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The Atlantic Ocean Navigation and Commerce

THE ATLANTIC OCEAN NAVIGATION AND COMMERCE The canal-like configuration of the Atlantic Ocean, ex tending from the Antarctic on the south to the Arctic on the north, and the influence of the four vast and widely different continental land-masses forming its eastern and western limits, are the causes of several conditions most unfavourable to its safe navigation. Frequently disturbed by violent storms, which produce broken and dangerous waves of great magni tude, its complicated tidal-waves, and to some extent its strongly-marked and rapid currents, are all elements of danger in the navigation of the Atlantic. A thorough knowledge of the course and velocity of its currents, and the direction and force of the prevailing winds, forms indeed one of the Most valuable " aids " to the mariner, and is doubly necessary in this, the stormiest of all the oceans. When we reflect that Great Britain alone has nearly 12,000 sailing and steam vessels engaged in the " home " trade, and nearly 8,000 in the foreign trade, and that the total tonnage of British and foreign vessels which entered the ports of the United Kingdom in one year' amounted to 51,595,079 tons, we may imagine the vast extent of the trade carried on by this country alone over the basin of the Atlantic. But besides Great Britain there are the great maritime and commercial countries of France, Hol land and Belgium, Denmark and Scandinavia„ Spain and Portugal, on the one side, and the Dominion of Canada, the United States, and West Indies on the other ; and, south of the equator, the minor but still important trad ing stations of Western and Southern Africa, and the great ports of South America. Of course the commerce of the Atlantic is not limited to the interchange of the productions of its own shores. Vessels laden with the pro duce of the maritime states of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and even the North and South Polar regions, cross and recross its waters. The principal and most important routes are those connecting Great Britain and North America„ more especially those between Liverpool, Glasgow, Cork, and London, and Quebec, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. Communication with South Africa is regularly kept up by mail steamers sailing from London and Southampton, via Madeira and St. Helena, to Cape Town, and thence north-east to

Natal, India, and China, or due east to Australia and New Zealand. Direct communication between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans is also possible by the Mediterranean, Sues Canal, Red Sea, and Arabian Sea. The route to South America, from Western Europe passes by Madeira and Cape Verd Islands, to Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio Janeiro, Monte Video and Buenos Ayres, the Falkland Islands, and round Cape Horn, or through Magellan Straits, into the Pacific. The north-east passage, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, round the northern shores or Asia and Behring's Strait, and the north west passage, by Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, Barrow Strait, Melville Sound, and Arctic Ocean (the former may occa sionally, but the latter can never, be used), have been already noticed. The vast extent of the Commerce centred in the basin of the Atlantic may perhaps be most clearly seen from a tabulated statement of the principal articles imported by, and exported from, the countries on its shores, together with their total value, according to the latest official returns. As an aid to estimate rightly the trade monopolized by Great Britain and Ireland, besides the value of the total imports and exports of each country, the value of the exports to, and imports from, the United Kingdom is also given. Great Britain is indeed the mart of all the productions of the world, and the centre of distribution to all other coun tries ; the raw materials, which pour into it from almost every part of the globe, are re-exported after her manufac turing skill has increased their value a hundredfold her insular position off the western shores of Europe gives her the command of the Atlantic Ocean ; all the more frequented water-ways of the world are controlled by her ; in every ocean her fleets of trading and war vessels are found ; with her vast colonies and possessions she forms an Empire upon which the sun never sets ; and her advanced posts on the borders of every continent are always centres of enterprise for a trade that braves every peril, and knows no repose

south, britain, trade, vessels and shores