Abbildungen der Seite

that fact must be duly certified by the judge of the court which admitted him, before he is entitled to a passport as a citizen of the United States. A passport is good for two years only. It then expires by limitation. But on presentation at any of our legations abroad it will be taken up and a new one for two years more issued by the minister. If the citizen neglects to take out a passport in the United States, he can always get one at any of our legations, provided he can satisfy the minister that he is a bona fide citizen of the United States, and therefore entitled to it. But this is always more difficult than it is to identify himself at home; consequently it is always the safer and better plan to procure a passport before embarking for a foreign country.



HE present Republic of Colombia is bounded on the northwest by the Caribbean sea and

the free state of Costa Rica; south and southeast by Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela; and west by the Pacific ocean.

We thus outline an irregularshaped area of more than 500,000 square miles, which extends from the equator northward to a little beyond the 12th parallel, and from the 7th to the 82d meridian, comprising a country larger than France and Italy combined.

The Caribbean coast line is about 1,400 miles; that on the Pacific nearly 2,000. Both are marked by numerous inlets, bays, and gulfs, and have many deep and commodious harbors; and both are contiguous to a number of beautiful and fertile islands which constitute part of the national domain. Very few of these islands are as yet inhabited; and perhaps it is safe to say that less than one quarter of the area of the mainland is occupied by actual settlers.

The topographical features of the country are varied and interesting. There are ranges of high mountains, broad and deep valleys, rolling steppes, elevated plains, icy paramos, and snow-capped sierras, – all interspersed with great rivers, fresh-water lakes, and rapidly running streams. In the language of Baron Humboldt, the tourist needs but a “thermometer and a mule” to find any climate within the compass of a few leagues. When he tires of the torrid heats of the deep valleys, the frozen regions of the sierras are just in sight. When he has had enough of perpetual spring on the tablelands, he can, by a few hours' ride, readily find autumn on the steppes above, or summer in the valleys below.

The most extensive and fertile of the numerous tablelands are those of Pasto, Popayan, and Tuquerres, in the department of the Cauca; Santa Rosa and Herveo, in the department of Antioquia; Bogotá, Ubaté, and Simajaca, in Cundinamarca; Sogamoso, Tunja, and Chiquinquirá, in Boyaca; and Pamplona and Jerido, in Santander. The temperature on all these plateaux is that of perpetual spring, and the soil is exceptionally fertile. Two and three crops may be easily raised on the same ground within the year, and the planting and the harvest season may be in almost any month of the twelve.

The great prairies, or llanos as they are known in the language of the country, are generally eastward of the cordillera of Sumapaz, and extend to the borders of northern Brazil and southwestern Venezuela. They are vast, treeless regions, but generally well watered and thickly matted with perennial grasses which afford excellent pasturage. The soil is a black loam of immense depth, and needs but little cultivation to be even more productive than the plains of Louisiana and Texas.

The great forests of the Republic occupy the valleys of the rivers, the coves of the mountain ranges, and the rolling steppes southeastward of the prairies. Many of these forests are so dense as to be almost impenetrable; but nearly all of them, at least so far as they have been explored, abound with every variety and species of cabinet and dye woods, and every medicinal plant known to

Colombian and Venezuelan Republics

172 modern science. The dense groves of bamboo alone would be a source of great wealth in countries where, as in China and Japan, that picturesque and beautiful plant is so extensively utilized in the arts and also as an article of food.

The geologic formation of the country is generally igneous and metamorphic, except where it is purely alluvial, as in the deltas and valleys of the great rivers.

carboniferous strata which often crop out to the very

The masses of the cordilleras are granite, gneiss, porphyry, and basalt. In many localities there are thick surface, but are so generally broken and distorted by volcanic action as to be difficult to trace. In some places these volcanic disturbances appear to have been of comparatively recent date; in others the subterranean forces are still actively at work, as for instance near Sogamosa and Villete, where the heat is so great as to sensibly affect the climate. Deep gravel beds of glacial origin are seen on the sides and foot-hills of many of the high mountain ranges, and in some parts of the Sierra Nevadas, as, for instance, at San Rúiz and Tolima, the frozen drifts are still doing their silent work.

In some places, the larger rivers of the interior seem to have cut their way through whole mountain ranges, as, for instance, near Tunja and Vélez, and also on the western verge of the plateau of Bogotá. At Tunja and Vélez, the Sogamosa river appears to have become the outlet of a series of highland lakes which must have existed up to within a comparatively recent geologic period. And so also at Tequendama, twenty-eight miles from the national capital, where there is every indication that the rupture of the mountain was an event of perhaps less than ten centuries ago. Here the waters of the plain break through a deep and narrow fissure, plunge over a precipice more than 650 feet high, and


thence descend in a series of smaller cataracts to a deep caño in the torrid plains of Anapoime and Tocaime.

I have already had occasion to refer to some of the principal rivers of the isthmus. Besides these, however, mention should be made of the Bayano (or Chepo, as it is perhaps more frequently called), which flows into the great shallow Bay of Panama; the Darien, or San Miguel, which flows into the gulf of the same name; and also the San Juan, which has its outlet in another part of the Gulf of Darien. On the Atlantic or Caribbean side, the principle river is the Atrato, which, after a course of some 300 miles, flows into the gulf of Urába. At Quibdo, some 220 miles from its mouth, the Atrato is more than 850 feet wide, and from eight to twenty feet deep. Thence upward, some 32 miles to San Pablo, the rise of the current averages only about 3] inches to the mile, and light draught steamers may ascend with little difficulty. The impression which one receives while exploring this valley is that it was once, and at no very remote period, an estuary of the sea, the waters of which broke upon the foot of the cordillera; and the fossiliferous rocks near the headwaters of the Tuya, on the opposite side, seem to indicate that, not a great many centuries ago, the whole country was submerged by the Pacific ocean.

The fact is generally overlooked that the great Amazon river waters Colombian soil for a distance of nearly 600 miles, and forms, in part, the boundary line (or what is claimed to be such between Colombia and Brazil, and likewise between Colombia and Venezula. And it is, perhaps, as generally overlooked (except by the British authorities in Guiana) that the great Orinoco and its affluents are navigable far into the southeastern plains and valleys of Colombia; and that the possession

1 In Chapter I.

« ZurückWeiter »