Harare is the most famous settlement in Zimbabwe. Image credit Bulawayo24.com

Harare is the most famous settlement in Zimbabwe. Image credit Bulawayo24.com

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Population and Settlement: Introduction


  • Refers to a structure where human beings reside.
  • It may be made up of one or several dwellings.
  • The term settlement is, however, commonly used to refer to several dwellings.
  • In Geography we study the form (shape) and function (purpose) of settlements
  • Site-this is the space or position occupied by a settlement.
  • It is the land upon which a settlement is built.
  • A settlement can be build upon a hill or on the slope of a hill or in a valley.
  • Settlements can also be described in terms of their location /situation.
  • Location/situation-this is the position of a settlement in relation to its surroundings.
  • For example a settlement can be located between mountains, at a road junction or along a coastline.
  • A settlement’s location can also be described in relation with other settlements.
  • Settlements can also be described in terms of their size, structure and function.
  • Settlements can grow from being hamlets, to villages, then to towns, to cities or even larger settlements known as conurbations or megalopolis.
  • As the village grows in size the range of activities within it increases.
  • In a town a there is a shift to non-agricultural activities thus distinguishing it from a village.
  • Urban sprawl-this is when two or more towns grow into each other.
  • The result of an urban sprawl is called a conurbation.
  • A settlement’s structure is known as its layout.
  • The layout includes the settlement’s transport network and land-use.
  • A settlement’s morphology-this is where a settlement’s layout is considered in terms of settlement’s types of buildings, their layout, age, type, and quality.
  • Many settlements are described in their functions, hence the terms like mining town, marketing center etc.
  • Each settlement has a sphere of influence.
  • Sphere of influence-is the area around the settlement which depend on the town for various services.
  • The sphere of influence can be determined length of the journey between home and workplace of the settlement’s workplaces or the extent of the services for example newspaper distribution.

To access more topics go to the Geography Notes page.

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