||Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) require sustainable urban development and management for better human life quality. Small urban settlements—those with fewer than 500,000 people—are home to 26.5% of the world’s population. Yet, relatively little research attention has been paid to understanding the structure and dynamics of these smaller cities. In this paper, we propose a new concept, micro-urbanization, to fill this knowledge gap, and develop a methodology to characterize and map it using dense remote sensing time series data and landscape pattern metrics. We define micro-urbanization as a process of urban land change that has five primary characteristics: small, patchy, far from main urban areas, with limited geographic connection with existing urban areas and low urban intensity. We apply the method to two rapidly urbanizing countries in Africa, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Results show that the methodology is capable of detecting micro-urbanization with relatively high spatial and temporal accuracy.