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What is Central Place Theory?

Supplemental Notes

What is it?
Central Place Theory is a model that helps explain central places in the urban hierarchy. The services and central market varies according to their relative size. It consist of a Range and Threshold. Threshold is the minimum number of people needed to support a product. Range is the distance that people willing to travel for a product or an activity.

It is based on four assumptions: 1. The surface of the ideal region would have to be flat and have no barriers. 2. Soil fertility would have to be the same everywhere. 3. Christaller assumed an even distribution of population and purchasing power and a uniform transportation network that permitted direct travel from each settlement to the other. 4. He also assumed that a constant maximum distance or range of any goods or service produced in a town would prevail in all directions from that urban center.

More about Central Place Theory

* He came up with three practical conclusion for his model: 1. He showed that the ranks of urban places do in fact form an orderly hierarchy of central places in spatial balance. 2. His model implied that places of the same size with the same number of functions would be spaced the same distance apart. 3. His third conclusion was larger cities would be spaced farther from each other than smaller towns or villages.

Settlement Pattern
The shaded in area A showed

the unserved areas. The Purple area in B indicates places where the condition of Monopoly would not be fulfilled. The hexagon pattern is the best pattern for the Central Place Theory it completely fills the area without overlapping each other.

A picture examples

Picture 1 represents the central market within the city. Picture 2 shows the direction in which where did the threshold and the range takes place. The threshold and range determines where lower and upper limits of goods and services can be found.

Who developed the Central Place Theory?

* The Central Place Theory was developed by
a German geographer, Walter Christaller. In 1933, the book titled The Central Places in Southern Germany, Walter Christaller laid the groundwork for the central place theory." (Textbook: Human Geography) He created this model to show where central places in the urban hierarchy would be spatially and functionally distributed. He basically tries to calculate the nature of the central place system to set it for the real world situation. He recognized that some place would be centrality than others.

Walter Christaller

Walter Christaller was born on 1893 and died in 1969. He was a German Geographer, whose favorite toy was an atlas when he was a kid. In 1933 he published The Central Places in Southern Germany.

More about Christaller and the Central Place Theory

The price of the product in the central market will determine the threshold that is needed for the company. The formula Christaller used to create the Central Place Theory is djk=dij/1+( square root of (Pi/Pj). Djk represents the distance between point j to point k, Dij represents the distance between two towns, and Pi/Pj are the population of j and i.

What is Central Place Theory?

Christaller define the Central Place as a place where you get services and manufacture goods. All urban centers must have a certain economic reach that can be used as a measure of its centrality. The centrality of place means the relative importance of a place within the region that it serves.

The importance of a place not only producing goods, but also it offering goods to peoples. The centrality of a place also refers to structural attribute of nodes in a network. The central city provides central goods and services only within the the region it serves.

The Central Place Theory

There are three basic organizational principles that are possible in this theory: 1. Marketing must serve the maximum amount of people from a minimum number of centers. (K=3 system) 2. Transports have to be connected to a maximum number of centers and there must be minimum amount of roads. (K= 4 system) 3. Administrative goals is to provide a hierarchy of control and lower levels must be controlled by higher levels. (K=7 system)

Marketing Principles
There are three settlement use for this model is triangle, square, and hexagon. The hexagon settlement bests approximates a circle settlement. The B-level area indicates 1/3 of the A-level area. The A-level area is three times larger than the B- level area.

Transport Principle
The settlements are strongly influenced by the Transportation systems. The roads are used to connect the larger settlements and smaller settlements are built along the routes. The Total Network length is minimum and the connectivity is maximum.

Administrative Principle
All the six lower order centers are subordinate to the Higher order centers which dominates the equivalent pattern of the market area at the next lowest area. Its goals is to provide a hierarchy of control, meaning the lower levels must be control by the higher level. According to the Administrative Principle, known as the K=7 system, settlements are nested into seven.

