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The Andean Regions 839

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THE ANDEAN REGIONS 839. A mountain world in three parts.— The extreme northern end of South America is farther from the extreme southern end than Panama is from Greenland. At the southern tip is a high rocky cape; at the northern tip the mountains reach the sea; and between them is the great Andean mountain system which is a world by itself. This mountain world is high and cool, even where the hot tropic lowlands lie at its feet. Some of the world's highest vol canoes are Andean peaks, the smoking tops of which are covered with perpetual snow. Dust blown out from these volcanoes has made much rich valley land between the ranges. In 1921 volcanic dust fell so thickly that it buried a sawmill near Valdivia, Chile.

To understand the Andes at all, we must think of our own Rocky Mountains as having been raised to almost double their height, and as being without passes. From central Colombia to a point south of San tiago in Chile, not a single pass is less than 10,000 feet in height; that is nearly twice the height of any mountain east of the Mis sissippi River. Between latitudes 5° and 30° south, no pass is less than 15,000 feet in height. This means that for a distance greater than the extent north and south of the United States, there is a continuous mountain wall, higher than any peak in the Rockies.

This mountain world of South America has three different parts, each unlike the others. From Cape Horn to 30° south it is composed of mountain ranges, high and sharp like our own Rocky Mountains, but more lofty. Then comes the highest part of all, the wide, cold Andean plateau with snowpeaks above it. This division reaches from 30° south to a place a short distance north of Cuzco in Peru. Next to the cold Andean plateau come the mountains and plateaus of the northern Andes. These are not so high, so wide, or so cold as those of the central Andes.

-TfIE NORTHERN ANDES 840. of the traveler going from New York to La Guaira sees the green forest-covered northern edge of the Andes towering in the air, long before he can make out the palm trees along the shore, or see the white houses of the little port that lies snuggled at the foot of the steep highland. The railroad from La Guaira, or

from Puerto Cabello to Caracas, must wind around many more miles than do the wagon roads that go up to the plateau. (Fig. 572.) Caracas was the capital of a Spanish prov ince and the trade center for a wide region, long before it was the capital of Venezuela. When the traveler reaches Caracas and feels the refreshing coolness of the evening, he understands why the Span iards climbed the high moun tains and made their capital on this lofty plateau rather than on the hot coast plain. From a neighboring moun tain, one can look down on the white walls, red roofs, and church steeples of the beautiful city that is spread. out on a plateau. On all sides picturesque mountains surround it, and one under stands why the Spanish called their capital the "Pearl of the Andes".

The Spanish-speaking people are well-dressed and polite, although many of them show that they are part Indian. Only a few of them can read.

On market days the streets and the squares are filled with barefooted Indians wearing cheap cotton store clothes from the United States and Europe, and wide straw hats which they have plaited by hand. Hundreds of pack mules come over the trails from the little farms in the valleys and on the moun tains, bringing produce to city markets to be exchanged for store goods. These Indians and half-breeds cultivate patches of corn, beans, cassava, coffee, fruits, and vegetables.

841. Home industries in the Andes.—The daily life and the food of the dwellers of the northern Andes are much like those of the peo ple of the plateau of Mexico and the Central American Uplands (Secs. 147, 369), and even the people themselves are quite similar.

Mexico sells minerals from her mountain rocks, coffee from her mountainside farms, and the hides of cattle and goatskins. The people of the northern Andes have similar things to sell. Since it is hard to reach, the region can have but little trade. Only such valuable things as hides, wool, coffee, and precious metals can be carried on muleback down the long mountain trails. As in other regions where machines are very few, most of the needful things must be made at home.

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