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I. Economic AspectsMarion Clawson


II. ClassificationL. Dudley Stamp



Land is everywhere that man is; most men get their living from the land, directly or indirectly. Even those who live by or from the sea need a shore base or terminus. However, man is not ordinarily everywhere that there is land; a few deserts and the polar regions are too inhospitable to support men.

We use the word “land” to include all the characteristics and qualities of the earth, of what is popularly known as land; we do not limit it to soil, and our concern is not merely with agriculture.

Land may take many physical forms: plains, swamps, hills, mountains, or valleys; it may have many kinds of vegetation, such as forest, prairie, or tundra; and it may have one of many kinds of climate, from hot to cold, from humid to dry. It may also vary in numerous other ways. Space would not permit even a modest listing of the numerous kinds of land, in the physical sense; and our concern is more with its economic and social aspects. Land is useful to man in many ways: as a source of food, for wood for many purposes, for hunting, as a place to play, as a place to live, as a place to work. The uses of land are as many and varied as the whole range of human culture (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1958; Davis 1960; Food and Agriculture Organization 1961; Stamp 1948; Best ’ Coppock 1962).

As with any broadly inclusive idea, especially one which has popular as well as professional use, “land” obviously means many different things to different people. We could try to define it precisely, but this would be largely useless. Once an idea has escaped from any original, confined meaning into a broadly ranging, nearly universal usage, it is impossible to recapture and redefine it. Barlowe (1958) shows that the word has at least seven major meanings: (1) it is space, or room and surface, upon which life takes place; (2) it is nature, or natural environment, including access to sunlight, rainfall, wind, and other climatic conditions and including soil and natural vegetation; (3) it is a factor of production in economic processes, comparable to labor and capital; (4) it is a consumption good, especially when used as a site for dwellings, parks—and other essentially consumption processes; (5) it is a situation, or a location, with respect to markets, geographic features, other resources, and other countries; (6) it is property, with legal connotations as to rights of ownership of individuals and rights and responsibilities of ownership and sovereignty of governments; and (7) it is capital, in a realistic, economic sense, as will be discussed below. Ely and Wehrwein (1940) use a less detailed classification or definition of land, but they describe it as nature, space, and property, thus including many of the ideas expressed by Barlowe.

In this article we shall consider land in a number of meanings, without attempting to define each precisely or, within the space available, necessarily treating each completely.

Role in different societies

Partly because “land” means so many different things, but also because societies and cultures differ greatly in different parts of the world, land plays many different roles. Almost everywhere it is a productive economic factor in agriculture, forestry, grazing, mining, and even in fishing. In a later section, we shall explore its role in this respect somewhat further. Land is indeed basic to life for any considerable group of people, and its value cannot be overstated. But at this point we wish only to stress that its usefulness for production is not its only role.

Land has often been a major foundation for social prestige. Various societies have existed where social position was closely related to landownership, especially to landownership of a hereditary kind. The people who mattered owned land, and the people who owned land mattered; others were in an inferior position. This was largely true in England two or more centuries ago and to some extent still later. To some degree, it is true in most Latin American countries today. Where land plays or played this role, it was probably true at an earlier date that land was the basis of economic security and wealth, but the social prestige of land has often remained after its economic rationale has vanished.

Land has also often been the basis of political power. In the simplest relationship, this was because the franchise was extended only to landowners. But the same societies that gave high social position to landownership were likely also to give large political power to it. In colonial Virginia, it was the landed proprietors who governed the colony. Again, in many Latin American countries today, or at least until a few decades ago, political power rested heavily with the larger landowners. In modern United States, rural areas still have much more political power than do urban areas in proportion to their respective populations; while this is no longer directly tied to ownership of land, it largely arose from it.

Because land has been, and to a degree still is, owned for purposes other than to produce income, it is logical that goals other than maximization of income, especially of money income, should be uppermost in the minds of some landowners. It is frequently stated that much land is held in Latin America by owners who do not seek a maximum income from it. The argument goes that they are content with an income sufficient to meet their needs but that they own land for sentimental, historical, family, prestige, political, and other reasons. In some parts of Africa, ownership of cattle confers prestige, and land is valued in proportion to its ability to keep cattle alive, not in terms of income from it. Even within the United States, much land is held for consumption reasons, or as a hobby, or as a hedge against inflation, or for other reasons that are not connected with maximum current income.

Land is held under many different tenure situations around the world, reflecting in part the different reasons why it is owned but reflecting also different cultural histories (Conference on World Land Tenure … 1956; Ely ’ Wehrwein 1940; Renne 1947; Barlowe 1958; and many other land economists). Ownership, or exclusive control by an individual, subject only to certain rather general laws and public powers is not the only concept under which land is held and used in the world. Ownership is a Western idea, but even in the West there are many variations. In just such a limited matter as the relation between ownership of sub-surface mineral rights and ownership of surface rights, there are great differences among the countries of Europe and of the Western Hemisphere. But the American Indians prior to the coming of the Europeans, many African peoples today, and other groups at various times and places have never had the same concept of individual ownership of land. With them, the group possesses the land, in a general sort of way, and individuals are assigned the use of specific tracts for limited periods of time, with periodic reassignment. Transfer of title, in the Western sense, is not practiced, and borrowing based on land for security is unknown and impossible. No small part of the clash between Western people and native groups in North America, Africa, and elsewhere has arisen out of these widely divergent concepts of social arrangements for the use of land.

In all societies, the group exercises some control over the use the individual makes of land, even when the individual “owns” it in the Western sense of the term. In the United States, for instance, much land is subject to zoning, which limits the uses that can be made of it. Even when the individual is subject to no such general control, he may be subject to suits from neighbors and others if they can prove that they have been damaged by his use of land. The power of government to take private land by use of its powers of eminent domain, the power to levy taxes on land to raise general revenue, and other general legal powers are widely recognized.

Land as a factor of production

The traditional economic factors of production are labor, capital, and land. In this broad classification, land is defined to include all natural properties but to exclude invested capital. As we shall note below, the latter is unrealistic; some capital is so firmly blended with land that it is impossible to separate the two. The important fact to bear in mind is that no factor is productive alone; ^each requires some of the others in order to be productive. The proportion of the factors can vary and, thus, often their productivity. If one is scarce or expensive, it can be economized by using the others more liberally. An important field of economic theory is concerned with this matter of the proportions among productive factors and their effect upon output and upon the earnings and value of each factor.[ SeeProduction; Wages, article onTheory.]

