Table of Contents

Settlements at the Edge

Settlements at the Edge

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

Settlements at the Edge examines the evolution, characteristics, functions and shifting economic basis of settlements in sparsely populated areas of developed nations. With a focus on demographic change, the book features theoretical and applied cases which explore the interface between demography, economy, well-being and the environment. This book offers a comprehensive and insightful knowledge base for understanding the role of population in shaping the development and histories of northern sparsely populated areas of developed nations including Alaska (USA), Australia, Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Finland and other nations with territories within the Arctic Circle.

Chapter 1: Introduction: settlements at the edge

Andrew Taylor

Subjects: geography, human geography, population studies, urban and regional studies, regional studies


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,...