PRENTICE-HALL GEOGRAPHY SERIES
Consulting Editor, Nels A. Bengtson
FRED A. CARLSON
Professor of Geography
The Ohio State University
New York : 1943
COPYRIGHT, 1936, 1943, BY
70 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY
BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM, BY MIMEOGRAPH OR
ANY OTHER MEANS, WITHOUT PERMISSION IN WRIT-
ING FROM THE PUBLISHERS
First Printing ....................August 1936
Second Printing .................. October 1937
Third Printing ..................January 1940
Fourth Printing ....................April 1941
Fifth Printing ......................April 1942
Sixth Printing .......................July 1943
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
To My Wife and Son
RUTH IRENE and FRED McKEEVER
1 i7 484
PreFace to the First Edition
SOUTH AMERICA, Central America, Mexico, and the West In-
dies are commonly known as Latin America or Hispanic America.
Neither term is all-inclusive but merely represents dominant cul-
tural influences. The Spanish forms, the noun Hispania and the
adjective Hispanic, are derived from the Latin word Hispanicus.
Hispania was the name of the Roman province of the Iberian
Peninsula in which Lusitania, approximately the region of present
Portugal, was a district. Thus, Hispanic refers not only to Spain
but also to Portugal, and may rightly be applied to the Spanish-
speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries of the Americas. But
the Brazilians, of Portuguese heritage, object to the application of
Hispanic to their country on the basis that the term is essentially
Spanish. To meet this criticism the term Ibero-America has been
proposed, the origin of Ibero being in the ancient Greek name for
the homeland peninsula. The French-speaking Haitians, however,
reject both Hispanic America and Ibero-America as appropriate
terms for their republic. Apparently they maintain that the cul-
tural attributes of other Latin or Roman lands, such as portions
of France and Italy in addition to Spain and Portugal, should be
recognized in the Americas. Similar opinions have been expressed
by the Argentinians, in whose country there are potent evidences
of Italian culture. To fulfill these broader demands there is the
term Latin America. Everyone knows that the word Latin is used
in connection with those countries of Europe which at one time
were a part of the Roman Empire and whose languages were derived
from Latin. However, the term Latin America, like Hispanic
America and Ibero-America, is not free from objections and limi-
tations. Probably a solution of this entangled nomenclature is
found in the proposal that Hispanic America or Ibero-America
should be used when one wishes to emphasize, primarily, Spanish
and Portuguese influences. Hispanic has the priority of usage,
but both terms are appropriate for this purpose. However, if there
is a desire to recognize, as in this book, not only Spanish and Portu-
guese influences but also those of other Latin nations, then the term
Latin America is more applicable.
Of course, the citizens of the individual countries do not wish
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
to be known as Latin Americans, but as Brazilians, Argentinians,
Mexicans, and so on, for the same logical reason that the inhabitants
of the Anglo-American countries, the United States and Canada,
want to be recognized, respectively, as Americans and Canadians.
In fact, an attempt to interpret the affairs of a Latin American
country in terms of Latin America as a whole can lead to nothing
more than the evils of generalization and the fallacies of environ-
mental determinism. While it is true that the political entities of
Latin America have, in general, a common racial background, a
culture of considerable similarity, and a natural landscape of
striking likeness, these lands, nevertheless, do not possess geograph-
ical unity. In fact, Latin America, comprising 20 republics and
important possessions of the United States, Great Britain, France,
and the Netherlands, presents about as many different functionali-
ties as there are major political divisions. For this reason the
countries of Latin America are treated separately in this book.
The treatment of each country includes, for the most part, a
brief review of the general characteristics, a description and inter-
pretation of the natural-cultural regions, and a summation of the
geography in relation to domestic and foreign affairs.
The main purpose of this book is an endeavor to estab-
lish a better understanding and appreciation of the countries of
Latin America through the enumeration and interpretation of
nature's conditions that have retarded or promoted their progress.
Portions of the text have purposely been made factual and problem-
atical to give students the task, with the assistance of the in-
structor, of determining the interpretation or solution not only for
the educational value of stimulating an attitude of research but
also to avoid undue indoctrination by the philosophy of the author.
One of the most difficult obstacles encountered in preparing this
text was the inadequacy of data. Most of the available statistics on
Latin America-particularly those on population, area, and trade
-are subject to conjecture as to accuracy and completeness,
and are probably not more than estimates. In fact, much of the
area of Latin America has not been surveyed, and there are ex-
tensive regions that await rediscovery. This lack of available in-
formation made it impossible to complete regional studies of each
country. However, while there is much need for further geograph-
ical research in Latin America, we must not be unmindful of the
scholarly work of numerous organizations and individuals, so beau-
tifully exemplified by the Map of Hispanic America prepared by
the American Geographical Society, New York.
Another serious problem was the spelling of Latin American geo-
graphical names. The profusion of languages and dialects in Latin
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
America makes the standardization of word forms particularly
difficult. The most progressive attempt toward unification is em-
bodied in the work of the United States Geographic Board. The
decisions of this worthy organization, as adopted in this book, have
been summarized in the appendix.
At the completion of this book I am deeply conscious of my obli-
gation to a host of contributors whose work has been a source of
benefit and inspiration.
To L. T. Hites, sometime Professor of Education in the Collegio
Baptista, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I am most grateful for his gener-
ous and extremely effective coSperation in the preparation of this
text. His service and interest in Latin America has made him
a profound student and counsellor of its land and people. For
more than a decade he has given valuable suggestions, supplied
important illustrations, and prepared manuscripts on Brazil, the
West Coast countries of South America, and Central America-
portions of which manuscripts I have adapted for this book. Dr.
Hites' contributions have left their imprint on this book, but I
alone assume full responsibility for any errors of facts or interpre-
I also wish to recognize my indebtedness to my colleague John
H. Garland for his assistance in the preparation of the subjects
of the Guianas and the Maracaibo Basin. My appreciation for
helpful suggestions and information also is tendered to William A.
Reid, and Miss Elsie Brown, of the Pan American Union; B. H.
Hunnicutt, President of Mackenzie College, Sio Paulo, Brazil;
Dr. Pedro C. S6nchez, Mexico, D. F.; Col. Lawrence Martin and
Miss Edna S. Banks of the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.;
Raye R. Platt, Secretary of the American Geographical Society,
New York; and F. W. Hart, of the U. S. Geological Survey. Many
courtesies also, for which I wish to give cordial acknowledgment,
were extended by various organizations-particularly by the Amer-
ican Geographical Society, New York; the Library of Congress; the
Pan American Union; the United States Bureau of Foreign and
Domestic Commerce; the United States Weather Bureau; the De-
partment of Meteorology, Mexico, D. F.; and the Pan American
Institute of Geography and History, Mexico, D. F.
The entire manuscript was critically read by Nels A. Bengtson,
a distinguished student of the geography of Latin America. For
Dr. Bengtson's constructive suggestions and sympathetic interest,
I wish to express my wholehearted appreciation and gratitude.
F. A. C.
PreFace to the Revised Edition
IN THE past decade the United States of America has voiced
an unprecedented interest in the Latin American nations, not only
on the part of officials of the Government and leaders in educa-
tional institutions but also on the part of the public as a whole.
With like enthusiasm the Latin Americas have been progressively
engaged in clarifying, from their own point of view, their tradi-
tions, policies, and objectives. As a result of this free and often
constructive criticism the bond of inter-American friendship has
been greatly strengthened.
This forward-moving understanding of the Latin Americas and
inter-American affairs can be attributed partly to the advancement
in geographical studies. A commendable volume of research
papers, based upon field observations, has appeared since pre-
liminary work on the first edition of the Geography of Latin
America was begun. In recognition of this geographical literature
and recent economic, political, and social changes in the Americas,
the Geography of Latin America has been revised.
The core of the revision, as in the first edition, is the political
unit. Each country is discussed in its entirety, with regard to its
national character as well as to its world relations. Two chapters
of continental scope have been added at the suggestion of teachers
and former students-one on the cultural heritage of Latin America
and the other on changes in the political pattern of Latin America.
The final three chapters are inter-continental: "Inter-American
Transportation," "Commercial Relations," and "Summary."
Tables, graphs, and other statistical forms have been brought up to,
and include in some cases, the early part of the second World War
period. Population data are based on the most recent available
official records, but with few exceptions the figures must be con-
sidered as mere estimates. Maps in color of South America, Cen-
tral America, Mexico, and the West Indies have been added.
A victorious conclusion of the war by the United Nations and
the formulation of plans for an effective and enduring World Peace
have been foremost in the mind of the author in the preparation of
xii PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION
this revision. Emphasis has been placed on the ways and means
by which Latin America can share in the fulfillment of the prin-
ciples of democracy.
F. A. CARLSON
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION .. Vii
PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION .. Xi
INTRODUCTION ............. 1
I. CULTURAL HERITAGE .. . 7
POPULATION ELEMENTS (1): Indo-America. The Mayas. The
Incas. The Aztecs. Early immigration. African Negroes.
Recent immigration. The future. CULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
(18): Language. Agriculture. Mining. Transportation and
communication. Architecture. Native simplicity and foreign
style in dress. Customs. Ideals of aristocracy. Education.
II. POLITICAL EVOLUTION ... 31
Colonial lands. Portuguese settlements. Spanish domain. The
West Indies. Early days of independence. The new republics.
From nationalism to internationalism.
III. THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY .. 43
General survey. TERRAIN (45): Physiographic divisions. The
Andes and associated lands. Brazilian Highland. Guiana High-
land. Patagonian Plateau region. The Amazon Plain. Orinoco
Plain. Parant-Paraguay region. CLIMATES (55): Temperature.
Rainfall distribution. MINERAL WEALTH (67). AGRICULTURAL
RESOURCES (68): Western South America. Eastern South Amer-
ica. TRANSPORTATION (69).
IV. BRAZIL: NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT .... . 73
Sectionalism. Political structure. Urbanization. Regional in-
tegration. An agricultural nation. Forest and mineral resources.
Industrialization. A progressive policy.
V. BRAZIL: REGIONAL ECONOMY AND SETTLEMENTS 83
CENTRAL BRAZIL (83): Nation's economic center. Surface
configuration. Climatic relationships. Agricultural products.
V. BRAZIL: REGIONAL ECONOMY AND SETTLEMENTS-
Mineral industry. Coastal settlements. Upland cities. THE
FAR CENTRAL INTERIOR (105): A frontier. Physical landscape.
Natural resources. A far interior town. SOUTH BRAZIL (109):
Regional characteristics. Natural landscape. People of south
Brazil. Regional associations. Urban centers. NORTHEAST
BRAZIL (114): Regional characteristics. Surface features. Cli-
matic conditions. Cultural relationships. Cotton, sugar, and
cacao. Other agricultural products. Carnauba palm. Trade
VI. BRAZIL: THE AMAZON PLAIN, VAST AND INTRI-
GUING ............... 120
Beyond the frontier. Rio Amazonas. Climatic relationships.
POPULATION CENTERS (124): Cities. Population. TRANSPORTA-
TION (125): The interior railroad. Waterways and trails.
AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST PRODUCTS (127): Plantations. Tropi-
cal rain forest. Clearing for agriculture. Soil conditions. Co-
operative agriculture. REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND OPPORTUNI-
TIEs (130): Natural products. Cattle industry. INDIAN LIFE
(135): Native inhabitants. Indian civilization. WILD LIFE
(137): Insect danger. Reptile, animal, and bird life. Fish
VII. BRAZIL: AGRICULTURE AND COMMERCE 144
AGRICULTURE (144): Agricultural resources. Staple food prod-
ucts. Fruits. Meat products. Commercial or "cash" products.
FOREIGN COMMERCE (156): Foreign trade. THE FUTURE OF
BRAZIL (159): A new policy. A promised land.
VIII. ARGENTINA: PEOPLE AND URBAN CENTERS 163
Early settlements. Population composition. Industrialization.
Buenos Aires, emporium of the south. Other urban centers.
IX. ARGENTINA: NATIONAL ECONOMY .. .173
AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES (173): International position. Extent
of agricultural resources. THE PAMPA (173): Heart of Argentina.
Climatic conditions. Pastoral activities. Crop production.
PATAGONIA (182): Regional characteristics. Climatic charac-
teristics. Industries. Settlements. Tierra del Fuego. THE
MONTE (185): Regional characteristics. Viticulture. NORTH-
WESTERN ARGENTINA (186): Sugar the most important crop.
"Garden spot" of Argentina. Pastoral activities. NOBTH-
EASTERN ARGENTINA (187): Regional divisions. Gran Chaco.
Mesopotamia. MINERAL RESOURCES (189).
X. ARGENTINA: TRANSPORTATION AND COMMERCE 190
TRANSPORTATION (190): Railways. Highways. Shipping facili-
ties. FOREIGN COMMERCE (195): Major problems.
XI. URUGUAY: A LAND OF UNIFORMITY .. .200
Physical conditions. Rural activities. People. Urban centers.
Leading industry. Transportation. Summary.
XII. PARAGUAY: AN INLAND REPUBLIC .. .208
A land of misfortune. People. Regional character. El Chaco
Boreal. Railways and roads. Resources and production. The
Parani-Paraguay waterway. The future.
XIII. BOLIVIA: AN INLAND REPUBLIC .. .218
Physical features and their geographic significance. Lake
Titicaca. Population and culture. Extent of industrial develop-
ment. Health conditions. Regional characteristics. Population
centers. Railways. Motor roads. Airplane routes. Rivers.
Mineral resources. Summary.
XIV. CHILE: A COUNTRY OF DIVERSIFIED AND PROGRES-
SIVE INTERESTS .. 243
Geographical structure. Population and culture. The central
valley, an agricultural region. Ports and cities. Railways.
Motor roads. Mineral resources. Industrialization. The future
XV. PERU: A LAND OF ANCIENT AND MODERN CULTURE 269
Ancient culture. Regional characteristics. The coastal area.
The Andean system. The Montafia. The Amazon Plain of
Peru. Population. Cities. Transportation. Mineral resources.
Agricultural resources. Summary.
XVI. THE REPUBLIC OF ECUADOR .. 291
Regional delineation. Maritime region. Mountains and their
plateau basins. East of the mountains. Rivers. Population.
Guayaquil. Other urban centers. Transportation facilities.
Mineral resources. Agricultural resources. Foreign trade. A
XVII. COLOMBIA: A LAND OF CONTRASTS .. 306
General characteristics. Physical landscape. Vegetation and
climate. Social involution. Health conditions. Transportation.
Caribbean urban centers. Upland settlements. The Oriente.
Agricultural industry. Mineral production. Distinctive features.
XVIII. THE UNITED STATES OF VENEZUELA 335
Early settlement. Regional pattern. Andean Highland and
associated lowland. The Maracaibo Lowland. Orinoco Plain.
Guiana Highland. Transportation situation. The future of
XIX. THE GUIANAS: BRITISH, NETHERLANDS, AND
FRENCH COLONIES .. 351
General characteristics. Physical relationships. British Guiana.
Suriname. La Guyane franfaise. Summary.
CENTRAL AMERICA, MEXICO, AND THE
XX. CENTRAL AMERICA: THE TRANS-AMERICAN LAND 361
Political divisions. Physical landscape. Racial heritage and
XXI. PANAMA AND THE CANAL ZONE .. 372
Physical characteristics. Cities. Transportation and industries.
THE PANAMA CANAL ZONE (376): Political geography. Com-
merce and the canal.
XXII. COSTA RICA. . .. .382
Physical features. Population. Economy.
XXIII. NICARAGUA . .. 386
Physical landscape. Population centers. Agriculture and com-
XXIV. EL SALVADOR ........... .. 391
Physical and cultural characteristics.
XXV. HONDURAS .............. 394
Regions. Population centers. Economy.
XXVI. GUATEMALA AND BRITISH HONDURAS .. 398
GUATEMALA (398): Regional characteristics. Civic centers.
Economy. BRrrISH HONDURAS (401): General characteristics.
XXVII. MEXICO ............ .. .. 403
A village population. Ethnic groups. Physiographic pattern.
Hydrography. Temperature and rainfall. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC
AFFAIRS (416): Agrarian problems. Agricultural resources.
Mineral resources. Silver production. Petroleum industry.
XXVIII. MEXICO: CULTURAL CENTERS . .. 425
VALLEY OF MEXICO (425): The national focus. Regional de-
lineation. Surface features. Temperature and precipitation.
Drainage controls. Cultural landscape. Mexico, D. F. Adja-
XXVIII. MEXICO: CULTURAL CENTERS-(Cont.)
cent exterior regions. General characteristics. Land and climate.
Fibers and chicle. Trade centers. EASTERN MEXICO (445):
Physical setting. Veracruz to Mexico, D. F. Industries and
commerce. WESTERN MEXICO (449): Extent of region. Guay-
mas district. Mazatlin district. Other trade centers. INTERIOR
MEXICO (453): Trade centers. NORTHERN BORDER ZONE (455):
Border towns and trade. Summary.
XXIX. THE WEST INDIES: AN INSULAR PATTERN OF MANY
COUNTRIES .......... .. .. 460
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS (460): Political pattern. West Indian
population-distribution and heritage. Climates in general.
Strategic importance. Summary.
XXX. REPUBLICS IN THE WEST INDIES 467
CUBA (467): Largest West Indian island. Climatic conditions.
Topographical features. Natural vegetation. Cuban economy.
Sugar industry. Cuban problems. HAITI AND THE DOMINICAN
REPUBLIC (476): Political background. Climate and topography.
XXXI. THE UNITED STATES IN THE WEST INDIES 484
PUERTO Rico (484): General characteristics. Puerto Rican
economy. Summary. THE VIRGIN ISLANDS (490). UNITED
STATES DEFENSE BASES (493).
XXXII. EUROPEAN POSSESSIONS IN THE WEST INDIES .494
BAHAMA ISLANDS (494). JAMAICA AND DEPENDENCIES (494): Cul-
tural evolutions. Land features and climate. Land utilization.
Population. Prosperity and depression. THE LESSER ANTILLES
(498): Characteristics and value. Trinidad and Tobago.
