The basic needs of human beings are; food, clothing and shelter. Development of shelters leads to the growth of settlements. Human settlement means the totality of the human community - whether city, town or village - with all the social, material, organizational, spiritual and cultural elements that sustain it.
Settlements are classified on the basis of size and function into URBAN and RURAL. This classification varies across space. Population size and economic activities are important criteria for this classification.
Settlements can also be classified on the basis of shape and pattern into compact or nucleated settlements, and dispersed settlements.
Physical factors that influence the location of settlement are water supply, land, upland, building material, defence, etc.
On the basis of forms or shapes, rural settlements may be classified as linear, rectangular, circular star like, t-shaped village, double village, t-shaped, y-shaped, cross-shaped village, etc.
Urban settlements on the other hand are classified on the basis of size of population, occupational structure and administrative set up.
Towns and cities are classified as administrative towns (such as New Delhi, Canberra, Beijing, Addis Ababa, Washington D.C., and London, etc.), trading and commercial towns (such as, Winnipeg, Kansas City,
Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Manchester, Agra, etc.) cultural towns (such as Jerusalem, Mecca, Jagannath Puri and Varanasi, etc.).
Depending on the size and the services available and functions rendered, urban centres are designated as town, city, million city, conurbation, and megalopolis.
The settlements suffer from various problems, such as unsustainable concentration of population, congested housing and streets, lack of drinking water facilities. Shortage of housing, vertical expansion and growth of slums are characteristic features of modern cities of developing countries.
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