« PreviousContinue »
POSITION AND LIMITS OF CHILI.
CHILI lies west of the Andes, and between the parallels of lat. 23° and 55° 59' S., having a coast line of about 2,270 m., and a breadth varying from 200 m. to 40 m. Its area is variously estimated by different geographers at 146,300 sq. m. (Lieut. Gilliss), 348,000 (Abbé Molina), 170,000 (Lieut. Strain), and 240,000 by German geographers. Chili is bounded N. by lat. 23° S., which separates it from Bolivia, E. by the Andes, which form the dividing line between it and the States of the Argentine Confederation, S. and W. by the Pacific Ocean. It includes in its territory all of Patagonia west of the Andes, as the Argentine Confederation does that portion lying east of those mountains.
POPULATION AND POLITICAL DIVISIONS.
According to the latest census, taken in the Republic on the 19th of April, 1865, Chili is divided into fifteen. provinces, with a population of 1,814,218 inhabitants; but making the usual allowance of ten per cent. for the number omitted, the actual population cannot fall short of 2,000,000.
In this proportion the Indians are not included. Those belonging to independent tribes form a community of some 30,000 souls.
The emigrant settlement of Llanquihue, where 2,000 German agriculturists live in prosperity, and the military settlement of Magallanes, are included in the full amount of the population-the latter having only 195 settlers.
The names of the provinces of Chili (which will be seen plainly marked on the accompanying map), their capitals and the population of each, are shown in the following table:
Population of Provinces.
each Province. Atacama Copiapó
79,227 Coquimbo La Serena
142,456 Curicó Curico
100,574 Maule Cauquenes
123,598 Concepcion Concepcion
146,041 Arauco Los Anjeles
71,945 Valdivia Valdivia
23,429 Llanquihue Puerto Montt
37,619 Chiloé Ancud
This census shows an increase in the population of 375,098 over that of 1854, and of 730,417 over that of 1843. In the course of nature, the population of Chili will double every twenty-five years; but the current of emigration which has commenced to flow into the country, and which will be much greater after the war with Spain is over, wili undoubtedly make her one of the most populous Republics of South America.
The climate of Chili is one of the finest in the world. Being in the south temperate zone, its summer answers to our winter, December, January and February being the hottest months. During three months little or no rain falls, and the thermometer sometimes rises to 90° or 950 Fahrenheit; but the sea breeze at night cools the earth, and renders the temperature refreshing. The mean temperature of the winter months at Valparaiso is 54°,
at La Serena 54.8°, at Santiago 49°, at Valdivia 46.8°. The highest temperature known at Santiago is 90°, the lowest 47.5o. At Valparaiso, the highest mean point in summer, in three years' observation, was 78°, the lowest 62°, and the annual mean 70.8o. At Coquimbo, the mean summer temperature was 63.6°, and the entire range only 16.8o. At Concepcion, the mean summer temperature at 3 P.M. was 73.5°, the mean for the year about 56o. In Valdivia, the mean summer temperature is 60°, that of the year 55° At Santiago, the average number of hours during which rain fell in the year, during 26 years' observation, was 215), or about nine days. Further south, the quantity of rain is somewhat greater; the island of Chiloé having a very moist climate. Toward the north, on the contrary, the rain diminishes in quantity, and on the desert of Atacama seldom or never falls. As a result of this equable and uniform climate, trees, fruits and flowers of both tropical and temperate regions flourish well. In some parts of the country the deciduous trees seem to forget to disrobe themselves. “The native palm and pine of Araucania," says Lieut. Gilliss, “the chirimoya of trop
” ical America and the medlar of Japan, the magnolia of Florida and the olive of Asia, may all be found within the compass of a garden, not less luxuriant in their proportions and ever verdant foliage than under the climes of their origin.” The atmosphere is remarkably clear, especially at night. Indeed, so great is its superiority in this respect over that of the Cape of Good Hope, which was selected by English astronomers for their observations, that it is estimated that a 61 inch achromatic at Santiago is fully equal to a 121 inch one at the Cape. The crescent of Venus was more than once seen with the naked eye by astronomical observers.