TRANSPORTATION AND COMMERCE
XXXIII. INTER-AMERICAN TRANSPORTATION .. 503
PAN-AMERICAN HIGHWAY (503): The plan. Inter-American
Highway. Sim6n Bolivar Highway. Coastal route. Transcon-
tinental route. AIRWAYS (508): Pioneering stage. Pan Amer-
ican Airways system. Avianca. Taca. Panagra. Prewar Eu-
ropean airlines. National airways. SEAWAYS (515): Merchant
marine. Trade routes.
XXXIV. COMMERCIAL RELATIONS .. 518
Latin American foreign trade. Latin America as a source of raw
materials. Foreign trade of the U. S. with leading Latin Amer-
SUMMARY .............. .533
INTER-AMERICAN POLITICS (533): Political relations. CULTURAL
RELATIONS (534). EFFORTS TowARD MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING
(538). THE FUTURE (540).
AREA AND POPULATION STATISTICS . . .. 543
PRONUNCIATION KEY . . . . . 545
A PRONOUNCING LIST OF LATIN AMERICAN NAMES 546
INDEX ................ 555
Maps and Illustrations
[Maps and diagrams are in italics.]
1. George Washington ................. ........ ........ 2
2. Sim6n Bolivar ........... .. ..................... 3
3. North and South America .................... ........ 4
4. Nahuel Huapi National Park ............ .............. 5
5. The Isle of Pines ............................ ........ 6
6. Chich6n ItzA: Temple of the Tigers ...................... 9
7. Incan Walls, Cuzco ................... ................. 11
8. World population by political divisions ................... 16
9. A rural scene in Uruguay ................... ........ 21
10. Nambikura Indian huts near Cuiaba, Brazil .............. 22
11. Palacio Salvo, Montevideo ......................... ... 23
12. A modern home in the Isle of Pines ...................... 24
13. Late sixteenth-century map of South America ............. 32
14. Colonial regions, 1556 ................................ 36
15. Colonial regions, 1800 .............. ........... ... 37
16. Francisco de Miranda .............. ......... . 39
17. Jos6 de San Martin .................................... 39
18. Laying the trans-Andine telephone cable ................. 47
19. View from Sugar Loaf, Rio de Janeiro ................... 48
20. Brazilian Uplands southwest of Vit6ria ................... 50
21. Landscape of eastern Paraguay ... ...................... 53
22. Relief map of South America .................. ........ 54
23. Average temperature, South America ..................... 56
24. Average temperature, South America .................... 57
25. Average precipitation, South America ... ................ 58
26. Population centers of South America ..................... 60
27. Annual rainfall, South America ......................... 61
28. September rainfall, South America ....................... 62
MAPS IN FULL COLOR
South America (with Relief Map)...... between pages 360-361
Central America ............................facing page 402
Mexico ............................ facing page 458
The West Indies .......... ............ facing page 502
xx MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS
29. January rainfall, South America ......................... 63
30. Monthly distribution of rainfall, South America ........... 64
31. Climates of South America ............................. 65
32. Irrigated valley at the western base of the Andes ........... 67
33. Inter-American waterways and railways .................. 70
34. The United States of Brazil ............................. 73
35. Regions of Brazil .................................... 74
36. The "gateways" of central Brazil ........................ 85
37. Coffee tree in fruit ................................... 88
38. Coffee picking ........................................ 89
39. Cotton culture, state of Sao Paulo, Brazil ................. 92
40. The bay of Rio de Janeiro ................... ........ 96
41. Royal palms, Botanical Garden, Rio de Janeiro ............ 100
42. Santos, B razil ............................. ......... 101
43. SIo Paulo, Brazil ....................... ........... 102
44. High school, Belo Horizonte, Brazil ...................... 103
45. The 99 royal palms, Campinas, Brazil .................... 104
46. Coconut grove near Cuiaba, Brazil ...................... 106
47. Indian hut near Cuiab6, Brazil .......................... 107
48. A small interior Brazilian town .......................... 109
49. ParanA pine, south Brazil .............................. 111
50. Principal ports of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil .... 113
51. Carnauba palms near Fortaleza ......................... 117
52. Salvador's physical setting .............................. 118
53. Island of M arajd ........................ ............. 122
54. A rubber tree ........................................ 133
55. Rubber plantation center ............................. 135
56. Manioc plant and roots ............................... 145
57. Mamao or papaya tree and fruit ......................... 147
58. Zebu or East Indian cattle, Brazil ....................... 149
59. Cotton production, Western Hemisphere .................. 151
60. Percentage distribution of world cotton production ......... 152
61. Coffee production .................................... 152
62. Cacao-bean production ........................... . 153
63. One of the better farm houses, Brazil ..................... 154
64. Old and new farm laborer's houses, Brazil ................ 154
65. Fazenda Chapadas, state of Sao Paulo, Brazil ............. 155
66. The Rio de la Plata region ............................. 164
67. Buenos Aires: Plaza del Congreso ...................... 169
68. An apartment house in Buenos Aires ..................... 170
69. Calle Florida, Buenos Aires ................... ....... . 171
70. The principal grain-producing region of Argentina ......... 180
71. W heat production ........... .................... 181
72. Southern Patagonia, Argentina .......................... 184
73. An Indian family in Patagonia .......................... 185
74. Northwestern Argentina: Street scene in a mountain town... 187
75. The statue of Christ of the Andes ............. .......... 191
76. Principal ports and zones of influence, Argentina .......... 193
MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS
77. Bahia Blanca, Argentina ............... ............. 195
78. Avenida 18 de Julio, Montevideo ........................ 203
79. Plaza Constituci6n, Asunci6n, Paraguay .................. 209
80. The Altiplano region, southern Peru and northern Bolivia .. 219
81. A potato market at Oruro, Bolivia ....................... 227
82. Llamas, excellent beasts of burden at high altitudes ........ 233
83. Interior Lowland ...................... .. ....... 234
84. Catavi: View of the Vit6ria reduction plant .............. 236
85. Tin production ...................................... 238
86. The Chilean Alps ............................ ........ 244
87. Ensenada, Chile: Osorno and Lake Llanquihue ............ 245
88. South-central Chile ............. ...................... 252
89. The physical setting of Concepcidn, south-central Chile .... 253
90. View of Valparaiso, Chile .... ... .............. 255
91. Santiago, Chile: Plaza Constituci6n ...................... 256
92. Life, snow, and barren slopes in the Chilean Andes ........ 259
93. Nitrate production ................................... 261
94. Copper production .................................... 262
95. Chuquicamata, Chile: View of the copper-mining region .... 263
96. Copper mining in Chile ................................. 264
97. Petroleum field in northern Peru ........................ 271
98. Vanadium mine, Minas Ragra, Peru ....................... 274
99. Mango tree in the Montafia region, Peru ................. 276
100. Lima: Paseo de la Republica ......................... 279
101. San Lorenzo Island and the Bay of Callao ................ 280
102. Cuzco street scene, Peru ................................. 282
103. An all-important means of transportation, Matucana, Peru 284
104. Copper mines, Marococha, Peru .......................... 285
105. The Pan-American Highway and Chimborazo, Ecuador..... 294
106. The port of Guayaquil, Ecuador ....................... 296
107. A home of wealthier people near Guayaquil ............... 297
108. Typical home of common people near Guayaquil .......... 298
109. Panama-hat weavers ................................... 302
110. "Cow tree" (Brosimum galactodendron), Brazil ........... 310
111. Buenaventura, Colombia .............. . . .. .... .. 315
112. Colombia's Caribbean region ........................... 318
113. Puerto Colombia ............ .. ......... ............. 319
114. Political divisions of Colombia ........................ 327
115. Cactus jungle, Venezuela ............................... 338
116. M aracaibo Basin ..................................... 341
117. Lake Maracaibo-La Rosa petroleum field ................ 342
118. Petroleum production .............. ................ 344
119. A business street of Caracas ............................. 347
120. The Guianas ....................................... 353
121. Relief map of Central America ......................... 362
122. Annual rainfall map of Central America ................. 363
123. Climatic regions of Middle America .................... 364
124. The crater of the volcanic cone, Poas, Costa Rica .......... 365
MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS
125. Virgin forest in northeastern Guatemala .................. 369
126. Central American banana production .................... 370
127. The Panama Canal and Canal Zone ...................... 377
128. Panama Canal, Gatun Locks, looking south ............... 378
129. Panama Canal, Gaillard Cut .................. ....... 379
130. Typical street scene, Orizaba, Mexico .................... 404
131. Relief map of M exico ................................ 407
132. M exico's physiographic pattern ......................... 408
133. Profiles along given parallels, Mexico .................... 409
134. A semiarid landscape in northern Mexico ................. 412
135. The slopes of Ixtaccihuatl, Mexico ...................... 413
136. Indian hut near Orizaba, Mexico ..................... 413
137. Upland forest and meadow, Mexico ..................... 414
138. Climates of Mexico ................................... 415
139. Silver production .................................... 419
140. Principal land routes of M exico ......................... 421
141. The Inter-American Highway north of Mexico, D. F. ...... 421
142. Inter-American Highway caution signs ................. 422
143. En route to Orizaba from mountain homes ............... 422
144. The Valley of Mexico ........ .......... ........... 425
145. East-central portion of the Valley of Mexico .............. 426
146. Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, San Juan TeotihuacAn .... 427
147. Decorations on the wall of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl ..... 428
148. The lava flow at the Pedregal, south of Mexico, D. F. ...... 429
149. Lake Texcoco, in the Valley of Mexico ................... 433
150. The "floating gardens" at Xochimilco .................... 434
151. Hydrographic pattern of the Valley of Mexico ............ 435
152. Mexico, D. F.......... .......................... 438
153. Casa Alvarado ...................................... 439
154. Henequen harvest ................. ............... 443
155. Yucatan, Mexico. Chich6n ItzA-Temple of the Warriors .. 444
156. A young banana plantation ...... ... ................. 445
157. A cover of banana trees and coffee trees .................. 446
158. The Mexico, D. F., and Veracruz railway routes ........... 448
159. Political divisions of M exico ............................ 450
160. Venders at a Mexican village railway station ............. 451
161. Profile of the road between Mexico, D. F., and Acapulco .... 452
162. The West Indies .................................... 460
163. Principal soil and topographical regions of Cuba .......... 470
164. Cane-sugar production ................................. 473
165. Puerto Rico ........................................... 487
166. Boca de Congrejo, near San Juan, Puerto Rico ............ 488
167. The port of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands ................... 490
168. St. Thomas: A typical street scene ...................... 491
169. St. Thomas: A typical hillside residence .................. 492
170. Routes of the Pan-American and associated highways ...... 504
171. Pan American Airways, Middle America ................. 510
172. Pan American Airways, South America .................. 512
MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS xxiii
173. Great Circle distances expressed in nautical miles .......... 513
174. Latin America's global position .......................... 514
175. Trade between the U. S. and Latin America ............... 527
A new era. Mutual understanding and coSperation mark the
beginning of a new era in inter-American and world relations. Now
we know that all ways of life are affected by the activities of others,
and that individuals, groups, and nations cannot progress in isola-
tion. We live in a world of interdependence and, ironical as it may
seem, a world crisis was necessary to awaken us, the Americas, to a
full realization of this fact. Heretofore our hemisphere has been
the victim of misconceptions, not only between the United States and
its southern neighbors, but also among all of the 21 Americas and
Canada. How totally ignorant, and therefore unappreciative, we
in the United States have been of the other Americas' greatness, as
well as of their weaknesses in people, lands, and culture! We know
now that great good can be obtained through friendly collaboration.
"Down there where they speak Spanish" is no longer a current
Anglo-American pronouncement because we have learned that the
south "Americas" and our own country have many things in com-
mon. All the American nations began as colonies from the Old
World-including Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, English, and
African settlers. Each nation won its early independence in the
great American Revolution which took place during the period
from 1776 to 1826. Washington established the freedom of thirteen
English colonies; while Miranda, Bolivar, San Martin, Hidalgo,
and others freed the Spanish colonies; and Pedro I gained independ-
ence for Portuguese America. The cultures of those early days are
alive now in our country in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and
Texas. In fact, certain portions of the United States are more Latin
American than regions of the highlands of Peru and Bolivia or
southern Brazil. Consequently, it is a mistake to think of the
"border" as a line of abruption, dividing the Western Hemisphere
into two distinct regions commonly known as Latin America and
Our attention in this new era has been directed, not only to the
correction of historical misconception, but also to a better under-
standing of the lands of Latin America. An examination of a map
of the Western Hemisphere will reestablish, mentally, the position
and land continuity of North America and South America. Note
that Detroit, Michigan, is approximately due north of the most
Courtesy The Columbus (Ohio) Gallery of Fine Arts.
Fig. 1. Portrait of George Woshington by Gilbert Stuart, Frederick W. Schumacher
"A slender acquaintance with the World must convince every man that actions and
not words are the true criterion of the attachment of friends." .. "Let us raise a
standard to which the wise and honest can repair." In his Farewell Address, September
17, 1796, he said 'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any
portion of the foreign world."
Courtesy Pan American Union.
Fig. 2. Sim6n Bolivar.
"iQu6 bello seria que el Istmo de Panama fuese para nosotros lo que el de Corinto
para los griegos! OjalA que alguin dia tengamos la fortune de instalar alli un augusto
congress de los representantes de las reptiblicas, reinos e imperios a tratar y discutir
sobre los altos intereses de la paz y de la guerra, con las naciones de las otras tres
parties del mundo. Esta especie de corporaci6n podri tener lugar en alguna 6poca
dichosa de nuestra generaci6n."
western point of South America; this fact shows that South America
is not south but southeast of North America. So far east does it
lie that the northeastern shores of Brazil are several hundred miles
nearer than New York to the Mediterranean ports. The distance
from the eastward bulge of Brazil to western Africa, at the nearest
points, is about 1,600 miles, or one-half the distance from New York
F. A. Carlson.
Fig. 3. North America and South America. More descriptive names for the two
continents would be "Northwest America" and "Southeast America."
Are the Latin Americas "tropical"? It is true that the greater
portion of their total area lies in the low latitudes, but it must be
realized that the sun, or latitude, is not the only climatic control;
other important factors are altitude, mountain barriers, land and
water, ocean currents, air masses, and storms. In South America,
Central America, and Mexico, extensive highlands in the low lati-
tudes cause the climate to range from tropical to polar tempera-
tures. Furthermore, the "tropics" include deserts, regions of wet
and dry seasons, and areas of heavy precipitation throughout the
year. The white man's fear of the tropics has been only recently
Courtesy Moore-McCormack Lines.
Fig. 4. Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina. The higher mountains of the
Nahuel Huapi region retain their snow cover even in summer. "Climates in Latin
America range from tropical to polar."
modified. The prevalent opinion that white people cannot live in
the tropical regions has been qualified by evidence to prove that the
white man can progress in the tropics through expert supervision of
health, hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition. In later pages specific
cases will be discussed.
With this era of better understanding among the Americas we
have placed another milestone along the path of human progress-
the spirit of cooperation for the freedom of all peoples. In 1936,
the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace was
held in Buenos Aires for the purpose of establishing a procedure of
consultation to meet any emergency that might befall the relations
of the Americas. Two years later, at the Eighth International Con-
ference of the American States in Lima, Peru, the procedure of
consultation was again emphasized. Then, at the outbreak of hos-
tilities in Europe, the first meeting of the American Ministers of
Foreign Affairs was held in Panama in 1939, for the specific purpose
of discussing continental defense; a second consultation was held
in Habana in 1940; this meeting was followed by the momentous
session, the third meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the
American Republics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1942. These con-
ferences, and others of more recent date, have brought about active
Courtesy American Geographical Society.
Fig. 5. The Isle of Pines, Cuba. A typical tropical savanna landscape.
cultural, political, commercial, and military cooperation among the
The plan of sympathetic understanding and fair collaboration,
however, applies not to the Americas alone but to all freedom-loving
lands worthy of respect and justice. This spirit of a world society
of nations is found in the Eight-Point Pact, the Atlantic Charter.
The essence of the plan is:
(1) no aggrandizement; (2) no territorial changes apart from the wishes of
the people concerned; (3) each people shall choose its form of government;
(4) equal access to trade and raw materials; (5) economic collaboration to
provide for all improved labor, economic standards, and social security; (6) assur-
ance of security against invasion; (7) freedom of the seas and oceans; and
(8) abandonment of the use of force for realistic and spiritual reasons.
To emphasize the futility of a policy of isolation and self-
sufficiency, to restate the interdependence of the Americas and all
other nations, and to establish the individuality or personality of
each Latin American nation, this revised edition of the Geography
of Latin America has been organized into three closely related
units: (1) cultural and physical background, (2) political regions
or countries, and (3) international relations.
The peoples of the Americas total more than 250 million, and
approximately half of this number live in Latin America-South
America (88 million), Central America (8 million), Mexico (20
million), and the West Indies (13 million). With the exception of
the Caribbean islands, the regions are sparsely populated, and for
the most part the inhabitants live in widely separated villages or
cities. They include pure and mixed stocks of Indians, Europeans,
and African Negroes. Since culture, the work of man, is in part an
expression of racial and ethnic characteristics, let us examine each
of the major groups.
Indo-America. Before the Tnropen connqpst, the Tnrdin pnnn-
lation was spread here and there over the Ameriens The popula-
tion was more dense in the highlands than in the lowlands Many
opinions have been advanced to explain the origin of the occidental
aborigines. Prbby t l ling with the disper-.
sion of races, is that Asiatic peoples migrated to the Western Hemi-
sphere across the region now known as the Bering Strait. They
were people of the Mongoloid type. From them sprang the ances-
tors of the Mayash ncas the Aztecs. and other great Indian
groups of the early Americas. There are reasons for believing that
waves of migration at different times extended across the Bering
Strait and southward over the western lands of North and South
Americas. Widely scattered fo~dl pnptera of tbeho enrlv neople wer
established in many places on the new continents. The search for
food-better hunting more ahiundant. edihle seeds, fruits, and fish-
and the desire "to learn what is on the other side of the hill" had
distributed these original Americans to practically every part of the
Western Hemisphere bere e the coming of the European settlers in
the sixteenth century. Some groups may have become completely
isolated from their companions and developed in the course of time
into tribes of different characteristics. Furthermore, it is probable
that originally they were not a homogeneous race of people, a fact
which may in part explain why pure-bred Indians of today present
widely different physical characteristics and traits.
