Maury's New Elements of Geography for Primary and Intermediate Classes/South America

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1. South America.—Leaving North America, we come now to South America. The coast line of this continent is broken only here and there by bays or gulfs, and there are only a few good harbors.

Maurys Geography-082A-Chimoborazo.jpg

The Andes in Ecuador. The snow capped mountain is Chimborazo.

South America is crossed by the equator, and all the northern part of it is in the hot or Torrid zone. Here, except high up among the mountains, it is always summer. The flowers are never killed by frost.

As we go south from the equator, the climate grows cooler, just as it does if we go north. South does not always mean hot.

The southern end of South America reaches down nearly to the region about the South pole, which is always as cold and icy as that about the North pole.

2. Surface.—The surface of South America is very much like that of North America. The western part is mountainous; the eastern is mostly level, and consists chiefly of river valleys.

3. The Andes extend along the Pacific shores of South America from one end of the continent to the other, just as the Rocky mountains extend through North America.

Maurys Geography-082B-Llamas.jpg

These llamas which you see here have been brought to the railroad of La Paz to carry packs of goods to some place far away into the country.

The Andes are the longest mountain range in the world. They are 4,500 miles in length. They are grander and loftier than the Rocky mountains. Many of their peaks are more than four miles high, and are always white with snow.

The passes or roads over the Andes are steep and dangerous. Travelers usually are carried across on the backs of mules or sitting on chairs which are strapped to the backs of Indians. The llama and mule generally are used for carrying goods.

Among the mountains are ravines or gorges hundreds of feet deep. Some of these are crossed by suspension bridges made of rope.

Railways have been built across the Andes.

Maurys Geography-082C-Andes-railroad.jpg

A railroad bridge among the Andes.

4. Volcanoes.—More than fifty peaks among the Andes are volcanoes.

If you stand in the public square of the city of Quito (kee'-to), you can see eleven snow-capped volcanoes all at once. One of these, Chimborazo (chim-bo- rah'-zo), is so lofty that it can be seen by moonlight at a distance of ninety miles.

Maury Geography 083A Amazon.jpg

The upper part of the Amazon river in flood time. The current is swift and carries along trunks and branches of trees.

Cotopaxi (ko-to-pax'-e), a near neighbor of Chimborazo, is the grandest of all the volcanoes. Its terrific eruptions sound like the discharge of the largest cannons, and can be heard at a distance of 100 miles.

5. Earthquakes occur very frequently in the countries which are crossed by the Andes.

During an earthquake the ground trembles or shakes, the houses rock to and fro, and often fall. The sea sometimes rushes in on the land, and the people have to run for their lives to the hilltops. Cities and towns are often nearly destroyed, and many lives are lost.

6. Rivers.—The great rivers of South America are the Amazon, the Orinoco, and the La Plata.

These rivers and their tributaries are all on the east side of the Andes, and flow into the Atlantic.

The Amazon, reminds us of our own Mississippi; only, instead of flowing from north to south, it flows from west to east.

It carries more water to the sea than any other river. In some places it is so wide that a vessel sailing on it may be out of sight of land. Steamboats ascend it for 2,200 miles, almost across the continent.

The Orinoco overflows its banks every summer. Its waters teem with alligators, and are the home of the curious fish called the electric eel. The shock given by one of these electric eels is so severe that horses, when fording the pools, are sometimes knocked down by it.

On the Rio de la Plata (lah plah'tah) and its tributaries, steamboats sail more than 1,200 miles into the heart of the continent.

Maury Geography 083B Orinoco.jpg

View on the Orinoco river, showing two forts and steamboat.

7. Rainless Region.—If we look at the map of South America, we notice that hardly a single river can be seen along the west coast. Why should there be plenty of water and great rivers on the east side of the Andes, but little or none on the west side? Let us see.

In that part of South America which is in the Torrid zone the winds come mostly from the Atlantic ocean. They carry the clouds westward over the land. The cold air above the mountain-tops cools the clouds and turns them into ruin and snow. But this is done almost wholly on the eastern side of the Andes.

When the winds reach the western side of the mountains they have lost their moisture; the clouds have become rain. Thus it is that on the eastern side of the Andes we find plenty of rain and large rivers; on the west side only a few small rivers, and in some parts not a drop of rain all the year round.

