What is the site and situation of a settlement?
The site and situation of a settlement are very different things. The site of a settlement is the land upon which it was built. There is a range of human and physical factors that determine the site of a settlement. The factors that affect the site of a settlement include:
- relief – the shape of the land affects where buildings are constructed and flat land is preferable for building
- wet point site – these are sites close to a supply of water, essential for agriculture, drinking, washing and cleaning
- dry point site – these are sites that avoided the risk of flooding
- defensive site – these were sites that were on high ground and allowed the inhabitants to see enemies from a distance
- aspect – many settlements in the northern hemisphere are located on south-facing sides of valleys where it is sunny
- quality of the soil – if the soil is fertile a settlement is more likely to develop
- shelter – away from rain and prevailing winds
- trading point – often settlements developed where natural training points meet such as along rivers or natural routeways
- resources – many settlements developed close to where natural resources could be found.
- accessibility – accessibility can be increased by the presence of roads or water bodies, allowing a settlement to grow through trade or migration.
After the establishment of a settlement, its growth may then depend on its situation, in relation to the surrounding environment, the size and function(s) of surrounding settlements, access to natural resources such as fuel and fertile soils and route-ways.
The situation of a settlement is its location in relation to surrounding human and physical features. We usually describe the situation when we are telling someone where a settlement is.
The situation of a settlement is the description of the settlement in relation to physical features around it and other settlements. The situation of a settlement is the most important in determining whether it grows to become a large city or stays as a small town or village.
In the UK, London is an example of a city with an excellent situation. It is located on flat land the River Thames, with excellent links by road and air.
The importance of a settlement can increase and decrease as they fulfil different functions. The situation of a settlement significantly influences which of these will happen.