The surface of Chili is greatly diversified. Beside the Andes, which form its Eastern border, and which, unless we except Ecuador, maintain a higher mean of elevation and shoot up into more lofty peaks here than in any other part of their course, there are two other ranges, of less elevation indeed, but occasionally rising nearly to the level of perpetual snow, which traverse portions of the narrow strip which intervenes between the Andes and the Pacific, commencing near the 33d parallel. The more easterly of these traverses the central portion of the republic, and is known as the Cordillera Central; it is broken only by the passage of rivers until it terminates on the Pacific, opposite the northern end of the island of Chiloé. The other, known as la Cordillera de la Costa, or the coast range, separating from the central near its origin, follows more nearly the line of the coast, throwing off spurs occasionally eastward; it is of lower elevation than the central range, and is in some parts arable. Beside these mountain chains, there are multitudes of isolated hills, rising from the valleys, and forming bold promontories on margins of river, lake, and ocean.
The principal valley of the country is that lying between the central chain and the Andes; but there are innumerable others, lying between the coast and the central ranges, or guarded by the outlying spurs of the Andes or the central chain. Of the mountains of Chili, a large proportion are now, or have been at some time, volcanic. How many possess this character cannot now be ascertained; but the streams of lava which score the sides of many which are now quiet, and the not infrequent eruption of the fiery flood, as well as the occasional emissions of smoke and flame from those still active, indicate that the volcanic character belongs to the greater part.
In the northern portion, the coast and central , Cordilleras spread out into the elevated plateau known as the desert of Atacama, which rises rapidly from the coast to a height varying from 4,000 to 10,000 feet, and from the comparatively level surface of which shoot up mountain peaks of great elevation, and often volcanic. By a recent proposed convention with Bolivia, Chili relinquishes all claim to that part of the desert lying North of lat, 23° South, and in this portion of her territory the only very lofty peak known is the volcano of Llullaillaco, which Dr. Philippi states at not far from 21,000 feet high. Few, if any, of the active volcanoes of the western continent exceed this height.
Geographers enumerate eleven passes over the Andes, from Chili into the Argentine Confederation, one or two of which, however, rest on tradition; two others, though practicable, and indeed comparatively easy, are not used on
account of the opposition of the Indian tribes in the vicinity; others still are objectionable because of their great length or their liability to obstruction by snow. Of the whole number, only two are capable of being used and made passable for wagons.
The great belt of Chili, between the Andes and the coast, ranging from eighty to a hundred miles in width, is traversed, south of lat. 31°, by numerous longitudinal ridges, called the Cordilleras of the coast, which are granitic. Further north, these spurs are more irregular in their direction, and are covered in great part with barren sands showing no trace of vegetation. This northern portion is of importance for its valuable mines of ores, while a strip along the south coast from Concepcion to the island of Chiloé, contains the principal mines of bituminous coal worked in Sonth America. The country between the Andes and the coast is particularly interesting to geologists for the evidences which it presents of several successive elevations, which it has experienced within modern times. Some of these are historical, as that of 1822, when the coast at Valparaiso, and for many leagues north and south of it, was uplifted about six feet. The bed of shells and sea pebbles which marked its former beach is now that distance above the reach of the highest tides; and a succession of similar collections of shells of species belonging to the coast, accompanying terraces found further inland, and at higher levels, indicate as many as five uplifts of this character, but of much greater height, the difference of level between two terraces being found one hundred and twenty feet, and between the next two one hundred and eighty-two feet. Around the bay of Coquimbo these terraces are very distinctly marked in the hilīs; and as they extend back into the country, they spread out into plains, upon which towns, like the beautiful La Serena, the capital of the province of Coquimbo, are built. Near Valparaiso, comininuted sea shells of living species are found at elevations of over five hundred and fifty feet; and some, it is stated, have been met with even one thousand three hundred feet above the sea level.