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General View of South America 282

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GENERAL VIEW OF SOUTH AMERICA 282. The Isthmus of Panama.—The map (Fig. 40) shows that South America lies a little to the east of North America.

The Isthmus of Panama connects the two continents, but no one ever goes from one continent to the other by way of the isthmus, because it is covered with tangled forest like that h the rubber country. It is much easier to go from one continent to the other in ships than to cut roads through such a forest.

283. The wide North and South America are alike in several ways. First each has a wide northern part. In North America much of this wide part has few people because it is so cold that it is hard for people to keep warm, and but little food can be grown. The wide part of South America has few people because it is too hot and too wet.

284. The western con tinent has a long western highland close to the Pacific, but the western highland of South America, the Andes Mountain sys tem, is much narrower than the western highland of North America. Measure them on the maps and see for yourself. (Figs. 48 and 279.) The western highland in South America is much higher than is the one in North America. We have already seen that it is a mile and a half high in Colombia, but it is over two miles high in Peru and Bolivia. On this plateau is a lake called Titicaca that is nearly three miles above the level of the sea. There are steamboats on this lake, and a railroad comes to its shores from the Peruvian port of Mollendo. People used to say that the first steamer on that lake cost its weight in silver, because men had so much trouble getting it over the high Andes. It was carried in sections on the backs of mules that had to climb along stony ledges in the sides of steep, narrow valleys like the canyon of the Colorado River in Arizona. It was very hard work, and the workers had many accidents. Once a mule fell from a cliff and his load was lost. Then the steamer had to wait months to be finished, until new pieces came all the way from England.

We expect land near the equator to be hot, but this plateau near Lake Titicaca is cold because it is so high. Sometimes the Indians wear wool masks to pro tect their faces from the biting wind.

285. Great cen tral valley.—The third likeness be tween the two Americas is that each has a great river valley and a great low plain in the center. What are the names of the rivers? Can you tell which of these valleys is of more use to man? (See Secs. 103 and 272.) 286. Eastern The fourth likeness is that both continents have eastern high lands. In North America the Appalachian

Highlands have the finest coal field in the world. (Sec. 196.) In South America the Brazilian Highland has no good coal, but it has the largest iron ore deposits in the world. Very little iron is made here, how ever, because there is no coal with which to smelt it. The Brazilians are beginning to ship the ore to Baltimore, where it is made into iron and steel. Then Brazil buys some of it back for railroads, steel buildings, and many other things. The eastern highlands of both North America and South America are divided into two parts by great rivers, the St. Lawrence and the Amazon. Which is the more useful? The highland in North America to the north of the St. Lawrence has few people in it (Sec. 54), because it is rough, rocky, and cold. The north eastern highlands of South America (Guiana) have only a few Indians in them because they are surrounded by wide hot plains hav ing heavy rainfall, thick forests, and an unhealthful climate. We know very little about that region and brave men think it is a danger ous place to explore. Some tribes of In dians there never saw a white man.

287. Climate.—There is frost once in a while in the Brazilian coffee country, and in all of South America to the southward. You see, however, that most of South America, is a land without frost. Most of North America is a land of frost, as you will see by re-reading Section 179.

There is snow in southern Chile and southern Argentina, but there is no large region in South America where farmers must build barns for their cattle, as people have done in North America. We shall soon read about them.

do in New England, the North Central States, and many countries in Europe.

288. The men of the hot land and of the frost land.—The white man is a man of the frost lands. Nearly all the countries of the world that have no frost have people with dark skins—red, yellow, brown, or black. Since the frost land is so much the smaller part of South America we see that this country is not as good a country for the white man as is North America. We have already seen (Sec. 279) that most of the people in Colombia, Venezuela, and the Amazon forests are Indians, and we are not surprised to learn that South America has only about half as many people as North America. It has only about one third as many white people as North America. Many of these are people from Europe who have gone to the frosty part of South America and made farms and built railroads and cities, just as others