ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Population and Settlement:Factors influencing the siting and location of settlements
- Several factors influence the location of settlements
- These can be divided into four:
- historical factors
- availability of resources; and
- human preferences and available technology
- Include historical considerations including the desire to build settlements on defensive grounds.
- Factors of legislation and land tenure also affect the position of present settlement patterns and their locations.
- For example most settlements were located on higher ground which was easier to defend.
- Higher ground also meant enemies could be seen while they were still far off.
- This explains settlements like Great Zimbabwe, Khami and Nyanga hill sites.
- In European settlements river bends and pronounced meanders formed important settlements as they were favored as defensive sites.
- Also European settlements often align themselves with the ancient feudal systems of Europe.
- Much of the settlement in Zimbabwe especially in communal areas are hugely influenced by the Land Apportionment Act of 1930.
- The linear settlement pattern often found in communal areas was a result of planned and legislated land settlement patterns.
- The need to communicate with other areas for trade and travel purposes is another important factor that influences settlement patterns.
- Settlements are often located along transport routes and communication lines.
- These may be roads, railway lines or water routes.
- Such settlements are also known as Nodal settlements
- Nodal settlements-these are settlements that converge along roads, railway lines, water routes, mountain passes, gaps river confluences and valleys.
- Nodal settlements are heavily influenced by communication networks.
Availability of resources
- A lot of settlements are located near natural resources that are necessary for people’s livelihood.
- For example water, minerals, wood, fertile soil and grass.
- Water is a very important resource that attracts settlement.
- It is used for domestic/irrigation purposes, pastoral activities and in some cases where the river is navigable, for transport purposes.
- Settlements also occur along springs.
- Settlements can also occur as a result of a combination of these resources for example water and fertile lands for farming villages and towns.
- Settlements can also be attracted by forests and mountain areas where there is plentiful wood to be used as a fuel.
- Minerals such as asbestos have acted as a catalyst towards the formation of towns like Zvishavane and coal in Hwange.
Human preferences and the influence of technology
- Most barriers that prevented settlements from being built in certain areas have since been overcome.
- Settlements are now being built in areas previously marginalized.
- For example settlements are now being built even on steep slope using landscaping.
- Settlements are now being planned according to human preferences and desires.
- For example most land use patterns in resettlement areas are a result of deliberate human planning more than anything else.
- Urban area settlements are always planned although spontaneous settlements, which are usually illegal, often sprout out for example Epworth and Hopely farm.
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