THE ANDEAN COUNTRIES.
300. An ancient civilization.—The four Andean countries lying south of the equator have varied surface and climate. They are long enough to reach from the Panama Canal to Alaska, so there is room for many things. They have plateaus, high moun tains, rich mines, deserts, and low, hot, swampy forests. But they do not have any wide, rich plain like that of Argentina, Illinois, or Iowa.
When the Spaniards came to this part of South America they found the Indians living very much as the people in Europe lived. On the cool plateau of Bolivia and Peru the dark-skinned natives had good farms. They grew potatoes, which the Spaniards had never seen before. They also had flocks of vicunas and llamas. These wool-bearing animals, which the Spaniards had never seen, are somewhat like sheep. They ran wild on the Andes Mountains before being tamed by the natives. For a long time the llama had been the only work animal in these coun tries, and is still used to carry packs and to carry ore from the distant mines. He is a cheap animal to keep, because he picks his food from the wayside as he goes along with his burden on his back. (Fig. 311.) The ancient people of the Andean Coun tries made cloth of the llama wool. They had good stone roads, too, which men can still follow for hundreds of miles across the plateau and along the mountainsides. We can still find the ruins of cities there, and large stone buildings partly destroyed. The walls show that the men who made them could move enormous blocks of stone and build splendid walls. These wonderful people had great quantities of gold and silver, and you remember what trouble it caused them.
301. Peru and Bolivia.—Most of the people of Peru and Bolivia are still Indians or half-breeds, only one-seventh being of the Spanish race. White men from Eng land and from the United States have helped them to build railroads up the Andes to the mines on the plateau. One of these railroads runs higher up than any mountain in the United States. It carries ores of cop per, silver, and gold from the mines of Peru. From Bolivia
we get tin.
These miners and farmers on the plateau have two kinds of trade. The railroads bring them from the west all kinds of things that come from the factories of Europe. On the east side of the plateau there are no railroads; but trains of pack mules climb up the hard trails, carrying bananas, sweet potatoes, coffee, and other products that grow in the warm lands, and are wanted by the people on the cold plateau. The pack mules carry back cloth and other European goods for the people east of the Andes.
302. Ecuador.—The physical map shows that Ecuador lies partly in the Andean Plateau and partly in a low plain on each side of the plateau. The name Ecuador means "Equator ", and the country is called by that name because the equator passes directly through it. The capital city, Quito, is almost exactly on the equator. Quito is far up on the plateau, 350 miles from the port of Guayaquil. Like Bogota, Quito is a hard place to reach, for it is ten thousand feet above the sea. But this gives it a delightful climate. All of the year it is like the pleasant days of spring. Wonderful volcanoes and other beautiful mountains can be seen from Quito.
The people on the plateau of Central Ecuador are farmers who keep cattle and sheep, and who grow corn, beans, and wheat on soil that is very rich, because it was blown out by the volcanoes and fell as dust in the mountain valleys that lie between the ranges of the Andes.
You remember that steamers from New York go up the Amazon into the low plain of eastern Ecuador where the rubber gatherers live. (Sec. 269.) A great deal of rain falls at the equator.
In low plains along the equator there is a thunderstorm every afternoon for several weeks at a time. Instead of saying, " I will meet you at four o'clock to-morrow", men say, "I will meet you after the rain", or "before the rain". Between showers it is hot and damp, and there is very little wind. These conditions make the plain around Guayaquil very hot and wet, with no cooling breezes.