- "Shantytown" and "Hutment" redirect here. For the created gold-mining town in New Zealand, see Shantytown, New Zealand.
A shanty town is a slum settlement of plywood, corrugated metal, sheets of plastic, and cardboard boxes. They are usually found on the periphery of cities, public parks, or near railroad tracks, rivers, lagoons or city trash dump sites. Sometimes called a squatter, informal or spontaneous settlement, shanty towns often lack proper sanitation, safe water supply, electricity, hygienic streets, or other basic human necessities.
Shanty is probably from Canadian French chantier, a winter station established for the organization of lumberjacks.
Hutment means an "encampment of huts". When the term is used by the military, it means "temporary living quarters specially built by the army for soldiers". The term is also a synonym for shanty town, particularly in developing countries.
Since construction is informal and unguided by urban planning, there is typically no formal street grids, numbered or named streets; they lack some or all basic public services such as sewage network, electricity, safe running water, rain water drainage, garbage removal, access to public transport, insect and disease control services. Even if these resources are present, they are likely to be disorganized, unreliable and poorly maintained. Shanty towns also tend to lack basic services present in more formally organized settlements, including policing, mail delivery, medical services and fire fighting. Fires are a particular danger for shanty towns not only for the lack of fire fighting stations and the difficulty fire trucks have traversing the absence of formal street grids, but also because of the high density of buildings and flammability of materials used in construction A sweeping fire on the hills of Shek Kip Mei, Hong Kong, in late 1953 left 53,000 squatter dwellers homeless, prompting the colonial government to institute a resettlement estate system.
Shanty towns have high rates of crime, suicide, drug use and disease. However the observer Georg Gerster has noted (with specific reference to the invasões of Brasilia), "squatter settlements [as opposed to slums], despite their unattractive building materials, may also be places of hope, scenes of a counter-culture, with an encouraging potential for change and a strong upward impetus." (1978) Stewart Brand has also written, more recently, that "squatter cities are Green. They have maximum density—a million people per square mile in Mumbai—and minimum energy and material use. People get around by foot, bicycle, rickshaw, or the universal shared taxi ... Not everything is efficient in the slums, though. In the Brazilian favelas where electricity is stolen and therefore free, Jan Chipchase from Nokia found that people leave their lights on all day. In most slums recycling is literally a way of life." (2010)
Shanty towns are present in a number of countries. The largest shanty town in Asia is Orangi in Karachi, Pakistan; the largest in India is Dharavi, in Mumbai, India, the largest in Africa is Khayelitsha township in Cape Town, South Africa.
While shanty towns are less common in Europe, the growing influx of illegal immigrants have fueled shantytowns in cities commonly used as a point of entry into the EU, including Athens and Patras in Greece. In francophone countries, shanty towns are referred to as bidonvilles (French for "can town" - can being a reference to tin metal); such countries include Tunisia and Haiti.
Other countries with shanty towns include South Africa (where they are often called squatter camps) or imijondolo, Kenya (including the Kibera and Mathare slums), the Philippines (often called squatter areas), Venezuela (where they are known as barrios), Brazil (favelas), Argentina (villas miseria), West Indies such as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (where they are known as Shanty town), and Peru (where they are known as "young towns"). In Russia, shanty towns - called truščóba (трущобы) - are present in smaller cities as well in Chelobityevo outside Moscow. There is also a major shanty town population in countries such as Bangladesh, and the People's Republic of China.
Although shantytowns are less common in developed countries, there are some cities that have them. In Madrid, Spain, a low-class neighborhood named Cañada Real (which is considered a shanty town) has no formal education system, professional nurseries or modern health clinics. In Portugal, shanty towns known as "barracas" or "bairros de lata" are made up of immigrants from former Portuguese African colonies and Gypsies from Eastern Europe. Most of them are located in Lisbon Metropolitan Area, and generally, the settlements are so bad that they can be compared to other shanty towns in developing countries. In the United States, some cities such as Newark and Oakland have witnessed the creation of tent cities. Other settlements in developed countries that are comparable to shanty towns include the Colonias near the border with Mexico, and bidonvilles in France, which may exist in the peripheries of some cities.
While most shanty towns begin as precarious establishments haphazardly thrown together without basic social and civil services, over time, some have undergone a certain amount of development. Often the residents themselves are responsible for the major improvements. Community organizations sometimes working alongside NGO's, private companies, and the government, set up connections to the municipal water supply, pave roads, and build local schools. Some of these shanties have become middle class suburbs. One such extreme example is the Los Olivos Neighborhood of Lima, Peru. The Megaplaza shopping mall, one of Lima's largest, along with gated communities, casinos, and even plastic surgery clinics, are just a few of many developments that have transformed what used to be a decrepit shanty. A few Brazilian favelas have also seen improvements in recent years, enough so to attract tourists who flock to catch a glimpse of the colorful lifestyle perched atop Rio de Janeiro's highlands. Development occurs over a long period of time and newer towns still lack basic services. Nevertheless there has been a general trend whereby shanties undergo gradual improvements, rather than relocation to even more distant parts of a metropolis and replacement by gated communities constructed over their ruins. Many shanty towns are starting to implement composting toilets and solar panels, also many of the people living in slums may have access to cell phones and even the internet. However, in spite of all this, inequality associated with shanty towns has only increased over time.
- Asentamientos in Guatemala
- Baraccopoli in Italy
- Paraggoupoli in Greece
- Barrios de invasión in Colombia
- Basti in India
- Bidonvilles in France
- Campamentos or poblaciones callampa in Chile.
