Online Encyclopedia

VIA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 742 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
VIA, the name of one of the great continents into which the earth's surface is divided, embracing the north-eastern portion of the great mass of land which constitutes what is generally known as the Old World, of which Europe forms the north-western and Africa the south-western region. Much doubt attaches to the origin of the name, Some of the earliest Greek geographers divided their known world into two portions only, Europe and Asia, in which last Libya (the Greek name for Africa) was included. Herodotus, who ranks Libya as one of the chief divisions of the world, separating it from Asia, repudiates as fables the ordinary explanations assigned to the names Europe and Asia, but confesses his inability to say whence they came. It would appear probable, however, that the former of these words was derived from an Assyrian or Hebrew root, which signifies the west or setting sun, and the latter from a corresponding root meaning the east or rising sun, and that they were used at one time to imply the west and the east. There is ground also for supposing that they may at first have been used with a specific or restricted local application, a more extended signification having eventually been given to them. After the word Asia had acquired its larger sense, it was still specially used by the Greeks to designate the country around Ephesus. The idea of Asia as originally formed was necessarily indefinite, and long continued to be so; and the area to which the name was finally applied, as geographical knowledge increased, was to a great extent determined by arbitrary and not very precise conceptions, rather than on the basis of natural relations and differences subsisting between it and the surrounding regions. GEOGRAPHY The northern boundary of Asia is formed by the Arctic Ocean; the coast-line falls between 70° and 75° N., and so lies within the Arctic circle, having its extreme northern point in Cape Sivero-Vostochnyi (i.e. north-east) or Chelyuskin, in 78° N. On the south the coast-line is far more irregular, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the China Sea reaching about to the northern tropic at the mouths of the Indus, of the Ganges and of the Canton river; Boundaries. while the great peninsulas of Arabia, Hindostan and Cambodia descend to about to° N., and the Malay peninsula extends within a degree and a half of the equator. On the west the extreme point of Asia is found on the shore of the Mediterranean, at Cape Baba, in 26° E., nor far from the Dardanelles. Thence the boundary passes in the one direction through the Mediterranean, and down the Red Sea to the southern point of Arabia, at the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, in 45° E.; and in the other through the Black Sea, and along the range of Caucasus, following approximately 40° N. to the Caspian, whence it turns to the north on a line not far from the both meridian, along the Ural Mountains, and meets the Arctic Ocean nearly opposite the island of Novaya Zemlya. The most easterly point of Asia is East Cape (Vostochnyi, i.e. east, or Dezhnev), in 190° E., at the entrance of Bering Strait. The boundary between this point and the extremity of the Malay Peninsula follows the coast of the Northern Pacific and the China Sea, on a line deeply broken by the projection of the peninsulas of Kamchatka and Korea, and the recession of the Sea of Okhotsk, the Yellow Sea, and the Gulfs of Tongking and Siam. On the east and south-east of Asia are several important groups of islands, the more southern of which link this continent to Australia, and to the islands of the Pacific. The Wands. Kurile Islands, the Japanese group, Luchu, Formosa and the Philippines, may be regarded as unquestionable outliers of Asia. Between the islands of the Malay archipelago from Sumatra to New Guinea, and the neighbouring Asiatic continent, no definite relations appear ever to have existed, and no distinctly marked boundary for Asia has been established by the old geographers in this quarter. Modern science, however, has indicated a line of physical separation along the channel between Borneo and Celebes, called the Straits of Macassar, which follows approximately 120° E., to the west of which the flora and fauna are essentially Asiatic in their type, while to the south and east the Australian element begins to be distinctly marked, soon to become predominant. To this boundary has been given the name of Wallace's line, after the eminent naturalist, A. R. Wallace, who first indicated its existence. Owing to the great extent of Asia, it is not easy to obtain a correct conception of the actual form of its outline from ordinary maps, the distortions which accompany projections of Form of large spherical areas on a flat surface being necessarily continent. great and misleading. Turning, therefore, to a globe, Asia, viewed