Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/172

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more exposed than either of the others, and less distinctly a separate natural unit, was correspondingly slower in her national development, and may still be regarded as existing largely on a military basis.

Separation and Accessibility.—Separation which amounts to isolalation, however, is a handicap, rather than a benefit, to the best national progress, for the reason that intercourse with other localities offers opportunity for distinct stimulus through contact with new ideas. To be of maximum value to a nation, therefore, the physical position must afford ready accessibility for peaceful intercourse. For this reason, the character and quality of the national boundaries are in many ways factors of prime importance in the whole course of economic progress and national welfare.

Britain again affords an excellent example. So placed that her doors were effectually closed to serious interference with her internal development, Britain could, however, from her station opposite the convergence of the great European highways of communication, profit readily from intimate contact with continental ideas. History shows that the people of Britain were not the pioneers in commerce, in exploration and discovery, in colonization, or in the development of manufactures: all important lines of activity wherein Britain excelled in later years, and whence came much of the importance of the British nation in the affairs of the world. In each ease Britain got the stimulus through her accessibility for peaceful association with continental neighbors, and in each case the superiority of the British position for continuity of internal evolution, readily enabled her to outstrip all others. This same quality of standing somewhat aloof offers a perfectly natural reason for the long-continued preeminence of British influence in the direction of international affairs among the European nations.

China, by contrast, is not to be regarded as a backward nation, because of some inherent lack of ability in her people, but rather as a nation long suffering from too great separation, and consequent lack of new ideas, in much the same way as a single individual, isolated, suffers from lack of stimulus. Japan, much smaller, both in area and in population, and much more readily accessible, shows in her recent rapid developments the effects of intercourse with, and stimulus from, the outside world. China may be expected to show similar results in the future as her greater barriers of isolation are overcome.

Accessibility by Sea.—Ready accessibility from the sea is more important than accessibility by land. It depends on a favorable combination of coast line, surface configuration back of the coast, and climate. Access from the sea means an open route between many nations: a route which is on the whole more easily travelled than the land for the peaceful intercourse of commercial relations, and more