For Recitation.—In what zone is most of South America? What connects North and South America? What have you learned of the surface, of South America? Name the great mountain range of South America. How do people cross the Andes? What are the great rivers of South America?

Maury Geography 083C Parana.jpg

The falls on the Parana river on the border of Argentina.

Maury Geography 084A rubber.jpg

Gathering rubber in Brazil. A notch is cut in the bark of the tree and a small cup is fixed below, into which the sap slowly drips from three or four hours. The upper picture shows the way in which the sap is thickened. A fire is built upon the ground and the funnel-shaped chimney placed over it, through which the smoke rises. The wooden paddle is then dipped in the vessel of sap and help in the smoke. This changes the white sap to a thin layer of brown rubber. The dipping and smoking is repeated again and again, until a large lump of rubber is formed on the end of the paddle.


1. Plains.—The valleys or plains of the great rivers are called by different names: Selvas, Llanos {lyah'-nuce) and Pampas.

2. The Selvas are the forest plains of the Amazon. Selva is a Spanish word that means wood or forest. These plains are covered with trees and shrubs and climbing vines, all growing so thickly together that monkeys can travel hundreds of miles on the tree tops without once coming down to the ground.

The only way of getting through the Selvas is to go by the water in canoes; and the vegetation is so dense, even down to the water's edge, that one may travel a whole day without finding room to land. The trees and shrubs "form a dense wall of verdure along the banks of the river".

A large number of the plants of South America seem to live on nothing but air. Hence, they are sometimes called air-plants. They cling, like moss, to the trunks and branches of trees. Many of them have flowers of curious shapes and exquisite colore. One that is pure white is shaped like a dove, another like a swan.

Maury Geography 084B Selvas.jpg

The Selvas of the Amazon. Notice the thick growth of trees and shrubs, the vines and air-plants hanging from the branches.

3. The Llanos, or plains of the Orinoco, are dotted with clumps of trees. When the river overflows them they look like a vast sea. After the flood subsides, a luxuriant crop of grass and flowers springs up, and vast herds of cattle find rich pasturage.

In the dry season these plains are parched, and the cattle wander for pasture to the hills.

4. The Pampas are the plains of the La Plata. They are covered with tall grass in the wet season, and in the dry season are parched like a desert. Countless herds of wild cattle feed upon these plains. Vast numbers of these cattle are slaughtered yearly. The meat and hides are exported.

5. Forests.—The forests of South America contain some of the most wonderful and useful trees and plants in the world.

The palm trees supply the Indian with almost everything that he needs.

Maury Geography 084C palms.jpg

A grove of palm trees.

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A coffee plantation in Brazil. The ripe red berries are picked and put into bags. They are then carted to the pulping mill, which crushes the berry and removes the beans.

Maury Geography 085B manioc.jpg

A stalk and root of the manioc plant. These thick roots are dried and made into flour, which forms the chief food of many people in warm countries.

The fibers of the leaves, some of which are forty or fifty feet long, he twists into ropes or makes into hammocks and fishing-nets. With the leaves themselves he makes a roof and a door for his hut; from the bark he makes his canoe. The wax palm supplies him with candles.

India rubber, which has so many uses, comes chiefly from the Selvas of Brazil. It is the sap of the India rubber tree.

Man'-i-oc, or cassava, supplies the natives with a coarse kind of bread.

The root is dried and ground into meal. When needed for use it is mixed with water and baked.

Tapioca is made from manioc flour by separating the starch from it. Part of the starch is turned into sugar and forms in little lumps, or masses, which we call tapioca.

Quinine, so much used for the cure of fever, is made from the bark of a tree called cinchona (sin-ko'-nah), which grows on the slopes of the Andes. The Indians taught Europeans the use of the bark. When sick with fever they used to drink water from pools in which the boughs or dead trunks of cinchona trees had been lying.

6. The cultivated products are such as belong to the Torrid and Temperate zones. As in Mexico, so here we find that different crops are raised according as the farms are among the mountains or in the lowlands.

Among the mountains and in the southern part of the continent, wheat and other products of the Temperate zone are cultivated.

