The New International Encyclopædia/America

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

AMER'ICA (named after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian navigator). America, or the New World, is one of the great land divisions of the earth. It has a meridional extent of about 9000 miles, stretching from 72° N. lat. (Boothia Felix) to 56° S. lat. (Cape Horn), without including the Arctic islands. Its extreme northern part extends far within the Arctic Circle, while on the south it stretches to the border of the Antarctic Ocean. Excluding its islands, it lies between the meridians of 34° and 168° west of Greenwich, and has a maximum breadth of about 3300 miles. The entire area is estimated to be 16,000,000 square miles.

General Features. The New World differs from the Old in size, having about half its area. It differs also greatly in outline, in location on the earth's surface, and in the character of its coasts and its relief. The Old World has, very roughly, a triangular form; while the New World consists of two triangles connected with each other. While both grand divisions lie mainly north of the equator, a greater proportion of the Old World is in the northern hemisphere. The coasts of the Old World, taken as a whole, are much more broken than the American coasts. The principal relief feature of the Old World is a great stretch of elevated land crossing most of Europe and Asia in an east and west direction, while the backbone of America traverses its length in a direction nearly north and south, near its western coast.

America is hounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the south by the Antarctic, on the east by the Atlantic, and on the west by the Pacific. While stretching from one polar ocean to the other, it separates the Atlantic and Pacific throughout their whole length. In the extreme northwest it almost touches Asia, from which it is separated by Bering Strait. Very narrow passages separate it from the extensive islands that constitute the Arctic Archipelago of the Western Hemisphere.

Physical Divisions. America is divided into two continents. North and South America, separated in part by the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, and connected by the narrow Isthmus of Panama, 30 miles in width.

North America has an area of about 8,300.000 square miles, and South America of 7,700,000. The mean altitude above sea level of both continents is not far from 2000 feet.

These two great continents are much alike in some respects, while differing in others. They are both triangular in shape, with the base of the triangle at the north and the opposite apex at the south. Each has its greatest length along meridians, and greatest breadth along parallels of latitude; each has a great mountain system running the whole length of the western side and parallel to it, and a shorter secondary and more disconnected mountain system in the eastern part, also parallel to the coast, the two mountain systems in each case converging toward the lower apex of the continent. In both cases the eastern ranges are the oldest geologically.

While the two American continents thus present certain similarities of configuration, they are very differently placed on the sphere, and thus their climatic differences are marked, and the conditions dependent on climatic influences likewise differ. The broad part of North America lies mainly within the north temperate zone, and only its apex extends into the tropical zone; thus causing a great portion of the continent to be dominated by comparatively low temperature conditions. In South America, on the contrary, the broad part lies within the tropics, and a comparatively small portion of it extends into the temperate zone.

NIE 1905 America - North - physical map.jpg
Lowlands, below 1,000 Feet elevation, are shown in Green. Highlands, above 1,000 Feet elevation, are shown in Buff.

NIE 1905 America - South - physical map.jpg
Lowlands, below 1,000 Feet elevation, are shown in Green. Highlands, above 1,000 Feet elevation, are shown in Buff.

Coasts. With regard to the nature of their coast-lines, North and South America present an extraordinary contrast. North America, in its extreme irregular coast-line and its great peninsulas, is the counterpart of the Eurasiatic continent in the Old World, while South America, with its almost unbroken coast, is the counterpart of Africa. In North America we have the peninsulas of Alaska, Labrador, Nova Scotia, Florida, Yucatan, and Lower California. South America presents but one great peninsula, that of Patagonia. The Atlantic coast of America is far more irregular and broken than that of the Pacific. On the north of North America, Hudson Bay projects far into the interior of Canada, forming a vast inland sea. Farther south, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Bay of Fundy form deep indentations. On the Atlantic coast of the United States are several large bays and harbors, Massachusetts Bay, Long Island Sound, Delaware and Chesapeake bays, and Albemarle and Pamlico sounds being among them. The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea have many arms, extending into the land, among them the gulfs of Campeachy, Honduras, and Colon.

The Atlantic coast of South America is simpler, the chief indentations being, on the north the gulfs of Darien and Venezuela, on the northeast the estuary of the Amazon, and on the east the harbors of Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, the estuary of the Rio de la Plata, and the gulfs of Blanca, San Matias, and San Jorge, on the Argentine coast.

The west coasts of both continents are in the main extremely simple. Between latitudes 42° S. and 48° N. there are few harbors. In South America, the Gulf of Guayaquil is almost the only indentation of magnitude. South of latitude 42°, S., however, the character of the coast changes to a fiord coast, with many deep, narrow passages and hundreds of islands. Where the two continents meet, the bend of the Pacific coast forms the deep bay of Panama. The west coast of North America south of the parallel of 48° N. is broken deeply only by the Gulf of California and San Francisco Bay, but near the northwest corner of the United States a fiord coast commences with Puget Sound, and extends thence along British Columbia and Alaska to the Aleutian Islands. The Bering Sea coast of Alaska is low, and broken by many indentations, and similar conditions prevail on the Arctic coast.

Topography. The prominent relief feature of both continents consists in a great system of elevation, stretching along or near the western coast, from Cape Horn in South America to the extreme end of the Alaska peninsula in North America. This is known in South America as the Andean Cordillera, and in North America as the Cordillera. It differs greatly in its different parts, in breadth, height, complexity, and character. In North America the Cordillera are succeeded on the east by a broad valley; east of this valley, and separating it in the south from the Atlantic, is the shorter, smaller, and lower Appalachian system. In South America the succession is somewhat similar. East of the Andes is a broad slope or depression, which in Argentina continues to the Atlantic; but in eastern Brazil and the Guianas the continuity of the eastward slope is broken by numerous short and comparatively low ranges, corresponding roughly with the Appalachians of the northern continent.

North America. In North America the Cordillera develops its greatest breadth and complexity in the main body of the United States. Here it includes a broad plateau 1000 miles in width, with an elevation of from 5000 to 10,000 feet, on which stand a succession of mountain ranges trending nearly north and south, the highest of which rise to altitudes of from 14,000 to 15,000 feet. The highest of these ranges are in Colorado and California. In the former State are the Front Range, with Long's Peak, 14,271 feet; Gray's Peak, 14,341 feet; Pike's Peak, 14,108 feet; the Sangre de Cristo Range, with Blanca Peak, 14,300 feet; the Park Range, with Mount Lincoln, 14,297 feet; the Sawatch Range, with the Mountain of the Holy Cross, 14,006 feet, Elbert Peak, 14,421 feet, and Mount Harvard, 14,375 feet; and the San Juan Mountains, with Uncompahgre Peak, 14,289 feet, and Mount Wilson, 14,280 feet.

The principal range of California is the Sierra Nevada, with Mount Corcoran, 14,093 feet; Fisherman Peak, 14,448 feet; Mount Whitney, 14,898 feet; and Mount Shasta, an extinct volcano, 14,380 feet. The Cascade Range of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia is a continuation of the Sierra Nevada in direction, though not in structure, as it is in the main the product of volcanic action, and contains many extinct volcanoes, the highest of these being Mount Rainier, 14,526 feet. Northward in British Columbia the system is not as high nor as broad, but following the coast around through Alaska, it rises in semi-detached groups and ranges, some of which are of great height, culminating in Mount McKinley, north of the head of Cook Inlet, 20,404 feet in height, the highest summit in North America. Another high peak, on the boundary between Alaska and British America, is Mount St. Elias, 18,100 feet above the sea. This was long supposed to be the highest point in North America.

The area of Mexico, with the exception of the State of Yucatan, lies almost entirely within the Cordilleran mountain system. The plateau extends southward into it from the United States, with an elevation ranging from 4000 to 7000 feet. Upon this undulating table-land, which is known as the plateau of Anahuac, are many mountain ranges and many active or dormant volcanoes, the latter being the highest peaks of the country. Among them are Popocatepetl, 17,520 feet; Orizaba, 18,250 feet; Iztaccihuatl, 10,900 feet; Nevada de Toluca, 14,950 feet; and Malinche, 13,460 feet. In the countries of Central America the Cordillera is represented by detached ranges of hills, with numerous volcanic peaks, some of which are active, others extinct.

