Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/407

This page has been validated.
393
COMMERCIAL GEOGRAPHY OF SOUTH AMERICA.

extent of these in latitudes fit for European settlers. Till recently the practice of slavery has deterred free immigrants from settling in those provinces in which the institution was most firmly established (those growing tropical products), but since 1871 it has been in process of abolition, and it was entirely abolished in 1888. Great efforts are hence being made by the Brazilian Government to attract immigrants to those districts in which a substitute for slave-labor is most needed. Immigrants, chiefly Italian and Portuguese, are now arriving in thousands. In the southernmost provinces, where slavery was never very general, German and Italian colonies have existed for many years. Railways are so far most numerous in the coffee region of Brazil. Of the projected railways, one of the most important is that designed to avoid the rapids of the Madeira, but for which steamers would be able to ascend to the base of the Bolivian table-land.

The capital of the empire is Rio Janeiro, which is also the chief seaport, and the principal outlet for the coffee region. Its harbor is admirable on account of its commodiousness and safety, and delightful on account of its beauty. The second port of this region is Santos, farther south. Bahia, or San Salvador, and Pernambuco are the seaports of the region producing sugar, cotton, and tobacco; Para, Maranham, and Ceara, those of the region yielding forest products—rubber, Brazil-nuts, cabinet and dye woods, together with cacao and sugar. The ports of the temperate region producing animal products are Rio Grande do Sul, Pelotas, and Porto Alegre, all of which are accessible only to vessels of small draught (under eleven feet), on account of a bar at the entrance to the shallow lake on which they all stand.

Colonial Guiana consists of three portions—one British, about equal to Great Britain in size; one Dutch (Surinam); and one French (Cayenne). Cultivation of plantation products (chiefly sugar-cane) is almost confined to the British and Dutch colonies, and in these to a strip of lowlands along the coast and the river-banks—a strip partly below sea-level, and protected by embankments. In British Guiana Demerara is the chief sugar district. The laborers are negroes, mulattoes, and coolies. In British Guiana a rich gold-field lies on the banks of the Cuyuni in the west, but it has long remained unworked on account of claims being made to this portion of the territory by the government of Venezuela. A rich gold-field is reported to have been recently discovered on the borders of Dutch and French territory. Cayenne is used by the French as a place of deportation for Arab convicts from Algeria.

Venezuela, a republic in the north of the continent, consists chiefly of the basin of the Orinoco. People of Spanish, Indian, and negro descent, all now free, make up the bulk of the population