- Cantegriles (or more recently, Asentamientos) in Uruguay
- Chabolas in Spain
- Colonias or "Migrant camps" on the Mexico – United States border
- Favelas in Brazil
- Gecekondu in Turkey
- Ghettoes in the United States
- Hoovervilles in the United States (historical)
- Gueto in Puerto Rico
- Llegaipon in Cuba
- Poblados chabolistas in Spain
- Pueblos jóvenes (young towns) or barriadas in Peru
- Putri in Hungary
- Ranchos in Venezuela
- Squatter Camp in South Africa
- Tent cities, Trailer Parks in the United States
- Tugurios in Costa Rica
- Villas Miseria or just villas in Argentina
- Zona marginal or ciudad perdida in Mexico
- Ghetto in Panama
- السكن العشوائي Al Sakan Al Ashawayie in Syria
- Favela da Rocinha (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
- see also List of favelas in Brazil
- Cité Soleil (Haiti)
- Dharavi (India)
- Joe Slovo (Cape Town, South Africa)
- Kibera (Nairobi, Kenya)
- Mathare (Nairobi, Kenya)
- Khayelitsha (Cape Town, South Africa)
- Kya Sands (Johannesburg, South Africa)
People and organizations
- Abahlali baseMjondolo (South Africa)
- Akhtar Hameed Khan
- Hernando de Soto (economist)
- Marie Huchzermeyer (scholar)
- Mike Davis (scholar)
- Chinese New Village (Malaysia)
- Orangi Pilot Project
- Slum Dwellers International
- Slum upgrading
- United Nations Human Settlements Programme
- Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign
- The Susso, welfare in Australia originating in the Great Depression
- Occupy Wallstreet
- Poverty in France
- Refugee shelter
- Skid row
- Tent city
- Trailer park
- Urban decay
In popular culture
- The 1985 film Police Story starts off in a shanty town.
- The film Slumdog Millionaire centres around characters who spend most of their lives in Indian shanty towns.
- The South African film District 9 is largely set in (and takes its name from) a fictional Johannesburg township.
- The Brazilian films City of God (set in Cidade de Deus) and Tropa de Elite - and to a lesser extent its sequel, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within - are all largely set in favela shanty towns in Rio de Janeiro, as are the semi-autobiographical novels on which they are based (City of God and Elite da Tropa).
- One of the alternate titles for Demented Death Farm Massacre is Shantytown Honeymoon.
- One of the areas in Resident Evil 5 is located in a shanty town.
- One of the sections of the new Tomb Raider (2013 video game) is located in a shanty town, as on one of the multiplayer levels.
- Reggae singer Desmond Dekker sang a song called "007 (Shanty Town)".
- Kibera Kid is an award-winning short film by Nathan Collett set in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya.
- What America Looked Like: Puerto Rican Slums in the Early 1970s The Atlantic (July 17 2012)
- Greek immigration crisis spawns shanty towns and squats Nick Squires and Paul Anast, The Telegraph, (September 7 2009)
- Showdown Looms Over Europe's Largest Shantytown LAUREN FRAYER, National Public Radio (Washington DC), April 27 2012
- Oxford English Dictionary online
- "Hutment". Free Dictionary. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
- Jorge Hernández. "Sólo tres unidades de bomberos atienden 2 mil barrios de Petare" (in Spanish).
- See the report on shack fires in South Africa by Matt Birkinshaw  as well as the wider collection of articles in fires in shanty towns at 
- Georg Gerster, Flights of Discovery: The Earth from Above, 1978, London: Paddington, p. 116
- Stewart Brand, "Stewart Brand on New Urbanism and squatter communities", The New Urban Network, reprinted from Whole Earth Discipline, Penguin,
- 5 biggest slums in the world Daniel Tovrov, IB Times (December 9 2011)
- Squires, Nick; Anast, Paul (September 7, 2009). "Greek immigration crisis spawns shanty towns and squats". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- For Russia’s Migrants, Economic Despair Douses Flickers of Hope MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ, New York Times (February 9 2009)
- Moscow's Muslim Slums Now Breeding Grounds for Despair Moscow Times (2010)
- Health and Social Conditions in the Dhaka Slums.
- Demolitions limit slum villages to city outskirts.
- "Slums" sting Chinese cities, hamper building of harmonious society.
- Jane Kelly, Review: Planet of Slums, By Mike Davis, Verso, 2006, £15.99. Socialist Outlook: SO/10 - Summer 2006.
- "Siloam Christian Ministries". Siloam.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- "Some 'Young Towns' in Lima Not So Young Anymore", Council on Hemispheric Affairs, August 16, 2011.
- Clarke, Felicity (May 16, 2011). "Favela Tourism Provides Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Rio". Forbes.
- Informality: Re-Viewing Latin American Cities, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanitie.
- Bill Gates' foundation puts money on solar-powered toilet - AlertNet
- Youth Bring Low-Cost Solar Panels to Kenyan Slum | Worldwatch Institute
- "IT for schools,Schools,Education,Technology,UK news,Online learning e-learning (Education)". The Guardian (London). May 8, 2001.
- "UN study says wealth gap in Latin America increases- A study by the United Nations suggests the gap between the rich and the poor in much of Latin America is widening.". BBC News. August 21, 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- "SA’s post-apartheid failure in squatter camps". MoneyWeb. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- Daniel Carter Beard (1920). Shelters, shacks, and shanties. C. Scribner's Sons. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
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