Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/295

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THE country of France, by reason of its position, has been forced into prominence in the life of Western Europe. The nation is surrounded by powerful peoples of diverse types, and because of its central location has perhaps developed a more cosmopolitan culture than its neighbors. The French people are separated most completely by the natural features of their boundaries from those races most closely resembling them. The road is open where the antagonism of types is greatest. The continental position of France has involved her in the troubles as well as in the reforms of her neighbors, and has opened the door to conquest, but left it open to invaders.

The internal geography of France shows no such extensive mountainous regions, or other sharp geographical divisions, as exist in the British Islands. The vanquished races of France have therefore not been able to retain their separate nationalities as completely as have the Scotch, Welsh and Irish. The British Islands are open on all sides to the sea, and with their abundant harbors have trained up a nation of sailors and colonists to carry Anglo-Saxon culture around the world. France is compact in outline, and though she has much coast, lacks good harbors. The activity of the national mind has been turned inward. This betrays itself in the intense patriotism of the people, in the influence exerted by the national capital and in the failure of France as a colonial power.

The region included in European France comprises about one two-hundred-and-fiftieth of the land of the earth, and about one eighteenth of Europe. The area is 204,150 square miles, or about twice that of the British Islands. The water boundaries are as follows: Mediterranean Sea coast, 395 miles; North Sea, Straits of Dover and English •Channel, 572 miles; Atlantic Ocean, 584 miles.

The boundary between France and Spain coincides, for the most part, with the crest of the Pyrenees Mountains. It is, from the economic point of view, a veritable 'wall of separation.' Indeed, it is a well-nigh impassable boundary, as may be seen from the Spanish proverb describing the passes of these mountains—"A son would not wait there for his father." Communication between France and Spain is carried on by means of railways, near the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, and by water. The French slope of the Pyrenees is a pas-