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Central Place Theory of Christaller and Losch
The theory was given by Walter Christaller in 1933. It is one of the 1st
Locational theories in Human Geography
Along with Von Thunen’s Agricultural Location theory & Weber’s
Industrial location theory, Central Place Theory is one of the Locational
Triads that became the basis of law making tradition in Quantitative
Revolution phase in Geography (1950s)
The objective of Quantitative Revolution phase was to develop Models &
Theories for a more objective analysis in Geography & to make geography
as one of the modern scientific discipline
It is a normative deductive theory
It is concerned with the way the settlements evolve and are spaced out
It seeks to discover an order in size & spacing of settlement and
functional relation between them i.e. Settlements size & its position in
hierarchy, functional relation with other settlements, etc
It seeks to find whether spacing of settlement is arbitrarily located or there
is any logic or justification between order in size and spacing of settlement
It is a theoretical account of the size and distribution of settlements within
an urban system
The Locational Triad used the principle of simplifying assumptions to make lawmaking
or to make generalizations relatively easier
1. Isotropic Surface i.e. Homogeneous surface, which is flat & monotonous
without any variations in physical aspects of relief, climate, terrain & resources
2. The region is isolated i.e. Landscape understudy is isolated & has no connection
with the rest of the world
3. All men are rational & economic i.e. people with perfect knowledge &
unbounded rationality
4. All consumers have the same income & demand is the same
5. These consumers visit the nearest Central place that provides Goods &
Services required by them as transport cost rises proportionally with
6. The entire landscape of settlements is to be fully served by a set of
uniformly spaced central places
7. All settlements are point occupying i.e. Metropolis or Normal City, town or
hamlet, all occupy the equal area
8. The settlement distribution is uniform with respect to resources
9. The population is homogeneously distributed i.e. population of city, town,
hamlet, metro, etc is equal
The Fundamental Concepts on which CPT is based are
o Principle of Centralization
o Principle of Hierarchy
These principles govern the structure of all phenomenon
Principle of Centralization
Similar to all matter, all regions have a core and peripheral areas
o e.g. The village has its core around a temple, mosque, church, chaupal, etc
o e.g. Small towns serve as a core for several villages and hamlets
It is not necessary that the core/focal point has to be at the geometric
centre of the settlement
Centralization is, thus, not a geometrical concept rather a concept concerning the
relationship between a central and peripheral settlement
Principle of Hierarchy
Similar to most phenomenon arranged in a hierarchical fashion, Hierarchy also
manifests itself in terms of territorial divisions and places
e.g. State, District, and Tehsil complemented by place hierarchy of State capital,
District headquarter and Tehsil headquarter
The theory is based on 6 Derivative Concepts
Concept of Central Place
Concept of Central Place function
Concept of Centrality
Concept of Complementary Area
Concept of Threshold Population
Concept of Range of Goods & Services
Concept of Central Place
It is the principal settlement of any region i.e. chief/main settlement that provides
goods & services of basic & regular nature to all surrounding regions depended on it(e.g.
It is the focus point to all surrounding regions such as
o Around a village – Town
o Around a large town, or medium city – Metro City
Around a metro city – Capital city
Any yearly or weekly market do not serve as a focal point rather a permanent
settlement or establishment
Central Place is characterized by maximum pull & a high degree of functionality
(e.g. Transport, Health, Education, etc)
It is at the helm of affairs
In the theory, Central Place is depicted by a single dimensionless point
However, all urban places are not necessarily urban places e.g. A mining town or
manufacturing town is not a central place, unless it has some tertiary activities catering to
needs of surrounding villages
Concept of Central Place Function
These are the set of Goods & Services offered by Central Place
A central place offers more than one central place functions & all the functions are
not of same hierarchical order rather some of them are of higher hierarchy & some of
lower hierarchy (e.g. Supreme Court has a higher hierarchy and it is located in Delhi)
Concept of Complementary Area
Complementary area is the area of influence of a Central place i.e. the surrounding
regions up to which central place provides its goods & services
It would be larger for bigger and more important central places
In theoretical sense, it is a collection of settlements of lesser importance
In an isotropic surface, the distance decay function of every Goods & Services operates
proportionally in all directions
Distance Decay function states that the interaction between two locales declines as the
distance between them increases and it is applicable for higher order functions
In an isotropic surface, the complementary area is always a circle with the central
place at the centre of this circle (i.e. there is uniformity)
Concept of Threshold Population
The minimum number of service users or customers that are required
for the viability of central place functions and, therefore, the Central Place
o e.g. Minimum Population to run the primary school – Population of village
o e.g. Minimum Population to run Higher education – Large population
required such as 2,3 villages
o e.g. Minimum Population to run a university – Population of up to a city
o e.g. Civil Aviation – Population of a metro or large city
Concept Of Range of Goods & Services
Range is the maximum distance that a person or customer is willing to
travel to avail the central place functions offered at the Central Place
o e.g. Travel to a metro city to purchase a costly car
o e.g. spinal cord injury – travel to AIIMS, cold & cough – travel to Primary
Health Centre, etc
Both the Threshold & Range are the properties of goods & services
offered at the central place
o e.g. Supreme Court at Delhi has maximum range and threshold