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CEYLON


irrigation works of a more expensive kind are necessary. In January 1892, the immemorial rent or tax on fields of paddy (rice in the husk) was removed, but not the customs duty on imported rice. But even with the advantage of protection to the extent of 10% in the local markets, there has been no extension of paddy cultivation; on the contrary, the import of grain from India has grown larger year by year. Through the multiplication of irrigation works and the northern railway, rice culture may be sufficiently extended to save some of the large imports (8,000,000 to 9,000,000 bushels annually) now required from India.

Tobacco is extensively cultivated in various parts of the island, and the growth of particular places, such as Dumbara and Uva, is much prized for local consumption. The tobacco of export is grown in the peninsula of Jaffna. The exports of this article in 1850 were 22,176 cwts., valued at £20,698. The cultivation of the plant has not greatly increased of recent years, and is almost entirely in the hands of natives in the northern and parts of the central Province.

Ceylon has been celebrated since the middle of the 14th century for its cinnamon, and during the period of the Dutch occupation this spice was the principal article of commerce; under their rule and up to 1832 its cultivation was a government monopoly. With the abolition of the monopoly the quantity exported increased, but the value declined.

Unlike the coffee plant, the hardy tea plant grows from sea-level to 7000 ft. altitude; but crown forest-lands above 5000 ft. are no longer sold, so that a very large area on the highest mountain ranges and plateaus is still under forest. Moreover, on the tea plantations arboriculture is attended to in a way unknown in 1875; the Australian eucalypts, acacias and grevilleas, Indian and Japanese conifers, and other trees of different lands, are now freely planted for ornament, for protection from wind, for firewood or for timber. A great advance has been made at Hakgalla and Nuwara Eliya, in Upper Uva, and other high districts, in naturalizing English fruits and vegetables. The calamander tree is nearly extinct, and ebony and other fine cabinet woods are getting scarce; but the conservation of forests after the Indian system has been taken in hand under a director and trained officers, and much good has been done. The cinnamon tree (wild in the jungles, cultivated as a shrub in plantations) is almost the only one yielding a trade product which is indigenous to the island. The coco-nut and nearly all other palms have been introduced.

Among other agricultural products mention must be made of cacao, the growth and export of which have steadily extended since coffee failed. Important also is the spice or aromatic product of cardamoms.

The culture of indiarubber was begun on low-country plantations, and Ceylon rubber is of the best quality in the market. The area of cultivation of the coco-nut palm has been greatly extended since 1875 by natives as well as by Europeans. The products of this palm that are exported, apart from those so extensively used in the island itself, exceed in a good year £1,000,000 sterling in value. Viticulture and cotton cultivation, as well as tobacco growing, are being developed along the course of the new northern railway.

Taking the trade in the products mentioned as a whole, no country can compete with the United Kingdom as a customer of Ceylon. But there is a considerable trade in nearly all products with Germany and America; in cardamoms with India; in cinnamon with Spain, Italy, Belgium, Australia, Austria and France; and in one or other of the products of the coco-nut palm (coco-nuts, coco-nut oil, copra, desiccated coco-nut, poonac, coir) with Belgium, Russia, France, Austria, Australia and Holland.

Pearl Fishery.—Pearl oysters are found in the Tambalagam bay, near Trincomalee, but the great banks on which these oysters are usually found lie near Arippu, off the northern part of the west coast of Ceylon, at a distance of from 16 to 20 m. from the shore. They extend for many miles north and south, varying considerably in their size and productiveness. It is generally believed that the oyster arrives at maturity in its seventh year, that the pearl is then of full size and perfect lustre, and that if the oyster be not then secured it will shortly die, and the pearl be lost. It is certain that from some unexplained cause the oysters disappear from their known beds for years together. The Dutch had no fishery from 1732 to 1746, and it failed them again for twenty-seven years from 1768 to 1796. The fishery was again interrupted between 1820 and 1828, also from 1833 to 1854, from 1864 to 1873, and again from 1892 to 1900. The fishery of 1903 was the first since 1891, and produced a revenue of Rs. 829,348, being the third largest on record. In 1797 and 1798 the government sold the privilege of fishing the oyster-beds for £123,982 and £142,780 respectively. From that time the fishery was conducted by the government itself until 1906, when it was leased to the Ceylon Pearl Fisheries Company for twenty years at a rent of £20,000 a year. Professor Herdman, F.R.S., was appointed to inquire and report on the conservation and cultivation of the Ceylon pearl-oyster, and visited Ceylon in January 1902. In consequence of his report, a marine laboratory for the culture of the pearl oysters was established in Galle harbour under the care of Mr Hornell.