In the lowlands sugarcane, corn, cotton, cacao and coffee trees, manioc, pineapples, and bananas grow in profusion.

The banana supplies thousands of the people with their daily bread. When green, it is used as a vegetable; when ripe, it is eaten as fruit, or dried and grated into flour.

Maury Geography 085C coffee.jpg
Maury Geography 085D cacao.jpg
A branch of the coffee tree, showing the way the leaves and berries are arranged on the stalk. The pods, or gourds, of the cacao or chocolate tree. Each pod contains about two dozen dark-colored seeds. These seeds are dried in the sun much in the same way as coffee.

Maté (mah'tay), or Paraguay tea (pah-rah-gway'), is widely used by the people of South America. It is the leaf of a tree which is something like our holly.

The coffee which we use comes chiefly from Brazil. That country produces more than one-half of all that is raised in the world.

Maury Geography 085E coffee.jpg

Drying coffee in Brazil. After the beans are washed out of the pulp, they are exposed to the sun for about a week by being spread out upon hard smooth ground. They must not be exposed to the rain or dew.

Coffee is the seed of a beautiful shrub with dark, glossy leaves, white flowers, and scarlet fruit. The fruit, when ripe, is crushed to separate the seeds from the soft parts. The seeds are

dried and put into bags, and are then ready to be sent to various parts of the world.

For Recitation.—What are the Selvas? What are the Llanos and Pampas? Name some of the most useful products that come from the forests of South America. Name the chief cultivated products of South America.


Of what countries are the following cities the Capitals? * Rio de Janeiro (ree'-o de zha-na'-ro), * Georgetown, * Paramaribo, * Cayenne (kay-en'), * Caracas (kah-rah'-kas), * Bogota', * Quito (kee'-to), * Lima {lee'-mah), * Sucré (soo-kray'), * Santiago (san-te-ah'-go), * Buenos Aires (bo'-nus a'-riz), * Asuncion (a-soon-se-on'), * Mon-te-vid'-e-o.

What bounds South America on the east? On the west? On the north? What heavy line crosses the map of South America? What kind of climate has the northern part of the continent? In what zone is the southern part? What kind of climate has the southern part?

How are North and South America connected? What chain of mountains along the west coast of South America? In what direction and how far do they extend? On which side of the Andes are all the long rivers?

What countries are crossed by the Andes? What countries border on the Caribbean sea? On the Atlantic ocean? On the Pacific?

Maury Geography 086A pampas.jpg

Traveling on the pampas in Argentina.

What country borders on the Pacific ocean and the Caribbean sea? What river flows in a northerly direction through Colombia? Where is Venezuela {ven-e-zwee'-lah)? What river crosses it? What lake in the northern part? What island near the mouth of the Orinoco? What country east of Venezuela?

What country south of Colombia? What are the countries that border on Ecuador (ek-wah-dor')? Ecuador is a Spanish word for equator, and the country is so named because the equator crosses it. What city on the equator? What volcanoes do you find in Ecuador?

Which is the largest country of South America? What are the only countries of South America that do not touch Brazil?

What part of Brazil is crossed by the equator? In what zone is most of Brazil?

What is the great river of Brazil? Name its largest tributary. What capes on the coast? Where is the diamond district?

Where is Cuzco (koos'ko)? What great river rises in Peru? What lake between Bolivia and Peru?

Maury Geography 086B oxen.jpg

Getting ox teams ready for work on a plantation.

What country southeast of Peru? Where is Potosi? Sucre? What country lies wholly west of the Andes?

Name its chief seaport. In what zone is the greater part of Chile? What islands west of Chile?

What country east of Chile? What countries border Argentina (ar'-gen-tee'-na)? Locate Mt. Aconcagua.

What is the southern portion of Argentina called? What cape is the southernmost point?

Where is Tierra del Fuego (te-er'-rah del fway'-go)? What form of land is it? What strait separates it from Patagonia? The strait was named after Magellan, whose ship was the first that sailed round the world.

Of what river is the Paraguay a tributary? Into what does the Parana flow? Where is Uruguay (oo'-roo-gway)?

