Shanty town

Shanty town

Shanty towns (also called squatter camps or favelas) are settlements (sometimes illegal or unauthorized) of impoverished people who live in improvised dwellings made from scrap plywood, corrugated metal, and sheets of plastic. Shanty towns, which are usually built on the periphery of cities, often do not have proper sanitation, electricity, or telephone services.

Shanty towns are mostly found in developing nations, or partially developed nations with an unequal distribution of wealth. In extreme cases, shanty towns have populations approaching that of a city.

This page is not in reference to the city of Shantytown, located in Marathon county, Wisconsin, USA [ [ Shantytown, Wisconsin in Marathon County Wisconsin - Wisconsin Information Source - theBubbler ] ] .


Shanty towns tend to develop on the outskirts of cities. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, shanty towns, often called "Hobo jungles,", "favelas" or "Georgie Slums" appeared in cities across North America because of massive unemployment. Some were nicknamed "Hoovervilles" because the residents blamed the economic conditions on then President Herbert Hoover, whose decisions were popularly thought to have caused the depression. Similarly in Canada, hobo jungles were dubbed "Bennettville" after Prime Minister Bennett.Fact|date=May 2007

The first recorded use of the word "shanty", as meaning a crude dwelling, was in Ohio in 1820.Fact|date=May 2007 It may have been derived from the French Canadian word "chantier", meaning hut in a lumber camp, from the French word for timberyard. Alternatively, it could have been derived from the Irish "sean tí", meaning "old house" or from the Nahuatl word chantli "home".


Shanty town residences are almost always built without a license. Since construction is informal and unguided by urban planning, there is a near total absence of formal street grids, numbered streets, sanitation networks, electricity, or telephones. Even if these resources are present, they are likely to be disorganized, old or inferior. Shanty towns also tend to lack basic services present in more formally organized settlements, including policing, medical services, and fire fighting. Fires are a particular danger for shanty towns because of the close proximity of buildings and flammability of materials used in construction. [ [See the report on shack fires in South Africa by Matt Birkinshaw at as well as the wider collection of articles in fires in shanty towns at] ]

Stereotypes present shanty towns has inevitably having high rates of crime, suicide, drug use, and disease. However the observer Georg Gerster has noted (with specific reference to the "invasões" of Brasilia), "squatter settlements [as opposed to slums] , despite their unattractive building materials, may also be places of hope, scenes of a counter-culture, with an encouraging potential for change and a strong upward impetus." [Georg Gerster, "Flights of Discovery: The Earth from Above", 1978, London: Paddington, p. 116]


Shanty towns are present in a number of countries including South Africa (where they are often called "squatter camps") or imijondolo, Canada (known as "Bidonvilles" in Quebec), Australia (mainly in Aboriginal areas), the United States (mainly in Indian reservations or in the rural areas of Appalachia) the Philippines (often called "squatter areas"), Argentina (where they are referred to as villas miseria), Venezuela (where they are known as barrios), Brazil (favelas), West Indies such as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (Where they are known as shanty town), Peru (where they are known as pueblos jóvenes), and Haiti, where they are referred to as bidonvilles".

In many countries there are now large movements of shanty town residents which often face severe state repression. For example in South Africa Abahlali baseMjondolo have become a significant political force in the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg and in Brazil the Movement of Workers Without a Roof (MTST) is very strong.

Many countries have a name for marginal settlements:
*"Asentamientos" (settlements) in Guatemala
*"Bidonvilles" in French-speaking countries
*"Cantegriles" in Uruguay
*"Ciudades perdidas" (lost cities) or "Jacales" in Mexico
*"Colonias" or "Migrant camp" along the Mexican-American border
*"Favelas" in Brazil
*"Gecekondu" in Turkey
*"Katavlismos" (campaments, referring to Roma settlements) in Greece
*"Invasiones" (invasions) in Ecuador and Colombia
*"Khoshash" in the Middle East
*"Jhugi/Bustee/Zhopdi/Zhopadpatti" in India
*"Kachi abadi" in Pakistan
*"Kijiji" in Kenya
*"Mudduku" in Sri Lanka
*"Poblaciones Callampas" (mushroom settlements), "Poblas" or "Campamentos" in Chile
*"Chacarita" in Paraguay
*"Chabolas", "rancheríos" in Spain
*"Pueblos jóvenes" (young towns) or "barriadas" in Peru
*"Ranchos" or "barrios" in Venezuela
*"Squatter camps" or "imijondolo" in South Africa
*"Villas miseria" (poverty towns) or just "Villas" in Argentina
*"Bairro de Lata" in Portugal
*"Lušnynai" in Lithuania
*"Barrio" in Dominican Republic
*"El Ghetto" in Panama
*"Precario" or "tugurrio" in Costa Rica
*"Setinggan" or "Rumah Kongsi" in Malaysia (A local movie changed its name to 'Sting Garden', to the plot that a poor girl living in setinggans trying to attract a wealthy boy's heart)
*"Kartonsko naselje" (cardboard settlement) in Serbia
*"Invasión" (Invasion) in Honduras
*"Korogocho" (Kenya) see []
*"Karyan" in Morocco

ee also

* Ghetto
* Poverty
* Refugee shelter
* Slum
* Squatting
* Tent city
* Skid row


External links

* [ Slate article about an economist proposing New Orleans to be reconstructed with shanties]
* [ Extreme Rich-Poor divides on]
* [ Cities Alliance]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • shanty town — UK US [ˈʃænti ˌtaʊn] noun [countable] [singular shanty town plural shanty towns] an area where very poor people live in shanties Thesaurus: areas in towns or citieshyponym …   Useful english dictionary

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  • shanty town — ► NOUN ▪ an impoverished area consisting of large numbers of shanty dwellings …   English terms dictionary

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  • shanty town — [ˈʃænti ˌtaʊn] noun [C] an area where very poor people live in houses made from sheets of wood, metal, or other thin material …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

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