UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LIB R ARIES
THIS VOLUME HAS BEEN MICROFILMED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LIBRARIES.
CUBA AND PORTO RICO
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CUBA AND PORTO RICO
WITH THE OTHER ISLANDS
OF THE WEST INDIES
THEIR TOPOGRAPHY, CLIMATE, FLORA, PRODUCTS, INDUSTRIES, CITIES, PEOPLE,
POLITICAL CONDITIONS, ETC.
ROBERT T. HILL
OF THE UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
lReviseb anb inlaroe
THE CENTURY CO.
Copyright, 1898, 1899, By THE CENTURY CO.
THE DEVINNE PRESS.
PROFESSOR ALEXANDER AGASSIZ
THIS WORK IS DEDICATED IN APPRECIATION OF HIS
RESEARCHES INTO THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE
WEST INDIAN SEAS AND
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
AN appreciative public having called for a second edition 11 of this book, the author has corrected the few misprints which appeared in the earlier edition, and has added some words concerning Porto Rico and Cuba, which he has revisited since those islands have come under American military occupation. Little or no change has been made in the description of Cuba, for the simple reason that the political conditions are still too unsettled in that island to justify any permanent statement at present. The description of Porto Rico has been amplified and largely rewritten.
Several appendices have been added, giving information of present and permanent interest; and a number of new pictures have been placed in the text.
The writer acknowledges with gratitude the many fair and friendly criticisms which the work has received from the American and English press.
WASHINGTON, A C., March 20,1899.
THE GEOGRAPHIC RELATIONS OF THE WEST INDIES
Position relative to the continents. Types of the surrounding lands.
The east-and-west trends of the Antillean Mountains. Differences between the Gulf and Caribbean basins... .. .. ..
THE WEST INDIAN WATERS
The American Mediterranean. Its area and littorals. Distinctness
from the oceanic basins. The currents and winds inducing the equable temperature and conditions of life. The remarkable submarine configuration. The great deeps and flooded mountains.
Peculiar aspects of the life of the waters. Influence of the coral
polyps in making the rocks of the islands. Passes into the Atlantic 7
CLASSIFICATION OF THE WEST INDIAN ISLANDS
Their number, area, and populations. Antithetic nature of their origin, configuration, and resources. Classification into groups of similar type. The Great Antilles. The Bahamas. The Caribbean chain. The South American islands of the Trinidad type. Reefs
and keys. -Their political organization ..............18
THE GREAT ANTILLES
Their individuality. Distinctness of physical characters from those
of the United States. Continental diversity of their configuration as compared with the monotypic character of the other islands.
The Antillean mountain system. Variety of resources. Total population. Diversity of social conditions presented in the four
chief islands ....... ................... 27
THE ISLAND OF CUBA
Physical features. Situation, commercial and strategic position.
Outlines, dimensions, area. The configuration. The coast and littoral. Abundance of harbors. The bordering keys. The interior mountain ranges. The plains of Cuba. The cuchillas of the east. The terraces of Guantanamo. Valleys and depressions.
Rivers, lakes, and swamps. Caves and scenic features . .. 33
CLIMATE, FLORA AND FAUNA Temperature and precipitation. Native trees and flowers. The royal
palm. Scarcity of mammals. Birds, reptiles, and insect life 50
HEALTH AND SANITATION
Natural healthfulness of the island. Ordinary diseases due to tropical
situation. Epidemics and yellow fever. Hygienic precautions
and suggestions ..... .................. . 57
Administrative departments. Numerical population. R~sum6 of previous history leading to present conditions. Administration and government. Absolutism of authority. Its effects and influences. Religion and education .... ............ 62
THE RESOURCES OF THE ISLAND
Agricultural supremacy. Tke cultivation of sugar. The superior
advantages of Cuba for sugar-culture. The plantations described. Tobacco-culture. The vegas oftheVueltaAbajo. Skill of Cuban tobacco-planters. Coffee, fruits, and minor agricultural
products. Cattle and live stock. Minerals .. ........ 76
COMMERCE AND TRANSPORTATION
Harbors, railways, highways. Sources of wealth. The large commerce of the island. Commercial value of the island to Spain.
Trade with the United States .... ............. 86
THE PEOPLE OF CUBA
Misconceptions concerning the people of Cuba. Degrees and variety
of people. The five classes of people. The Spaniards and other foreigners. The white Cubans. Effects of disenfranchisement and conscriptions. Hospitality and courtesy. Strong family attachments. The Cuban women. The laboring classes. The colored and black population. No danger of negro supremacy 97
CUBAN CITIES: HAVANA
Large number of cities in proportion to population. Havana and adjacent towns. Imposing appearance from the sea, and picturesque location. The bay and shipping. Prevalent building-material and type of architecture. The central plaza. European aspect of the city. The Prado. Notable structures. Tomb of Columbus.
Charitable institutions. Homes and private dwellings. The business streets. Street-cars and carriages. Places of recreation.
Pinar del Rio. Cabanas and Mariel .... ........... .107
OTHER CUBAN CITIES
Matanzas. Beauty of the surrounding country. Cardenas. Sagua
laGrande. Cienfuegos. Trinidad. Santa Clara. Puerto Principe, Bayamo, and Holguin. Manzanillo. Santiago de Cuba. Guantanamo. Baracoa ...... ................. .120
THE FUTURE OF THE ISLAND
The coming industrial rehabilitation. Limitations of climate and
possibilities. Opportunities for small farming. The reopening of
the sugar-plantations. Industrial openings. Future railway construction and public works. Harbors and municipal improvements. Commercial expansion ............. ..... 134
PORTO RICO-SITUATION AND PHYSICAL FEATURES Configuration. Outline. Picturesque topography. Drainage. Abundance of rivers. Flora and fauna. Geology. Climate. Hygiene
and sanitation ...... .................. 145
HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATION
Spanish character of its institutions and peoples. Uneventful course of its progress. Government and administration. Religion and education ........... ............ 153
TRANSPORTATION, AGRICULTURE, INDUSTRY, AND COMMERCE
Harbors. Railways. Highways. Telegraph. Diversified nature of
the agriculture. Large number of small farms. Sugar-estates.
Coffee-culture. Mefiores. Importance of the cattle industry.
Commerce and trade. Bad condition of the currency. 157
Statistical details of number, sex, nativity, race, and literacy. Excess of males. Small proportion of foreign people. Divisions into classes. The "Spaniards" (white Porto Ricans). The gibaros, or peasantry. The negroes. Former conditions of slavery
in Porto Rico ........ ................... .165
CITIES OF PORTO RICO
San Juan. Ponce. Mayaguez. Aguadila. Arecibo. Fajardo. Naguabo, Arroyo, San German, and small towns. Islands attached
to the government of Porto Rico ..... ............ .171
Geographical features of the island. Its central position in theAG
West Indies. The Blue Mountain scenery. The limestone plateau. The coast border and plains. Flora, fauna, climate, sanitation.............................185
A model British colony. Respect for law and order. Early history
and administration. Agriculture. Rise of the fruit industry.
Commerce. Railways. Excellent highways........202
Cities and villages. Kingston. Spanish Town. Port Antonio. Montego Bay. Rural life. The people. Excess of the black population.
Color-line and distinctions. Dress and habits of the blacks. Folklore of the negroes. A peculiar alphabet. Dependencies of Jamnaica .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .219
THE ISLAND OF SANTO DOMINGO
Difficulties of nomenclature. Geographical features of the island.
Irregularity of outline. Mountains and valleys. The Alps of the Antilles. Classification of the ranges. Rivers and lakes. Climate. Geology. Fauna.................236
THE REPUBLIC OF SAN DOMINGO
Political and social conditions of the island as a whole. The republic
of San Domingo. Interesting early history. The present goverment and administration. Commerce and agriculture. Minieral resources. Population. Predominance of mulattos. Old San Domingo city. Early American landmarks. Other points
THE REPUBLIC OF HAITI
Its mountainous character. Extensive coast-line. Its constitution
and organization. Education and religion. Commerce and revenue. Communication. Cities (Cape Haitien, Port de Paix, Gonaives, St. Marc, Port-au-Prince, Aux Cayes). The people. Supremacy of the blacks. Race antipathies. Personal appearance and domestic relations of the Haitians. Superstitions. The struggle for liberty. The blacks not to blame for the condition of the republic.
Island products and commerce .... ............ 263
General geographic features. Dissimilarity to other West Indian
Islands. Products and population. Poverty and decadence of
the people. Varied race character of the blacks ........ .296
THE LESSER ANTILLES
Natural beauty of the islands. Distribution among many governments. Differentiation into four types ... ......... 305
THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AND ST. CROIX
Their Antillean character and position. Geological character. Various kinds of government. St. Thomas. St. John. Virgin Gorda.
Anegada. St. Croix ...... ................ 309
THE CARIBBEE ISLANDS
Classification into volcanic and calcareous subgroups. The Anguillan subgroup. Sombrero. Anguilla. St. Barts. St. Martin.
Barbuda. Antigua ...... ................ 318
THE VOLCANIC CARIBBEES
Singular beauty of the islands. Flora, fauna, and geological char.
acter. Saba. St. Eustatius. St. Christopher. Nevis. Montserrat p326
THE ISLANDS OF GUADELOUPE AND DOMINICA
Government and resources of Guadeloupe. Basse-Terre. Grande-Terre.
Maria Galante. D~sirade. Les Saintes. Cities and towns of Guadeloupe. Dominica the beautiful. A fertile soil awaiting cultivation 337
THE ISLAND OF MARTINIQUE
Beauty of its landscape. A description of the forests. History and
present economic condition. The city of St. Pierre. Botanical
gardens. Fort-de-France. The fantastic population . . 345
ST. LUCIA, ST. VINCENT, THE GRENADINES, AND GRENADA England's stronghold in the West Indies. The Pitons. Agricultural
depression. Recollections of Rodney ... .......... .357
THE SOUTH AMERICAN ISLANDS
Trinidad, Tobago, and Curagao. The peculiar geographical features
of Trinidad. Port of Spain. Political conditions. Population and people. The island of Tobago. Curaao, the capital of the
Dutch West Indies ....... ................. 365
Insular position of the island. The coralline origin of its soils. Government and economic conditions. The Barbadians. Density of
population. The struggle for existence ... ......... .373
GEOLOGICAL FEATURES OF THE WEST INDIES
General paucity of mineral resources. Iron. Manganese. Salt.
Phosphate. Sulphur. Asphaltum. Peculiar geological history
of the region. Its bearing upon the myth of Atlantis . . 380
RACE PROBLEMS IN THE WEST INDIES
Varied nationality and character of the inhabitants. Condition of
the native whites. Possibilities of the white race. The negroes.
Their general character, habits, and moral condition. Obiism, or
witchcraft ........ .................... 387
THE FUTURE OF THE WEST INDIES
Vicissitudes which have been survived. Depression of the sugar industry. The bane of alien land-tenure. Bad effect of political
distribution. Prospective relations with the United States. . 400
I. Cuba since the War ...... .............. 411
II. Table of Distances between Towns in Cuba ....... .413 III. Islands attached to the Government of Porto Rico 414 IV. Government and Resources of Porto Rico ..... .417 V. Rainfall of San Juan, Porto Rico ... ........ 424
VI. Table of Distances between Principal Cities in Porto Rico 425 VII. Railway Stations of Porto Rico ... ......... .425
INDEX ........ .................. 427
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
MAP OF THE WEST INDIES . . . . Frontispiece FACING PAGE
TRAVELER'S PALM, GARDEN, ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUENOT INDIGENOUS . . . . . . 16
COCOANUT-PALMS, PLUMB POINT LIGHTHOUSE, JAMAICA 24 BANIAN-TREE, BRIDGETOWN7 BARBADOS . . . 24 PLAZA IN FRONT OF CAPTAIN-GENERAL'S PALACE, HAVANA 32 GEOLOGIC MAP OF THE ISLAND OF CUBA . . . 40 MATANZAS ................ 44
Church of Montserrat-Yumuri Valley, near Matanzas
AFTERNOON DRIVE IN RURAL CUBA . . . 48
SCENES IN CUBA . . . . . . . 52
Drive to the Bellamar Caves, Matanzas-Royal Palms, SugarEstate-Villanueve Railway Station, Havana
HAVANA . . . . . . . . 57
View in the Botanical Gardens-Fruit-Stand-A Market-Place
-" Leche a Domicilio "-Donkeys Loaded with Wood
SCENES IN CUBA . . . . . . . 60
Pack-Horse Loaded with Rum-A Funeral Car
HAVANA . . . . . . . . 64
Plaza de Armas and Captain-General's Palace-Templete
Monument, Erected at Site of First Mass Said in Havana
HAVANA . . . .. . . . 72
Regla, the Brooklyn of Havana, Ferry-Boat in ForegroundAt the Boat-Landing-Water-Front, Havana Bay
SUGAR-HOUSE ON PLANTATION, CUBA . . . 76 xvii
XV111 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
SCENES IN CUBA . . . . . . 78
A Car-Load of Sugar-Cane, Santa Anna-Cutting Sugar-Cane
SCENES IN CUBA . . . . . . . 80
Huts on Soledad Estate, near Cienfuegos-Hormiguera SugarEstate, Cienfuegos-Pineapples-Bananas near Cienfuegos
MINE OF IRON ORE NEAR JURAGUA, TWELVE MILES EAST
OF SANTIAGO DE CUBA . . . . . 84 HAVANA . . . . . . . . 88
Morro Castle from the West-Panorama of the Prado
SCENES IN CUBA . . . . . . . 97
A Country House-A Cuban Peasant House of the Better Sort
-Peasant Holding a Wooden Plow
A GROUP OF NATIVE CUBAN INSURRECTIONARY LEADERS 100 A CUBAN TYPE ......... ......102
THE SAN CARLOS CLUB, SANTIAGO DE CUBA . . 104 THE YUMURI VALLEY NEAR MATANZAS7 CUBA . . 108 HAVANA . . . . . . . . 112
Old Church Used as Custom-House-The Cathedral
GENERAL VIEW OF HAVANA FROM CABANAS SHORE . 116
MATANZAS-GENERAL VIEW . . . . . 120
VIEW IN THE PLAZA, CIENFUEGOS . . . . 124 SANTIAGO DE CUBA . . . . . . 126
General View-The Cathedral
SANTIAGO DE CUBA . . . . . . 128
Smith Key-Morro Castle
SANTIAGO DE CUBA . . . . . . 130
Plaza-Calle de Puerto
SANTIAGO DE CUBA . . . . . 132
BARACOA, CUBA ........ ....... .136
PONCE, PORTO RICO . . . . . . 145
Cascade of Plaza de las Delicias -Isabel Street
COUNTRY HUTS AND HIGHWAYS, PORTO RICO . . 148
A bad road in the Pepino Hills -View on the Military Road -Tenements of the Poor, near Lares-Primitive Peasant Hut
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xix
ENTRANCE TO SAN JUAN, PORTO RICO .. ....... 152 SCENES IN PORTO RICO ..... ............ 154
Village Church, Abonito-Going to Adjuntas-View near
San German-Municipal Building, San Juan
A STATE FUNERAL, SAN JUAN, PORTO RICO ..... 160 REPRESENTATIVE PORTO RICANS ... ......... 167
PORTO RICO ....... ................ 168
Utuado -Plaza and Cathedral at Arecibo -Palms near San Juan
PEASANT SCENES AND CUSTOMS, PORTO RICO ....... .172
Pig- and Chicken-Pedler, San Juan-Hulling Coffee in a Village Street-Market Scene, Ponce-Pigs to Market, Military Road.
