Natural Advanced Geography

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Cover and Preface

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Cover and Preface: Page 1

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REPUBLIC OF PANAMA

Physical Features

The republic of Panama, which is situated between Costa Rica and Colombia, occupies the Isthmus of Panama. It lies between the Caribbean Sea on the north, and the Pacific Ocean on the south, and has an area of about 34,000 "square miles, being almost the same size as the state of Maine. The surface is mountainous, the Veragua Range attaining its greatest elevation in Mount Chiriqui (1126 feet) in the extreme west. The largest streams are in the central and eastern parts. Chief among these are the Tuira, Chepo, and Chagres rivers. The Climate is tropical, with an excessive rainfall. On the northern coast, where the vegetation is most luxuriant, the damp and hot climate is very unhealthful. On the higher mountains and on the south coast west of the city of Panama it is more healthful, as the rainfall is less and the temperature lower.

Resources and Industries

Dense forests cover most of the country, particularly on the Atlantic side. Here valuable timber and dye woods are obtained. Gold, salt, copper, iron, and other minerals are found. Agriculture is in rather a backward state, but some attention is given to grazing in the western parts. The chief industries, however, are those which are centered about the partly constructed interoceanic a a in the transport of foreign commerce over the railroad which crosses between Panama and Colon.

History and People

The region was explored by Balboa, who crossed the isthmus and discovered the Pacific in 1513. In 1718 Darien (Panama) became a part of the Spanish viceroyalty of New Granada (Colombia), which became independent of Spain in 1819. In November, 1903, the department of Panama seceded from Colombia and declared itself an independent republic. Panama has a population of about 228,000, which consists mostly of a mixed people of Spanish, Indian, and Negro origin. Panama, the chief city, with a population of 30,000 and Colon, are the largest cities and are important as the termini of both the railway and the proposed canal.

The Panama Canal

The route of the proposed canal follows closely that of the Panama Railway. While this route does not cross the isthmus at its narrowest point, other considerations made its selection desirable; particularly the low altitude of the watershed at this point and the location of its terminals, one at Colon on the Atlantic side, the other at Panama on the Pacific. The first attempt to cut a canal across the isthmus at this point was made in 1878, by a French company. The intention was to cut this canal through at sea level, but after excavating about seven miles from Colon, and elsewhere, the company failed and work ceased. Later another French company decided to construct a canal with locks, which would give it a summit level of 98 feet above the Caribbean Sea. Work on this project was in operation for several years, but comparatively little advance was made in construction. The construction of the canal is being carried on now by the United States government according to the following plan. Length of the canal is to be 49 miles; width at bottom, 200 feet or over; depth, about 45 feet; locks, 6; summit level, 85 feet; time of transit, 12 hours; estimated cost of construction, $140,000,000; acquiring property, etc., of Panama Canal Company, $40,000,000; total cost, 180,000,000; estimated time to complete, 9 years. Canal Zone. By a treaty made in 1904, the Republic of Panama has granted to the United States the perpetual use and control of a strip of territory known as the Canal Zone. This grant extends five miles on each side of the center line of the canal route and entire across the isthmus, but does not include the cities of Panama and Colon.

REPUBLIC OF CUBA

Physical Features

Cuba (see reference map XXIV), the largest and most western of the West Indies, is long and narrow, with a length of 720 miles and an average breadth of 80 miles. Its area, including 1300 coast islands, is over 44,000 square miles - a little smaller than Pennsylvania. The irregular coast line is bordered by coral reefs. From the lowland of the coast fertile meadows and plains extend inland to the mountains. The general course of most of the rivers is either north or south.

The Climate is tropical, but is considerably cooled by the ocean breezes: In the mountain districts a mild atmosphere prevails. There are two seasons in the year - a wet from May to October, and a dry during our winter. Hurricanes are of almost yearly occurrence, and are often very destructive. Earthquakes occur in eastern Cuba, but are seldom felt in the western parts.

Resources and Industries

The soil is remarkably rich and almost inexhaustible. The chief products are sugar cane, tobacco, coffee, oranges, bananas, and pineapples. The forests cover half the island. Of palms there are over thirty species. Among the valuable woods are mahogany, lignum-vitae, ebony, logwood, and the fragrant cedar of which cigar boxes are made.

Rich mines of copper and iron are worked in the vicinity of Santiago. Near Santa Clara is a large bed of asphaltum. Except the making of cigars, the industries of Cuba are mainly agriculture and the trade which grows out of it, and there are no mills or factories of importance. Inland commerce is aided by about 2000 miles of railroad. The common roads are mostly little more than footpaths, and goods are carried by means of ox carts and mules. The principal exports are sugar, tobacco, tropical fruits, molasses, and lumber. The imports are chiefly wheat and flour, rice, petroleum, and all manufactured articles.

History and People

Cuba, discovered by Columbus, October 28, 1492. was named Juaua. Afterwards it had several names, but finally retained the title Cuba, which the natives had given it before the discovery. The tyranny of the Spanish government incited five Cuban rebellions, the last - the war for independence - beginning in 1895. The war ended with the victory of the United States over Spain in 1898 and Spain relinquished her sovereignty in the West Indies. Cuba was placed under the protection of the United States, which transferred its control to the Cubans in 1902, when the Republic of Cuba was proclaimed. An insurrection in 1906 caused the United States again to assume a temporary government of the island.

The census of 1907 gave the population as 2,028,000, of which about one third were colored. The inhabitants embrace three classes: the Creoles, who form the better class of native Cubans; the Negroes, who are descended from African slaves; and the native Spaniards, numbering about 150,000.

Cities

Havana, with a population of about 282,000, is the capital and largest city. Situated on a broad harbor of the same naive, it is picturesque by location, and by its fine public buildings, pleasure grounds, and parks. Most of the foreign trade of the island passes through this port. Havana is a great tobacco market, and manufactures cigars and cigarettes extensively.

Santiago de Cuba, in the southeastern part of the island, is the second city in size and importance. It is noted for its excellent harbor, and is the center of trade the neighboring iron and copper mines. Other important towns are Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Cardenas, Manzanillo, and Santa Clara.

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