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   Chapter 31 THE TRADE FEATURES OF SOUTH AMERICA

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Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


SOUTH AMERICA, A FERTILE CONTINENT WITH DRAWBACKS

South America is an immense but very fertile continent, whose natural resources are as yet scarcely begun to be utilised. Though not so large as North America, it has a far greater area of productive soil-and, indeed, much of its soil is quite unsurpassed in fertility. It suffers, however, from two great drawbacks. 1. A great portion of its area (four fifths) lies within the torrid zone. In the low coast regions of this torrid area, and also in the low forest regions watered by the great flat rivers of the interior, the climate is for the most part unendurable to white men. 2. South America has been unfortunate in its settlement and colonisation. Until in recent years colonisation as understood in Anglo-Saxon communities has scarcely been attempted in South America at all. All the earlier immigrations from the Old World were prompted by the thought of getting gold and silver and precious stones-if need were by the spoliation and enslavery of the natives. Only a small proportion of the population-not more than a quarter of the whole-consists of whites, and these are principally from Spain and Portugal. These conquerors of the continent have not in the main succeeded in establishing either stable forms of government or high types of civilisation. Furthermore, the mixed races-the mestizos or metis, as they are called, the descendants of the earlier Europeans and the natives-instead of advancing in civilisation have for some time past been retrograding. Then, again, there is a large negro element, the descendants of Africans once imported as slaves, to still further complicate the race question; and there is a considerable element partly negro and partly Indian. In only one state, Argentina, can affairs be said to be really prosperous, and even in Argentina the civilisation developed by its prosperity is gross and material rather than refined and intellectual. The next most prosperous and important states are Brazil and Chile. Perhaps Uruguay, though the smallest of all the states, should be placed after Argentina. The remaining independent states of the continent-Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay-are all states of the prevailing South American type. Their governments are more or less unstable. They are terribly burdened with debt, and their credit is such that they must pay high rates of interest. The civilisation once introduced among their native races by the zeal of Spanish missionaries is deteriorating if not vanishing. And even among their leading classes there is much to be desired in the observance of the ordinary principles of right and wrong.

EUROPEAN IMMIGRATION IN SOUTH AMERICA

All the South American states enumerated above, with the exception of Brazil, were first taken possession of and "settled" by the Spanish, and the Spanish language still remains in them the language of government, education, and society. Brazil was first taken possession of and "settled" by the Portuguese, and in Brazil the Portuguese language prevails, just as elsewhere in the continent the Spanish language prevails. Among the natives many different languages are found, but in Brazil a "common language" is used, one introduced by the original Portuguese missionaries, and understood by nearly all the tribes. Between Brazil and Venezuela is a triangular piece of country called Guiana, which, unlike the rest of South America, is still under the control of European powers. It consists of three parts-French Guiana, Dutch Guiana, and British Guiana-colonies of France, Holland, and Great Britain, respectively. Leaving out Guiana, South America has received its entire civilisation from Spain and Portugal, and, with the exception of Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, there has been little or no emigration to any South American country except from these two European countries. To Argentina, however, there has been a large emigration from Italy especially, but also from France, Great Britain (mainly from Ireland and Wales), Germany, and Sweden. A similar emigration has taken place to Uruguay, though the foreigners in Uruguay are principally Basques, a people that live on the border-land between Spain and France, but are neither Spanish nor French. In Brazil the immigration, where it has not been Portuguese, has been chiefly Italian and German, and in the temperate region of the extreme south of Brazil a large German population exists. Everywhere in South America the parts most prosperous are the parts that have come most directly under the influence of recent European emigration.

THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC

The Argentine Republic, or "Argentina," as it is popularly called, is the most prosperous and most important of all the South American states. Its area (1,319,247 square miles) is equal to the total area of the States of the United States east of the Mississippi and Missouri, including the Dakotas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Although a portion of this vast area is not of much value for agricultural purposes, especially in Patagonia, a very large portion of it does consist of soil of great fertility, while the climate, which for the most part is a temperate one, is such as is well suited to Europeans and white people generally. The population May 10, 1895, was 4,094,911. Of this population it is estimated that over 850,000 are Italians, 183,000 French, 161,000 recently emigrated Spaniards, 60,000 English, and 54,000 Germans and Swedes. The language of the government and of the schools is Spanish. At one time in Argentina there was a disposition to take the United States as a model in everything, but of late years there has been a tendency toward taking France as a model in manners and customs. This disposition to imitate European peoples is particularly true of the wealthy classes.