PORTO RICAN FAMILY AT COUNTRY HOUSE, NEAR MAYAGUEZ 178 JAMAICA ........ ................. 185
Port Royal from the Sea-Rock Coast and Pseudo-Atolls, Montego Bay-Harbor of Port Royal
JAMAICA ........ ................. 188
Mountain Scenery-Newcastle Barracks
EAST INDIAN COOLIES, JAMAICA ... ......... 192
CEIBA-TREE AND COUNTRY ESTATE, JAMAICA ....... .200 CULTIVATION OF SUGAR-CANE, JAMAICA .. ....... 208 A CEIBA OR SILK-COTTON TREE ... ......... 216
CACTUS AND CHAPARRAL, JAMAICA .. ........ 216 JAMAICA ........ ................. 220
Country House, Retreat Pen, Clarendon-Kingston Street Scene
JAMAICA ........ .......... ....... 224
Negresses Transporting Charcoal-Logwood Collected for
JAMAICANS CARRYING BANANAS-BREADFRUIT-TREE OVERHEAD ........ ................ 232
SANTO DOMINGO ...... .............. 240
Santo Cerro Church and Nispero de Colon, or Tree of Columbus, beneath which Mass was Celebrated after the Great Victory over the Indians of La Vega-A Street Showing Cathedral
SANTO DOMINGO ...... .............. 256
Citadel where Columbus was Imprisoned-Alleged Coffin of
XX LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI . . . . .. 272
BAHAMAS . . . . . . . . 296
Cliffs of Eleuthera Island-Watlings Island-United States
Consul's House, Nassau-Street Scene, Nassau
BAY AND CITY OF ST. THOMAS . . . . 312 ENTIRE POPULATION OF A NEGRO HAMLET, ANTIGUA . 320 ANTIGUA . . . . . . . . 322
Street Showing Cathedral and Public Library, St. JohnSugar-Estate
ST. JOHN, ANTIGUA . . . . . . 324
A Suburban Highway-View of City and Harbor
FORT-DE-FRANCE, MARTINIQUE . . ...... o326
CARIBBEE ISLANDS . . . . . . 328
Town of Bottom, Island of Saba, Situated in an Old CraterGustavia, St Bartholomew
ST. KITTS . . . . . . . 332
MARKET, GUADELOUPE . . . . . . 338
CARIB INDIANS MAKING BASKETS, DOMINICA . . 340 MARTINIQUE . . . . . . . 345
Statue of Josephine-Old Mill on Estate where Josephine
MARTINIQUE ................ 348
Landing, St. Pierre-St Pierre
TYPES OF WOMEN, MARTINIQUE . . . .. 352
File de Couleur-FrenchNegress-NegroWoman-Mulatto Girl
ST. LUCIA . . . . . . .. 357
Plantations near South End-One of the Pitons
ST. VICENT . . .. . . . 360
ST. VINCENT . . . .............. 362
Sugar-Plantation, Fort Davinet-Windward Coast-Market
GRENADA ...... .......... 364
St. George's Harbor-St. George
TRINIDAD . . . . . . . 366
Public Offices-Port of Spain
PITCH LAKE, TRINIDAD . . . .......... 368
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS XXi
TRINIDAD ................. 370
BARBADOS ................ 373
Gathering Sugar-Cane-Public Library, Bridgetown-Laundresses-Turning the Windmill
BRIDGETOWN ROADSTEAD, BARBADOS . . . . 374 BARBADOS . . . . . . . . 376
Street Scene, Bridgetown-Country Church-Landing Wharf,
BARBADIAN NEGROES . . . . . . 378
Group of Overseers- Trinket-Seller-Pottery-Vender
COAST VIEWS, BARBADOS . . . . . . 380
Rolled Boulder from Elevated Reef-Horizontal Sea Erosion of Rolled Boulders-Effect of Trade-Winds on VegetationBathing Beach and Elevated Reef- Sea-Coast Scene- Elevated
BARBADIAN TYPES . . . . . . . 387
Fisherman- Earthenware-Seller-Street Arab
TYPES, BARBADOS AND GUADELOUPE . . . . 388
Going to Market, Barbados-Field-Hands, Barbados (Note Characteristic Barbadian Heads)-Woman in Characteristic
Costume, French Mulatto, Guadeloupe
ST. VINCENT ............... 390
Carib Indians-Carib Rock-Inscriptions
ST. VINCENT ............... 392
Negro Hut-African Basket-Wattle House, Board House, Adaptation of Same
ANTIGUA AND BARBADOS . . . . . . 394
Negro Hut, Antigua-Negroes and Low Whites, East Side of
Barbados-Fisherman's Hut, Barbados
NEGRO HUT, ST. VINCENT . . . ... . 396
SUGAR-CULTURE, BARBADOS . . . . . 400
Newcastle Sugar-Mill- Spreading Bagasse to Dry for FuelCane-Grinding by Windmill Power
IMPOVERISHED SUGAR-ESTATES, BARBADOS . . . 404
W E have recently been called a nation of Yankee
traders. This compliment, although not so intended, classifies us among the most highly civilized nations, which are those that excel in commerce, and signalizes our need of foreign markets.
The great nations of Europe are apportioning the territories of weaker peoples among themselves for the purpose of monopolizing their trade. Whether the United States is to enter into such operations or not, we cannot say, nor is it the purpose of this book to discuss the question. Our f uture prosperity as a nation depends largely on the equality of terms upon which our products can obtain market abroad. Every square mile fenced in by tariff laws of prohibitive nations is our commercial loss; every one opened is our gain. It was Spain's attempt to divert the trade of Cuba from its natural channels by discriminative duties that fomented the discord leading to the present war; it was the protective barrier placed by us against the sugar of the West Indian Islands which almost paralyzed them.
We are not only a nation of traders, but we are a nation of Yankee tinkers, and it is our scientific expertness in developing natural resources, in increasing the productive labor of the individual, and in quickening transportation, that has enabled us to develop wildernesses and to revive countries which have grown old in conservative ways. Our methods of industrial development are scientific, and Xxiii
the art of commerce goes hand in hand with geography. Not far from our borders is the wonderful and interesting West Indian region, which is already a fair field of trade, and which, present events indicate, will be a better one in coming years. American industrial methods may be applied to this region, and it is an opportune moment to make a scientific presentation of its conditions and possibilities.
It is a difficult task to convey a correct impression of the natural and economic conditions of the tropical American countries and their inhabitants. Too often these are judged by the standards of our own surroundings and customs, which are those of an entirely different environment. The configuration of the lands, geological structure, climate, and products of the soil-upon all of which culture depends-are so different from those of our own country that we are confronted at the outset with a lack of suitable bases for comparison. The peoples and countries of the American Mediterranean cannot be classified together as social or geographic units. Nowhere in the world are so many extremes of natural conditions, population, and government to be found. As elsewhere, climate, configuration, and fertility of soil are there the first considerations that influence productivity, while political organization has also largely conditioned the degree of civilization. Neighboring localities present great contrasts. Here are lands which have grown up through the agency of the coral-reef builders, eminences piled high by vast volcanic extrusions, high plateaus, and mountain ridges of the lifted and folded sediments of the ocean's floor, each of which, with modifications of altitude and climate, produces a soil differing from the others in agricultural and economic possibilities. The reef-veneered Barbados, the volcanic areas of Central America, the Windward Islands, and the high, and plateau of Mexico, respectively, are types of these CODtrasting lands, and the Great Antilles are peculiar combinations of all.
There is an impression that the peoples of these countries are either negro or Spanish, and that despotism or anarchy, due to the character of the inhabitants rather than to environment and administration, are the prevalent political conditions. In these heterogeneous conceptions the dominant Indian population of Mexico, the negroes of Haiti, and the white creoles of the islands are indiscriminately considered together. But this region is a most remarkable example of the combined influences upon mankind of geography, race, and government, and is practically a great sociological laboratory where many human species are being differentiated.
It is true that some people of Spanish descent, in countries like Colombia., Honduras, and San Salvador, where population is scattered and separated by topographic obstacles fatal to the establishment of strong governments, are normally in revolt. There are other Spanish-American republics which, in comparison with the government of the European country from which they seceded, are fair models of stability and prosperity, such as Costa iRica,where capital punishment has been abolished, -which is as peaceful as Acadia, and boasts that it has never had a war. Argentina and Chile are worthy of consideration; and Mexico, by gigantic strides, since free from European interference, has changed from a land of revolution and banditti to the home of a prosperous industrial and commercial nation.
The conditions of the tropical countries in which the negro race prevails are indeed varied, but in some instances better than is generally supposed. The Haitians have made more progress than is credited to them; their revolting experience has caused us to overlook the fact that other negro populations, such as those of Jamaica and Barbados,
-where the blacks outnumber the whites in the proportion of fifty to one,-under beneficent English colonial control, at least present orderly spectacles. Of these tropical countries and peoples, we are now chiefly concerned with
the West Indies, especially Cuba, with a secondary interest in Porto Rico-the only islands where the white race has become acclimated and numerically dominant, and whose political administrations have been most disturbed, despite their superior natural resources. The other islands present equally interesting economic and sociologic studies.
The West Indies since their introduction to European civilization have been attractive objects of interest and have presented a wonderful panorama of human and natural phenomena. They have been the theater of historic action, the center from which early American exploration radiated, and the base of geographic operations during those entrancing years when mariners ever scanned the horizon in expectation of discovering the new and the wonderful. They have been the battle-ground of the New World of nations from the formative centuries until the present civilization. They have been the grand arena of the war of races. First, the Spanish conquered the aborigines; then English, Dutch, French, and Dane, anxious for participation, strove to share in the possession of the Indiesi and even individuals, as pirates and buccaneers, took part in the, general seizure. The din of European arms over these waters continued intermittently until the beginning of this century. Cities with old-world walls, fortifications, and institutions had grown opulent in the West Indies, or had been destroyed by the guns of foreign foes, before the landing upon Plymouth Rock or the settlement of Jamestown had initiated Anglo-American civilization. Every island is strewn with old cannon and picturesque ruins of antique battlements which attest the days when individuals and nations preyed upon the Spanish Main. Here Morgan, Drake, Grenville, De Grasse, Rodney, Nelson, Albemarle, and other sea warriors of note won victories or suffered defeat, and many a brave, forefather from our own colonies participated in the struggle.
African slaves were implanted upon territory gained by Caucasian from aborigine. By the close of the last cen-
tury, when the civilized nations had about adjusted their territorial disputes, the slaves had attained numerical strength, and from time to time rose in revolt-usually to be suppressed with a loss of life most appalling, but in some cases achieving a success that so completely banished European life and influences that civilization asks in wonder if this Eden of nature is not being transformed into an American Africa, with its barbarous rites and superstitions. As a climax to this tumult we have lately seen in Haiti the spectacle of pure negro blood exterminating the mulattos.
These islands were the commercial paradise of the first three centuries of American settlement, and lands now gone back to jungle sold as high as a thousand dollars an acre, in those booming days when sugar was at 32.17 Here manufacturers found market for all the weaves and notions of their making. The West India trade enriched the merchants of Barcelona and London, and the products of the plantations established many a fortune in England, France, and Spain. Even now their trade exceeds that of all Mexico and Central America.
In the era of their prosperity noble families of European descent founded establishments of patriarchal grandeur, luxurious and hospitable beyond description. In these times the islands gave birth to Alexander Hamilton, our first great financier, and Josephine, who became Empress of the French. Here, too, Nelson, then a captain in the British navy, was married to the wife who was faithful to his unfaithfulness. No greater proof can be found of the value of the West Indies at the close of the last century than the fact that to England the loss of the colonies which now constitute our republic seemed of secondary importance to Rodney's great naval victory over the French off Martinique, whereby her supremacy in the West Indies was established. In the light of eighteenth-century values the American colonies were of trivial worth in comparison with the West Indies, and we may perhaps thank our
destinies that England at that time devoted her superior forces to retaining the latter.
To the -naturalist the islands are a paradise, and in their plants, animals, and rocks he finds not only the new and wonderful, but grand problems of origin and distribution. How these lands arose from the sea, and what their relations to the continents are, must still be regarded as questions not satisfactorily answered.
From the esthetic standpoint these islands have been the inspiration of noble works of prose and poetry. Scenic pictures of mountains, valleys, and coast everywhere overwhelm the eye with wealth of form, while rich vegetation of a hundred tints, shaded or illuminated by clouds and sunlight, presents an unrivaled wealth of color. The whole, set in a framework of glorious sea, is a marvelous natural picture.
