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IGCSE Geography - Revision guide: Settlement Factors

Functions of Settlement

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When settlements first formed they often had one main function. These functions included:

  • port
  • market town
  • resort
The site (or physical location) of a settlement is chosen based on a number of physical factors, such as the topography, type of soil and drainage character. These factors can determine the size and shape of the settlement in later years, but initially the site plays a pivotal role in deciding where the initial dwelling or homestead will be - particularly since the inhabitants will have to survive independently of other settlements. For this reason, access to water, building materials, soil fertility (if farming is to be the primary activity) and access to fuel resources will inform the settler's decision to set up home on a specific site.

Settlements - main points

Read from the Scalloway pdf documents about the selection of Site, types of Settlements, functions, models of different types of settlements. You can also access many other Geography topics at this site.   

Describing Settlements

Settlement Hierarchy

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There are a range of factors that can determine the site of a settlement. These are:

  • wet point site - these are sites close to a supply of water
  • dry point site - these are sites that avoided the risk of flooding
  • defensive site - these were sites that were on high ground and allowed the inhabitants to see enemies from a distance
  • aspect - many settlements in the northern hemisphere are located on south facing sides of valleys where it is sunny
  • shelter - away from rain and prevailing winds
  • trading point - often settlements developed where natural training points meet such as along rivers or natural route ways
  • resources - many settlements developed close to where natural resources could be found.

Watch a slideshow on Settlement Hierarchy

Factors for Settlement

Click on image to read 'Site and Situation' of a settlement