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Unit 6

6.1 The Origin and Influences of Urbanization

2 min readjune 1, 2020


Harrison Burnside

AP Human Geography 🚜

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What To Know for 6.1:
Central Place Theory, Site vs. Situation, 2 Urban Settlement Theories, Rural vs. Urban Settlements

Development of Cities

Central Place Theory

Walter Christaller, a German geographer, first developed the Central Place Theory to explain the reasons behind the distribution patterns, size, and number of cities or towns across the globe. This theory serves as the framework for both historical and locational patterns today. It also explains the identification of most profitable locations.
  • Hexagonal shapes
    • A series of hexagons, representing the vertices of equilateral triangles, evenly distribute the connection of consumers. The shape represents the assumption that consumers will visit the most nearby place offering a good. Thus, it is a good compromise between circles and squares.
  • The Theory Assumes that there are NO:
    • Topographic Barriers (mountains, river, etc.)
    • Differences in Farm Productivity
    • Different Dispersion of Rural Population

    Source: Penn State Geography Department

    2 Urban Settlement Theories

    1. Settlements originated in Mesopotamia: part of Fertile Crescent in Southwest Asia
      1. Diffused West to Egypt, East to China, and to South India’s Indus Valley
    2. Settlements originated independently in 4 hearths
      1. Southwest Asia
      2. Egypt
      3. China
      4. South India

    Rural vs. Urban Settlements 

    • Louis Wirth stated that the difference between rural and urban settlements depends on the density of human-created structures.
    • Rural Settlements:
      • Small Size
      • Low Density
      • Socially Homogeneous Populations
    • Urban Settlements:
      • Large Size
      • High Density
      • Socially Heterogeneous Populations

    Site vs Situation

    Absolute Location, A City's Physical Characteristics Chosen for Trade, Defense, or Religion, Geographic Surroundings of a CityRelative Location of a City, A City's "Role" in the System of the World

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