EAST TEMPERATE AGRICULTURAL REGION 824. Another southern United States.— Find the latitude of Norfolk, Virginia, and that of Buenos Aires. Each city is on the east side of a continent. Can you see why they should have similar climates? Do the maps also tell you why southern Brazil and Georgia should have similar climates? The East Temperate Agricultural Region of South America (Fig. 566 D) resembles in climate the region between the South Atlan tic Coast of the United States and the Great Plains in Oklahoma. The South American region is smaller, but it has the same lessen ing of rainfall as the distance from the ocean increases, a climate feature which makes similar vegetation belts in the two regions. First comes forest, then grassland good for corn, then grassland good for wheat. The South American forest covers most of the Brazilian part of this district and the neigh boring lands in northeastern Argentina.
West of the lower Parana is a splendid plain called the pampas. It is treeless, rich, nearly level (Fig. 586), and good for corn in the east, then, farther west, good for wheat. The western boundary of the grain land is a climate line like that at the western end of our own grain region (Sec. 57) in Kansas and Oklahoma. The plain, now too dry for much farming, stretches on to the Andes, as our own plain goes on tb the Rockies.
825. The early days ranching.—Let us see wly the Spanish settlers on the banks of the Plata found it easier to make a home there than the English did on the banks of the James, or along the shores of Mas sachusetts. The pampas of eastern Argentina are tree less and covered with rich grass. These plains, spread ing away to the west and northwest for hundreds of miles, are one of the greatest natural pastures in the world.
The settler did not have to cut down trees, dig up stumps, pry out stones, or fight with bushes and briers. The winter is frosty, but usually mild. There is no snow cover; animals can pasture all the year. The early settlers brought horses, sheep, and cattle from Spain. The animals ran almost wild on the grassy plains, and increased like mice in a pantry.
In those days American meat could not' be sold in Europe, so for two hundred years the Spanish ranch owners killed their cattle and sheep, and sold only the skins, the wool, and the tallow. Horses were kept because
the hair from their tails and manes was sold to make haircloth. In the middle of the nineteenth century an Argentine horse brought a fixed price, just as a glass of soda water does with us. An unbroken horse was worth $2.50. If he was trained, ready to use, he was worth $5.00. An espe cially good riding horse was worth $10.00 to the Argentine gaucho, or cowboy, a rough fellow, half Indian, half Spaniard, who spent most of his time on horseback.
After a time the people began to make tasajo, which is beef so salty and dry that, like dried codfish, it will keep in hot climates. Tasajo has been much used in tropic America. (Sec. 813.) 826. The rise of agriculture.—During all this time the people of Buenos Aires imported flour. iust as the people of Cuba do to-day.
About 1870, people in the Argentine found that they could raise wheat. There was a market for wheat in Europe, so Argentina started on an agricultural career, just as did regions in the central part of North America. Rail roads were built across the plain from Buenos Aires and Rosario, just as they were from Kansas City, Omaha, and Minneapolis. Im migrants from Spain and Italy came by thou sands to cultivate the new fields. (Fig. 610.) The land in Argentina is splendid for farming; it is rich, level, and so free from stones that you cannot in miles find one as big as an egg. Plows, reapers, and threshers were sent out from the United States, and the fields of wheat, corn, and flax increased. Sometimes there are droughts, sometimes too much rain. Sometimes the locusts (grasshoppers) fly down in millions from the forests to the northward and eat up the crops. Nevertheless this has become one of the great agricultural regions of the world. Argentina grows more flax for seed than any other country. Fleets of steamers sail from Europe to the river Plata, and return laden with wheat, corn, meat, and flax seed. Only a fraction of the Argentine land in this region is now under cultivation. The re mainder is still in pasture, just as a smaller part of our own Corn Belt is in pasture.