EASY CLASS NOTES ON RURAL AND URBAN SETTLEMENTS

2 types of human settlement




Settlement is the place where people live. Also, settlement can be defined as organized human habitation it can be a single home or bustling metropolis.

Settlement can be classified as a rural or urban settlement

Rural settlement

A rural settlement is a single-function settlement where most of the people are engaged in primary economic activities, usually farming. These settlements are generally small and sparsely populated.

There is a low population density in a rural area compared to an urban area.

Generally, the majority of people in rural areas are engaging in agriculture and other primary extractive activities such as fishing and hunting.

rural settlement may range from large commercial farms to small subsistence farms and is described as uni-functional.




Most settlement in villages of East Africa is rural settlements.

Chracteristics of rural settlements

  • rural settlement is sparsely populated because of rural urban migration.
  • rural or village size are smaller in area than urban communities
  • rural areas has smaller population compared to urban areas
  • rural settlement has low population density as compared to urban settlement
  • people living in rural areas are involved in primary activities such as agriculture and fishing

factors affecting the locations of rural settlement

  • the availability of drinking water, this could be from rivers or springs
  • the availability of building materials. this would mainly be trees but include rocks and thatching grass
  • closeness to arable land, the inhabitant need to have fertile soil to grow their crops
  • the availabilty of transport routes
  • availability of pastures for livestock. their cattle goats or sheeps have to be able to graze
  • fuel for warmth and cooking. this would be usually from trees but in many arid areas cow dung is used as fuel




classification of rural settlement according to pattern and function

rural settlement can be either nucleated or dispersed

dispersed or isolated rural settlement

these occur where isolated farmsteads are located each on its own land and sometimes kilometers from its nearest neighbor




advantages of dispersed settlement (advantages are economic in nature)
  • farmer work for him/herself and keeps own profit
  • farming is more efficient
  • farmer can use his own initiative
  • farmer live on his own single track of land
  • farmer can maximize the use of machinery as it does not have to be shared with other farmers
disadvantages of dispersed settlement (disadvantages are social in nature
  • there is no social contact, far from neighbours
  • lack of security as people living on their own are more vulnerable
  • no help if the farmer is sick or disabled
  • essential services (like medical cares, schools, shops) are far away, which can be dengerous if there is an emergency




nucleated (clustered) rural settlement

a nucleated or clustered rural settlement pattern comprise a dense group of dwellings and other buildings.

in farming villages, the farmers usually live as a group in a central village and work in the surrounding fields by day. the buildings are usually clustered around the central point such as the water point

advantages of nucleated settlement pattern (advantages are social in nature)
  • daily social contact – community involvement
  • people do not live in isolation
  • protection is easier when people live together
  • there are enough people to share the work
  • there is possibility of cooperative farming
  • farmers can agree with each other to plant different crops and share the cost of ploghing and fertilising land




disadvantages of nucleated settlement pattern (disadvantages are economic in nature)
  • there is no independent decision making
  • individuals canot show initiative
  • fields are scattered, which wastes time
  • machinery is shared
  • it is difficult to be economically successful
  • trave;;ing from the village to the farm is time consuming and uneconomic
  • plots may be too small to be economically viable
  • moderm farming methods can not be applied effectively

functions of rural settlement

all settlements except the very smallest has a variety of functions. in rural areas, the main function of the settlement has been

  • to provide agricultural services including the market for produce and transportation of produce to urban markets
  • to provide the place for defense in time of war




reason for different shapes of rural settlement

settlement shape or form refers to the plan outline of the build-up area of settlement.




settlement may be linear (ribbon-like), rectangular, circular, or star-shaped. the shape of settlement is influenced by:

  • positive factors such as transport routes, and flat land which encourage growth
  • negative factors such as, flood prone valleys, which limit growth

round and square villages

square or round settlements have houses clustered around the focal point, which is the center of importance for that community. this may be the well, church, market square, or village green

linear villages

linear settlement is a combination of the dispersed and nucleated pattern.