Land, if defined as the properties of nature without admixture of capital, has no reproduction cost because it is not capable of reproduction, and hence it has no supply cost or price. However, land, so defined, can and often does earn income when combined with other productive factors. If the others are paid at their reproduction costs or at their current prices—which over the long run tend to coincide—then the remaining surplus becomes rent. The definition, determination, and measurement of rent is a complex subject [seeRent].

Where rent exists, particularly where a monetary price is well known, it serves as a rationing device for land use. Only that use or those uses which can pay the rent can be undertaken. The most productive uses of land may have to bid the needed land away from somewhat less profitable uses. As in many aspects of economics, the next best alternative sets limits. However, something of the same result is sometimes achieved even when rent is fixed at artificially low levels. In modern Israel, for instance, land is publicly owned and rented on long leases to individual farmers or to groups of farmers at purely nominal prices. Rent is almost nonexistent in either a commercial or an economic sense. Yet land tends to be rationed among uses in more or less the same way a commercial rent would ration it because the farmer or the group must consider the earnings from land in alternative uses, since the total area allotted to him or to them is limited. Scarcity and alternative economic opportunities achieve the same result as would a more formally established rent.

The relation between inputs—of current production materials, such as fertilizer, and of labor and capital in various forms, into cropland or other land —and the resulting output is known as a production function. At a given stage in technological development, there is a more or less specific relationship between the inputs and the outputs. This does not preclude the use of additional inputs of fertilizer or any other productive factor, but says instead that the response will follow a known and defined path. The production function differs according to many factors, including climate and soil.

It also changes from time to time as new technology becomes known. The development of hybrid corn in the United States led to corn yields of about ten bushels more per acre, at the time an increase of about 25 per cent, with all other inputs remaining at their previous levels. Often, however, a new production function is not as simple; it takes the form of the use of additional or different inputs than formerly. As a result of modern soil science, for instance, the role of certain chemical elements, especially of the trace elements, has been discovered. The addition of chemicals previously lacking may change the production function drastically, with completely new input-output relationships.

Modern science and technology have resulted in a vast array of new production functions, which have in large measure transformed the productivity and use of land. Much land not previously usable by man for agriculture, forestry, grazing, or recreation, for example, is today usable for one or more of these things because new technology has enabled man to overcome earlier critical deficiencies.

In total, science and technology have diminished the economic importance of land without at the same time rendering land unessential. More fertilizer can substitute for additional land, for instance, at least within quite wide limits. In an earlier time, man was heavily dependent upon the native fertility and other natural qualities of land, and the only way to increase total output was to increase area of land under use—whatever the kind of use. Today, on the contrary, especially in the advanced countries, other productive inputs can lead to greater output and thus, in effect, substitute for more land. Agriculture in North America and in western Europe is being transformed by modern science and technology, with output increasing from the same or a smaller area of land at such a rapid rate as to create agricultural surpluses. The same thing is technically possible in other parts of the world but has not yet occurred, in part because the technology has not been adequately developed but primarily because the social and economic organization to apply the necessary technology is lacking.

Although the relative role of land in productive processes has declined, land is still an indispensable part of the total productive process and is likely to remain so. One unalterable characteristic of land is that it receives energy from the sun; and as yet in our total society and economy, we have found no other method of capturing this energy as economical as that provided by land through agriculture, forestry, and grazing.

Natural properties and improvements

Adam Smith, Ricardo, and other early economists made much of the permanent and indestructible properties of land, but we now realize that their attitude was largely an unconscious reflection of the historical period and geography in which they lived. England is a humid country with a gentle rainfall, rounded hills, and natural grass and forest vegetation. Soil erosion has never been a serious problem there, as it has been in much of the rest of the world. At the end of the eighteenth century, man lacked the means to greatly damage such a landscape and lacked the knowledge to greatly improve the soils through use of artificial fertilizers. He was largely dependent upon the natural soil. But today we realize that man can often greatly damage the soil and the land where he lives—by earth moving, by cultivation, by fire, and in many other ways. Sometimes he can greatly improve the land, as by irrigation, drainage, protection against floods, and incorporation of needed plant foods. Land, as man finds it, is no longer so indestructible or unchangeable (International Symposium … 1956).

Man can place improvements on land by erecting buildings, constructing roads and fences, planting and improving forests, and so on. Before the improvements are actually made, the money they will cost is capital which might be used elsewhere. But once the improvement is constructed, it can ordinarily be used only jointly with the land; it is likely to have little salvage value apart from the land, if in fact it can be separated at all. For a long period of time, often for decades, these improvements are to all intents and purposes land itself.

Man can also make improvements in land. The construction of drains, either surface or underground, the provision of irrigation water, and similar improvements may greatly affect the productivity of agricultural land. Pipelines for water or sewage, underground cables for telephone and power, and similar improvements affect the value of the land for other purposes. These improvements in land are like those on land, in that they are identified with the land, but they are often less obvious and may be overlooked.

Improvements can actually be made to land. The whole microbiology of a soil can be changed by fertilizers, lime, irrigation, and other amendments. The tilth or structure of the soil particles can also be modified. Leveling or other earth movement may affect soil moisture relations greatly and may alter the susceptibility of the land to erosion. Plantings of trees, grasses, and shrubs may establish wholly new plant communities. All these improvements to land may last for long periods of time, with only modest upkeep or none at all.

In each of the foregoing ways, man can improve land, or at least land including closely incorporated capital. He can also damage or unfavorably alter it in many ways. He can accelerate its erosion for example, through unwise cropping, overgrazing, improper forest cutting, and use of fire. He can impair the natural drainage of the land, leading to waterlogging and lowered soil productivity. He can seriously and permanently alter its original ecological structure. But he cannot modify some aspects of land—its location on the face of the earth, its basic geology, or its climate— to a significant degree.

With so many important ways of modifying land, either for better or for worse, we conclude that relatively few of the characteristics of land are as indestructible as once was thought to be the case. Moreover, the distinction between land and capital is not as clear as it once seemed to be. Modern land often embodies substantial amounts of capital. Although the capital is relatively fixed in form and not easily separable from the land, it does have to be maintained in many cases and does have a different origin from the land itself.

Location as a factor in land value and use

Location affects land value and use in a number of ways. The physical characteristics of land, often associated with location, affect land value and use. Climate and other relatively unchangeable characteristics of land limit or modify use and, hence, its value. Soil differences are often highly correlated with local locational differences—the valley plain as against the hills, for instance. These and other microlocational differences are most significant within a locality where external influences are relatively constant.

