The pattern of settlement at a particular time and place results from the choices humans make from those offered by the natural environment. The accelerating increase in numbers of people in modern times has led to vastly greater pressure on land.
The conservation-exploitation debate about land and what to do with it acknowledges that land, which covers about 25 per cent of the Earth's surface, may be limited whereas human numbers, capabilities and demands are not.
The term settlement includes the establishment of villages and towns as well as the pattern of human concentration at a given time and place.
Today urbanization continues apace with some groups of cities merging into a super-city or megalopolis, as has happened in the north-eastern United States along the Atlantic seaboard from Boston to Washington DC, known as BosWash, BoWash or BosNYwash. The fastest growth in the late twentieth century has occurred in some Third World cities. Large cities of the past such as London and Paris seem modest by comparison with a population of little more than 7.
This space carries transport networks such as road, rail and other routes to terminal sites such as stations, airports and ports. It also includes ancillary transport storage and supply land, such as garages, works and parking space.
Buildings in the center of a metropolis may have several stories; street levels may be used for retail or transport, and upper floors for residential, commercial or manufacturing functions. Such settlements depend on land far beyond their own limits, for food and other supplies, and for markets. Many villages today are dormitory settlements for commuters working in nearby urban centers.
Nomads have long used inhospitable land that was not able to support fixed communities but where water and other resources were adequate for temporary use.
Modern people can also live in such marginal areas.
Supplies and equipment for a comfortable lifestyle can be transported to outlying areas and radio communications can keep them in touch with the metropolis. Land consists of sub-surface and surface features which, along with climate, constitute the natural environment. Human Settlements.