GENERAL VIEW OF EUROPE 403. A small, wealthy continent.—We have been reading about the various peoples and countries of Europe, most of which are no larger than some of our own states. What about the continent itself? It is the smallest of all the continents, except Australia. But it is a very rich continent. In no other continent is so much of the land good for growing things that men need.
More than one-half of Canada is too cold to grow food for many people, but only a small part of Europe is too cold for farms, and only a small corner near the Caspian Sea, in Russia, is too dry for farms, and where irrigation is necessary for crop growing. In the United States, you re member, nearly half of the country is so dry that the farmers would like to irrigate their land if they could get the water, so only a few people live there.
The wheat map of the world (Fig. 90) shows that the wheat area of Europe is larger than the wheat area of all North America.
404. Climate.—The climate of Europe is good almost everywhere. Most of South America is too hot and unhealthful for men to thrive in, and some parts of the United States are too swampy to be as healthful as they ought to be. But there are very few spots in all Europe where the climate is not good and healthful. This helps to make strong people, well able to work people who want to do things. The boys and girls in much of Europe play active games; the men like to take long walks, hunt, climb mountains, and explore un known places. It was an Englishman who climbed the highest mountains of South America. It was an Italian prince who climbed the highest mountains of Africa. A Scotchman, Liv ingstone, explored Central Africa. A Norwegian and an Englishman went to the South Pole. A Norwegian made the northwest passage through Eskimo land. The people of Europe settled North Amer ica, South America, , South Africa, and Australia. They did all these things be cause the good cli mate of their conti nent helped to make them strong, healthy, active, and industri ous. They have
written more books than all the rest of the people of the world.
405. surface of the land in Europe suits man better than does the surface of North America or that of South America. North America has a large area of high plateaus. Most of Europe consists of low plains, which are much more useful than rougher, colder plateaus would be.
Most of the mountains of Europe, which are in the southern part, are not long, solid walls as they are in South America. Let us look for the mountains of Europe. The physical map (Fig. 355) shows that there are high mountains in the northern part cf Spain. You will notice that these mountains end at the Mediterranean Sea, and we have the val ley of the Rhone River in France before we come to the next mountains, the Alps, with snowy tops and glaciers. To the east of the Alps are the Balkans. East of them lies the Black Sea, which is an open door for ships to go through these mountains up the Danube River, almost into the heart of the continent. North of the Black Sea is the great, level plain of Russia. Farther eastward we find high mountains again, among them the highest peak in Europe, in a range between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. But these high mountains do not shut men away from the land, because of the openings.
406. Ease of is easier to travel across Europe than across either of the Americas because 'the high mountains of Europe are broken into several pieces with passes in between. In the midst of the European mountains are big valleys, so low that canals have been built connecting one river valley with another. For instance, canals connect the river Rhone with the rivers Loire, Seine, and Rhine. Thus boats can go from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, and to the North Sea by way of the rivers. There are also canals connecting the Danube with the Rhine and the Elbe; so that boats can go from the Black Sea up the Danube through a canal, and down the Rhine or Elbe to the North Sea.