On a larger scale, markets for the outputs of land are basic to the use and value of land. In the case of agriculture, the influence of distance from market has been noticed since the days of von Thiinen (see Barlowe 1958 for a modern restatement). The cost of reaching a market may be so great that the agricultural commodity has little or no value at the farm where it is produced. But the time required to reach the market may be as important as the cost. Perishables such as fruits, vegetables, and whole milk tend to be produced relatively close to their final market. With modern transport technology, including refrigeration in transit, “relatively close” may still stretch to hundreds of miles, and other factors may outweigh the time and distance which once would have been determinative. Very bulky and heavy commodities must also be produced close to market. In a former day when draft horses and mules were used within cities, the hay to feed them had to be raised moderately close to the cities concerned.

Only agricultural commodities that are relatively valuable in relation to weight or are nonperishable (or both) can withstand long shipments to market, especially under conditions of relatively primitive transport. Wool, for instance, which meets both criteria well, has for many centuries been transported relatively long distances. Variations in transport or other conditions may greatly affect the localization of production—a navigable river or a single highway or railroad will often result in a long finger of localized production of the kind found close to cities. Nearness to the transport artery substitutes for nearness to the city.

But the same factor of location also affects industrial and commercial uses of land. A factory or a trading center requires access to supplies of raw materials or goods and, above all, access to customers. It is likewise important for outdoor recreational use of land. People want playgrounds for their children within half a mile or less of where they live, but they will go 25 to 50 miles for an allday outing at an attractive place and will drive hundreds or even thousands of miles on an annual vacation.

Cost, speed, comfort, and safety of transportation are highly important for every land use. Where once food had to be consumed locally, today it can be shipped hundreds of miles or even further, if necessary. Where once people shopped only at stores to which they could walk, today in the United States the housewife typically drives to market and will go distances which to her mother or grandmother would have been prohibitive. Where once a 5–mile trip by horse and buggy to a park was an annual occasion, now a man may drive farther than that for a round of golf after the day’s work. The size of a metropolitan complex is to some degree governed by the willingness of people to travel from its periphery to its core, and this in turn depends heavily upon the kind of transport facilities available (Wingo 1961).

Input factors of various kinds, such as agricultural machinery and fertilizer for farming, also affect the locational aspects of land use to some extent. To a large degree, however, such inputs come from the urban centers to which the agricultural products are shipped; hence, inputs may exert little effect in addition to that resulting from differences in markets.

Land values are affected by the same general factors which affect land use. When land is used for some particular purpose, say for wheat growing, the land closer to market absorbs the lower transport costs, and a rent and a land value arise out of such gain to the land. More commonly, the land closer to urban centers will be used for other purposes, including rural residences, and will have higher values for these purposes. Within the city, the land at the effective center commands a higher value because it provides access to a larger body of potential customers. These factors influence differences in rent. [seeRent; Spatial Economics.]

Externalities in value and use

Very little land in the world today has its use and value determined wholly by its internal values. The availability of markets, discussed above, is one form of externality which is often decisive in determining land use and value. In most cases the markets are the result of the activities of others than the landowner or user; he adapts to them but rarely makes them.

But there are externalities other than markets for products. In the case of residential use of land, the character of the neighborhood may be far more important than the nature of the house. If the general neighborhood is deteriorating, then the value of all houses tends to decline, no matter how well-maintained a particular house may be. On the other hand, if the character of the neighborhood remains high, then even a poorly maintained house may bring a fairly good price. The ability of the individual homeowner to affect this situation is severely limited. It is the action of other owners, in maintenance of their property, which has the greatest effect upon him and his property.

Externalities also affect use and value of commercial, recreational, and other land. The existence of rival shopping or recreational centers may affect the volume of use, and hence the value, of a particular spot more than can any circumstances confined to the specific area. The total level of economic activity within a reasonable use radius greatly affects each of these land uses and others. Many complex forces are often involved, of which differences in transport is one of the more obvious. But, whatever may be the particular constellation of outside forces, it seems fairly clear that externalities and interdependencies dominate land use and value today, especially in the advanced countries but to a considerable extent everywhere.

Public lands

All countries, not merely the communist ones, have some publicly owned land. For the United States, all forms of public landownership include about one-third of the total area. This is true even within cities, where streets, alleys, parks, and other public areas are frequently one-third of the total area. Road and street transport area, airfields, and sometimes even railroads are publicly owned in most countries. Private toll roads and bridges are not unknown but are not typical. Most countries have publicly owned park and recreation areas; some have a great many. While much out-door recreation is on privately owned land, there are several advantages to public ownership. Most parks are far too costly for individual use and have far more capacity than a family needs. While it would be possible for private groups to own and manage parks, in practice it is often easier for some unit of government to own the necessary land and provide its management and to let it be used by relatively large numbers of citizens. Some countries have extensive publicly owned forests and grazing areas, but public ownership of agricultural land is less common outside of communist countries.

The history and management of federally owned lands in the United States has been studied and reported upon by many American writers (Carstensen 1963; Clawson 1951; Dana 1956; Peffer 1951; and various others). Other publicly owned lands in the United States have had less attention, and relatively few studies have been directed specifically toward public lands in most countries.

One basic matter in the disposal and management of public and private land is cadastral survey to establish and mark on the ground the boundaries of various tracts. Closely related to such a survey is the establishment and maintenance of accurate and reliable records of landownership. Either or both of these functions may be done entirely by government or partly by government and partly by private activity, but some measure of public action is almost always necessary. In the absence of accurate surveys and reliable land records, individual owners are not sure either of title to their land or of its boundaries, and this is likely to inhibit severely their improvement and use of the land. Likewise, government improvement and use of its land are handicapped by the absence of such records.

Accurate cadastral surveys, clearly marked on the ground, and dependable records of land title are notably lacking in most underdeveloped countries today and constitute one more serious obstacle to the economic development of such countries. Hill (1964), for instance, shows that the lack of a cadastral survey and deficiencies in land titles are serious obstacles to land reform and land development in Costa Rica. The same could be said for almost all Central and South American countries and for many Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries as well. Until a land occupier knows exactly which land is his and can defend his claim against all comers, he will naturally not try to develop his land to the fullest.

The handling of presently public lands can be highly influential in the future economy and society of those less developed countries in nearly all parts of the world that still have relatively large areas of public land. On the one hand, it could be disposed of or leased to large operators, with one kind of use and society developing, or it could be disposed of or leased to smaller owner-occupiers, who would make a different kind of use of it. In such countries, land is often the base for the society and the economy, as noted above, and the role of the public lands is, therefore, extremely important.