The depression lying east of the Cordillera stretches in the north to the Atlantic or to Hudson Bay, and in southern Canada and the United States to the Appalachian or Eastern Mountains, with a breadth of 25° of longitude. Over this great area the surface presents no serious variations of level. The only elevations of importance are the Ozark Hills in Arkansas, Southern Missouri, and Indian Territory, with a maximum altitude little over 3000 feet.

The Appalachian Mountains, in a broad sense, extend from the Gaspé Peninsula in southeastern Canada, southwestward through the eastern United States to northern Alabama and Georgia, in a fairly continuous system. They form a narrow plateau, 70 to 200 miles in width and 1500 to 3000 feet in height, which is bordered on the east by the Blue Ridge and on the west by the Alleghany Mountains. In the northern section the line of elevations includes the Green and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire and the Adirondacks of New York, all of which differ more or less in their geological structure from the central and southern portions of the system. The highest summits are Mount Washington in New Hampshire, 6294 feet, and Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, 6707 feet. East of this mountain system the land slopes gently to the Atlantic coast, and is known as the Piedmont Region and the Atlantic Plain. See Rocky Mountains; Appalachians, etc.

South America. The Cordillera of the Andes follows the western coast of South America in a continuous mountain system from Cape Horn to the Isthmus of Panama, leaving a narrow strip of lowland between its base and the coast nowhere much more than a hundred miles in breadth. In the south the system is narrow and simple, consisting in great part of a single range, which has no great height. Northward it increases in altitude and becomes more complex, reaching a culminating point in the great peak of Aconcagua, in lat. 32° S., which reaches the height of 23,080 feet, the loftiest summit in South America. Still farther north the peaks are not as high, but the system broadens and becomes more complicated by the appearance of ranges in Argentina, east of the Andes proper. In lat. 18° S. the system curves to the northwest, following the coast; here it has a breadth of fully 300 miles, with two, and, in places, three main ranges, and encloses an elevated plateau, on which is situated Lake Titicaca, 12,645 feet high. Near this lake, in the Cordillera Real, are many high peaks, among them Ancohuma, 21,490 feet; Cacaca, 20,250 feet; and Illimani, 21,192 feet.

Still following the coast, the system turns north again at the Gulf of Guayaquil, maintaining the form of a broad, elevated plateau, bordered by lofty ranges, with many volcanic peaks. In the neighborhood of the equator, in Ecuador, are many notable peaks, among them Tunguragua, 16,690 feet; Cotopaxi, 19,613 feet; Chimborazo, 20,498 feet; Antisana, 19,335 feet; Cayambe, 19,186 feet; and Piohincha, 15,918 feet. From this knot of lofty volcanoes the system falls off in altitude northward toward the Isthmus of Panama and the shores of the Caribbean Sea, splitting into three ranges, which trend away from one another to the north and northeast.

East of the Andes the level of the land descends rapidly to the llanos of the Orinoco, the valley of the Amazon, and the pampas of Argentina. This great area, comprising by far the greater part of South America, is but slightly diversified by hills, forming mainly an immense plain. In eastern Brazil is a mountain system standing on a broad plateau, and composed of many ranges, trending in general parallel to the coast, and having collectively a great breadth. The highest point in this system is Itatiaia, with an altitude of 10,340 feet. A similar but smaller plateau occupies much of the area of the Guianas. See Andes, etc.

The islands pertaining to this grand division belong mainly to North America. In the Arctic Ocean these land bodies are numerous and large, Greenland, almost continental in area, being the largest of them. West of Greenland, across Smith Sound, is the great extent of Grinnell Land, and south of this island are North Devon, Cockburn Land, and Baffin Land, with many other large islands to the west, including Bathurst, Melville, Prince of Wales, and North Somerset islands, and Prince Albert and Banks Land, the whole forming an extensive archipelago in the Arctic Sea. In Bering Sea, on the northwest of the continent, are many smaller islands, while the chain of the Aleutian Islands, stretching in a great curve, convex southward, from the point of the Alaskan Peninsula, partly separates Bering Sea from the Pacific. On the east side of the continent, the great island of Newfoundland partially closes the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Mainly within the tropics, and lying between the northern coast of South America and the southeast coast of the United States, are the West Indies, with Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and Porto Rico, known collectively as the Greater Antilles, and many smaller islands grouped about and stretching away from them. They are the unsubmerged portions of a mountain system. On the north side are the Bahamas, consisting of a large number of small coral islands, and on the southeast, stretching in a broad curve, convex to the east, to the south American coast, are the Lesser Antilles, all small, and many of them of volcanic origin. The best known among them are Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Trinidad. South America has few islands, the Falkland Isles, east of the Strait of Magellan, being the largest, if we except Tierra del Fuego, at the south end of the continent. Off the west coast, and under the equator, are the Galapagos Islands, once prominent as a source of guano.

Hydrography. North America. — While most of North America is drained into the Atlantic, yet great areas are drained into the Pacific and Arctic oceans. The Rocky Mountains, i.e., the easternmost ranges of the Cordillera, carry the continental divide, and most of the ranges and valleys of this system are drained westward to the Pacific by the Colorado River of the west, through its marvelous cañons to the head of the Gulf of California, by the Sacramento to San Francisco Bay, and by the Columbia, the Fraser, Copper, and other rivers. The northern and northeastern slopes of the system, as well as most of Alaska and much of the Yukon province of Canada, are drained by the great river Yukon to Bering Sea. The northern part of the great central depression of the continent sends its waters to the Arctic Ocean by way of Mackenzie River. Farther south the land is drained to Hudson Bay by the Nelson and other rivers, and to the Atlantic directly by the chain of the great lakes, Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, and the River St. Lawrence. The waters of the southern part of this depression are collected by one of the greatest rivers of the earth, the Mississippi, with its branches, the Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas and Red rivers, and are carried to the Gulf of Mexico. The coast-land of the Gulf of Mexico itself is drained by a number of rivers on either side of the Mississippi. The Atlantic slope of the Appalachian mountain system is drained to the Atlantic by many comparatively small rivers.

Besides the great lakes of the St. Lawrence system. North America contains many large bodies of water. In Canada are Great Bear and Great Slave and Athabaska lakes in the Mackenzie River system: lakes Reindeer, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Lake of the Woods, which are drained to Hudson Bay, and Lake Nepigon, tributary to the St. Lawrence system. In the northern United States are thousands of small lakes, which, in common with those of Canada, were formed by the Laurentian glacier. In the Cordilleran region are many lakes, some of glacial origin, like Pend Oreille and Flathead, others of volcanic origin, like Yellowstone Lake, while many occupy desert valleys and have no outlet, like Great Salt, Carson, and Walker lakes. See Yukon River; Mississippi, etc.

