THE PLATEAUS OF ASIA MINOR AND IRAN 598. Bounds and climate.—On all its shores the plateau of Asia Minor rises abrupt ly from the sea. What are the seas? (Fig. 469.) Its continuation, the plateau of Iran, also rises abruptly from two seas and three low plains. What are they? (Fig. 474.) From the western end of this plateau one may travel on a highland for twenty-five hundred miles across Asia Minor, Armenia, Persia, and Baluchistan, until at last one looks down upon the dry lowlands of the Indus valley.
This high dry region is larger than all of the United States west of the Rocky Moun tains. Even the peninsula of Asia Minor is longer than the distance from Lake Erie to the Atlantic Ocean. We can best understand this region by thinking of it as another Utah and another Southwestern Plateau, both of which. it resembles in climate, surface, appearance, and products. As in Utah and Mexico, we here find a few cities in a dry, high land, depending for water upon streams from the moun tains. The city of Teheran is at an elevation of 4000 feet, Hamadan at 6000 feet, and near both cities rise still higher mountains. (Fig. 474.) As in the southwestern United States, high mountains shut out the rain bearing winds, so that the plains between the mountains are often deserts where mountain streams sink into the sands or flow away to salt lakes, as in Utah and Mexico.
The mountains of Armenia, which are higher than the Alps, stand upon this plateau. Mt. Ararat is one of these famous peaks. Streams fed by rain and melting snow flow from these mountains into the rich Meso potamian plain. Thus the plain has been able to support the empires of the past. (Fig.458.) 599. Plateaus of hate and despotism.— This region has many different peoples, and for a long time they have got along very badly indeed with each other. The Turks are in western and central Asia Minor. The Armenians are in northeastern Asia Minor. South of the Armenians are the Kurds, and north of the Armenians are the Georgians and Tatars of Azerbaijan. East of the Armenians are the Persians and the Baluchis. Arabs with their flocks and herds are scattered in many parts of the plateau. All of these peoples have often fought each other fiercely for land and water.
The Armenians especially have had a bad time of it. They were civilized people three thousand years ago, and have one of the oldest of the Christian churches. They live in
a country where the other people keep flocks and herds and till the soil. The Armenians do these things, too, but in addition they are skilled artisans and traders. Because the Armenians differ from their neighbors in race and religion, and are better business men than their neighbors, they are hated. The Turks to the west and the Kurds to the south have often massacred Armenians by the thousand. Of the seven chief peoples, the Armenians, the Georgians, and the Persians are dark-haired white people. The others are black-haired, yellowish-skinned peoples.
Before the World War, four nations ruled or pretended to rule this region. Russia ruled all the land between the Black and the Caspian seas; the Turks claimed all the rest that lay west of Persia; the English ruled the wild tribes of Baluchistan; and Persia was independent. Like the Armeni ans, the Persians had an empire long ago; but for a long time the Persian shahs, or kings, have ruled almost as badly as have the Turks themselves.
600. The jealousy of European countries has hurt this region, as it has hurt the Balkans. (Sec. 524.) No nation has inter fered when Turks have killed Armenians in Asia, because each nation feared the other would get the Turkish territory. Jealousy of European nations has also kept railroads from being built in this region.
601. Trans-Caucasia.—The land between the Black and the Caspian seas is called the Caucasus and Trans-Caucasia. Many tribes inhabit it. All were conquered years ago by Russia. Then Russia built a railroad from Batum on the Black Sea through Tiflis, the ancient capital, to Baku on the Caspian Sea. At Baku, near the east end of the Caucasus Mountains, is one of the great oil fields of the world. For hundreds of years this place was visited by fire worshippers from Persia, who made the long pilgrimage to visit the natural fires that burned in the rocks where natural gas escaped. Now, instead of fire worshippers, oil workers go to Baku. The place bristles with the der ricks of oil wells, and many thousands of Georgians, Tatars, and Russians are at work there. For many years this region was sec ond only to the United States in oil pro duction. Oil is taken nearly six hundred miles by train and by pipe line to Batum, where ships load it for Europe.