Marion Clawson


Barlowe, Raleigh 1958 Land Resource Economics: The Political Economy of Rural and Urban Land Use.Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Best, Robin H.; and Coppock, J. T. 1962 Changing Use of Land in Britain. London: Faber ’ Faber.

Carstensen, Vernon R. (editor) 1963 The Public Lands: Studies in the History of the Public Domain.Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

Clawson, Marion 1951 Uncle Sam’s Acres. New York: Dodd.

Conference on World Land Tenure Problems, University of Wisconsin, 1951 1956 Land Tenure: Proceedings. Edited by Kenneth H. Parsons, Raymond J. Penn, and Philip M. Raup. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

Dana, Samuel T. 1956 Forest and Range Policy: Its Development in the United States. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Davis, Elizabeth G. 1960 Urbanization and Changing Land Uses: A Bibliography of Selected References, 1950–1958. Washington: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ely, Richard T.; and WEHRWEIN, GEORGE S. (1940) 1964 Land Economics. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations 1961 Land Utilization. Rome: The Organization.

Hibbard, Benjamin H. 1924 A History of Public Land Policies. New York: Macmillan.

Hill, George W. 1964 The Agrarian Reform in Costa Rica. Land Economics 11, no. 1:41–48.

International Symposium on Man’s Role in Changing the Face of the Earth, Princeton, N.J., 1955 1956 Man’s Role in Changing the Face of the Earth. Edited by William L. Thomas, Jr. Univ. of Chicago Press.

Ise, John 1920 The United States Forest Policy. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

Peffer, E. Louise 1951 The Closing of the Public Domain. Stanford Univ. Press.

Renne, Roland R. (1947) 1958 Land Economics: Principles, Problems and Policies in Utilizing Land Resources. Rev. ed. New York: Harper.

Robbins, Roy M. 1942 Our Landed Heritage. Princeton Univ. Press.

Stamp, L. Dudley (1948) 1962 The Land of Britain: Its Use and Misuse. 3d ed. London: Longmans.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management 1962 Public Lands Bibliography. Washington: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture 1958 Yearbook of Agriculture: Land. Washington: Government Printing Office.

Wingo, Lowdon Jr. 1961 Transportation and Urban Land. Washington: Resources for the Future.


The pressure of growing populations on fixed land area has caused one country after another to face the necessity of surveying and classifying its land resources. There is an enormous range in the character and quality of land that influences its productive potential. In the older settled countries —in most of those of Europe, for example—the best agricultural lands have been known for centuries, indeed frequently for thousands of years. A map of present land use may thus reflect land potential with considerable accuracy. On the other hand, in the newer developing countries, present use may represent but an early stage in a process of trial and error, and the tendency is to attempt a direct assessment of land potential.

One of the several useful approaches to land classification is directed to the study and mapping of soil, itself the result of the interaction between soil-forming processes, especially climatic, and the bedrock material. Many pedologists insist, however, upon studying soils as soils and are not directly concerned with the relationships of soils to produc tion. When a soil map has been produced, there-fore, it is still necessary to carry out an assessment of the productive capacity of each type.

Especially in areas where natural or almost original vegetation prevails, an ecological survey will reflect the sum total of existing habitat conditions. Under these conditions, certain plants can commonly be used as “indicators.” The development of this line of work owes much to the pioneer studies of the American botanist Frederick E. Clements (1905; 1916–1920). However, except where soil or the nature of the terrain renders it impossible, natural vegetation is conceived as developing steadily toward a “climax” dictated by climate, and the natural vegetation is described as a climatic-climax vegetation. By studying the major climatic factors of moisture supply (rainfall) and temperature it should be possible to predict both the natural vegetation and the potential range of crops. This is the basis of the phyto-climatological maps which have been constructed over large areas by the French botanist Henri Gaussen from the institute which he long directed at Toulouse. His maps of the arid lands and their margins, prepared as part of the UNESCO program, have been used to indicate or suggest potential land use.

There is little doubt that land potential is closely related to the details of land form and there is a link with geomorphological studies. Large areas in the northern andcentral parts of Australia have been studied and the land has been classified on this basis under the direction of C. S. Christian. Monica Cole (1960; 1961; 1963) has shown that the tropical grassland areas of southern Africa and Brazil would also seem to be capable of interpretation by similar methods.

Evolved by American workers, a widely used classification of land into eight productivity classes attempts to include all these factors. Though the classification is simple, it is obvious that the observer’s subjective judgment must play a major part. Briefly, the classification is as follows:

(I)Few limitations; very good land from every standpoint.

(II)Moderate limitations or risks of damage; good land from all-round standpoint.

(III)Severe limitations; regular cultivation is possible if limitations are observed.

(IV)Very severe limitations; suited for occasional cultivation or for some kinds of limited cultivation.

(V)Not suited for cultivation because of wetness, stones,overflows (flooding); few limitations for grazing or forestry use.

(VI) Too steep, stony, arid, wet, etc., for cultivation; moderate limitations for grazing or forestry.

(VII) Very steep, rough, wet, etc.; severe limitations for grazing or forestry.

(VIII) Extremely rough, arid, swampy, etc.; not suited for cultivation or forestry; suited for wildlife, watersheds, or recreation.

It will be noted that this classification is directed primarily tosuitability for cultivation and reflects the American attitude toward grazing land rather than the viewpoint of the European or New Zealand farmer, who often regards improved grazing land as most profitable.

Many countries have developed similar productivity classifications to suit their own local conditions. Thus in 1963 the British Directorate of Overseas Surveys published sheets of a 1:500,000 map of Bechuanaland, showing ten types of land: the first five types included land suitable for both cultivation and grazing; the next three, land suitable for grazing; one, land unsuitable for agriculture (some areas could be used as forest reserves); and finally, land presently cultivated. About this time the same authority published a map of part of the southern Cameroons that showed seven quite different categories. As another example a survey of Jordan divided the whole country into “range-types.”

Consideration of the varied approaches to land classification led A. P. A. Vink to distinguish six categories of classification. He noted that classes of land could be expressed in terms of: (1) inherent characteristics (soil and relief), (2) inherent qualities (soil quality classification), (3) present use (soil use), (4) use capabilities (soil suitability), (5) recommended use, and (6) program effectuation (1963).

The American system would belong to category 5. However, the system of ten land classes used in Britain, though paying attention to present use, be-longs rather to Vink’s fourth category. It arose from the Land Utilisation Survey of Britain, established in 1930, which carried out a field-to-field survey over the whole of England, Wales, and Scotland using maps on the scale of 6 inches to one mile (1:10,560) and publishing maps on the scale of 1 inch to one mile (1:63,360).

