Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


America, North - United States: Geography. - The United States contain over three million square miles of almost uniformly arable land, diversified by mountains, lakes, and rivers in great number, the Mississippi river with its tributaries representing in itself a water basin area of more than a million square miles.

The coast-line from Virginia to the Canadian border is indented with many excellent harbours, notably Portland in Maine; Newport in Rhode Island; New London in Connecticut; New York, and Newport News in Virginia, in which the largest ships enter with comfort. The ports of the Southern States are many, but as a rule difficult to enter, and of comparatively unsatisfactory accommodation. The Pacific coast has in San Francisco one of the best ports of the world, but very few others of consequence.

The mountain ranges that follow the Pacific coast-line may be said roughly to begin at Cape Horn, to reach through South America, Central America, and Mexico, and after crossing the United States along its western border, to continue through Canada, not ending until they lose themselves in the unexplored recesses of the Arctic. Between the eastern and western edge of this range is a great enclosed plateau or table-land, formerly marked on the maps as the "Great American Desert," but it has proved to be of great value, not only in mineral wealth, but for farming as well. This great highland basin receives the waters of rivers which rise in the surrounding mountains, and gathers it into lakes which have no outlet to the sea. Of these the best known is called the Great Salt Lake in the Mormon country.

The range of mountains following the Atlantic coast-line reaches only from the State of Alabama, near the Gulf of Mexico, to near the mouth of the Saint Lawrence river. This range, like that on the west, is rich in springs and divides the rivers that flow westward to the Mississippi, and those that flow eastward to the Atlantic. Though not averaging more than 2,000 feet as against about 10,000 of the Rocky Mountains, the eastern range, sometimes called Alleghany or Appalachian, produces greater and more important streams for purposes of commerce and manufacture than those of the Pacific coast.

Fauna, etc. - Nearly all the animals known to the temperate zone of Europe thrive in the United States; notably horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, and fowl of every kind. The great plains of the west are covered with a natural grass which supports vast herds of cattle at a nominal expense. It is only in the more northerly States that these herds require shelter in the winter season.

The buffalo, as game, is nearly extinct, and the same may be said of the elk. The grizzly bear is still found in the fastnesses of the Rocky Mountains, and many of his species are common in the east as well as the west. The most exciting sport in the west to-day is perhaps hunting the Rocky Mountain goat, an animal surpassing the chamois in courage and power. In the north-eastern section, near the Canadian border, the moose is still to be found, and red deer and antelope are still abundant in all thinly settled neighbourhoods.

Snakes are found everywhere, but never intrude themselves upon the wayfarer. The rattlesnake is one of the most common as well as the most dangerous.

Minerals. - Coal is found in apparently unlimited quantity along the eastern range of mountains, particularly in Pennsylvania, and close to the coal are equally rich deposits of iron. Manufacturing is therefore carried on under the greatest natural advantages. Along the great lakes are rich copper mines, although the great inland basin has not yet proved itself particularly rich in mineral. The Western or Rocky Mountain range is marvellously rich in minerals of all kinds, but notably gold on its western sides, and silver on its eastern. For over forty years mining for the precious metals has been carried on here, and so far there appears to be no diminution of the supply. In 1896 the silver mines yielded over fifteen million pounds sterling worth, and the gold ones about ten million.

Railways, Canals, Roads, etc. - Railways were introduced in America shortly after their successful inception in England, but owing to the very long distances to be traversed, the sparseness of the population, and the vastly cheaper communication by steamboats, the early progress of railway construction was slow compared with that of England. Since 1860, however, railways have increased with feverish rapidity, so that there are about 180,000 miles in operation, all owned by private companies.

The canals are of great extent and value, the principal one being the "Erie Canal," connecting the great lakes with tide water on the Hudson river near New York, nearly 500 miles. Through this canal comes a large share of the corn that goes to Europe.

Climate. - The northern half of the United States is colder in winter and hotter in summer than it ever is in England or even in Central Europe.

The weather is, however, very capricious, and with the rapid shifting of the wind one may be in the same day hot almost to desperation, then cold to the point of needing a fire, then hot again, etc.

The population of America has increased very rapidly in the last hundred years. From less than four millions in 1790 it became nearly thirteen millions in 1830; over thirty-one millions in 1860; over fifty millions in 1880; and in 1890 no less than sixty millions. By the census of 1890 the whites represented over fifty-four millions; the blacks and Indians over seven millions; Chinese over 107,000. There are but 66,000 civilised Indians in the country, against about 216,000 who lead savage lives.

