In this article, You will read Pattern of Rural Settlement – for UPSC IAS (Geography).

Pattern of Rural Settlement

  • Pattern refers to the geometrical configuration or the external morphology of a rural settlement.
  • It refers to the geometrical shape or arrangement of rural houses/settlements in an area.
  • It reflects the layout plan as well as the geometrical shape of agricultural lands and the pattern of transportation lines.
  • Each of the rural settlement types has separate geometrical patterns which is given below.
Types and Pattern of Rural Settlement

Nucleated settlements pattern

Rectangular pattern

  • The settlements with rectangular patterns have a high degree of nucleation.
  • More than 50% of the world population lives in such settlements.
  • This pattern of settlement is most common in India.
  • This pattern of settlement is found where the land capability is high
  • The areas having this pattern of settlement have a high degree of clustering and high population density.
  • The shape of the cultivated land is rectangular.
  • Examples (India)
    • Most of North Indian villages have rectangular patterns dominated by caste groups.
    • Ganga-Yamuna-Doab, Eastern Uttar Pradesh villages, Western Bihar villages.
  • Examples (Worldwide)
    • Villages of southeast China
    • Villages in Myanmar along rivers
    • Regions with high population density like well-planned settlements of Germany, Russia, China, Israel, France, etc. (these are the places with planned settlements)
  • The settlements with rectangular pattern have narrow meandering streets and lanes
  • In the central part, the village headman or old Zamindar house with his own caste man has greater nucleation while away from the center spacing between house increases.
Rectangular pattern

Hollow rectangular

  • If a village develops along a water body, a religious site, or an open community land in the center, it is called a hollow rectangular
  • Such villages are typical of wet point settlements.
    • E.g. villages over Tamil Nadu Plateau, Deccan Plateau.
Hollow rectangular Pond or Lake

Square pattern

  • It is the modified form of a rectangular pattern.
  • The degree of compactness in the square pattern of settlement is high.
  • The size of farmland are responsible for such villages.
Square pattern

Hollow square pattern

  • It is similar to square pattern settlement except for the fact that it consists of some water body, pond, temple, etc. at the center of the settlement.

Linear settlement

  • When houses are arranged along the bank of a river or coastline or transportation line, the pattern of settlement formed will be linear.
  • Examples of the linear settlement include
    • Northern Malabar, Mopla Villages, fisherman villages along roads in Ganga-Yamuna doab.
    • Houses along NH-7
    • Development of villages along Trans Siberian Railways, Canadian Pacific Highway, Nile Valley, Indus River.
Linear settlement

Triangular pattern (Arrow head pattern)

  • When either two roads or two rivers are converging at a point, there will be a clustering of houses either on the doab or between the transportation lines.
  • Such villages have limited growth options and their growth is unidirectional.
  • Examples:
    • Delta of Egypt and Nigeria
    • North Bihar, villages, Northern Assam, settlements along NH-7 in MP where Block/district roads are meeting highways.
Triangular pattern

Radial pattern

  • When transportation lines are emerging from a point like over a dome-shaped plateau, the radial pattern develops and the houses cluster around the roads connecting the top of the plateau.
  • Examples:
    • Villages in Marathwada
    • Ridges of Deccan plateau
    • Settlements near Haridwar
    • Ozark plateau in the USA
Radial pattern

Star shaped settlement

  • When space between radial roads gets filled, it gives rise to star shaped settlement.
Star shaped pattern

Spider web settlement

  • When the interconnecting roads between the radial roads attract new houses, then it gives rise to Spider web settlement pattern.
Spider web settlement

Circular pattern

  • It is a variant of a rectangular pattern.
  • Social security and defense play an important role in the development of the circular pattern of settlement beside land capability and hydrology.
  • Fisherman and salt producer’s community settle along sea coasts and salt lakes developing a circular pattern of settlement
  • Examples:
    • Rohilkhand, Ganga-Yamuna Doab
    • Masai Tribes of Tanzania, Kraal
Circular pattern

Hollow circular pattern

  • When the circular pattern of settlement is developed around a central water body it is called as Hollow circular pattern of settlement.

Star shaped pattern

  • This pattern of settlement develops when three or more transportation lines cross each other.
  • Examples:
    • NH-47 in Tamil Nadu
    • Villages in coastal Orissa
    • Alabama mining state of USA
Star shaped pattern 1

Herring Bone pattern

  • When one or major transportation line is crossed by several state highways or district roads at a 90-degree angle, then it gives rise to the Herring Bone pattern of settlement.
  • Examples:
    • NH-47 in Tamil Nadu (between SalemTrivandrum)
    • NH-47 between Bhopal and Bangalore
    • Very common in the Eurasian part of the Trans Siberian Railway
    • Canadian and Australian villages.
Herring Bone pattern

Nebular Pattern

  • This type of settlement pattern develops when transportation lines appear like a Nebula of circular ring emerging from centre.
  • Such patterns are common in south German villages located over highlands.
  • It is uncommon in India but can be found in the Shillong plateau where the expansion of larger villages have the nebular pattern.
Nebular Pattern

Polygonal pattern

  • It is the variant of a rectangular pattern of settlement
  • Rectangular settlements in their transitional stage of growth can be either polygonal or amorphous.
  • Example: North Gangetic plain

Amorphous pattern of settlement

  • These types of settlements do not have definite shapes.
  • Most of them are semi clustered villages that are dispensing out because of centrifugal forces.

Cruciform settlement pattern

  • This type of settlement is found in many European villages due to higher development of transportation routes. The villages are settled in planned way.
  • Examples
    • Settlements along NH-7 in South India
    • South of Bangalore district roads across NH-7

Semi-nucleated settlements pattern

Checker board type of settlement

  • When semi nucleated eventually becomes nucleated, the transition phase gives rise to the checkerboard type of settlement.
  • In this type of settlement, the transport networks are developed so that they form a grid over the landscape.
  • There are junction points at the transportation link crossings where the settlements are developed.
Checker board type of settlement

Perforated settlements

  • When the houses in semi nucleated settlements are widely dispersed because of the existence of salt crust as in Marshy lands over Bengal delta, then it gives rise to perforated settlements
  • Examples:
    • Bangladeshi villages which are affected by the cyclone, floods, and waterlogging.
    • Villages in Northern Sahara where sand dunes are located between hamlets.
Perforated settlements

Hill top settlements

  • These type of settlements are found in Naga villages for the purpose of defense
  • Houses are along the edge of top so that the tribes can keep vigil over the movement of enemy tribes.
Hill top

Horse shoe pattern/ semi circular pattern

  • It develops along the foothills of mountains and spurs, crescent, or along the banks of the large rivers.
  • Examples:
    • Villages near Haridwar, Shiwalik, and Bhabhar region.
    • Tribal villages of Arunachal Pradesh.
semi circular pattern
Horse shoe pattern


The rural types and patterns are not static. With the changes in occupation, types of agriculture, cultural amalgamation, technological changes, and diffusion of innovation, types, and patterns witness the morphological and geometrical transformation and changing paradigm of society and socio-economic way of life are transcripted into the new pattern.

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Aditi Gupta

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