What three rivers separate Paraguay from Argentina? Which are the two smallest countries of South America? In what direction would you sail from Valparaiso to Panama? From Rio de Janeiro to the mouth of the Amazon? On what waters would you sail in going from Rio de Janeiro to Valparaiso?

How might you go all the way by water from Maracaibo to Guayaquil? By what shorter way could you go? Use the scale and tell about how many miles would be saved.
Maury Geography 087A South America.jpg


1. Minerals.—The mines of South America are among the richest in the world.

Diamonds and various other precious stones are found in Brazil. Many of the purest emeralds in the world come from Colombia. Great quantities of nitrate of soda are obtained in Chile.

Maury Geography 088A coal.jpg

Coal mines at Lota, Chile.

Maury Geography 088B diamond.jpg

Diamond mining in Brazil. The diamonds are found in the gravel at the bottom of streams.

Silver is so abundant among the Andes that in early times the Indians often had dishes made of it. The silver mines of Peru and Bolivia have been worked for hundreds of years and are still productive.

The copper mines of Chile are very rich.

2. Animals.— The forests swarm with animals.


Outline.—Look at the map on page 17 and tell in which heat belts South America lies. What line crosses the northern part? Trace the long neck of land which joins South America to North America. What is its name? Does it run north and south or east and west?

With your finger trace the western coast of South America. Do you find many arms of the ocean forming gulfs and bays? A coast that has few inlets from the ocean we call a regular coast. Now trace in the same way the northeastern and southwestern coasts. A part of these coasts has many inlets, hence we call it an irregular coast line. Is the western coast line of South America like the western coast line of North America? Are the eastern coast lines of these continents alike or different?

Mountains and Plains.—Put your finger on the eastern extremity of South America and move it directly west. First you pass over several ranges of mountains. What is their name? Which way do they run? Next you come to a dark green portion of the map. This is a part of the Great Central plain. Which way do the rivers run at this point? Into what do they flow? Next you come to a high range of mountains and then to a second and a third range. Westward of these mountains you find a narrow strip of land along the coast. This is colored a light green. This color means that the land is higher than the dark green plain east of the mountains. From the point where you cross the mountains trace southward to the end of the continent and northward to the Caribbean sea. What name is given to this long range of mountains? In what part of it do you find two ranges? Three? What countries occupy these sections? Find the Orinoco river. Trace southward to the Amazon. What name is given to the mountains between these two rivers?

Rivers.—Place your finger on the mouth of the Amazon. Trace this river westward until you come to the Andes mountains. Then southward between the two ranges until you find its source. In which direction does the Amazon flow? How can you tell this? In the same way trace the Orinoco river to its source. In what mountains does it rise? Notice that it is connected by a small stream with the Rio Negro. When the water is high, boats can go from the Orinoco to the Amazon. Now find the mouth of the La Plata river. This is a short, wide river formed by two other rivers. What are their names? The longer one is the Paraguay. Trace it northward. In what country does it rise? Notice that its source is only a few miles distant from the source of another river flowing into the Amazon.

Trace two rivers that flow into the Paraguay from the west. In what mountains do they have their sources? Find a large river flowing into the Paraguay from the east. Trace it northward until you find its source. Among what mountains is it? Near this place you find the sources of other rivers which flow northward. One of them is called the San Francisco river. Into what water does it flow? Others flow into the Atlantic ocean near the mouth of the Amazon. What are their names? The gray colored part where these rivers rise is called a watershed. A watershed is like the ridge of a roof. It is the highest part and makes the water flow in different directions. Can you find a watershed between the Amazon and the Orinoco rivers? Find other watersheds among the mountains of Brazil and in the Andes. Every mountain range is really a watershed, since it makes the water flow in different directions. Sometimes two streams that flow through different valleys join and make one large stream. Find such cases on the map.

These studies can be carried further, if desired, in the same manner as those on North America, p. 34.

Maury Geography 089A South America relief.jpg

Use this map as suggested in the studies on the opposite page.

The tapir, which resembles a monstrous pig, is the largest. The puma, the jag'-u-ar, and the tiger-cat are the most ferocious. Like the lion, they belong to the cat family.

Armadillos, wild dogs, deer, sloths, ant-eaters, and opossums abound. The tree tops are alive with gayly-feathered birds, and noisy with screaming parrots and chattering monkeys.

