Chapter 7

Human Environment- Settlement, Transport and Communication


Settlements are places where people build their homes.Early human beings lived on trees and in caves. When they started to grow crops, it become necessary to have permanent home. The settlement grew near the river valleys as water was available and land was fertile. With the development of trade, commerce and manufacturing, human settlement became larger.

The place where building or a settlement develops is called its site.The natural conditions for selection of an ideal site are-

1. Favourable climate

2. Availability of water

3. Suitable land

4. Fertile soil

Settlement can be of two types:

Temporary- Settlements, which are occupied for a short time, are called temporary settlements. Example: The people living in deep forests, hot and cold deserts and mountains often dwell in such temporary settlements. They practice hunting, gathering, shifting, cultivation and transhumance.

Transhumance- It is a seasonal movement of people.People who rear animals move in search of new pastures according to changes in seasons.

Permanent- Settlements, which are made to live in for a long time, are called permanent settlements. Example people build homes to live in.

Rural settlements

The villages are rural settlements where people are engaged in activities like agriculture, fishing, forestry, craft, work and trading, etc. Rural settlements can be compact or scattered.

Compact settlement
Scattered settlement

A compact settlement is a closely built area of dwellings wherever flat land is available.

In a scattered settlement, dwellings are spaced over an extensive area.This type of settlement is mostly found in hilly tracts, thick forests and regions of extreme climate.

In rural areas, people build houses to suit their environment.

In regions of heavy rainfall, houses have slanting roof.

In region where water accumulates in rainy season, houses are constructed on a raised platform or stilts.

stilt house

In the areas of hot climate, thick mud wall houses with thached roofs are very common.Local materials like stones, mud, clay, straw, etc. are used to construct houses.Dwellings made of ice is called Igloo.

Urban settlements

The towns are small and the cities are larger urban settlements.In urban areas, the people are engaged in manufacturing, trading and services.


Transport is the means by which people and goods move.In the early days, people had to walk and use animals to carry goods.Invention of the wheel made transport easier.With the passage of time, different means of transport developed but even today, people use animals for transport.

In India donkeys, mules, bullocks and camels are common.In the Andes mountains of South America, llamas are used, as are yaks in Tibet.The early traders from other countries used to take several months to reach India. They took either the sea route or the land route. Aeroplanes have made travel faster.Modern means of transport thus saves time and energy.

The four major means of transport are roadways, railways, waterways and airways.


Roads are most commonly used means of transport, specially for short distances.Roads are classified into two types.

Metalled (Pucca)

Unmetalled (Kutcha)

Metalled road
Unmetalled road

The plains have a dense network of roads.Roads are also present in terrains like deserts, forests and even high mountains.Manali-Leh highway in the Himalayan mountains is one of the highest roadways in the world.Roads built underground are called subway or under paths.Flyovers are built over raised structures.

There are several national and state highways in India. The latest development in India is the construction of Expressways. The Golden Quadrilateral connects Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.


The railways carry heavy goods and people over long distancesquickly and cheaply.The invention of steam engine and the industrial revolution helped in speed the development of rail transport.Today, diesel and electric engines have largely replaced the steam engines.In places super fast trains have been introduced to make the journey faster.The railway network is well developed over the plain areas. With the advanced technological skills railway lines are also being laid indifficult mountain terrains also. However, these are lesser in numbers.Indian Railway network is well developed and largest in Asia.

The train from Xining to Lahasa runs at an altitude of4000m above sea level and the highest point is 5072 m.

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway system connecting St. Petersburg in Western Russia to Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast.


Waterways are the cheapest for carrying heavy and bulky goods over long distances.These are mainly of two types:

  1. Inland waterways
  2. Sea routes

Inland waterways

Navigable rivers and lakes are used as inland waterways. Important Inland waterways: Ganga- Brahmaputra river system, the Great Lakes in North America and the river Nile in Africa.

Sea Routes

Sea routes and oceanic routes are mostly used for transporting merchandise and goods from one country to another.These routes are connected with the ports.Important ports of the world: Singapore and Mumbai in Asia, New York, Los Angeles in North America, Rio de Janeiro in South America, Durban and Cape Town in Africa, Sydney in Australia, London and Rotterdam in Europe.

Inland waterways


Airways is the fastest way of transport developed in the early twentieth century.It is also the most expensive due to high cost of fuels.Air traffic is adversely affected by bad weather like fog and storms.It is the only mode of transport to reach the most remote and distant area especially where there are no roads and railways.Helicopters are extremely useful in most inaccessible areas and in time of calamities, for rescuing people and distributing food, water, clothes and medicines.Some of the important airports areDelhi, Mumbai, New York, London, Paris, Frankfurt and Cairo.

Helicopter rescuing people


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