The negroes were first introduced by the English as slaves in 1620 in the colony of Virginia, and rapidly increased owing partly to the profitable character of the planting in which they were utilised, and partly owing to the good care taken of them. The first census of 1790 enumerated the black slaves at 697,897. These in 1860 had increased to nearly four millions, in 1890 about seven millions.

Between 1855 and 1884 there came to America nearly three hundred thousand Chinamen, about half of whom have since returned after making their fortunes. They are not liked as settlers by those who feel their competition most keenly, and in 1882 Congress passed a bill forbidding their coming into the country for the space of ten years. The outcry against them was particularly strong in the neighbourhood of San Francisco, where they congregated in large numbers, and at once competed industrially with whites, who had been accustomed to receive wages of unusual magnitude. The white population is derived from various sources, mainly British.

Political History. - The Dutch, Swedes, Germans, Spaniards, and French have all in turn made attempts to plant colonies in North America, but all have failed to materially modify the overwhelmingly English character of the institutions and the language. The most important colony was planted on the borders of Massachusetts Bay in the year 1620 by 102 Puritans, the "Pilgrim Fathers," from the eastern counties, who sailed from Falmouth in the Mayflower. They reached the New World with no knowledge of the particular country they were come to, about two weeks before Christmas in a winter of extreme severity, and immediately organised themselves into a civil community according to the tradition of free Englishmen.

The Mayflower returned to England to bring more Puritans over, and this emigration continued steadily in the same direction.

The New England colony rapidly increased, and the English spirit of adventure soon showed itself in the way new land was acquired to the westward as soon as the necessity for expansion was felt. From Massachusetts Bay adventurous bands penetrated the forests, planting colonies of Englishmen everywhere, until soon they had crossed the Connecticut river and reached the Hudson. The Dutch who had settled there were easily dispossessed, and New York was the name given to what had been formerly known as New Amsterdam. From the south came also a movement of adventurous Englishmen who had gone to Virginia in 1607. These were not Puritans, but Cavaliers. They had large estates, introduced negro slavery into the country, and reproduced something of English country life on a large scale, excepting that negroes took the place of the usual tenantry. The Quakers later made a strong colony in Pennsylvania; the English Catholics in Maryland; and by the middle of the eighteenth century the whole Atlantic seaboard from Florida, under Spanish rule, to Canada, under French, could boast of being one English country.

In 1759 Canada was taken from France after a gallant struggle in the course of a seven years' war which concluded in 1763.

In 1765 the English Ministry attempted to lay taxes on the colonies, which they resented as unconstitutional, insisting that there should be no taxation without representation; that they were Englishmen and not a conquered country; that they had borne heavy burdens for the mother country in fighting their country's battles with the French. The Crown insisted, however, and the irritation became aggravated from year to year. The colonies united to obstruct measures which they regarded as illegal. The first blood was spilled in 1775.

The war thus opened lasted until 1783, when the last British soldier embarked at New York, and the "United States of America" was recognised.

The close of the revolutionary war left the country in a painful condition politically, although materially she had suffered comparatively little. The need of a common government stronger than a mere temporary federation was keenly felt, particularly to make the country appear respectable amongst other nations.

In 1789, after much debate, opposition and amendment, the constitution under which Americans now live was brought to perfection and subscribed by the majority of States. Washington was elected for the term of four years to be President, and on the expiration of this term was re-elected for another. This was fortunate for the country, as it stood in great need of the guidance of a man so moderate in his views.

In 1799 the United States had a naval war with the French Republic which lasted two years, and which demonstrated once again that New Englanders could build, man, and fight frigates in a manner worthy of their ancestry. The French were defeated wherever the fighting force was anywhere equal. The Napoleonic wars that followed embroiled America once more with the mother country (1812 to 1815), a war in which both sides fought with characteristic courage, and from which neither can be said to have derived any particular satisfaction.

In 1860 the slavery question, that had been a growing source of uneasiness to politicians ever since the foundation of the government, came to a head, with the attempt on the part of one-half of the country to secede from the other.

The North fought to prevent the dismemberment of the Union; she put into the field at one time a million of men, and by the year 1865 forced the last remnant of the Southern army, numbering not more than 30,000 men, to surrender. The war was fought to the bitter end, and when the last rebel had laid down his arms no pains were spared to bury the past and reconcile the South to the new order of things. Jefferson Davis, the Southern leader, was allowed to go free, as well as all others who had taken part in the great conspiracy to overturn the government. No Southerner was deprived from exercising all legal rights he formerly enjoyed, excepting as regarded blacks. Slavery was abolished by one stroke of the pen, as a war measure in 1863, and after the declaration of peace the country would not listen to the idea of reinslaving blacks who had fought in defence of the government.