Through the dense shade you hear the curious notes of the campanéro (cam-pa-nay'-ro) or tolling-bell bird, sounding like the strokes of a hammer on an anvil.

Sailors, on the waters of the Amazon, often surprise the alligator sunning himself on the banks, and perhaps see also the boa-constrictor, thirty or forty feet long, coiled around the body of some unfortunate animal and crushing it to death.

The scarlet flamingo, the heron, and spoonbill dart their beaks into the water to catch their prey. Humming-birds, dressed in every color of the rainbow, flit through the air.

Maury Geography 090A Peruvian.jpg
Peruvian gentleman and some South American animals.

Ascending the Andes one may find other strange animals. In the high cold plains near the line of perpetual snow is the home of the llama (lah'-mah), often called the American camel. The natives tame it and use it as a beast of burden.

The hair of the alpaca is used in making a kind of cloth also called alpaca. The flesh is used for food.

The condor, a bird of prey larger than an eagle, lives among the peaks of the Andes. The rhea, or South American ostrich, roams in flocks over the hot pampas of the La Plata.

3. Occupations.—The leading occupations are agriculture, cattle raising, and mining.

Brazil, Argentina, and Chile are the chief agricultural regions. The Llanos of Venezuela and the Pampas of Argentina and Uruguay are the great cattle-raising districts.


In the first picture on the opposite page we have a city home in South America. The people of warm countries are fond of living out of doors, and so the lawns are often more attractive than the inside of the house. They are made beautiful with vines, flowers, and shade trees. The family spend the hot part of the day among these cool and pleasant surroundings. Notice that there are no chimneys on any of the houses in the pictures and that the roofs are made of tiles baked from red clay. In what part of South America do you think it would be too warm for fires? Point out these regions on the relief map.

The country home on the left-hand side of the page is like the city home in some ways. It is more rudely built and has no windows. How does the lawn differ from the first one? The Indian boy at the top of the page has a heavy bundle strapped to his back. He looks like a pack-peddler; indeed, he is one. Such peddlers are as common in South America as horses and wagons are in our country. Bread, milk, fruit, water, poultry, meat, and every sort of merchandise are carried about on the backs of men, women, and donkeys to be sold. A traveler in South America has his trunk carried on the back of an Indian. The mothers carry their babies on their backs and other things on their heads at the same time.

In the center of the page is a view of a courtyard of a Spanish-American hotel at La Paz. Notice that all the buildings are low, being only one or two stories in height. What reason can you give for this?

In South American countries a light shawl, or mantilla, is often used to cover the head and shoulders. The two ladies shown in the picture are dressed in this way.

In the lower left-hand corner of the picture is a farmer on horseback. In what part of South America does he live? His farm is no doubt a very large one, and he has to ride over it to oversee his work. The blanket that he wears about his shoulders is called a poncho. The poncho is merely a square piece of cloth with a hole in the middle, through which the head is thrust. It then falls loosely about the shoulders.

The cattle man in the opposite corner reminds us of the cow-boy that we read about on page 36. He is dressed a little differently, but he has a lasso hung on his saddle. He does not have so much use for it as the cow-boy, because in Argentina the cattle are kept in large fields fenced with wire. The wire is bought in the United States.

Between the farmer and the cattle man is a picture of an Indian woman. In what part of South America does she live? How is she dressed? How is the tent made in which she lives? The Indians of this part of South America are very brave and warlike and fought for many years against the Spanish settlers who came to live in their country.

Maury Geography 091A South Americans.jpg

Home and People of South America. Study these pictures in connection with the descriptions and questions on the opposite page.

Mining is carried on in Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and Venezuela.

The commerce of South America is important. Coffee, rubber, hides, mate, cotton and sugar are exported from Brazil; sugar, silver, copper and gums from Peru; and nitrate and copper from Chile. Venezuela, Argentina, and Uruguay export cattle products; Chile and Argentina, wheat and wool. The imports are manufactured articles, particularly flour.

For Recitation.—What are the chief mineral products of South America? Name some of the animals found in the lowland forests. Name some of the animals found among the mountains. What are the chief exports of South America?


