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country. The hope for the future is that the English, German, and French population will increase and become permanently identified with the country; they will then take an active interest in politics and direct the policy and administration of the government.
Commercial and banking business is in the hands of the French, Germans, and English. The Italians carry on a small trade at corner groceries and fruit stores ; the French keep the hotels and restaurants ; the English and Germans are the shippers, merchants and bankers.
Regular lines of English, French, and German steamers run from Europe to Panama and thence along the western coast of South America, stopping at ports en route; some return by Panama, others sail around Cape Horn to Europe by Buenos Ayres and Rio Janeiro. Other lines run direct from Europe to Brazil, and twenty-four lines connect Europe and the Argentine Republic; while there are only four lines of American steamers trading to South America.
We have given a general description of South America, but three countries—Brazil, the Argentine Republic and Peru – require further notice : Brazil, because it is the largest country, occupying three-sevenths of South America, and the only considerable state that was not settled by the Spaniards; the Argentine Republic, because it is the largest and most populous of the Spanish states and, with Peru, illustrates the political and financial phases through which the Spanish republics have passed.
The valley of the Amazon makes Brazil the most fertile region of the world. The tropical woods are so thick and the creepers and undergrowth so luxuriant that animal life is almost entirely confined to the trees above and the waters below.
The valley is not unhealthy, and, though under the equator, the climate is tempered by the trade winds and the evaporation from the vast Amazonian waters. Beyond the valley is the montaña district, where the land is higher and the climate semi-tropical, where there are few creepers, little underbrush, and open forests, and where both animal and vegetable life is less abundant. Southward, beyond the montaña district, are the evergreen pampas, where no trees grow and where the animal and vegetable life are unlike either that of the valley of the Amazon or that of the
3-NAT. GEOG. MAG., VOL. III, 1891.
montaña. As in Africa, so here, men who live in the dark forest, die in the open. Mr. Stanley selected thirty dwarfs from the tropical forests of Africa to take to England, but as soon as they came into the grass-lands, the clear air and bright sun, they languished and died before the coast was reached.
Northeast of the pampas, on the Atlantic coast, south of the Amazon, is a province bounded on the south by a range of high mountains, where rain is abundant ; at Maranhao, its seaport, there are 280 inches of rainfall in the year. South of Maranhao there is much less rain ; and instead of two seasons, the wet and the dry, which prevail in the valley of the Amazon, there are the four seasons of the year, but without extremes of heat and cold.
Over the greater part of Brazil grows the coffee tree, the sheetanchor of Brazilian prosperity, since it furnishes 60 per cent. of all the coffee grown in the world. The plant is not indigenous to Brazil, but was brought there about one hundred years ago from the old world.
Brazil, inhabited by the Portuguese, with an imperial government, has been saved from the anarchy and insolvency of the Spanish republics. Her railroads have been built with economy and have been generally successful. It had a population in 1885 of 11,000,000; two-thirds of whom were Indians and negroes, and many of the negroes were slaves. Slavery existed longer in Brazil than in any other civilized country ; the lash was commonly used on the plantation, and work continued from early in the morning until late at night until 1888, when a law was passed finally emancipating 1,300,000 slaves. It was opposed by the planters, who said freedmen would not work, but would let the coffee and sugar plantations fall to ruin. It was probably this act which caused the overthrow of the empire, for in revenge the planters joined the insurgents in establishing the Republic.
The Portuguese and Brazilians are more peaceable and orderly than the Spaniards or Spanish-Americans; we may therefore reasonably hope that Brazil will not repeat the history of the Spanish republics, which has been one of disintegration, for these republies have separated into two or more States. The greatest difficulty in maintaining its immense domain will arise from the enormous distances and the time required to travel between different parts of the country. From Rio de Janeiro to Matto Grosso is 140 days' journey by land, and by water the distance is 3000 miles. Communication is maintained by steamer
through the Argentine Republic up the Rio de la Plata and its branches. Although the country has many long and navigable rivers, yet the means of intercommunication are very poor; for the rivers are little used, and the forests, creepers, and undergrowth are so dense that the country back of the river-banks is impenetrable, and even if roads should be opened the soil is so luxuriant that they would be quickly overgrown and soon become impassable.
Lines of steamers have been subsidized by the Brazilian government and run up the Amazon 2000 miles to Tabatinga, at the boundary line of Peru; there connecting with lines subsidized by the Peruvian government, which run 1500 miles farther up the river. These vessels carry supplies to the settlers and bring back India rubber, Brazil-nuts, cacao, quinine, and the beautiful woods of the forest.
Yet steamers are rarely seen on the Amazon ;: they have few passengers, and have not opened the country ; we are told that the Mississippi carries more vessels in a month, and the Yang-tsekiang in a day, than the Amazon in a year.
THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC. The history of South American republics is illustrated in the Argentine republic.
