Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/138

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124
PORTO NOVO—PORTO RICO

and both have small but safe harbours, both are frequented for sea-bathing, and both are embowered amid olive groves; and the district is famous for the quality of its oil. The two towns together form one commune, called imperia, which had a population of 15,459 in 1907.

Porto Maurizio appears as Portus Maurici in the Maritime Itinerary. After being subject to the marquises of Turin (11th century) and of Clavesana, it was sold by Boniface of Clavesana in 1288 to Genoa in return for a yearly payment; in 1354 it became the seat of the Genoese vicar of the western Riviera, and remained in the possession of the republic till it was merged in the kingdom of Sardinia. Oneglia, formerly situated inland at the place called Castelvecchio (old castle), has occupied its present site from about 935. The bishops of Albenga sold it in 1298 to the Dorias of Genoa, who in their turn disposed of it in 1576 to Emanuel Philibert of Savoy. In the wars of the house of Savoy Oneglia often changed hands. In 1614 and 1649 the Spaniards and in 1623 and 1672 the Genoese obtained possession; in 1692 it had to repulse an attack by a French squadron; in 1744–1745 it was again occupied by the Spaniards, and in 1792 bombarded and burned by the French. Pellegrino Amoretti, assistant secretary to Charles V., and Andrea Doria, the famous admiral, were natives of Oneglia.

See G. Donaudi, Storia di Porto Maurizio (1889).

PORTO NOVO, a town of British India, on the Coromandel coast in the South Arcot district of Madras. Pop. (1901), 13,712. The English began trading here in 1683, when they found both the Danes and the Portuguese already established. The place is chiefly famous for the battle in July 1781, in which Sir Eyre Coote with 8000 men defeated Hyder Ali with 60,000 and saved the Madras presidency. In 1830 an attempt, finally unsuccessful mainly owing to the lack of fuel, was made to smelt iron from the ores found in the vicinity.

PORTO-RICHE, GEORGES DE (1849–), French dramatist, was born at Bordeaux. When he was twenty his pieces in verse began to be produced at the Parisian theatres; he also wrote some books of verse which met with a favourable reception, but these early works were not reprinted. In 1898 he published Théâtre d'amour, which contained four of his best pieces, La Chance de Françoise, L'Infidèle, Amoureuse, Le Passé. The title given to this collection indicates the difference between the plays of Porto-Riche and the political or sociological pieces of many of his contemporaries. In Germaine, the passionate and exacting heroine of Amoureuse, Mme Réjane found one of her best parts. In Les Malefilâtres (Odéon, 1904), also a drama of passion, the characters are drawn from the working classes.

PORTO RICO, or Puerto Rico (“Rich Harbour”), an island of the United States of America, the most easterly and the fourth in size of the Greater Antilles, situated between 17° 50' and 18° 30' N., and between 65° 30' and 67° 15' W., about 70 m. E. of Haiti, and 500 m. E. by S. of Cuba. It is about 100 m. long from east to west, 40 m. wide near the west end, and somewhat narrower towards the east end, and has an area of 3435 sq. m.

EB1911 Porto Rico.jpg
Emery Walker sc.

Physical Features.—A range of mountains, varying in height from 2000 ft. to about 3750 ft. on El Yunque Peak in the north-east corner, traverses the island from west to east and descends abruptly to the sea at each end. The south slope rises precipitously from the foothills; the north slope is more gradual, but it is much broken by rugged spurs and deep gorges. On the north there is little coastal plain except at the mouths of rivers, but on the south coast there is a plain of considerable extent broken only by the remains of eroded foothills. The water parting is about twice as far from the north coast as it is from the south coast, the rainfall is greater on the north slope, and the principal rivers—Rio Loiza, Rio de la Plata, Rio Manati and Rio Arecibo are on the north side. There are eight other rivers on the same side, seventeen on the south side, six at the east end and four at the west end, besides more than 1200 smaller streams, and the deep valleys cut by the streams add to the broken surface of the country. None of the rivers is navigable for more than a mile or two from the coast. The coast-line has few indentations sufficient to afford safe harbourage. Under the same jurisdiction as Porto Rico are the fertile island of Vieques (21 m. long and 6 m. wide) and the smaller and nearly barren island of Culebra off the east coast, the island of Mona, covered with deposits of guano, off the west coast, and numerous islets.