Central Place Theory in Australia

The theory states that Melbourne provides the hinterland with goods and services that are of high costs whereas low cost conditions would be supplied by local markets in the hinterland. High cost goods would be sold in larger cities because the threshold for these goods is high enough to support a store. Low cost conditions such as bread and milk is sold in small markets in a small town surrounding the central place.

Continue with Australia

Population distribution would decrease as you make your way out of the central city, and it would rise again if you became closer with the next central city. The next nearest Central City would be Sydney which is over 900 kilometers from Melbourne. This cause Melbournes hinterland population to fall dramatically once they reaches the Outback.

Related terms
The Sphere of influence is the area under the influence of the Central Place. Settlements that provide low order services are called Low order settlement, and settlements that provide high order services are called High order settlements. The minimum population size required to profitably maintain a service is the threshold population.

Factors affecting the fall of threshold population

Factors that affect the fall of threshold population are: 1. A decrease in population. 2. The peoples changes in tastes. 3. The introduction of substitutes.

Central Place Theory

Christallers theory was similar to August Losch theory but Losch theory was more complicated and Christallers theory was simple. Christallers ideas was introduced into the English language by Ullman in 1941. Christaller proposed that if the centralization of mass around a nucleus is an elementary form of order, then the same centralistic principle can be equated in urban settlements.

Only the market areas matters for this theory not the size of the city. It is follow by the following orders: 1. First order includes largest threshold and range. Second and third order follows after first order.

First order Second order Third order

More about the Central Place Theory

There is only one type of transportation and this would make the cost equally in all directions. Christaller explains urban system developing from a frontier.

Christaller's Central Place Theory is primarily used to by cultural geographers to rank cities based upon their population size and their market pull.

Factors shaping the extent of market areas

1. 2. 3. 4. Land use: industrial areas can provide little in the way of a consuming population. Poor accessibilities: this limits the extents of a centers market areas. Competition: they limits the extents of market areas in all direction. Technology: high mobility afforded by the automobile allows overlapping of market areas.

Relax Assumptions
Population income variation- wealthy versus the nonwealthy areas, wealthy areas do not need as large of a threshold. Variation in transport surface Consumer behavior and or Individual preferences. Profits

Back with Centrality

It is analogous(similar) to that of market in an economy, it supply and demand for services meet and exchange in places privileged for their accessibility. 1.) In a network, it center is being the place endowed with maximal accessibility. 2.) For a city, it measures the importance of urban centers in function of the importance of services to customers from outside.

Evaluation of the Central Place Theory

The Central Place Theory cant set out to real world situations because of the failure assumptions: 1. The production costs may vary not only by the economies of scale but also by the natural resource endowment. 2. The transportation are not equal in any direction, some transportation may cost more and some may cost less.

3. Households, Rural markets, are not evenly distributed. 4. Non economic factors may be important in various things but it is not evenly distributed. 5. Competitive practices may lead to freight absorption and phantom freight in certain region.

About Christallers model

It will never be found in the real world because: 1.) Large areas of flat lands are rare, with the presence of relief barriers channeling transport in certain directions. 2.) People varies shopping trends not always go to the nearest center to shop. 3.) Particular functions in the Central city changes over time.

Christaller starts his theory at the top of the hierarchy. He recognized a triangular settlements and a hexagonal market areas. Christallers main focus was to look for a relationship between the size, the number and the geographic distribution of cities.

The Range will probably increase as the population increases. The Central Place is most frequently located at the geographical periphery of a region. Its location is determined by applying the laws of marketing, the laws of distribution, and the laws of traffic.

Christaller uses the overlapping areas to create and find the best settlement for his theory.

A Central Place Theory is a theory that explains patterns of urbanization and establishment of market area for central goods and services. The purpose of the Central Place Theory is to show that each particular settlement is held in place within a system of cities, and it suggests that the development of each city is affected by its position in the system.


Textbook: Human Geography culture, society, and space

7th edition. &oi=translate&resnum=10&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq% 3DWalter%2BChristaller%26start%3D10%26hl%3Den%26 sa%3DN nt/cpt%202.pdf