1 Processes and Spatial Patterns

By | 18 Jan 2012
Geography CAPS > Grade 12 > People and Places > 1 Processes and Spatial Patterns

1 Classification of settlements and factors influencing site and situation

  • What is settlement?

Settlement is a place where people live, which includes buildings, economic activities and transport networks. The size and shape of settlements vary across the earth’s surface. A settlement can be as small as a single building or as large as a megalopolis.

  • Site Site refers to the exact land (physical landscape) on which a settlement is built.
  • Site factors:
    • Water
    • Relief/micro climate
    • Soil
    • Climate
    • Accessibly and communication
    • Tradition
    • Fuel and building material

Influence of site on settlements:

1.  Wet point sites

Kufra Oasis wet point site. Download the Google Earth Kufra Oasis Bookmark: {filelink=1}

2.  Dry point sites

Port Shepstone Country club and Golf Course are built on a flood plane. This area is often flooded in the rainy season. Residential houses are built on the surrounding hills.

Download the Google Earth Port Shepstone Bookmark: {filelink=2}

3.  Defensive sites

Colenso defensive site. Download the Google Earth Colenso Bookmark: {filelink=3}

4.  Accessibility/communication sites

Worcester – Gap Town Download the Google Earth Worcester Bookmark: {filelink=4}

Tulbagh – Gap Town Download the Google Earth Tulbagh Bookmark: {filelink=5}

The road heading away from Worcester, entering the Matroosberg Mountains.

  • Situation Situation refers to the location of a settlement and includes:
    • Roads
    • Railways, harbours and airports
    • Distance to other settlements/markets
    • Access to resources and services
      Example: Richards Bay is close to a harbour with international links.
      Download the Google Earth Richards Bay Bookmark: {filelink=6}

  • Classification of settlements according to:
    • Size and complexity
    • Pattern
      • Nucleated:
      • Linear/ribbon development:
      • Planned (circular or square):
      • Crossroads: Semi-circular:
  • Function Function is the main factor that is used to differentiate between rural and urban settlements.
  • Urban / rural
Rural Urban
  • Uni-functional
  • Associated with primary activities
  • It has one dominant function, e.g. agriculture. forestry, mining, conservation, quarrying
  • Farmsteads, hamlets and villages
  • Multi-functional
  • Associated with secondary, tertiary and quaternary activities
  • Variety of functions such as shops, schools, places of worship, hotel, factories, post office, etc
  • Towns, cities, metropolis, conurbation and megalopolis


  • Site and situation
    • Factors influencing site and situation of rural settlements
    • Factors influencing site and situation of urban settlements