Table of Contents
What is settlement?
A settlement is a place that contains buildings in which people live, this may contain many or few houses, it may cover many square kilometres, and contains not only houses but also shops, schools, offices, industries, factories, government buildings and many other buildings. Settlements could be permanent or temporary; it comes in different shapes, sizes and locations. The function of a settlement can be identified by looking at its shape, size, site and situation.
Settlements are the basis on which any form of village, town, city or mega polis are built, a settlement may have known historical structures such as the date, painting,, inscription or era in which it was first settled by a particular people.
Every settlement has a site and a location, sites refers to the position of a settlement within its immediate neighbourhood. It describes the characteristics of the actual point at which a settlement is located and was of major importance in the initial establishments (rivers and uplands), while location refers to the position of a settlement in relation to other place in the region.
Early/First Human Settlement
Human settlement begins with a village through sedentary agriculture. Growth is evolutionary (gradual), it starts from nomadism to sedentary agriculture then the need for settlement became obvious with improvement in agriculture. Villages grew and became bigger and stronger. There were no settlements until when man decided to move to sedentary agriculture.
In about 8000 BC, at the end of the last ice age the worlds population consisted of small bands of hunters and collectors living mainly in subtropical lands and at a subsistence level. These groups of people who were usually migratory could only support themselves if the whole community was involves in the search for food. At this time, two major technological changes, known as the Neolithic revolution turned the migratory hunter- collectors into sedentary farmers. The first was the domestication of animals (sheep, goats, cattle) and the second the cultivation of cereals (wheat, rice and maize). Gradual improvements in early farming gradually led to food surpluses and enable an increasing proportion of the community to specialize in non-farming tasks. The evolution farming appears to have taken place independently but at about the same time in three river basins.) i) Tigris-Euphrates, ii) Mesopotamia, the Nile and iii) Indus.
These areas had similar natural advantages such as
- Hills surrounding the basins provided pasture for domestic animals.
- Flat flood plains next to large rivers.
- Rich fertile silt deposited by the rivers during times of flood.
- A relatively dry but not too dry climate, which maintained soil fertility, prevent leaching, and enabled mud from the river to be used to build houses.
- A warm subtropical climate and a permanent water supply from the rivers for domestic use and as farming developed for irrigation.
By 1500 BC, larger towns and urban areas had developed with an increasingly large range of functions. Administrators were needed to organize the collection of crops and the distribution of food supplies and also exchange surplus goods with other urban centers and early engineers introduced irrigation systems. Craftsmen were needed to make farming equipment and articles. The oldest known pottery woven, textiles were found in Yuchanyan Cave, Hunan,China. As towns continued to grow, it became necessary to have a legal system and an army for defense.
During this period, people settled around Mesopotamia because of the rich fertile farmland. The land was so rich because of the Tigris and Euphrates river valley. The people of ancient Mesopotamia didn’t exactly come from anywhere. They went wherever their crops grew, they went wherever animals were as well, and they traveled a lot.
Ancient Mesopotamia was located in between the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys. it current location is in present day Iraq. Many early Mesopotamians spoke Sumerian up until Sargon of Akkad started his empire. From then on, many spoke Akkadian. Ancient Mesopotamians believed in Shamanism and Animism. Shamanism is when people meditate to a point where they feel like they’re sleeping. They believe that it helps them reach the spirit world; animism is when people believe that everything has a spirit and mind. The settlement in Mesopotamia never really ended. The settlement turned into a town and became more modern. It is now modern day Iraq. The Ancient Mesopotamians grew many things. They grew barley, onions, grapes, turnips, and apples
Types of settlement
- Isolated dwellings
- Isolated dwellings– Isolated dwellings would only have 1 or 2 buildings or families in them. They may have negligible services.
- Villages– villages contain many buildings, houses, shops and most times schools , they are usually situated so that they has access to the region around them and they tend to cater for the needs of the region. Village type of settlement can be classified using the following criteria: (a) Functions. (b) Morphology. a) Functions may include agriculture, fishing, mining or residential. For instance, good types of residential settlement in Nigeria are the FESTAC village in Lagos, mining in Jos and fishing in Lembe village in Bayelsa. b) Morphology; a village can be classified either as an isolated farmstead, disperse, nuclear or linear, planned or unplanned. Village settlements usually have one of these three basic shapes which are: compact, linear or cross type. Compact shape- the shape may be round or square, but in all cases, the buildings are close to each other and are connected by roads, footpaths or both, which links all building together. Linear shape– some building may form a line, may be straight or curved which may follow a line of movement. For instance, a road, river, or railway, relief feature. Cross shape– this occurs where two lines of movement cross for example the crossing of two roads.
- Hamlets– these types of settlements may be nucleated with few houses usually less than a hundred with many people.
- Homestead- these are one family residence, they have dispersed settlement, they contain very few numbers of people with little opportunity for social gathering. Moreover, they are separated from one another by bushes or by geographical barriers.
- Towns– these are medium-sized settlements, a town is generally larger than avillage, but smaller than a city. Some geographers further define a town as having 2,500 to 20,000 residents.Thousands of people live in them and they havea shopping centre and factories. Most towns are not new, they have grown over a long period of time and as a result their present day- function may not be the same as at when they first began to develop.
- Cities– cities are large human settlements with certain responsibilities for self-administration; they are usually densely populated and majority of their residents are occupied in non-rural and non-, for example, the base of a ridge or a zone where water is near the surface.
- Megapolis-this is where conurbations have joined to become one large urban area.
Asettlement hierarchyis a simple way of classifying settlementsinto ahierarchybased on their population, function, size or other criteria. Settlements come in many different sizes and these can be ranked according to their population and the level of services available.
- Megalopolis-this occurs when large number of conurbations joined together over a considerable area; it consists of more than 10 million (10, 000000) of people.
- Conurbation– it is a group of large cities and theirsuburbs, consisting of 3-10 million (3000000- 10, 000000) of people.
- Metropolis-it is a large city and itssuburbsconsisting of multiple cities and towns. The population ranges from one to three million (1000000- 3000000) people.
- Large city– this is a city which makes up a large population; it also offers many services, the population in a large city is less than 1million people but more than 300,000 people.
- City-a city has many services, but not as many as a large city. The population of a city is between 100,000 and 300,000 people.
- Large town- a large town has a population of about 20 thousand to 100 thousand (20,000- 100,000).
- Town– a town has a population of about 1,000-20,000.
- Village– a village is a human settlement or community that is larger than a hamlet but smaller than a town. A village generally does not have many services, most likely a church, school, markets or only a small shop. The population of a village varies however; the average population can range from 500-2000 people.
- Hamlet– a hamlet has a tiny population of less than 100 with few buildings and very few or no services.
- Isolated dwelling– an isolated dwelling would only have 1 or 2 buildings or families in it. It would have negligible service.
Factors influencing the location of settlement
- Water supply
- Building materials
- Food supply
- Flood avoidance
- Nodal points
- Fuel supply
- Resources availability
- Bridging points
- Shelter and aspect
Dr. Brown is the founder of Jotscroll, he is a Medical Doctor, Entrepreneur, and author. Dr. Razi Brown holds a medical degree from the University of San Diego. He has invested in many startups and is currently working on his fifth book to be published in the upcoming year.