Mineral Industries.—Commercially there are two established mineral industries:—(1) that of digging for precious stones; and (2) the much more important industry of digging for plumbago or graphite, the one mineral of commercial importance found. Further developments may result in the shipment of the exceptionally pure iron ore found in different parts of Ceylon, though still no coal has been found to be utilized with it. Several places, too—Ruanwella, Rangalla, Rangbodde, &c.—indicate where gold was found in the time of the Kandyan kings; and geologists might possibly indicate a paying quartz reef, as in Mysore. Owing to the greatly increased demand in Europe and America, plumbago in 1899 more than doubled in price, rising from £40 to £80, and even £100 a ton for the finest. Latterly there has been a considerable fall, but the permanent demand is likely to continue keen in consequence mainly of the Ceylon kind being the best for making crucibles. The trade with Great Britain and the United States has slightly decreased, but there has been a rapid expansion in the exports to Belgium and Holland, Russia, Japan and Victoria; and the industry seems to be established on a sound basis. One consequence of its development has been to bring European and American capitalists and Cornish and Italian miners into a field hitherto almost entirely worked by Sinhalese. Though some of the mines were carried to a depth of 1000 ft., the work was generally very primitive in character, and Western methods of working are sure to lead to greater safety and economy. Besides a royalty or customs duty of 5 rupees (about 6s. 8d.) per ton on all plumbago exported, the government issue licenses at moderate rates for the digging of plumbago on crown lands, a certain share of the resulting mineral also going to government. The plumbago industry, in all its departments of mining, carting, preparing, packing and shipping, gives employment to fully 100,000 men and women, still almost entirely Sinhalese. The wealthiest mine-owners, too, are Sinhalese land-owners or merchants.

As regards gems, there are perhaps 500 gem pits or quarries worked in the island during the dry season from November to June in the Ratnapura, Rakwane and Matara districts. Some of these are on a small scale; but altogether several thousands of Sinhalese find a precarious existence in digging for gems. Rich finds of a valuable ruby, sapphire, cat's-eye, amethyst, alexandrite or star stone, are comparatively rare; it is only of the commoner gems, such as moonstone, garnet, spinels, that a steady supply is obtained. The cat's-eye in its finer qualities is peculiar to Ceylon, and is occasionally in great demand, according to the fashion. The obstacle to the investment of European capital in “gemming” has always been the difficulty of preventing the native labourers in the pits—-even if practically naked—from concealing and stealing gems. A Chamber of Mines, with a suitable library, was established in Colombo during 1899.

Manufactures.—Little is done save in the preparation in factories and stores, in Colombo or on the plantations, of the several products exported. The manufacture of jewellery and preparation of precious stones, and, among native women and children, of pillow lace, give employment to several thousands. Iron and engineering works are numerous in Colombo and in the planting districts. The Sinhalese are skilful cabinetmakers and carpenters. The Moormen and Tamils furnish good masons and builders.

Commerce.—There has been rapid development since 1882, and the returns for 1903 showed a total value of 22½ millions sterling. The principal imports were articles of food and drink (chiefly rice from India) manufactured metals (with specie), coal, cotton yarns and piece goods from Manchester, machinery and millwork and apparel. The Ceylon customs tariff for imports is one of 6½% ad valorem, save in the case of intoxicating drinks, arms, ammunition, opium, &c. The chief export is tea.

Roads.—The policy of the Sinhalese rulers of the interior was to exclude strangers from the hill country. Prior to the British occupation of the Kandyan territory in 1815, the only means of access from one district to another was by footpaths through the forests. The Portuguese do not appear to have attempted to open up the country below the hills, and the Dutch confined themselves to the improvement of the inland water-communications. The British government saw from the first the necessity of making roads into the interior for military purposes, and, more recently, for developing the resources of the country. The credit of opening up the country is due mainly to the governor, Sir Edward Barnes, by whose direction the great military road from Colombo to Kandy was made. Gradually all the military stations were connected by broad tracks, which by degrees were bridged and converted into good carriage roads. The governors Sir Henry Ward and Sir Hercules Robinson recognized the importance of giving the coffee planters every assistance in opening up the country, and the result of their policy is that the whole of the hill country is now intersected by a vast number of splendid roads, made at a cost of upwards of £2000 per mile. In 1848 an ordinance was passed to levy from every adult male in the colony (except Buddhist priests and British soldiers) six days’ labour on the roads, or an equivalent in money. The labour and money obtained by this wise measure have enabled the local authorities to connect the government highways by minor roads, which bring every village of importance into communication with the principal towns.

Railways.—After repeated vain attempts by successive governors to connect Colombo with the interior by railways, Sir Charles MacCarthy successfully set on foot a railway of 75 m. in length from Colombo to Kandy. The railway mileage had developed to 563 m. in 1908, including one of the finest mountain lines in the world—over