THE TRADE OF SOUTH AMERICA 865. Trade in spots.—The railroad map of South America (Fig. 610) shows that only a small part of South America can have much foreign trade. Argentina, with its flat pampas, is able to build railroads cheaply, and a net of steel tracks spreads out from Buenos Aires. Rio de Janeiro and Santos are the points of departure for another web of railways, but elsewhere railroads are few. This map shows us that this continent, with its land little used, waits for settlement. Indeed it might still be called the continent of the pack mule, because so little of the surface is reached by any other means of transportation. The old city of Cartagena, Colombia, a great fortress before Virginia and Massachusetts were settled, has to this day but one automobile road to the interior, and that is only sixteen miles long.
Nearly all the South American countries border upon the sea, and many of the im portant cities of the continent are seaports. These ports are gateways through which the traveler can start for the vast interior, and through which the products of interior re gions are sent to the outer. world, 866. Four sets of steamer routes.—The ocean is the great South American highway, both for the foreign trade and for the trade of the South American countries with one another. Four different sets of steamers, sail ing over four different sets of routes, carry the trade of South America. To the north coast, one set of steamers goes from Eng land, France, Holland, and the United States. From New York to Colombia and Venezuela is only a week's sail.
A second set of routes leads from New York and Liverpool to the mouth of the Amazon, from which point steamers ascend to Manaos, a thousand miles upstream, and some even to Iquitos near the foot of the Andes.
The third set of steamer routes from America and Europe goes to the east coast, calling at Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, and Santos, and at Buenos Aires, the greatest port of them all. At these great ports the ocean steamers take on the produce which small coasting steamers have brought from many little ports. The heaviest freight to these coast ports is coal, of which these countries, unfortunately, have almost none.
The fourth set of routes leads from the North Atlantic to the west coast of South America. The steamers on these routes formerly had to thread their way for 300 miles through the crooked, rocky, foggy, snowy Straits of Magellan. It was a terrible journey to go through these straits, which are called "The Ships' Graveyard". It has been estimated that one vessel out of every ten which regularly pass through the Straits of Magellan becomes lost or disabled. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 was a wonderful help to trade. By this route New York and Valparaiso, Chile, are only 4625 miles apart. By way of the straits, they were 8380 miles apart.
The west coast is for the most part high and rocky, with few harbors. Even at Mollendo and at Valparaiso, passengers are let over the sides of ships in baskets, and like the freight are lowered into small boats.
If a stiff wind blows, the vessels cannot unload. This use of small boats, or of barges called lighters, is a very poor and vexatious manner of handling passengers and goods. Few of the ports of South America have really good harbors. Many ports have only a "roadstead," that is, a shallow open bay where ships may anchor, sometimes a mile from shore. Goods must be packed very securely to endure the battering which they receive.
867. Development of resources by foreign capital.—The next industries to grow in this almost empty continent of South America will be more farms, more plantations, and more mines. Many of these things will be owned by people in the United States and Europe, as many of the Argentine railroads are now owned by English people, and as some of the Chilean iron mines and nitrate works are owned by Americans. When English people own rail roads or ranches and Amer icans own mines or other property in South America, the profits of the enterprise go to the owners in England or America. That is one of the reasons why old England and New England can support so many people. Americans are helping to develop South America by engineering. Our civil en gineers have constructed 1 many docks, warehouses, and railroads for the conti nent. The most wonderful mountain railroads in South America were built by Americans.
One of these roads, from Lima, crosses the Andes at 15,665 ft., a greater elevation than the top of any mountain in the Alps or in the United States. The road climbs to the top of cliffs by corkscrew tunnels which wind around and around in the mountains.
Scores of Americans are hunting for oil every day in many parts of South America. If they find it, wells will be sunk and the oil will be shipped by companies formed with English and American capital. Some people think that the plains at the eastern base of the Andes, almost anywhere between Colom bia and Patagonia, may some day prove to be great oil fields.
868. A continent with raw materials.— While there is some manufacturing of cloth, clothes, and many simple products at Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and other cities, South America manufactures but few of the things she uses. The South Ameri can stores sell hundreds and thousands of manufactured things that are not made in that continent. The people of South Amer ica would suffer greatly if they had no trade with any other continent, and the United States and Europe would also suffer if trade with South America were cut off. In the latter case, if South American trade with other continents should be cut off, the differ - ent countries of South America could not help one another much, because no ;one of them has much to sell except raw materials. The most important trade between the countries of South America is that of the wheat and flour that are shipped from the cool countries to the tropical countries which do not grow wheat.