1. The inhabitants of South America are native Indians and descendants of Spanish and Portuguese settlers.

The Indians are usually ignorant and degraded. Yet those who live among the Andes are very ingenious. They make bridges of rope to cross the deep gorges among the mountains.

On the Pampas and Llanos we find half-wild people, whose occupation is to take care of the cattle that feed on the plains.

The people of Patagonia are very tall and noted for their bravery.

The language of South America, like that of Mexico and Central America, is Spanish. In Brazil, Portuguese is the chief language.

Maury Geography 092A mules.jpg
Maury Geography 092B Bolivians.jpg
A pack-mule train at a halting-
place in Brazil.
Maury Geography 092C feast day.jpg
Native Indians and their homes in
A feast day, or holiday, in a village in Brazil.

2. Government.—The countries of South America are all republics, except the three colonies of Guiana (ghe-ah'-nah), which belong to England, France, and the Netherlands.

Brazil is the largest and most powerful country of South America. It was first a colony of Portugal, then an empire. In 1889 it became a republic, with a government like ours.

3. Early History.—In 1500, Cabral, a Portuguese, discovered Brazil, and so, until 1822, Brazil belonged to Portugal.

In 1532, Pizarro, a Spaniard, went with a fleet to Peru. It was a splendid empire. The kings were called Incas. They ate and drank from vessels of silver and gold. The one then on the throne was named Atahualpa (at-a-hwhal'-pah).

Pizarro and his men took Atahualpa prisoner. The Inca promised to fill his prison with gold as high up as he could reach if Pizarro would let him go. Pizarro took the gold, but cruelly put Atahualpa to death. Thus Peru became a possession of Spain. All the South American countries except Brazil and Guiana once belonged to Spain.

Maury Geography 093A inn.jpg

A village inn.

4. Cities.—Many of the houses in South America are built of sun-dried brick, painted with gay colors, such as pink or yellow, and roofed with scarlet tiles.

In some of the cities earthquakes often occur, and the dwellings are built only one story high, so they will not be shaken down. With us every house must have one chimney, and many have more than one. In the northern part of South America few houses have any, as fires are not needed.

Maury Geography 093B Caracas.jpg

Caracas.—The city is only six miles from the coast, but on a plateau about 3,000 above it.

Rio de Janeiro, or Rio, the capital of Brazil, is the chief commercial city. Its bay, dotted with many islands, is very beautiful.

Santos and Rio are the greatest coffee markets in the world.

Most of the coffee is carried by negroes. Long lines of them may be seen trotting through the streets, each with a great sack of coffee on his head.

Para (pa-rah) is the great India rubber port. Bahia (bah-ee'-ah) exports coffee and cocoa. Pernambuco is noted for the export of sugar and cotton. Maracaibo (ma-ra-ki'-bo) has given its name to the coffee grown in Colombia and Venezuela. Buenos Aires and Montevideo are the great cattle ports.

Santiago, Valparaiso (val-pah-ri'-so), and Lima are important commercial cities on the Pacific coast.

For Recitation.—Who live in South America? What forms of government have its countries? What have you learned of Rio de Janeiro? Of other cities?

Maury Geography 093C Santiago.jpg

A street in Santiago, Chile.


Countries.— In what part of the continent is it? Name the capital.—Colombia. Venezuela. Guiana. Ecuador. Peru, Brazil. Bolivia. Chile. Argentina, Paraguay. Uruguay.

Islands.Near what part of the coast?Trinidad. Tierra del Fuego. Falkland.

Capes.—On what part of Vie coast?Gallinas. Horn. St. Roque. Blanco.

Mountains.—Where are they? In what direction do the ranges extend?Andes. Organ. Cotopaxi. Aconcagua.

Gulf and Sea.—Where is it?Gulf of Darien. Gulf of Guayaquil. Caribbean Sea.

Strait.Connects what waters? Separates what lands?Magellan.

Rivers.Where does it rise? Into what does it flow?Amazon. Orinoco. Rio de la Plata. Madeira. Purus. Tocantins. Parana. Paraguay.

Lakes.Where is each?Titicaca. Maracaibo.

Cities.In what country? On or near what water?Para. Bahia. Maracaibo. Rosario. Sucré. Callao. Cordova. Valparaiso.