Chapter 10 Human Settlements Class 12 Geography Notes

Chapter 10 Human Settlements NCERT Notes for Class 12 Geography will provide a quick glimpse of the chapter and improve the learning experience. Through the help of Revision Notes, it is quite easy to retain the answers once you are fully aware of the concept thus notes can be beneficial for you. NCERT Solutions for Chapter 10 Human Settlements will be useful in cross checking answers and also whether students learned it properly or not.

Chapter 10 Human Settlements Class 12 Geography Notes

Class 12 Geography Notes Chapter 10 Human Settlements

• A human settlement is defined as a place inhabited more or less permanently. The houses may be designed or redesigned, buildings may be altered, functions may change but settlement continues in time and space.

Classification of Settlements Rural Urban Dichotomy

• It is widely accepted that settlements can be differentiated in terms of rural and urban, but there is no consensus on what exactly defines a village or a town however occupation is taken as the criteria. 

• Population size, Administrative divisions, residence are also other criteria for dividing rural/urban settlement.

• Sub Urbanisation is a new trend of people moving away from congested urban areas to cleaner areas outside the city in search of a better quality of living.

• The census of India, 1991 defines urban settlements as “All places which have municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee and have a minimum population of 5000 persons, at least 75 per cent of male workers are engaged in non-agricultural pursuits and a density of population of at least 400 persons per square kilometers are urban.

Types and Patterns of Settlements

• Settlements may also be classified by their shape, patterns types. The major types classified by shape are:

→ Compact or Nucleated settlements: These settlements are those in which large number of houses are built very close to each other. Such settlements develop along river valleys and in fertile plains. Communities are closely knit and share common occupations.

→ Dispersed Settlements: In these settlements, houses are spaced far apart and often interspersed with fields. A cultural feature such as a place of worship or a market, binds the settlement together.

Rural Settlements

• Rural settlements are most closely and directly related to land. They are dominated by primary activities such as agriculture, animal husbandary, fishing etc.

• Some factors affecting the location of rural settlements are:

→ Water Supply: Usually rural settlements are located near water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and springs where water can be easily obtained. Rivers and lakes can be used to irrigate farm land.

→ Land: People choose to settle near fertile lands suitable for agriculture.

→ Upland: Upland which is not prone to flooding was chosen to prevent damage to houses and loss of life. Thus, in low lying river basins people chose to settle on terraces and levees which are “dry points”.

→ Building Material: The availability of building materials- wood, stone near settlements is another advantage. Early villages were built in forest clearings where wood was plentiful.

→ Defence: During the times of political instability, war, hostility of neighbouring groups villages were built on defensive hills and islands.

→ Planned Settlements: Sites that are not spontaneously chosen by villagers themselves, planned settlements are constructed by governments by providing shelter, water and other infrastructures on acquired lands.

Rural Settlement Patterns

• It reflect the way the houses are sited in relation to each other. The site of the village, the surrounding topography and terrain influence the shape and size of a village.

• Rural settlements may be classified on the basis of a number of criteria:

→ On the basis of setting: The main types are plain villages, plateau villages, coastal villages, forest villages and desert villages.

→ On the basis of functions: There may be farming villages, fishermen’s villages, lumberjack villages, pastoral villages etc.

→ On the basis of forms or shapes of the settlements: These may be a number of geometrical forms and shapes such as Linear, rectangular, circular star like, T-shaped village, double village, cross-shaped village etc.

(a) Linear pattern: In such settlements houses are located along a road, railway line, river, canal edge of a valley or along a levee.

(b) Rectangular pattern: Such patterns of rural settlements are found in plain areas or wide inter montane valleys. The roads are rectangular and cut each other at right angles.

(c) Circular pattern: Circular villages develop around lakes, tanks and sometimes the village is planned in such a way that the central part remains open and is used for keeping the animals to protect them from wild animals.

(d) Star like pattern: Where several roads converge, star shaped settlements develop by the houses built along the roads.