When it. became known that the seeds gathered for food could be
cultivated and grown into desired plants, the science of agriculture
was born in the New World. It meantermanent settlements, the
con regation of peoples, and the development of power and su-
premacy. Finally civic, religious, and ceremonial centers were con-
structed. They are typed by the Mayan ruins in Yucatan d and
Guatemala, the archaic pyramids of San Juan Teotihuacn in the
Valley of Mexico, and many similar records of early culture. With
continued progress, new foci were established with carefully planned
streets and an orderly arrangement of buildings, such as Tenochtit-
lan, the capital of the Aztec empire, the present site of Mexico, D. F.
The pre-Columbian Indian was peculiarly nomadic, travelling
from place to place. Archaeological excavations have revealed
materials in Colombia, carried there from Mexico, the United States,
and other distant lands. Even today the Indian seems to enjoy
moving about. In Mexico, Guatemala, and other Latin American
lands Indians may be seen with enormous packs of pottery, charcoal,
and wood, trotting along roads and trails for unbelievable distances.
The Indian's inntrihitinn t1 the world are skills in weaving,
basketry. and pottery nrl the deelnpmPnt, nf many important
plants, including maize, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, manioc,
peanuts, sauash, pepper. tonm, tn fs, pineapples, and avocados.
The Indian also made known the cacao bean, quinine, cocaine,
tobacco, and rubber. Indian ingenuity is disclosed in pre-Colum-
bian architecture, engineering, and the sciences of astronomy and
mathematics. The hypothesis may be advanced that an Indian
metallurgy which included the reduction of sulphides and oxides
and the hardening, casting, and alloying of copper and silver was
developed before the coming of the Spaniards.1
Among the Indian groups particularly worthy of specific mention
are the Mayas of Guatemala and Yucatan; the Incas of Peru,
Ecuador, Bolivia, and northern Chile; and the Aztecs in the Valley
of Mexico. Of course many other groups, such as the Chibchas of
Colombia and the Arawaks of the interior of South America and the
Caribbean, have their own significance. Reference will be made to
some of these groups later.
The Mayas. Some time between 400 and 500 A. D. the Mayas
SC. O. Sauer: "The Personality of Mexico," Geographical Review, Vol. XXXI
(1941), p. 360.
entered Yucatan.2 For many years prior to this period they had
been living in the highlands of Guatemala and later in what are now
the states of Tabasco and Chiapas of Mexico, and in the department
of Peten of Guatemala. Part of this region, now a mass of dense
tropical vegetation, had been cleared and put under intensive agri-
culture. Here great cities had been built, cities with spacious plazas
and courts, lofty pyramid-temples, and monuments. It was prob-
ably one of the most densely populated areas of its size in the world
at the time. In the realm of this old Mayan culture, wood carving,
delicate molding in stucco, ceramics, painting, weaving, mosaics,
and other arts were perfected. The Mayas also excelled in the
abstract sciences, such as arithmetic, chronology, and astronomy.
Their chronology was more accurate than any other in the old world
before the time of Pope Gregory XII, and in some respects more
accurate than even our own Gregorian Calendar.
Courtesy Pan American Union.
Fig. 6. Yucatan, Mexico. Chich6n Itz6: Temple of the Tigers, with Castillo in the
But, like many other great peoples, the Mayas suffered adversities
that hampered their progress. They were forced to abandon the
site of the old empire, and they migrated northward into the lands
now known as the states of Yucatan and Campeche, Mexico. Rea-
2 Interesting descriptions of Mayan culture are found in the following books: G. C.
Shattuck: The Peninsula of Yucatan, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washing-
ton, D. C., 1933; Robert Redfield: Chan Kom, A Maya Village, Carnegie Institution
of Washington, Washington, D. C., 1934; and T. A. Willard: The Lost Empires of
the Ilzaes and Mayas, A. H. Clark Co., Glendale, Cal., 1933.
sons for this great Mayan exodus are not fully understood. Some
of the causes cited are climatic changes that made the region unfit
for human occupancy, internal strife, foreign invasion, disease, and
the depletion of soil fertility. In the new Mayan region develop-
ment was slow until about 1004 A. D., when the three largest city-
states-Chichin Itzi, Uxmal, and Mayapan-formed a triple
alliance under the name of the League of Mayapan. Prosperity,
brought about by this league, revived interest in art and architec-
In the course of time tribes from other parts of Mexico, particu-
larly from the Valley of Anahuac, entered Yucatan. Not only did
they add to the social problems, but they also materially complicated
the political situation. Civil wars followed, and by the time of the
coming of the Spaniards, Yucatan was greatly reduced in import-
The Incas. In a region of infinite contrasts, with the intervening
plateaus, valleys, and flanks of the lofty Andes, with a coastal desert
on the west, and rainy, tropical lands on the east, the Incas built a
great empire. Students of ancient cultures have compared the re-
nown of Inca civilization with that of the realms of Alexander,
Caesar, Charlemagne, and Napoleon. Unlike the Mayas, the Incas
were not a homogeneous people. It is recorded that in 1100 A. D.
the Incas were a small tribe of Quechua-speaking llama herders,
living near Cuzco. In the course of time, from 1100 A. D. to the
middle of the fifteenth century, Incaland extended from Ecuador
to central Chile. The golden age of this civilization is said to have
been reached in 1450.
Inca ruins disclose material evidence of their culture, including
knitting utensils, earthen jars, viculia-wool fabric, and ornaments of
gold, silver, or shells. Among the profusion of architectural struc-
tures still in existence stand the stupendous megolithic masonry of
Fort Sacsahuaman above Cuzco and the walls of Machu Picchu.
The Inca architecture in which balance and proportion seem to have
been the main objectives is more massive and less ornate than the
Mayan buildings. Of course all construction was done without
machines, and the only tools were the inclined plane, the crowbar,
probably the pulley, and stone and bronze hammers and knives.
Reservoirs, irrigation forms, and roads are other lasting records of
the Incas. Apparently roads or trails were given particular atten-
tion, for traces of them still exist throughout Incaland.
In the field the Inca farmer used plows of wood and a variety of
tools for weeding and cultivating. Adobe for the walls and thatch
for the roofs constituted the building materials for most of the
houses. The knotted-string recorder, or quipus, was used for
arithmetical calculations and narratives, and even today the llama
herder may count his flock by means of this ancient recorder. The
sundial was one of the methods used by the Incas to determine the L
position of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the seasons of the year.
However, the hieroglyphic writings of the Mayas were not used by
Courtesy Pan American Union.
Fig. 7. Incan Walls, Cuzco, Peru.
the Incas. The geographer should be interested to know that the
Incas used relief maps made of clay, on which the natural features
of their realms were represented. Not only does archaeological
evidence index the early lands of the Incas, but their descendants
give proof. For today the population in the Inca region of the past
consists of 65 per cent Indian (descendants of Incas' subjects), 39
per cent mixed blood, and the remainder of pure Spanish blood.
The Aztecs. The character and works of the Aztecs are better
known than those of the Mayas or Incas. Elaborate collections of
Aztec relics are on display in Mexico's National Museum of Archae-
ology, History, and Ethnology. Most impressive is the Aztec
Calendar Stone or Stone of the Sun, a huge 24-ton monolith of
basaltic porphyry with intricate markings, believed to have been
used to determine the seasons and to tell the farmers when to sow
and reap their corn. Mexico City contains other works of the Aztec
period, including the so-called floating garden, or Zochimilco, located
a few miles from the capital; and causeways, dikes, and irrigation
forms. This ancient race excelled in agriculture, in gold- and silver-
smith's art, in wood carving, and in the making of turquoise mosaics
and featherwork. The Aztecs spun and wove cotton; made baskets,
sandals, and pottery; and tanned skins. One of their many admir-
able traits, which has been handed down to modern Mexico, is their
love for flowers. In addition, many of the present-day ornaments
of gold, silver, wood, and feathers also reflect the influence of the
artistic Aztec designs and symbols. The Aztec was truly a warrior,
often referred to as the American Roman, but he was also a builder
and a lover of the finer things of life.
From this discussion of the pre-Columbian Indian one might get
the impression that all Indian works are superb and that all Indian
qualities are good. Such a conclusion would be erroneous. One
should not forget, however, that colonial domination subdued, and
in many cases actually destroyed, a progressive Indian society, par-
ticularly in what are now the lands of Mexico and Peru. Every
effort should be expended to preserve Indian traditions, Indian
artistic individuality, Indian skills, and Indian patience and perse-
verance. Indians, like all other peoples, merit the rights of human
Early immigration. In earlier days only Portuguese were ad-
mitted to Brazil. In fact, until the close of the colonial period, in
1808, vessels from other nations were forbidden to enter her harbors,
except under special permit. Until the close of the nineteenth cen-
tury, immigration to Brazil was almost exclusively Portuguese. In
the last 50 years, however, several colonies of Germans, Russians,
and Letts have arrived, and colonies of Japanese have been wel-
comed in the Amazon region and the state of Sio Paulo. During
this period large numbers of Italians have made their homes in
southern Brazil, as have numerous Spanish, German, Syrian, Greek,
and Turkish colonists. At the close of the Civil War in the
United States a few thousand North Americans found their way to
the state of Sao Paulo. Their descendants have been almost en-
tirely assimilated into the general population.
As in the Portuguese colony, only Spanish colonists entered the
Spanish territories, though small numbers of persons of other
nationalities participated as soldiers of fortune in the struggles
for independence. During the past hundred years, however, there
has been very little immigration into the west coast countries of
Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and almost none to Colombia, Vene-
zuela, and Mexico. Indigenous populations have developed in
these countries, with relatively little infusion of fresh Spanish blood.
On the eastern coast, in the south particularly, immigration has
been steady and increasingly voluminous. Italians especially have
entered this region in Argentina. This nation almost threatens to
become an Italian rather than a Spanish country.
Immigration from Europe thus tends to avoid the tropics, finding
CULTURAL HERITAGE 13
its way principally to the southern ports on the Atlantic coast, and
from there passing slowly into the interior. The large cities of the
south Atlantic are distinctively European. Buenos Aires, Monte-
video, and Sdo Paulo are almost entirely white. Rio de Janeiro is
largely white-more than half so, at any rate. The port cities of
entry for immigrants normally retain great numbers of those who
arrive, despite every encouragement by governmental authorities
and by the railways, who have offered colonists free land, trans-
portation, and financial backing if they would settle in the interior.
Of course, it is possible that the direction of immigration may
change. A wave may some day flow toward the Bolivian Yungas,
the Peruvian Montafia, or the interior of Brazil-no one knows.
African Negroes. The cultural and numerical strength of the
Negro in the Americas to our south seems to have been ignored or
not adequately recognized. While complete records are not avail-
able, probably there are not less than 23,000,000 Negroes in these
southern lands, distributed as follows:
Mexico .............. ............... ... .... 300,000
Central America ....................... .. .... 638,000
West Indies ................... ........... 8,085,000
Brazil ....................... .......... 12,870,000
Other regions ................ ......... ........ 1,800,000
In the United States, the Negro population exceeds 12,000,000,
and in Africa the members of the black race total more than
160,000,000. Early in the sixteenth century, the Spanish Crown
was urged to legalize the importation of slaves as a substitute for
the labor of Indians in mining and agriculture. The first slaves are
said to have arrived in Espafiola about 1502. Portuguese, Spanish,
French, English, and Dutch companies-all shipped slaves to the
West Indies, North America, parts of northern South America, the
Guianas, and Brazil. From these coastal points the slaves were
sent to the sugar, cotton, coffee, and tobacco plantations; to mining
camps; and to domestic service in homes. Probably as many as
5,000,000 slaves reached the shore of northeastern Brazil, and it is
reported that a far greater number landed in the West Indies-the
two regions, at present, with a population dominantly Negro or
mixed black and white." African Negro culture is reflected in the
fine arts, music, and sciences. In Brazil, Negro singers and musi-
cians practically dominate the radio programs. They are justly
recognized for their ability. Many have achieved fame as com-
3 Arthur Ramos, The Negro in Brazil, translated from the Portuguese by Richard
Pattee, The Associated Publishers, Washington, D. C., 1939, p. 6. The estimate of
Negro immigrants-5,000,000-is probably too high.
posers. Through the humid tropical lands of the Americas, the
Negro and new ethnic groups of mixed races are growing in numbers,
as well as in social, political, and economic power.
Recent immigration. Between 1820 and 1930, nearly 41/ million
immigrants entered Brazil, more than were admitted by any other
American nation except the United States and Argentina. The
immigrants came from a number of European countries and, more
recently, from Asia also. The 4 million immigrants who landed
in Brazil within the above period of 110 years were distributed by
nationalities as follows: Italians, 34.5 per cent; Portuguese, 30.0
per cent; Spaniards, 12.2 per cent; Germans, 3.5 per cent; and
others, 19.8 per cent. The number of German aliens and Brazilians
of German birth or of German-born parents in Brazil today has been
estimated to total 2 million. It was not until 1908 that the first
Japanese colonists arrived in Brazil. In 1934, the Japanese statis-
tics showed that some 873,000 Japanese were settled in foreign
countries; Brazil, with 173,500 persons, held second place, preceded
only by China. Today the Japanese in Brazil number some 200,000.
Since 1872 the total population of Brazil has increased from 10,-
112,000 to 42,000,000 in 1940.
During the colonial period, the growth of population in the lands
of Argentina was slow, and few immigrants arrived. In 1810, at the
beginning of the period of independence, the total population of
Argentina amounted to about 400,000, almost entirely Spanish, and
in 1940 the number was approximately 13,000,000. The difference
between arrivals and departures of immigrants according to na-
tionality from 1857 to 1939 is as follows:
Nationality Numbers Per Cent
Italian ........................................ 1,474,680 42.4
Spanish ................. ...................... 1,143,339 32.9
Russian and Polish ......................... 265,836 7.6
German and Austro-Hungarian ................ 132,739 3.8
Ottoman ................ ..................... 108,353 3.1
French .................................... 105,468 3.0
British .................................... 14,685 0.4
Others ....................................... 233,841 6.7
The foreign population in Argentina amounts to approximately
2,500,000 inhabitants, of which 780,000 are Italians and 50,000 are
In addition to Brazil and Argentina, the only other countries
4 Carlos Luzzetti Estevarena: "Ethnical Composition of the Population of Argen-
tina," Pan American Union Bulletin, Vol. 75 (1941), p. 626.
which have received a considerable number of immigrants are Cuba,
1,262,000 (1903-1932) and Uruguay, 510,000 (1900-1937).
The future. If one takes into consideration the current birth
rate, and also the fact that only limited numbers of immigrants are
arriving each year in certain favored parts of Latin America, one
may forecast the future racial complexion of the different areas with
a high degree of accuracy.
Argentina, Uruguay, southern Brazil, and the great central
Brazilian plateau will become increasingly a white man's land; here
the Indians will probably decrease in number and importance. The
Pacific countries, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia, will become
the home of an increasingly homogeneous amalgamation of the
existing Spanish and Indian races, tending toward the predominance
of the Indian. Chile, particularly its central valley, will remain
largely white. The northern and northeastern coasts of Colombia,
Venezuela, the Guianas, and far north Brazil will become areas of
increasingly homogeneous combinations of the prevailing white and
Indian races, with considerable proportions of Negro blood, unless
the Negroes come in larger numbers from the Caribbean islands-a
distinct possibility. The eastern coast of Brazil north of Rio de
Janeiro will remain heavily Negro, and the far interior valleys and
plateaus will remain predominantly Indian. There never has been,
there is not now, and probably there never will be a homogeneous
race of people on the South American continent. Middle America
will become more and more a land of peoples of mixed races: Negro
and white in the West Indies and white and Indian in Mexico and
What, now, about the industrial and economic efficiency of Latin
America when examined in terms of races? If the Negro and the
Indian races are not industrially proficient, we may anticipate that
where they predominate in the population there will not be any
great industrial advance. If European emigration brings to Latin
America races which are not economically and industrially proficient
in their homelands, we may expect that they will not become effi-
cient in Latin America-unless climatic and other geographic factors
stimulate them, and unless sufficiently pronounced social stimuli
appear in their new environments to inspire such efficiency. At the
present time the Italian and the German seem to be the industrial
pioneers on the southern continent. They are locating primarily
in Argentina and central and south Brazil. Will their influence
and example be strong enough to carry along their less energetic
brethren of Spanish and Portuguese extraction? Present tendencies
seem to indicate that they will, and that this part of the continent,
besides continuing its production of raw materials for exportation,
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will increasingly manufacture goods to supply its own needs and the
needs of its neighbors. Central Chile also has an industrial and
cultural future of promise. Within its borders are descendants of
a Spanish ancestry drawn principally from the stronger races of
northern Spain; descendants of the Araucanians, the fiercest Indians
of primitive Americas; and thrifty Italian and German immigrants,
with some British. Mexico likewise is in a position to expand her
industrial activities. In all, however, Latin America will remain for
many years essentially a producer of raw materials for foreign and
domestic markets and limited industrial products for local consump-
The culture of a region may spring from one or several sources.
It may be endogenous-that is, derived from within itself. On the
other hand, it may be the result of diffusion, or importation, and
thus be acquired. It could be the result of integration or fusion.
In fact, culture could be the result of any one, or a combination, of
these sources. Apparently, the environmentalist is concerned with
endogenous or indigenous culture, which he may cite as the result
of the relations between man and his environment. Undoubtedly
he also recognizes that diffused or infused culture may likewise re-
flect environmental relationships.
In most regions a culture is dominantly of diffusion and infusion.
In the Americas, the cultural patterns and functions are peculiarly
variable and complex, and they clearly establish the above conten-
tion. In this respect let us first refer to the ancient Latins, whose
culture had been carefully and logically elaborated until in imperial
Rome it became exceedingly intricate. When the numbers of bar-
barians entering the Empire were too great to be controlled politi-
cally, they overthrew the Romans. But the culture of Rome
dominated, and parts of central and southern Europe became cul-
turally Latin. The penetrating power of this remarkable culture
was so pronounced that it not only conquered Spain and Portugal,
but through these peoples was transmitted to the New World. To
this day we speak of Latin America.