The British survey mapped land use according to seven major categories: A, Arable or tilled land, with fallow and rotation grass; M, Meadowland and permanent grass,enclosed and improved; H, Heathland, moorland, commons, and rough hill pasture; F, Forest and woodland (several types dis tinguished); G, Gardens, allotments; O, Orchards; and W, Land agriculturally unproductive, buildings, yards, mines, and so on.

The maps reveal a remarkably complex pattern —the result over the centuries of the interaction of such physical factors as relief, soil, drainage, and climate, of historical, social, and economic factors, including landownership, size and character of holdings, agricultural fashions, and prices.

The land-use map so produced depicted the actual base from which any planning for the future must start, but it is obviously far from being a land classification map. To attempt the classification of land was a next step. In the first place the history of land use proved to be very instructive. Over much of Britain, when the 6-inch-scale maps were being prepared in the 1870s, the surveyors recorded in their notebooks the use of each individual field. Where this was done— it was discontinued for reasons of “economy””it is possible, laboriously it is true, to reconstruct a land-use map of about 1870–1875. Earlier large-scale maps, also showing land use, had been made of all lands and heathlands. In many cases determined efforts, including the expenditure of much capital, have been made to bring them into improved agricultural use, but nature has won. The major changes over the years have been on land of intermediate quality, land which it paid to cultivate only when agricultural prices were high. Thus land use, studied historically, was found in Britain to be an important guide to land potential. Combined with a detailed study of the terrain, of site and soil, a tentative classification

Table 1 – Classification of land in Great Britaina
 Per cenfb
a. 1938–1940.
b. The figures in each case indicate the percentage of the total surface of Great Britain in each category. What is striking is the very small proportion of first-class land—less than 21/2 million acres.
Source: Sta.Tip (1948) 1962.
(I) Good quality lands38.7
(1) First-class land capable of intensive cultivation, especially of foodstuffs for human consumption — mainly deep loams, naturally fertile(4.2)
(2) Good general purpose farmland with a wide range of crops(20.6)
(3) First-class land but with a high water table or liable to periodic flooding, hence largely in grass(2.2)
(4) Good but heavy land often with a naturally high fertility but presenting problems in working(11.7)
(II) Medium quality lands26.3
(5) Medium quality light land(4.8)
(6) Medium quality general purpose farmland, often very mixed(21.5)
(III) Poor quality lands32.8
(7) Poor quality heavy land—intractable clays needing drainage(1.6)
(8) Mountain land and moorland(29.3)
(9) Poor quality light land(1.5)
(10) Poorest land(0.4)
Residue—closely built over2.2\100.0

of land into ten types was drawn up in 1938–1940 (see Table 1). In the course of the succeeding 30 years or more, no better has yet been devised, though a simplified version based on the same criteria but separating five categories only was brought into use by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1965–1966.

Before the outbreak of World War II, two major trends were worrying the British government. One was the marked growth of population and industry in two main areas—Greater London and Greater Birmingham—at the same time as there was serious unemployment in the older industrial areas. This led the government to set up the Royal Com-mission on the Geographical Location of the Indus-trial Population under the chairmanship of Sir Montague Barlow. In due course this commission recommended positive steps to secure a wider distribution of industry (Great Britain 1940).

The other trend was that of using the better types of agricultural land for housing and industry, with the result that over 50,000 acres a year were being lost from food production. The government set up the Committee on Land Utilisation in Rural Areas under the chairmanship of Lord Justice Scott to study the problem. The government eventually declared its intention to conserve the good agricultural lands and to direct development, wherever possible, to poorer lands. At the time there was no classification of land; hence the scheme of ten classes outlined above was developed. The Scott Committee on Land Utilisation in Rural Areas reported in 1942 (see Great Britain 1942). Its main recommendations were embodied in the Agri-culture Act of 1947, the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, and later legislation. Britain thus became the first major country to accept compulsory land planning over the whole. The planning unit was normally the county: each was required to prepare a plan according to which future development could be sanctioned. The Agricultural Act gave tenant farmers great security of tenure; it gave farmers a guaranteed market and prices guaranteed in advance (subsidized) for principal products. A general planning directive was to avoid major housing or other urban development on good lands, to improve hill land, and to direct forestry to the poorest lands.

It would be quite wrong to suggest that the principle of conserving the better agricultural lands in food production is fully accepted. However good the quality of the land and however effectively farmed, it is scarcely possible for the value of the output per acre in foodstuffs to equal the value of the output from a factory on the same site. Similarly the capital or rental value of the land in agri-cultural production is far below its value or rental for “development” purposes. Consequently, under laissez-faire economics, little if any attention was or is paid to quality of land if it is required for industrial or other forms of development. The contradiction lies in the simple fact that man must be fed, but the area of really productive land is every-where in the world restricted. Some poorer lands can be “upgraded” to a limited extent, but the capital cost is high. Further,if the amount of capital available for land improvement is restricted, there is a far greater return if the money is devoted to inherently good lands than if the expenditure is on basically poor land. On the other hand, the quality of land makes little if any difference when siting an industrial complex.

The nations of the world show very great contrasts in their land resources, and this obviously influences very strongly their attitude toward land planning and to the urgency of an inventory of their land resources. Taking the world as a whole, the total land surface represented about 11.5 acres per head of population in 1964. Of this total one-fifth is too cold—covered with ice or semipermanently frozen—to be capable of agricultural production; another fifth has inadequate moisture and no known available source of water; still a third fifth is too elevated, mountainous, or broken in relief; finally, one-tenth is soilless—bare rock surfaces. This leaves 30 per cent, approximately 3.5 acres of land per individual which has some soil, adequate moisture, and a range of temperature which put it into the general category of “potentially usable” in the sense of agricultural production. But it includes much land (the great tropical forests and grasslands) that with our present knowledge and techniques is very difficult to manage. Out of this per capita total of 3.5 acres, just over 1 acre is actually used—plowed or worked by hand and cropped. Equating the nonfood crops on these lands with a production of meat from natural grazing land we may say that, averaging all the varied world diets, standards of production, and levels of sustenance, it takes at the present time 1 acre to feed 1 person, or 1 hectare to 2.5 persons. This gives a world standard of comparison; Table 2 gives the corresponding figures for a number of countries. Some of the lessons to be learned are obvious. The United States and Canada are rich in land on whatever basis one chooses to take. They have not yet felt the pressure of population on land, which is so severe in most of the countries of Europe and many parts of Asia, notably Japan. India and Pakistan have an extreme shortage of cultivated land, since unlike Great Britain and Japan, their productivity per acre is low, and they lack the funds to import food.