Books have been written treating of various places and parts of the West Indies, but, within the past quartercentury at least, none which presents a geographic and economic conspectus of the subject as a whole-a fact apparent to the traveler who searches in vain for such a reliable guide-book. Some writers, like Stoddard, Ober, St. John, and Bryan Edwards, have presented charming glimpses of certain portions of the islands. Kingsley, in "Westward Ho!"1 and "At Last," has given descriptions of scenes and localities which will have a permanent place in literature. Michael Scott,'the author of "Tom Cringle's Log," Mayne Reid, Marryat, and Robert Louis Stevenson have produced amusing sketches of scenes here and there. Samuel Hazard has written two instructive books on the every-day scenes and life of Cuba and Santo Domingo. Lafcadio Hearn's Two Years in the West Indies," giving -the strange story of the life and decadence of the French island of Martinique, is a most readable and instructive book. St. John has graphically told the heroic story of black Haiti's struggles for freedom and its revolting sequence. Froude has written of the English in the
West Indies, and Anthony Trollope has given a conspectus of the islands in the middle of the present century, just before the epoch of emancipation which upset their industrial system; and this should be read by all who wish to see the changes which fifty years have wrought. Captain Marryat has recorded in fiction, and John Fiske in history, the stories of the bucaneering and freebooting on the Spanish Main. Of the more solid historical works, John Fiske's writings, especially his "Discovery of America" and "Old Virginia and her Neighbors," give admirable summaries of earlier West Indian events and the intimate relations that once existed between the American colonies and the islands.
Of economic treatises there are several special works, such as M. Ramon de La Sagra's "Histoire physique, politique et naturelle de l'ile de Cuba," Humboldt's writings, Tippenhauer's "Haiti," Schomburgk's "Barbados," and several French works on the present and former possessions of France. These, however, with the exception of Tippenhauer's "Haiti," a report of the English Sugar Commission, and various consular reports, were written in the earlier decades of the century, and treat of slave conditions which are now obsolete. Captain Mahan, in his various books and magazine articles, has described the present strategic importance of the islands and the great naval battles of the past.
Of works treating of the natural history of the West Indies there are but few of a general or comprehensive character. Exploration has been sporadic and unsystematic, although in these islands is the key to all the higher problems of zodgeography and the evolution of the continents. There is one notable exception; for years Professor Alexander Agassiz has personally conducted or inspired many explorations in this region, and has published valuable technical works thereon. His "Three Cruises of the Blake," a treatise on the wonderful configuration of the sea bottoms and their mysterious life, is a most read-
able and instructive work on the geology and zo~logy. His works on the living and fossil coral reefs, such as "The Florida Reefs," "The Cruise of the Wild Duck," and one on the Bahamas, are of greatest interest. To Professor Agassiz's desire to advance the knowledge of the West Indies the writer is indebted for the opportunity of several years' travel, whereby he was enabled to study their geography and geology, to observe their social and economic conditions, and to obtain experiences which have made this book possible.
The author cannot hope to present in the present work a better description of the West Indies than has been given in fragments by these earlier writers. He believes, however, that there is need for a comprehensive book on the region as a whole, and one which will treat its conditions as they appear to-day, giving the essential facts concerning the physical geography, climate, economic geology, agriculture, commerce, and social conditions of these islands, as well as the possibilities of their future development. While the work will be chiefly based upon the results of his own personal examinations, the scattered and in some instances almost inaccessible observations of others will be freely used. When statistics are given they will be presented as the best obtainable figures concerning a region where the arts of collecting and classifying such data are by no means the favorite occupations of the inhabitants.
CUBA AND PORTO RICO
WITH THE OTHER
THE WEST INDIES
THE GEOGRAPHIC RELATIONS OF THE WEST INDIES
Position relative to the continents. Types of the surrounding lands. The
east-and-west trends of the Antillean Mountains. Differences between
the Gulf and Caribbean basins.
A P ROPER conception of the social and economic conditions of the various West Indian Islands and their relations, or rather lack of relations, to the adjacent continents, will be facilitated by a few preliminary words upon the general geography of the American Mediterranean region, of which they are integral parts. This will avoid much unnecessary repetition in the descriptions of the various islands.
The western hemisphere is divisible into three distinct continental regions, the North, Central, and South American. North America is the most western'I of the continents, and terminates in southern Mexico, at the end of the Rocky
I In northern latitudes we look upon the Pacific as situated to our west; but were it not for the island of Cuba and the narrow isthmaian neck, one could strike it by sailing almost due south from New York, and the whole of the South American continent is situated far east of the mass of North America.
2 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
Mountain region. South America is the eastern continent, and terminates with the end of the northern Andes in the Republic of Colombia. The Central American continent is an east-and-west isthmus connecting the termini of the North and South American continents. Central America and the West Indies, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea (together forming the American Mediterranean), are more complex features, largely individual in their aspects, although more nearly related to one another and to the northern coast of South America than they are to the main bodies of the larger continents.
Geography has taught that the American continents are dominated by a continuous Cordilleran system running like a backbone through South, Central, and North America. connecting the whole western border of the hemisphere by one great mountain system, which has persisted through long epochs of time. This is an erroneous idea, for the socalled continental backbone is not a geographic unit, but is disconnected in places. In a later chapter I will show that the Central American isthmian barrier between the oceans was once freely invaded by the waters of the Pacific, while an entirely different isthmian bridge on the windward or eastern side of the Gulf and Caribbean Sea, now partially destroyed, probably connected or almost connected the continents from Florida to the northeast point of South America. Either this, or much of the present Central American lands, with some of the West Indian Islands, long before man appeared on this earth, formed a great archipelago-a veritable Atlantis-extending east and west between and directly across the trends of the North and South American continents.
The east-front ranges of the North American Cordilleras are largely composed of old sediments of the Atlantic Ocean which were pushed up against a preexisting land lying to the west; they are mountain ranges with north-and-south trends, accompanied by volcanic intrusions and ejecta. Geographers show that this system abruptly terminates
THE GEOGRAPHIC RELATIONS OF THE WEST INDIES 3
with the great scarp, or abfall, of the so-called plateau of Mexico, in longitude 970 W., a little south of the capital of that republic, and that the mountains have no orographic continuity or other features in common with those of the Central American region.
The Andean Cordilleras, which dominate the South American continental area, are largely composed of the old sediments of the Pacific Ocean, and are also accompanied byvolcanic intrusions and ejecta nowfolded into north-andsouth mountain trends. They too were pushed up against a preexisting land buttress, but this lay to the east, instead of to the west as in the case of the North American Cordilleras. The Andean trend, which follows the western side of South America, after crossing north of the equator, bends slightly eastward and abruptly terminates in northern Colombia, in loligitude 700 W. Only one doubtful spur touches the coast of the American Mediterranean, the Sierra del Marta, lying between the Gulf of Maracaibo and the river Magdalena. The Andes have no genetic connection with the ranges extending east and west along the Venezuelan coast of South America, much less with the mountains of Central America or with the great Rocky Mountain region of Mexico and the United States. The northern end of the Andean system lies entirely east of the Central American region, and is separated from it by the Rio Atrato-the most western of the great rivers of Colombia. In fact, the deeply eroded drainage valley of this stream nearly severs the Pacific coast of the Republic of Colombia and the isthmian region from the South American continent.
The trends of the great North and South American Cordilleras, the Rocky Mountain and the Andean systems, if protracted from their termini in southern Mexico and Colombia respectively, would not connect with each other through Central America, but would pass the latitude of the Antilles in parallel lines nearly two thousand miles apart. The Andean trends, if extended, would pass through Jamaica and eastern Cuba, and continue almost east of the
4 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
North American continent in the direction of Nova Scotia. A similar southward extension of the North American Cordilleras would carry them into the waters of the Pacific, crossing the equator far west of Central America and the South American continent.
In the tropical latitudes, between the widely separated termini of the North and South American Cordilleras, as above defined, and extending directly at right angles to them, lies another mountain system, to which the term "Antillean "may be applied. This has been the fundamental factor in West Indian configuration, although the system has not usually been properly appreciated by geologist and geographer, owing, no doubt, to the fact that its remarkable and continuous ranges are largely submerged beneath the waters of the Caribbean Sea.
East-and-west mountain ranges of the Antillean type occur through the Great Antilles, along the Venezuelan and Colombian coast of South America, north of the Orinoco; in the Isthmus of Panama, Costa Rica, and the eastern parts of Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Yucatan, Chiapas, and southern Oaxaca. The two elongated submarine ridges, separated by the deep oceanic valley known as "Bartlett Deep," which stretch across the Caribbean from the Antilles to the Central American coast, from the west end of the Sierra Maestra range of Cuba to the coast of Honduras, and from Jamaica to Cape Gracias 4 Dios, respectively, are similar in configuration to the east-and-west mountain ranges of the Great Antilles, and are, no doubt, genetically a part of them.
The Antillean system is made up of east-and-west mountain ranges composed of folded sedimentaries. Like the Rocky Mountains and the Andes, it is accompanied by volcanic intrusions and ejecta, but, instead of dominating a continental region, these uplifts practically have their greatest development on the Antillean Islands and in the submarine topography of the sea, and form a mountainous perimeter of the depressed Caribbean basin.
THE GEOGRAPHIC RELATIONS OF THE WEST INDIES 5
The great physical differences between the lands bordering the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea are chiefly dependent npon the arrangement and relation of the Rocky Mountain, Andean, and Antillean systems of mountain folds. The first of these in its geognostic aspects and relations is distinctly North American, the second South American, and the third is peculiarly Central American. The Gulf of Mexico is an indentation into the North American continent-the restricted survival of a great interior sea which once extended over the Great Plains region of the United States, which at one time almost, if not entirely, separated North America into two great prehistoric continents, the Appalachian and Cordilleran. The basin of the Gulf is still filling np from the sediments brought down by rivers which drain nearly one fourth the area of the United States. With the single exception of its extreme southwestern indentation upon the coast of Mexico, the Gulf is surrounded by low plains composed of great sheets of subhorizontal and unconsolidated sediments deposited when its own waters occupied a larger area than at present. The entire sea margin of the Gulf region of the United States and most of Mexico is of this nature, while the north coasts of Yucatan and portions of Cuba, although modified, are related phenomena. Thus the Gulf of Mexico, instead of having a mountainous periphery like the Caribbean, is bordered by plains.
There is still another classof tropical mountains, distinct from those made of folds of the earth's sedimentary crust. These are the volcanoes which have grown by extrusion and accumulation. Sometimes they are parasitic upon the folded mother systems, sometimes independent of them. They belong to the great area of igneous eruptivity which, at least since the beginning of Tertiary time, has marked the western half of the North American continent, the northern and western sides of South America, and the eastern side of the Caribbean region. Although
6 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
blending into one another, the volcanic areas of the tropics are of two distinct kinds, which we may call the quiescent and the active.
The active volcanic group occurs in four widely sepa-. rated localities: 1. The Andean group of volcanoes of the equatorial region of western South America, which rise above the corrugated folds of the northern termination of the dominant South American Cordilleras. 2. The chain of some twenty-five great cinder-cones which stretch east and west across the south end of the Mexican Plateau, protruding on the terminal ranges of the North American Cordilleras. 3. The Central American group, with its thirty-one active craters, occurs diagonally across the western ends of the east-and-west folds of the Antillean corrugations, and fringes the Pacific side of Guatemala, San Salvador, and Costa Rica. This is separated from the Mexican group on the north by a quiescent volcanic area, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and on the south from the Andean volcanoes by the Isthmus of Panama, where no active volcanoes are found. 4. The volcanoes of the Windward chain of islands, which mark the eastern gate of the Caribbean Sea in a line directly across the eastern terminus of the Antillean Mountains. These are parallel to the Central American group, and together these two groups constitute the eastern and western borders of the Caribbean Sea.
Other regions in which volcanic activity has been quiet in recent geologic epochs ar e the Great Antilles, the Isthmus of Panama, the Pacific coast of South America west of the Atrato, and the Venezuelan coast of Southi America. Thus the Caribbean is bordered on the east and west by volcanic chains, and on the north and south by mountain folds.
THE WEST INDIAN WATERS
The American Mediterranean. Its area and littorals. Distinctness from
the oceanic basins. The currents and winds inducing the equable temperature and conditions of life. The remarkable submarine configuration. The great deeps and flooded mountains. Peculiar aspects of the life of the waters. Influence of the coral polyps in making the rocks
of the islands. Passes into the Atlantic.
H AVING shown the fundamental relations of the tropieal American region, the essential features of its local geography can now be briefly outlined. First a word as to magnitude. When the writer first sailed for these waters he had the erroneous impression, which is shared by many, that the whole West Indian region could be seen and studied in a single season-an illusion which was dispelled by a few weeks' experience. It took some time to realize that a journey across the greater length of the Gulf and Caribbean from Galveston to the mouth of the Orinoco was nearly four thousand miles, or one third more than the distance from Now York to Liverpool; that the eastern chain of islands from Florida to Trinidad was strung out for a thousand miles; and that to go from Jamaica, near the geographic center of the region, to any of the peripheral points, such as Colon, Barbados, or Nassau, was a matter of three or four days, steaming.
The waters of the Gulf and Caribbean, 615,000 and 750,000 square miles in area respectively, aggregate 1,365,7
8 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
000 square miles, or one sixth the area of the North and Central American continents, while the land area of all the islands is nearly 100,000 square miles, not quite equal to that of the State of Colorado.
The traveler who would circumnavigate the American Mediterranean, as the Gulf and Caribbean may be collectively termed, keeping the bordering lands in sight, say by entering at the Florida capes, and following the shores of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela to Trinidad, and thence up the inner margins of the Windward Islands and the southern shores of the Great Antilles back to the point of beginning, would be obliged to travel twelve thousand miles-nearly one half the earth's circumference.
