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Geography

Settlement characteristics

A settlement is a place where people live. They come in different sizes, types and locations. Watch this video to find out more.

Video

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Key points

  • A settlement is a place where people live. They can be permanent or temporary.
  • Wet point sites; such as villages in the South Downs have a good water supply.
  • Dry point sites, like Ely in Cambridgeshire, are away from the risk of flooding.
  • Defensive sites, like Corfe Castle, have high ground so enemies can be seen from a distance.
  • Gap towns, like Lincoln, lie in a gap between two areas of higher ground.
  • Access to resources is also important, like Aberfan in the Welsh Valleys, which is near coal reserves.
  • As technology advances, the importance of these factors diminishes. A modern settlement does not have to be close to a river, because water is now piped to our homes and we use roads instead of rivers for transport.
  • A settlement hierarchy is a list of settlements ordered by their size.
  • As settlements grow, the number of services they provide will also increase. Small settlements only provide low order services like a post office, doctors and newsagents. Large cities will provide low and high order services like leisure centres, chain stores and hospitals.

All Geography videos

Urban environments index

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