Urban & Rural Settlement Geography

Settlement is a  place where people live and interact through activities such as agriculture, trading and entertainment

Settlement in geography help us to understand man’s relationship with his environment.

A rural settlement is a community involved predominantly primary activities such as farming, lumbering and mining.

A urban settlement engages in predominantly in secondary and tertiary activities such as food processing and banking.

There is often correlation between functions , population sizes and population density.

A rural settlement tends to have small population and low population density.

Urban settlement often has a large population size and high population density.

Site Factors for Settlement

Physical environment determine the site of a settlement depend on

1.Water supply – water is essential for human survival and agricultural activities.
2.Relief – the availability of broad flat land such as floodplains promote agricultural activities.
3.Soils- fertility of soils also another considerations for agricultural activities
4.Shelter-which are sheltered from natural elements. Windswept highland with harsh cold climate are conducive for settlement.
5.Defence– Threat from enemies and predatory animals drove people to live together for protection.



The town and cities grow in size and number as the urban population expands. The rapid rate of Urbanisation in developed and developing countries brings a host of urban problems due to a large increase in the number of urban dwellers.

The problems are

1.Housing- lack of house and cant afford of proper housing. Development of squatter settlement.
2.Water supply- shortage of water supply due to the demand of water supply and poor piping system.
3.Transport- too many cars in major cities. Poor public transport system
4.Pollution- domestic and industrial waste contribute to land pollution in urban areas.


Solutions to the Urban Problems

    1.Housing – provide high rise flat since the land is scarce like in Singapore and Hong Kong. Most of the middle class residential live at HDB ( Housing Development Board) Flats in Singapore.
hdb flat
Provide low cost housing to relocate slum dwellers and squatter.
Improve the living condition of slum and squatter settlements instead of removing them by providing piped water and sanitation.
Control to reduce the rural urban migration by this it can reduce the overcrowding in the city.

    2. Water supply- to increase water supply is build more reservoirs.

To improve the quality of water, more treatment plants should be built and old rusty pipes must be replaced.
educate the public in the virtues of water conservation.
     3. Transport- to ease congestion in the developed countries road and railways network have to extended.

– Build extensive expressways and wider roads to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

Encourage to use public transport to reduce traffic congestion such as MRT.
4. Pollution- several ways to curb pollution

-impose fine to protect the environment such as littering and emission of excessive exhaust fumes.

Land pollution to collect the waste three times a day
Water pollution- increase the number of sewerage pipes in the city.
Noise pollution- piling work should be done in daylight at certain hours and growing tree as a noise buffer in the expressway.
Increase awareness of health, hygiene and ills of pollutions.

Urban Theory

circular model

Burgess based his model on the city of Chicago

At its core is the CBD, or Central Business District. This is the area with the highest land price, which could only be afforded by businesses.

Around this is the zone of transition, which is where industry located. In many cities in the UK, such as Birmingham, this zone can be quite easily identified. However in most cases the industry has moved out, leaving the zone empty and in need of renewal.

Beyond the zone of transition are the rings of residential housing. As people became more wealthy they could afford to live further out of town, in bigger houses, with larger gardens.

The houses closest to the centre originally would have housed the workers for the inner city industries. Many British cities still have many of these terraced houses remaining.

As people moved away from the CBD, the houses closest to the centre would be taken by newly arrived immigrants to the city, either from elsewhere in the country or abroad.

sector model

The sector model has a similar idea of a CBD to Burgess. This is still the area with the highest land price.

Hoyt then used transport routes to determine where his other sectors would be located. He still had a zone of transition around the CBD, but he also had industry fanning out from the centre along major transport routes. He assumed that “Like would attract like”, which is why he decided that land-uses would concentrate to form sectors, rather being in rings, like Burgess thought.

The lowest class housing would be closest to the industry, and probably be located where the prevailing winds would blow the pollution towards them (and away from the higher class housing).

The high class housing also is in a sector of its own, running all the way from the CBD, where many of the residents would work, to the outer suburbs.

nuclei model

This model was aimed at being more specific than the other two, however it also has become more complicated.

Harris and Ullman still have a central CBD, but they also have other smaller centres performing specific functions that Hoyt and Burgess decided would have been found in and around the CBD. Thus Harris & Ullman also havea business centre, and industrial parks.

Large cities do display some of these characteristics. London has different areas of its centre that have different functions: the City, Westminster, Oxford Street and the West End all have differing specific functions.

London has also grown to engulf other towns and villages, which have become smaller CBD’s within the whole of Greater London. These CBD’s act as growth poles, meaning that the city does not just grow from one central point, but from many spread around its area.



features of  the urban landform

By drawing a transect of a city, you can quite easily identify the different zones, in much the same way as Burgess and the other theorists did. Transects help you to identify and classify zones, enabling you to compare the characteristics of each area. You can identify the CBD, the older terraced housing, and as you move further from the city centre the newer housing of the suburbs. The main zones to concentrate on are:

The CBD: The focal point of the city, with the highest land prices. The CBD is where shops will locate as they know it is the most accessible point for the people of the city. The high land prices mean that buildings tend to grow upwards, and this is why CBD’s often have tall skyscrapers, particularly in American cities. The main functions of the CBD will include retail, entertainment, financial services and other professional services.

The Inner City:This is Burgess’s zone of transition. The inner city in the 19th Century would have been the centre of industry for most cities. Low paid workers would have lived in the many rows of terraced houses that were built beside the factories. Nowadays, although the factories have gone, many of the terraced houses remain.The Inner city of many urban areas has undergone great changes. These are covered in detail in a later section. However once the industry moved out,the inner cities became areas in need of redevelopment. The first plan was to build tall blocks of flats to replace the terraces. This occurred in the 1960’s and 1970’s. During the 1990’s Inner City redevelopment has taken the form of gentrification schemes aimed at rejuvenating the area, producing more of a community spirit, whilst trying to keep some of the old architecture.

The Suburbs: Many suburban houses were built in the period between the two World Wars, during the first half of the 20th century. Estates full of detached and semi-detached houses grew rapidly as public and private transport improvements allowed people to live further away from their place of work. During the 1960’s and 1970’s these areas also continued to grow.

The Rural-Urban Fringe: The rural-urban fringe is where most of the post war housing has been built. Usually in estates of mainly detached and semi-detached houses, the emphasis has often been on making the houses as spacious as possible. Again these housing developments were only possible thanks to the fact that most families now own at least one car.



Slum and Squatter settlement is an area in a less developed city where people reside on land they do not own, they don’t pay rent or propety taxes.  Usually they settle down at the outskirt of the city.


The Living Conditions and the features of Squatter settlements.

Shacks made out of cardboard, boxes, sack-clothed, and crushed beverage cans

– No proper toilet or sewage system

– Lack of schools, paved roads, telephones and proper piped system.

– They don’t have their own source of electricity.


The reasons why existence of Squatter settlement are:


~High population in the urban/cities  -similar to urbanization.

~Less housing

~Migration in search of work- People travel in search of work since the cost of living in a city is increasing.

~Constant threat of Eviction- Slums can be anywhere, such as next to railways or even 5 star hotels, though they live in constant fear.


Examples of Slum and Squatter settlements

The largest settlement in Asia is in Orangi Township in Karachi, Pakistan




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