Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/534

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519
PRUSSIA


Hesse-Darmstadt, on the W. by Alsace-Lorraine, Luxemburg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Its frontiers have a circuit of about 4750 m., and with the exception of the enclaves Oldenburg, Mecklenburg, Brunswick and other small German states, and certain small appurtenances, such as Hohenzollern, in the south of Württemberg, it forms a tolerably compact mass of territory, and occupies almost the whole of northern Germany. Its longest axis is from S.W. to N.E. With the exception of the sea on the north and the mountain-barrier on the south-east, the frontiers are political rather than geographical. The total area of the monarchy is 134,622 sq. m. and comprises almost two-thirds of the entire extent of the Germa.n Empire. Its kernel is the mark of Brandenburg, round which the rest of the state has been gradually built up.

Physical Features.-Fully three-fifths of Prussia belong to the great north European plain and may be generally characterized as lowlands. The plain is much wider on the east, where only the southern margin of Prussia is mountainous, than on the west, where the Hanoverian hills approach to within less than 100 m. of the sea. A line drawn from Düsseldorf through Halle to Breslau would, roughly speaking, divide the flat part of the country from the hilly districts. In the 'south-east Prussia is separated from Austria and Bohemia by the Sudetic chain, which begins at the valley of the Oder and extends thence towards the north-west. This chain includes the Riesen Gebirge, with the highest mountain in Prussia (Schneekoppe), and subsides gradually in the hills of Lusatia. The Harz Mountains, however, beyond the Saxon plain, follow the same general direction and may be regarded as a detached continuation of the systemr To the south of the Harz the Prussian frontier intersects the northern part of the Thuringian Forest, which is also prolonged towards the north-west by the Weser Gebirge and the Teutoburger Wald. The south-west of Prussia is occupied by the plateau of the lower Rhine, including on the left bank the Hunsriick and the Eifel, and on the right the Taunus, the Westerwald and the Sauerland. Between the lower Rhenish and Thuringian systems are interposed the Vogelsberg, the Rh0n, and other hills belonging to the Triassic system of the upper Rhine. The Silesian Mountains are composed chiefly of granite, gneiss and schists, while the Harz and the lower Rhenish plateau are mainly of Devonian and Silurian formation. To the north of the Sauerland is the important carboniferous system of the Ruhr, and there are also extensive coalfields in Silesia. With the exception of the Danube Prussia is traversed by all the chief rivers of Germany, comprising almost the entire course of the Oder and the Weser. Nearly the whole of the German coast-line belongs to Prussia, and it possesses all the important seaports (see also GERMAN') except Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck. Climate.-The climate of Prussia may be described as moderate, and is generally healthy. The greatest extremes of temperature are found between the east and west, the mean annual temperature in the bleak and exposed provinces of the north-east being about 44° F., while that of the sheltered valley of the Rhine is 6° higher. In winter the respective means are 26° and 35°; in summer the difference is not above 2° to 4°. In Prussia as a whole the thermometer ranges from 100° to 130°, but these extremes are rarely reached. The average annual rainfall is about 2I in.; it is highest in the hilly district on the west (34 in.) and on the north-west coast (30 to 32 in.), and lowest (16 in.) in the inland parts of the eastern provinces.

Population.-»The following schedule shows the area and population of the whole kingdom and of each of its fourteen provinces on the IS( of December 1900, and the 31st of December 1905.

Provinces. EIf;':eS;f';n Pop., 1900. Pop., 1905. East Prussia Y 14,284 1,996,626 2,030,176

West Prussia 9,859 1,563,658 1,641,746

Berlin 29 1,888,848 2,040,148

Brandenburg 15,382 3,108,554 3,531,906

Pomerania 11,620 1,634,832 1,684,326

Silesia 15,568 4,668,857 4,942,611

Posen 11,186 1,887,275 1,986,637

Saxony 9,751 2,832,616 2,979,221

Schleswig-Holstein 1 7,338 1,387,968 1,504,248 HaH0V€f ~ - 14,870 2»590,939 2,759,544

