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Lesson 10, Topic 4
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Chapter – 4 Human Settlements

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Rural Settlements

They are mainly smaller in size and poorly spaced. The people of these settlements are mainly engaged in primary activities like, agriculture, fishing, mining, etc, e.g. people surviving in hamlets and villages.

Factors Determining the Rural Settlements

There are various factors and conditions responsible for having different types of rural settlements in India. These are:

  • Physical Features These include nature of terrain, altitude, climate and availability of water.

  • Cultural and Ethnic Factors These include social structure, caste and religion.

  • Security Factors These include defence against thefts and robberies.

Types of Rural Settlements

Types of the rural settlements are determined by the above determinants as well as by the extent of the built up area and inter-house distance. In India,

Rural settlements can broadly divided into four types:

  • Clustered, agglomerated or nucleated
  • Semi-dustered or fragmented
  • Hamleted, and
  • Dispersed or isolated

Clustered Settlements

  • The houses in this settlement are closely spaced or have no space between houses.

  • The living place is distinct and separated from the surrounding farms, bams and pastures.

  • The settlement sometimes present distinct patterns or geometrical shapes like rectangular, radial, linear, etc which are recognisable in fertile alluvial plains and North-Eastern states.

  • This type of settlement is built due to various reasons, e.g. in Bundelkhand and Nagaland, people live in these settlements for defence and security purposes, in Rajasthan these settlements are built around/ near water resources due to water scarcity.

Semi-Clustered Settlements

  • This type of settlement develops by the concentration of houses in a restricted area of a dispersed settlement or develop due to segregation or fragmentation of a large compact village.

  • Here, a dominant community captures the most important part in main village and force other communities to live away. For e.g. plains of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Hamleted Settlement

  • This type of settlement is formed due to social or ethnic factors and thus known for different identity and name, like, panna, para, nagla, dhani etc.

  • Each hamlet is a unit and has a number of houses.

  • Several units of hamlets collectively form a village. For e.g. middle and lower Ganga plain, Chhattisgarh and lower valleys of Himalayas.

Dispersed Settlements

  • Isolated huts or hamlets of few huts in remote jungles or on small hills with farms or pastures are characteristics of dispersed type of settlement.

  • These houses may be of temporary use. It is found in Meghalaya, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, etc.

Urban Settlements

  • Unlike rural settlement, urban settlement are usually more dense, compact and larger in size.

  • Here, people are mostly engaged in non-agricultural activities i.e. industries, services, administrative functions, etc.

  • Cities and towns both are connected directly or indirectly with villages and also with each other and exchange goods, services and also commute.

Evolution of Towns in India

The evolution of towns started in India from prehistoric times, e.g. Harappa, Mohenjodaro towns, European colonies of modern period, etc.
Indian towns may be classified into three groups on the basis of their evolution in different periods:

Ancient Towns

These towns were developed over 2000 years ago by the various kings as religious and cultural centres, e.g. Varanasi, Prayag (Allahabad), Pataliputra (Patna), Madurai, etc.

Medieval Towns

  • These towns were developed as headquarters of principalities and kingdoms by medieval kings and Sultans of India.

  • These towns are about 100 in numbers and were generally fort towns which came up on the ruins of ancient towns.

  • For example, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Agra and Nagpur.

Modern Towns

These towns were developed by the Britishers and other Europeans in India. These are further divided into the following groups:

  • Port Towns These are located on the coastal areas of India i.e. Surat, Daman, Goa, Puducherry, etc.

  • Administrative Towns These were developed for the administrative purposes, e.g. Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras) and Kolkata (Calcutta).

  • Industrial Towns After 1850, these towns were developed like Jamshedpur.

  • Some other Towns of European Styles These towns include hill stations for summer resorts, military towns and small towns for administrative purposes.

Towns after Independence

After Independence, some towns were also developed like:

  • Administrative Headquarters or Capital of States These towns include Chandigarh, Bhubaneshwar, Gandhinagar and Dispur etc.

  • Industrial Towns/Centres These towns include Durgapur Bhilai, Sindri, Barani, etc.

  • Satellite Towns These were old towns which developed around metropolitan cities such as Ghaziabad, Rohtak, Gurgaon (Gurugram), etc.