A word as to directions must be added. The prevalent trends are east and west in this region. The'longest axes of the seas and islands are along east-and-west lines. Eveii the coasts of the surrounding mainlands are thus arranged. A glance at the straight east-and-west Caribbean coast of South America, Honduras, and Guatemala shows that the S-shaped outline of the isthmus also has a prevalent east-and-west direction.
Volumes might be devoted to descriptions of the wonderful waters of the American Mediterranean. They have many phases of depth, current, temperature, and life, but we can only touch upon the essentials. This great tropical body of water is not merely an arm of the ocean, indenting and almost separating the American continents, but is a deep and well-defined marine basin or series of basins, more completely closed on the Atlantic side than is apparent from a glance at the map. The numerous islets of its eastern border, the Bahamas and Windward chain, which extend from Florida to the mouth of the Orinoco, are merely the summits of steep submarine ridges, which divide the depths of the Atlantic from those of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea; were their waters a
THE WEST INDIAN WATERS 9
few feet lower these ridges would completely landlock the seas from the ocean.
Further study shows that this vast tropical sea is composed of a number of distinct basins, each marked by great depths and separated by lands or shallows-a condition somewhat comparable to that of our Great Lakes, if they and their adjacent lands were united into a continuous body of water by slight regional subsidences. These secondary divisions, which appear small upon the map and have less conspicuous land inclosures, are really extensive bodies of water, such as the Mosquito Gulf, nestling in the curve of the Isthmus of Panama, and forming the southwest termination of the Caribbean Sea; the Gulf of Honduras, which is almost landlocked by Yucatan, Cuba, Jamaica, and the submerged Rosalind Bank on the south; and the Haitian Sea, or Old Bahama Channel, as the sailing-masters formerly called the long stretch of water between the Bahamas and the northern shores of the Antilles.
The American Mediterranean in its entirety may be considered a great whirlpool or oceanic river. This is caused by the tremendous velocity with which the waters of the Atlantic, moved by wind and terrestrial motion, pour into the Caribbean Sea through the straits between the Windward Islands and the passage between Cuba and Santo Domingo. These rush impetuously through the Caribbean Sea until they meet the Central American coast. Failing to find a westward passage across this barrier, they are deflected northward around the western end of the Antilles, through the Yucatan Channel, and into the Gulf of Mexico, out of which they flow to the east, through the Strait of Florida, as the great Gulf Stream. The normal westerly movement of this current through the Caribbean Sea is estimated at from ten to twenty cubic miles of water -per day.
After passing at an accelerated speed through the Banks Strait, between Jamaica and the Mosquito Reef,
10 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
the main stream is joined by an affluent setting from the Atlantic through the Windward Channel. Hence northwestward an enormous liquid mass passes at a velocity of from two to three miles through the Strait of Yucatan, from the Caribbean Sea, into the Gulf of Mexico. On entering the Gulf this stream ramifies into two branches; one, following the north coast of Cuba, sets toward Florida Strait, while the other broadens out in the spacious central basin of the Gulf and develops an intricate system of counter-currents. Toward the center of this nearly circular sea the waters seem to be in a state of equilibrium, while at the periphery they move parallel with, but at some distance from, the surrounding coasts. South of the Mississippi delta the turbid fluid of that great river is impelled eastward in a straight line by the blue waters of the Gulf Stream, until a junction is effected of the southern branches at the western entrance of Florida Strait, through which the whole mass rushes like a mighty river into the broad Atlantic. At the most narrow part, between Jupiter Inlet, on the Florida side, and Memory Rock, in the Babamas, the stream contracts to a width of fifty-six miles, with an extreme depth of four hundred and fifty fathoms. In this limited channel the velocity varies from two to six miles, the average being about three, and the discharge, according to Bartlett, 175,000,000,000 of cubic feet per seeond, or 15,260,000,000,000,000 per day. Such proportions are difficult to grasp, for they represent a moving mass equal to about three hundred thousand Mississippi rivers. Yet they are still far inferior to the prodigious volume of relatively tepid water spread over the surface of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. In fact, the Gulf Stream, issuing from Florida Strait, supplies only a small portion of those tepid waters whose influence is felt as far east as Nova Zembla. The main supply comes from that portion of the equatorial current which is deflected north by the barrier of the West India Islands and is joined by the Gulf Stream south of the Bermudas.
THE WEST INDIAN WATERS 1
Accompanying these currents are the great tropical trade-winds. They come from the vast'expanse of the Atlantic, and blow with a steady velocity across the region
-a boon to, the inhabitants, without which life would be unendurable. They are laden with moisture, greater at certain seasons than others, which is precipitated against the higher protuberances of the land. They chop the surface of the Caribbean into a million whitecaps and ripples, giving that sea a rough surface quite different from the glassy waters of the Gulf, the latter being partially protected from these winds by the Antilles and the Yucatan peninsula. They also create a superb surf against the windward side of the tropical islands and mainland. Their benign influence spreads even to our own country, for they make the south breezes which in summer blow across Texas and the Great Plains region. There is no more delightful sensation than to feel the cooling touches or drink in the exhilarating purity of this moving air-current, especially along the windward or Atlantic side of the eastern islands, where it moves with a steady velocity stronger than a breeze and milder than a gale. In those portions of the islands entirely or partially protected by land heights, this wind is broken, and counter- currents set in. For instance, on the leeward or Caribbean side of the Windward Islands, cut off from the Atlantic by mountains rising three thousand feet or more, it is often sultry, and the winds, representing eddies in the greater current, come only at certain times of day. On the south coast of Jamaica, at Kingston, the trade-wind blows only between the daylight hours of ten and four. Coming as it does in the warm midday, it is a great relief, and is called by the inhabitants the doctor." The relation of these winds to the situation of land is an important factor in tropical America, and influences the conditions of vegetation, health, rainfall, and other phenomena. Its importance explains the frequency with which the terms "1leeward"1 and "windward" are used in the West Indian nomenclature.
12 CUBA AND PORTO0 RICO
the great southward-flowing air-currents from the United States, i*hich bring our blizzards in winter, sometimes invade the West Indies, and are there known as "northers." They, extend to Panama and the Great Antilles, but barely, if at all, reach the Windward Islands. The absence of a breeze in the West Indies is ominous. Sometimes in these periods of atmospheric quiet the barometer falls rapidly, and in a few hours great hurricanes ensue. Few years pass without a disaster at one point or another of the normal storm-zone. Nearly all the islands have been more or less devastated by these visitations. Barbados, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Guadeloupe, and Cuba especially have suffered severely. Houses have been uprooted like trees, fortresses demolished, ships carried far inland, plantations strewn with huge blocks, islands broken into reefs, and reefs piled up into islands. The great hurricane of October 10, 1786, is said to have "leveled cities; wrecked fleets, and,
"Amid the common woe,
Reconciled the French and English foe,'
who were preparing to cut each other's throats."7 The hurricanes are said to occur only at the end of summer or beginning of autumn, when the heated surface of South America attracts the cooler and denser air of the northern continent. But although most frequent in August, and generally prevalent between July and October, such disturbances have also been recorded at other t imes.
These winds and currents from the Atlantic Ocean are neither hot in summer nor cold in winter. Their temperature, ameliorated by the cooler waters, mitigates the tropical radiation of summer and warms the northern blasts of winter, and is nearly the same the year round. The intense extremes of our own country are unknown, the thermometer never falling to the cold characteristic of nearly all the United States, nor rising to the intense heat of our summers. Hence throughout the West Indies the
THE WEST INDIAN WATERS 13
temperature is equable, normally between 700 and 800 at sea-level, and varying above or below this only in limited localities where land barriers cut off the winds, or upon the mountain summits. Were it not for the humidity of the atmosphere, the general temperature of the islands would be most enjoyable.
Another feature of the American Mediterranean is its wonderful submarine topography. This is so intimately connected with the topography of the land that the relations of the latter cannot be understood without a brief description of it. Beneath the blue waters is a configuration which, if it could be seen, would be as picturesque in relief as the Alps or Himalayas. Nowhere can such contrasts of relief be found within short distances. Some deeps vie in prof undity with the altitudes of the near-by Andes, so that between the great Brownson Deep of twenty-five thousand feet to the summit of Chimborazo there is a difference in altitude of nearly ten miles.
The deepest cavity yet revealed in the Atlantic occurs at a point due north of Porto Rico, where the soundings record a depth of forty-five hundred fathoms. This is known as the Brownson Deep. Some of the depressions, like the Bartlett Deep, are narrow troughs, only a few miles in width, but hundreds of miles in length, three miles in depth, and bordered by steep precipices and escarpments. Others, like the Sigsbee'Deep, in the Gulf of Mexico,' are great circular basins. There are long ridges beneath the waters, which, if elevated, would stand up like islands of to-day, and, as has been shown, have an intimate relation to the mountains of the land. Againi, vast areas are underlain by shallow banks less than five hundred feet deep and often approaching the surface of the water, like that extending from Jamaica to Honduras and the Bahama banks. The greater islands and the mainlands are bordered in places by submerged shelves.
I These three deeps, named after naval commanders of to-day, were bestowed by Agassiz in commemoration of the part which they took in surveying them
14 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
From a physiographic point of view all the islands are the upward-projecting tops of a varied configuration which has its greatest relief beneath the sea, and which is of no less interest to the student of physiography than the great irregularities of the land. The islands which form the outer rampart of the Caribbean Sea rise from submerged ridges. The Antilles, connected by submerged sills, none of which exceeds five hundred fathoms, also project upward from vast foundations beneath the water. These features strongly suggest the fact that the islands as we see them to-day were once much more extensive lands.
The systematic exploration of these depths began in 1872 on the west side of Florida, under the direction of the American officers attached to the Coast Survey. Howell, Pourthles, Alexander Agassiz, Bartlett, Sigsbee, Baird, and others have studied the bottoms. Not only have careful soundings been everywhere taken in order to map out the relief, but the most sensitive instruments have been used to determine the varying temperature at different depths, the course of the upper and lower currents, their saline properties, thermometric deviation, and other features.
Special attention has also been paid to the marine fauna down to the darkest recesses of the abyss, and many startling discoveries have been made, which open marvelous vistas into the past evolution of life on the globe. It was formerly supposed that the marine fauna was confined to the surface or shallow waters, and that the stillness of death reigned in the gloomy recesses of the deep. But the dredgings of the Blake and other exploring vessels in depths of over two thousand fathoms have already increased the number of animal forms-the crustacean, for instancefrom twenty to one hundred and fifty species,grouped under forty new genera. The deep waters are also found to be extremely rich in forms resembling the fossils of former geological epochs, and to comprise numerous phosphorescent species. In certain places the marine bed is covered
THE WEST INDIAN WATERS 15
with living organisms; in the channels of the Windward Islands, near Guadeloupe, and the. Saintes, and about St. Vincent and Barbados, dense forests of pentacrini undulate on the bottom like aquatic plants.
The purely biologic aspect of the sea life is not more wonderful than the architectural work that deep-sea animals and the millions of mollusks and coral polyps which inhabit the shallower waters and banks perform. These extract the lime carried in solution by the translucent seawater, and convert it into the shells and corals which are so large a part of the beach sands, and the glaring white limestones which are conspicuous features in the West Indian Islands and the Florida and Yucatan peninsulas.
The embryonic coral polyp is a free swimmer in the sea, which in a second stage of its life-history becomes permanently fixed on the banks, and devotes the remainder of its life to extracting calcium carbonate from the sea and assimilating it into its stony skeleton. It will thrive only on shallow banks less than one hundred fathoms deep, and where the temperature and clearness of the water are to its liking. Once domiciled, it grows upward, and, dying, leaves a huge skeleton of stone, upon which other polyps become fixed and add their sum to the mass. Gradually the growth reaches the surface of the waters, when the waves and winds disintegrate it into calcareous sand and soil upon which vegetation finds root. Thus the coral islands are born.
The coral-builders are at work over a vast range, which is estimated at one fourth of the marine surface of the region. To their incessant toil must be largely attributed the formation of much of the calcareous plateaus by which the Yucatan and Florida straits are contracted on both sides, as well as of those rocky ledges which are washed by high tides, and are revealed only by sandy dunes, such as the Salt Key, or by their fringe of mangroves, like some of the Florida Keys, and Anegada with its prolongation, the dreaded Horseshoe Reef, connecting it with the Virgin
16 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
Islands. More than half the Cuban seaboard, the various groups of the Bahamas, the eastern members of the Lesser Antilles, and the Bermudas are largely of coralline origin.
The muddy deposits in the central parts of the Gulf and of the Caribbean Sea are derived chiefly from the remains of pteropods. In other places the shells of foraminifers make up the bottom. It is only around the interior margin of the Gulf of Mexico that silicious sands and other land debris brought down by rivers constitute the beach material with which we are familiar in the United States; and, great as this is in quantity, it seems insignificant in comparison with the vast amount of limestone which the lower forms of life are creating through organic agencies, and which, as we shall see, is the rock-making material of all the non-volcanic islands of the West Indies, and one of the conspicuous features which give them individuality of color, soil, and landscape.
The American Mediterranean finds a number of outlets across the submerged bridge separating its abysses from those of the Atlantic. Shipping may glide eastward out of the Caribbean into the Atlantic -between any of the Windward Islands, but to go northward toward the United States it must beat through one of four widely separated gateways, which are of great strategic importance. These are the Anegada, Mona, and Windward passages and the Yucatan Channel. The Anegada Passage is the most eastern, threading its way between the region where the eastern Virgin Islands of the Antillean group meet those of the Windward chain. Through this passage there went for many years all the European ships passing into and out of the Caribbean Sea, making St. Thomas the commercial capital of the West Indies. The Mona Passage separates the island of Porto Rico from that of Santo Domingo, and, being out of the lines of travel, is less frequented than the others. 'The Windward Passage, between Santo Domingo and Cuba, and its continuation as the Jamaican Channel between the western cape of Santo Domingo and Jamaica,
TRAVELER'S PALM, GARDEN, ST. PIERRE,
THE WEST INDIAN WATERS 17
is the most used commercially of all the passages, and of the greatest strategic importance, inasmuch as trade from New York to the south coast of the islands mentioned, the isthmus, and the western coast of northern South America must pass through it. The Yucatan Channel separates Cuba from the Central American mainland, and, except the Strait of Florida, is the only entrance into the Gulf of Mexico.
