Highways and Settlements:An Introduction

The study of settlements is basic to Human Geography because the form of settlement in any particular region reflects Man’s relationship with the environment. Settlements have gradually grown up and evolved over a long period of time and by studying the site, pattern and arrangement of settlements something of the history of Man’s exploitation of the surrounding land can be deciphered.

A settlement is an existence of occupance for shelter where people live. Settlement is man’s structural transformation towards application to his environment. The study of settlements is largely a product of twentieth century. Human Geography is the study of relationship between man and earth of which Settlement Geography is a part and parcel. A settlement is man’s first step towards adaptation to his environment. Settlement designates an organised colony of human beings, together with their residences and other buildings (shops, hotels, banks etc.), the roads, streets which are used for travel. Settlements are situated as advantageously as possible with respect to natural features such as water, fuel, food, protection and drainage and access to transportation and communication. According to Brock and Webb settlement pattern denotes the shape or arrangement of settlement in relation to natural or manmade features or designs such as streams, ridges, canals and roads. The pattern of settlement is determined on the basis of the location of houses.

The pattern of settlement exhibits the relationship between one dwelling and the other. Similarly the site may have no bearing on pattern in some cases. Highways work as sort of life lines for the country or the region in which they are situated. So, naturally, they have tremendous influence on the settlements situated along them. In some cases the highways are the very ‘raison d’être’ of the settlement.

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