ARGENTINA'S RAPID PROGRESS

The pride and boast of Argentina has been its rapid progress. In the thirty years ending 1886 the immigration was over a million. From 1886 to 1889 it was from 100,000 a year to 200,000 a year. In 1890, owing to the financial crisis of that year, it fell away almost to nothing. Since 1890 it has gradually increased until now it is about 100,000 a year again. In 1869 the population was only 1,837,000. Now it is over 4,000,000. Similarly the capital city, Buenos Ayres, has made an increase not easily paralleled. In 1869 its population was only 187,126. In 1887 it was 423,996. By the census of 1895 it was 663,854. To-day it is said to be 750,000. Of this number about one half are foreigners. The high protective tariff established by Argentina in 1878 had the effect of instituting many small industries in Buenos Ayres, and to this cause the exceedingly rapid growth of its population is partly attributable.

ARGENTINA'S AGRICULTURE AND MANUFACTURES

The great prosperity of Argentina has been due to the extent and immediate availability of its agricultural resources, for its forest wealth remains undeveloped, and its mineral resources are comparatively scanty. Its vast treeless and stoneless plains have needed no "improvements" to make them fit for settlement, and the soil which covers them being of virgin richness bears crop after crop without fertilising and with very little cultivation. Immigrants arrive in the country without a dollar and in twenty years are owners of estates of 5000 acres each. In no country in the world has agricultural extension been more rapid. In twenty years the acreage under cultivation increased 1400 per cent. The amount under cultivation in wheat alone increased 2600 per cent. The wheat production averages 40,000,000 bushels, which is not far short of one fourth of the total wheat export of the United States. The production for 1897 was 60,000,000 bushels, although the amount exported was much less than that. The wheat product is indeed very variable, owing to droughts and locusts, for, like Australia, Argentina is uncertain in its rainfall. The corn crop is steadier, and in 1896 amounted (for export alone) to 60,000,000 bushels. More i

mportant in the aggregate than the direct products of the soil are the indirect products. There are 22,000,000 cattle kept in Argentina, 75,000,000 sheep, and 4,500,000 horses. The total exportation of animals and animal products amounts to $70,-000,000. Of this exportation the principal item is wool, the wool-clip of Argentina being, in weight, one seventh of the total wool-clip of the world. Unfortunately, however, Argentina wool is very dirty, and when washed reduces to one third, while Australian wool reduces only to two thirds or three fifths and is free from seeds. The profit accruing to the Argentina wool-grower is thereby lessened. But, nevertheless, wool-growing in Argentina is a very profitable industry, and many farmers (principally Irish settlers) have from 50,000 to 100,000 sheep each. Cattle-farming is carried on mostly by native Argentines, and many cattle farms are stocked with as many as 10,000 cattle and 2000 horses each. The great exports of Argentina, therefore, after wheat and corn and wool, are hides and skins, tallow, chilled beef, and mutton and bones. There are five factories in Buenos Ayres engaged wholly in chilling mutton, and the export of chilled mutton to Great Britain alone is $5,000,000 a year. Another growing agricultural product is wine, the yearly production being 1,500,000 gallons. Notwithstanding Argentina's magnificent forest areas, but little timber is exported or even manufactured for home consumption. The other principal manufacturing industries are carriage-, cart-, and harness-making, cigarette- and match-making, preserving and tinning meat, brewing, flour- and corn-milling, and the making of macaroni.

BUENOS AYRES

The most prosperous part of South America.

Buenos Ayres, the capital of Argentina, is the largest city not only in South America but in the whole southern hemisphere. The La Plata, at whose mouth it stands, affords navigation into all the northern parts of the republic, as well as into the neighbouring states of Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia. The riverside at Buenos Ayres is at all times of the year a perfect forest of masts and smoke-stacks belonging to the shipping that supplies this navigation. Recently, at a cost of $25,000,000, the river, which here is shallow, has been deepened and new wharves and docks have been built, and ocean-going vessels of the deepest draught (which formerly used to be lightened fourteen miles away) can now unload or be loaded right in the very heart of the city. The total commerce of the republic amounts to $200,000,000 or $225,000,000 a year, and of this trade Buenos Ayres transacts seven eighths in imports and three fifths in exports. The amount of this trade secured by the United States is about a tenth, running from $12,000,000 to $24,000,000. In 1896 it was only $12,500,000. The principal export trade is with France ($24,000,000), Great Britain ($14,000,000), Germany ($13,000,000), and Belgium. Great Britain does not buy Argentina wool. The principal import trade is with Great Britain ($45,000,000), Germany ($14,000,000), France ($12,000,000), and Italy. The Buenos Ayreans are fond of display and of dress and of ornamentation, and the importations from France and Italy are principally of goods to gratify this fondness. There is a considerable exportation of wheat, flour, tobacco, and maté (Paraguay tea) to Brazil and other South American states. Buenos Ayres is the centre of the Argentina railway system, which consists of about 9000 miles of road. There are 25,500 miles of telegraph routes. The national debt amounts to $430,000,000. The provincial debts amount to about $140,000,000. The taxation amounts to nearly ten per cent. of the earnings of the people, as against four and one half per cent. in Canada and five per cent. in Australia.