Of these passages into the American Caribbean the island of Cuba guards three of the most important, and this fact gives it precedence in strategic importance.
CLASSIFICATION OF THE WEST INDIAN ISLANDS
Their number, area, and populations. Antithetic nature of their origin,
configuration, and resources. Classification into groups of similar type. The Great Antilles. The Bahamas. The Caribbean chain.
The South American islands of the Trinidad type. Reefs and keys.
Their political organization.
NOT counting the thousands of uninhabited islets constituting *the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, the coral reefs bordering Cuba and in the western Caribbean, or the five hundred rocky projections of the Grenadines, there are forty inhabited islands in the West Indies, vary ing in area from less than five square miles to the size of New York State. The area and population of these are shown in the following table.
TABLE SHOWING AREA AND POPULATION OF THE WEST INDIES AREA, POUSQUARE MILES. LATION.
BAHAXAS ............. ....................... 5,450 54,000
Cuba .............................. ..... 45,000 1,631,687
Santo Domingo.............................. 28,249 610,000
Jamaica.................................... 4,218 639,491
Porto Rico.................................. 3,550 806,708
Total Great Antilles ..................... 86,467 3,687,886
St. Croix.......................... ........... 74 18,430
St. Thomas........... 7....................... 23 32,786
St. John...................................... 21 950
CLASSIFICATION OF THE WEST INDIAN ISLANDS 19
AREA, POPUSQUARE MILES. LATION.
Tortola ........................................ 58 5,000
Virgin Gorda .................................. 176 ......
Total Virgin Islands ........................ 372 57,166
CARIBBEE ISLANDS (OUTER CHnAI)
Som brero ..................................... ..........
Anguilla ...................................... 35 3,699
St. M artin ..................................... 38 3,724
St. Bartholomew ............................... 5 2,650
Barbuda ....................................... 62 639
Antigua ....................................... 108 36,819
D6sirade ...................................... 10 1,400
Maria Galante .................................. 65 13,850
Total Outer Chain .......................... 323 62,781
CARIBBEE ISLANDS (INNER CHAIN)
Santa Cruz .................................... 74 18,430
Saba .......................................... 5 2,065
St. Eustatius ................................... 8 1,613
St. Christopher ................................. 65 30,867
N evis .......................................... 70 13,087
M ontserrat ..................................... 32 11,762
Guadeloupe and dependencies ................... 600 167,000
Dominica ...................................... 290 26,841
Martinique ..................................... 400 187,692
St. Lucia ....................................... 245 46,671
St. Vincent ..................................... 122 41,054
Grenadines .. 2 6,6
Grenadane I................................. 120 60,367
Total Inner Chain ............ 2,031 607,449
Total Caribbee Islands ...................... 2,354 670,230
BARBADOS ......................................... 166 189,000
SOUTH AMERICAN ISLANDS
Tobago ........................................ 114 20,463
Trinidad ....................................... 1,754 248,804
Buen Ayre ................. ................... 95 4,399
Curaqao ....................................... 210 28,187
Margarita and small islands ..................... 470 40,000
Total South American Islands .............. 2,643 341,853
20 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
These islands, far from being alike in natural features and economic possibilities, present great extremes. Some are low, flat rocks barely peeping above the sea; others gigantic peaks rising straight to the clouds, which perpetually envelop their summits; others are combinations of flat and rugose types. Some present every feature of relief configuration that can be found within a continental area
-mountains, plains, valleys, lakes; some are made up entirely of glaring white coral sand or reef rock; others are entirely composed of black volcanic rock, and still others are a combination of many kinds of rocks. Many are as arid as a Western desert and void of running streams, and others have a most fertile soil, cut by a hundred picturesque streams of living water, and bathed in perpetual mist and daily rainfall. Some are bordered only with the fringing, salt-water plants or covered with thorny, coriaceous vegetation; others are a tangled mass of palms, ferns, and thousands of delicate, moisture-loving plants which overwhelm the beholder with their luxuriance and verdancy of color. Some are without human habitants; others are among the most densely populated portions of the world.
The differences in natural character between groups of islands have an important bearing upon habitation and economic possibilities. Each group is so different from the others that, were they not in close geographic proximity, they would in no manner be considered related. The diverse configuration 'produces climatic differences, and each kind of rock weathers into its peculiar soil. For example, the Bahamas are not adapted to growing sugar, or the Caribbee Islands to the raising of cattle; food-fish are not abundant off the Great Antilles, owing to the steep marine escarpments, while they thrive in the Bahamas and on the leeward side of the Caribbee Islands; some of these islands, through possibilities of a diversified agriculture and hygienic condition, are adapted to higher civilization,
CLASSIFICATION OF THE WEST INDIAN ISLANDS 21
and others, either through sterility or ruggedness of relief, are capable of supporting only inferior races.
These various islands are classifiable, by geographic position, geological composition, and economic possibilities, into several great groups, the principal of which are the Bahamas, the Antilles, the Windward or Caribbee Islands, the Trinidad-Tobago group, and the keys or coral reefs.
Of these the Great Antilles are by far the most fertile, diversified, and habitable, presenting greater extremes of hypsometric, climatic, and hydrographic features than all the others. Their configuration and geological features are of a diversified type, suggestive of continental rather than insular conditions, while the other groups of West Indian Islands are monotypic in character. Several of the Great Antilles exceed in area all the other groups. These, extending for twelve hundred miles in an east-and-west line, between longitudes 650 and 850 W., are the large islands of Porto Rico, Santo Domingo, Cuba, and Jamaica. The Virgin archipelago, extending eastward from Porto Rico to the Anegada Passage,-a group which might be confused with the Caribbean chain,-is Antillean in its natural features. These include Crab, Culebra, Culebrita, St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada, the largest of which is Crab Island, with an area of less than twenty-five square miles.
The Great Antilles and the shallow passages between them constitute a barrier separating the Gulf and Caribbean basins, and are practically within the area of the American Mediterranean, while the Bahamas and Lesser Antilles make its outer rim.
The eastern islands are composed of the Bahamas and Lesser Antilles, which in natural features differ radically from each other. The Bahamas, to the north of the Great Antilles, rise from the shallow, submerged platform of the great submarine shelf which borders the North American
22 CUBA AND POIRTO RICO
continent from Massachusetts to the eastern end of the Great Antilles. They are all monotypic, consisting of low heaps of calcareous shells and coral sand, which have been piled up above a submerged platform by wind and wave.
According to Bacot, the Bahamas, excluding the Caicos and Turks groups, comprise 690 islands and islets and 2387 rocks or separate reefs, with a total area of 5600 square miles. Including the Caicos and Turks, which belong to the group, the actual number can scarcely be less than 3200, of which only 31 were inhabited in 1890, with a total population of 54,000. They stretch northwest and southeast between Florida and Santo Domingo for a distance of 780 miles. They rise from a shallow submarine platform separated from Santo Domingo and Cuba by the Old Bahama Channel, twelve thousand feet deep. This platform may represent the planed-down summit of a submarine ridge akin to the Antillean uplifts. Unlike the Antilles, the Bahamas are of low relief, often barely projecting their heads above the water, and their wind-blown sand-dunes nowhere rise to an altitude greater than one hundred feet.
The Caribbee Islands, which close the eastern gate of the Caribbean, are as different from the Bahamas as are the Bahamas from the Great Antilles, although they too are the projecting tip of a submerged ridge which has its greater extent beneath the water. They extend in a gentle curve from the Anegada Passage of Porto Rico southward to Trinidad, and include twenty-one islands besides the Grenadines. The latter include several hundred distinct islets, often me rely heads of rock rising above the sea, and, extending sixty miles in the general axis of the chain, between St. Vincent and Grenada. Barbados, about one hundred miles east of the circle, and Ayes or Bird Island, about two hundred miles west, are included by some writers in the Caribbean chain, but we shall not so consider them.
CLASSIFICATION OF THE WEST INDIAN ISLANDS 23
The Caribbean chain in the northern half of its extent consists of a double row of islands. The inner circle, which more completely spans the distance between the Great Antilles and South America, is the main chain, and the outer circle is made up of secondary and dependent features.
Those of the main chain, including the islands of Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Christopher, Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenadines, Grenada, are volcanic heaps, of weird insular forms, rising precipitously above the sea, attaining a height of 4450 feet in Martinique, clad to the very top in vegetation, and usually clouded in mist. They are composed entirely of old volcanic material, and from the richness of their vegetation and the blackness of their rock present a dark and restful landscape even under the tropical sun. Tfhe outer circlet of islands, including Sombrero, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Bartholomew, Barbuda, Antigua, D6sirade, and Maria Galante, with the exception of Antigua, which is partially volcanic, are islets of white limestone and coralreef rock, rising nowhere over two hundred feet above the sea, and resembling in color the Bahamas. They rise from a submerged slope extending oceanward from the inner chain.
The fourth type of tropical American islands borders the north coast of South America, and includes the islands of Tobago, Trinidad, Margarita, Blanca, Las Roques, Buen Ayre, Cu-raqao, and other small islands. These were once portions of the South American continent, and have been severed from the mother-land by the corrosive effects of the equatorial currents which here break into the Caribbean. Barbados perhaps is related to the latter group, but it has a peculiar construction which justifies placing it in a class by itself. In remote geologic ages it was probably the end of a peninsula projecting from the South American mainland.
The fifth and last class of West Indies consists of coral
24 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
reefs which have been slightly elevated above the sea. These occur in many places, either singly or in clusters, and by location are not classifiable into a geographic group, although they are most numerous in the Honduras Sea, in the western part of the Caribbean.
Islands of this and kindred character-in which, for present purposes, may be included mangrove islets and other lands not strictly reef rock, but dependent upon shallow banks for a foundation -border the end of Florida, Cuba, and the Windward side of the Caribbee Islands.
In addition to islands which can thus be grouped, there are many standing alone, like Barbados, Ayes, Navassa, and Swan Island, which seem for the present to defy any system of classification. There are also many islands and islets off the Central American coast, which may mostly be considered to be continental, so far as their natural relations are concerned.
Only one of the smaller solitary islets of the American Mediterranean is volcanic. This is the Old Providence group, in latitude 130 N., standing in the western Caribbean, about one hundred and fifty miles off the coast of Nicaragua.
In general it may be stated that of these groups the Great Antilles and South American islands are continental iu the diversity of their configuration, the Bahamas and keys and solitary islets are composed of organic skeletal debris, and the Caribbee Islands are of old volcanic origin.
Perhaps no equal area of the world is distributed among the flags of so many nations. Only one island, Santo Domingo, possesses free and independent governments., The remainder are the property of many nationalities. The political organizations of the whole are as follows: independent: Santo Domingo, composed of two republics; Spanish islands: Cuba, Isle of Pines, Porto Rico, Vieques, Mona, Culebra; British islands: Bermudas, Bahamas, Jamaica, Turks, St.; Christopher, Nevis, Antigua, Dominica,
COCOANUT-PALMS, PLUMB POINT LIGHTHOUSE, JAMAICA
BANIAN-TREE, BRIIDGETOWN, BARBADOS
CLASSIFICATION OF THE WEST INDIAN ISLANDS 25
St. Vincent, Grenada and Grenadines, Barbados, Virgin Islands, Montserrat, St. Lucia; French islands: St. Bartholomew, Guadeloupe, Martinique; Dntch islands: St. Eustatius, Saba, Cura~ao, Buen Ayre, Aruba; French and Dutch: St. Martin; Danish islands: St. Thomas, St. John, Santa Cruz.
Two islands are divided in government. Santo Domingo consists of two independent republics, Haiti and San to Domingo. Seventeen square miles of the little island of St. 'Martin belong to Holland, and twenty-one square miles to France. Of the Spanish islands, Cuba is a dependent colony without local self-government; Porto Rico was an integral part of Spain, participating in the rights of the mother-country, until recently, when, in 1897, it was granted a system of autonomy.
The French islands of Maria Galante, D~sirade, the Saintes, and part of St. Martin, with Guadeloupe, form an administrative colony, having a representative governor from France, aided by local representative assistants. Martinique is similarly organized.
The administration of the British islands is divided among several distinct and colonial governments, independent of one another, each with local representative assemblies and a governor and colonial secretary appointed by the crown. The Bahamas constitute one of these, the seat of administration being located at Nassau. Jamaica, with Turks Island and the Caicos and Cayman Islands attached for administrative purposes, is another.
St. Christopher, Nevis, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, Rledonda, Dominica, and the British Virgin Islands constitute the English Leeward Island administrative group, with the seat of government at St. John, Antigua. St. Lucia, which is French in its language, manners, and religion, is a British dependency, which was until recently governed as a conquered possession by a quasi-military governor with the aid of a council. It is, however, in some measure dependent upon the governor of Barbados. St.
26 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
Vincent, Grenada,, and the Grenadines constitute the Caribbee Island government, with a capital at Kingstown, St. Vincent. Trinidad, with Tobago, constitutes another separate colony, and Barbados still another. In all there are six British colonial groups in the West Indies, without any confederated relations to one another.
The widely separated Dutch islands are all parts of the colony of Curagao, with its seat of government on the island of that name. The administration is composed of a governor and three other colonial officers -nominated by the crown, and an elective colonial council.
The islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas constitute a crown colony of Denmark. The island of Navassa, between Haiti and Jamaica, is claimed by its proprietors'to belong to the United States, but the latter government has not acknowledged any proprietary right in it.
Many of the islets and reefs, such as Ayes, IRoncador, etc., are beyond the pale of any government. This may be both on account of their general worthlessness to civilization, and because ownership would require expensive responsibility, such as placing lights for the protection of navigation.
THE GREAT ANTILLES
Their individuality. Distinctness of physical characters from those of the
United States. Continental diversity of their configuration as compared with the monotypic character of the other islands. The Antillean mountain system. Variety of resources. Total population.
