Human settlement expansion has very important effects on regional population migration, economic balance and ecosystem services. Understanding the evolution of settlement expansion and regional differences is significant for regional sustainability. The results showed that in the past 30 years, the urbanization rate in Jiangsu province was lower. From 1980 to 2010, the expansion area of urban settlement was larger than that of rural settlement. Urban settlement expanded slowly from 1980 to 2005 and strongly from 2005 to 2010. Rural settlement expanded greatly from 1980 to 1995, and 37.14% of settlement was mostly on cropland. The type of urban settlement expansion from 1980 to 1995 and from 2000 to 2005 was compact expansion. Settlement expansion in the south of Jiangsu province was greater than that in the north of Jiangsu province. The spatial pattern of settlement in most cities was a cluster. In the past 30 years, urban and rural settlement expansion had significantly different impacts on the soil and water environment. Urban settlement expansion was great in the south of Jiangsu province and widened the economic and social gap between the south and north of Jiangsu province.
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