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found in the world extends through the center of South America. A boat starting from the Caribbean sea could sail up the Orinoco over a thousand miles, then down the Casquiare, which runs from the Orinoco into the Rio Negro, down that river to the Amazon, up the Amazon to the Madeira, then up that river and one of its branches through Brazil and Bolivia, and with a short portage of six and a half miles to one of the branches of the Paraguay, down the Paraguay and La Plata to the ocean.
The level land crosses the La Plata and continues southward through the Argentine Republic and Patagonia to the Straits of Magellan. Within this plain lie all the interior of Venezuela and Brazil, a part of Bolivia, all Paraguay, Uruguay, and the Argentine Republic. The pampas resemble our prairies, but run from north to south, while the prairies run from east to west.
The streams in the plain south of the valley of the La Plata rise in the Andes and flow southeastward to the Atlantic.
The aborigines of America, except the Esquimaux, are unlike the natives of other countries ; the most marked difference is in their language. They are divided into a number of tribes differing from each other in some respects, yet with manners, customs and religious beliefs generally similar.
In South America there are more than one hundred distinct languages, and two thousand dialects. About five or six million Indians have as many dialects as are found among
the 800,000,000 inhabitants of Europe and Asia. Their languages are polysynthetic, being of a higher type than the agglutinative languages. In the polysynthetic tongue the substantive, adjective and verb are joined or combined, and oftentimes a whole sentence will be comprised in a single word.
The natives in the valleys of the Orinoco and Amazon are forced to cultivate a little ground on the flood-plains, as the forests are thick and impenetrable. They live principally on the fruit of the palm (of which there are five hundred varieties), cocoa and bananas, fish and turtles. There are no roads or paths through the forests except the numerous channels of the rivers, called igarapes or furos. The tribes on the pampas live principally on game and wild cattle.
Humboldt tells us that the navigator on the Orinoco sees with surprise at night the palm trees illuminated by large fires. From
the trunks of these trees are suspended the habitations of a tribe of Indians, who make their fires on mats hung in the air and filled with moist clay. The same palm tree furnishes also food and wine and clothing, and thus supplies every want and even the luxuries of life.
The Indian race as a whole is believed to be superior to both the negro and the Malay, as neither of those races has ever attained to the civilization of the Incas of Peru or of the Indians of Mexico and the Aztecs of Central America. Many of their myths and folk tales are common, not only to the Indians of one part of the country, but also to other tribes in distant parts of the continent, and even to the negroes of Africa, and the Arabs of upper Egypt. All the tribes on the continent have substantially the same habits of life, the same methods of warfare, the same general characteristics, and a language built substantially on the same plan.
From these observations it might seem that the Indian tribes of South America were allied to those of Africa or to the Malays, but on further consideration the similarity seems due rather to a like stage of civilization than to identity of race.
THE INCAS OF PERU,
In crossing from Arequipa in Peru to La Paz in Bolivia, the road ascends the Andes, makes a slight descent into the barren, desolate valley between the Andes and Cordilleras, crosses Lake Titicaca, and then descends to La Paz. Lake Titicaca, the largest lake of South America, is on a plateau between twelve and thirteen thousand feet in height, the most elevated table land on the globe, excepting Thibet. This lake is surrounded by lofty, snow-clad mountains, the highest of which is Illampa, 22,300 feet in height.
On this lake are the remains of the most ancient civilization of South America. Cyclopean ruins of temples and fortresses stand as perpetual monuments of a vanished culture ; when and by whom they were erected, we know not; their builders left no other record of their existence. The wandering Indians told the first Spaniards that they existed before the sun shone in the heavens. From one of the rocky islands of Lake Titicaca, about the year 1000 or 1100, the Sun, parent of mankind and giver of every good gift, taking compassion on the degraded condition of
the Indians, sent two of his children, Manco Capac and Mama Oello Huaco, to gather the wandering tribes into communities, to teach them the arts of civilized life and to inculcate the worship of the Sun. From Lake Titicaca, this brother and sister, husband and wife, went down the valley to Cuzco, where they were bidden to found an empire. Manco Capac was thus the first Inca. There were ten or twelve Incas before the conquest of Peru. Their conquests extended through the entire valley of the Cordilleras, until over four hundred tribes, with a population of many millions, became subject to their dominion.
The territory of the Incas extended from the southern part of Chili northward into Colombia, beyond Quito, a distance of two thousand miles, and west to the Pacific Ocean. On the eastern slope of the Cordilleras, toward the great plain of the Amazon, the Incas met a stronger and more savage people, with whom they were in constant warfare. In the several
of the Cordilleras they constructed fortifications to protect their borders and prevent invasion.