South America.—South America is for the most part drained into the Atlantic Ocean, the Andes forming a great and continuous watershed; and while three great river systems carry most of the waters to the sea, yet a number of secondary but by no means small rivers aid them in this work. In the extreme northwest of South America, the Magdalena drains the region in which the Andes separate into diverging ranges before their subsidence. The area of its basin is not great, but the enormous rainfall sends great volumes of water through this river channel into the Caribbean Sea. The entire length of the Magdalena, independent of its windings, is not over 700 miles. The great valley at the extreme north of South America, lying between the Andes on the west and the plateau of Guiana on the east, is drained by the Orinoco, which, although not more than 1200 or 1400 miles long, not counting the windings, carries an immense volume of water into the Atlantic, because it, too, lies almost wholly within the belt of excessive rains. Between the Orinoco and the Amazon there are a number of short rivers draining the plateau of Guiana, and heading chiefly in the watershed between this section and the valley of the Amazon on the south. Next in order, proceeding southward on the Atlantic coast, is the mighty Amazon itself, whose system drains the great valley included between the plateau of Brazil on the southeast, the plateau of Guiana on the north, the Andes on the west, and the highlands of the Cordillera Geral and Matto Grosso on the south, thus embracing about one-third of South America. The Amazon pours a vastly greater quantity of water into the ocean than any other river on the globe. The plateau of Brazil is drained chiefly by the Tocantins, which flows to the north and empties into the Pará estuary; a number of smaller streams which flow northeast and enter the Atlantic between the mouth of the Pará and Cape St. Roque; the São Francisco, which has a generally northeastern direction, and a few smaller streams which drain the short eastern slopes along the whole extent of coast between the mouth of the São Francisco, lat. 10° S., and the estuary of the Plata, lat. 35° S. The Plata, which receives the waters of the Paraná, Paraguay, and Uruguay, drains the whole of the south central part of South America, from the Amazon watershed in lat. 15° S. to lat. 35° S., and embraced between the coast sierra on the east and the Andes on the west. This great river system has been compared with the Mississippi River system, with which it has certain features in common. South of the Plata are a number of rivers, including the Colorado, Negro, and Chubut. On the Pacific coast the drainage is effected by short, torrential streams scarcely worthy the name of river. See Amazon; Orinoco, etc.

Geology. The geological history of North America, considered in a broad way, is not complex. The oldest part of the continent, the first to be elevated above the sea, is the northeastern section, including the Adirondacks of New York and the Laurentian Highlands of Canada, and a region about the Great Lakes, together with a southward projection just east of the Blue Ridge in the Southern States. This is the Archæan area. From this, as a nucleus, the continent grew westward, as is indicated by the surface formations, which become successively more recent. The eastern portions of the Appalachians are in great part composed of Silurian beds. The plateau forming the western part of the system is Carboniferous, which formation also underlies much of the Mississippi Valley. The great plains which form the eastward slope of the Cordilleran plateau are floored, in westward succession, by Triassic, Cretaceous, and Tertiary beds.

The mountains of the Cordilleran system are mainly of recent formation, and show strata of all ages, as they have been much disturbed by uplift, and the beds exposed by subsequent erosion. Upon the mountains granitic rocks largely predominate, as the stratified beds which formerly covered them have been eroded away, while in very many cases these stratified beds still remain on the flanks of the ranges, as hog-back ridges. The valleys are often partially filled with detritus from the mountains. In this region many great areas have been covered by outflows of lava, some of them in very recent times. The regions bordering the coasts of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico are floored with Cretaceous and Tertiary deposits, indicating their comparatively recent uplift. There are no active volcanoes in the United States proper or in Canada. Within historical times eruptions have been reported on the coast of Alaska, and several peaks on that coast are still smoking. In Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies there are many active volcanoes. See Geology under United States; Canada, etc.

South America.—The eastern highlands are of Archæan and Paleozoic formations, with a superimposed layer of sandstone. No subsequent submergence has occurred, and no folding has taken place since Paleozoic times, so that no recent marine deposits have been made, and the deep valleys are due to erosion rather than to irregular faulting, the rock layers lying horizontally. These eastern highlands are but the remains of a great mountain system which has been worn away to the existing condition in the filling up of the plains below, to which they have contributed their material. The western highlands (see Andes), while of more recent origin than the eastern, are made up of ranges differing in geologic age. Most of the great peaks of the Andes are of volcanic origin, and many of them are still active, or have been eruptive in recent and historic times. The lowlands east of the Andes are, so far as known, floored with Tertiary deposits, with broad bands of alluvium bordering the larger streams. See Geology under Brazil; Argentina, etc.

Glaciation. In recent geologic times nearly all of Canada and much of the United States was covered by a great sheet of ice, the Laurentian glacier. In the United States it covered New England and New York, extended southward to the Ohio River, and westward to the Missouri. Throughout this area the surface has been modified by erosion and deposition by ice. Stream courses have been changed, countless lake basins have been formed, and the surface covered with drumlins, kames, and other morainal deposits. In the northern part of the Cordillera, evidences of former glaciation are everywhere abundant, and in the higher ranges many glaciers still exist. Indeed, in the mountains on the Alaska coast, where the precipitation is profuse, there are many glaciers of great magnitude, some of which reach the sea. The Muir Glacier covers fully a thousand square miles, and there are others of equal size. Even these great glaciers, however, are but the much reduced relics of far larger ones, which covered the coast and eroded the fiords which intersect it.

In South America the glacial history, so far as known, is confined to the Andes. Most of the higher peaks, even those under the equator, have glaciers upon their upper slopes, while in the southern portion of the system glaciers are extremely abundant, and the configuration of the land shows that in past time they covered it, lying in every gorge and fiord, which are evidently products of ice erosion.

Climate. Stretching from the south temperate zone through the tropics to the north polar zone, America has many climates, dependent upon latitude, prevailing winds, and the distribution of the relief features. The main body of North America is principally within the region of the anti-trades or prevailing westerlies. These winds give to the western coast of the United States and Canada, and to southeastern Alaska, an insular climate, with great uniformity of temperature and a heavy rainfall. Their influence extends inland but a short distance, owing to the mountain ranges which border this coast, and the rest of the United States and Canada have a continental climate with much greater extremes of temperature; the Cordilleran region, which is dependent upon the Pacific as its source of precipitation, has an arid climate; but in the east, where the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic serve as sources of supply, the rainfall is ample.

Central America is within the region of the trade winds, and has measurably an insular climate, owing to the narrowness of the land. That portion of South America which lies in the tropics, over which the trade winds blow continuously from the east, has a warm, moist climate and a heavy rainfall. This region is limited on the west by the Andes, over whose wall none of the moisture from the Atlantic can pass. Hence, most of the Pacific coast of South America within the tropics is a desert. In Chile and Argentina the conditions prevailing in North America are duplicated. Here in the south temperate zone the prevailing westerly winds bring to the western coast the mild, saturated atmosphere of the Pacific. The temperature is uniform throughout the year and the rainfall heavy; while east of the Andes the westerly winds, deprived of their moisture in crossing the mountains, blow dry over the land, and the semi-desert pampas are the result.

North America.—The mean annual temperature ranges from 80° F. in Central America down to 5° on the Arctic coast, and except on the Pacific coast the temperature decreases quite regularly with the latitude. On the Pacific coast the reduction in temperature with increase in latitude is much less rapid. At San Diego, on the southern boundary of the United States, the mean annual temperature is about 70°, while the Alaska coast, even as far north as Prince William Sound, has a temperature only 30° lower, and 20° higher than in the same latitude on the Labrador coast. This measures the effect of the ocean in ameliorating the mean annual temperature.

In midwinter (January) the temperature ranges from 80° in the south to -25° on the Arctic coast. Here again the reduction with increasing latitude is much less on the Pacific coast than in the interior or on the Atlantic coast. The coast of southern Alaska is 30° warmer than that of Labrador in approximately the same latitude. The midsummer (July) temperature is highest on the arid plateau of northern Mexico and in southern Arizona, where it reaches 95°. Thence it diminishes in all directions, sharply to the west as the Pacific coast is neared, and much more gradually northward and eastward. The range of summer temperature between San Diego and the Aleutian Islands is but 20°, from 70° to 50°, while in the eastern part of the continent its range is from 80° to 40°, and in the Cordilleran region from 95° to 40°. In this latter region extreme heat as well as extreme cold is frequently encountered; in southern Arizona temperatures of 120° have been recorded, and 100° as far north as latitude 60°. On the Pacific coast the range of temperature between midsummer and midwinter (July and January) seldom exceeds 20°, while upon the Atlantic coast the corresponding range is nearly twice as great, and in the Cordilleran region it is in many places three times as great.

The distribution of rainfall over North America depends upon the configuration and relief of the land and on the direction of the winds. In the region of the trade winds the rainfall is very heavy, 200 inches at Panama, and diminishing northward. In the region of the anti-trades, the Pacific coast receives nearly all the moisture brought by these winds from the Pacific, and here the amount and distribution of the rainfall are radically affected by the relative temperatures of land and sea. Where and when the land is colder than the sea, moisture is condensed from the air currents and falls in rain; the rainfall is therefore heavy on the northern part of this coast and light on the southern part, and is heavy in winter and light or entirely absent in summer.