Apart from slavery the question of Free Trade or Protection has had much to do with producing irritation between the agricultural and manufacturing sections of the country from the adoption of the constitution to the civil war.

In 1898, in consequence of the state of affairs in Cuba, the United States declared war with Spain. After a brief campaign, in which America gained brilliant naval victories at Manila and Santiago, Spain was compelled to admit defeat, and Cuba. was released from her rule and placed under the protectorate of the States; Puerto Rico was also ceded, and the Philippine Islands were made virtually independent.

Government. - The constitution of the United States is the natural outcome of the doctrines of civil liberty and self-government which the Puritan Englishmen of the year 1020 brought with them. According to this constitution, the President, or head of the State, is elected for four years. He has frequently been re-elected at the expiration of his term of office, but never more than once. He appoints the heads of departments, who form his cabinet. These do not sit in the House, and are: responsible only to him, retiring of course upon the expiration of his legal term of office.

Members of Congress, corresponding to the English M.P., are elected for two years, are paid, meet each year, and exercise powers analogous to the House of Commons. The Upper House is composed of two representatives from each of the forty-two States, who are not, like the Congressmen, elected by the people, but by the local legislatures of the respective States.

Laws must pass both Houses and receive the President's approval - which he very often refuses. When he does so, Congress may introduce the same law and pass it in spite of his veto; but this is rarely done, for the President does not exercise his highest prerogative without giving reasons which satisfy the public sentiment of the country if they do not that of the Congress. But even if the President should allow a bad law to pass, there is another constitutional safeguard in the shape of a Supreme Court, whose members are selected from the most eminent judges, appointed for life and entrusted with the task of deciding whether or not laws are in conformity with the constitution.

Religion. - The constitution grants equal rights to the adherents of all creeds, and nearly every known religion is represented. Roman Catholics represent the strongest single sect, the most strongly organised and the most aggressive, claiming in 1883 about seven million adherents. The Protestants (all sects included) return about thirty million church members or communicants; the Mormons number nearly 180,000.

Education. - But for the blacks in the south and the mass of immigrants, the United States would appear remarkably well educated. In 1860, however, 13.4 per cent. were unable to read, and 17 per cent, unable to write. The most illiterate sections of the country are those occupied by the blacks in the south, and the ignorant immigrants who crowd into the large towns. The best schools are found in New England, and wherever the descendants of the English Puritans have led the way into the far west. No one in America has any reason for growing up without education, for the States and local communities are generous in providing well equipped schools of all grades and free to all.

Trade and Commerce. - The country has always manufactured sufficient for its needs, when forced to do so by war; and has even, in the last century, exported many articles of manufacture. Since 1860, however, the government has been in the hands of protectionists, who place taxes upon imports so that the people may be forced to buy expensive things at home instead of cheap things abroad. This system has made the cost of living very high in America, and has made it difficult for American manufacturers to compete with England in neutral markets.

In 1890 the country revolted against a more than usually Protectionist Bill, and in the elections its adherents were hopelessly beaten.

The principal articles of export are cotton, corn, tobacco, meat, dairy produce, mineral oil, and wood. The manufactured articles exported are principally such as excel by displaying inventive power, and the result of very elaborate machinery - for instance, pistols, rifles, watches, clocks. In these the cost of labour is small compared with the profits arising from the use of machinery on a large scale.

Military and Naval - The United States has a regular standing army of a trifle over 27,000 men, of which 8,000 are cavalry almost constantly occupied with the Indians on the Mexican and Canadian borders. This small force is intended as the skeleton of a vastly larger one in case of war. The people, however, distrust militarism, and cherish the hope that there may never be another war. The armed, equipped, and drilled volunteers of the country number less than 100,000, a small number for a country whose population capable of bearing arms is presumably six and a half millions.

The United States navy is relatively better maintained, and now includes many first-rate swift armed cruisers as well as battle-ships. The expense of this naval establishment is a trifle over six million pounds a year, while that of the army, including pensions, is nearly twenty-five million pounds.

