Features of settlements, probably of better use to people living in South Wales as that is where most of the examples are from but still useful to most geography AS level students. 

  • Created by: Kay
  • Created on: 21-05-11 11:14


Rural = in or of the countryside

Urban = of or living in the city or town 

  • Isolated Dwelling - Single House
  • Farm - Land use under one management for growing crops or livestock
  • Hamlet - Cluster of houses without a church 
  • Small Village - Group of buildings in rural surroundings
  • Large Village - Bigger than the above 
  • Sub town - Small than an actual town within a town / city 
  • Town - Compact settlement, larger than a village and urban
  • Large Town - Densely populated version of the above
  • City - Urban area containing cathedral 
  • Large City - Large or important urban area 
  • Conurbation - Large urban area formed by growth and merging of neighbouring towns like London
  • Megalopolis - Integration of a large urban area into a vast urban structure, often with a population of over 10 million.
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The United Nations (UN) defines urban as - a settlement with over 20,000 inhabitants. 

However, this definition varies between countries: 

  • Western Canada and Sweden - 1000 people 
  • Norway - 200
  • Japan - 50,000

In the UK, population threshold for a parish to be classed as urban is 10,000 people and is et by the Countryside Commission/ Agency.

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Wide range of functions - cultural activity, retailing, education and finance. These functions are often of high order - department stores, college or university. Urban areas are usually centrally placed with a sphere of influence 


Small range of functions of low order - village store or primary school, combined shop and post office. 

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Traditionally secondary (manufacturing) or tertiary (services) sectors. Attracts workers from all over the region


Agriculture and primary activities. However, this is changing due to the modernization of farming and people working from home using the internet and travelling great distances to work. 

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Urban areas are built up, therefore threshold population densities can be used as a measure of this built up nature, usually 100 - 400 people per sq/km. Tokyo has a population density of 10,000 people per sq/km. 


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Do urban areas have a social dimension - urbanism? Are people living in cities more anonymous and do they suffer from more psychological disorders? The pace of life is faster, there is more stress and there is a greater desire to be upwardly mobile.

Is the rural way of life stress free, relaxed and slower? Is there a rural idyll?

Cloke (1979) investigated rurality and devised an index of rurality based on 16 variables taken from census data: 

1. Extreme rural: The Lake District 

2. Intermediate rural: South Devon

3. Intermediate non-rural: Growing urban influences, Bedfordshire

4. Extreme non-rural: Rural urban fringe area of London, Berkshire.

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What can we conclude?

  • It is very difficult to define what is urban and what is rural.
  • There are many ways of defining the two.
  • There are many links between urban and rural areas.
  • Are there any other measures that you think could be used?
  • Has there been a change over time?
  • Was it easier to define the two in the past?
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thanks these are really helpful

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