The capital of the territory, Cuzco, was situated in a beautiful valley ten thousand feet above the sea. Amidst the Alps, such a valley would be buried in eternal snow, but within the tropics it enjoys a perpetual spring. Here the Incas loved to dwell, and remains of immense fortresses, palaces and temples, testify to their power and culture, and to the number of their subjects. Tens of thousands of laborers must have been required to construct such edifices. When we reflect that these people had no beasts of burden except the llama, which could only carry light loads, and no mechanical means for transporting the vast blocks of stone used in constructing these buildings, we are astonished at what they accomplished. The pyramids of Egypt are not more wonderful.
Great highways were built, running north, south and west, connecting different parts of the Empire. One followed the valley between the Cordilleras and Andes to Quito, another crossed the Andes and followed the sea-coast north and south to the extreme limits of their country. All traveling was on foot. Large and comfortable tambos, or inns, were erected every few miles, and larger ones at the end of a day's journey. Couriers were stationed at regular intervals, each of whom had his allotted station, between which and the next it was his duty to run at a certain pace bearing his message, and on his approach to the 2-NAT. GEOG. MAG., VOL. III, 1891.
next station he signalled to the next chasquir, as the couriers were called, to be ready to carry forward the message. In this way, it is said, about 150 miles a day were made.
These couriers traveled more quickly than the mail-carriers of Europe, and the means of communication were then, Squier tells us, far better than they are to-day. Many of these old tambos are still maintained. One in which Squier spent the night was 180 feet in length, with rooms forming three sides of a court.
The country of the Incas had every variety of climate, and the products were those of every part of the new world. On the coast, perpetual summer reigns, with all the variety and beauty of tropical vegetation. At a higher elevation, the trees are always green, and while one kind sheds its blossoms and ripens its fruit another is budding and unfolding its bloom. Meantime, on the top of the mountains is eternal winter. In some places, as at Potosi, the changes of temperature are frequent and extremes of heat and cold are experienced in a single day. The weather in the early morning is frosty ; in the forenoon, mild and balmy; in the afternoon, scorching, and in the evening, cool and delicious.
On the Pacific slope of the Andes, reservoirs were constructed, from which irrigating canals watered the whole plain now lying desolate and barren.
The conquered tribes were incorporated into the nation and became the people of the Incas. If the conquered tribe was strong and warlike, some of its members were removed to distant parts of the country and were replaced by the inhabitants of those regions, to whom privileges and immunities were given as compensation for the change of home. The conquered tribes quickly realized the benefits of the rule of the Incas and became faithful and loyal subjects.
The government of the Incas was a paternal despotism controlling the most minute affairs of daily life. Knowledge, the Incas taught, “was not intended for the people, but for those of generous ability, for it would render persons of low degree vain and arrogant."
The Incas established a communal system similar to that of Russia. One-third of the land belonged to the Inca, one-third to the priests of the Sun, and the remainder to the people, who were required to cultivate the land of the Inca and of the priests, as well as their own. The land was divided among the families yearly, according to their number. Every newly
married couple received a stated portion which was increased as the family increased.
Their only means of writing was by a cord, called quippus, about two feet long, composed of threads of different colors twisted together, from which a quantity of smaller threads hung like a knotted fringe. The colors denoted sensible objects or sometimes abstract ideas, though the principal use of the quippus was for arithmetical purposes.
The civilization of the Incas appears to have been of a higher order than that of the Mexicans. It is not probable that hieroglyphics were in use among any of the South American Indians, though it is said that traces of a pictorial alphabet have been found. The people were contented and happy, although they were deprived of personal liberty, although their daily life was supervised by their rulers, and although they held only communal rights of property. They had neither ambition nor strong love of country.
When Pizarro landed in Peru there were two Incas, one at Cuzco and the other at Quito, and the bitter conflict which was raging between them made the conquest of both easy. Pizarro had only 180 followers, but they were Spanish cavaliers, carrying fire-arms; and with this small force he overturned the Incas and enslaved the people. The descendants of the Quichuas, or the people of the Incas, still inhabit the land—a mild, apathetic, servile and dejected race. It is said that after the conquest the women put on a black mantle, which they have worn ever since, as perpetual mourning for the last of the Incas.
There are a few descendants of Spaniards in Peru, but the population consists chiefly of the descendants of the Quichuas and mixed Spaniards and Quichuas. The Peruvians of to-day are less civilized than those who lived 400 years ago ; they have less liberty and are poorer.
DISCOVERY OF THE AMAZON. Great rivers have usually been discovered and explored by ascending them from the ocean to their sources; the Congo and the Amazon were explored downward from their sources to the
Three hundred and fifty years ago, Gonzalo Pizarro, then governor of Upper Peru, heard of a land of silver and gold, spices and precious stones; a land where spring reigned and all tropical fruits abounded. He determined to follow the little