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Social sciences

Geography: settlements

Module 1

Land use patterns

The origin and functions of settlements differ. We shall take a brief look at the different types of land use in a town or city in South Africa.

South Africa has some densely populated urban areas. These include areas such as Gauteng and the Cape Town City Metropole. The Nelson Mandela Metropole which includes Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch, is another densely populated area. On the other hand there are certain parts of the country where the population is very sparse. Do you know of any such areas? ……….. The Northern Cape Province perhaps? In some of these country towns the population is in fact decreasing. This is partly due to the depopulation of the rural areas, resulting from the pulling and pushing factors that you have already studied.

In a small town like Hofmeyr in the Eastern Cape, there are only about five hundred inhabitants. Many businesses in this town have already closed down. There is not enough spending power left to make businesses profitable. Even banks have already closed their doors. This also influences the prices of houses. Prices have dropped considerably over the last few years. Many home-owners cannot find buyers for their homes. They practically have to give their homes away.


To interpret information from sources and answer questions that arise from this knowledge

[lo 2.1]

1. Why do you think certain urban areas are expanding, while others (especially in rural areas) stagnate?

2. Define the term “depopulisation.”

3. What kind of problems do property owners in rural areas experience where the population of small towns is dwindling?

4. Do you think there is a relationship between the depopulation of the rural areas and the pressure on urban areas to supply housing and an infrastructure?

1. Different land use zones in the city

If you study a map of any town or city, it becomes clear that not all the land is used for the same purposes. There are various functions to be fulfilled in any particular town or city, and these take place in different areas. Industries, for example, are usually found on the outskirts of a city, while the head offices of large organisations are likely to be in the central business district.

As any city has different needs, there are different kinds of businesses, institutions or persons to supply in these needs. Just think of sport for a moment. Which amenities in your area cater for sport? Cities also have many other functions. Let’s have a look at some typical land use zones in the city:

1.1 C entral Business District (CBD)

The Central Business District is the heart of any city and its function is commercial. All cities have such an area. The location of the CBD usually offers easy access to all the main traffic routes. The price of land in the Central Business District is usually exceptionally high, so that most buildings in this area are very tall. In the course of time, as the city expands, the CBD of any given city may move to a new location. In Port Elizabeth for example, the CBD was once close to the harbour. The area has since moved to Cape Road, which is further away from die original CBD.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Geography grade 8. OpenStax CNX. Sep 11, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11036/1.1
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