BRAZIL

Brazil is a much larger and more populous country than Argentina. Its area (3,209,878 square miles) is as large as that of all the United States, less half of Alaska. A great portion of this area is of superlatively tropical richness of production. But, unfortunately, the most fertile parts of Brazil are the parts least fit for settlement by white men. The population by the last census is approximately 14,500,000, but less than 4,000,000 of this population are pure whites. The negroes that were lately slaves number over 2,000,000, and there are supposed to be about 1,000,000 Indians. Intermediate between the Indians and negroes and the white population are the numerous mixed races or half-breeds. Agriculture is the chief industry, but is of two kinds: the tropical agriculture of the central and south central seaboard, which is carried on principally by negro and mulatto labour, and the agriculture of the temperate region of the extreme south, which is carried on mainly by colonists from Europe, the recent European emigration being almost wholly directed toward that region. Almost the whole of the interior of Brazil still remains unsettled and untilled. The coffee yield of Brazil is enormous and is its principal product. The production amounts to 8,000,000 bags or over 1,000,000,000 pounds annually, which is more than two thirds of the total amount of coffee used in the world. Labour for coffee cultivation is scarce and dear, and in the earlier stages of the production of the berry the Brazilian coffee gets badly treated. But machinery is used wherever possible, and in the later stages of the production the Brazilian coffee gets the best attention that skill can devise. As a consequence the coffee product of Brazil is rising in the estimation of coffee-users. The shrubs are cultivated under palm-trees so as to keep them from the intense heat of the sun. Three or four harvests of berries are obtained in a year. Rio Janeiro and Santos are the two chief centres of the coffee industry. Next to coffee the chief tropical product is sugar, the export of which is about 250,000 tons annually, principally from Pernambuco. Other products of the tropical area of Brazil are cocoa and cotton, from the cultivated coast regions, and rubber and Brazil-nuts, from the dense forests of the lower Amazon; also dyewoods and cabinet woods, drugs, and diamonds. For many years Brazil was celebrated for its diamonds-obtained chiefly from a town in the interior named Diamantina. The present diamond production is not large. From the temperate agricultural region of the south, dried beef, hides, and tallow are the chief exports. The greatest customer of Brazilian produce is the United States, which takes $70,000,000 worth. Great Britain is next, with $35,000,000 worth (in rubber alone in 1896 $15,000,000). Brazil gets her goods principally from Great Britain, the United States, France, and Germany-from Great Britain $20,000,000, from the United States $13,000,000. The imports include almost all articles needed for domestic and manufacturing purposes-particularly cottons and woollens, ironware, machinery, lumber, flour, rice, dried meats, kerosene, butter, and fish. There are, however, 155 cotton factories established in Brazil, with capital to the value of $50,000,000, and cotton manufacturing is protected by very heavy duties. But agricultural machinery and such like manufactures are very lightly taxed. The principal food of the people is manioc flour (tapioca).

RIO JANEIRO

Rio Janeiro (674,972), the capital and principal city, though a poor-looking place, is situated on a magnificent harbour-one of the very finest in the world. About 1500 vessels, with tonnage amounting to 2,500,000 tons, enter Rio Janeiro with foreign trade annually. Nine thousand miles of railway have been built in Brazil and 3500 more are in course of construction, and 12,000 miles of telegraph routes have been built. Rio Janeiro is the chief railway centre, but other centres are Rio Grande do Sul, in the temperate regions of the south, and Bahia and Pernambuco, in the tropical regions. The public (national) debt of Brazil is not far short of $1,000,000,000, bearing interest (a great part of it) at from four to six per cent. per annum.

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