Notice, now, what actually happened in Latin America. Three
virile racial groups were involved-Indians, Europeans, Negroes.
There was little objection to intermarriage among them, especially
in the South Americas. Consequently fusion was rapid, although
never complete in any locality. Each race possessed its own cul-
ture and traditions, differing from those of the other races. Euro-
pean culture was by far the most complex and highly organized of
the three. In some respects it was exceedingly aggressive, as in
politics, religion, system of government, and the ownership of the
sources of wealth. Indian culture was passively resistant; Negro
culture showed patience and sociability. Both Indian and Negro
at times withstood the encroachments and demands of the European
with show of armed force, but neither made any serious attempt to
convert the European. -The European made every effort to force
certain aspects of his culture upon the others, notably his religion,
his language, his system of government, and his tendency to con-
gregate in urban centers.
Early efforts were made by Europeans to enslave the Indians.
Workmen were needed for the sugar plantations, and the dominant
Europeans wanted to be masters rather than to work with their
hands. Slavery of African Negroes and aborigines from the Cape
Verde and Canary Islands had existed in Spain and Portugal for a
century before the discoveries of Columbus. Consequently raids
were conducted, and Indians were captured and sold. When their
missionary protectors finally secured an imperial order forbidding
the enslavement of Indians, Negroes were imported to take their
place, and the missionaries who dared oppose the dominant eco-
nomic system were soon exiled from the scene.
But slavery in Latin America seldom became, after the first out-
burst of uncontrolled savagery, a brutal institution. Slaves were
simply the humbler folk who worked for their food and shelter
without wages. They were converted and became Christians.
They attended the same churches their masters attended. They
worshipped at the same altars. Fusion of culture among them was
certain to be rapid. After the first orgy of destruction by the un-
principled Conquistadores had passed, laws were enacted for the
protection of the Indians. Masters were in general as illiterate as
their slaves. They were equals in many respects, and because they
were equals there was very little restraint or hesitation about inter-
marriage. For these reasons the whole slave system was modified.
Although it existed in Latin America long after it was abolished in
the United States (slavery was ended in Greater Colombia in 1821,
but was not abolished in Brazil until 1888), it existed in a quite
modified form. Competent observers often remarked that the
system was dying out from its own weight.
Language. In the fusion of language which occurred, the Euro-
pean was victor. Throughout Brazil Portuguese is the universal
tongue, except among the Indian tribes in the far interior fastnesses,
which have never really been touched by the white man's type of
life. Throughout the remainder of the continent, except in the
Guianas, Spanish is the official language. In the villages, far from
civilization, large sections of the population are bilingual, using
both Spanish and a native tongue. The cities are primarily Portu-
guese or Spanish. Yet the language is not entirely that of the
mother country.. There are many important differences of pronun-
ciation, of vocabulary, of word usage. Many Indian idioms have
entered the local Portuguese and Spanish languages. Furthermore,
in portions of the Andean countries, particularly in Ecuador and
Bolivia, Indian dialects are spoken.
Agriculture. In agriculture, both climate and expediency forced
a compromise. Some plants, like the sugar cane, the coffee tree,
and some fruits of the intermediate latitudes, were brought in by the
settlers, as also were some strains of European vegetables. But the
banana, coconut, cacao, and any number of tropical fruits and nuts
were indigenous, and culture of these plants was taken over eagerly
by the Europeans, as also was the growing of numbers of vegetables,
such as manioc, maize, potatoes, pumpkins, beans, and tobacco.
Wool and cotton fibers were known to the Indians for centuries and
were widely used.
In the mode of agriculture, native and European methods were
employed side by side. The invaders taught the natives; the na-
tives taught the invaders. Among the Indians large plantations
were absolutely unknown. Agriculture was carried forward in a
very rudimentary manner, the work being done principally by
women using primitive tools. Fruit trees in general grew wild, and
what culture existed was elementary. Only on the Andean pla-
teaus was there an established agriculture in which nearly everyone
participated and where semi-scientific efforts were made to produce
better strains of plants. Andean lands were often community
owned and cultivated.
When the invaders settled down to make a business of agriculture,
they planted huge fields of sugar cane, cotton, rice, and other field
crops. They cleared immense areas for orange groves, bananas,
cacao, and coffee. At the present time these huge plantations exist
for the production of a single market crop, seldom diversified. They
employ costly modern machinery, generally imported. Alongside
the plantations are the small homes of the humble peasant work-
men, mostly peons, who make no effort to till more than the very
smallest plot of ground to produce absolutely necessary food.
Moreover, in areas far away from the infrequent means of trans-
portation, and back from the larger cities, there is no organized
agriculture at all.
Mining. Mining is now carried forward in the larger centers,
with the use of distinctively North American or European machin-
ery and methods, and quantity production is the rule. Vast areas
of mineral-producing lands are owned or leased by foreign capital,
except where local laws restrict such ownership. But prospectors
are numerous. Often they are scouts staked and paid by great
companies. When a district is opened, as through the discovery of
petroleum or gold, a new but not always permanent settlement is
Transportation and communication. Transportation has always
been difficult. The Indians had their trails through the primeval
forests and their canoes for use on the rivers. Throughout most of
the length and breadth of the continent these are still important
means of travel and transport. In most places the nature of the
countryside is such that the construction and maintenance of any
extensive railway or highway system would be economically pro-
hibitive. The old Indian trail, with burdens carried on the backs
Courtesy Pan Aimerican Union.
Fig. 9. A rural scene in Uruguay. The new and the old means of transportation.
of burros or men, is still the usual method of transport. Steamers
and launches are found on many of the navigable rivers, but vast
numbers of flat-bottomed boats, driven by paddles or by a single
sail of the style employed by the Indians for centuries, are still in
Railways and improved roads are costly and depend upon a large
population that wants to travel or has goods to dispatch. Through-
out Latin America public finances are for the most part low, and
funds with which to purchase railway equipment are lacking, except
in the southern part of the continent. Personal incomes are in
general small, and consequently railway fares have to be at a mini-
mum. The result is that few railways have as yet been constructed,
except in the more highly populated and prosperous regions. In
all of South America there are only 60,000 miles of tracks, as com-
pared with 250,000 miles in the United States. Two-thirds of the
continental mileage is concentrated in central Brazil and Argentina.
The cutting and maintenance of improved roads, wide enough
for vehicles, through tropical vegetation is difficult. In many places
trees and brush grow profusely and will destroy any road that can
be laid down unless constant maintenance is practiced. In other
places the terrain is rocky and sparsely settled-or there is no rock
at all with which to ballast roads. In still other places the moun-
tainous nature of the countryside forbids the construction of any-
thing but trails. Then, too, wide roads presuppose wheeled vehi-
cles, and improved roads imply automobiles, neither of which are
dominant. Where people ride muleback or horseback, and where
animals are cheap and wagons or cars are costly, it is easy to use the
primitive trails that have existed for centuries. Thus the primitive
and the modern method of transportation are found side by side.
Courtesy C. Maxwell.
Fig. 10. Nambikura Indian huts near Cuiab6, Brazil.
Regarding transportation there are two theories. One advocates
waiting until population densities permit the systems to be opened,
primarily at the cost of the local population. The other theory
advocates building highways and railroads in advance of population,
at the cost of the state, to open new areas to settlement and to
stimulate the movement of population and goods. Throughout
Latin America the tendency has been to construct in advance of
needs. Today the increasing development of airplane service has
effectively overcome some of the past obstacles encountered on land
The postal service, the telegraph, and now the radio and wireless
are, of course, the creations of modern civilization, as are also the
steamship lines along the coast or on navigable rivers. These
services are now almost universally available.
The aboriginal cultures had none of the advantages of the machine
age. In most Latin American countries modern services are now
well provided and thoughtfully administered. Except in populous
areas, they are operated at an annual deficit, which is absorbed by
the government. The principal cities have excellent streetcar
service, although the systems are usually owned and operated by
Architecture. In architecture the same imperfect fusion of three
cultures that was detected in agriculture and transportation is to be
seen. Some of the larger cities have buildings that are reminiscent
of Paris or Madrid or Atlanta. A few larger places are tending
Courtesy Moore-McCormack Lines.
Fig. 11. Palacio Salvo, Montevideo, facing Plaza Independencia.
toward the North American skyscraper city. In Sdo Paulo, Rio de
Janeiro, Lima, Montevideo, and other cities are department stores
that remind one to some extent of the stores in medium-sized urban
centers of the United States. There are municipal theaters and
libraries and museums in some of the capital cities that are dis-
tinctly Parisian in their magnificence and interest. Factories
operated usually by electricity remind one of the factories of Cleve-
land or prewar Turin. The architectural pattern for these larger
buildings, of whatever type, is distinctly a European or American
contribution, not aboriginal.
The architecture of the homes is somewhat different, for it is more
adapted to climatic demands. When Portuguese or Spanish family
groups began to arrive and settle in urban centers or in the country,
they brought with them ideals of construction from the homeland.
In the cities and towns, and even in the open country, one may see
large numbers of these homes, adapted to tropical or subtropical
conditions, but still reflecting the architectural ideals of the old
country. The rooms are usually large, airy, and well shaded. The
walls are thick and plastered both inside and outside. Roofs are
tiled; many windows are barred; gardens are cultivated and filled
with beautiful flowers. A general air of aristocratic comfort per-
vades these homes. In the cities many modern conveniences have
been introduced. Electricity, gas, running water, and sewage sys-
tems are features found in large cities, but not yet widely introduced
in smaller towns or rural areas. Even in the best of the older homes
the floor boards are usually wide and rough. Doors and windows
are of simple hand construction, not milled. In the cities the
gardens and yards are surrounded by high brick walls, sometimes
topped with broken glass set on edge in a cement base, as a guarantee
of seclusion and a protection against thieves. The architecture of
these homes is distinctively Spanish or Portuguese.
(ourtcsy American Gcographical Socicty.
Fig. 12. A modern home in the Isle of Pines, Cuba.
Close to these attractive homes are the homes of the poorer
classes-usually with adobe walls, of one or two rooms, frequently
unplastered, with dirt floors, unglazed windows, and doors like those
seen on sheds in the United States. These poorer-class homes are
a compromise between the humbler Spanish home and the mud
village of the Indian. In larger cities carefully planned building
codes now make impossible the construction of any but sanitary and
attractive homes, so that in the future these picturesque but un-
wholesome humbler constructions will finally disappear from the
cities. In rural areas there is no code and consequently no control.
Native simplicity and foreign style in dress. In dress there is
the same tendency to compromise between native simplicity and
foreign style. In the cities, among those who have come into con-
tact with European models, the dress is the same as that of Europe
or of the United States. Officialdom in Latin America dresses much
more elaborately than do people of the same social scale in other
places. Frock coats, canes, and other marks of the London or Pari-
sian gentleman are much in evidence. At the opera there is a blaze
of colorful European dress, on the part of both men and women, that
is very striking.
But the laboring man wears his cord sandals, his simple cotton
trousers, and his shirt that does not tuck in. His wife is dressed
modestly and comfortably in simple peasant style. On the western
coast the enveloping shawl of the Indian is the dominant aspect of
many a street and market scene, as undoubtedly it has been for
many centuries past. In some places the mantilla and the high-
back comb of Spain are still the predominant public style for well-
Customs. In customs, folklore, and religion there has been a
more complete and apparent fusion of culture patterns, with a dis-
appearance of the main outlines of the simpler native modes and
mores, and a dominance of the European system. That is, although
the outlines are European, many of the details are native or Negro.
In the early colonial days many of the newcomers were dominated
by an intense religious enthusiasm. They felt it a divine duty to
convert the aborigines to the Christian faith. Later, when Negroes
were imported, it was a feeling that slavery could be justified only
when the slaves had an opportunity to receive the benefits of the
Christian faith. Therefore, every effort was put forth by priests
and other missionaries for their conversion, a process in which many
slave owners wholeheartedly cooperated. The venerable "missions"
of various places in both North and South America are standing
testimonials to the zeal of these representatives of the Church.
Ideals of aristocracy. The prevalent ideals of aristocracy indi-
cate an interesting fusion of cultures of the three races. Among the
Indians there was never any antipathy to a community of work and
a community of rewards of labor. All the Negroes were slaves and
toilers. The European of the adventurer class never looked upon
manual labor or the humbler callings of life with anything but
disfavor. Now, in the United States, men of the professional classes
will, after office hours, don their old clothes, and so will their wives.
Together they will potter about the yard and the garden, dig in the
dirt, build fences, paint, or do any number of tasks that bring them
a sense of welcome relief from the mental strains of the day. Span-
ish or Portuguese professional men would seldom think of doing
anything of the sort. It would be beneath their dignity. A pro-
fessional gardener is employed to care for the lawns and flowerbeds
of half a dozen families. Workmen of various sorts are called in
for the other chores in which North American professional men
would take delight.
White folk, or those predominantly white, of the upper class have
always been the owners, the directors, the controllers, and they have
been served by the humbler colored folk. White men have become
the physicians, lawyers, government employees, university teachers,
army officers, and merchant princes. (Of course, there has always
been a large class of Portuguese and Spanish farmers and laborers
in Latin America, but we are not here speaking of them.) The
result of this uppercrust attitude has been the development of a
very distinct class consciousness on the part of large numbers of
people. Every family living in even moderate comfort keeps a
servant or two. In the occupations also there are sharp lines of
cleavage. The seamstress or elementary school teacher or the most
humble office employee is socially far above the mechanic, the la-
borer, or those who serve in the homes.
In fact, one of the major problems in Latin America today is the
result of class distinctions between the so-called aristocratic minor-
ity and the masses of poor people. The middle class, so prominent
in the United States, does not exist in Latin America except in a
few limited areas.
Education. The tradition of higher education has never pro-
foundly influenced the mass of Latin American citizens. For
that matter, it has never deeply influenced the Spanish or Portu-
guese people in their own countries. An ideal of university educa-
tion and professional training has prevailed for the smaller group of
the upper classes, and there have been many notable examples of
brilliant authors and orators, artists and musicians, and some scien-
tists. But among the rank and file of folk there has never been a
thirst for knowledge or a deep desire to attend school or to send
their children to school.
University student groups are largely white. In this connection
it should be recalled that student groups in Latin American nations
take a much more active part in national affairs than do students in
the United States. The revolutions which shook all South Ameri-
can governments and resulted in the downfall of numerous dictators
in 1930-1932 were in at least six cases carried through by students
in the national universities.
Most of the earlier colonists were illiterate folk, deeply interested
in carving out a living, not in attending school. Until the time
when the colonies attained their independence, there was a strict
embargo on printing presses, and the importation of books was
severely controlled. Perhaps the kings in Europe realized the
danger of freedom of the press, for they effectually prevented the
importation of printing machinery into the provinces-except for
the little that was smuggled in occasionally. Neither the Indians
nor the Negroes had any educational ideals, as North Americans
understand them. Consequently, in the fusion of cultures which
followed the fusion of the races, there has never been any great
demand for an elaborate educational system. The normal urge that
the European colonists brought was diluted in their mixed-blood
Citizens of Latin American nations, however, are deeply in-
terested in public life and current events. Newspapers there carry
numerous serious articles dealing with government activities and
finances. Social questions are discussed on their merits, not only
on editorial pages, but throughout the paper. Foreign trade, taxes,
tariffs, industrial processes-all are given abundant space. The
scent for "news" of a spectacular flavor that appears to dominate
a large section of the press of the United States is strikingly absent
from the leading papers of Latin America. Screaming headlines
are almost unknown.
Groups of people meet on the street corners or in front of cafes
to discuss political, social, or economic questions-or even principles
of education, philosophy, and religion. There is a solidity to the
conversation of mature Latin Americans, particularly the whites,
that is refreshing. Their interest in national and world affairs is
strikingly like that of thoughtful English groups.
Many efforts have been made to establish and promote elemen-
tary schools for the masses, and they are becoming increasingly
successful despite the cost and other difficulties, and notwithstand-
ing the general disinterestedness of the common people in education.
There have always been some private schools, and the governments
have promoted secondary schools in all the principal cities, usually
for the preparation of elementary school teachers. There have
always been, from the earliest days, professional schools of medicine,
law, theology, and military science, attended by sons of the aris-
tocracy. Seldom have they been organized into a university or
college in the North American sense of the word. In recent years
there have appeared agricultural colleges and schools of mines that
have made great strides. There are nearly 300 periodicals dealing
with agricultural interests, some 250 agricultural educational in-
stitutions, 200 experiment stations, and 700 agricultural societies
scattered throughout Latin America. The practical utility of this
type of education is clear.
With the racial heritage what it is (and this is no reflection upon
it whatsoever), there probably never will be a great wave of en-
thusiasm for popular education throughout most of Latin America
unless it be in that part of the continent which is predominantly
European in its racial complexion. The governments have estab-
lished schools and in some cases require children to attend. But
the people themselves have not clamored for educational oppor-
Personalities. Visitors to our neighbors comment upon the
politeness, courtesy, and gentility of the people they meet. The
source of this almost universal characteristic is deep seated and
fundamental. It lies in the fusion of the three races under the
directing control of Europeans. The Indians seem to have been by
nature kindly and considerate of their friends, grave and self-
restrained, given to hospitality. The Negroes appear to have been
in general kindhearted and carefree, just as representatives of the
same race have been in the United States. The Europeans con-
tributed the culture pattern of courtesy. In the fusion of the three
races a resultant race has appeared combining the qualities of all
three original ones. The inherent qualities of the three races gave
to these culture forms a sincerity and meaningfulness which is re-
markable. To a North American, accustomed as he is to so much
brusqueness, this Latin American consideration and quiet courtesy
are refreshing. It is so surprising and so genuine that North Ameri-
can tourists and businessmen have sometimes taken advantage of it.
Some are demanding and thoughtless in their expression toward
native Latin Americans. Consequently they may leave behind
them unpleasant feelings and an unwholesome attitude toward the
United States and her citizens in general. Indeed, a good deal of
the criticism which the Latin Americas level against so-called
"Yankee Imperialism" would disappear if Americans visiting these
southern nations would be personally more considerate.