At San Diego the rainfall, even in winter, is very light, while at Puget Sound it has increased to from 75 to 100 inches, and has an average along the Alaska Pacific coast of about 90 inches annually, most of which falls in winter. Air currents from the Pacific, deprived of most of their moisture in passing over the mountain ranges near the Pacific coast, flow over the Cordilleran region during most of the year as dry winds. In the summer, however, they retain a little moisture, which they give up to the high ranges of the interior. Hence, this region, which is upon the whole desert, or semi-desert, receives most of its scanty supply of rain, 20 inches or less, in the summer time.

Moving eastward, this general air movement from west to east, which commonly takes the form of great cyclones or anti-cyclones, draws air currents from all directions. These, coming off the Gulf of Mexico, are saturated with moisture, and cooling as they go northward, give rain to the land. Thus the great depression of the continent is watered in the main from the Gulf of Mexico, the rainfall ranging from 60 inches on the coast to 30 inches in the region of the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay. These cyclonic disturbances, as they approach the Atlantic, draw saturated air currents in from that ocean, and from that source of moisture the Atlantic coast is watered, the amount of rainfall ranging from 50 to 40 inches.

South America.—The southern continent has no such range of temperature as North America, since it lies on both sides of the equator. The annual temperature ranges from 80° to 40°, the highest temperature being in the northern part. The midwinter (July) temperature ranges from about 80° in the north to 35° in the south, and the midsummer temperature from 85° to 50°, the highest being in the interior, in northern Argentina. On the southern part of the west coast of South America, where the prevailing winds are from the west, the temperature is moderated by them as on the western coast of North America, making the winter temperature higher and the summer temperature lower. The greatest range between summer and winter is found in northern Argentina, a region corresponding in situation to the Cordilleran region in North America. Here the range between the hottest and coldest months is from 25° to 30°.

The great Amazon basin, lying within the tropics, is abundantly watered by the trade winds which come to it saturated from the Atlantic. The rainfall over this great area is estimated at from 50 to 75 inches, and in some parts is 150 to 200 inches. This heavy rainfall extends to the foot of the Andes, and even up its abrupt eastern slopes. The air currents, thus deprived of their moisture, descend the western slope as dry winds, and the narrow western base of the range receives little moisture. Farther south, in southern Chile and Argentina, the conditions are reversed. The westerly winds bring rain to the narrow strip of land on the west coast, which receives as much as 80 inches in certain localities, and the pampas on the east receive very little, on account of the intercepting mountains.

Flora. North America. — The flora of North America is varied, ranging from those plants peculiar to Arctic regions to those of the tropics. In the extreme northern part of Canada and Alaska, where the ground is constantly frozen, thawing only on the surface in the summer, and forming the well known tundra, the prevailing plant life consists of reindeer moss, with a few dwarf Arctic willows. But in the short, hot summers of this region even the tundra is gay with bright-colored blossoms. Near the Arctic Circle forests of spruce, with some birch and alders, appear, at first in scattering clumps, then more continuously. Thence southward as far as the North Saskatchewan River, in Canada, the land is forested with coniferous trees, spruce, pine, fir, and hemlock. This timbered area extends southward along the Pacific coast nearly to San Francisco Bay. In Washington, Oregon, and California exist probably the heaviest forests in the world, consisting entirely of coniferæ, great firs, sugar pines, redwoods, and the giant sequoia, the largest and the oldest living thing.

Eastern Canada and the United States are forested, the western limit including most of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana, southern Missouri, the eastern part of Indian Territory, and northeastern Texas. In the central United States, the prevalent species change to hard woods, while in the Southern States yellow pine becomes the dominant species. West of this forested region in the United States and Canada is the prairie region, once grassed, and with groves of timber, now highly cultivated, which passes by insensible degrees into the treeless plains which form the eastern slope of the Cordilleran plateau.

In the Cordilleran region forests are, as a rule, found only on the mountains, and consist mainly of coniferæ. The valley vegetation depends upon the degree of aridity; here may be found grass, artemisia, cacti, yucca, and other thorny desert shrubs, which in some localities grow so densely as to form what is called chaparral. The northern plateau region of Mexico is without forests, except upon the higher ranges, while the southern and lower part of the country, with Central America, has a tropical profusion of fruit and vegetation. See Flora under Rocky Mountains; Canada; United States; Mexico; Nicaragua, etc.

South America.—The flora of South America ranges from that of the tropical to that of the temperate zone, and is controlled not only by latitude, but by altitude and rainfall. At the extreme north in Colombia, on the waters of the Magdalena, the hot climate and excessive rainfall produce a luxuriant vegetation which changes from its tropical character only with great change of altitude above the sea, palms, bamboos, and tree ferns forming much of the lower forests, and coniferæ higher on the mountains. To the east of this region are the llanos of the Orinoco, with their tall grasses and isolated trees. To the south of these, east of the Andes, are the great selvas of the Amazon, with their rich forests and mixed flora. Directly south of these occur the great forests of the Matto Grosso, to the east of which lie the Catinga woodlands and the Brazilian campos, with their thickets interspersed with open glades. To the west of the Matto Grosso lies the great mountain of southwestern Brazil and Bolivia. To the south of the Matto Grosso lies the Gran Chaco, with its wax palms and other rich forest growth. Still farther south begins the plains or pampas of the Plata, which, at first consisting of rich grasses, soon degenerate into the dry plains of southern Argentina, with their stunted and poor plant growth. The flora of the western strip of South America, which includes the Andean regions, is in general tropical or sub-tropical at low levels, and changes in altitudinal zones with increase of height above the sea level, but is much modified by the distribution of rainfall throughout the length of the continent, which permits of an abundant vegetable growth in the northern and southern portions, but greatly limits it in the intervening region of little rainfall. The potato is indigenous to South America. See Flora under Andes; Colombia; Ecuador; Peru; Bolivia; Chile; Amazon; Brazil, and Argentina.

Fauna. In considering this subject, it must be recognized first that we here have to deal with two continental faunæ, for the animal life of North America is almost completely different from that of South and Central America. This unlikeness seems related in large degree to history and derivation. The fauna of North America is very similar to that of the northern zones of the Old World, in large part identical with it. Among mammals substantially similar to those of Europe or northern Asia are all the bears, wolves, the lynx, most fur-bearers (Mustelidæ), the bison, reindeer, moose (“elk” of Europe), bighorn, white goat, beaver, and the majority of the rodents and small insectivores, bats, etc., where the differences are rarely more than generic. The peculiar North American mammals of note are the puma, the skunk, the pronghorn, the musk-ox, and certain rodents, as the pouched-rats and sewellel. The absentees are equally interesting. Although they arose in Tertiary North America, no horses, camels, or rhinoceroses are in its recent fauna; nor any true antelopes or swine (except in the extreme southwest); of Marsupials a single form, the opossum, is present. The birds present a similar parallelism with northern Europe and Asia, many species, and nearly all the families, being common to both continents. The same is true of reptiles and amphibians, which are marked in North America by the preponderance of certain subordinate forms, such as the rattlesnakes, rather than by anything very different from those of the Old World. Fishes present somewhat greater distinctions, yet the bulk of fresh-water fish are similar to, and some are identical with, those of the colder parts of Europe. Insects and fresh-water mollusks seem generally related to those of Europe and Asia; but the United States is richer than any other part of the world in fluviatile mollusks — especially river mussels (Unionidæ) . On the whole, the Nearctic fauna is closely allied to the Palæarctic, and by some students they are united in a single grand division, termed “Holarctic,” or “Triarctic.”