Westphalia 7,803 3,187,777 3,618,090

Hesse Nassau 6,062 1,897,981 2,070,052

Rhineland 10,423 5,759,798 6,436,337

Hohenzollern 441 66,780 68,282

134.616 34,472,509 3712931324

1 Including Heligoland

The increase of population proceeds most rapidly, as would be expected, in Berlin, and next follow Westphalia, the Rhineland, Brandenburg and Saxony, while it is weakest in Hohenzollern, Pomerania and East Prussia. The population is densest in the mining and manufacturing district of the Rhine, which is closely followed by the coal regions of Silesia and parts of Saxony and Westphalia. Both the birth-rate and the death-rate show a tendency to diminish. (For statistical tables under this head, see GERMANY.) In Prussia, the annual increase in the urban population is about seven times as great as that in the rural communities. In 1905 Prussia contained twenty-two towns each with upwards of 100,000 inhabitants. The annual rate of suicide in Prussia is high, and among German states is only exceeded in the kingdom of Saxony. Divided according to nationalities (by speech), the population of Prussia includes roughly 31,000,000 Germans, over 3,000,000 Poles (in the eastern provinces), 107,000 Lithuanians (in the northeast), 137,000 Danes (in Schleswi -Holstein), 65,000 Wends (in Brandenburg and Silesia), 25,000 Czechs (in Silesia) and 78,000 Walloons (near the Belgian frontier). In the rural districts of Posen and in parts of Silesia the Poles form the predominant element of the population.

Communicalion.-With most internal means of communication Prussia is well provided. Hardly any of its excellent highroads existed in the time of Frederick the Great, and many of them date from the Napoleonic era. The first Prussian railway was laid in 1838, but the railway system did not receive its full development until the events of 1866 removed the obstacles placed in the way by Hanover. Most of the lines were laid by private companies, and the government confined itself to establishing lines in districts not likely to attract private capital. In 1879, however, a measure was passed authorizing the acquisition by the state of the private railways, and in 1884 nine-tenths of the 13,800 m. of railway in Prussia were in the hands of government. The proportion of railway mileage in Prussia (5 m. per 10,000 inhabitants) is nearly as hig as in Great Britain, but the traffic is much less. Between 1880 and 1886 the state-owned lines of railway increased by 9240 m., the increase being principally due to the policy of buying up private lines; and since 1886 there has been a further increase. In 1903 the state lines amounted to a total of 18,520 m., and the private lines to 1248 m. The former total includes lines in Hesse-Darmstadt, the railways of this grand duchy having been incorporated with the Prussian railways in 1896. The building of the railways in Prussia has in almost every case been influenced by military requirements; and this applies also to the making of private lines. The most im ortant trunk line of Prussia is that which enters the western fiontier. at Herbesthal, and runs through Cologne, Düsseldorf, Hanover, Berlin, Dirschau and Konigsberg, and leaves the eastern boundary at Eydtkuhnen for St Petersburg. Generally speaking, the principal lines of the country either radiate from Berlin or run alongside the frontiers and boundaries. To the former category belong the lines which connect the capital with Hamburg and Kiel, with Stettin, with Danzig and Konigsberg, with Posen and Breslau (dividing at Frankfort-on-Oder), with Dresden, with Leipzi and Bavaria, with F rankfort-on-Main via Halle and Erfurt, with Coblenz via Cassel, and with Cologne via Magdeburg and Brunswick. The second category embraces lines from Hamburg to Stettin, from Stettin to Posen and Breslau, and from Breslau to Halle; the ring is again taken up at Frankforton-Main, and continues up the Rhine (on both banks) to Cologne, and thence through Munster and Bremen to Hamburg. Besides these there are two other important lines, one connecting Hamburg with Frankfort-on-Main via Hanover and Cassel, the other linking Hanover with Halle.

Prussia possesses also an extensive system of natural and artificial waterways. In the eriod 1880-1893 the Prussian Government spent no less than £¥i1,677,750 upon the maintenance and construction of locks, canals, canal buildings, bridges, roadways, &c. Besides this there was a special vote of £6,197,600 for the construction of the Dortmund-Ems Canal and the improvement of the navigation of the Oder, Vistula, Spree and other waterways in Brandenburg. The most important of the canals are the North Sea and Baltic Canal (officially the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal), the Elbe-Trave Canal (to give Lübeck access to the Elbe), and the Dortmund-Ems Canal, and its continuation, the Dortmund-Rhine Canal (see further, GERMANY). The largest ship-owning ports are Flensburg, Stettin, Kiel, Rostock and Danzig; and Geestemiinde owns the largest dee -sea fishing fleet.

A agriculture.-Of the total area of cultivable land in the German Empire fully 66% belongs to Prussia. About 29% of the soil of Prussia consists of good loam or clay, 32% is mediocre or of loam and sand mixed, 31 % is predominantly sandy, and 6% is occupied by bogs and marshes. The north-eastern provinces contain a high proportion of poor soil, and in the north-west occur large tracts of heath and moor. The reclaimed marshlands in both districts, as well as the soil in the neighbourhood of the rivers, are usually very fertile, and tracts of fruitful ground are found in the valleys of the Rhine and its affluents and in the plain around Magdeburg, the so-called Bbhrde. The most fertile Prussian province is Saxony, while the least productive are East and West