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Channel Section of Chile 861

coast, west, people, chilean and wind

CHANNEL SECTION OF CHILE 861. A windy coast with much rain.— South of 42°, the Chilean coast is steep like the coasts of British Columbia, Alaska, and Norway. It is in the part of the south ern world where the wind blows almost always from the west. For a long time the area in the southern seas where the prevailing west winds blow has been called the "roaring forties". Because the wind blows so hard, trees cannot grow on the Falkland Islands (Sec. 837). The experience of a sailing vessel in the year 1919 shows the great force and regularity of these winds. The boat was bound from Melbourne, Australia, to Bun bury, West Australia, but the westerly wind blew so strongly that to save time the captain turned his ship eastward and went almost around the world (14,500 miles in this lati tude) in seventy-six days, averaging 292 miles a day, when really he wanted to go only about 1000 miles to the westward from the starting point.

On this southern coast of Chile we have the record of a terrible rain, lasting for 131 days, while the wet west wind blew out of the Pacific against the steep shores without ceasing. It is not surprising that few people live in such a place, where the land is covered with dripping evergreen forests. Within the mountains are drier valleys, but thus far this Chilean region has been but little used.

To see how completely climates can differ in places a short distance apart, look at the two ends of the Straits of Magellan. The west end is gloomy with fog and cloud, rain, snow squalls, and a wet forest. The east end is a flat, sunny, grass-covered plain. Why the difference? (Fig. 157.) 862. Future.—If reservoirs are built in the mountains, as we have built them in our own Southwest, the coast section of Peru may have a little more of its land irrigated. Ex

cept for the possibility of sun power (Sec. 142), the Chilean part of the desert has no future except to work out the mines, after which the people will move away. This may not happen for several generations.

The forests in the south may some day furnish a lumber industry, but at the present time the people of all this Pacific coast are bringing much of their lumber from the mountains of California, Oregon, and Wash ington.

863. A spring fruit supply for us.—It is the Californian-Mediterranean part of this coast region that has the enduring future, because it has resources similar to those of California. Much of the land is still uncul tivated, and when it is all in use it may support several times as many people as it now does. This region has the chance to build up a great trade by sending us fresh fruits in the springtime. (Sec. 768.) How far is it by boat to New York from Valparaiso? from Los Angeles? In late April, 1921, the Chilean Commissioner of Agriculture came to New York with the first trial shipment. His peaches, melons, apples, and grapes were of excellent quality and in good condition. The freight was less than railroad freight from California, and the Commissioner says the fruit can be grown more cheaply in Chile than in California.

864. A manufacturing region may arise here, because the climate is good for men, and the waterfalls of the Andes can be made to furnish power. Foreign capitalists have al ready built large factories near Santiago.