Factors That Influence Settlement Patterns

Updated February 21, 2017

The factors that influence patterns of settlement are, at their most general, not in dispute. There are four specific variables that exert the most influence on the nature of human settlement of all kinds, from rural to maritime to urban. These variables generally dictate the desire of settlers to move to a different location in order to gain rewards and to begin anew. The first variable listed is the necessary cause of settlement, the remaining three are the sufficient causes of settlement.

Economic and Human Influences

Generally, the promise of material reward is the most important factor in human settlement. In this case, the interest in gaining more profit in proportion to labour exerted is central in dictating settlement patterns. These are necessary, but not sufficient causes of settlement. Parts of this variable include the promise of employment and a stable economy.

Physical Influences

The physical environment is next in importance. In agricultural settlement, the nature of the soil and access to both water and transport are essential ingredients in making sense out of settlement patterns. But even further, things such as the safety and stability of the existing settlement is equally important.

Technological Influences

A more specific consideration is the existence of well-established patterns of communication, transportation and markets, which are all central to this variable. To some extent, it is connected to the physical environment, as the technological make-up of the existing settlement exists as an adaptation to the nature of the topography and the availability of resources.

Historical Influences

Ethnic compatibility, speaking the same language and the basic cultural forms of coexistence cannot be left out of this discussion. The historic nature of settlement speaks to the specific language and cultural norms that make up a society, making it easier for one that shares these to fit in, and discouraging strangers. This not only makes it easy for similar settlers to fit in, but also makes the community more and more cohesive.

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About the Author

Walter Johnson has more than 20 years experience as a professional writer. After serving in the United Stated Marine Corps for several years, he received his doctorate in history from the University of Nebraska. Focused on economic topics, Johnson reads Russian and has published in journals such as “The Salisbury Review,” "The Constantian" and “The Social Justice Review."