South America, considered with reference to its fauna, includes Central America, the lowlands of Mexico, and the West Indies, and forms one of the grand zoögeographical divisions, named “Neotropical” by Sclater. It is characterized by richness and isolation, leading to the belief that its union with North America has been accomplished at a comparatively recent date, and that the origin of its animal population is exceedingly remote and was followed by long isolation. It has eight families of mammals absolutely confined to it, including two families of monkeys, markedly different from those of the Old World (but no lemurs), the blood-sucking bats, and the greater part of the order of Edentates, and many peculiar rodents. The continent has no Mustelidæ nor Viverridæ; only one kind of bear; almost no insectivora; no horses or related animals, except one species of tapir; no ruminants, except the cameloid llamas (not known elsewhere), and only a few small ungulates of any sort. Birds display still greater isolation and singularity when compared with the avifauna of the Old World or of North America. Wallace gives 23 families and 600 genera as exclusively Neotropical, while that continent or its northerly extensions possess the greater part of many other important families, such as the humming-birds (some 400 species), tanagers, and macaws, to which must be added a long list of peculiar sea-fowl. Among reptiles there are less peculiar forms, the boas and scytales being most conspicuous among snakes; but there are several local families of lizards and many genera, the iguanids being widely developed, while the Varanidæ, Lacertidæ, and Agamidæ, so characteristic of the Old World, are entirely absent from America. The Amphibia present a similar case. Fishes of fresh waters are enormously abundant, and their resemblance, as a whole, is to the African piscifauna, while many are survivors of very ancient types, such as lepidosiren. Similar facts might be adduced to show the regional exclusiveness of the insects and other invertebrates. On the whole, South America is characterized by the possession of a very uniformly distributed fauna, far more local and distinct from any other region than that of any other continent, unless it be Australia, probably more than four-fifths of its species being restricted to its zoögeographical boundaries. See Distribution of Animals.


Discovery. Christopher Columbus, in 1492, added a new world to European commerce and civilization; but there can be little doubt that the Western Hemisphere to which Columbus opened the way had previously been visited by voyagers from the older world. There is nothing inherently impossible in the stories that Japanese or Chinese vessels, blown by storms or carried by the Pacific currents, reached the western coast of North America. The most circumstantial of these tales relates that some Chinese Buddhist priests in the fifth Christian century reached a land of Fu-sang, and successfully returned with the account of their adventures in what some critics have thought was the country now known as Mexico. From Europe the earliest visitors to America came by way of Iceland, and the story of their experiences, though it does not satisfy all the demands of modern historical criticism, may safely be deemed true in its principal details. In 876, Gunnbjörn, a sea rover, while on his way from Norway to the new Norse settlement in Iceland, was blown westward until he sighted an unknown land. A century later, about 985, a restless young Norwegian named Eric the Red succeeded in verifying the stories which had been handed down from Gunnbjörn's time, and in establishing a settlement on the shores of the land to which, with the idea of attracting colonists, he gave the name of Greenland. Two years or so after this, Bjarni Herjulfson, while in command of a ship in which he had set out to visit the Red Eric's settlement, encountered storms that drove him, as he reported, southward until he came in sight of land.

In the year 1000, Leif, Eric's son, started to explore Bjarni's land. He came first to a barren shore backed by ice-covered mountains, a description which suggests Labrador. Sailing south, he met with more pleasant regions, to which he gave the names of Markland and Vinland. Many attempts have been made to identify these localities, and Newfoundland and Nova Scotia perhaps best answer the essential conditions. At Vinland a flourishing settlement was established and maintained for several years, and there Gudrid, the wife of Thorfinn Karlsefne, gave birth, in 1007, to a son, Snorre, from whom the sculptor Thorwaldsen claimed descent. Many localities — Newport and Dighton, on Narragansett Bay; Cambridge and Waltham, on the Charles; Salem, indeed, well-nigh every town situated beside a pleasant river northward from Long Island — have laid claim to this Norse settlement, regarding the actual situation of which, however, nothing certain is known. During the succeeding five hundred years, many voyagers may have crossed the Atlantic, but none of them left any proof of their work, Madoc, son of Owen Gwynnedd, a prince of Wales, is said by Humfrey Lloyd, in a book printed in 1559, to have sailed westward and to have established a transatlantic Welsh colony in 1170. The Venetian brothers Zeno, between 1380 and 1390, probably made a voyage from the Shetland Islands to Iceland and Greenland, and in their letters home to their Italian brethren they seem to have given a picturesque account of what they had learned about the country lying still farther to the southwest. French, Breton, and Basque fishing vessels very likely visited the cod banks in the western Atlantic during the fifteenth century; but if they did, they were careful not to let the information of their valuable discovery reach their rivals.

Consecutive discovery and exploration began with the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492. (For a full account of his expeditions, see Columbus, Christopher.) In 1493 and 1494 Columbus established the main features of the islands in the West Indies. In his third voyage, 1498, he touched at Trinidad, and followed the mainland for some distance; and in 1502-04 he coasted from Yucatan to Venezuela. Meanwhile, in 1497, John Cabot sailed from England, and reached the neighborhood of the Gulf of St. Lawrence; but many years passed before the identity of the land which served as headquarters for the hosts of fishing boats which frequented the Banks with that of the New World of the Spaniards was definitely determined. It appears probable that almost simultaneously with Cabot's landing on the American continent, Pinzon (accompanied by Vespucius) discovered Central America. A succession of voyages now rapidly extended ideographical knowledge of the coast line of the Mexican Gulf and northeastern South America. In 1499 Ojeda and Vespucius coasted the northern shores of the southern continent, naming Venezuela, “the little Venice,” and uniting this coast with the territory visited by Columbus. Pinzon, early in 1500, reached Brazil, entered the mouth of the Amazon, and crossed the equator, reaching 8° 20' S. on the Brazil coast. Cabral, in 1500, too, was blown to the same coast while trying to follow the route of Vasco da Gama to the East Indies, and thus established the Portuguese claim to a part of America. Vespucius, transferring his services to Portugal, in 1501 followed the coast from Cabral's Land nearly to the mouth of the Plata. These were the official recorded voyages; but the extent and importance of the information secured by the surreptitious voyagers who were striving to gain a part of whatever the newfound lands had to offer is best shown by the fact that though Cuba was not officially circumnavigated until 1508, by Ocampo, nevertheless, it is represented as an island on La Cosa's map of 1500 and on the Cantino Portuguese map of 1502. As soon as it was realized that a vast land mass still barred the way to India and Japan, the problem of foremost importance became that of finding a water route through or around the western continent. The way was found in 1520 by Fernão Magalhães, commonly known as Magellan. Magalhães sailed so directly for the strait which now bears his name that it has been surmised that he already knew of its probable existence from the captains of merchant vessels who had explored the coast to the extreme south in their search for trading chances. From the western end of the strait, Magalhães laid his course to the East Indies. There, on one of the Philippine Islands, he was killed in April, 1521; but Juan Sebastian del Cano, in command of the Victoria, prosecuted the voyage successfully, and reached Seville in September, 1522, by way of the Cape of Good Hope, having circumnavigated the globe for the first time.

The exploration of the interior demanded attention as soon as the main features of the coast had been determined. In 1513 Vasco Nuñez de Balboa ascended one of the peaks in the range which forms the isthmus of Panama, and looked down upon a south sea, to which Magalhães, a few years later, gave the name of Pacific, because of his calm and pleasant passage. Cortes, in 1519, set out from Cuba to investigate the persistent gold rumors from the West, and landed at a port to which he piously gave the name of Vera Cruz. Two years later he had mastered the geography, as well as the people, of Central Mexico, and within the ensuing ten years his captains traversed a large part of the Central American region, reaching the Pacific by several routes. In 1527 Cortes built a fleet on the western coast, which he dispatched to the Moluccas under Alvaro de Saavedra, for the purpose of coöperating with an expedition commanded by Sebastian Cabot, who had, however, turned aside from his original purpose of sailing to the East Indies by way of the Strait of Magellan, and was spending three years in ascending nearly to the head waters of the Plata. In 1536 Cortes found Lower California, which was supposed to be an island until, in 1540, Alarcón proved its continuity with the mainland by his trip up the Rio Colorado of the West. Similarly, in 1512, Ponce de Leon discovered the “island” of Florida, which Pineda, in 1519, definitely connected with the continent by a voyage along the coast from Florida to Vera Cruz. Ponce de Leon was followed by Narvaez, Cabeza de Vaca, and Fernando de Soto, whose explorations, combined with that of Vasquez Coronado from Mexico to the Kansas-Nebraska prairies, had, by 1545, made known the principal features of central North America south of the Missouri and Ohio rivers.

