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Geography

Settlement characteristics

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Settlements come in different sizes, types and locations. You can learn about the history and function of a settlement by studying its shape and size, its placement in the landscape, and its situation in relation to surrounding features.

If you group and classify settlements according to their size and shape, the result is a settlement hierarchy.

What is a settlement?

Sign at Southampton Docks

Sign at Southampton Docks

A settlement is a place where people live. A settlement may be as small as a single house in a remote area or as a large as a mega city (a city with over 10 million residents).

A settlement may be permanent or temporary. An example of a temporary settlement is a refugee camp. However, a temporary settlement may become permanent over time. This has happened to many refugee camps that have been built in conflict zones.

The reason a settlement was developed or built can be thought of as its function. For example, the settlement of Southampton is a port.

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