as a whole, will be seen to have the form of a great isosceles spherical triangle, having its north-eastern apex at East Cape (Vostochnyi), in Bering Strait; its two equal sides, in length about a quadrant of the sphere, or 65oo m., extending on the west to the southern point of Arabia, and on the east to the extremity of the Malay peninsula; and the base between these points occupying about 6o° of a great circle, or 4500 m., and being deeply indented by the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal on either side of the Indian peninsula. A great circle, drawn through East Cape and the southern point of Arabia, passes nearly along the coast-line of the Arctic Ocean, over the Ural Mountains, through the western part of the Caspian, and nearly along the boundary between Persia and Asiatic Turkey. Asia Minor and the north-western half of Arabia lie outside such a great circle, which otherwise indicates, with fair accuracy, the north-western boundary of Asia. In like manner a great circle drawn through East Cape and the extremity of the Malay peninsula, passes nearly over the coasts of Manchuria, China and Cochin-China, and departs comparatively little from the eastern boundary. Asia is divided laterally along the parallel of 40° north by a depression which, beginning on the east of the desert of Gobi, extends westwards through Mongolia to Chinese Turkestan. To General the west of Kashgar the central depression is limited by physlo- the meridional range of Sarikol and the great elevation graphs. of the Pamir, of which the Sarikol is the eastern face. The level of this depression (once a vast inland sea) between the mountains which enclose the sources of the Hwang-ho and the Sarikol range probably never exceeds 2000 ft. above sea, and modern researches tend to prove that in the central portions of the Gobi (about Lop Nor) it may be actually below sea-level. A vast pro- portion of the continent north of this central line is but a few hundred feet in altitude. Shelving gradually upward from the low flats of Siberia the general continental level rises to a great central water-parting, or divide, which stretches from the Black Sea through the Elburz and the Hindu Kush to the Tian-shan mountains in the Pamir region, and hence to Bering Strait on the extreme north-east. This great divide is not always marked by well-defined ranges facing steeply either to the north or south. There are considerable spaces where the strike, or axis, of the main ranges is transverse to the water-parting, which is then represented by intermediate highlands forming lacustrine regions with an indefinite watershed. Only a part of this great continental divide (including such ranges as the Hindu Kush, Tian-shan, Altai or Khangai) rises to any great height, a considerable portion of it being below 5000 ft. in altitude. South of the divide the level at once drops to the central depression of Gobi, which forms a vast interior, almost waterless space, where the local drainage is lost in deserts or swamps. South of this enclosed depression is another great hydrographic barrier which parts it from the low plains of the Amur, of China, Siam and India, bordered by the shallows of the Yellow Sea and the shoals which enclose the islands of Japan and Formosa, all of them once an integral part of the continent. This second barrier is one of the most mighty upheavals in the world, by reason both of its extent and its altitude. Starting from the Amur river and reaching along the eastern margin of the Gobi desert towards the sources of the Hwang-ho, it merges into the Altyn-tagh and the Kuen-lun, forming the northern face of the vast Tibetan highlands which are bounded on the south by the Himalaya. The Pamir highlands between the base of the Tian-shan mountains and the eastern buttresses of the Hindu Kush unite these two great divides, enclosing the Gobi depression on the west; and they would again be united on the east but for the transverse valley of the Amur, which parts the Khingan mountains from the Yablonoi system to the east of Lake Baikal. If we consider the whole continent to be divided into three sections, viz, a northern section with an average altitude of less than 5000 ft. above sea, where all the main rivers flow northward to the Mediterranean, the Arctic Sea, or the Caspian; a central section of depression, where the drainage is lost in swamps or hamuns, and of which the average level probably does not exceed 2000 ft. above sea; and a southern section divided between highly elevated table-lands from 15,000 to 16,000 ft. in altitude, and lowlands of the Arabian, Indian, Siamese and Chinese peninsulas, with an ocean outlet for its drainage; we find that there is only one direct connexion between northern and southern sections which involves no mountain passes, and no formidable barrier of altitudes. That one is afforded by the narrow valley of the Hari Rud to the west of Herat. From the Caspian to Karachi it is possible to pass without encountering any orographic obstacle greater than the divide which separates the valley of the Hari Rud from the Helmund hamun basin, which may be represented by an altitude of about 4000 ft. above sea-level. This fact possesses great significance in connexion with the development of Asiatic railways. If we examine the hydrographic basins of the three divisions of Asia thus indicated we find that the northern division, including the drainage falling into the Arctic Sea,the Aralo- Hydro" Caspian depression, or the Mediterranean, embraces an graph)'. area of about 6,394,500 sq. m., as follows: Area of Arctic river basins . „ Aralo-Caspian basin Mediterranean Total . 