Francisco Pizarro was the successful discoverer of the truth in the reports of a rich land southward from Panama, of which the settlers had heard from the time of their first visit to the isthmus. Between 1531 and 1534 Pizarro brought the Inca Empire of Peru within the limits of the known world, while his associate, Diego de Almagro, pushed on farther south into the plateau of northern Chile. Gonzalez Pizarro, in 1540-41, crossed the Andes and reached the head waters of the Amazon, which one of his companions, Francisco de Orellana, followed down to its mouth, reaching the sea in August, 1541. The reports of a large river in the northeastern part of the southern continent caused much confusion in the handiwork of European map-makers, and it was a long while before they succeeded in evolving two distinct river systems. It is often quite impossible to determine from the narratives of early explorers in the interior whether they are describing the Orinoco or the Amazon. The latter was known at first as the Marañon or the Orellana; but the name given by the tribe of female warriors supposed to live near it eventually became the accepted designation. The other great river system, that of the Plata, was first visited in 1515 by De Solis, whose name clung to it for several years, until after the explorations of Sebastian Cabot and Diego Garcia in 1527-30. The only remaining section of South America, from the Strait of Magellan northward to Chile, which had been explored to 40° south by Valdivia in 1540, is not known to have been visited until the latter part of the century, when Drake and his fellow freebooters undertook to tap the sources of Spanish wealth. Drake started off on a mission of vengeance for the injuries he had brought upon himself in the West Indies in the winter of 1577-78. Sailing through the Strait of Magellan, he followed up the west coast, plundering as he went, until he had filled his vessels with Spanish treasure. Learning that his enemies were watching to attack him when he should return through the strait, Drake decided to seek some other way home to England. He tried first for a northwest passage; but the season was not propitious, and after visiting the California coast and annexing it to the British crown under the name of New Albion, he turned westward and completed the first English circumnavigation in 1580.

John Cabot showed the way to the Newfoundland Banks, and it is probable that English, Breton, and Basque fishermen visited the neighboring coasts regularly from the very beginning of the sixteenth century. They added little, however, to the general geographical knowledge of the country. Gaspar de Cortereal visited the St. Lawrence region or the Labrador coast in 1500-01, and Jean Denys of Honfleur was on the Newfoundland coast in 1506. By chance a record of these voyages has been preserved. Many similar voyages must have been undertaken, but all traces of them are lost. In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano. sailing with a commission from the French king, followed the North American coast for a long distance, perhaps from Cape Fear as far as Cape Race. His narrative provides the earliest description of many of the characteristic features of the coast. At one point he saw open water beyond low-lying land, such as the narrow islands which protect the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, and he guessed that this might be the much-sought Southern Sea. In consequence, many of the maps of the ensuing years represent a vast gulf of the Pacific, entering from the west and occupying the larger part of the northern continent, being separated by a narrow isthmus from the Atlantic. In 1534 and 1535 Jacques Cartier entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence and sailed up the river as far as the present site of Montreal, where he heard of the Great Lakes —  another hopeful clue to the longed-for water passage to the east. During the second half of the century, attempts at settlement led to a more careful determination of the details of the north Atlantic coast. St. Augustine was founded in 1565. Raleigh's famous “lost colony” on the Carolina or “Virginia” coast was established in 1587, and the attempts to determine the fate of the settlers led to several voyages during the next two decades, by means of which the coast was more or less carefully examined from New Jersey southward. Farther north, the work of Gosnold in 1602, Pring in 1603, Champlain and Weymouth in 1605, and Hudson in 1609, marked out the courses which were followed year by year by a constantly increasing number of vessels.

Champlain settled Quebec in 1608, and began the systematic exploration of the interior by visiting the lake which preserves his name in 1609. In 1615 he penetrated to Lake Huron. Traders and missionaries year by year pushed their way farther up the river and along the lakes. Père Allouez, in 1665, founded a mission on the southern shores of Lake Superior, and in 1672, accompanied by P. Dablon, he made a tour through Wisconsin and Illinois. A year later Marquette and Joliet reached the Upper Mississippi. In 1679 La Salle began his career by a voyage from Niagara to the southern end of Lake Michigan. Hennepin, one of La Salle's companions, crossed to the Mississippi, which he followed up as far as Minneapolis in 1680. Two years later La Salle made a trip down the Ohio to the Mississippi, and on to the Gulf of Mexico, establishing the claim of France to the whole of the interior of the continent.

Henry Hudson, in 1610, entered the bay to which his name has been attached, and there he was left in an open boat by his mutinous sailors. Some years earlier, in 1502, Juan de la Fuca, in a Spanish vessel, probably entered the sound on the western coast which was more carefully explored and named by Captain Vancouver exactly two hundred years later, and carried home a report that he had seen a vast stretch of open water extending eastward. The attempts to find a way between these two bays, the search for the northwest passage, belongs to the article on Arctic discovery. The discovery of the interior of Canada was largely accomplished by the trappers and agents of the Hudson's Bay Company, which was organized in 1670; but it was not until 1740 that Varenne de la Verendrye made known the vast extent of the country lying east of the northern Rocky Mountains. In 1769-72 the fur trader Hearne traced the Coppermine River to the sea, and in 1793 Mr. (afterward Sir A.) Mackenzie, while crossing the continent for the first time north of Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, discovered the course of the river to which his name has been given.

The exploration of the western part of the United States did not begin until after the republic had acquired that region. As soon as the Louisiana purchase had been concluded, Jefferson dispatched Lewis and Clark to investigate the course of the Missouri and determine its relation to the Pacific, which they did by descending the Columbia to the sea, their journey occupying the years 1804-06. Pike, meanwhile, was traversing the country between the head waters of the Mississippi and Red rivers, and afterward, 1806, he followed the mountain ranges south, discovering the peak known by his name, and making important contributions to an understanding of the geography of the southwest.

Among the other explorers of the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century were Long, Bonneville, Schoolcraft, Catlin, Nicollet, and Frémont. Among their successors in the second half of the century were Wheeler, Whitney, Hayden, and Powell. The list of explorers of British America and Alaska in the nineteenth century embraces Sir John Franklin, Back, Richardson, Beechy, Dease, Simpson, and Rae, whose activity lay in the realm of Arctic exploration, and Bell, Selwyn, Dawson, Dall, Muir, Allen, Schwatka, Ogilvie, Russell, and Low. Of the many explorers of South America in modern times mention may be made of Humboldt, Maximilian of Wied, Spix, Martius, Auguste de Sainte-Hilaire. Orbigny, Pöppig, the brothers Schomburgk, Darwin, Avé-Lallemant, Tschudi, Castelnau, Burmeister, Herndon and Gibbon, Chandless, Crevaux, Bates, Karl von den Steinen, and Ehrenreich. Among the explorers of the Andes in recent times have been Reiss, Stübel, Whymper, Fitzgerald, and Conway.

