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The Trade of Asia and the East Indies 713

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THE TRADE OF ASIA AND THE EAST INDIES 713. Barriers to travel.—Europe (Sec. 608) is favored with natural waterways and with a surface which makes it easy for ocean steam er, river boat, or railroad to reach the heart of the continent. Asia is quite different. Most of her vast area is a big block of land, shut off on the north by the Arctic ice, and on the south by. the awful barrier of mountains and high, wide, and dry plateaus.

714. Caravan trade.—For thousands of years, while the people of Europe have been skirting the shores of their continent in ships, and boating on the rivers, the natives of Asia have been climbing mountain canyons and following desert trails with caravans of camels, donkeys, and mules, making long, slow, hard journeys, such as those from India to Persia, from India to China, from Peking to Moscow, or from the upper Yangtze valley to Tashkend. Indeed the camel has been a common sight from Peking to the plains of India and westward to the Crimea, to Con stantinople, and the Strait of Gibraltar. Even the sheep that come down from Tibet to India to market sometimes bear twenty five-pound bundles on their backs.

715. Canal boat trade.—The caravans have carried the articles of trade to the most distant places, but we must not forget that the greatest trade of all Asia has been carried in the thousands and thousands of Chinese junks. For several thousand years the patient Chinese have been tugging these boats up the rapids of rivers and along the hundreds of canals that have been dug in the plains of China.

Asia had also an ancient sea trade. In the time of King Solomon the Arabs sailed eastward to India with the southwest monsoon. They learned muchfromthe Hindu while they traded and waited for the north east trade wind that would take them home to Arabia. Even now we call the seasonal winds of India the "monsoon," from an Arabic word meaning season. The trade wind also got its name because it brought these ancient Arabs home from trading trips. The figures 1, 2, 3, etc., that we use in arith metic, are called Arabic figures, but the Arabs learned them from the Hindus on those ancient visits. Asia is old and she has given us much.

716. Railroads.—Asia was slower than Europe in starting railroad building, but she is already possessed of the longest route in the world, the Trans-Siberian railroad. It gives service in times of peace from Dairen and Vladivostok to Irkutsk, Omsk, Moscow, Pe trograd, Berlin, and Paris. It is as far from Vladivostok to Omsk as from New York to Francisco, and that is but little over half way to Petrograd. What parts of Asia have the best system of railways? (Fig. 629.) Asia has need of many thousand miles of railroad.

717. The great ship route.—The chief trade route of Asia is the ship route skirting her southern shores from Suez to Yokohama. (Fig. 9.) The opening of the Suez Canal (1869) helped the trade of Asia by giving a shorter route to Europe and the Atlantic coast of North America. The Panama Canal opened (1914) a similar gateway for the trade of eastern Asia with the eastern coasts of the United States. Vessels '• now go around the world freely, going from Europe Nr0 and eastern North America to Japan by way of the ATita Caribbean Sea and the Panama Canal and return ing by way of southern '• \ Asia and the Suez Canal. ...

718. Character of Asia's trade.— Asia sells chiefly the things that men pro- • ducewith much labor rather than with much land. Such are tea and silk, the chief exports of Japan and China; --- ?•rigeble Riven Rallroads jute, from India; rubber . Caravan Routes and spices, from Ceylon and the East Indies; hemp Fig• 529• Tb and tobacco, from the Philippines. The oil seeds, nuts, bark and other tanning materials from India can be produced only by much labor. Only in a few places do we get the products of the wide fields, such as the wheat of Siberia and of the Indus Valley, the sugar of Java and the Philippines, and the cotton of India, the rice of Indo-China, and the beans of Manchuria.

In the wool, sheepskins, and goatskins we see the products of dry lands and high lands, and in the great export of India's hides and cotton we see the lack of manufac turing industry in that country.

In return for these things Asia gets first of all cotton cloth, chiefly from England, for simple clothing; and raw cotton, chiefly from the United States, to be used in their new cotton factories. Second in importance come iron, machinery', hardware, and tools. Even the simplest farmer needs a hoe and a knife. Almost every Asiatic would like to ride a bicycle, and many already listen with pleasure to the phonograph. Kerosene for the family lamp is another great import of Asia.

719. Future trade of Asia.—There is railways and leading navigable rivers of Asia.

every prospect that Asia and the East Indies will advance in both agriculture and manu facture. When she does, Asia's trade with us will increase, for her factories will be equip ped with modern machinery and as the people increase in riches and wealth they will more and more buy from us the things that they do not grow or make, and more and more will they send to us the things that we do not grow or make. The greatest trade in the world is the trade between rich manu facturing countries, such as that between England and the United States, England and France, and the United States and Japan.