(e) T-shaped, Y-shaped, Cross-shaped or cruciform settlements: T -shaped settlements develop at tri-junctions of the roads while Y-shaped settlements emerge as the places where two roads converge on the third one and houses are built along these roads.

(f) Double village: These settlements extend on both sides of a river where there is a bridge or a ferry.

Problems of Rural Settlements

• Large in number and poorly equipped with infrastructure.

• Supply of water to rural settlements in developing countries is not adequate.

• The general absence of toilet and garbage disposal facilities cause health related problems.

• The houses made up of mud, wood and thatch, remain susceptible to damage during heavy rains and floods, and require proper maintenance every year.

• Unmetalled roads and lack of modern communication network creates a unique problem.

Urban Settlements

• The first urban settlement to reach a population of one million was the city of London by around 1810.

• Presently 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban settlements.

Classification of Urban Settlements

• The definition of urban areas varies from one country to another. Some of the common basis of classification are size of population, occupational structure and administrative setup.

Population Size

• The lower limit of the population size for a settlement to be designated as urban is 1,500 in Colombia, 2,000 in Argentina and Portugal, 2,500 in U.S.A. and Thailand, 5,000 in India and 30,000 in Japan.

• In Denmark, Sweden and Finland, all places with a population size of 250 persons are called urban.

Occupational Structure

• In Italy, a settlement is called urban, if more than 50 percent of its economically productive population is engaged in non-agricultural pursuits. India has set this criterion at 75 percent.


• In India, a settlement of any size is classified as urban, if it has a municipality, Cantonment Board or Notified Area Council. Similarly, in Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Bolivia, any administrative centre is considered urban irrespective of its population size.


• Location of urban centres is examined with reference to their function. For example, the sitting requirements of a holiday resort are quite different from that of an industrial town, a military centre or a seaport.

• Strategic towns require sites offering natural defence; mining towns require the presence of economically valuable minerals; industrial towns generally need local energy supplies or raw materials; tourist centres require attractive scenery, or a marine beach, a spring with medicinal water or historical relics, ports require a harbour etc.

Functions of Urban Centres

• The earliest towns were centres of administration, trade, industry, defence and religious importance.

• Today, several new functions, such as, recreational, residential, transport, mining, manufacturing and most recently activities related to information technology are carried on in specialised towns.

• Large cities have a rather greater diversity of functions.

• Towns and cities are classified into the following categories:

Administrative Towns

• National capitals, which house the administrative offices of central governments, such as New Delhi, Canberra, Beijing, Addis Ababa, Washington D.C., and London etc. are called administrative towns. 

• Provincial (sub-national) towns can also have administrative functions, for example, Victoria (British Columbia).

Trading and Commercial Towns

• Agricultural market towns, such as, Winnipeg and Kansas city; banking and financial centres like Frankfurt and Amsterdam; large inland centres like Manchester and St Louis; and transport nodes such as, Lahore, Baghdad and Agra have been important trading centres.

Cultural Towns

• Places of pilgrimage, such as Jerusalem, Mecca, Jagannath Puri and Varanasi etc. are considered cultural towns. These urban centres are of great religious importance.

• Urbanisation means the increase in the proportion population of a country who live in urban areas. The most important cause of urbanisation is rural-urban migration.

Classification of Towns on the Basis of Forms

• An urban  settlement may be linear, square, star or crescent shaped. Its an outcome of its historical and cultural traditions.

Addis Ababa (The New Flower)

• The whole city is located on a hill-valley topography. The road pattern bears the influence of the local topography.

• A multi-faculty university, a medical college, a number of good schools make Addis Ababa an educational centre.

• Bole airport is a relatively new airport.


• Canberra was planned as the capital of Australia in 1912 by American landscape architect, Walter Burley Griffin.

• During the last few decades, the city has expanded to accommodate several satellite towns, which have their own centres.

• The city has wide-open spaces and many parks and gardens.