South and Central. - Extent, Configuration, Islands. - South America, a continent, about eighty-six times larger than the United Kingdom, with an area of 7,465,000 square miles, and a population estimated at 34,643,500, or four inhabitants to the square mile. Geographically, South America is a peninsula joined to the continent of North America by the isthmus of Central America: this latter region has an area of 928,800 square miles, a population estimated at 14,656,000, or about twenty-one inhabitants to the square mile.

The outline of South America is less monotonous than those of Australia and Africa, but is very much more so than the coasts of North America, and, like Africa, it tapers from its broadest part near the equator to an apex in the South Atlantic Ocean. The distance between the extreme northern and southern points, Point Gallinas (lat. 12° 29' N., and long. 71° 31' W.) and Cape Horn (lat. 55° 55' S., and long. 68° 6' W.), that is, nearly due north and south, is 4,514 miles. The distance between the extreme eastern and western points, from Cape San Roque (long. 35° 20' W., and lat. 5° 27' S.) to Point Parma (long. 81° 35' W., and lat. 4° 50' S.), or nearly due east and west, is 3,058 miles. The total coast-line is about 15,000 miles, or 4,000 miles less than that of the much smaller but far more varied continent of Europe. The islands of the South and Central American regions (excluding the West Indies) are comparatively few in number and insignificant in size, and consist mainly of the Patagonian Archipelago, Terra del Fuego, Falkland Islands and Georgia Islands in the southern extremity of America; Juan Fernandez, a few smaller islets, the Gallapago Islands, and the Revillagigedo Islands off the west coast of South America, and a few islets along the east coast.

Physical Features. - In the distribution of the elevations and depressions of the surface of South America, and in its fluvial systems, there is a remarkable analogy when it is compared with that of the North American continent, for in both continents there are vast plains in the interior, with mountain chains in the neighbourhood of the coasts, on the east and west borders of the continents. The principal features of South and North America, which may well compare with each other in their respective situations, courses, or directions, are the Andes and the Rocky Mountains on the west coast; and the Sierras do Mar and Mantigueira in Brazil, with the Appalachian or Alleghany Mountains in the United States on the eastern borders of the continents. The rivers Paraguay and Parana are represented by the rivers Missouri and Mississippi; the Amazons and its vast lowland plains, by the river St. Lawrence and the great lakes region; the pampas lands of Argentina compare with the prairies of the United States; the Lake and Gulf of Maracaibo in the north of South America has its representative in Hudson's Bay in the north of North America; and finally, the great hollow or depression of the land, which extends right through the heart of the continent in a northerly direction, from Buenos Ayres by the rivers Paraguay. Guapore, Madeira, Negro, and Orinoco to the Spanish Main, has its equivalent in North America in a somewhat similar course via the Mississippi and Missouri, the tributaries of the latter to Lake Winnipeg and Nelson river to Hudson Bay.

The prominent feature of South and Central America is the vast mountain system of the Andes which stretches for four thousand miles through the former in one unbroken range from south to north along the Pacific coast of the southern continent, and onwards in peaks or plateaux through the isthmus until it merges into the Rocky Mountains. The summits are higher than any in the New World. The broadest parts of the range are between the 20th and 25th parallels, where it is upwards of 400 miles across. The Andes surpass the Himalaya Mountains in length, breadth, and continuity, but not in elevation. No other region of the world contains so great a number of active volcanoes as are met with in the Andes. In the Patagonian section there are four; in Chile there are a great number of volcanic summits, the most notable being Aconcagua, 23,944 feet above the sea, the highest mountain in the system and the loftiest volcano of the globe. The Bolivian and Peruvian Andes contain few active volcanoes, but in the Columbian and Equatorial section, immediately to the north and south of the equator, volcanoes are numerous, such as Antisana, Cotopaxi, and other high summits, which are in a frequent state of eruption. The height of the perpetual snow-line of the Andes varies from 15,800 ft. under the equator, to 15,900 to 18,000 ft. in Bolivia, and to 14,000 to 6,000 ft. in Chile. There are several other minor mountain systems indicated on maps of South America, but with the exception of the Sierra da Mantigueira or of those in the States of Sao Paulo and Minas Geraes, Brazil, and of their ramifications into Bahia and Espirito Santo, and also of the central detached group of the Sierra dos Pyroneos in Goyaz, all the other map-indicated ranges are the scarped bluffs of table-lands surrounding, or bordering on, lower plateaux, which, from those lower levels, have the appearance of flat-topped mountains. In other cases, the so-called sierras or mountains are isolated vestiges of eroded table-lands. Brazil, especially, abounds with such examples.