Table 2 is purely a factual statement of acres per head of population. Obviously land is used far more intensively in some countries than others. Obviously, too, the potential of farmland is far higher in some areas than in others.

We can, of course, attempt to measure actual productivity, though even that is far from simple. A useful device for equating various crops is in

Table 2 — Acreage per capita, 1964
a. Estimated.
Source: Updated from Stamp 1960.
United States11.56.0'3.5
New Zealand28171.1
Great Britain1.10.60.55
England and Wales0.80.60.55

terms of calories and I have suggested (Stamp 1960) that a useful unit is one million calories of farm production per annum. This I have called a Standard Nutrition Unit (SNU) because with 10 per cent loss in preparation, it represents 2,460 calories per day—a reasonable average intake for human health. On a largely rice and bean diet, intensive Japanese cultivation can produce 6 or 7 SNU per acre—in other words an acre intensively cultivated can be made to support 6 or 7 people. Good wheatland can produce 4 units, but a milk— meat-fruit diet requires 2 to 3 acres of average land to produce one unit.

But in using output of farm produce or similar units such as stock carried per unit area we are not measuring land potential, we are measuring land productivity combined with existing level of techniques and farming skill. Various systems of calculating “stock units” (sometimes “cow units” is the normal) have been devised, which differ in detail. One adult horse, cow, bull, or bullock may be considered as one unit, a young animal as one-half, a mature sheep as one-seventh, a lamb as one-fourteenth, a fat pig as one-tenth, and so on. As a measure of the “carrying capacity” of natural grazing we can then say it is, for example, 2 units per acre. This would imply a proper balance: not over-grazed to cause erosion nor undergrazed to allow development of coarse vegetation. Improvement can then be measured against increased capacity. Another approach to the measurement of the relative value of grazing land is in the production of meat per acre. This in turn can be converted into money values and so the output of beef or mutton by value can be compared with output of similar land under forest.

Can we think in terms of a Potential Production Unitü; If one equates good average farmland in Britain with a potential productivity of one (1 PPU), there is at least some evidence to show that the best lands should have a ranking of 2 PPU and poor hill land of 0.1 PPU. If this general method of assessment can be perfected, its use in land planning is obvious. One thousand acres of the best land would have a productive potential of 2,000; one thousand acres of poor sandy land only 100. When a country has limited land resources, industrial and housing development should surely be on the low ranking land; the country thereby loses but little of its potential productivity in food.

Before linking land classification with land planning, however, it is necessary to pose the question: What basic needs of mankind must be satisfied by an adequate allocation of land? High priority must be given to the need of work, which translated into terms of land requirement means allocation of land for industry. Many industries—the extraction of coal, oil, minerals, and heavy industries based thereon—are fixed by the location of the raw materials; many others, such as shipbuilding and oil refining, require a certain juxtaposition of favorable physical factors. Only a limited number of industries are uninfluenced by land requirements and are thus capable of planned location. In a highly competitive world those countries, such as Japan and Britain, which depend for their very existence on manufacturing for export must give their industries the best possible chances of success by allowing industrial interests to choose the most favorable locations. Such choice may clash with other interests, especially recreational and agricultural. What is important is that there should be a full consideration of all interests.

A second basic need of mankind is for shelter. Perhaps more than in any other sphere in questions of town planning and especially the allocation of land for housing there is bitter controversy between high and low density, between the advantages of apartments and individual houses, the optimum size of towns, the journey to work, and many other problems. The world seems to be moving toward a compromise of type of dwelling with limits to development set by green belts and amenities preserved by an adequate open-space network. But there is by no means general agreement on desirable standards; just as one example, consider the demand by schools and colleges for an increase of land area relative to population numbers.

This last consideration is closely linked with a third need, that of land for recreation. One thinks of parks in towns, playing fields attached to schools and for the postschool population, but there are also the larger demands of land for state and national parks and for nature conservation. The national parks of the United States and Canada and many of the countries of Africa are at the same time conservation areas with vast land resources but few human inhabitants. When Britain established national parks under an act of 1949, the areas chosen were ones of great natural beauty but for the most part are occupied by farmers and, in fact, include numerous villages. The effect of designation as a national park in such cases is to make especially difficult further development and, especially, to prevent extensive and incongruous building.

A fourth need of mankind is for freedom of movement—land for airports and especially for roads. In the older crowded countries the existing road systems were never intended for the crush of modern automobile traffic, yet the close spacing of towns and villages and the intensive farming of the intervening land make the provision of new motor roads very difficult. Nevertheless, Hitler’s drive for Autobahnen and Mussolini’s for autostrade have been continued and extended to nearly all countries in the world. But the land-consuming road junctions common in America take up so much land that they must be introduced with great caution in the more crowded countries. The current demand for huge tracts for airports—runways of over two miles—may in the near future be obviated with the introduction of vertical take-off aircraft.

It is unfortunately true that a fifth need of land is for defense and training of the fighting services, and the demand is often very large.

All these are uses which eat into the open land, whose function should be primarily to produce foodstuffs and raw materials. It is here that there is the utmost need to integrate arable farming, pastoral husbandry, and forestry. Fortunately the conservation of nature makes its primary demands on intrinsically poor land of relatively little interest to the farmer, but for the maintenance of the balance of nature the need is to conserve and actively manage so as to maintain the character and the adequacy of the varied natural habitats demanded by plants and animals. This is the problem actively studied by the various conservation services now found in most countries.

In crowded countries the problem of land planning is urgent. This is certainly the case in Britain, and it is now appreciated as a social problem which cannot be settled by the free play of economic forces. Three principles are being generally observed. The first is the principle of optimal use—to find the optimum use of every parcel of land in the national interest. The second is the principle of multiple use—much hill land can serve as grazing land or can be afforested yet also serve as a water-shed and, in many cases, for public recreation. It is only in a few cases of particularly rare species that nature conservation requires the exclusive use of land. A third principle is the total elimination of wasteland: all land should have some function in the national economy. Unfortunately it is usually cheaper to develop virgin land than to redevelop wasteland such as derelict industrial sites.

There is, however, in many countries a demand for over-all land planning, possibly based on a “land budget.” Otherwise there is a natural human tendency forthe specialist to make excessive demands for his own particular interests. For example, how much land can a crowded country afford for housing the people if thereby there is a serious loss in food-producing capacity? What should be the allocation for different forms of recreation? What control should be exercised over mining—especially if large areas are rendered derelict by it?