6,394,500 The southern division is nearly equal in extent Sq. m. Pacific drainage . 3,641,000 Indian Ocean . . 2,873,000 Total . . . 6,514,000 The interior or inland basins, including the lacustrine regions south of the Arctic watershed, the Gobi depression, Tibetan plateau, the Iranian (or Perso-Afghan) uplands, the Syro-Arabian inland basin, and that of Asia Minor, amount to 3,141,500 sq. m. or about half the extent of the other two. By far the largest Asiatic river basin is that of the Ob, which exceeds 1,000,000 sq. m. in extent. On the east and south the Amur embraces no less than 776,000 sq. m., the Yang-tsze-kiang including 685,000, the Ganges 409,500, and the Indus 370,000 sq. m.1 The lakes of Asia are innumerable, and vary in size from an inland sea (such as Lakes Baikal and Balkash) to a highland loch, or the indefinitely extended swamps of Persia. Many of them are at high elevations (Lake Victoria, 13,400 ft., being probably the most elevated), and are undoubted vestiges of an ancient period of glaciation. Such lakes, as a rule, show indications of a gradual decrease in size. Others are relics of an earlier geological period, when land areas 1 Authorities differ in their methods and results of computation of these and other similar measurements. Sq. m. 4,367,000 1,759,000 268,500 recently upheaved from the sea were spread at low levels with alternate inundations of salt and fresh water. Of these LopiNor and the Helmund hamuns are typical. Such lakes (in common with all the plateau hamuns of south-west Baluchistan and Persia) change their form and extent from season to season, and many of them are impregnated with saline deposits from the underlying strata. The kavirs, or salt depressions, of the Persian desert are more frequently widespread deposits of mud and salt than water-covered areas. Although for the purposes of geographical nomenclature, boundaries formed by a coast-line—that is, by depressions of the earth's PoiJticai solid crust below the ocean level—are most easily recogdivlsions. nized and are of special convenience; and although such boundaries, from following lines on which the continuity of the land is interrupted, often necessarily indicate important differences in the conditions of adjoining countries, and of their political and physical relations, yet variations of the elevation of the surface above the sea-level frequently produce effects not less marked. The changes of temperature and climate caused by difference of elevation are quite comparable in their magnitude and effect on all organized creatures with those due to differences of latitude; and the relative position of the high and low lands on the earth's surface, by modifying the direction of the winds, the fall of rain, and other atmospheric phenomena, produce effects in no sense less important than those due to the relative distribution of the land and sea. Hence the study of the mountain ranges of a continent is, for a proper apprehension of its physical conditions and characteristics, as essential as the examination of its extent and position in relation to the equator and poles, and the configuration of its coasts. From such causes the physical conditions of a large part of Asia, and the history of its population, have been very greatly influenced by the occurrence of the mass of mountain above de- Hima- scribed, which includes the Himalaya and the whole iayan elevated area having true physical connexion with that boundary. range, and occupies an area about 2000 M. in length and varying from too to 500 m. in width, between 65°and too°east and between 28° and 35° north. These mountains, which include the highest peaks in the world, rise, along their entire length, far above the line of perpetual snow, and few of the passes across the main ridges are at a less altitude than 15,000 or 16,o o ft. above the sea. Peaks of 20,000 ft. abound along the whole chain, and the points that exceed that elevation are numerous. A mountain range such as this, attaining altitudes at which vegetable life ceases, and the support of animal life is extremely difficult, constitutes an almost impassable barrier against the spread of all forms of living creatures. The mountain mass, moreover, is not less important in causing a complete separation between the atmospheric conditions