Diversity of social conditions presented in the four chief islands.
JN their climate and vegetation, as in their topographic Features and geologic history, the Great Antilles have no affinities with conditions with which we are familiar in the United States. Their whole aspect is tropical, yet they possess so -many unique individual features, differing from those of other tropical lands, that they belong in a class entirely by themselves. The causes of this individuality are involved in a peculiar and complicated geologic history, which can be dwelt upon here only to the extent of stating that it has produced certain peculiarities of configuration and given origin to formations which weather into soils of unusual productiveness.
Collectively the Great Antilles consist of a disconnected chain of mountains (the Antillean system) protruding above the sea and having an east-west trend directly transverse to that of the axial continental Cordilleras.
*The highest peaks of this 'system in Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica are 11,000, 8000, and 7000 feet respectively. This mountain system, as a whole, is one of the most marvelous works of earthly architecture. Its peculiar origin and history are more fully explained in a later' 27
28 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
chapter of this book. Its complicated geologic history, and the fact that a large portion of its extent is now submerged beneath the ocean, are not the least interesting of its many features.
The Antilean uplift, as a whole, may be compared to an inverted, elongated canoe, the highest and central part of which is in the region adjacent to the Windward Passage. Thus it is that the higher peaks occur in Haiti, eastern Cuba, and eastern Jamaica, while the arching crest-line descends toward the western part of the two latter islands, and on the east toward Porto Rico, where the highest summit is only 3680 feet, finally disappearing as the Virgin Islands, where, in St. Thomas, the summit is 1560 feet.
The higher mountains are composed of non-calcareous clay and conglomerate, largely the debris of unknown lands of pre-Tertiary time, which, with the exception of a few restricted points, were buried, during a profound subsidence in early Tertiary time, beneath a vast accumulation of calcareous oceanic sediments. The latter now compose the white limestones which constitute the chief formations of the islands, and which were, together with the preceding formations, elevated into their present position at the close of the Tertiary period. The mountains are irregularly flanked below 2000 feet by horizontal benches, or terraces, of this limestone, which are the result of regional elevations and base-leveling after the last period of mountain-making. There are also intrusions of old igneous rocks,-granitoid, porphyritic, and basaltic,-but these are of a more ancient character than the volcanic rocks of the Windward chain, and nowhere are there craters or other traces of recent volcanic vents. The mountains above 2000 feet, composed of the older non-calcareous formations, and the lower plains and bordering plateaus of limestone, result in producing the two distinct and contrasting types of calcareous and non-calcareous soils throughout the Great Antilles.
THE GREAT ANTILLES 29
Although a more or less continuous chain of sierras. which may be called the mother range, extends in an axial line from St. Thomas through Porto Rico, Santo Domingo, the northwest cape of Haiti, the Sierra Maestra range of Cuba, and the submerged Misterosa Ridge of the Caribbean, for a distance of a thousand miles, the Antillean Mountains are not continuous crests like our Appalachians, but are composed of many short overlapping ranges, presenting at first sight a serrated appearance similar to the Alps and Pyrenees, with this difference, that they are not covered with snow.
The island of Santo Domingo is the center and culmination of the entire Antillean uplift. The highest of its peaks, Monte Tina, just south of the center of the island, reaches the respectable altitude of nearly 12,000 feet. The most continuous Santo Domingoan range, the Sierra de Cibao, extends in an east-and-west direction through the center of the republic, and is flanked on the north and south coasts by several short but lofty lateral ranges. This sierra has a south-southeast and north-northwest trend, and culminates in the Pico del Yaqui, 9500 feet high, while many other peaks attain altitudes of 7350 feet. Near'the western extremity of this range rises the colossal Nalgo de Maco, whose lofty head, 7000 to 8000 feet, overtops all the mountains in its vicinity.
In the republic of Haiti the occidental continuation of the Antillean uplifts begins to divide into a number of spreading branches pointing toward the Central American coast. This differentiation is first indicated in the two long peninsulas of Haiti, the northern of which extends toward Cuba and the southern toward Jamaica. The northern branch is the continuation of the main or axial ranges of the general system, and is represented in Cuba by the lofty summits of Sierra Maestra, bordering the Santiago coast of the east end of the island. This mountainous crest apparently ceases at Cape Cruz, but in reality it continues westward for eight degrees of longi-
30 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
tude, or over five hundred miles, as the Misterosa Bank a wonderful submarine mountain ridge, which, although barely reaching the surface of the water, precipitously rises 18,000 feet above the bottom of the sea.
The remainder and main body of Cuba, lying north of the Sierra Maestra, is the most northern of the three western branches of the Antilles, and this is of quite different structure from the others.
The southern of the Haitian peninsulas stretches out toward Jamaica, but ends in a submarine bank just northeast of that island. Still south of this the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, rising to 7325 feet, trend in a uorth-of -west direction, and make the most southern of the laud ranges of the Great Antillean uplift. Vast areas of the Pedro, Rosalind, and Roncador banks, in the western Caribbean, represent still other groups.
Few people realize the intense rugosity of these mountains. When considered relatively to the plain from which they rise, their altitudes are enormous, and they exceed any heights of Europe or North America, and, if their submerged slopes be added, they are among the most lofty of the world. The total altitude above the sea of the Rocky Mountains is greater, but their true altitudes are usually overstated by nearly one half, for they rise from a plain which has already attained an altitude of 5000 to 7000 feet, while the Antillean ranges rise straight from the sea. Furthermore, the slopes of the Antillean Mountains continue downward below the watery horizon for enormous depths. The slopes of Porto Rico, for instance, not quite 4000 feet of which are exposed above the sea, descend on the northern side of that island to a depth of 24,000 feet, giving a total declivity of more than five miles. In order properly to appreciate the height of the Santo Domingo mountains we must also add to the 11,000 feet projecting above the sea 12,000 feet of precipitous submarine slopes on the north and 18,000 feet on the south. The vertical slope of the Sierra Maestra, 8000 feet of which are exposed above the sea, continues downward for 18,000 feet beneath
THE GREAT ANTILLES 31
the waters lying between Cuba and Jamaica, giving a total relief of 26,000 feet. In fact, the configuration of these ranges is the most precipitous of the known world, exceeding that of the Himalayas, which would be comparable with them were their bases surrounded by oceanic waters to a depth of three to five miles.
Another peculiarity of these mountains is the fact'that they are not made up of untillable and barren rocks, like most other great ranges of the world, but are largely composed of unconsolidated clays and pebble, which yield a wealth of vegetal products to their very summits. These higher summits, though differing in origin, are similar in composition to the mantle of glacial soils which constitutes the tillable lands of the northern United States. They are the fruit- and coffee-lands of unlimited possibilities.
The Antilles are not exclusively mountainous. There are numerous valleys, plains, and plateaus, often of wide extent and great fertility, which will be further mentioned in our descriptions of the various islands. As a rule, they are densely wooded and copiously watered to the very summits of the mountains. Many of the streams are rivers of great beauty, and in a few instances are navigable for short distances. Some of these, like the Canto and Sagua of Cuba, and the Yaqui, Neyba, and Artibonite of Santo Domingo, are of great length and volume.
The seaboard of the Antilles is in some respects quite different from that of the remainder of the islands, being characterized, in general, by an abundance of good harbors, affording excellent anchorage, which are lacking in many of the smaller islands. The. character of the coast is variable. Large stretches are composed of a low shelf of elevated reef rock, often as hard as adamant, and standing less than twenty feet above the sea, known as seborucco, which extends back a few yards against a rugged backcoast border; in other places the land border consists of. high bluffs of limestone, with or without a few feet of shelving beach at its base. Near the Windward Passage there is a series of these bluffs rising 6.00 feet in terrace-
32 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
like arrangement. Again, there are small stretches of swamp-land, and alluvial plains at the mouths of rivers.
The resources of the Antilles are also more varied than those of the other islands, for they not only produce the chief staple, sugar, in great quantities, but yield abundant crops of coffee, cocoa, exportable fruits, cattle, and foodstuffs.
The only important metallic mineral resources of the West Indies are found in the vicinity of the Antillean chain. These are iron, manganese, gold, and copper.
The total population of the Great Antilles is nearly 3,700,000 people, threefold that of all the other West Indian Islands combined. This population is diverse in race and color, and has distinct local peculiarities, which will be treated elsewhere. Yet the people of the four chief Antillean Islands have no common traits, and exhibit remarkable differences in government and civilization. It is strange to see lands belonging to the same geographic group and equally endowed by nature develop every antithesis of social and industrial life, and to observe the influence of former ownership and present government upon the races which have been transplanted there. In Jamaica, under the beneficent rule of the English government, the negro is provided with the implements and improvements of the highest civilization, and imitates in his domestic life the rural customs of Great Britain. In Santo Domingo a free mulatto has developed an entirely different character. In Haiti, as black in civilization as in the color of its inhabitants, is portrayed the degradation which a savage race may retain, without civilizing influences, although centuries have lapsed since it was imported across the sea. In Cuba may be seen a white civilization which has developed in place of a most corrupt and despotic colonial administration; while Porto Rico shows bow closely a transplanted European people, trained in the political and social conditions of the mother-country, may repeat the social status of the latter.
PLAZA IN FRIONT 0OF CAPTAIN-GENERAL'S PALACE,7 HAVANA
THE ISLAND OF CUBA
Physical features. Situation, commercial and strategic position. Outlines, dimensions, area. The configuration. The coast and littoraL Abundance of harbors. The bordering keys. The interior mountain ranges. The plains of Cuba. The cuchillas of the east The terraces of Guantanamo. Valleys and depressions. Rivers, lakes, and swamps.
Caves and scenic features.
CUBA, the most western and largest of the four Great
Antilles, is the fairest, most fertile, and most diversified of the tropical islands; its economic development during four centuries of European occupation has fully justified the title, The Pearl of the Antilles," first given to it by Columbus, although its capital city may no longer uphold the motto of its coat of arms, "The Key of the New World." It has but a small proportion of untillable declivities and rocky areas, such as are found in New England; no barren fields of volcanic lava, such as occur in the Central American lands; no arid areas, like those which make up so large a proportion of Mexico and the western half of the United States; no stretches of sterile, sandy lands, like those of Florida and other coastal Southern States. Its proportion of swamp-lands is less than that of the average American seaboard State. The whole island is covered with rich soils,-fertile, calcareous loams,
-which, under constant humidity, yield in abundance every form of useful vegetation of the tropical and temperate climes. The configuration and geological forma.
34 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
tions are diversified; there is a variety of economic resources, both agricultural and mineral, convenient to an extensive littoral, with numerous harbors affording excellent anchorage.
Its essential geographic features are as follows: Aroa, including 1300 adjacent keys, 45,000 square miles,-slightly less than that of the State of New York,-of which ten per cent. is cultivated, four per cent. forest-land, and the remainder, for the most part, unreclaimed wilderness. Its length is nearly seven times that of Long Island, and stretches between the longitudes of New York and Cincinnati-a distance of 720 miles. Its width is every-' where less than 100 miles. As regards diversity of relief, its eastern end is mountainous, with summits standing high above the adjacent sea; its middle portion is wide, consisting of gently sloping plains, which form a continuous field of sugar-cane, well drained, high above the sea, and broken here and there by low, forest-clad hills; and its western third is a picturesque region of mountains, with fertile slopes and valleys, of different structure and less altitude than those of the east. It is in this last district only that the aromatic tobaccos which have made the island famous are grown, Over the whole is a mantle of tender vegetation, rich in every hue that a flora of more than three thousand species can give, and kept green by mists and gentle rains. In denting the rockbound coasts are a hundred pouch-shaped harbors, such as are but rarely found in the other islands and shores of the American Mediterranean, and resembling St. Lucia, for which England gave up the rich islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, under the treaty of Paris.
In area, in natural resources, in the number and character of its inhabitants, in strategic position as regards proximity to the American and Mexican seaboards, Cuba is by far the most important of the Great Antilles. It is very near the center of the great American Mediterranean, separating the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea, and
THE ISLAND OF CUBA 35
in close proximity to our Southern seaboard, the coast of Mexico, the Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Central America, the isthmus, and the coast of South America.
The island commands three important maritime gateways: the Strait of Florida, leading from the Atlautic Ocean into the Gulf of Mexico; the Windward Passage, leading from the Atlantic into the Caribbean Sea; and the Yucatan Channel, connecting the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf. The first and last of these completely command the Gulf of Mexico. It is less than 961 miles from Key West to the north coast of Cuba. From the east end of the island Haiti and Jamaica are visible, 54 and 85 miles distant respectively. From the western cape (San An tonio) to Yucatan the distance is 130 miles.
The outline of the island, commonly compared by the Spaniards to a bird's tongue, also resembles a great hammer-headed shark, the head of which forms the straight, south coast of the east end of the island, from which the sinuous body extends westward. This analogy is made still more striking by two long, finlike strings of keys, or islets, which extend backward along the opposite coasts, parallel to the main body of the island.
The longer axis of the island extends from the seventyfourth to the eighty-fifth meridian, while its latitude, between 190 40' and 230 33' N., embraces nearly four degrees. Its length, following an axial line drawn through its center from Cape Maisi to Cape San Antonio, is 730 miles. Its width varies from 90 miles in the east to less than 20 miles in the longitude of Havana. Cape Maysi, on the east, lies directly south of New York, and Cape San Antonio, on the west, is situated nearly south of Cincinnati.
At the outset the reader should dispossess his mind of any preconceived idea that the island of Cuba is in any sense a physical unit. On the contrary, it presents a diversity of topographic, climatic, and cultural features, which, as distributed, divide the island into at least.three
36 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
distinct natural provinces, for convenience termed the eastern, central, and western regions.
No accurate trigonometric surveys have been made of the island and its bordering islets, including 570 keys adjacent to the north coast and 730 to the south, or of the Isle of Pines, a large and important dependency. -Nearly all existing geographic data have been based upon a large map compiled by Pichardo, engraved in Barcelona, which was a compilation of local surveys of various and doubtful degrees of accuracy. The area of the main island has been estimated at from 40,000 to 43,000 square miles, that of the Isle of Pines at 1214, and that of all the keys combined at 1350. Some of the larger keys, like iRomano, on the north side, are 140 square miles in extent. Reclus estimates the total at 45,883 square miles, an area nearly one fourth the size of Spain.
