Theory Of Rural Settlement

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The definition of the word ‘rural’ has been contested. Halfacree (1993) identified four broad approaches that can be used to define rural areas namely (1) descriptive definitions, (2) socio-cultural definitions (difference between rural and urban societies based on values, behaviours and cultural characteristics), (3) the rural as locality and (4) the rural as social representation.
Of interest to Geographers are descriptive definitions and rural as locality. Descriptive definitions try to find the geographic distinction between rural and urban areas based on their socio-spatial and statistical characteristics for example the use of population as adopted by most official definitions by various administrations or countries.
Definitions based
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In agreement Hammond, (1985) and Witherick, (1995) have it that settlement location is not random. It represents planning and careful deliberation of factors that are important to the sustenance of the settlers as explained by Hudson’s theory of rural settlement location. So locations with an aggregate of advantages are chosen to establish a settlement. The initial factors that influenced the location of the settlement might change with time.

The ecological theory of settlement location (Hudson 1969)
Hudson (1969) proposed a three staged theory that tries to explain the locational processes of rural settlements and the changes that take place over time. He suggested a series of spatial processes similar to those found in plant ecology.
Stage 1: Settler Colonisation
An uninhabited area is initially occupied as migrants enter a new territory. The initial location is selected based on its suitability in supporting the new settlement. This means that geographic and environmental factors are important considerations for the locational decision making process. Stage 2: Settler
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Government policies can decide on the location of a settlement based on its interests.
Economic influences
The availability of minerals, timber extraction from plantations attracts settlements in the form of villages and shanty towns.
Morphology of Rural Settlements
Most of the villages now in existence have spontaneously developed over time in response to various factors discussed earlier. The most defining ingredient of the visual appearance in settlement morphology is the buildings themselves for example their design, their spatial layout or arrangement and functions. Villages depict a certain shape or form for example some villages are just a cluster of homesteads. The morphology of settlements is heavily influenced by culture, socio-economic needs of society and by the history of the people.
Main types of settlement patterns
Linear Pattern
Houses are located along roads, rivers (figure 2.1a) and railway lines. People seek the advantages brought about by these resources.
Rectangular Pattern
This is mainly found on plains or wide valleys. Houses follow the pattern of roads which are rectangular (figure

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