Introduction to Settlement Geography

Introduction to Settlement Geography – UPSC

In this article, You will read Introduction to Settlement Geography – for UPSC IAS.

Introduction to Settlement Geography

  • Settlement refers to the cluster of houses over space which manifests the socioeconomic conditions and the environmental constraints. Thus, a settlement has both physical and social structures.
  • It is not only about concrete houses but also about who resides there.
  • The settlement is an expansion of the socio-historic, cultural, and religious perception of a man in a given geographic environment.
  • From the nomadic herdsmen, the concept of the area grew, and with the growth of the family, the sedentary housing system grew and from it villages grew.
  • The villages which had non-agricultural surplus developed into ‘Mandis’ and the transportation routes connected the Mandis and hence developed the urban settlements.

Rural settlement vs Urban settlement

There are five criteria to differentiate between rural settlement and urban settlement

  • Morphology (the physical structure): The urban structures are marked by tall buildings, wide roads, administrative and recreation centres in contrast to rural settlements which are usually agrarian landscapes.
  • Function (Primary, Secondary, Tertiary): Rural areas basically have the majority of its population involved in primary functions whereas in urban areas people have secondary (manufacturing) and tertiary functions (services) as their major occupations.
  • Demography (high or low population density): Urban areas are marked by high population density and compact settlements in comparison to rural areas where population density is relatively low and settlements are scattered.
  • Cultural traits: The urban areas are marked by class stratification in contrast to the rural areas where the cast and religious stratification is more prominent.
  • Infrastructure:
    • Economic infrastructure: Economic infrastructure includes transportation, communication, etc. which is more developed in urban areas than rural areas.
    • Social infrastructure: It includes health, education recreation, etc. where urban areas score over rural areas.

Census of India gives definition of rural and urban areas based on three criteria:

  • Demographic: An area is said to be urban if its population is more than 5000 and population density is more than 400 persons/square km.
  • Economic: An area is said to be urban if 75% of its male workers are working in the non-agriculture sector (here primary activities like mining, fishing, etc are also considered as non-agricultural activity)
  • Administration: In India, a settlement of any size is classified as urban, if it has a municipality, Cantonment Board or Notified Area Council, town area committee (statutory town).

Rural settlement

  • Any settlements in which most of the people are engaged in primary activities such as agriculture, forestry, mining, or fishing is known as a rural settlement.
  • Rural settlements are the clusters of unorganized, amorphous, closely knitted houses with poor ventilation and sewage/drainage pattern and lanes meandering (meandering roads/not properly planned) and abruptly ending into houses.
  • It includes not only the village but also agricultural fields and areas of forestry and livestock raising which are functionally integrated with the village.
  • They have strong currents of social bonding. Rural settlement signifies great centripetal force due to strong bonding between the people.
  • Rural settlement constitutes both physical morphology and social morphology.
  • Rural settlement comprises of the aggregate of the village, agricultural land, forestry, and livestock area.
  • Rural settlement manifests socio-economic aspiration, their adaptability, the historical progression of a living civilization, and economic functionality.
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sir thank you so much … i was following you on youtube but came to know about this lotusarise recently … you are doing a great job for us.


Sir please upload remaining topic as early as possible 🙏

shashi bhushan

Thanks sir

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