the farmsteads are arranged close to one another on both sides of thoroughfares such as roads, rivers, valleys, and railway lines. the properties in the linear villages are long and narrow and have a narrow front along the central thoroughfare







T-shaped and cross road villages

crossroad settlements can be T-shaped settlements or star-shaped. they are found at road junctions

what ae the characteristics of rural land use?

land use refers to the function of an area of land – the purpose for which land is used. land use in rural areas has different features from that in urban areas. some of these are:

  • residence for country workers, commuters and seasonal workers
  • farming and forestry
  • natural resource development of minerals and water supply




Urban settlement

Urban settlements are generally large and densely populated. The majority of people in urban areas are engaging in non-agricultural activities such as trade, tourism, and manufacturing.

Examples of urban settlement in East Africa include settlement found in cities like Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, and Kampala

Defining settlement in terms of rural and urban areas makes sense. After all, there are many differences between the two.

But there is a major problem with defining rural and urban settlement because there is no consensus on what makes a rural settlement and what makes an urban one.




For example, some small villages in India and China are more populated than large towns and small cities in America and Europe.

Are those small villages rural or urban? It depends on who you ask.

therefore, difficulties arise because there is no agreement on what exactly makes a place rural or urban.




factors affecting the growth of settlement in Africa

Availability of water

the area with enough water attracts more people to settle in those areas compared to arid or dry areas.

For example, places such as Rungwe in Mbeya which has plenty of water have high growth of settlement while areas such as Longido which is arid has a low growth rate of settlement




Availability of land for agricultural activities

The areas which have fertile land attract people to settle there while infertile land makes people move away from it.

For example areas along the Kilimanjaro slope which is fertile due to volcanic soil have high growth of settlement compared to areas such as Mpwapwa which is infertile due to soil erosion which low growth rate

Relief of the area

people prefer areas that have gentle slopes and tend to avoid settling in areas which have steep slopes due to difficulties in establishing infrastructure and thin soil found in the steep slopes.




Also, people tend to avoid settling in flat areas susceptible to flooding. For in Katumba Songwe in Kyela  people avoid settling due to floods from the river Kiwira




Availability of social services

people prefer to live in areas that have social services such as education, water, and electricity and avoid settling in areas that lack social services.

For example, many rural areas in the African continent low settlement growth rate due to lack of social services while urban areas such as Dar es salaam have a high settlement growth rate due to the abundance of social service

Climatic condition

areas that have adequate rainfall tend to have high growth of settlement due to high agricultural production while areas that experience low rainfall tend to have low growth of settlement due to shortage of water and poor agricultural production

Government policy




 government can affect the growth of settlement by forcing people to settle in a certain area or persuade people to settle in a certain area by supplying social services and other incentives.

Also, government policy affects settlement growth through town and land use planning.




For example, there has been a rapid growth of settlement in the kinyerezi area on the outskirt of Dar es salaam city due to the government decision to allocate that land to settlement and supply social services

factors that influence the development of a linear settlement pattern

  • People settle along rivers for water provision
  • people settle along roads and railways for ease of transport
  • people settle along forest for accessing forest products such as firewood and charcoal
  • people settle along ridges for easy house construction and security
  • people settle along lakes or seashores for fishing activities

what is region? two types of regions

in geography, a region is an area that shares some sort of common characteristics that binds the area into the whole

types of regions in human geography

there are two types of regions in geography namely formal regions and functional regions

formal regions are characterized by homogeneity or uniformity in some or a number of different characteristics.




these characteristics can be both human and physical related, so the region can be defined by climate or vegetation type, in sense of physical geography or they could be defined by language or ethnicity in sense of human geography

example of formal regions may be states of the united states or regions in Tanzania

a functional region or nodal region on the other hand, is an area that contains a central node or focal point to which other places in the region are connected by some activity

functional regional may be seen in cities where the central area of the city might serve as the focal point for the rest of metropolitan area.

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