SErnesto Nelson: "A Problem for the Americas," Points of View, No. 5 (1942),
translated by Clarabcl H. Wait, Division of Intellectual Co6peration, Pan American
Union, Washington, D. C.
Benedict, R. F.: Patterns of Culture, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1934.
Benedict, R. F.: Race: Science and Politics, Modern Age, New York, 1940.
Boas, Franz: Race, Language, and Culture, Macmillan, New York, 1940.
Carlson, F. A.: "American Settlement in the Isla de Pinos, Cuba," Geographical
Review, Vol. XXXII (1942), pp. 21-35.
Grubb, K. G.: The Lowland Indians of Amazonia, World Dominion Press, Lon-
Hill, Lawrence F.: "Confederate Exiles to Brazil," Hispanic American Historical
Review, Vol. 7 (May, 1927), pp. 192-210.
Holdridge, Desmond: "Toledo: A Tropical Refugee Settlement in British Hon-
duras," Geographical Review, Vol. XXX (1940), pp. 376-393.
Interamerican Statistical Yearbook, 1940, Macmillan, New York, 1941.
James, Preston E.: Latin America, Odyssey, New York, 1942.
Jefferson, Mark: "An American Colony in Brazil," Geographical Review, Vol.
XVIII (1928), pp. 226-231.
Joyce, Thomas A.: South American Archaeology, The Medici Society of America,
Joyce, Thomas A.: Mexican Archaeology, The Medici Society of America, Boston,
Joyce, Thomas A.: Central American and West Indian Archaeology, The Medici
Society of America, Boston, 1916.
Karsten, Rafael: The Civilization of the South American Indians, Knopf, New
Latin American Backgrounds, a bibliography, National Education Association of
the United States, Washington, D. C., 1941.
"Latin American Migration Statistics," Commercial Pan America (No. 87), Pan
American Union, 1939.
Mason, Gregory: South of Yesterday, Holt, New York, 1940.
Maurette, Fernand: Some Social Aspects of Present and Future Economic De-
velopment in Brazil, Series B, No. 25, International Labor Office, Geneva,
Means, Philip A.: "The Incas: Empire Builders of the Andes," National Geo-
graphic Magazine (February, 1938), pp. 225-264.
Moll, Aristides A.: "Disease and Population in Latin America," Bulletin of
the Pan American Union, Vol. LXXV (August, 1941), pp. 469-475; (Sep-
tember, 1941), pp. 537-541.
Morley, S. G.: "Yucatin, Home of the Gifted Maya," National Geographic
Magazine (November, 1936), pp. 591-644.
Petrullo, Vincenzo: "Ancient Civilizations of America," Bulletin of the Pan
American Union, Vol. LXIX (March, 1935), pp. 169-182.
Pioneer Settlement, American Geographical Society, special publication No. 14,
New York, 1932.
Platt, R. L.: Latin America, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1943.
Price, A. Grenfell: White Settlers in the Tropics, American Geographical Society,
special publication No. 23, New York, 1939.
Price, A. Grenfell: "White Settlement in the Panama Canal Zone," Geographical
Review, Vol. XXV (1935), pp. 1-11.
Publications on Latin American Geography in 1938, Harvard University Press,
Radin, Paul: Indians of South America, Doubleday, Doran, New York, 1942.
30 LATIN AMERICA
Ramos, Arthur: The Negro in Brazil (translated from the Portuguese by Richard
Pattee), The Associated Publishers, Washington, D. C., 1939.
Roberts, Frank H. H., Jr.: "In the Empire of the Aztecs," National Geographic
Magazine (June, 1937), pp. 725-750.
Rosenblatt, Angel: El desarrollo de la Poblaci6n Indigena de Am6rica, Tierra
Firma, Madrid, No. 1 (1935), pp. 115-133; No. 2, pp. 117-148.
Schurz, William L.: Latin America, Dutton, New York, 1941.
Shattuck, G. C.: The Peninsula of Yucatan, Carnegie Institution of Washington,
Washington, D. C., 1933.
Spinden, H. J.: Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America, American
Museum of Natural History, New York, 1928.
Stirling, Matthew W.: "America's First Settlers, The Indians," National Geo-
graphic Magazine, Vol. 72 (November, 1937), pp. 535-596.
Stonequist, E. V.: The Marginal Man, Scribner, New York, 1937.
Wilgus, A. C., and d'Eca, Raul: Outline-History of Latin America, revised and
enlarged, Barnes & Noble, New York, 1941.
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second edition, 1938.
Wissler, C.: The American Indian, third edition, Oxford University Press, New
One of the fundamental characteristics of "the nation," as of life
itself, is its dynamic property of change-of constantly altering its
expression and course. National position is due not only to in-
herent factors but also to the effects of exotic forces. One of the
miseries of the doctrine of isolation is its blindness in not seeing the
rest of the world. Knowing how life and regions differ and change
from one part of the world to another is a primary principle of
The rise and fall of empires in the old world is well known, and
we have referred to similar changes in the pre-Columbian times of
the new world, as in the realms of the Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs.
Now let us examine in sequence the political patterns of Latin
America since the beginning of the European conquest.
Colonial lands. In the fifteenth century Portugal was deeply
interested in locating a route to India around the southern tip of
Africa, whereas at that time Spain's objective was to discover a
westward route. These efforts were mainly due to the closing of
the overland routes from south Europe to the east by the Moham-
medan powers. When the discoveries by Columbus were made
known, there was some fear of strife between Spain and Portugal
because papal bulls had granted the Portuguese the rights to lands
that might be found in the region of New Guinea and southward-
probably the region that Columbus assumed he had discovered. To
prevent a clash between the Iberian rulers, the Pope, at the request
of the Spanish sovereign, drew an imaginary line from north to
south through the Atlantic Ocean and awarded to Portugal the
lands on the African side of the line and to Spain the lands on the
side toward the west. This line, drawn 100 leagues west of the
Azores and Cape Verde Islands, included for Portugal, as was dis-
covered later, only a small segment of the eastern coast of South
America. But it did award the eastern Indian route to Portugal
and the western route to Spain.
In a revision of the treaty made one year later, known as the
Treaty of Tordesillas, the Line of Demarcation was changed from
S. I .LL
RIO -W A
PI '~'L ~~ ~,~L.IL. DrA.,GO
Fig. 13. A late sixteenth-century (1587) mop of South America, from a manuscript atlas by Joan Martines, in the
Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid. (From a copy in the Library of Congress.) "The world's a great book and they that never
stir from home read only a page."-St. Austin.
100 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands to 370 leagues west,
Portugal to possess the lands to the east and Spain those to the
west. This new provision added to Portugal's share a great deal
more territory in the New World that had not yet been discovered,
later to become known as Brazil; it left the remainder of the conti-
nent to Spain. This.treaty, made in 1494, explains in part why
South America is primarily divided into two clearly defined lan-
guage groups: Brazil speaks the Portuguese tongue, and nearly all
of the remainder of the continent speaks Spanish.
The Lines of Demarcation established by the Pope reached from
north to south in a straight sweep, but as soon as man began his
activities in the New World, the boundary between the Spanish
and Portuguese lands became an irregular line. The theoretical
boundaries represent the work of man without consideration of the
nature of the landscape, while the actual boundary, the one now in
existence, is the joint product of man and his environment.
Spain and Portugal maintained faithfully the obligations en-
tailed by the treaty of 1494, and there were never any serious con-
flicts between them. Other nations, particularly the Protestant
countries, the Netherlands and England, refused to recognize the
right of the Pope thus to make presents of the new continent to
Spain and Portugal and started explorations of their own to discover
a passage through the new land mass toward India, working espe-
cially in the far north.
Later, when Aztec and Inca wealth began to flow toward Spain
in huge but poorly defended vessels, buccaneers began the pleasant
task of intercepting the galleons. Thus was initiated the reign of
the freebooters. Even France did not like to see her neighbors to
the southwest take all the New World to themselves, and began
a clandestine commerce in the precious red dyewood, or pau brazil,1
which existed abundantly in the forests of eastern South America.
A century later she began to colonize the lower Mississippi and
the St. Lawrence Valleys, thereby creating the Old French South
of New Orleans and the New French Quebec, which have remained
French to some extent in custom and language to this day.
Both the British and the Dutch established colonies on the North
Atlantic seaboard, which undertakings gave to the future United
States its predominantly Nordic complexion. The Netherlands at-
1 "A terra do pau brazil."--Early in the history of the New World a beautiful red
dyewood was discovered, to which the Portuguese gave the name pau brazil because
of its resemblance in color to red-hot coals. This wood brought a high price in
European markets, especially in France, and consequently foreign vessels came
expressly to procure it. These ships became known as visiting "a terra do pau brazil."
Gradually the phrase was shortened to "a terra do brazil," and in 1530 this became
officially the name of the new land.
tempted to establish a colony in what has become the state of
Pernambuco, on the eastern coast of Brazil. The French made
several desultory attempts to establish colonies on the Portuguese
lands around Rio de Janeiro, but in every case they were unsuc-
cessful. The island of Villegagnon, in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro,
perpetuates the name of a famous French soldier and gentleman
who for a time directed the destinies of the region as a colony of
All three nations succeeded in establishing and holding colonies
along the northern coast of South America. These have since come
to be known as the Dutch, French, and British Guianas. And, in
the course of time, certain of the smaller islands in the Caribbean
Sea fell under the influence of these powers, notably Jamaica and
Trinidad, which became British territory; Martinique and Guade-
loupe, which became French; and Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire,
which became Dutch. The larger islands of the West Indies were
unequally divided between the great powers of France and Spain
at the close of the colonial period. During the wars for independ-
ence in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Portugal lost
all her possessions in the New World and Spain all her continental
possessions; and, as a result of the war with the United States in
1898, Spain lost the last of her island possessions in the Western
After Columbus' initial voyage to the New World in 1492, other
adventurers, mainly Spanish, immediately followed into the Indies
and to the continent immediately beyond. Columbus himself
made four trips to the New World and for a time was Spanish
governor. Within a quarter century at least 25 Spanish colonies
were established in the West Indies. In 1513 Balboa, with a large
number of Spanish and Indians, crossed Panama and first viewed
the Pacific Ocean, opening a new and intriguing field for further
exploration. In 1519 Cortes reached the Valley of Mexico and
stumbled upon the vast accumulated wealth of the Aztecs.
The sudden acquisition of this fabulous store of the precious
metals electrified Europe. In the 40 years immediately following,
parties of explorers reached Peru and central Chile to the south,
establishing colonies along the way; passed north to San Francisco,
travelling by way of the Pacific Ocean; mapped most of the coast
of the Gulf of Mexico; explored a large part of the southern Missis-
sippi Valley; and passed north from Mexico up the Colorado River
to the interior of what is now Kansas. Several parties even entered
Florida, some of them passing north as far as the Carolinas.
In 1516 Juan de Solis discovered the estuary of the La Plata
system, but he was killed by hostile Indians. So deadly was the
hostility of the Indian tribes that not until 20 years later was it
possible to establish a colony sufficiently strong to become perma-
In 1519 Fernio de Magalhies, a Portuguese in the employ of
Spain, undertook to discover a passage he believed to exist through
the unexplored land mass to the south. Late in 1520 he actually
discovered such a passage, sailed through it, and continued on his
way across the Pacific waters. Two years later the remnants of
his little expedition, reduced to one small vessel, returned to Spain,
having achieved the first circumnavigation of the earth. Magal-
hies himself was killed by savages in the Philippine Islands, which
he named for King Philip of Spain. His name, in its English form
of Magellan, was given to the strait he discovered.
Five years before Columbus made his epochal discovery, Portu-
guese navigators had made the first successful voyage to the Cape
of Good Hope, at the southern point of Africa. During the years
immediately following, the Portuguese continued intensively their
search for a route to India around this cape, and were so completely
convinced that it would be found that they paid little attention
to the discoveries to the west. In 1497 Vasco da Gama completed
the voyage around Africa, up its eastern side, and finally reached
Calcutta. Portugal thus achieved in actuality what Spain thought
she had attained, for at that time it had not yet dawned upon
anyone that the new lands opened up to the west were not the
outposts of the East Indies.
In 1500 a Portuguese expedition under the command of Pedro
Alvares Cabral began another voyage to India by way of Africa.
Sailing southward, they deliberately stood out at a distance from
the shore line. They sought to avoid both the tropical calms
experienced by previous expeditions and the fevers which had deci-
mated other parties that had stopped for water and wood or to
purchase slaves along the coast. Cabral planned to approach the
continent of Africa farther to the south. Caught by the westward
current along the equator, the party drifted unwittingly to the west,
and to their amazement, on April 21, 1500, when six weeks out from
Portugal, they discovered a new land. After a little further ex-
ploration to determine the character of the large island they believed
had been found, Cabral sent a ship back to Portugal with the news,
and continued on his way. Thus Portugal had, in addition to the
Treaty of Tordesillas, the actual discovery of lands upon which to
base her claim to territory in the New World.
Portuguese settlements. The Portuguese settlements on the
eastern side of the new continent were different from those of the
Spanish on the western side. In Europe the Portuguese nation had
carved out its own destiny and had become permanently separated
from the remainder of the Iberian peninsular peoples. The Portu-
guese were so separate that they developed a language and a distinct
racial psychology all their own. In the new world they settled
down to an agricultural type of civilization, while the Spanish new-
comers continued feverishly their search for mineral wealth.
Goode's Homolosine Projection, by permission of the University of Chicago Press. Colonial pattern
after Bolton-King Hispanic America Maps, by permission of Denoyer-Geppert Co.
Fig. 14. Colonial regions, 1556.
Owing in part to the fact that Brazil early became an agricultural
colony rather than one of a mineral-seeking people, to fundamental
differences between the Portuguese and Spanish peoples, to the dif-
ferent types of Indian races found on the eastern shores, to.the lack
of an early discovery of gold, to the nature of the landscape, and to
its comparatively late monarchical type of government, Brazil has
developed into a nation that shows marked differences from the
other countries of South America in government, folklore, customs,
Goode's Homolosine Projection, by permission of the University of Chicago Press. Colonial pattern
after Bolton-King Hispanic America Maps, by permission of Denoyer-Geppert Co.
Fig. 15. Colonial regions, 1800.
Spanish domain. Spanish South America was too large a terri-
tory to have a homogeneous population. The population was
relatively small, perhaps not more than 3 or 4 million all told by
1800, and was scattered over immense areas with poor transporta-
tion facilities. Before freedom was attempted, Spain had divided
her share of the New World into four administrative areas-La
Plata, Peru, and New Granada, on the south, west, and north, respec-
tively, of the southern continent; and New Spain in North America,
which included Mexico, Central America, and a considerable por-
tion of what is now southwestern United States.
The West Indies. For more than a century following the dis-
coveries of Columbus, the West Indies were in the possession of
Spain. It was not until the period from 1600-1700 that the Spanish
monopoly in the Caribbean was broken. In 1605 the English took
possession of Barbados and in the years immediately following
seized other small islands. By the middle of the seventeenth cen-
tury (1655) Jamaica fell into English hands. This event repre-
sented what was up to that time the major break in the Spanish
control of the West Indies. In the same century the French and
Dutch also acquired possessions in the Caribbean. The French
claims included a number of islands of the Antilles, from Grenada
on the south to "Santo Domingo" on the north, while the Dutch took
possession of a small group of islands off the coast of Venezuela.2
In the early colonial days some of the smaller islands, particularly
those of the Lesser Antilles, passed from nation to nation; the
transactors were the Spanish, Dutch, French, and English. During
the latter half of the nineteenth century, up to 1898, the political
pattern of the West Indies remained about the same: Cuba and
Puerto Rico were Spanish; the Bahamas and Jamaica were English;
two republics, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, occupied the
island of Haiti; the Leeward Islands were divided about equally
between France and Great Britain, with one small group, the Virgin
Islands, belonging to Denmark; the Windward Islands were en-
tirely British; and the Dutch held a small group of islands off the
northern coast of Venezuela.
Since 1898, the political history of the West Indies shows some
significant changes, with the entrance of a new nation, the United
States of America, into its political pattern. Following the
Spanish-American War, Spain ceded Cuba and Puerto Rico to the
United States. In 1902 Cuba was established as an independent
country; Puerto Rico, however, remained a possession of the
United States. In 1917 the United States purchased the Danish
Virgin Islands, including the islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and
The early days of independence. While the Spanish colonies
coSperated somewhat in their struggles for freedom, final success
was due largely to the personality of such outstanding military
2The Island called Santo Domingo is also known as Espafiola, Hispaniola, and
leaders as Bolivar, Miranda, and San Martin. The independence of
each section was achieved separately. This movement led, inevi-
tably, to the development of a num-
ber of separate nations. Bolivar
and some others wanted to estab-
lish monarchies with representa-
tives of European royalty on the
thrones, but this was not the sen-
timent of the people in general,
and the nations became republics.
Each was to be regulated by its own
constitution, governed by its own
citizens, with its own traditions and
background, and to be related to
the other nations on the continent
through the same diplomatic chan-
nels that democratic nations em-
ploy. In general the relations
with other nations on the continent Courtesy Pan American Union.
would be friendly-identity of Fig. 16. Francisco de Miranda.
language, of racial heritage, of
national problems would unite them into sentiments of friendship.
A number of factors, however, would serve to pull them apart.
The most important of these factors was isolation. Immense
distances separated the capitals.
The roads were mere trails for
pack animals or riders. There
were no telegraphs or "Associated
Press" service and few newspapers.
Again, the very intensity of local
problems of a frontier civilization
tended to make less colorful the
problems and happenings of other
frontier states. In the develop-
ment of a wholesome local and
regional society, the interests of
most small-town whites were satis-
fied, while the Negro and Indian
population, which was greatly in
the majority, was interested merely
in local village and agricultural life.
Still further, the white population
of each section had originated in Courtesy Pan American Union.
Old Spain and looked to the mother Fig. 17. Jos6 de San Martin.
country for its cultural contacts. Therefore, while contacts were
maintained with Europe and were multiplied as time passed, and
the bitterness of war was softened, intimate contacts were not
established with nations at home.
