The Geography and Social Conditions of the Iberian Peninsula

Theobald Fischer
1893 Geographical Journal  
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more » ... graphical Journal This content downloaded from on Mon, 27 Jun 2016 01:05:06 UTC All use subject to GEOGR XrHY AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS OF THE IBERIAN PENINSULA. 347 GEOGR XrHY AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS OF THE IBERIAN PENINSULA. 347 inlpossible naviDation Oll account of the rocks alld raterfalls, whereon the expeditiollss canoes were broken up. They then journeyed throtlDh the forest until able to construct a canoc frolll the bark of the Tapari tree. In this they travelled by wav of the Urukuriana (all affluent of the left margin of the Suminyan) for a period of ten days. Whe ballks of that rixer are covcred with dellse forests, and colossal tlees which had fallen across the stleam had frequently to be cut away with hatchets to enable the expediti3n to advance. As fever be"an to assert itself, tlle expedition returned as far as the Ktlminan, which it contintled to asecnd. Tllen it was that, on the left bank, they saw an Indian village, the inhabitants of which fled as they approachecl. The expedition left presents for thetn and withdrew. A5Then it returned the presents had been secured, but the Indians continued hidden. In the villaCe there were tools, evidently obtained from the Dutch cololly of Stlrinam to the north. On NosFenzber 28th the expedition at length arrived at the sought-fol plains. Adjoinincr thc Kuminyan, and risina 1300 feet above it, was a hill, from the summit of which could be seen grassy plalns free of forest for a great expanse. To the north the Tumuk-Humak RanCe was seen to stretch east and west; to the south the forests estended as far as the Amazons, and eastward the plains seemed lzoundless. Senhor Tocantins judges them to stretch as far as the Rivers Aporuna, Arapuari, Ausapa, and Oyapok, that is, as far as the slopes whence rivers flow direct to the Atlantic. Westwarel, also, the confirtes collld not be discerned, and Senhor Tocantins believes the plains to stretch beS ond the Rio Branco. On these highlands several treeless but grassy hills rise. The entire plateau is watered by numerous streams. At this point the IVuminJan is 820 feet wide, and is perfectly navigable, bein iLltercepted l)y no waterfalls. At the period of Senllor Gongalves Tocantins's journey northerly winds were prevalent, the climate ^ras teuzperate and, to all appearance, salubrious. Tlle plains appeared to be sllitable for the rearing of enormous herds of cattle. In the outer territories where the rock folmations are more diverse, the well-fed rivers and streams have an extraordinary power of erosion, owing to the steepness of the mountain slopes; in all directions the eountry is intersected by deep, narrolv valleys; the relief of the land is so full of variety that, for example, in Asturia, the surveyors found great difficulty in securin a level tract i mile long for measuring a base for the trianaulation of the country. On the tableland, on the other hand thelc is but little erosion, owina to the small rainfall and the very slight variations of Ievel i this region is a series of monotonolls plains, over N7hich one miCht, as in La Mancha, trax el for hundreds of miles without var)7inC one's heioht above the sealevel more than 150 feet. In the outer regions there are murmurillC brooks, green meadows, cool forests of beeches, oxaks, ashes, chestnuts, and fern-covered rocks overgrown with ivy; in the interior we find shallow, sluCgish streams, which possess no erodin power, and at times lose themselves in swamps. On every piece of risinC ground are mounted the classic windmills of Don Quisote by way of compensation for the ^ ant of water poxver; in sorne places there is a coulplete absence of trees, and the bare gypsum and salt steppe prevails; in others the plain is covered ith lomr thickets, which although peor in foliage, Call boast of fragrant and beautiful flowers. These contrasts are found generally so close to each other that their effect is all the nore striking.
doi:10.2307/1773903 fatcat:t6tcpx6ssvcc5fcq26vjhtqpku