Settlement, locality or populated place are general terms used in statistics, archaeology, geography, landscape history and other subjects for a permanent or temporary community in which people live or have lived, without being specific as to size, population or importance. A settlement can therefore range in size from a small number of dwellings grouped together to the largest of cities with surrounding urbanized areas. The term may include hamlets, villages, towns and cities.
A settlement conventionally includes its constructed facilities such as roads, enclosures, field systems, boundary banks and ditches, ponds, parks and woods, wind and water mills, manor houses, moats and churches.
In geography 
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a Geographic Names Information System that defines three classes of human settlement: "Populated Place", "Census" and "Civil". The populated place is defined as a place or area with clustered or scattered buildings and a permanent human population (city, settlement, town, village or hamlet) referenced with geographic coordinates, which is "usually not incorporated and by definition has no legal boundaries". The Populated Places may partially correspond to Civil records: "A political division formed for administrative purposes (borough, county, incorporated place, municipio, parish, town, township)."
In landscape history 
Landscape history studies the form (morphology) of settlements – for example whether they are dispersed or nucleated. Urban morphology can thus be considered a special type of cultural-historical landscape studies. Settlements can be ordered by size, centrality or other factors to define a settlement hierarchy.
In statistics 
The Bulgarian Government publishes a National Register of Populated Places (NRPP).
There are various types of inhabited localities in Russia.
United Kingdom 
The UK Department for Communities and Local Government uses the term "urban settlement" to denote an urban area when analysing census information. The Registrar General for Scotland defines settlements as groups of one or more contiguous localities, which are determined according to population density and postcode areas. The Scottish settlements are used as one of several factors defining urban areas.
United States 
Populated places may be specifically defined in the context of censuses and be different from general-purpose administrative entities, such as "place" as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau or census-designated places.
Abandoned populated places 
Populated places can be abandoned. Sometimes the structures are still easily accessible, such as in a ghost town, and these may become tourist attractions. Some places that have the appearance of a ghost town, however, may still be defined as populated places by government entities.
A town may become a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, because of a government action, such as the building of a dam that floods the town, or because of natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, uncontrolled lawlessness, or war. The term is sometimes used to refer to cities, towns, and neighborhoods that are still populated, but significantly less so than in years past.
See also 
- Administrative division
- Lost city
- Requirements for permanent settlements
- List of Neolithic settlements
- Settlement geography
- Dutta, Biswanath; Fausto Giunchiglia and Vincenzo Maltese (2010). "A Facet-Based Methodology for Geo-Spatial Modeling". GeoSpatial Semantics: 4th International Conference, GeoS 2011, Brest, France. p. 143.
- Medieval Settlement Research Group
- "Feature Class Definitions". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
- "NTMS Specifications (250K & 100K): Populated Place". Australian Government. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
- "Glossary Search Results". Atlas of Canada. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
- Urban Settlement 2001
- Scottish census information
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