Two sources of international difficulty quickly arose. Disputes
over intersectional boundaries were inevitable, and there were
enough jingoes to make these disputes appear serious. Usually
they were settled through arbitration and mediation, but in two or
three especially bitter cases they led to serious wars. Military dic-
tators secured the presidency of each nation occasionally, and these
gentlemen provoked surrounding nations to war.
The new republics. After years of struggle and terrible hard-
ships, alternating between victories and defeats, independence from
Spain was finally secured by one country after another-approxi-
mately a third of a century after our American Revolution. Argen-
tina declared her independence in 1816 and succeeded in maintain-
ing it. Paraguay seceded in 1813, under the immediate influence
of Argentina. Chile freed herself of royalist Spanish forces in 1818,
Peru in 1821, and Bolivia in 1825.
Brazil was established as a monarchy in 1822 and in 1889 became
a republic. Uruguay was declared a part of Brazil in 1824, at-
tained her independence from that country, and became a separate
republic in 1828.
Bolivar ended Spanish domination in the north of South America
and in 1821 formed the Republic of Colombia, comprising roughly
the provinces of Venezuela, New Granada, and Ecuador. Panama
joined the union and became known as its Department of the
Isthmus. In 1831, the year following Bolivar's death, the union
was dissolved, and out of it emerged the separate republics of Vene-
zuela, Ecuador, and New Granada, the latter including Panama.
In 1861 New Granada was renamed the United States of Colombia
and later changed to the Republic of Colombia. Panama remained
as a department of Colombia until 1903, the year Panama became
an independent republic.3
In 1821, Guatemala and associated lands became a part of the
empire of Mexico. In 1823, the year Iturbide was forced from the
Mexican throne, Guatemala became a republic, and its congress
declared that the country should form an independent nation under
the title of Central American Federation, including the present
republics of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and
3 Colombia's declaration of independence dates from 1811 (Cartagena) or 1813
(BogotA); Venezuela's, 1811; that of Ecuador, 1820.
Costa Rica. The union, however, did not hold, and one by one
the states seceded, forming independent nations.
After a stormy period from 1813-1825, one of conquest, defeat,
and reconquest, Mexico's independence was finally established. A
war between the United States and Mexico, 1846-1848, resulted in
the cession of New Mexico and part of Texas to the United States.
A further adjustment in Mexico's northern boundary occurred in
1853, the year of the Gadsden Purchase. Only minor changes in
Mexico's political boundaries have been made since 1853.
From nationalism to internationalism. From the day of inde-
pendence to the beginning of the second World War in 1939, each
American state pursued its own course. For each nation, like you
or me, living and working in different lands, has its own objectives
and problems. Consequently, contrasting as well as similar forms
or personalities have developed, not only because of racial and
cultural heritage and environment, but also as a result of extra-
environmental factors. Unfortunately, the quest for security and
greatness resulted in the formation of highly nationalistic entities
which for the most part were totally unrelated. This ideology of
self-sufficiency now has been correlated with one of interdepend-
ence or internationalism. "For each America is fully aware of its
place in world affairs, and this realization will encourage each
nation to not only break down its walls of isolation but also to
preserve its own way of life."
Aikman, Duncan: The All-American Front. Doubleday, Doran, New York, 1941.
Haring, C. H.: South American Progress, Harvard University Press, Cambridge,
Herring, H.: Good Neighbors, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut,
James, H. G., and Martin, P. A.: The Republics of Latin America, Harper,
New York, 1923.
Map of Hispanic America (Scale 1:1,000,000), American Geographical Society,
Maps: The Hispanic America Series, Bolton, H. E., and King, James, Denoyer-
Geppert Co., Chicago, 1942.
A New Reference Map of Latin America, American Geographical Society, New
Robertson, W. S.: History of the Latin-American Nations, Appleton-Century,
New York, 1922.
Schurz, W. L.: Latin America, Dutton, New York, 1941.
Spykman, N. J.: America's Strategy in World Politics, Harcourt, Brace, New
United States Hydrographic Office, Navy Department, charts.
Whittlesey, D. S.: The Earth and the State, Holt, New York, 1939.
42 LATIN AMERICA
Wilgus, A. C.: The Development of Hispanic America, Farrar & Rinehart, New
Wilgus, A. C., and d'ECa, Raul: Outline-History of Latin America, revised and
enlarged, Barnes & Noble, New York, 1941.
Wilson, W. J.: "The Spanish Discovery of the South American Mainland," Geo-
graphical Review, Vol. 31 (1941), pp. 283-299.
The Land and Its Economy
General Survey. South America and North America are some-
what similar in their geological structure and physiographical pat-
tern. The highland of eastern Brazil includes an extensive area
of old formations, corresponding to the old rocks of the Appalachian
Highland of eastern United States. On the western margin of both
continents are recent formations, the Andes of South America and
the Rocky Mountains of North America. Between the mountain
systems of the two continents, the interior plains present a striking
Climatically, South America resembles Africa more closely than
it does North America. The larger portion of North America lies
in the intermediate latitudes, while both South America and Africa
have a broad expanse of territory within the low latitudes.
Because of the equatorial location, large areas of the coastal plains
and interior lowlands of South America are too hot or humid to
support an energetic population, while parallel sections of North
America are climatically well suited to human habitation. The
mountainous nature of that part of South America which is in low
latitudes, however, provides a series of high river valleys and
plateaus that are healthful and capable of sustaining a large popula-
tion. For instance, Ecuador has three-fourths of her population on
a partly enclosed plateau at an elevation of 8,000 to 10,000 feet
above sea level; Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is located on a
plateau rising more than 8,000 feet above the sea; and in Bolivia
72 per cent of the total population lives at an elevation of 6,000 to
14,000 feet above sea level. The upper Cauca Valley in Colombia
is the scene of thriving urban centers. The effect of altitude on
climate and human activities is further illustrated in Brazil by
striking contrasts between the coastal city, Santos, and the plateau
city, Sdo Paulo.
South of the Tropic of Capricorn, on the Atlantic Coastal Plain,
lies the export city of Santos, with a population of about 136,000
persons. Except for that part of the population which is engaged in
some aspect of the shipping business, the city is quiet, somnolent,
and tropical. There is activity enough on the docks, in the ware-
houses, the shipping offices, the banks, and the customs houses. At
certain times of the year and in some places the city takes on the
appearance of a seaside resort. But aside from these aspects there
is little activity.
Behind Santos rises a magnificent escarpment, the Serra do Mar
-the Mountain of the Sea-to a height of some 2,500 feet. It is
traversed by a splendid electric railway and a fine automobile road.
On top of the escarpment, in an erosional basin, lies the industrial
city of Sao Paulo, with slightly more than one million inhabitants,
more than a hundred factories operated by hydroelectric power, and
good schools and colleges, theaters, and stores-the seat of a thriving
Why the difference? Santos lies in the tropical lowlands, while
Sfo Paulo is situated on the more temperate upland. An enervat-
ing climate pervades the one, a bracing climate the other.
Some North Americans are unhappily inclined to look upon South
Americans as a lazy lot. It is true that South Americans, especially
those living in the tropics, are more leisurely, more unhurried, than
are the bustling citizens of the United States. They lack the
energy, the push, the enthusiasm for active pursuits that charac-
terize the conduct of the North American. "Tomorrow" is just
as good as today for many purposes.
There are geographic reasons for this state of affairs. In the first
place the climate in the tropics is enervating, in contrast with the
more bracing climate of the intermediate latitudes. At the equator
on the coast of Brazil, for instance, the mean average temperature
at sea level is 800 F., with scarcely any variation. At Rio de
Janeiro, situated some few miles north of the Tropic of Capricorn,
the temperature seldom falls below 55 F., and nearly always ranges
above 70'. Tropical vegetation is found almost as far south as
Montevideo and Buenos Aires, close to the 35th parallel, about
as far south as Memphis and Los Angeles are north.
The enervating property of the tropical climate, the depletion of
human vitality, is due largely to the uniform high temperature, the
direct or nearly direct rays of the sun, the nearly equal length of
day and night at all times, and the high relative humidity.
Another reason for the loss of human energy lies in the uncon-
trolled prevalence of parasitic life. In the wet tropics there is no
annual recurrence of winter frosts to regulate the life cycle of
parasites and hold them in check. They may flourish at all times.
Intestinal worms of a dozen virulent kinds, mosquitoes, and flies
are found nearly everywhere. As a consequence, intestinal dis-
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
eases, malaria, and tuberculosis destroy the lives of an amazingly
large percentage of the population. Vast improvement will be
experienced when the people awake to the dangers of these uncon-
trolled infections and apply scientific methods of screening, vac-
Scination, isolation, purification of water supply, and adequate
medical care. The prevailing good health of British colonists in
north Australia shows that white men can live well in the tropics
if they obey the laws of hygiene. The notable achievements of
the American Government in the Panama Canal Zone illustrate the
same point. But generally such progress depends in a large meas-
ure upon education. In most of South America popular medical
education has not yet been achieved.
Splendid results have followed sanitary measures in several not-
able instances. The larger cities have supplies of pure water and
are relatively free from typhoid fever. They have cleaned out
mosquitoes and almost eliminated malaria and yellow fever. They
have compelled vaccination and virtually controlled smallpox. But
away from the cities little protection has been afforded. The
Rockefeller Foundation has attempted the control of hookworm
with some success and has taught rural hygiene in many places.
The Foundation's work in cleaning up and making sanitary the
Ecuadorean port of Guayaquil aroused a continent-wide enthusiasm
for similar hygienic activities. Institutes of agriculture have done
some good. World-famous snake farms in a dozen South American
cities have supplied thousands of people with serums-but these
services are just a beginning toward what needs to be done, and
there is still much to do.
Physiographic divisions. South America may be divided into
seven prominent regions-namely, the Andean Systemn the Brazil-
ian Highland, the Guiana Highland, the Orinoco Plaii, the Amazon
Plain, the Parana-Paraguay Plain (including the Pampa), and the
Patagonia Plateau. Each of these major divisions exhibits a
variety of minor configurations. An understanding of these lands
will prove valuable in the interpretation of their cultural features
and human activities. The land, or natural environment, and man
and his works, or economy, should not be thought of, geographically,
as separate factors but in their whole dynamic relationship or asso-
ciation, expressing the compositiveness or entirety of a region.
The Andes and associated lands. The Andean mountain system
extends for a distance of some 4,400 miles. Rising from the Carib-
bean Sea in three distinct ranges, it continues, first as three separate
ranges, then as a comparatively unbroken mass, to the southern
shore of Tierra del Fuego, where it again plunges beneath the sea.
At places in Chile its width is not greater than 20 miles; at other
places, in central Bolivia, the Andean system and its associated
plateaus extend more than 500 miles across. The average height
is about 13,000 feet, although a score of majestic volcanic peaks rise
to altitudes of more than 20,000 feet. It will be understood, of
course, that all references to altitude are approximations, because
measurements are inaccurate, and information is not available.
The height of Mount Aconcagua in west-central Argentina, the high-
est mountain on the continent, has been measured variously at from
22,368 to 22,900 feet. Mount Tupungato, reaching some 21,484
feet, is close by. Many other mountain peaks and ranges rise above
One dominating western range is almost unbroken from farthest
north to farthest south. This maritime chain is the true Andean
cordillera. Parallel to this western range a second, and sometimes
a third and a fourth range, is found to the east. Vast plateaus and
high intermontane uplands, of which the Altiplano of Bolivia is an
example, extend for hundreds of miles between these ranges at
altitudes of 10,000 to 14,000 feet. In valleys associated with these
plateaus nestle such populous cities as La Paz, Cuzco, Oruro, Quito,
and Bogota. The maritime chain reaches its greatest heights at
20 to 100 miles from the Pacific.
The Andes must not be thought of as a system of barren moun-
tains. Dense forests flourish on many slopes, at altitudes up to
8,000 or 10,000 feet. Eucalyptus and Lombardy poplar trees have
been introduced and have flourished in many places formerly barren.
They furnish needed timber and fuel. In Cuzco, for instance,
industries requiring fuel, such as the breweries and potteries, have
planted groves of eucalyptus trees for that specific purpose. In
rainless areas and above the timber line the ranges are, of course,
In many sheltered valleys, even under the equator, glaciers have
formed and still persist. In former times these glaciers extended
to much lower levels than at present. In southern Chile and in
Tierra del Fuego huge ice fields cover the Andes and make their way
down numerous valleys to the sea. The abundant fjords and
dendritic channels of southern Chile are nearly all glaciated valleys.
Passes traverse the ranges at frequent intervals; one of the lowest
is Paso Pino Hachado, on the frontier between Chile and Argen-
tina at an elevation of 6,035 feet. Because of its low altitude and
Ease of transit, this pass is widely used during the winter months
of June, July, and August, when other passes are blocked with snow,
although the Uspallata and Bermejo passes, each more than 10,000
Courtesy International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation.
Fig. 18. Laying the trans-Andine telephone cable between Chile and
Argentina, 1931. The complex Andean system extends for more than
4,000 miles and its lofty forms rise more than four miles above sea level.
feet high, are better known and more extensively employed as means
of communication between the east and the west.
The young and vigorous Andean system stands in sharp contrast
to the older ranges of Brazil on the eastern margin of the continent.
These ranges paralleling the Atlantic show no recent volcanic activ-
ity, and erosion has worn them down to a mass of low-lying hills and
plateaus, in part covered with verdant forests, punctured here and
there by jagged projections where harder rock masses have success-
fully resisted the weathering effects of water and wind.
Courtesy Aloorc-AlcCormack Lincs.
Fig. 19. View from Sugar Loaf, Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian Highland outliers.
Geological structure. The structure of the Andean region is
complex. All of the geological systems from the pre-Cambrian to
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
recent sediments are represented. The process of building has been
recurrent and is still continuing actively at the present time. Over-
thrusting from east to west seems to have been responsible for the
elevation of the eastern Peruvian ranges. Back of Santiago, in
Chile, the primitive ranges consist of Jurassic and Cretaceous beds
in relatively simple folds. (The great central plateau region of
Peru-Bolivia, the Altiplano, is formed largely of Archaean and
Palaeozoic rocks. In Ecuador and Colombia great masses of gneiss
and schist predomfinate in the inner ranges. Throughout the en-
tire system volcanic activity has projected its intrusions.
The structure is, therefore, the result of a long series of changes,
some cataclysmic, others operating more slowly and persistently.
After each cataclysmic folding a long process of adjustment and
weathering seems to have intervened before another upheaval oc-
curred. The result is a very complexly folded system, throughout
which sedimentary rocks of varying ages alternate with granitic
Along the entire range, from extreme north to extreme south,
hundreds of towering volcanic cones arise, some extinct but many
still active. In traveling in Ecuador between Riobamba and Quito,
a distance of about 100 miles, one passes in view of at least seven
volcanic cones: Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and others.
Sometimes they are smoking; at other times activity is not per-
ceptible, but, presumably, gases are escaping. Mount Sangay, to'
the east of the "Avenida de los Volcanes," is said to be one of the
most continuously active volcanoes in South America, throwing out
rather regularly bombs and ash, but no longer pouring out the great
lava flows that accompanied its eruptions in the past.
Brazilian Highland. The foundation of Brazil, with respect to
agriculture and mining, is the prominent land division commonly
known as the Brazilian Highland. This extensive upland, includ-
ing more than half of the country, is the nation's most populous
region. It is the scene of the world's largest coffee plantations and
the site of rich mineral resources. The future of the Brazilian up-
land is the future of Brazil.
The Brazilian upland is underlain by the oldest rocks of the con-
tinent, probably pre-Cambrian in age. This ancient structure was
once covered by more recent formations, but erosion has exposed
the crystalline rocks in widespread areas. The most extensive belt
of old rocks'appears along the eastern margin, varying in width from
400 miles in northeastern Brazil to 50 miles in the state of Sio
aulo. In Santa Catarina and in northern Rio Grande do Sul
lava plateau projects eastward and the oldland practically disap-
pears. In southern Rio Grande do Sul the oldland is exposed again
and continues southward into Uruguay, where it passes under the
coastal sediments. Westward the crystalline foundation slopes be-
neath more recent formations. But in places erosion has removed
the sedimentary rocks from the crystalline basement and exposed
great masses of igneous rocks surrounded by sedimentary forma-
Fig. 20. Brazilian Uplands 26 miles southwest of Vit6ria. Note mountain agri-
culture on slopes.
The surface of the Brazilian Highland exhibits three well-
defined types of features: (1) prominent seaward escarpments; (2)
plateaus; and (3) rounded sierras, or mountain ranges. For the
most part the relief is low, and some of the surface shows peneplana-
Guiana Highland. The Guiana Highland is associated, not
only with the three colonial possessions of Great Britain, the
Netherlands, and France, but also with the republics of Venezuela,
Colombia, and Brazil. It was once a portion of the ancient con-
tinent of northeastern South America, which included, in addition
to the Guiana remnant, a similar old mountain area to the south,
the Brazilian Highland. These two land masses were separated by
a subterranean area that is now filled with recent sediments and
forms the lower Amazon Plain.
Erosion and geological disturbances have shaped the Guiana up-
lands into a low coastal peneplain and a high inner peneplain. The
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
low peneplain extends inland along the principal river courses, while
the high peneplain, apparently a more ancient land form that has
been uplifted, occupies the upper interstream areas. Where the low
peneplain passes under the coastal sediment it has an elevation of
some 200 feet. The higher inner peneplain attains an elevation
from 2,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level. The lower peneplain is
further characterized by a great number of isolated monadnocks.
The Wilhelmina-gebergte in the central part of Dutch Guiana, or
Suriname, is an example of these rock islands. Similar groups of
monadnocks are found in the French and British Guianas.
Along the international boundary between Brazil and the Guianas
the uplands appear in the form of plateau ranges, such as Serra
Acarai or Acari and Serra de Tumucumaque. Their southern ex-
posure exhibits a series of steep escarpments facing Brazil, but
northward the plateaus project like spurs between the streams and
slope gradually seaward. These southern highlands carry the
drainage of southward flowing tributaries of the Amazon and the
northward flowing streams of the Guianas. Low divides between
the headwaters offer routes of travel for the traders of Brazil and
Patagonian Plateau region. Southern South America or south-
western Argentina is in part represented by a piedmont plateau,
known generally as Patagonia.
