Home >> Human Geography >> The Countries Of Eastern to The Southern Countries Of >> The Southern Andes 855

The Southern Andes 855

nitrate, desert, snow, coast, iron and thousand

-THE SOUTHERN ANDES 855. A very long, narrow region.—Look at your map of North America and locate a western coast lying between 30° and 55° from the equator. In the corresponding part of South America the Andes (Fig. 566, F 3) are steep, high mountains with no plateaus, and the few valleys are only narrow canyons. What is the highest peak? Only in the south, beyond latitude 40°, do we find valleys wide enough to hold forests, or a region that can be of any important use to man, save as a source of snow water. This section has almost no people, as we have seen (Sec. 837).

856. Future of Andean Some day there should be more railroads to the Andean plateaus and mountains. There may then be better animals eating the grass, and 858. A bare brown land with irrigated the Peruvian part of the coast desert the Andes have more snow than farther south. In summer the snow melts and Makes the short rivers rush in roaring torrents down to the Pacific. Therefore there are oases in this coast desert. Lima, the capital of Peru, with almost no rain at all, has a fine supply of snow water, and also a good food supply. The food comes up from farms that are irrigated by the little snow-fed river that rushes through the city.

The traveler going along a thousand miles of this coast sees the bare, brown desert, then green fields along some stream, then more desert, and then more green fields. The irrigated oases support one-third of the native people of Peru and nearly all of the white inhabitants. The farms grow bananas, vegetables, corn, and alfalfa for home use: They export cane sugar and Peruvian cotton, a kind having a long, brown fiber, which is excellent for mixing with wool.

859. The richest of deserts.—Back of the Chilean desert, the Andean wall is less broken than elsewhere, and the plateau is wider. There is so little snow upon the high moun tains that the streams coming down the west side are too small to reach the ocean between Arica and Caldera. How far is it?

At best • they can only feed little oases at the foot of the mountain wall, fifty or a hundred miles from the dry, desolate coast.

In this desert, years sometimes pass with out the appearance of a cloud in the sky.

Some of the people who live there have never seen rain. Yet these deserts, that lie from three thousand to five thousand feet above the sea, give Chile a rich, foreign trade, because a long sheet of salt and nitrate of soda several inches thick covers the ground.

There fifty thousand men, living in shacks of corrugated metal, dig up nitrate and work in the refineries. Almost every fertilizer fac tory, every powder factory, and most of the chemical plants of Europe and America use this nitrate of soda. Hundreds of ships go for nitrate to Iquique, to Antofagasta, and to the smaller ports. These desolate, tree less cities on the desert obtain water by pipe lines from the foot of the Andes. Every bite of food the people and 'their animals eat comes from the farms in the rainy lands to the southward, and is carried to them in ships. Nitrate, like salt, would dissolve in rain.

Near the nitrate Works are many copper mines and rich deposits of iron ore. One of the iron mines belongs to an American com pany, which has built a railroad, a dock, and a steamship line to carry ore to Baltimore and Philadelphia. Some of the iron mines are owned by Japanese business men.

The copper, the iron, and the nitrate of the desert comprise nearly all of the Chilean exports (Fig. 603), and pay most of the taxes as well, for everybody who buys nitrate must pay an export tax to the Chilean gov ernment.