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East Trade Wind Coasts 804

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EAST TRADE WIND COASTS 804. A coast with big cities.—The part of the forested coastal plain over which the South east Trade Wind blows (Fig. 566, A 4) has many more people than the sections north of the equator. On the lower slopes of the moun tains, some of the land is well drained, and therefore better for farms than the flatter, wetter land close to the sea. It even has three large cities: Pernambuco (Recife), as large as Atlanta; Bahia, as large as Seattle; and Rio de Janeiro, larger than Cleveland or St. Louis. It was to this coast district that the Portuguese planters first brought negro slaves to grow sugar cane, more than four hundred years ago. Since this climate is very much like that of Africa, it is easy to see why the negroes here have increased in numbers more than have the white people. They are now free and live an easy and care free life, working as little as they can. They are usually farmers, who often work patches of ground very much as their cousins do in Africa. Their gardens yield bananas, yams, sweet potatoes, and many kinds of beans. For bread a little corn is grown, but the chief material for bread is a kind of meal made of the dried root of the cassava, or manioc as it is called in Brazil. (Sec. 367, Fig. 551.) To pay for cloth, knives, pho nographs, and other imports, the people ex port some sugar, tobacco, and a little cot ton. During our Civil War and the World War, the cotton crop along this coast was greatly increased; and during the food scar city of 1918 and 1919, manioc flour and beans were exported to Europe to replace wheat and meat. In the Bahia district the chief export is cacao.

805. Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian gov de Janeiro, the capital of Bra zil and the trading place for a rich plateau region behind it, is a large and a very beauti ful city. The hills around its harbor make it one of the wonderful sights of the world. (Fig. 585.) Recent improvements include good water works, a good sewage system, and the draining of the swamps to destroy the breeding places of mosquitoes. Once Rio de Janeiro was a very unhealthful place, but now it has become so healthful that the death rate there is no higher than it is in New York or Chicago. The chief export of Rio and of Santos is the coffee grown in the plateau district near by. (Sec. 818.) Brazil is a republic with states much like our own, and with territories in the interior where there are very few people. Governors for the territories are sent out from Rio de Janeiro just as, in our country, they are sent out from Washington.

806. Conquering damp, tropic forest regions are a part of the world where nature with her heat, moisture, and sunshine makes plants grow most abun dantly. They are, therefore, lands of great possibility if man can learn to live and work there. Already men have learned much about conquering the diseases that have killed thousands of people, and that have for so long held man terror-stricken. Yel

low fever is a good example. This dreadful disease has been killing people on the coasts of tropic America since the time of Columbus. In 1880 it had much to do with stopping work on the Panama Canal, which was not built until yellow fever was con quered. (Sec. 376.) It was so bad at Guaya quil and Santos that people dreaded to go there. Two things were in the minds of the people of Santos every day; one was the price of coffee, and the other was yellow fever. In 1899 surgeons in the American army learned that the disease is carried from one person to another by a certain kind of mosquito. Men at once began to fight the fever-bearing mosquito, and in fifteen years after 1905 Santos had no yellow fever at all.

An American health board has recently discovered that ninety-five per cent of the workers in the cacao plantations of Ecuador suffer from the hookworm, a disease which is curable, but which makes the people who have it feel so weak and tired that they want to do nothing but rest.

We now know that malaria, the greatest scourge of all the tropics and of many tem perate lowlands, is also caused by a mosquito, and we know how to stop that disease, too. (Sec. 45.) All of these discoveries make it quite possi ble that soon there will be a great increase in the use of tropic coast lands, and that they may be made to yield great quantities of bananas, banana meal, cacao, Brazil nuts, manioc, rice, rubber, coco nuts, palm oil, and many other crops. If people there are prosperous, they will help to keep our farms and factories busy making things to trade with them. 807. Nature's greatest dare to man.—But there stands the vast, flat plain of the Amazon, with rivers thousands of miles long, whose floods creep through the dark, thorny, tangled, buzzing jungle. Man has not yet conquered this great valley. Perhaps it is one of the last places that he can conquer. Certainly it is the greatest dare that nature holds out to him. If the Amazon River and its floods can be controlled and made to irrigate ricefields, cornfields, and banana plantations, the yield will be enormous. Doubtless the rich oil palm of Africa will grow as well in South America as the South American rubber tree grows in other tropic lands. (Sec. 705.) Some day, perhaps, we may be running automobiles with alcohol distilled on the Amazon's banks, and feeding cows with coco nut meal from all the rainy coasts of tropic America. But first man must defeat the mighty defenders of the region. It is still the land of the insect. Thus far the insect, the flood, and the fever have cut down man's army of invasion, and slain the children of the settler, so that his numbers have remained small.