In the preceding paragraphs emphasis has been placed on current interest in land classification as a basis for national planning and the allocation of scarce land resources for the varied needs of a nation. It is tempting to use “productivity classes” for such purposes, but warnings come from archeologists, historians, and progressive agriculturists, who would emphasize the importance of changing technology. Most of the older countries afford examples. In England the pre-Roman, Celtic farmers sought the rolling uplands of the south where the land was naturally well drained, the light scrub relatively easily cleared, and the thin light soils could be worked in small square fields by hand. The heavily wooded valleys and lowlands were avoided. Then came the Anglo-Saxons who, with their ox-drawn plows, were able to cultivate long strips of land. It was they who found the rich loam soils of the valleys and undertook the forest clearance needed. Until late in the Middle Ages, the fens of eastern England remained a water-logged morass. Windmill drainage converted them to fine sheep pasture, then more efficient pumps made them the country’s finest arable lands. Major changes are still taking place. The water table and former winter flooding in alluvial lowlands can now be controlled; the greatest contrast in the landuse maps of eastern Kent for 1932 and 1962 is in the conversion of grazing to arable on alluvial lands formerly flooded in winter. Today, the most prized arable fields of the Celt are among the lowest priced farmlands in those parts of the country where they are found. Another aspect of technological progress is in the simple provision of dressings with appropriate trace elements completely altering previously assessed “potential.” This has been demonstrated in Australia. Over considerable parts of tropical Africa today settlements and cultivation avoid the river valleys because of the prevalence of river blindness transmitted by the fly Simulium. If the fly can be exterminated or a cure found then the whole land potential is changed. The same is true if effective measures for the control of the tsetse fly, carrying the nagana disease of cattle, can be developed. A comparable example is familiar from the “villages which have moved downhill” in New England—the earlier settlement on the “healthy” hilltops, the later development of the valley lands.

A vast amount of information with examples de scribed by experts from all parts of the world will be found in the History of Land Use in Arid Regions (Stamp 1961). Not unexpectedly many ab-original peoples have developed their own systems of land classification.

The Burmese peasant cultivators are familiar with a classification based on soil type, each with a distinctive name. One of the most elaborate of all is the land classification of parts of India used as a basis for village land allocation and taxation. It was taken over by the British administration in India, and it was one of the tasks of the land settlement officers to prepare maps. It often surprises present-day researchers to find these very detailed manuscript maps, going back to the 1870s perhaps, on the scale of 16 inches to one mile, in many local offices. They were of course used as a basis of taxation.

This is the prime reason for land classification in many countries. Every resident in Canada, taxed annually on the assessed capital value of his land, knows the difference it makes if his holding is classified as “improved” or “unimproved.” Much land reverts to the state by becoming “tax delinquent.” Examples of land classification for revenue purposes could be detailed from many countries. A survey of Denmark was undertaken about 1826 and is still in use. Owners of property in many lands are resentful of the fact that as soon as they make additions or improvements they are reassessed and taxed accordingly. The principle was long used in Denmark that taxation was on the basic character and quality of the land and not on the results of improvements—a great incentive to good farming. East Germany may be cited as an example of a country using an elaborate land classification with values theoretically from 0 to 100. The approach in the U.S.S.R. is naturally somewhat different, since the land is state-owned, but production targets are based on a land classification—with a strong emphasis on soil. The Russians dislike the approach from “natural” regions: anything “natural” is a challenge to the technologists to improve. So in setting targets of production the techniques available at the moment can be married with assessments of land potential. Land classification becomes part of the business of government.

Although land classification is linked primarily with economic output and taxable capacity as part of the technique of government, it can and should be used more widely. It is possible to measure what loss in food production will result if an area is declared a nature reserve or a recreational area. Thus a major planning decision affecting more than just the physical needs of man can be taken with the broader implications clearly in view. Land classification becomes then an essential requirement in every part of the world as population pressure on land increases.

L. Dudley Stamp

[see alsoAgriculture; Landscape.]


Clements, Frederick E. 1905 Research Methods in Ecology. Lincoln, Nebr.: University Pub. Co.

Clements, Frederick E. (1916–1920)1928 Plant Succession and Indicators: A Definitive Edition of Plant Succession and Plant Indicators. New York: Wilson. COLE, MONICA M. 1960 Cerrado, Caatinga and Pantanal: The Distribution and Origin of the Savanna Vegetation of Brazil. Geographical Journal 126:168–179.

Cole, Monica M. 1961 South Africa. London: Methuen.

Cole, Monica M. 1963 Vegetation and Geomorphology in Northern Rhodesia: An Aspect of the Distribution of the Savanna of Central Africa.Geographical Journal 129:290–305.

Great Britain, Committee on Land Utilisation in Rural Areas 1942 Report. Papers by Command, Cmd. 6378. London: H.M. Stationery Office.

Great Britain, Royal Commission on the Distribution of the Industrial Population 1940 Report. Papers by Command, Cmd. 6153. London: H.M. Stationery Office.

Stamp, L. Dudley (1948) 1962 The Land of Britain: Its Use and Misuse. 3d ed. London: Longmans.

Stamp, L. Dudley 1960 Our Developing World. London: Faber.

Stamp, L. Dudley (editor) 1961 A History of Land Use in Arid Regions. Arid Zone Research, No. 17. Paris: UNESCO. → In both English and French.

Vink, A. P. A. 1963 Aspects de pedologie appliquee. Neuchatel (Switzerland): La Baconniere.


