What is a linear settlement?

Updated April 17, 2017

Linear settlement is a geographic term that describes a group of mostly residential buildings arranged along a main thoroughfare or a coast. Linear settlements can also be formed where growth is restricted by hills, valleys or rivers.


One notable example of a linear settlement is the Rhondda Valley in Wales. Coal mining caused the population of the valley to expand during the Industrial Revolution, but the valley's steep sides meant that development was restricted to its flat floor.


Linear settlements may also occur where poor drainage prevents development in certain directions. This is the case in villages on Otmoor, near Oxford, England, where development is stretched along high ground to avoid the risk of flooding.


Linear settlements can also be the result of deliberate development along public transport routes. The city of Curitiba in Brazil is built along linear axes that correspond to dedicated busways.

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About the Author

A full-time writer since 2006, David Dunning is a professional freelancer specializing in creative non-fiction. His work has appeared in "Golf Monthly," "Celtic Heritage," "Best of British" and numerous other magazines, as well as in the book "Defining Moments in History." Dunning has a Master of Science in computer science from the University of Kent.