NIE 1905 America - North - political map.jpg

NIE 1905 America - South - political map.jpg

Colonization. Before Columbus left the newly discovered West India Islands in January, 1493, he built a fort on Española, now Haiti. Here some forty of his sailors remained to form a settlement which should serve as headquarters for the further discoveries that Columbus expected to make as soon as he could return to the new world. These first Spanish colonists were killed by the Indians, but their places were taken by others, numbering between two and three hundred, who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage. During the early months of 1494 the town which they built, named in honor of the queen, Isabella, rapidly assumed the appearance of a flourishing city. During the next ten years a constant stream of settlers, many of them accompanied by their families, flowed from Spain into the new city. Many of these remained there to practice the trades necessary to town life, while others took farms near by or went on to assist in building up the newer towns which were being established at every good harbor and in the mining districts. These places became in a surprisingly short time practically self-supporting, and they were soon able to supply men and equipment for further exploration. Cortes drew from Cuba whatever he needed for his enterprise of 1519, a debt which Mexico repaid by furnishing the supplies for the large expedition which Vasquez Coronado led through the present Arizona and New Mexico to the great buffalo plains of the Mississippi Valley in 1540-41. Moreover, Almagro and Pizarro drew from Panama the means for their adventurous expeditions into Peru and Ecuador, and these countries furnished the supplies to send Valdivia southward into Chile (1540), and Orellana and Ursua (see the article Aguirre) to explore the trans-Andean regions. By 1550 the Spanish-American settlements were firmly established, with every prospect of developing into powerful and wealthy colonies. Unluckily, the home Government in Spain persisted in retaining all the administrative authority in the hands of officials appointed in Europe. As a result, the colonists were subjected to a succession of incompetent, corrupt governors, ignorant of American conditions, and desirous only of securing the greatest annual revenue for themselves and for the royal treasury. Deprived of all the incentives of public service, the Spanish-Americans suffered a steady decline in social and intellectual tone, very similar to that which was so noticeable in the northern English colonies between 1690 and 1750. Missionary zeal supplied almost the only active force for extending the colonial limits. The Jesuits built up a very remarkable domination over the natives along the upper Paraná and Paraguay, and north of Mexico the Franciscans, although driven out of New Mexico by the native “rebellion” of 1610, eventually succeeded in laying the foundations for permanent settlements in that region. During the eighteenth century there was a flourishing provincial life along the upper Rio Grande del Norte, the strength of which may be inferred from the fact that the first printing press west of the Mississippi, in what is now United States territory, was set up about 1737 in the town of San Fernando de Taos, New Mexico, which is still many miles from any railway. The Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits sent their friars into Upper California, and the mission buildings whose ruins are now so carefully cherished were begun during the second half of the eighteenth century. Soldiers and ranchers followed the priests, and by 1800 the Spanish settlements were scattered thickly along the Pacific coast and throughout the southwest.

Portugal began to colonize the eastern coast of South America in 1531, in order to maintain its claim to what is now Brazil against the Spanish, who were locating everywhere else on the new continent. A few settlements along the coast, however, were all that resulted until early in the eighteenth century, when the Portuguese tried to develop the country as a substitute for the East Indian possessions which the English and Dutch had taken from them. There was little European impress upon the country, however, before 1808, when the Portuguese court emigrated to Rio de Janeiro, which became for a while a pseudo-European capital. In 1821 King John VI. went back to Portugal, but he left his eldest son, Dom Pedro, as emperor. Extensive Brazilian estates were granted to his European retainers, and foreign capital began to be introduced. The country was developed for investment rather than colonization. There was no extensive taking up of the land by Europeans until the second half of the nineteenth century, when Italians, Germans, and Poles turned their attention to this region of South America.

The French colonization of North America began with De Monts' settlement on the Bay of Fundy in 1604. The English (see the article Argall) effectually stopped all efforts to extend these settlements along the Maine coast, and so Champlain undertook to open up the interior by way of the St. Lawrence River. Quebec was settled in 1608, and Montreal in 1642; but these towns grew rapidly as trading and shipping places rather than as centres for colonization. A few other towns were started along the lines of communication with the trapping and hunting regions around the great lakes, as headquarters for trade with the Indians. As the competition with England for the possession of the country south of the lakes became keen, military posts, of which Fort Duquesne is the best known, were established on the Ohio and the Mississippi, to emphasize and protect the French claims. Nowhere was there much actual possession of the soil. When, in 1763, England secured the whole of French North America east of the Mississippi, the greatest part of it was open for settlement by her own people.

The English, like the other European nations, began by establishing outposts, first for the fishermen on Newfoundland before 1570, and in 1585 on the Carolina coast for the purpose of extending the search for gold and treasures inland. Religious and political conditions, however, changed the character of the English emigration to America soon after 1600. In 1620 and 1630 the Pilgrims and Puritans established themselves along Massachusetts Bay, with the deliberate purpose of becoming permanent inhabitants of the country. A few years earlier, in 1607, a Church of England colony had been attempted at Sagadahoc, now Popham Beach, on the Maine coast; but it made no permanent impression on New England. The same year a settlement was started at Jamestown, in Virginia, a successor to Raleigh's “lost colony” of 1587; and after many vicissitudes this gradually acquired a permanent character. The English Roman Catholics had held themselves ready to emigrate if necessary throughout the reign of Elizabeth; but it was not until 1634 that they prepared a place for themselves in Lord Baltimore's grant of Maryland. The development of New England, beginning with the “great immigration” of 1630, was very rapid. In 1635 the “Bay Colony” was able to spare a large body of people, who, disagreeing with the majority in some minor matters of doctrine, preferred to live by themselves along the Connecticut River. A year later, others who differed from the Boston elders in opinions regarding more vital points of dogma formed the Providence Plantations as a refuge for those who desired religious liberty. The Southern colonies were settled move slowly, the formal organization of colonial governments (the Carolinas in 1663 and Georgia in 1733) being brought about partly by the necessity of counteracting the extension of the Spanish settlements north and west from St. Augustine (founded in 1565).

The Dutch promptly organized trading posts along the river explored by Hudson in 1609, and sent over a large body of colonists during the next ten years to hold the country. Rivalry with the English on the east, and with the Swedes, who settled on the Delaware in 1638, prepared the way for the absorption of the latter by the Dutch in 1655, and in turn for the occupation of the Dutch territory by the English in 1664.

French trappers and frontiersmen wandered up and down the Mississippi and along its western tributaries in steadily increasing numbers from the time of La Salle's voyage down the river in 1682. By 1803, the year of the Louisiana purchase, these men and their descendants were scattered widely over the western plains, drawing their supplies from the large village at St. Louis or the small town of New Orleans. There was no real occupation of the country, however, until the signs of the exhaustion of the farming lands in the east, combined with political considerations, led to an investigation of the opportunities for profitable existence beyond the Mississippi. Politics was largely responsible for the annexation, in 1845, of Texas, and the same force, acting in advance of economic or agricultural reasons, led to the organization of the emigrant aid societies in 1854 to hasten the settlement of Kansas and Nebraska. The discovery of gold in California in 1848, in Nevada a decade later, and in the Klondike in 1897, resulted in opening up those regions, and in the sudden extension of the limits of permanent occupation. For further information on America, see special articles under the political divisions of the continent.

I. Independent States of the American continent and islands:

 Sq. Miles.   Population. 

United States Proper 2,970,000  76,300,000
Alaska 591,000  60,000
Porto Rico 3,600  950,000
Hawaii 6,700  150,000

3,571,300  77,460,000
Mexico 767,000  13,550,000
Guatemala 48,000  1,570,000
Salvador 8,000  1,000,000
Nicaragua 49,000  500,000
Honduras 46,000  580,000
Costa Rica 21,500  300,000
Cuba 44,000  1,570,000
Haiti 10,000  1,500,000
Santo Domingo 18,000  500,000
Colombia 500,000  4,000,000
Venezuela 590,000  2,500,000
Brazil 3,200,000  14,300,000
Ecuador 118,000  1,270,000
Peru 700,000  4,600,000
Bolivia 700,000  2,000,000
Chile 290,000  2,700,000
Argentina 1,000,000  4,090,000
Uruguay 72,000  950,000
Paraguay 98,000  630,000

 Total for Independent States.   11,850,800   135,570,000

II. European dependencies:

 Sq. Miles.   Population. 

