PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (2): 257-271.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2021.02.007

• Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial patterns and controlling factors of settlement distribution in ethnic minority settlements of southwest China: A case study of Hani terraced fields

LIU Zhilin, DING Yinping, JIAO Yuanmei*(), WANG Jinliang, LIU Chengjing, YANG Yuliang, WEI Junfeng   

  1. Faculty of Geography, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China
  • Received:2020-02-20 Revised:2020-05-27 Online:2021-02-28 Published:2021-04-28
  • Contact: JIAO Yuanmei
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41761115);National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41271203);National Key Research and Development Program of China, No(2018YFE0184300);National Social Science Foundation of China, No(20XSH022);Key Research Projects of Graduate Students in Yunnan Normal University, No(ysdyjs2019166)


Settlement pattern, an important part of the human-nature system, is the foundation of rural geography, and it has become a hotspot in geographic research. Scientific analysis and characterization of settlement patterns are significant for promoting the development of urbanization, ethnic unity, and well-off society in rural minority areas. However, there is still a lack of research on the settlement patterns of ethnic minority areas, especially in those multi-ethnic group gathered areas. This study depicted the settlement patterns of seven ethnic minority groups (including Hani, Yi, Zhuang, Han, Miao, Yao, and Dai) in the Hani Rice Terraces World Heritage area, which is a typical multi-ethnic group gathered area in the southwest of China. The results show that: 1) In terms of spatial locations, 68% of the settlements in the Hani terraced fields area are located in the west and central parts of the territory, mainly in the areas of Han, Yi, and Zhuang. 2) The ethnic settlement pattern in the Hani terraced fields is characterized by the mix of Hani-Yi, accompanied by the mix of other ethnic groups. 3) In terms of location and the environment, settlements of the seven ethnic groups have significant differences in locational and environmental characteristics such as altitude, slope, temperature, precipitation, distance to river, settlement scale, cultivated land area, distance to administrative center, and grain yields. 4) The main controlling factors of the distribution of Zhuang, Miao, and Yao settlements are economic and administrative and distance to tourism centers (86.4%, 75.3%, and 92.8%); the main controlling factor of the distribution of Yi settlements are air temperature (52.0%); and the main controlling factors of the distribution of Han, Hani, and Dai settlements are precipitation (98.7%, 52.2%, and 97.0%). 5) On the whole, the settlements of Hani terraced fields formed a three-dimensional pattern of multi-ethnic symbiosis vertically, and a multi-ethnic mosaic pattern horizontally. This research can provide a reference for the construction of new rural areas in minority regions, the optimization of settlement patterns, targeted poverty alleviation, and the construction of a well-off society in an all-round way.

Key words: ethnic minority, settlement pattern, main controlling factors, Hani Rice Terraces