It is a vast pampas or prairie, extending from Brazil to the Andes, and from Bolivia with a southeasterly trend 2000 miles to southeastern Terra del Fuego.
The climate of the northern portion is tropical ; of the central part, semi-tropical; of the extreme south, temperate or cold. The country is generally well watered excepting in the northwestern part, where the land is dry and alkaline, like the arid regions of North America. The soil is a rich, deep loam, from four to six feet in depth, excepting in Patagonia and the western pampas, where there is a coarse gravel and detritus from the Andes. Instead of the dense tropical forest of the Amazon valley, the pampas are covered by a coarse grass, three or four feet high, growing in large tussocks and all the year round of a dark green. The strong grass crowds out all trees and almost all plants, so that scarcely a flower relieves the uniform, everlasting verdure.
Instead of the arboreal animals of the Amazon there is the rhea or American ostrich, “ship of the wilderness,” adapted to the pampas, but unable to live in the forests. The gauchos have hunted it for the last three centuries, but it is now passing away and will soon be lost to the pampas, as the buffalo has been to the North American prairie.
The pampas are far better adapted to the raising of cattle than our prairies, for the grass is always green and the winters are milder. Cattle, horses, and sheep imported by the Spaniards and turned on to the pampas rapidly increased, and now immense herds feed on the plains.
The Indians who inhabit the pampas, instead of being contined to one locality and journeying only by canoe, like the Indians on the Amazon, wander over the length and breadth of the pampas, hunting the ostrich and cattle. The cattle are tended by gauchos, as the cow-boys are called, half-breeds as wild as the herds they tend. Constant warfare exists between the Indians and the gauchos, unless they unite to attack the settlers. After one of the Indian raids the government dug an immense ditch from a river to the Andes and drove the Indians to the farther side, and since then there have been fewer raids—and fewer Indians.
The land was held in large blocks of many thousand acres, worked by overseers and gauchos. The animals were killed by hundreds of thousands for their skins. This state of things is, however, gradually passing away, for during the last twenty years emigrants from the old world have settled in the country as farmers and planters.
The fourteen provinces which form the Argentine Republic have never been welded into one nation, and have seldom had a moment's peace. The gauchos have been a continual scourge, and the gaucho generals its rulers and harriers combined. Unfortunately, here, as in other Spanish states, one dictator has succeeded another. Thirty presidents, or dictators, have reigned within fifty years. At one time tive provinces had each a separate dictator. The neighboring republic of Uruguay, formerly a part of the Argentine Confederation, had 26 revolutions in the twenty-three years from 1864 to 1887.
For some time Buenos Ayres and its dictator ruled the republic; then the country provinces rebelled, and civil war ensued ; one province was arrayed against another, and all against Buenos Ayres. The provinces prevailed and the gaucho general, Rosas, occupied Buenos Ayres. Scarcely was this civil war ended when a war arose with the republics of Uruguay and Paraguay.
Inflation ; Bribery ; Subsidies; Insolvency.
Money was required to pay the army and the cost of civil and foreign wars. Every dictator had his friends for whom provision must be made. Large debts were created ; banks were chartered ; $200,000,000 of paper money were issued. There were several different circulating mediums; each province strove to outdo the others in the issue of a currency which quickly depreciated. Companies for different purposes were organized, and many were subsidized, directly or indirectly. We are told that in one case $1,500,000 was paid for a concession, and that “ Turkish officials, who have hitherto been the champion artists in backsheesh, leave off where Argentine blackmailers begin ; the price of a drainage scheme at Buenos Ayres would buy a whole cabinet of pashas at Galata."
Railroads were built running from Buenos Ayres in different directions, as each province demanded a railroad, with little regard to its population or business.
A road was commenced to cross the Andes and open communication between the Atlantic and Pacific over mountains which had never been crossed by a carriage of any kind.
The country was not settled so rapidly as the rulers desired. Inducements were therefore offered to immigrants
. The passage money from Europe and the expenses of the immigrant to his new home have been paid and land for settlement sold at low rates. It is estimated that over 1,000,000 foreigners have settled in the country during the last twelve years, and the proportionate increase of population in the same period has been twice as great as that of the United States. Grazing lands have been sold at nominal prices to immigrants, or leased for terms of years in lots of 6,000 acres at a rental of $100 a year. Bonds were issued not only by the government but by the provinces, by the municipalities and by the railroads, and all were readily taken in England and Germany. To enable the emigrants to pay for and to cultivate their land, the owner of real estate on depositing his title deeds with the hypothecary banks and having a valuation of his real estate, received cedulas, or bonds of the bank, for one-half its appraised value; these cedulas for large amounts were issued and sold in Europe ; and thus, as ever, more money was required, more bonds were issued. In 1889, a year of peace, the public debt was increased 120 per cent., and it is now said to be over one thousand four hundred millions of dollars, and the principal and interest of two-thirds of this amount is payable in gold at a premium of 200 per cent.