British Possessions:
  Ontario 219,000  2,160,000
  Quebec 344,000  1,620,000
  Nova Scotia 20,000  459,000
  New Brunswick 28,000  331,000
  Manitoba 73,000  254,000
  British Columbia 340,000  190,000
  Prince Edward Island 2,100  103,000
  The Territories 2,000,000  200,000

3,026,100  5,317,000
 Newfoundland 42,000  220,000
 Labrador 120,000  4,000
 Bermudas 20  16,000
 British Honduras 7,500  37,000
 Bahamas 5,400  53,000
 Barbadoes 160  195,000
 Jamaica and Caicos Islands 4,400  750,000
 Windward Islands:
  Grenada 130  60,000
  St. Vincent 130  44,000
  St. Lucia 230  50,000
 Leeward Islands:
  Antigua (with Barbuda and Redonda) 170  35,000
  Virgin Islands 270  40,000
  Dominica 290  29,000
  St. Christopher 60  29,000
  Nevis 50  13,000
  Anguilla 35  4,000
  Montserrat 30  12,000
 Trinidad 1,750  255,000
 Tobago 100  19,000
 British Guiana 95,000  295,000
 Falkland Islands 7,500  2,000

3,311,325  7,479,000
French Possessions:
  St. Pierre



\right\}\, }
90  6,000
 Guadeloupe 600  180,000
 Martinique 380  150,000
 Guiana 30,500  30,000

31,570  366,000
Danish Possessions:
 Greenland 500,000  10,000
 Santa Cruz 75  18,000
 St. Thomas 30  11,000
 St. John 20  900

500,125  39,900
Dutch Possessions:
 Curacao 200  51,000
 Guiana or Surinam 50,000  83,000

50,200  134,000
  Total Foreign Possessions 3,893,220  8,018,900
  Total for American Continent and Islands   15,744,020  143,588,900

Bibliography. General Features. Physical Divisions. — A comprehensive work is, Reclus, Nouvelle géographie universelle. Volumes XV.-XIX. (Paris, 1890-94), translated and edited by Keane and Ravenstein (London, 1890-95). The following monographs comprised in Stanford's Compendium of Modern Geography and Travel are comprehensive: Dawson, North America, Canada, and Newfoundland (London, 1897); Gannett, North America: The United States (London, 1898); Keane, Central and South America (London, 1901). Consult, also, in general: The National Geographic Magazine (Washington, 1888, et seq.); The American Geographical Society Journal and Bulletins (New York, 1852, et seq.); Humboldt, Examen critique de l'histoire de la géographie du Nouveau Continent, new edition (Paris, 1836-39); Perez, Geografía général del Nuevo Mundo (Bogotá, 1888); Sievers (editor), Amerika. Eine allgemeine Landeskunde (Leipzig, 1894); Dupont, Notions de géographie générale et geographie physique, ethnographique, politique et économique du continent américain (Paris, 1900); Hellwald, Amerika in Wort und Bild (Leipzig, 1883-85); Shaler, Nature and Man in America (New York, 1891); Russell, Volcanoes of North America (New York, 1897); id., Glaciers of North America (Boston, 1898); Wright, Ice Age in North America (New York, 1889); Powell, “Physiographic Regions of the United States,” National Geographic Monographs, Volume I. (New York, 1895); Shaler (editor), United States of America (New York, 1894); Comte d'Ursel, L'Amérique du Sud (second edition, Paris, 1879); Child, The Spanish-American Republics (New York, 1891); Thomas, Explorations dans l'Amérique du Sud (Paris, 1891); Vincent, Around and About South America (New York, 1890); Burmeister, “Die Südamerikanischen Republiken, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, und Uruguay,” in Petermann's Mitteilungen, Ergänzungsheft 39 (Gotha, 1875); Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896-99, edited by Scott (Princeton, 1901, et seq.).

Geography. United States Geological Survey Annual Reports (Washington, 1885-1901); United States Geological Survey Bulletins (Washington, 1884, et seq.); United States Geological Survey Monographs (Washington, 1890, et seq.); Suess, Das Antlitz dcr Erde (Prague, 1883-88); Canada Geological and Natural History Survey Reports (Montreal, 1885, et seq.); Felix and Lenk, Beiträge zur Geologie und Paläontologie der Republik Mexico (Leipzig, 1890); Boletin del Instituto Geológico de Mexico, Nos. 1 to 14 (Mexico, 1895-1900); Darwin, Natural History and Geology of the Voyage of the “Beagle” (London, 1809); Darwin, Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands of South America (London, 1892); Steinmann, “Sketch of Geology of South America,” in American Naturalist, XXV. (Salem, Boston, Philadelphia, 1891); Hartt, Geology and Physical Geography of Brazil (Boston, 1870).

Hydrography. Reports of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Washington); United States Hydrographic Office Publications (Washington, 1867-1900); Newell, “Report of Progress for 1893-95, United States Division of Hydrography,” Geographical Survey Bulletins 131, 140 (Washington, 1893-95); Russell, Lakes of North America (Boston, 1895); Russell, Rivers of North America (Boston, 1898); Ray, “Navigation of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea,” United States Hydrographic Office, No. 86 (Washington, 1898); Humphrey and Abbott, “Report on the Physics and Hydraulics of the Mississippi River,” United States Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, Professional Paper No. 13 (Washington, 1876).

Climate. Publications of the United States Weather Bureau (Washington); of the various State Weather Series of the United States; of the Canadian Meteorological Office (Toronto); and of the Mexican Weather Service, Observatorio Meteorológico Central (Mexico); Waldo, Elementary Meteorology (New York, 1896); Greely, American Weather (New York, 1888); Gould, Annales de la Oficina Meteorológica Argentina (Buenos Ayres, 1878).

Flora. Britton and Brown, Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions (New York, 1896-98); Heller, “New and Interesting Plants from Western North America,” in Torrey Botanical Club Bulletin, Volume XXVI. (New York, 1899); Small, “Notes and Descriptions of North American Plants,” in Torrey Botanical Club Bulletin, Volume XXV. (New York, 1898); Berg, Physiognomy of Tropical Vegetation in South America (Loudon, 1854); Rusby, “Enumeration of Plants Collected in South America,” in Torrey Botanical Club Bulletin, Volumes XV., XX., XXII., XXV., XXVII. (New York, 1888-96-98, 1900); Goodale, The Wild Flowers of America (Boston, 1887); Hervey, Beautiful Wild Flowers of America (London, 1878); Newhall, The Trees of Northeastern America (New York, 1891); Newhall, The Shrubs of Northeastern America (New York, 1893); Newhall, The Vines of Northeastern America (New York, 1897); Sargent, The Silva of North America (Boston, 1890-91); Heller, Catalogue of North American Plants North of Mexico (Lancaster, 1900); Gray, Synoptical Flora of North America (New York, 1880-95-97); Scribner, American Grasses, Parts I.-III. (United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, 1897-1900); Lesquereux and James, Manual of Mosses of North America (Boston, 1884-95).

Fauna. For bibliography of American fauna, consult the authorities referred to under the individual countries, and under such heads as Bird; Insect; Mammalia; Distribution of Animals, etc. The one work best outlining American zoölogy is the Standard Natural History, edited by Kingsley (Boston, 1885). Consult also: Wallace, The Geographical Distribution of Animals (London and New York, 1876); Merriam, “The Geographic Distribution of Life in North America,” Proceedings of the Biological Society, Volume VIII. (Washington, 1892); Elliot, North American Shore Birds (New York, 1895); Elliot, Game Birds of North America (New York, 1897); Elliot, Wild Fowl of North America (New York, 1898); Apgar, Birds of the United States (New York, 1898); Cope, “The Crocodiles, Lizards, and Snakes of North America,” United States National Museum Report, 1898 (Washington, 1900); Goode, American Fishes (New York, 1888); Edwards, The Butterflies of North America (New York, 1868-88); Scudder, Butterflies of the Eastern United States and Canada (Cambridge, 1888); Scudder, Brief Guide to the Common Butterflies of the United States and Canada (New York, 1893).

History and Discovery. For the discovery and colonization of the American continent, consult: Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America (Boston, 1884-89). This work is valuable for its careful study of the sources of information on American history and for its copious bibliography. For a more popular and concise but scholarly treatment of the subject, consult Fiske, The Discovery of America (Boston, 1893), a work supplied with ample notes, which may be used as a basis for further investigation. The best books on special topics will be found in the articles on the individual explorers, countries, and colonies.