Remote Human Settlements in Developed Nations
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Andrew Taylor, Dean B. Carson, Prescott C. Ensign, Lee Huskey, Rasmus O. Rasmussen and Gertrude Saxinger
Chapter 1: Introduction: settlements at the edge
Andrew Taylor The title of this book reflects an increased contemporary interest in the towns and villages of northern sparsely populated parts of developed nations by governments, policy makers, multinational companies and other stakeholders. Settlements in sparsely populated (or remote, as we use these terms interchangeably) areas are invariably small in comparison to southern settlements as well as being distant from major economic centres. Our focus on settlements draws attention to their demographic, economic, social, cultural and historical diversity. The diversity of settlements within particular sparsely populated areas (like northern Sweden) and between jurisdictions (for example comparing Greenland to Alaska) is a key theme in this book. Diversity means that different settlements located in geographic proximity can exhibit highly divergent demographic and development pathways, making it difficult to apply top- own and regional development policies. Clustering or agglomerating d remote settlements for analysis and understanding change may produce limited insights. This is because extreme diversity effectively means that demographic averages do not represent what might really be occurring for individual settlements in terms of demographic and socio- conomic proe cesses (Taylor, 2014). Averages also disguise subtle and important demographic interactions between remote settlements (Carson et al., 2011). While much of the external interest in northern developed areas has been cyclical and motivated by nationalistic or political agendas (Carson, 2011a), altruistic motivations have also transpired. For example, Greenland is the world’s largest non- ontinental island but has just 57 c 000 residents, one- third of whom currently live in the capital,...