  • Medium and Small towns These are developed due to increasing investment in rural areas.

Urbanisation in India

  • Urbanisation is the transition of rural population into urban population.

  • It is measured by the percentage of urban population into total population. In India, the level of urbanisation is very low, as it was just 28% in 2001.

  • Developed countries have a higher level of urbanisation than India.

  • Although, urbanisation in India is increasing with high rate, as it increased 11 times dining twentieth century, but this process is comparatively slow during recent two decades.

Classification of Towns on the Basis of Population Size

Census of India is responsible for defining and classifying urban areas in India. Cities and urban areas are classified into six classes by census of India.


Urban areas use their population size as base. Thus, an urban Area that have population of more than one lakh is considered as city or class I town.

Cities that have population more than one million but less than 5 million are considered as metropolitan or metro city. Cities that have population more than 5 million are considered as ‘megacities’ or ‘megalopolis’.

The six classes of towns are given below

Class 12 Geography Notes Chapter 14 Human Settlements

Apart from these cities, there is also a concept of urban agglomeration in India. According to census of India, an urban agglomeration may have to fulfil anyone of the following conditions:
  1. A town and its adjoining urban out growths.
  2. Two or more contiguous towns with or without their outgrowths.
  3. A city and one or more adjoining towns with their outgrowths together forming a contiguous spread.

Examples of these outgrowth may be in the form of railway colonies, university campus, part area, military cantonment, etc.


According to the given table, class IV cities are highest in number but larger proportion of urban population lives in class I cities (61.48%).


Besides these towns, India has 423 cities. Among them, 35 cities or urban agglomeration are metropolitan cities. Six of them are mega cities with population over 5 million each.

For e.g.. Greater Mumbai being the largest urban agglomeration with 16.4 million population, followed by Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.

Functional Classification of Towns

Apart from population size, Indian towns and cities can be classified into the following heads on the basis of their functions (dominant economic activity):

  • Administrative towns and cities These towns work as headquarter for surrounding region. Government offices and departments, etc are mainly concentrated in these cities. For e.g. Chandigarh, New Delhi, Bhopal, Shilong, Guwahati, Imphal, Srinagar, Gandhinagar, Jaipur and Chennai, etc.

  • Industrial Towns These towns/ cities mainly dominated by industries. For e.g. Jamshedpur, Bhilai, Durgapur, Madurai, Mumbai, etc.

  • Transport Cities Transportation is the main function of these cities. Port towns are examples of these towns that are always busy in transporting commodities to other cities. For e.g. Kandla, Kochchi, Kozhikode, Visakhapatnam, etc. There are some cities which are hubs of inland transport such as Agra, Dhulia, Mughal Sarai, Itarsi, Katni, etc.

  • Commercial Towns The important functions of these towns are trade and commerce. For e.g. Kolkata, Saharanpur, Satna, etc.

  • Mining Towns These towns have developed in mineral rich areas. For e.g. Raniganj, Jharia, Digboi, Ankaleshwar, Singrauli, etc.

  • Garrison Cantonment Towns These towns are meant for the army or defence purpose. For e.g. Ambala, Jalandhar, Mhow, Babina, Udhampur, etc.

  • Educational Towns Initially these towns were important education centres, but later they emerged as major campus towns. For e.g. Roorkee, Varanasi, Aligarh, Pilani, Allahabad, etc.

  • Religious and Cultural Towns These towns are famous for pilgrimage, religious worship or old cultures. For e.g. Varanasi, Mathura, Amritsar, Madurai, Pune, Ajmer, Tirupati, Kurukshetra, Haridwar, Ujjain, etc.

  • Tourists Towns These towns are famous for attracting wide range of tourists from India and all over the world. For e.g. Nainital, Mussoorie, Shimla, Pachmarhi, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udagamandalam (Ooty), Mount Abu, etc.

The functions of these cities are not fix and change with the time as cities are dynamic in nature. With increase in population, cities become metropolis and multi-functional i.e. industry, business, administration, transport, etc. Thus, classification of these cities on the basis of specialised function is impossible as all the functions are interlinked.

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