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375. General Description.-The Texas formed one of the states of the Mexican confederation until 1835, when the Texians declared themselves independent; but they are now annexed to the United States. The chief towns are Houston and Galveston. The climate is mild, and the soil productive.
376. General Description.-This republic occupies the narrow tract of country between the Gulph of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Its general aspect is that of a vast plateau, between the eastern and western chains of the Cordilleras. The vale of Mexico contains a series of five lakes, whose waters fall into the river Panuco. Mexico is very rich in the precious metals. The temperature is very various; and the country includes three regions,the hot, temperate, and cold. The population is singularly varied: the Creoles are the most powerful; the native Mexicans are the majority. Productive industry is in the lowest state of depression. The soil is rich, but the mines are the main sources of wealth. The towns are numerous; of which
Mexico, formerly surrounded by the Lake of Tezcuco, is the chief.
377. General Description.-The exact political boundaries of California are unsettled. The country is naturally divided into Old or Lower California, and New or Upper California. Lower California is a long narrow peninsula, between the Gulph of California and the Pacific; whose chief town is Loretto. The country is barren, and the people are rude. Upper California extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. Its surface is very diversified. Its chief town is San Francisco; one of the best harbours on the western coast of America. This country presents a striking contrast to the peninsula; having a profusion of forest trees, and pasturage for black cattle innumerable.
378. General Description.-This state forms a large peninsula between the Gulph of Mexico and the Bay of Honduras. The soil is generally sandy and dry. The climate is hot, but healthy. The
people of Yucatan have declared themselves independent of the Mexican confederation. The chief towns are Merida and Campeché.
UNITED STATES OF CENTRAL AMERICA.
379. General Description.-These states include the narrow tract of country which extends from Mexico to the Isthmus of Panama, between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. They comprise the five states of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Salvador, and Costa Rica, the federal district of San Salvador, the almost independent territories of Poyais, and the Musquito Indians on the northeast coast. The country is chiefly occupied by ranges of mountains, which form a table-land in the central regions. Along the seacoast are many capacious gulphs and excellent harbours. Earthquakes are very frequent, and numerous volcanoes are scattered along the southern shores. The soil is extremely rich. The gold mines of Costa Rica, and the silver mines of Honduras, are very productive. The other staple productions are indigo, cochineal, mahogany, cedar, dye-woods, and drugs. The independence of Central America was declared in 1823. The principal towns are San Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
THE WEST INDIES.
380. General Description.—The West Indies comprise 5 large, and about 40 smaller islands, besides numerous rocky islets, interspersed with coral reefs and sandbanks. They are divided into three principal groups: the Bahamas; the Great Antilles; and the Lesser Antilles, including the Virgin, the Leeward, and the Windward Islands. The West Indies lie mostly within the tropics, and are therefore subject to great heat; but the interior highlands of Cuba, Hayti, Jamaica, and Porto Rico enjoy a mild temperature. The year may be divided into two seasons, the wet and the dry. The rich and varied vegetable productions of the West Indies give them an important place in the commercial world: the sugar-cane, the coffee-plant, pimento, the plantain and banana, the pine-apple, yam, maize, numerous dye-woods, drugs, and many valuable esculents.
381. Political Divisions.-The BAHAMAS, which are said to be 500 in number, belong to Great Britain. There are 14 principal islands; the largest of which is New Providence, whose chief town is Nassau. The GREAT ANTILLES are Cuba; Hayti, formerly St. Domingo and Hispaniola; Jamaica; and Porto Rico. Cuba and Porto Rico belong to Spain. Of all the West India Islands, Cuba is the largest and finest: it is one of the richest European colonies in the world: its chief towns are Havanna, Matanzas, and Trinidad. Hayti is an independent republic, having a negro population: its chief towns are Port-au-Prince and San Domingo. Jamaica belongs to Great Britain: it is well watered by upwards of two hundred rivers, descending from the Blue Mountains,
which traverse the whole length of the island: its chief town is Kingston: Spanishtown is the seat of government. The LESSER ANTILLES include Curaçoa, St. Eustatius and Saba; which belong, together with the south part of St. Martins, to Holland: St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John's; which belong to Denmark: Guadaloupe, and Martinique; which belong, together with the north part of St. Martins, to France: and Tortola, Anguilla, St. Kitts, Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, Barbadoes, Tobago, and Trinidad; which belong to Great Britain. Of the Dutch islands, Curaçoa is the largest, and St. Eustatius the best cultivated. Of the Danish islands, St. Croix or Santa Crux is the only one of importance. Of the French islands, Martinique, whose great commercial town is St. Pierre, is the chief. Among the islands belonging to Great Britain, Antigua has a number of excellent harbours; and its capital, St. John's, is the station of the Governor-General of the Leeward Islands: Dominica is large and fertile: St. Vincent is the most beautiful of the Windward Islands: Grenada has several commodious harbours: Barbadoes, whose capital is Bridgetown, the oldest British possession, is the most easterly of the Windward Islands: Trinidad is remarkable for a pitch lake and mud volcanoes. The present population of the West Indies is partly European and partly African; the latter greatly prepon
382. Situation and Boundaries.-South America lies between 12° N. and 56° S. lat., and between 35° and 82° W. long. It is bounded on the north