Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/524

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180 THE BRITISH EMPIRE :— AFRICA

AFRICA.

ASCENSION ISLAND.

Ascension is a small island of volcanic origin, of 35 square miles, in the South Atlantic, 700 miles N.W. of St. Helena. It is entirely under the control and jurisdiction of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, and is used as a coaling, victualling, and store depot for Her Majesty's ships on the West Coast of Africa station. It has recently been strongly fortified and the discipline of a man-of-war is maintained in the island. There is an excel- lent sanitarium up Green Mountain (2,820 ft.) for crews of ships visiting the island, whose health is impaired from service on the coast. There are 16 acres under cultivation, producing vegetables and fruit for the garrison. The population, which consists entirely of officers, seamen and marines, with their wives and families, and about 177 Kroomen, numbers in all about 430. Garrison station, Georgetown, on northeast coast.

The island is the resort of the sea turtle, which come in thousands to lay their eggs in the sand. In 1898, 155 were taken, from 308 to 728 lbs. in weight ; they are stored in ponds, and eventually killed and distributed among the people, a few being sent to the Lords Commissioners of the Ad- miralty. Rabbits, wild goats, partridges, pheasants and guinea-fowl are more or less numerous on the island, which is, besides, the breeding ground of myriads of sea-birds. Imports from the United Kingdom (1897), 6,651Z,, mostly stores. The island is included in the Postal Union. Captain in Charge, Captain J. E. Blaxland, R.N.

Reference.

Gill (Mrs. D.), Six Months in Ascension. 8. London, 1878. Johnston (Sir Harryj, The Colonisation of Africa. Cambridge, 1809.

BASUTOLAND.

Basutoland forms an irregular oval on the north-east of the Cape Colony, The Orange Free State, Natal, and the Cape Colony form its boundaries. Its area is estimated at 10,293 square miles. The territory, which is well watered and has a fine climate, is stated to be the best grain- producing country in South Africa, and the abundant grass enables the Basutos to rear immense herds of cattle. The country is really one continuous elevated plateau, though broken and rugged.

Basutoland was annexed to the Cape in August 1871 ; but it was placed directly under the authority of the Crown from March 13, 1884. The terri- tory is now governed by a Resident Commissioner under the direction of the High Commissioner for South Africa, the latter jjossessing the jegislative authority, which is exercised by proclamation. For fiscal and other purposes the country is divided into seven districts, namely : Maseru, Leribe, Cornet Spruit, Berea, Mafeking, Quthing, and ' Quacha's Nek.' Each of the dis- tricts is subdivided into wards, presided over by hereditary chiefs allied to the Moshesh family.

According to the census taken in 1891 the population consisted of 578 Europeans and 218,324 natives; population in 1895 estimated at 250,000. As European settlement is prohibited, the white population will remain more or less limited to the few engaged in trade, government, and missionary work. Maseru, the capital and largest town, has a population of 862, of whom 99 are Europeans.

The productions are wool, wheat, mealies, and Kaffir corn. There are indications of iron and copper, and coal has been found and is used in some