Hydrography. - The drainage of 2,800,000 square miles of the South American continent finds its exit at the mouth of the Amazons, on the equator, and at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata at Buenos Ayres, consequently these two fluvial systems combined represent a system larger than any other two fluvial systems of the globe. The remaining riverine systems of South America, although insignificant in comparison to those of the Amazons and Plata, are nevertheless amongst the great rivers of the globe, and consist of the Rio Sao Francisco, draining the Eastern regions of Brazil; the Paranahyba in north-eastern Brazil, and the Orinoco and Magdalena rivers in Venezuela and Columbia, in the north of South America. The tropical zones of South America, east of the Andes, are generally some of the most abundantly watered regions of the globe; but the north-east portions of Brazil are occasionally subjected to long and devastating droughts, and there, the soil being mainly of a light or sandy nature, many of the large rivers and all the minor streams dry up, and compel the inhabitants (mostly stock-raisers) to abandon their herds and seek a refuge in the cities of the coast. Another region of South America - the desert of Atacama on the Pacific coast between 27° and 20° south latitude and situated between the Andes and the ocean - is a perfectly sterile tract, where a drop of rain never falls; it is a region of loose sand and naked rocks. The exceptional dryness of this region has, however, been the means of preserving intact its justly celebrated and valuable deposits of nitrate of soda. The northern coast regions of Brazil, on the contrary, at times show the greatest rainfall of any country on the globe. In Para, in former years, it rained almost every day of the year. At S. Louis de Maranhao 276 inches have fallen in a few weeks. At Demerara six inches of rain have been collected within twelve hours, and at Cayenne as many as twenty-one inches in a single day. The tropical rainy season is, however, confined to a brief period with considerable intervals of bright sunshine, and occurs in some regions in the summer, in others in the winter. South America has few lakes of large. size. The most important is Lake Titicaca (3,800 miles in area), 12,847 feet above the sea, and surrounded by some of the loftiest peaks of the Andes. Several salt water lakes occur in Argentina. Lake Maracaibo is near the shores of the Caribbean Sea, and Lagoa dos Patos in the south-east of Brazil is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a long narrow strip of land. In the much smaller area of Central America lakes are more frequent, for instance, Lake Chepala on the Mexican highlands is of large size, and the still larger Lake of Nicaragua (3,500 square miles) is farther to the southward, and also on high land, and there is also the Lake of Managua, or Leon (430 square miles) to the northwest of Lake Nicaragua.

Mineralogy. - South and Central America, are particularly rich in minerals. Diamonds are found in Brazil, in the States of Minas Geraes, Matto Grosso, Bahia, Sao Paulo and Parana. Gold is found in every country of the continent. The Andes in Peru, Chile, and the highlands of Mexico have long been noted for their wonderful silver mines, and the metal has also been found in Brazil. Copper exists in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, and Brazil. Tin has been discovered in Peru and in the sands of the Rio Paraopeba, Minas Geraes, Brazil. Coal is being mined in Chile and in Brazil. Iron is most abundant and rich in quality in Brazil, Columbia, Bolivia, Mexico, etc. Lead is found in Peru, Mexico, and Bolivia.

Vegetation. - In no part of the world is vegetation so varied and luxuriant as in tropical America, Botanists have already classified over 20,000 species of its flora, amongst which in the Amazons alone are over 100 varieties of palms, and 550 of orchids. It would therefore be useless to attempt to describe it by mentioning a few examples; suffice it to say that there is an enormous variety of timber for construction of all kinds, textile, oleaginous and aromatic plants, gums, resins, dye woods, and alimentary roots and medicinal plants. The virgin forest of the Amazons, 1,300 miles long by 800 miles broad, is the largest forest area of the globe, and amidst its many wonderful productions no one excels in commercial importance the indiarubber tree. Seventeen thousand tons of rubber have been annually exported from this rich floral region, representing a value of between six and seven millions sterling, all of which has been obtained from the wilds of this vast forest. Coffee is the principal cultivated product of Brazil, Venezuela, and Mexico, and other Central American States.

Fauna. - For the sportsman, especially the hunter of large game, Africa is infinitely preferable to South or Central America, where the larger animals, few and far between, are only the tapirs, the jaguars, pumas, and the camel of the Andes, the llama, the capybaras or waterhogs, the large ant-eating bears, and the South American ostrich, the rhea. The forests abound with strange and beautiful insects, and, occasionally monkeys, but otherwise little other animal life is there met with. It is in the breezy, sunny, flower-decked plains or rolling uplands, or by the river side, that numerous birds and quadrupeds and glistening insects and snakes are found. The rivers of South and Central America are generally well stocked with great varieties of fish, and shrimps, prawns, lobsters, and other crustaceans are very abundant on the coasts, as well as oysters and many other species of testaceans, which in some places on the seaboard of Brazil are the almost exclusive food of the poor inhabitants.