IThe distinct types of relief include regions of high mountains, low hills, dissected plateaus, level plains, intermontane valleys, and coastal swamps. With the exception of a strip of the south-central coast, the island, as a whole, stands well above the sea, is thoroughly drained, and presents a rugged aspect when viewed from the sea. About one fourth the total area is mountainous, three fifths are rolling plain, valleys, and gentle arable slopes, and the remainder is swampy.
The coast of Cuba is very extensive, measuring, without its meanderings, nearly 2000 miles. On Pichardos map the coast-line, with all its embayments and including the islets, is over 6800 miles. On all sides, except the southcentral and -where indented by pouch-like harbors, the coast is abrupt, and stands above the sea as if the waters of the latter were rapidly planing away what had once been a more extensive land. In many places the immediate coast-line is a narrow bench of elevated reef rock, or .seborucco, a few yards wide and standing about fifteen feet above the sea, between the higher bluffs and the water. The island border on the north presents a low cliff
THE ISLAND OF CUBA 37
topography, with a horizontal sky-line from Matanzasf westward, gradually decreasing from five hundred feet at Matanzas to one hundred feet on the west. The coast of the east end is abrupt and rugged, presenting both on the north and south sides a series of remarkable terraces. rising in stair-like arrangement to six hundred feet or more, representing successive pauses or stages in the elevation of the island above the sea, and constituting most striking scenic features. West of Guantanamo to Cape Cruz the precipitous Sierra Maestra rises immediately behind and above these terraces. The south coast from Cape Cruz to Cape San Antonio, with the exception of a brief stretch between Trinidad and Cienfuegos, is generally low and marshy.
The littoral of the mainland is indented by numerous landlocked harbors of peculiar configuration, which are especially adapted for commerce and refuge. These are described under transportation and communication.
The keys adjacent to the middle third of the island, on both the north and south sides (the famous Jardines of Columbus), are mostly small coral or mangrove islets which have grown up from shallow, submerged platforms surrounding those parts of the island; in certain places they form barriers to the mainland. They are usually uninhabited, owing to the scarcity of potable waters. They constitute a formidable obstacle to -navigation, except when guided by skilful pilotage, but, on the other hand, present many sheltered expanses within the outer line of breakers.
.About one half the Cuban coast is bordered by these keys, which are largely old reef rock, the creations of the same coral-builders that may now be seen through the transparent waters still at work on the modern shallows, decking the rocks and sands with their graceful and manycolored tufts of animal foliage. On the north coast some of the keys are large enough to form extensive islets, uninhabited, except by fishermen in a few places where
3S CUBA AND PORTO RICO
fresh water lodges in depressions, or wells up through the porous rocks. Thus the Cayos del Sabinal, Guajaba, Romano, and Cocos, separated by narrow channels, constitute almost a continuous outlying island 120 miles in length. Cayo Romano, the largest of these elevated reefs, has an estimated area of 140 square miles, and its flatness is relieved by three hills.
The chain of keys on the north side from the Sabinal to the Cocos reefs is so regular and pierced by such narrow channels that it might be regarded as a peninsula running parallel with the mainland; but farther west it is continued by a series of smaller reefs which are breached by wider openings and lie close to the shore. Including the western reefs and keys, this outer shore-line has a total length of over 300 miles. West of Havana other fringing reefs extend for about 140 miles from Bahia Honda to Cape San Antonio.
On the south side of Cuba the reefs and islets are even mere numerous than on the north, but they are far less regularly disposed, and are not parallel with the shore. They extend a great distance from the land wherever the relatively smooth water is not exposed to the scouring action of marine currents. These reefs are somewhat rare on the part of the coast adjacent to the Windward and Yucatan passages. Manzanilla Bay, however, is more than half covered with reefs, which are continued westward by the so-called Cayos de las Doce Leguas, or TwelveLeague Keys. Still westward, the Isle of Pines is connected
with a perfect labyrinth of reefs and islets, the best of which are known as the Jardinillos and Jardines, named from the verdure-clad islets strewn like gardens amid the blue waters. In many of these, springs of pure water are said to bubble up from the deep.
The interior of Cuba has not been sufficiently surveyed to make it possible accurately to map all the details of soil or the relief of the surface, especially of the eastern half of the island. The various commissions named in times
THE ISLAND OF CUBA 39
past by the Captains-General to make reconnaissances avow in their reports that the lack of habitation in the greater part of the territory, the impenetrability of the forests, the insurmountable Cordilleras, and the scarcity of means and time have prevented them from carrying out successfully the mapping of the diverse ramifications of the mountains, the tracing out of their salients and valleys, and the determination of their extent, altitude, and geologic structure. It seems that their observations did not extend east of the seventieth meridian, where the most interesting part of the island, from a scientific point of view, is found. Furthermore, the results of such investigations as were made were but imperfectly published in fragments.
In a previous chapter we have set forth the elementary arrangement of the Antillean Mountains, of which those. of Cuba are a part. The higher eminences are true mountains of deformation, composed of disturbed sedimentary rocks with igneous intrusions. The mountains of this class do not constitute a continuous axial backbone to the island, as popularly supposed, but, so far as they can be classified at all, occur in three distinct and independent groups, known as the eastern, western, and central, respectively, the trends of which overlap one another en echelon.
The highest of the well-defined ranges is the narrow, precipitous Sierra Maestra, which dominates the straight east-and-west coast of Santiago de Cuba. This range extends through two and one half degrees of longitude, from Guantanamo to Cape Cruz, and constitutes an independent feature, topographically different from the other mountains of Cuba. Geographically it belongs in the same class with the higher summits of Haiti, collectively making the master range of the Great Antilles. This range is very precipitous and closely hugs the coast-line. Its crests culminate in the Pico del Turquino, which rises very abruptly from the sea to a height estimated to be 8600
40 CUBA AND POITO lICO
feet in altitude. The Cerro del Oro, 3300 feet high, is another conspicuous peak in the ridge, seen about half-way between Santiago and Cape Cruz. La Gran Piedra. in this range, near Santiago, is 5200 feet high. The summit of this peak, from which it takes its name, is a gigantic block of conglomerate, which seems ready to topple down. East of Santiago the range is called the Sierra del Cobre. From base to summit these mountains are densely wooded, the vegetation ranging from coarse cactaceous chaparral on the lower and drier slopes to beautiful, almost indescribable, forests of tree-ferns in the higher and moister altitudes. These mountains are composed of non-calcareous conglomerates and shales of Mesozoic and Eocene age, intruded by great masses of dark-colored, mid-Tertiary, igneous rocks, the debris of which makes a clay and gravel soil,-one of the two contrasting types which constitute the greatest wealth of the island,-the whole incrusted on the coastward side to a height of 2000 feet or more by white limestones. The lower slopes are terraced after the manner of all the east end of Cuba, as previously described. The Sierra Maestra crest closely parallels the adjacent seacoast, toward which its slopes descend precipitously. Inland, toward the north, the slope is gentler, the eroded lateral ridges leading gradually down to the valley of the Canto, the deep east-and-west indentation of which nearly separates these mountains from the region to the north.
A second group of mountains is the Sierra de los Organos, found in the extreme western province of Pinar del Rio, extending northeast and southwest between Mariel, near Havana, and Cape San Antonio. This range consists of lower ridges and of geologic formations different from those of the Sierra Maestra. Its summits culminate in the Pan de Guajaibon, west of Havana, which has an altitude of 2532 feet. Its rocks are composed of deformed sedimentaries of supposed Paleozoic, Triassic, Jurassic, and Tertiary age, the uplift of which may have been cumulative, but culminated during the close of the last-mentioned
GEOLOGIC MAP OF THE ISLAND OF CUBA
Adapted from~ map of I ~![II~f ~ J}I oCASTRO aTd SALTERAIN
PLLESTOCNE=II All- ~ I-,Med -~f ,i
- ~~~SECONDARY~ ~-~C
-AInRY L .,o0
THE ISLAND OF CUBA 41
period.' The Organos are covered with a growth of pine (Pinus cubensis) and flanked on either side by many beautiful slopes and valleys, those on the south constituting the famous Vuelta Abajo tobacco-lands.
While the Sierra de lo's Organos proper cease just west of Havana, the strike of their uplift, accompanied by the same character of dark-colored protrusions of igneous rocks flanked by the white Tertiary limestones, although void of the older rocks, is traceable by a series of low, disconnected hills, in a gently curved line passing throughout the central plain of the island and to the north of the third or central group of Trinidad, into the western part of the province of Puerto Principe. Thus, in a manner, this line of uplift, varying in intensity from the sharp ridges of the west to low, flattened folds in the middle provinces, constitutes the nearest resemblance to an axial backbone of the body of the sinuous outline of the island, while the Sierra Maestra constitutes the head. The principal components of these interrupted summits of low relief dotting the plains of Havana, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Puerto Principe are as follows: Almost due
1 The general geology of the island, while not discussed in this book, is well shown in many of the illustrations. It may be briefly stated as consisting of an older basement of pre-Tertiary sedimentary rocks, in which Cretaceous and probably Jurassic fossils have been found. Above this there are, first, littoral beds composed of terrigenous material, and then a great thickness of white limestones consisting of organically derived oceanic material of late Eocene and Oligocene age, as distinguished from true reef rock. The island was reclaimed from the sea and assumed its present relief by a great mountain-making movement in late Tertiary time, succeeding the deposition of these limestones. In later epochs, Pliocene and Pleistocene, the island underwent a series of epeirogenic subsidences and elevations which affected the coastal borders, producing the wave-cut cliffs and a margin of elevated reef rock which borders the coast in many-places, as can be recognized in the illustrations of the cities of Havana and Baracoa. So far as its history is known, the island has never been connected with the American mainland, although such has frequently been asserted to be the case. These assertions have been based upon the erroneous identification of certain vertebrate animal remains. There are no traces in the animal life of 'Cuba, past or present, which justify this conclusion. Some of the crystalline rocks may be very ancient, but most of them are mid-Tertiary in age.
42 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
south of Havana, commencing east of the village of Santiago, is a range of low, timbered hills, surrounded by plains, including the Tetas de Managua, the Arcas de Canasi, the Lomas de Camoa, the Escalera de Jaruco (which is visible from a great distance), and the Pan de Matanzas. Along the north coast between Havana and Matanzas there are many of these hills, which, as remarked by Humboldt, afford some of the most beautiful scenic prospects in the world. The occurrence of these lower timbered summits in a region which is generally level plain has afforded a safe retreat for bands of insurgents, who made them a base for frequent incursions upon the outskirts of Havana and Matanzas.
For a brief interval these hills die out in eastern Matanzas, but upon crossing into Santa Clara, and from thence on into Santiago de Cuba, they reappear as long crest-lines and flat-topped plateaus, following a line near and parallel with the north coast, including the Sierras Zatibonico and Cubitas. The last-named ridge was an impregnable insurgent stronghold during the revolution of 1895-98, and was for a time the seat of the insurgent government.
These mountains continue along the north side of the island as far east as Gibara and Baracoa, where they become inextricably mixed with the remarkable topographic features known as the cuchillas-the remnants of a dissected upland plain, cut into a thousand cafions and salients, which are more fully discussed under the head of the limestone plains.
The third group of high mountains occupies a limited area between Cienfuegos and Santo Espiritu, on the south side of the central portion of the island and to the northward of the city of Trinidad, and entirely south of the axial group above described. These are less angular than the eminences of the Sierra Maestra, and consist of central summits with radiating slopes, the highest of which is El Potrerillo, 2900 feet. They are composed of semi-crystalline limestones and shales, which have been doubtfully considered
THE ISLAND OF CU B A 43
of Paleozoic origin, flanked by highly disturbed Cretaceous and Tertiary beds. Interspersed between these mountains are numerous fertile valleys, giving to this part of Cuba its beautiful and diversified landscape.
The three dominant groups of mountains above described may be either topographic irregularities surviving from earlier epochs or eminences, pushed up with the great sheets of white Tertiary limestone. This white limestone is one of the most marked features of the Cuban structure, and in all the intermediate and coastal areas the dominant formation of the island. It makes a thick crust, gently warped and undulated in many directions, and has great vawriation in altitude. Its maximum elevation (2500 feet) is in the extreme east; it gradually decreases to the center of the island, and rises again to the west. In the eastern and northern parts of the province of Santiago de Cuba it constitutes an elevated plateau, attaining a height of nearly 1800 feet, and embeds the base of the Sierra Maestra. Here it is so dissected by drainage that it gives a most rugged and picturesque relief to the district which it occupies, and presents on the seaward side a remarkable series of terraced cliffs, previously mentioned as rising in stairlike arrangement above the sea, representing successive elevations of the island in Pliocene, Pleistocene, and recent time. This topography culminates in extensive flat-topped summits like the Mesa Toar and the Yunque (anvil) of Baracoa (1827 feet), which are so symmetrical in outline that they have been frequently mistaken for volcanic craters. The older and upper terraces are cut into numerous sharp, knife-edged salients, known as cuchillas, the Spanish word for knives. The lower terraces are cut straight across by wonderful vertical cafions, through which beautiful and limpid streams find outlet to the sea. In our wide travels in tropical regions we have never seen landscapes so unique as in this wild region of eastern Cuba, nor so beautiful, withal, in their rugged scarps and exquisite foliage. These terraces extend completely
44 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
around the eastern end of the island, where they have their finest development on the south coast, between Cape Maisi and Guantanamo, and form a kind of dado to the Sierra Maestra range along the whole of the Santiago coast.'