Types of Urban Settlements

• Depending on the size and the services available and functions rendered, urban centres are designated as town, city, million city, conurbation, megalopolis.


• Functional contrasts between towns and villages may not always be clear- cut, but specific functions such as, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, and professional services exist in towns.


• A city may be regarded as a leading town, which has outstripped its local or regional rivals.

• Cities are much larger than towns and have a greater number of economic functions.

• They tend to have transport terminals, major financial institutions and regional administrative offices.


• The term conurbation was coined by Patrick Geddes in 1915 and applied to a large area of urban development that resulted from the merging of originally separate towns or cities.

• Greater London, Manchester, Chicago and Tokyo are examples.

Million City

• When the population crosses the one million mark it is designated as a million city.

• London, New York and Paris are examples.


• This Greek word meaning “great city”, was popularised by Jean Gottman (1957) and signifies ‘super- metropolitan’ region extending, as union of conurbations.

• The urban landscape stretching from Boston in the north to south of Washington in U.S.A. is the best known example of a megalopolis.

Distribution of Mega Cities

• A mega city or megalopolis is a general term for cities together with their suburbs with a population of more than 10 million people.

• New York was the first to attain the status of a mega city by 1950 with a total population of about 12.5 million. The number of mega cities is now 31.

Problems of Human Settlements in Developing Countries

• The settlements in developing countries, suffer from various problems, such as unsustainable concentration of population, congested housing and streets, lack of drinking water facilities.

• They also lack infrastructure such as, electricity, sewage disposal, health and education facilities.

Problems of Urban Settlements

• Most of the cities in the developing countries are unplanned and they create many problems.

• Shortage of housing, vertical expansion and growth of slums are characteristic features of modern cities of developing countries.

• In many cities an increasing proportion of the population lives in substandard housing, e.g. slums and squatter settlements.

Economic Problems

• The push factors from the rural areas force people to come to the urban centres and the migrants generate a part of unskilled/skilled labour force in the already saturated urban areas thus leading to more unemployment and poor economic conditions.

Socio-cultural Problems

•  Insufficient financial resources fail to create adequate social infrastructure catering to the basic needs of the huge population.

• The available educational and health facilities remain beyond the reach of the urban poor.

• Health also remains a problem in the cities of developing countries.

• Lack of employment and education tends to aggravate the crime rates.

• Male selective migration to the urban areas distorts the sex ratio in these cities.

Environmental Problems

• The large urban population in developing countries not only uses but also disposes off a huge quantity of water and all types of waste materials.

• Lack of potable water as well as water for other domestic and industrial use.

•​ Improper sewerage system create unhygienic condition.

•​ Traditional fuel create massive pollution.

• Industrial effluents and dumping of other domestic and industrial waste create environmental hazard.

•​ Huge concrete structures in cities create ‘heat islands’.

•​ Urban-rural linkages are of crucial importance for the sustainability of human settlements.

• Due to growth of rural population has outpaced the generation of employment and economic opportunities, rural-to-urban migration has steadily increased, particularly in the developing countries, which has put an enormous pressure on urban infrastructure and services.

• It is urgent to eradicate rural poverty and to improve the quality of living conditions, as well as to create employment and educational opportunities in rural settlements.

Healthy City

• World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that, among other things, a ‘healthy city’
must have:
→ A ’Clean’ and ‘Safe’ environment.
→ Meets the ‘Basic Needs’ of ‘All’ its inhabitants.
→ Involves the ‘Community’ in local government.
→ Provides easily accessible ‘Health’ service.

Urban Strategy

•​ As per UNDP, the priorities of ‘urban strategy’ are 
→ Increasing shelter for urban poor.
→ Provision of basic urban services such as Education, Primary Health Care, clean water and sanitation. 
→ ​Improving women’s access to Basic Services and Government facilities.
→ ​Upgrading ‘energy’ use and alternative ‘Transport’ systems. 
→ Reducing ‘Air Pollution.
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