In reality, the region comprises a series of plateaus. The altitude
varies from a few hundred feet along the coast and rivers to 5,000
feet near the base of the Andes. The upper formations consist of
sedimentary strata and sheets of lava that rest on a crystalline base.
Streams and wind have dissected the terrain into a rugged land-
scape. The major features can be attributed to water erosion, the
minor irregularities to the effects of wind. In the western portion
of the plateau extensive evidences of glaciation are found in the
form of drift, moraines, and outwash plains. Lasin-like areas are
found in places. In the north they are called bajos and in the south
mallins. During the winter the bajos are partly filled with water
that evaporates in the summer and leaves a crust of salt. These
salt flats are called salitrades. The origin of such enclosed basins
has not been clearly determined, but they are probably due largely
to wind erosion.
The eastern margin of the plateau is really the coastline, as there
is practically no coastal plain. A number of structural indentations
are found, such as the Golfo San Matias, Golfo de San Jorge, and
Bahia Grande. On the west a discontinuous pre-cordilleran or
sub-Andine trough separates the plateau from the Andes. It is
most prominent between Lago Nahuel Haupi and Estrecho de
Magallanes (Strait of Magellan) and lies largely in the republic of
The Amazon Plain. The Amazon Plain is the largest and one
of the most homogeneous natural regions of South America. Its
area is greater than all of the United States east of the Mississippi
River. Topographically, the land is low in elevation and low in
relief; climatically it is hot and humid; and economically its re-
sources are of the extractive kind.
The greater portion of the Amazon Plain falls within the political
boundaries of Brazil. Its marginal areas embrace portions of
Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. It extends for
more than 2,000 miles, from the Atlantic to the Andes, and varies
in width from a maximum of 800 miles in western Brazil to less
than 200 miles east of Manaus.
Early history reveals that the western portion of the lowland was
once an embayment of the ancient Pacific which inundated the
region now occupied by the Andes. This great gulf may have
been connected with the Atlantic by a strait between the older land
of the Guiana and Brazilian Highlands. When the mountain-
building forces lifted the Andes far above sea level, this extensive
gulf became an inland sea. Erosion of the associated uplands
supplied great quantities of debris that filled this inland sea. As
deposition continued, and some uplift of the area occurred, an
extensive plain was built through which numerous streams have
integrated, forming the world's largest river system, the Rio
The Amazon region is not everywhere a flat plain but consists
of broad swells and low hills and intervening vales. A rugged
terrain occurs near the Andean border, where the more elevated
portions of the plain have been maturely dissected. The major
divisions of the plain are: (1) the level alluvial lowlands, or flood
plain, and (2) the well-dissected undulating-to-rolling uplands.
The flood plain extends irregularly along the Amazon and its
tributaries, known locally as the varzea. This alluvial terrain
varies in width from 10 to 100 miles. It represents about 10 per
cent of the entire area of the Amazon Plain, which totals some
2,000,000 square miles. Broad and disconnected swamps called
paranas border the river within the flood plain. The surface is
further diversified by channels or sloughs, known as furos. The
deeper furos usually contain water even during the low-water stage.
In most places the alluvial areas are separated from the major
streambeds by well-developed terraces or natural levees. During
floods, much of the varzea is inundated. The portion of the region
above the flood waters is called terra firma.
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
Behind the alluvial plains are the upland plains, which may be
classified into the upper and lower plains. The lower uplands lie
along the alluvial areas, approximately in the axial belt of the river
basin, while the upper plain occupies the rest of the upland region.
About 90 per cent of the entire Amazon Plain is recognized as an
upland plain. Only a small portion of its surface is permanently
.covered with water or imperfectly drained.
SOrinoco Plain. Between the Venezuelan Andes and the Guiana
Highland is an elongated plain, generally called the Orinoco Llanos.
It is an alluvial lowland with interstream ridges, low hills, and
extensive swells or basins. In the west it merges with the Andes
through a system of well-defined terraces. Its lower portion pro-
jects seaward in the form of a delta.
Parand-Paraguay region. The Parana-Paraguay Plain includes
a great agricultural region, the Pampa of Argentina and the Gran
Courtesy John L. Rich and American Geographical Society.
Fig. 21. A landscape typical of eastern Paraguay, 18 miles east of Asunci6n.
Chaco, embracing parts of Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. It
occupies the site of an early Atlantic embayment now filled with
debris from adjacent highlands. Most of the material was appar-
ently transported from the Andes on the west, judging from the
position of the Paraguay River on its eastern border. The river
has been literally pushed to one side. Only a few streams have
made their way across the flat land to the Paraguay or Parana
Rivers. The Rio Pilcomayo rises in the Bolivian Highland and
Air: j Monev deo
---- SOUTH AMERICA -"
oftte it ca lwortoAeive a eere
Valpa raso e emaisro
S PortStantey 'Sealevel Sea level
-.- .-* Boundarg Demarcated
so* 6' s 20
F. A. Carlson.
Fig. 22. Because South America lies mainly in the low latitudes, one is inclined to think
of its climate as tropical; but we must observe that there are extensive uplands where temper-
ature conditions range from temperate to polar. Altitude is South America's dominant climatic
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
reaches the Paraguay near Asunci6n, the capital of Paraguay. It
forms a part of the northern boundary of Argentina. Southward is
one other major river of the Chaco, the Rio Bermejo, and many
small streams, mostly intermittent.
Along the Paraguay and Parana Rivers are broad swamps, or
malezais, and lagoons, br lagunas. During the rainy summers the
flood waters convert these features into great lakes and completely
obscure the drainage lines. In places there are great depressions,
called banados, that are filled with water during the time of flood
but are baked mud flats in dry seasons. Some of the deeper banados
contain water at all times. Such features are known as esteros,
Most of the Pampa, one of the world's leading agricultural
regions, is a flat plain (Pampa is an Indian word signifying a flat
country) with slight undulations, isolated depressions, and deep,
fertile soil. The surface cover consists of sediments of alluvial and
seolian origin transported by water and wind from the Andes
Mountains and the Brazilian Highland. Below the unconsolidated
material are horizontal strata resting on a granite base.
In the west the Pampa gives way to the Monte, a transitional
zone of low mountain ranges and basins that lies between the Andes
and the true Pampa. Northward there is also rising ground. In
the south are two mountain masses, like islands in the sea, that
break the monotony of the Pampa. North of Bahia Blanca is
Sierra de la Ventana and more eastward is Sierra del Tandil. These
highlands are the summits of buried mountain ranges.
On the Pampa there are few rivers. Some have their origin in the
bordering Sierra de C6rdoba and adjacent Sierra de San Luis,
whereas other streams begin in the Pampa, some flowing to the sea
and others ending in the Pampa. Underground drainage, however,
is predominant because of the flatness of the surface, the presence of
isolated basins, and the deep pervious soil.
Temperature. Uniformity in temperature marks the climates of
South America, primarily because most of the area lies in the low
latitudes. The continental climates of North America, Europe, and
Asia, with their extreme range in temperature, differ from those in
South America. Nowhere in the continent, according to available
records, is the range in temperature from summer to winter more
than 300. This slight variation is due to the narrowness of the
land in the higher latitudes and to the adjacent oceans. For the
same reasons the southern part of South America is much warmer in
winter, freer from extremes, and cooler in summer than regions of
the same latitude in North America. In the equatorial lowlands
a high uniform temperature prevails throughout the year, but the
highlands have temperate to polar temperatures even in regions of
the equator. It is reported that in January the highest tempera-
tures are found in the Gran Chaco region; in July the hottest part
of the continent is in Venezuela and the Guianas.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Fig. 23. Average temperature.
ELEVATION ABOVE SEA LEVEL
M anaus ............... 148 feet
Bogota ............... 8,727 feet
Quito ................. 9,350 feet
La Paz ............... 12,000 feet
Along the northern coast the mean annual temperature is about
800 F.1 and is probably the same on the western coast as far as 5 S.
latitude. Southward the temperature of the coastal region de-
creases moderately. At this point it is interesting to note that the
mean annual temperature is lower along the western coast of tropi-
cal South America than along the eastern coast. At Trujillo, Peru
1 For more information on the climatic elements of the Andes and associated re-
gions, see W. G. Kendrew, The Climates of Continents; Glen T. Trewartha, An
Introduction to Weather and Climate; T. A. Blair, Climatology. Also refer to
"Klimakunde von Siidamerika," Handbuch der Klimatologie, by Knoch, Band II,
Teil G. Berlin. 1930.
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY 57
(80 S.), the mean annual temperature is 690 F., but at Recife,
Brazil (also 80 S.), the yearly average is 800 F. The low air tem-
peratures on the west coast are primarily attributable to the cold
Peruvian Current, a part of the great west wind drift of the southern
ocean that is deflected.northward off to the west of the southern
part of the continent, enters the region of the trade winds in the
vicinity of the Tropic of Capricorn, and then moves westward to
merge its waters with those of the south equatorial stream, whereas
the higher temperature on the east coast is in part due to the warm
100 ---- 100
90 -- -- --- 190
80 s- 80
70 I I I RIO DE JANEIRO
70. I 70
60 *% SAO PAULO ...
60 ...- . ..60
0 BUENOS AIRES _.
50 ---L-_..- -- 50
40 -- 40
0 --- -- -- ------ ------- -- --- --- ------ 0
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Fig. 24. Average temperature.
Brazilian current. Exceptions, however, are found, one in the
southern part, where the ocean winds from the Pacific are warmer
than the continental winds off the land on the east.
From the Tropic of Capricorn northward, the temperatures at
interior stations with elevations of less than 250 feet are practically
the same for the entire region, the mean annual temperature being
about 820. At elevations between 3,500 feet and 5,500 feet the
range is from 700 to 650; in the levels 7,500 to 9,500 feet the tem-
perature seems to be remarkably uniform, from 60 to 570; and in
the high levels, 11,000 to 15,000 feet, the means appear to lie for the
most part between 500 and 40.
The effect of high elevations on air temperature is impressively
58 SOUTH AMERICA
shown in the case of La Quiaca, 11,358 feet, in latitude 220 S.,
which has the same mean annual temperature as Santa Cruz, 39
feet, in latitude 500 S. Another case is that of Puente del Inca,
8,948 feet, at latitude 33 S., with a mean annual temperature cor-
responding to that of Punta Arenas, 92 feet, at latitude 530 S.
Near the equator the snow line is over 15,000 feet above sea level,
while in the far south, in Tierra del Fuego, it is at 2,500 feet. The
snow line, however, is governed, not only by temperature, but also
by precipitation and several other factors. For example, the snow
line on Chimborazo, near Quito, lies a little above 15,000 feet; it is
at 16,000 feet in central Peru; and at the Tropic of Capricorn it
is at 20,000 feet. But south of the tropical circle it declines rapidly
as the degree of latitude increases.
Rainfall distribution. In the Andes and associated lands of
northern South America the amount and seasonal distribution of
10 -- -- 0
8 8. a
osI -.. 6
0o -* .. ... 1 I.. -S E I ---- I I ...... ...... o
Jon Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Fig. 25. Average precipitation.
rainfall are moderately variable. The inland region of Venezuela
is well watered, with 40 to 70 inches a year, but there is a marked
decrease along the coast and in its immediate vicinity, with the
annual mean generally less than 30 inches and in some places
below 12 inches. In northern Colombia the precipitation is less
than 30 inches a year; it increases somewhat in the highland region,
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
with some 40 inches annually at BogotA, to excessive rainfall of
more than 200 inches on or near the middle Pacific Coast region.2
Western South America is a region of extreme rainfall variations,
the contrast being exceedingly great between the coastal region and
the eastern slopes of the Andes. In northwestern Ecuador the mean
annual precipitation is about 40 inches, but in the eastern region
it is in excess of 100 inches. The so-called rainless region begins
south of the Gulf of Guayaquil and extends along the entire Peru-
vian coast and into Chile through the Atacama Desert, about lati-
tude 280 S. The yearly precipitation of this arid region is generally
less than two inches, a significant condition when it is noted that
it embraces an area some 70 miles wide in northern Peru, more than
200 miles in the latitude of southwestern Bolivia, and extends north-
south for some 2,000 miles. Inland from this dry region the mean
annual precipitation increases eastward from 30 to over 80 inches.
From Copiap6, Chile, the approximate southern limit of the
desert, begins a gradual increase in annual total of 30 to 50 inches
around Concepci6n. Southward there is a marked increase to more
than 80 inches over the remainder of the coast-for example, to 105
inches at Valdivia. In the highland region east of the area from
Copiap6 to Santiago the annual mean precipitation is not more than
10 inches. However, at El Teniente, 6,800 feet, just south of this
region, the annual total is more than 40 inches, and farther south it
is as much as 140 inches.
Immediately east of the Andes in southern Argentina lies another
extensive region of extreme aridity. This area and the northern
Chilean and Peruvian coast warrant special discussion.
The arid condition of the coastal region of Peru and northern
Chile is sometimes explained by stating that the Andes present an
impassable barrier to the moist easterly winds. Forced ascent, such
as air currents must undergo on the eastern slopes of the cordilleras,
would deprive them of almost all of their water-vapor content.
The moisture remaining cannot be great in view of the moderate to
heavy rainfall precipitated from these currents over a vast area
covering most of the eastern half of southern tropical South Amer-
ica. But this question arises: Why, with Pacific ocean winds, rela-
tively high humidity, and cloudiness, does this coast and some of
the adjacent interior remain one of the most extensive desiccated
regions in the world?
The cause is to be found in the cold waters of the Peruvian Cur-
rent. This cold ocean current flows from high latitudes to low
2 Rainfall data for the west coast of Colombia are scarcely more than estimates,
since few records are available.
* :. n.
.. *. *. .
*;*. :;* .
.. "*i *.
..'. .. .."
0 1,000,000.to 2.000.000
500.000 ** 1.000.000
*.. 50.000 150,000
... ..... 5,000 50,000
-Less than 5.000
F. A. Carlson.
Fig. 26. The population of South America is about 88,000,000. By far the greater pro-
portion of the inhabitants live within a few miles of the coast.
S ANNUAL RAINFALL
S Centimeters Inches
0 to 25 .:I 0 to 10
25 50 10 -20
50 ,, 100 20 *- 39
100 200 39 -, 79
Over 200 Over 79
so' s" 4 20'
After K. Knoch, W. W. Reed, and others.
Fig. 27. Compare the maps showing annual rainfall, relief, and distribution of
population in South America. Where precipitation is excessive and the temperature
high, the climate is not healthful. On the lofty plateaus, altitude and lack of moisture
combine to make climate unpleasant and life hard, but in some respects less enervating
than the wet tropical lowlands.
latitudes, and, as a result, the moist air above it has a temperature
lower than that in other corresponding latitudes. The effect of this
condition increases as the current flows farther into lower latitudes
because the temperature of the water rises but slowly. As a result,
the air over the water is lower in temperature than that over the
... SEPTEMBER RAINFALL
25 Centimeters Inches
0 to 2.5 0 to 1
2.5- to 4.
0 t10 20 8
20 20- 40 8 16
\ Over 40 over 16
1W0* 8o' m e. W 4 208
After K. Knoch, W. W. Reed, and others.
Fig. 28. The monthly rainfall of South America as a whole is at a minimum in
September and at a maximum in January.
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
coastal land. Therefore, when south and southwest winds prevail
over the coast, rain seldom occurs because the air has a greater
saturation deficit and consequently absorbs moisture instead of
precipitating it. This in part also explains why the aridity of this
western region increases northward up to where the cold current
().5 JANUARY RAINFALL
.; Centimeters Inches
-\ :: V0 to 2.5 : : :jj'. O to I
2.5 10 I 4
10 20 4- 8
20- 40 8 16
2.5() p over 40 over 16
0oo* eso' 40 0' M 20d
After K. Knoch, W. W. Reed, and others.
Fig. 29. Compare the January and the September precipitation maps of South
o* ?*Manaus S. Lui
a nn ao a-nica od. Ar Qieramob
Arn a h a *Cu n labi Formosaa a
,up *Cu aba
Mollendo La Paz
i. A Sucre ,
Iquique M/ *Belo Horizonte
U &A f I
Antofagasta SaoPaulo RoadeJaneiro
Santra oo* oMendoza
Valdivia Bahia Blanca 4C
PuertoMadryn MONTHLY DISTRIBUTION
Evanjelistas a .g Falkland Islands
unta Arenas' BOUNDARIES
F. A. Carts,
Fig. 30. Monthly distribution of rainfall in South America.
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
is deflected away from the coast. It should also be made clear that
the cold waters are associated with air movements in the same
direction as the current. Such winds, blowing somewhat parallel
with the coastline, tend to reduce rather than bring about precipita-
East of the Andes, in southwestern Argentina, the aridity is
largely due to the depletion of the water-vapor content of the
westerly winds. During forced ascent to the crest of the southern
Andes, the westerlies lose their moisture and descend as dry winds
when they reach the eastern, leeward side. The Andes can, there-
fore, be looked upon as casting a great "rain shadow" over western
The greater part of eastern South America as far south as the
La Plata estuary has a summer rainfall. Beyond this point, most
places receive rain in all seasons, with the greater percentage of the
precipitation in autumn and winter.
The eastern slopes of the Andes in the equatorial region have the
two rainfall maxima at the time of, or shortly before, the overhead
sun; while other parts of the tropics have for the most part one long
rainy season occurring in summer. Dry lands are primarily as-
sociated with the subtropical highs, about 30 south latitude, and
with highland barriers.
.ourtesy John L. Ktch and A,nCercan ceograprcal ocsety.
Fig. 31. A typical narrow irrigated valley at the western base of the Andes, 18
miles east-southeast of Illapel.
5 ) 200 0 /000 Miles
-OF CZ.LMATES -
\ i .Tropical Rain Foresf
S ,2 Savanna
--3 Y ----. Highland--
\ 7/71\6. Dry Subtropical
---- -7. Humid "-
8 Intermediate Latifute pe
S1, 1 Desert
\ \/0. West Coast Marine
i. TMountpia ain Ciraes
S4' 72"' 60 36 24
F. A. Carlson.
Fig. 32. Climates of South America. (Base mop from the American Geographical Society,
New York. Climatic data after W. K6ppen, R. Geiger, and others.)
