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Concept of Settlement Geography | Settlement Geography | Human Settlement UPSC | Settlements | Geography of India

Concept of Settlement:

Settlements are places where people build their homes. Examples of human settlements are hamlets, villages, towns, cities, megacities, etc.

Settlements can be temporary or can be permanent. People living in dense forest, hot desert, cold desert, or mountainous area often has temporary settlements. They practice hunting, gathering, transhumance, and shifting cultivation. However, the majority of people living in plain areas and other regions live in permanent settlements and they practice agriculture, fishing, and other non-primary activities.

What is settlement geography?

In settlement geography, we study those geographical areas which are settled by a human. The following study included:

  • Evolution of Human Settlement
  • Types and Patterns of human settlement
  • Morphology of human settlement
  • Functions and problems of Human Settlement
  • Transport and communication networks in the human settlements
  • Environmental issues in the human settlements


On the basis of size, human settlement varies from Hamlet ( smallest in size) to mega-cities [ largest in size like Mumbai, Delhi]. 

On the basis of functionality and social structure, there are generally two types of settlements:

  • Rural settlements
  • Urban settlements

About Rural Settlement

Rural settlements are specialized in agricultural and other primary activities. The following are the main characteristics of rural settlement, however, this is not a universal truth, as it varies from country to country;

  • They are usually smaller in size.
  • There is usually a large space between the two houses.
  • Dwellers are usually involved in primary activities[agriculture, fishing, gathering, etc] 
  • Rural dweller provides food and raw materials to urban settlement.
  • Dweller has rigid and static social relationships among themselves.

About Urban settlements:

The following are characteristics of urban settlement;

  • They are larger in size.
  • There are usually compact settlements.
  • Most urban dwellers are involved in secondary and tertiary activities such as the processing of raw materials and manufacturing of finished goods and tertiary activities.
  • The urban settlement has dynamic, complex, and formal social relationships.
  • Urban settlement[ Cities ] act as nodes of economic growth.
  • They provide goods and services for both urban and human settlement.

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