Fauna.—The native fauna is scanty. The agouti and the armadillo are practically extinct and the only other mammals are ground squirrels, rats, a few other small rodents, and some bats. A huge land-turtle is peculiar to the island. Reptiles are scarce, and venomous reptiles unknown. Noxious insects are less numerous than is usual in tropical countries. There are no large game birds, but song birds and doves are numerous on the mountains, and flamingoes and other water-birds frequent the coast. There are a few species of fresh-water fish, but food-fishes are scarce both in the rivers and along the coast.

Flora.—The flora is beautiful and varied. The more rugged districts and higher elevations are clad with such tropical forest trees as ebony, Spanish cedar, sandalwood, rosewood and mahogany. There are several species of palms, flowering trees, trees with beautifully coloured foliage, tree ferns, resinous trees and trees bearing tropical fruits. There are about thirty species of medicinal plants, twelve used for condiments, and twelve for dyes and tanning. In the semi-arid districts on the south slope of the mountains the flora consists chiefly of dry grasses, acacias, yuccas and cactuses.

Climate.—The climate is somewhat more healthy than that of the other West Indies. The temperature is moderated by the north-east trade winds, which, somewhat modified by local conditions, blow throughout the year, briskly during the day and more mildly during the night. It rarely reaches 100° F. or falls below 50°, and the mean annual temperature is about 80° (75.2° in January, 80.4° in August). The mean daily variation at San Juan is 11.5°; on the mountains the mean daily variation is 23°. The average annual rainfall on the north-east coast, at the foot of El Yunque Mountain, is 120 in. or more, while other districts are semi-arid or subject to severe droughts. At San Juan the average annual rainfall is about 55 in.; nearly two-thirds of this falls from June to November inclusive. Most of the rain is in showers, frequently heavy; and on the windward slope showers are an almost daily occurrence. The island is visited occasionally by hurricanes.

Soil.—Close to the coast the soil is for the most part a coral sand. Farther inland in the level districts and river bottoms it varies from a sandy to a clay loam containing much alluvium. On the foothills and in the less rugged mountain districts there is a thin but rich clay soil derived from coral limestone.

Industries.—A little more than one-fourth of the land is under cultivation and in 1899 more than three-fifths of the working population were engaged in agriculture. There were over 39,000 farms, nearly all of them small, and the average number of acres cultivated on each was not more than fifteen. Sugar on the lowlands, coffee on the upper, and tobacco on the lower mountain slopes are the principal crops. In 1909 there were 185,927 acres of sugar, yielding 244,257 tons for exportation, and valued at $18,432,446. The coffee plantations were greatly injured by a severe hurricane which visited the island on the 8th of August 1899, but the yield for exlport increased from 12,157,240 ℔ in 1901 to 38,756,750 ℔, value at $4,693,004, in 1907. The acreage, however, decreased from 178,155 acres in 1906 to 155,778 acres in 1909, and in the latter year the crop fell to 28,489,263 ℔. Java coffee has been grown with success in Porto Rico. Tobacco of a superior quality is grown extensively on the lower northern slopes and much tobacco is now grown under cloth. The total acreage of tobacco increased from 12,871 acres in 1906 to 27,596 acres in 1909; the total value of the exported tobacco products increased from $681,642 in 1901 to $5,634,130 in 1909. Cotton, Indian corn, sweet potatoes, yams and rice are small crops. The culture of citrus fruits, principally oranges and grape-fruit, and of pineapples and coco-nuts has been rapidly extended. About 13,000 head of cattle were exported annually from 1901 to 1905, but much of the best grazing land has since been devoted to the cultivation of sugar-cane. A project for irrigating the district south of the mountains between Ponce and Patillas was adopted by the Porto Rican government in 1909. The Federal government has an agricultural experiment station at Mayaguez.