Population. - The aboriginal inhabitants of South and Central America, excepting perhaps those of Peru conquered by Pizarro, show strong evidences of a common origin in some Mongolian race or races. There is a more strongly marked distinction between the North American Indians and the copper-coloured aboriginals of South America in language, habits, and customs and physical characteristics, than between the Hottentots and Zulus of Africa. The South American aboriginal is light copper or olive in colour, some are almost white; the hair is coarse, black and straight, the stature is below the average Circassian standard, the head is large, the eyes slanting, the face is generally devoid of hair and broad with prominent cheek bones, the nostrils are wide and the nose often aquiline, the neck is short, the shoulders broad and chest deep, the hips are narrow, the arms long, the hands and feet small and delicate, especially the hands. The aboriginals of South America are divided into two great families, the Guarany and the Tupy, but the difference is mainly one of dialect and location. The Guaranies occupied the southern regions and the Tupies the northern and central regions of South America, spreading into Central America and the West Indies. These two stocks have been subdivided into an infinite number of distinct tribes, each one speaking a different dialect from the others, and somewhat differing from each other in habits and customs. The population of South and Central America consists of Whites, Indians, Neguoes, and a mixture of Indian and Negro, Indian and Spaniard, Indian and Portuguese, Negro and Spaniard or Portuguese, and the result is the ringing of the changes of one such mixture with another, known collectively as Mestizoes (half-castes), such as Ladinos, Zambos, Mulattos, Quadroons, Octoroons, and various other subdivisions with different names according to their various degrees of descent. In Mexico alone, the number of known Indian tongues number 51 distinct languages, and 69 dialects, to which are added 62 idioms now extinct.

History, Political Constitution, Religions, etc. - The Spaniards and Portuguese were the discoverers of South and Central America. The former under Christopher Columbus first sighted the Guianas in 1458, and again under Vasco Nunez, in 1504. Venezuela was discovered by Columbus in 1498, and Mexico by him also in 1519; Peru by Pizarro in 1524, and Argentina by Juan Dias de Solis in 1513. Cape St. Augustine in North Brazil was first sighted by Vicente Yunez Pinzon, a former companion of Columbus, and the Portuguese, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, completed further discoveries of that country at the close of the fifteenth century. The whole region of South and Central America thus became colonised by the Spanish and Portuguese, the latter retaining Brazil and losing Uruguay. At various periods, the English, French, and Dutch contended with the Spaniards and Portuguese for the possession of various regions in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, the Guianas, and Venezuela. The Dutch especially for many years occupied a large portion of N.E. Brazil, and the French at one time occupied Rio de Janeiro. The English now only possess British Guiana and British Honduras; the French hold French Guiana, and the Dutch, Dutch Guiana. For about 300 years the crown of Spain controlled the destinies of the Spanish colonies, until, one and all, taking advantage of the French invasion of the another country, they succeeded in obtaining their independence; Mexico became independent in 1822, and in 1830 Texas fell to the United States. Argentina was the first to fight for its liberty, which it gained in 1810. Columbia followed in 1817, Chile in 1813, Peru in 1821, Venezuela in 1819, Bolivia in 1824, and the smaller states of Central America in about similar epochs. The whole of these separate nations of Spanish speaking peoples adopted republican government. On the other hand, the Portuguese in Brazil, on separating from the mother country, maintained a monarchical regime until 1889, when the Emperor Dom Pedro II. was deposed by a military insurrection, and a republic proclaimed and confirmed by the people in 1890.

With the exception of British Guiana and British Honduras, the national religion of the whole of the nations of South and Central America is that of the Roman Catholic Church.

Climate. - The climate of the vast region of South and Central America varies from the Arctic cold of Cape Horn, Patagonia, and the perpetual snows of the summits of the Andes to the sweltering heat of the summer of the tropical lowlands. Collectively, however, the north coast of South America and the coast-line of Central America are undoubtedly extremely hot and unhealthy regions. The equatorial regions do not show so high a temperature as do India, New York, or even London at times; the temperature is equable throughout the year, 75° to 90°.