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A shack (or, less often, shanty) is a type of small, often primitive shelter or dwelling. Like huts, shacks are constructed by hand using available materials; however, whereas huts are usually rural and made of natural materials (mud, rocks, sticks, etc.) shacks are generally composed of scavenged man-made materials like abandoned construction debris, repurposed consumer waste and other useful discarded objects that can be quickly acquired at little or no cost and fashioned into a small dwelling.
In areas of high population density and high poverty, shacks are often the most prevalent form of housing; it is possible that up to a billion people worldwide live in shacks. Fire is a significant hazard in tight-knit shack settlements. Settlements composed mostly or entirely of shacks are known as slums or shanty towns.
In Australian English shack can also refer to a small holiday house with limited conveniences, for instance it may not have running water or electricity.
In Canadian oilfield drilling, a shack can also be the word for a wellsite trailer. These structures are notorious among oilfield workers for being cramped, uncomfortable and generally unpleasant to be in.
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- Planet of Slums, Verso, 2006
- A Big Devil in the Jondolos: A report on shack fires by Matt Birkinshaw