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Characterisation of Rural Areas

One of the key ideas in human geography that you must study for your GCSE is the rural environment. In order to understand the pressures on ecosystems and human beings, it is important that you are aware of the main characteristics of rural areas, mainly those of the UK, including the resources they provide.

You may well have seen diagrams showing the different types of rural area, starting with the urban area as the 'bullseye'. At the edge of any urban area there is the rural/urban fringe. This is characterised as being an area where housing and the countryside mingle together. In effect, you could travel along a road in this area and within a few minutes of going in one direction, you are in the countryside but a few minutes in the other direction, you are in town.

Surrounding this is the commuter belt. This is characterised by villages with expensive housing surrounded by farmland.

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The commuter belt has good road and rail communications with the urban centre that it serves making it straightforward to commute into work.

Further out, with cheaper housing and less well-developed road and rail communications, lie the accessible rural areas. The main characteristic of these areas is that they are predominantly agricultural. They are readily accessible by car and public transport and therefore tourism and leisure play an important part in their economies too.

Finally, there are the remote rural areas. They are regarded as remote because of the lack of communications. These are the places where you are least likely to have a mobile telephone signal and you will find little or no public transport. Farming is difficult and is usually limited to sheep or cattle. The villages are few and separated by longer distances and any urban areas are limited to small towns. Leisure and tourism play a part in the economy of remote rural areas.

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  1. Rural areas change over time. Three of the reasons are income from tourism, the profitability of farming and the development of new industries in the area. These are known as ...
    Economic factors have a significant influence on migration to urban centres
  2. Which of the following has had a significant effect on primary employment in rural areas?
    Mechanisation of agriculture means that farms can be run using fewer people, reducing the availability of primary employment in rural areas
  3. In which of the rural areas are you most likely not to have a mobile phone signal?
    There are places in all areas where you may not get a signal, however, because the population density of remote rural areas is the lowest in the country, mobile phone operators do not believe it is economic to provide a service. Obtaining planning permission is difficult as the areas are often environmentally sensitive and transporting materials to a remote site is expensive
  4. In an accessible rural area ...
    Primary routes and main roads may cross the area but have not been built specifically to link settlements. This makes the rural area accessible
  5. Which of the following is not false?
    The general trend for rural areas is towards depopulation because there is little or no local work for people
  6. Which of the following best describes a rural area?
    It is quite difficult to define a rural area in a few words as there are several different types, each with its own characteristics
  7. If you passed through a village with expensive houses and a train station, which type of rural area are you most likely to be in?
    Good communications (e.g. rail link) and expensive housing stock are key characteristics of commuter belts
  8. In which of the following areas is tourism most likely to make a significant contribution to the local economy?
    Accessible rural and remote rural both have the characteristics that attract tourists, however, remote rural areas usually have fewer places like camp sites, hotels and B&Bs where people can stay
  9. In a rural/urban fringe ...
    The area where no new development is permitted is green belt land. In practice, because of the need for new housing, some development does take place
  10. Which of the following statements is not true?
    In the UK, most of the remote rural areas are hilly or mountainous where arable farming is not possible

Author: Kev Woodward

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