« AnteriorContinuar »
western range extending from that point northwestward to the neighbourhood of Alexandria, while the eastern range stretches to the head of the Red Sea. At the northern end of the long valley, below the point where the mountains diverge, and between them and the sea, lies the alluvial plain of Lower Egypt, intersected by the two great branches of the Nile which form between them the celebrated Delta. -Eastward of the Delta is a rich and productive valley, supposed to have been the Land of Goshen. The Isthmus of Suez forms one of the most important features of Egypt. The only river of Egypt is the Nile; whose periodical inundations, produced by the heavy annual rains within the tropics, are the cause of the fertility of the plains of this country. The lake Mareotis is a large shallow lagoon, southeast of Alexandria.
325. Climate and Productions.-Surrounded by arid deserts, Egypt is much hotter than most other countries under the same parallel of latitude; but its winters are piercingly cold. The north winds, which in Egypt have almost the constancy of trade winds, carry all the evaporation of the Mediterranean Sea towards Central Africa, where it is deposited in rains, leaving scarcely as much over Egypt as produces a few showers in the year. To its singularly constituted atmosphere, and to the regular inundations of the Nile, Egypt owes the advantage of containing within its limits almost all the cultivated vegetables of the old world. But Egypt is almost entirely destitute of forests. Cotton has lately become an article of great commercial importance.
326. Government, Political Divisions, and Chief Towns.The Arabs form the great body of the people: next to these are the Copts, descendants of the ancient Egyptians. government of Egypt is at present a monarchical despotism, vested in the person of Mohammed Ali; who only nominally acknowledges the supremacy of the Sultan, and who is forcing European civilization upon his subjects. The chief towns of
Lower Egypt or Bahari, are Cairo, on the Nile; and Alexandria, on the Mediterranean: of Central Egypt or Vostani, Damietta and Rosetta: of Upper Egypt or Said, Suez, on the Gulph of Suez. Thebes, the original capital of Egypt, now exists only in its ruins. Memphis, the second capital of Egypt in point of antiquity, has now all but disappeared. The most celebrated antiquities of Egypt are the Pyramids, three in number, that of Cheops being the largest; the gigantic statue of the Sphinx; and that of Memnon.
327. General Description.-Nubia embraces that vast region which extends southward from Egypt to the northern borders of Abyssinia, and eastward to the Red Sea. It has always been occupied by several independent tribes, but is now subject to the Pasha of Egypt. The greater part of the country consists of frightful deserts, burnt up by intolerable heat. The cities and towns are few and unimportant. Old Dongolah, once the most populous and thriving, is now a mere village. Sennaar, once the capital of Upper Nubia, is now almost deserted. At present, the chief towns of Upper Nubia are New Dongolah, Kartoom, and Sonakin: of Lower Nubia, Derr. Nubia contains some interesting antiquities, especially the temples of Ibsambool.
328. General Description.-The empire being now entirely dissolved, the name Abyssinia has become a mere arbitrary designation of the large indefinite country watered by the upper branches of the Nile. Abyssinia forms an extensive table-land,
intersected by mountains that are but little known. The largest of its numerous lakes is Lake Dembea; which contains eleven islands, the largest of which is Tzana. The temperature is cooler than that of Egypt and Nubia. The vegetable productions of Abyssinia are somewhat extra-tropical: a small grain called teff is made into bread for all classes. There are generally two harvests in the year. Many petty independent states have risen upon the ruins of the old empire: the chief of which are the kingdom of Amhara, comprising the central provinces, whose capital is Gondar; the strong kingdom of Tigré, peopled by the true Abyssinians, whose chief towns are Antalow and Adowah; and the kingdom of Shoa, which includes the southern portion of the late empire.
329. General Description.-Eastern Africa comprehends all the countries lying along the coast of the Indian Ocean, from the Straits of Babel-Mandeb on the north, to Delagoa Bay on the south. These are Adel and Ajan, inhabited by the pastoral Somaulis, whose chief towns are Zeila and Magadoxa; Zanguebar, chief town Melinda; Mozambique, chief town Mozambique; Sofala, chief town Sofala; Mocaranga, chief town Zimbao. These countries are inhabited by various negro tribes in a state of barbarism. They are generally fertile. Mozambique,
which belongs to Portugal, possesses a considerable trade in gold, which is washed down by the rivers in large quantities. Sofala yields the finest and purest gold in all Africa. Magadoxa is a great mart for gold, ivory, and wax. The foreign commerce of Zanzibar, which belongs to the Imaun of Muscat, is considerable. The principal rivers are the Zambezi and Sofala, which fall into the Channel of Mozambique.
330. General Description.-Southern Africa is a continuation of the above, from Delagoa Bay; including the whole country south of the Tropic of Capricorn. It is generally composed of long mountain ridges, extending in a direction nearly parallel to the seacoast, with intervening plains and valleys, which rise by successive stages to the table-land of the interior. One of the most remarkable mountains is Table Mountain, facing Cape Town. The principal rivers are the Gareep, the Olifant, and Great Fish Rivers, with their respective affluents. Saldanha Bay is one of the most commodious harbours in the world. Table Bay opens to the north-west. Algoa Bay is one of the winter harbours of the colony. There are several other valuable bays and harbours. There are a few small islands. The Cape of Good Hope is the south-western extremity of Africa.
The climate is mild and salubrious. The
vegetation of South Africa is varied and beautiful: the heaths are unrivalled. In this country are found some of the largest and some of the smallest animals: the elephant, weighing 4000 lbs., and the blackstreaked mouse, weighing only a quarter of an ounce; the giraffe, seventeen feet high, and the elegant zenik, only three inches; the ostrich, six feet high, and the creeper, a bird about the size of a cherry. The country is divided into Caffraria, the Country of the Hottentots, and Cape Colony; which last is divided into two provinces, the Eastern and the Western. The affairs of the colony are administered by a Governor, who resides at Cape Town, assisted by an executive council. The European settlers in South Africa are the Dutch and the British. The Caffres are a fine race of men. The Hottentots, the aborigines of the country, are a degraded people. Besides these, there are the Bosjemans or Bushmen, and other native tribes.
331. General Description.-Western Africa comprises the countries which lie along the coast of the Atlantic, from Sahara or the Great Desert on the north, to the Tropic of Capricorn on the south. The principal of these are Senegambia, and Upper and Lower Guinea. The chief mountains are the Camaroons and the Mountains of Kong, in Senegambia. The rivers are numerous and remarkable. The