Remnants of these terraces, such as fiat-topped summits of circumdenudation, occur at rare intervals as far west as Matanzas, but with decreasing altitude. The most conspicuous of these are the Sierra Matahambre and the Pan de Matanzas (1200 feet). To the westward, in the provinces of Matanzas and Havana, the arch of the plateau, which follows the northern side, descends nearer and nearer sea-level, and develops a longer but gentle slope toward the south coast, hence presenting a cliff topography to the north sea, and gradually sloping southward, as the great central plain of Cuba, into the Caribbean. The southern slope produces the extensive cienaga, or swamp, known as the Zapata, on the coast opposite Matanzas, and continues out into the sea toward the Isle of Pines, forming the shallow foundation of the Jardinillo keys.
Through the provinces of Puerto Principe and Santa Clara, except where broken by the central mountains of Trinidad, this limestone stretch forms two wide coastal belts, each about a third the width of the island, separated by a central axial strip. West of Santa Clara these two belts unite into the broad plains of Matanzas and Havana, where they constitute the central sugar region of Cuba, the Vuelta Arriba, and again diverge west of the latter city along either side of the central mountains of Pinar del Rio, where they constitute the Vuelta Abajo. These limestone districts weather into fertile calcareous soils, red and black in color, and of a quality and depth unequaled in the world, and their extent in the level region is an almost continuous field of sugar-cane.
At two places throughout the length of the island there are depressions crossing it where the divide is reduced to
1 The battle of Santiago was fought in the terraced foot-hills.
CHURCH OF MONTSERRAT
YUMURI VALLEY, NEAR MATANZAS
THE ISLAND OF CUBA 45
less than five hundred feet. The first of these is between Moron and the south coast, in Puerto Principe, and the second between Havana and Batabano.
Cuba is famous for the beauty and fertility of its valleys, some of which are wide plains through which rivers and streams thread their way to the sea, and others circular amphitheaters surrounded by a perimeter of picturesque hills.
In the more rugged eastern provinces there are many valleys of the former class, of wide extent and great fertility. The most extensive of these is that of the Rio Canto in'Santiago de Cuba. It is situated in a protected position between rugged mountains on the north and south, and threaded by a navigable river, at the mouth of which is the city of Manzanillo, the seaport of the region. This valley is densely populated and has been one of the chief strongholds of the most recent uprising. It produces immense crops of sugar and other Cuban staples.
In Puerto Principe there are long grass-covered valleys parallel to the central mountains and the rugged coasts, which are the site of the cattle-raising industry of the island. These are underlain by gravelly soils, less fertile than those elsewhere found.
It is in the provinces of Matanzas and Santa Clara, however, that Cuba's most charming valleys are encountered. One of the most attractive features of Cuba, and the Mecca of every tourist, is the peculiar circular basin west of Matanzas, known as the valley of the Yumuri. This comparatively level depression is some five or six miles in diameter, and dotted with picturesque estates and long avenues of royal palms. Through its center winds the beautiful Yumuri River, which finds an outlet at Matanzas through the vertical walls of an exquisite caflon. -It is inclosed on all sides by steeply sloping walls rising some five or six hundred feet to the level of a plateau out of which the valley has been cut. It has been truly said that it is impossible to describe the charm of
46 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
this Happy Valley," so rich in its vegetation, and so delightfully is it watered by the river Yumuri and tributary streams; so delicious, even on the hottest summer days, is its atmosphere, tempered by the Atlantic breezes.
The valleys of Santa Clara around Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad are even more picturesque, surrounded as they are by higher and more pointed mountains. In some of these from twenty to thirty large sugar-estates can be counted from a single point of view.
By provinces the relief may be summarized as follows: Santiago de Cuba is predominantly a mountainous region of high relief, especially along the coasts, with many interior valleys. Puerto Principe and Villa Clara are broken regions of low mountain relief, diversified by extensive valleys. Matanzas and Havana are vast stretches of level cultivated plain, with only a few hills of relief. Pinar del Rio is centrally mountainous, with fertile coastward slopes.
The rivers of Cuba are frequent, varying in character in different parts of the island. Considering the limited catchment areas, these streams are remarkably copious in volume. In the plains of the central and western provinces the streams flow from the central axis toward the corresponding coast, and have opalescent waters, like those of the limestone springs of Texas and Florida. In this part of the island these streams run through widely sloping valleys, with only slightly indented streamways, and are remarkably free from lateral ramifications. Cafions are not developed until they reach the abrupt plateau edge of the north coast. Many of the southward-flowing streams of this portion of the island do not reach the sea directly, but disperse into vast cienagas, or swamps. Several of the stream valleys, like that of the Yumuri of Matanzas, are accompanied by some of the most restful and beautiful landscapes in the world. The Rio Almendaris, which nearly encircles Havana on -the southward and empties into the sea at Chorerra, affords that city an abundant supply of water. In this and other portions of the island
THE ISLAND OF CUBA 47
where the limestone formation prevails, as in all the whitelimestone areas of the tropics, a large portion of the drainage is subterranean, accompanied by many remarkable caverns. The rivers Cuyajabos, Pedernales, Guanajay, Copellanias, San Antonio, and others along the south slope of Pinar del Rio, disappear in limestone caverns, where they continue their seaward course. The Falls of Rosario in this province are of great beauty, as is also an immense natural bridge.
In the province of Santiago and part of Puerto Principe the drainage is more complicated. Rio Magari of Santiago has three fine cataracts before reaching the sea at Nipe. The limestone plateaus of northern and eastern Santiago de Cuba give rise to many rivers, the most remarkable of which are the Cabanas, the Yamanigacy, and the Moa, which in descending the escarpments of the high levels of the Toar disappear beneath the surface and reappear on a lower terrace, over the edge of which they are precipitated in cascades of three hundred feet to the coast. Other streams, such as the Yumuri of the east, find outlet through sharply cut caions indenting the limestone cliffs of the back-coast border. The central portion of Santiago province is dominated by the Rio Cauto and its ramifications. This is the longest river on the island, and flows in a westerly direction for a distance of one hundred and fifty miles, draining the wide and fertile valley to which its name is applied. This stream is navigable for small boats for a considerable distance (eighty to one hundred miles), but its mouth has been obstructed by bars. The Sagua is a tidal stream which is also navigable for a few miles, as are also the Agabama near Trinidad, the Palma, and the Jatibonico.
There are no extensive lakes in the interior of Cuba, the only one of note being Lake Ariguanabo, situated in the hilly country twenty miles southwest of Havana. This is about six square miles in area, thirty feet deep, and contains many fishes. It is drained by a peculiar river, the
48 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
San Antonio, which disappears beneath the roots of a large ceiba-tree, without surface continuity to the sea.
With the exception of the great Zapata and a few swampy places toward the western extremity of the island, Cuba is singularly free from marshy or poorly drained land. Occasionally a few acres of jplaya, or low alluvial land, may be found around the harbors, but the rivers are free from wide bottoms, and the land as a whole stands well above the sea. The great swamp known as the Zapata occupies an area of about six hundred square miles on the southern coast, opposite Matanzas and Havana, bordering the shore for about sixty miles between the Broa and Cochinos inlets. It stands nearly at sea-level, but although almost a dead flat, it presents a great diversity of aspects. In some places the stagnant waters are dammed up by sandy strips along the coast; in others the surface is concealed by dense mangrove thickets; elsewhere channels without perceptible currents, the remains of former rivers, wind sluggishly amid the vegetation. Here and there open sheets of water sparkle in the sun, while others disappear beneath vast areas covered by the wide leaves of water-lilies. In places the ground is firm enough to support a clump of trees, but most of the surface consists of quagmires, or boggy expansions, inaccessible to man or beast.
There are many minor features in the physical geography of Cuba which cannot be here described in detail. The caverns are especially beautiful. The largest of these underlie the cuchillas of the east, but have never been systematically explored or described.
The cave of Bellernar, about two and one half miles east of Matanzas, is one of the sights of the island. It is reached by a pleasant drive along the seaside and through pretty suburbs. The entrance is situated upon the top of the coastal plateau and has a handsome building. This cave is open for three miles and is known to extend down five hundred feet in the white limestone. It differs from
AFTERNOON DRIVE IT RURAL CUBA
TE ISLAND OF CUBA, 49
the caverns of our own country, such as those of Kentucky and Virginia, by the fact that, while the latter impress us with their magnitude, the Cuban caves overwhelm us with the beauty, snow-like whiteness, and delicacy of the stalactite and stalagmite forms; in fact, these have the whiteness and purity of Parian marble.
There are also some waterfalls, natural bridges, and many mineral springs and baths. Among the latter may be mentioned the springs of San Diego in the province of Pinar del Rio, which have long been a favorite resort of the Cubans. Their waters are reputed to be unusually salubrious and efficacious for many diseases, especially those of a rheumatic character.
Madruga, formerly known as the Cuban Saratoga, about two hours, ride by rail to the southwest of Matanzas, is also celebrated for its mineral springs. Its high situation renders its air much more cool and pleasant than that of the plain during the spring, when the southwest winds are annoying. The baths are more or less impregnated with* sulphur, iron, magnesia, and potassa, and are recommended for rheumatism, paralysis, weakness of the stomach, scrofula, etc. There are several of these, such as La Pila, El Templada, etc. The water is rather cool. Invalids from all parts of the island formerly came here and found amusement in bathing, riding, and walking to the tops of the neighboring hills, from which fine views may be had. From the top of one of these, Cupey, the view of the valley of Clara is very fine. As far as the eye can reach one can see the waving cane-fields, with occasional patches of woods or clumps of palms, and lightened by the tall white chimneys of the sugar-mills, while in the distance there is just the faintest glimpse of mountains and hills fading into the hazy sea. Limonar, one of the most pleasant places on the island, is not far from Matanzas. Its air is very invigorating. From there one can drive to the San Miguel sulphur-baths.
CLIMATE, FLORA, AND FAUNA
Temperature and precipitation. Native trees and flowers. The royal
palm. Scarcity of mammals. Birds, reptiles, and insect life.
E XTENSIVE climatologic records are not available,
except for Havana, and these are not applicable to the whole island, where it is but natural to suppose that altitude and position relative to the high mountains produce great variations in precipitation and humidity, such as are observable in adjacent islands. The Sierra Maestra probably presents conditions of temperature very nearly the same as the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, where the thermometer at times falls almost to the freezing-point.
Everywhere the rains are most abundant in summer, from May to October-the rainy season. As a rule, the rains, brought by the trade-winds, are heavier and more frequent on the higher slopes of the eastern end, although these are more arid near sea-level. At Havana the annual rainfall is 51.73 inches, or eight inches less than New Orleans. Of the total, 32.37 inches fall in the wet season. In New Orleans 27 inches fall in the same months This rainfall is not excessive, being no greater than that of our Eastern States, although somewhat differently distributed. The air at this place is usually charged with eighty-five per cent. of moisture, which under the tropical sun largely induces the rich mantle of vegetation. The average number of rainy days in the year is one hundred 50
CLIMATE, FLORA, AND FAUNA 51
and two. There is but one record of snow having fallen in Cuba; this was in 1856.
At Havana, in July and August, the warmest months, the average temperature is S20 F., fluctuating between a maximum of 880 and a minimum of 760. The highest temperature recorded in Havana for ten years was 1000, or four degrees less than the highest of Washington city for the same period. In the cooler months of December and January the thermometer averages 720, the maximum being 780, the minimum 500. The average temperature of the, year at Havana, a mean of seven years, is 770; but in the interior, at elevations of over 300 feet above the sea, the thermometer occasionally falls to the freezing-point in winter, hoar-frost is not uncommon, and during north winds thin ice may form. The maximum temperature is reached between noon and two o'clock in the afternoon, and the minimum between dawn and sunrise. The average diurnal range of temperature is about 100.
For Matanzas, on the coast, about fif ty miles east of Havana, there is a record for two years, beginning in August, 1832, and ending in July, 1833, and again beginning in January, 1835, and ending with December of the same year. From this record the mean annual temperature at Matanzas appears to be about 780. The highest temperature is recorded as 930, and the lowest as 510.
At .Santiago, on the extreme southeast coast, the temperature is apparently higher than on the northern and western coasts, and from the meager data available appears to be about 800, with an average difference between the warmest and coldest months of about 60 F. A very short fragment of a record of temperature has been found for Trinidad de Cuba, abont midway on the southern coast, giving the average temperature from December, 1851, to March, 1852, for the hours of 7 A. M., 2 r. m., and 7. m.,as 72.80, 78.70, and 75.30 F., respectively; and the observer remarks that during that period, the highest temperature recorded was 840, and the lowest 64.50 F., and the greatest
52 CUBA AND PORTO RICO
range in any twenty-four hours was 9.50, which occurred upon the day having the highest temperature.
For the interior of the island only two temperature records have been found, namely, for Ubajay and the mines of San Fernando. Ubajay is (or was at the time) a village about fifteen miles southwest of Havana, and about 242 feet above sea-level. Its average temperature from four years' observations was 73.60 F. The record is quoted by Baron Humboldt, and was made during 179699. The place given as the San Fernando mines is about 150 miles eastward of Havana, and is 554 feet above sealevel. .The temperature record is for the year 1839, and shows an average of 750. From these records the average annual temperature of the interior of the island would appear to be -considerably lower than on the coast.
The prevailing wind is the easterly trade-breeze, but from November to February cool north winds (los nvortes, or "northers ")%-the southern attenuation of our own cold waves,-rarely lasting more than forty-eight hours, are experienced in the western portion of the island, to which they add a third seasonal change. From ten to twelve o'clock are the hottest hours of the day; after noon a refreshing breeze sets in from the sea.
The whole island is more or less subject to hurricanes, often of great ferocity. The hurricane of 1846 leveled nearly two thousand houses in Havana, and sank or wrecked over three hundred vessels. In 1896 the bananaplantations of the east were similarly destroyed. Earthquakes are seldom felt in the western districts, but are frequent in the eastern.
All in all, the climate of Cuba is much more salubrious than it has been painted. The winter months are delightful, -in fact, ideal, -while the summer months are more endurable than in most of our own territory. The current impressions of insalubrity have arisen from an erroneous confusion of bad sanitation with the weather. While it is true that sickness follows the seasons, the former would