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
Types of climates may be expressed in terms of the Kippen
system.3 Quantitative values of selected symbols are as follows:
A = Temperature of coolest month over 64.40 (180 C).
C = Temperature of coldest month between 64.40 (180 C) and 26.60 (-3 C).
E = Temperature of warmest month under 50 (100 C).
f = No month with less than 2.4 in. of rain.
w = Dry season in winter or low-sun period; at least one month with less than
2.4 in. of rain.
s = Dry season in summer; driest month of summer with less than 1.2 in.
a = Temperature of warmest month over 71.60 (220 C); hot summer.
b = Temperature of warmest month under 71.60 (220 C) but with at least
4 months over 500 (100 C); cool summer.
c = Temperature of not more than 3 months above 500 (10 C); cool, short
i = Annual range less than 90 (5 C).
B = Evaporation exceeds precipitation.
BW = Desert.
BS = Steppe.
h = Average annual temperature over 64.40 (180 C).
k = Average annual temperature under 64.40 (180 C).
Tropical Rainforest ............ Af- Humid Subtropical ............ Cfa
Tropical Savanna .............. Aw- Intermediate Latitude Steppe ... BSk
Tropical Highland .. Cwa, Cwb, others Intermediate Latitude Desert ... BWk
Tropical Steppe ............... BSh West Coast Marine ............ Cfb
Tropical Desert ............... BWh Mountain Climates ... E- and others
Dry Subtropical ............... Cs-
The Andes and associated lowlands are richly endowed with
mineral resources. Volcanic activities, diastrophism, and other
,.forces associated with the development and destruction of moun-
tains have brought about the concentration of minerals. Some of
these resources are now being utilized, while others are of con-
siderable potential value. Their significance is revealed in their
Chile is the world's second most important copper-producing
country. A third or more of the world's platinum is produced in
Colombia. Bolivia is the second tin-producing country of the
world and is increasing its production of tungsten. Peru leads all
countries in vanadium production. Chile is the only country in
the world possessing commercial deposits of sodium nitrate. Im-
portant oil fields are found in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador
3 For detailed information see P. E. James, An Outline of Geography, Ginn & Co.,
Boston, 1935; or V. C. Finch and G. T. Trewartha, Elements of Geography, McGraw-
Hill Book Co.. New York. 1942.
and Bolivia. The emerald mines of Colombia are of high potential
value. In Peru are found valuable silver, copper, and lead ores,
and the tin deposits of Bolivia are associated with silver, bismuth,
and tungsten. Gold, the renowned mineral of colonial days, has
been comparatively unimportant in the South American mineral
industry for at least a century. However, in recent years, partic-
ularly in Peru. Bolivia, and Venezuela, gold production has mate-
From these statements one might gain the erroneous impression
that South America, especially the Andean region, is an unlimited
reservoir of mineral wealth. With the possible exception of the
petroleum that may be discovered in large quantities in the im-
mense region lying immediately east of the Andes, it is not likely
that South America has any phenomenal "mineral future." The
cost of production is high because of the great capital investment
required in the introduction of foreign machinery, transportation
facilities, and other essentials necessary in an undeveloped country.
Whereas eastern South America is better known for its agricul-
tural production, it also ranks high in the output of bauxite (the
Guianas), manganese (Brazil), tungsten (Argentina), and many
other essential mineral resources.
Major portions of the known mineral resources are owned by
Americans, and the remainder by local, British, and French inter-
ests. The petroleum production is mainly in the hands of Amer-
icans and a British-Dutch combine. American capital has flowed
primarily into South American mines, while British investments
have been chiefly in railways, property, and other industries. In
the past decade, however, there has been a marked trend in the
Americas toward a national ownership or control of the mineral
industry and other foreign enterprises, as exemplified in the expro-
priation of oil lands and holdings in Mexico and Bolivia.
Western South America. Although west of 600 longitude the
economy is based primarily on minerals and their associated indus-
tries, agriculture is of no slight importance. Ecuador's tropical
lands are potentially rich in cacao, fruits, and forest products.
Colombia ranks high in the production of coffee. Venezuela pro-
duces cacao. In the coastal region of Peru, cotton and sugar are
grown under irrigation. The central valley of Chile has an exten-
sive Mediterranean agricultural development. The usual food
crops, beans, manioc or cassava, and potatoes are grown here and
there, generally on small plots or on larger communal lands of
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
The small farms of diversified production as we know them in
the United States are practically unknown in all of Latin America.
There are many small landholdings, from 1 to 20 acres or more, but
for the most part the production centers around one or two com-
mercial crops. In Colombia, for example, the leading coffee-
producing regions are virtually a checkerboard of farm plots.
Likewise, a large percentage of the bananas in Colombia are grown
on small farms. The production of cotton and sugar in Peru, how-
ever, is primarily on large estates or company lands. Cattle pro-
duction is also, here as elsewhere in South America, associated with
landholdings of tremendous size.
Eastern South America. Nature has been kind to the peoples
of eastern South America in placing at their disposal a region suit-
able in terrain, climate, and soil for the best agricultural use. This
natural advantage has been only in part utilized. Nevertheless,
today the eastern Americas are among the world's leading agricul-
tural regions. Their production is well known in terms, of coffee,
sugar, cacao, wheat, corn, animal products, cotton, tobacco, flax
seed, castor bean, and fruits; and from the forests come rubber,
timber, nuts, wax, tanning extract, and many other equally impor-
The significance of eastern South America's agriculture and
forests lies in the surplus production of foods and materials needed
in other parts of the world. For example, Argentina is the principal
world exporter of corn and flaxseed and ranks high in her foreign
shipments of wheat and animal products. Likewise Brazil com-
mands the leading position as the chief source of coffee. It should
not be assumed, however, that eastern South America ranks first
in world production of all these commodities. The United States
crop of corn is 5 times that of all the other Americas combined.
Argentina's wheat production hardly equals that of the farms of
Kansas and North Dakota. United States ranches produce annu-
ally 10 times the amount of beef Argentina exports annually.
Brazil's cotton crop is only about two-fifths as large as that of Texas.
This comparison, however, does not lessen the importance of eastern
South America's agricultural position. In variety and potentiality
South America compares favorably with the United States.
Despite the high and broken terrain of the Andes, several rail-
ways have been constructed. The Southern Railway of Peru begins
at the costal city Mollendo. It ascends a number of difficult ranges
until it reaches Arequipa, the most important city in southern Peru.
From Arequipa the line gradually descends until it reaches the
Bu naonuf Gurardot I
I I NTER-AMERICA
Huanec a uzco( JeqeO SlWder III
r r Gorum/
p WATERWAYS AND RAILWAYS
\c \ P mesEsperan I
------ --- q eamshp routes
itt ne . U% G D nm a Ale ales
a 2doa )Gra
AT A A A Carls
Fig. 33. Two-thirds of South America's 60,000 miles of railways is concentrated in center
Brazil and Argentina. Mst of the lines were built in advance of traffic.
1 `1"'3 Reavie /EXPLANATION
s teamshi rutes
---- Boundry undemarcated
F. A. Carlsqr
Fig. 33. Two-thirds of South America's 60,000 miles of railways is concentrated in central
Brazil and Argentina. Most of the lines were built in advance of traffic.
THE LAND AND ITS ECONOMY
junction town of Juliaco. A branch turns northward at Juliaco to
Cuzco, while the main line turns south a short distance to Puno, the
Peruvian port on Lake Titacaca. The traveler may cross this lake
by steamer, take a train on the Bolivian side to La Paz, and go from
there to Buenos Aires or to places in Chile. Arica and Antofagasta,
Chilean ports, have railway connections with the La Paz-Buenos
Aires trunk line. Another railway crosses the Andes from Los
Andes, Chile, to Mendoza, Argentina, offering transportation-
when in operation-through associated lines from Valparaiso on the
Pacific Coast to Buenos Aires on the Atlantic. The highest point
on the trans-Andine line is at Frontera, 10,512 feet above the sea.
En route are numerous tunnels, the longest, located at the summit,
is over two miles long.4
Likewise, the mountains of northern and eastern South America
have presented difficulties and retarded the development of railways
and highways. The nature of the coastal topography has pro-
hibited coastwise railways. In eastern Brazil a steep and rugged
escarpment rises in places to an elevation of 2,500 feet above sea
level. A few transverse valleys offer access to the interior. As a
result, the railway pattern is dendritic, or tree shaped, the lines
projecting inward from port cities.
The tropical lowlands have been equally effective human barriers.
Forests, swamps, flooded lands, and numerous rivers-such as one
finds in the Amazon lowlands, in the Gran Chaco, and on the coastal
plains-have repelled human occupation. Travel and transport
by land are in general poor and utterly inadequate for growing
needs. Growth is, therefore, retarded. The nearest approach to
a railway system is found in Argentina, and this accomplishment
can be attributed, in part, to the flat terrain of the Pampa, the
region of railway development. Inter-American transportation by
rail exists between Argentina and the west coast, Paraguay,
Uruguay, and Brazil. Various proposed highways, if completed,
should materially improve the present inadequate transportation
Air service has in some parts overcome these surface obstacles.
It has greatly improved transportation facilities. Airplanes are
not, in general, hampered by the nature of the terrain below, unless
they are forced down. In all probability the development of air
service in South America will be even greater in the next decade
than it has been in the past.
4 A section of the trans-Andine railway between Mendoza and Punta de Vacas
(105 miles) was destroyed by a flood in 1934 and to date it has not been rebuilt. A
highway now replaces the washed-out section.
Bain, H. F., and Read, T. T.: Ores and Industry in South America, Harper,
New York, 1934.
Blair, T. A.: Climatology. Prentice-Hall, New York, 1942.
Denis, P.: Amerique du Sud, Vol. XV of G9OGRAPHIE UNIVERSELLE, Paris, 1927.
Edschmid, K.: South America, A Continent of Contrasts (translated from the
German by O. Williams), T. Butterworth, London, 1932.
Jefferson, M.: "Actual Temperatures of South America," Geographical Review,
Vol. 16 (1926), pp. 443-466.
Jefferson, M.: "The Distribution of People in South America," Bulletin of the
Geographical Society of Philadelphia, Vol. 5 (1907), pp. 182-192.
Jones, C. F.: "Agricultural Regions of South America," Economic Geography,
Vol. 4 (1928), pp. 1-30, 159-186, 267-294; Vol. 5 (1929), pp. 109-140, 277-
307, 390-421; Vol. 6 (1930), pp. 1-36.
Kendrew, W. G.: The Climates of the Continents, Oxford, New York, 1937.
Knoch, K.: "Klimakunde von Siidamerika," Handbuch der Klimatologie, by
Knoch, Band II, Teil G, Berlin, 1930.
Latin America as a Source of Strategic and other Essential Materials, United
States Tariff Commission Report No. 144, second series, Washington, D. C.,
Miller, B. L., and Singewald, J. T.: The Mineral Deposits of South America,
McGraw-Hill, New York, 1919.
Reed, W. W.: "Climatological Data for Southern South America," Monthly
Weather Review, Supplement No. 32, United States Department of Agricul-
ture (Commerce), Washington, D. C., 1929.
Reed, W. W.: "Climatological Data for Northern and Western Tropical South
America," Monthly Weather Review, Supplement No. 31, United States
Department of Agriculture (Commerce), Washington, D. C., 1928.
The Republics of South America, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London,
Rich, J. L.: The Face of South America, American Geographical Society, New
York, 1942. Special Publications No. 26.
Schmieder, Oscar: "Liinderkunde Siidamerikas," Enzyklopiidie der Erdkunde,
Leipzig and Wien, 1932.
Shanahan, E. W.: South America, second edition, Dutton, New York, 1929.
Siegfried, Andr6: Impressions of South America (translated from the French by
H. H. and Doris Hemming), Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1933.
Smith, Guy-Harold: Physiographic Diagram of South America, The Geographical
Press, Columbia University, New York, 1935.
Trewartha, Glenn T.: An Introduction to Weather and Climate, McGraw-Hill,
New York. 1937.
Whittlesey, Derwent: "Major Agricultural Regions of the Earth," Annals of the
Association of American Geographers, Vol. 26 (1936), pp. 199-240.
Brazil: National Development
Sectionalism. The cultural pattern of the United States of
Brazil, as shown by its urban centers, highways, and railways, ex-
hibits a striking degree of sectionalism. Vast areas, without the
slightest evidence of man and his works, interposed between regions
of modern and primitive civilization, depict the incompleteness and
undeveloped structure of the Brazilian landscape. Three-fourths
of the 42 million people of Brazil,
representing about one-half of the
total population of South Amer-
ica, live within a hundred miles
of the coast. In fact, 10 of the
nation's 25 largest cities are di-
rectly on the coastal plain.
Another 10 lie within the
hundred-mile band. But, even
within this comparatively narrow
margin of culture, there is a pro-
nounced inadequacy of efficient
means of human integration.
Lines of culture, with few inter-
connections, project inland from
widely separated coastal settle-
ments in the shape of fans and F. A. Carlson.
dendrites. Each of the focal
dendites. Each of the f l Fig. 34. The United States of Brazil.
settlements is a separate unit,
communication between them being much closer by ocean routes
than by land routes. Until recently Brazil has faced eastward, and
her development has been primarily along the coast, but now she is
looking westward toward her vast interior of new land and new
Political structure. Brazil, embracing an area of some 3,286,170
square miles, has been carved into 20 states, one territory, and the
Federal District. Sixteen of the states and the Federal District'
border on the Atlantic Ocean. Out of the broad expanse of the
interior only four states and one territory have been formed-
Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Goiaz, and Minas Gerais states, and the
Acre territory. The four interior states have a total area greater
F. A. Carlson.
Fig. 35. Regions of Brazil.
1A number of years ago, under pressure of a wave of national enthusiasm, a
"Future Federal District" was set apart in a beautiful section of the highlands of
Goiaz, about 600 miles from the coast. The feeling was: (1) that the national capital
should be placed in the geographic center of the nation; and (2) that it should be
removed from the danger of attack to which Rio de Janeiro might be subject. At
the present time there is no thought of removing the capital to the new location.
BRAZIL: NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT 75
than the entire 16 coastal states and a population less than one-
fourth as large. While the natural resources of all these interior
states are considerable, the only state in which they have been
developed to any extent is Minas Gerais.
Urbanization. The average density of population is about 12.6
persons per square mile, as compared to 44.2 in the United States.
In the vast interior of Brazil there are only 6 persons per square
mile, and 70 per cent of the country has an even smaller population
density than this figure.
Even more than do Americans, Brazil's people tend to concentrate
in urban communities. According to most recent government esti-
mates, she has 200 cities of more than 20,000 inhabitants. Of
these, 145 have between 20,000 and 50,000; 30 between 50,000 and
100,000; and only 25 have more than 100,000 population. Rio de
Janeiro, the national capital, is still the only city with more than
POPULATION OF PRINCIPAL URBAN
CENTERS OF BRAZIL
Rio de Janeiro ....................... ............ 1,35,200
Sto Paulo ............ ................... 1,322,600
R ecife ..................................... 529,800
Salvador .......... ............. ............ 510,000
Bel6m .............. ......... .............. 309,200
Porto Alegre .................... .... ....... 280,800
Belo Horizonte ...................... .......... 208,100
Fortaleza ................. ...... .......... 154,200
M acei6 ..... ........... ........... ............. 143,800
Santos ...................... ........... 136,000
Niter6i ..................... ............... .. 116,400
M anaus ................ .. ................... 87,400
P elotas ............................................ 72,000
Regional integration. The nature and extent of highways and
railways are an accurate index of national development. On this
basis what is the situation in Brazil?
Railways. The nation shows a moderate concentration of rail-
ways in the northeast; a fairly good network in its central region;
a single line with short spurs in the far south; one railway extend-
ing west into the distant interior; and one short line in the Amazon
region. Northern Brazil, equal to half the land area in the United
States, is without overland transportation to central Brazil, the
nation's social, political, and economic center. Commercially these
northern lands are more closely related to Europe and the United
States than to the southern part of their own country.
In central Brazil, however, the railways present a more nearly
reticular pattern. One line extends from the port of Santos to
Sio Paulo. Several lines radiate from Sao Paulo to important
CAPITALS, AREA, AND POPULATION OF THE STATES
AND THE FEDERAL DISTRICT OF BRAZIL
Federal District ..... ... ..
A lagoas ...................
Am azonas ................
B aia .................. ..
Espirito Santo ............
G oiaz .. . . ........
M aranhao .................
Mato Grosso ............ .
Minas Gerais ........... .
P ara ...... . ........
P iaui ................... ..
Rio de Janeiro ...........
Rio Grande do Norte .....
Rio Grande do Sul ........
Santa Catarina ...........
Sio Paulo .................
Acre Territory ...........
Area in Square Miles
Source: Pan American Union. 1940. Population figures are mere estimates and in all
probability are too high. Data included for comparative purposes. Official 1940 census shows
urban centers of the interior and along the coast. The principal line
joins the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and gives excellent
passenger service at most hours of the day and night. This is the
government-owned Central do Brasil. One artery runs west from
Sao Paulo, 1,026 miles, to Porto Esperanga," on the Paraguay River
near the border of Bolivia.3 One may travel northwest by rail from
Sio Paulo to AnApolis, in the state of Goiaz, a distance of approxi-
mately 600 miles; north to Pirapora, on the Rio Sao Francisco,
passing Belo Horizonte on the way, approximately 700 miles; and
northeast to Vit6ria, passing Rio de Janeiro, some 700 miles from
Sao Paulo. Another line extends southward to the border of
Uruguay, where railroad connection may be made for Montevideo.
A branch of this line leads westward to the border of Argentina,
2 In Portuguese the cedilla c (c) is always pronounced like an s. The til a (a)
gives a nasal quality to the vowel. Sao Paulo is pronounced "Soung Paulo."
3 Construction is under way to join the Brazilian line with one projecting eastward
from Bolivia via Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, and Puerto SuArez in Bolivia and Corumba
and Porto Esperanca in Brazil.