a town every day to work) are in danger of disappearing entirely. Rural villages that are close to a town get more houses built, and turn into semi-rural villages. At which point many of them turn completely into suburbs, with some farms and fields remaining among huge waves of individual houses. In some cases it is not even rare to see some old farms surrounded by a dozen tall blockhouses; in the worst cases even their gardens were destroyed and only the old buildings themselves remain (because they are protected by law).
Back in the middle ages, when the cities' borders were defined by tall defence walls, it was very clear where the city stopped. Nowadays the limit is extremely broad.
There are still administrative borders. When the only limiting factor is a change of municipality, it is extremely tempting for a rural municipality that is near a town to let urban people build their houses there, as it brings a lot of taxes into the municipality's funds (and I mean, a lot, when ecologists support laws to ban such builds, it's not unheard off that they be target of terrorist attacks from property developers, that is usually supported by the municipalities themselves).
Such a process is usually reported as a good term of development instead of being reported as a bad term of destruction of the natural and rural environment which also takes place.
Once villages grow up into suburbs, in some countries it is common for them to dissolve their municipalities and be absorbed into the city. In Switzerland it is not -- this is why the cities show much smaller numbers of inhabitants in the statistics despite the cities not being much smaller (since the suburbs are not included when counting the inhabitants).
Now, what if cities are bounded by a more important border, such as a state border? What comes to mind is the city-states, such as Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen in Germany, Basel in Switzerland, or Hong-Kong and Macau (somewhat) in China. Does such a state border prevent the neighbouring rural territories (such as the Brandenburg around Berlin) from becoming soulless and endlessly exponentially expanding suburbs, or does it have absolutely no effect?