views updated May 29 2018

land / land/ • n. 1. the part of the earth's surface that is not covered by water, as opposed to the sea or the air: after four weeks at sea we sighted land. ∎  [as adj.] living or traveling on land rather than in water or the air: a land mammal. ∎  an expanse of land; an area of ground, esp. in terms of its ownership or use: the land north of the village. (lands) the Indians were wiped out as gold prospectors invaded their lands. ∎  (the land) ground or soil used as a basis for agriculture: my family had worked the land for many years. 2. a country: the valley is one of the most beautiful in the land. ∎ fig. a realm or domain: you are living in a fantasy land. 3. the space between the rifling grooves in a gun.• v. 1. [tr.] put ashore: the lifeboat landed the survivors safely ashore. ∎  [intr.] go ashore; disembark: the marines landed at a small fishing jetty. ∎  unload (goods) from a ship: the fishing boats landed their catch at the port. ∎  bring (a fish) to land, esp. with a net or hook: I landed a scrappy three-pound walleye. ∎ inf. succeed in obtaining or achieving (something desirable), esp. in the face of strong competition: she landed the starring role in a new film. 2. [intr.] come down through the air and alight on the ground: planes landing at the rate of two a minute. ∎  [tr.] bring (an aircraft or spacecraft) to the ground or the surface of water, esp. in a controlled way: the copilot landed the plane. ∎ inf. (of something unpleasant or unexpected) arrive suddenly: there seemed to be more problems than ever landing on her desk this week. 3. [tr.] (land someone in) inf. cause someone to be in (a difficult or unwelcome situation): his exploits always landed him in trouble. ∎  (land someone with) inflict (an unwelcome task or a difficult situation) on someone: the mistake landed the company with a massive bill. 4. [tr.] inf. inflict (a blow) on someone: I won the fight without landing a single punch.PHRASES: how the land lies what the state of affairs is: let's keep it to ourselves until we see how the land the land of the living humorous alive or awake.the land of Nod humorous a state of sleep. [ORIGIN: punningly, with biblical allusion to the place name Nod (Gen. 4:16).]land on one's feet have good luck or success: after some ups and downs, he has finally landed on his off the land live on whatever food one can obtain by hunting, gathering, or subsistence farming.


views updated May 29 2018

land2 a country or state.
every land has its own law Scottish proverbial saying, early 17th century, used to emphasize the individuality of a nation or group.
Land of Hope and Glory is the song written by A. C. Benson (1862–1925) to a melody by Edward Elgar. Benson's song was written to be sung as the Finale to Elgar's Coronation Ode (1902); it became very popular as a patriotic song, and is now particularly associated with the Last Night of the Proms.
land of milk and honey the land promised to the Israelites, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ (Exodus 3:8). A land of milk and honey may now be used generally to suggest a place of prosperity and contentment, but there may also be a suggestion that this is a future state to be achieved.
Land of Nod in the Bible, the place in which the exiled Cain lived after the murder of Abel. From the mid 18th century, the phrase has been used punningly to mean sleep; the place of Cain's exile, and its desolate nature, is more likely to be described as the land God gave to Cain.
Land of the Free an informal name for the United States, taken from the poem ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ by the American lawyer and verse-writer Francis Scott Key (1779–1843), which was adopted as the US national anthem in 1931.
Land of the Little Sticks Canada (from Chinook stik ‘wood, tree, forest’, the subarctic tundra region of northern Canada, characterized by its stunted vegetation).
Land of the Long White Cloud New Zealand (translating the Maori name Aotearoa).
Land of the Midnight Sun any of the most northerly European countries, where the sun can be seen at midnight during the summer.
Land of the Rising Sun Japan; a translation of Japanese Nippon, which comes from nichi ‘the sun’ + pon, hon ‘source’. Nippon is recorded in English from the early 17th century, but Land of the Rising Sun is not found until the mid 19th century.

See also Land of Beulah, land of the broad acres, cloud cuckoo land, the land God gave to Cain, Never-Never land at never, Promised Land at promise, land of the Southern Cross at southern.


views updated May 14 2018

235. Land

See also 133. EARTH ; 377. SOIL

the practice of extensive or permanent absence from their property by owners. absentee , n.
alodialism, allodialism
the llth-century Anglo-Saxon estate system in which absolute possession was invested in the holder. alodialist, allodialist, alodiary, allodiary , n.
British, Obsolete, a form of land tenure under which land was held in return for payment of a fixed sum of money in rent or for rendering of service. Also called socage .
surveying for the purpose of showing boundary and property lines.
the science of land surveying.
the practice of purchasing land for another person who is not legally entitled to do so.
the right one landowner has been granted over the land of another, as the right of access to water, right of way, etc., at no charge.
Obsolete, the science of surveying.
a European system flourishing between 800-1400 based upon fixed relations of lord to vassal and all lands held in fee (as from the king), and requiring of vassal-tenants homage and service. Also feudality . feudal, feudalistic , adj.
Medieval History. the land over which a person exercises control after vows of vassalage and service to an overlord. See feudalism.
the science of surveying. gromatic , adj.
the use of photography for surveying or map-making.
surveying or map-making by means of photography. phototopographic, phototopographical , adj.
a system of surveying in which distances are measured by reading intervals on a graduated rod intercepted by two parallel cross hairs in the telescope of a surveying instrument. stadia , adj.
a surveying instrument for measuring vertical and horizontal angles. theodolitic , adj.


views updated May 18 2018

land1 an area of ground, as characterized by its physical features. The phrase how the land lies means, what the state of affairs is. The lie of the land (late 17th century) is used both literally, for the way in which the features or characteristics of an area present themselves, or figuratively.
do a land-office business in American usage, do a lot of successful trading. The expression looks back to the period at which new lands were being made available to settlers, and land-offices dealing with sales and settlement of new lands accordingly did a great deal of business.
from Land's End to John o'Groats in the UK, from one end of Britain to the other; Land's End is a rocky promontory in SW Cornwall, forming the westernmost point of England, and by road is approximately 876 miles from John o'Groats, a village at the extreme NE point of the Scottish mainland.
land girl in the UK, a woman doing farm work, especially during the Second World War.
Land League an Irish organization formed in 1879 to campaign for tenants' rights. Its techniques included the use of the boycott against anyone taking on a farm from which the tenant had been evicted.

See also you buy land, you buy stones, fat of the land, when house and land are gone and spent, learning is better than house and land.


views updated May 17 2018

land solid portion of the earth's surface; ground, soil; country, territory; †country (opposed to town); ridge in a ploughed field OE.; strip division of a field XIV; (Sc.) building divided into tenements XV. OE. land = OS., ON., Goth. land, OHG. lant (Du., G. land) :- Gmc. *landam, rel. to OCeltic *landā (Ir. land, lann enclosure, W. llan enclosure, church, Cornish lan open space. plain, Breton lann heath). The IE. base *londh- is not evidenced in other langs., but the var. *lendh- is repr. by OSl. lędina health, desert, (O)Sw, linda fallow land. comps. landlady XVI, after landlord, OE. landhlāford; landmark, OE. landmearc; landslide U.S. (XIX) equiv. of landslip, XVII.
Hence land vb. bring to land XIII; come to land XIV. Whence landing disembarkation XV; platform in a flight of stairs XVIII.


views updated May 23 2018

-land / land; lənd/ • comb. form forming nouns denoting a particular sphere of activity or group of people: the blunt, charmless climate of technoland.