on its opposite flanks, by reason of the extent to which it penetrates that stratum of the atmosphere which is in contact with the earth's surface and is effective in determining climate. The highest summits create serious obstructions to the movements of nearly three-fourths of the mass of the air resting on this part of the earth, and of nearly the whole of the moisture it contains; the average height of the entire chain is such as to make it an almost absolute barrier to one-half of the air and three-fourths of the moisture; while the lower ranges also produce important atmospheric effects, one-fourth of the air and one-half of the watery vapour it carries with it lying below 9000 ft. This great mass of mountain, constituting as it does a complete natural line of division across a large part of the continent, will form a convenient basis from which to work, in proceeding, as will now be done, to give a general view of the principal countries contained in Asia. The summit of the great mountain mass is occupied by Tibet, a country known by its inhabitants under the name of Bod or Bodyul. Tibet. Tibet is a rugged table-land, narrow as compared with its length, broken up by a succession of mountain ranges, which follow as a rule the direction of the length of the table-land, and commonly rise into the regions of perpetual snow; between the flanks of these lie valleys, closely hemmed in, usually narrow, having a very moderate inclination, but at intervals opening out into wide plains, and occupied either by rivers, or frequently by lakes from which there is no outflow and the waters of which are salt. The eastern termination of Tibet is in the line of snowy mountains which flanks China on the west, between the 27th and 35th parallels of latitude, and about 103° east. On the west the table-land is prolonged beyond the political limits of Tibet, though with much the same physical features, to about 7o°east, beyond which it terminates; and the ranges which art covered with perpetual snow as far west as Samarkand, thence rapidly diminish in height, and terminate in low hills north of Bokhara. The mean elevation of Tibet may be taken as 15,000 ft. above the sea. The broad mountainous slope by which it is connected with the lower levels of Hindostan contains the ranges known as the Himalaya; the name Kuen-lun is generally applied to the northern slope that descends to the central plains of the Gobi, though these mountains are not locally known under those names, Kuen-lun being apparently a Chinese designation. The extreme rigour of the climate of Tibet, which combines great cold with great drought, makes the country essentially very poor, and the chief portion of it little better than desert. The vegetationis everywhere most scanty, and scarcely anything deserving the name of a tree is to be found unless in the more sheltered spots, and then artificially planted. The population in the lower and warmer valleys live in houses, and follow agriculture; in the higher regions they are nomadic shepherds, thinly scattered over a large area. China lies between the eastern flank of the Tibetan plateau and the North Pacific, having its northern and southern limits about on 40° and 20° N. respectively. The country, though China. generally broken up with mountains of moderate elevation, possesses none of very great importance apart from those of its western border. It is well watered, populous, and, as a rule, highly cultivated, fertile, and well wooded; the climate is analogous to that of southern Europe, with hot summers, and winters everywhere cold and in the north decidedly severe. From the eastern extremity of the Tibetan mountains, between the 95th and tooth meridians, high ranges extend from about 35° N. in a southerly direction, which, spreading outwards as they go south, reach the sea at various points in Cochin- Indo- China, the Malay peninsula, and the east flank of Bengal. Chinese Between these ranges, which are probably permanently region. snowy to about 27° N., flow the great rivers of the Indo-Chinese peninsula, the Mekong, the Menam, the Salween, and the Irrawaddy, the valleys of which form the main portions of the states of Cochin-China (including Tongking and Cambodia), of Siam (including Laos) and of Burma. The people of Cochin-China are called Anam; it is probably from a corruption of their name for the capital of Tong-king, Kechao, that the Portuguese Cochin has been derived. All these countries are well watered, populous and fertile, with a climate very similar to that of eastern Bengal. The geography of the region in which the mountains of Cochin-China and Siam join Tibet is still imperfectly known, but there is no ground left for doubting that the great river of eastern Tibet, the Tsanpo, supplies the main stream of the Brahmaputra. The two great rivers of China, the Hwang-ho and the Yang-tsze-kiang take their rise from the eastern face of Tibet, the former from the north-east angle, the latter from the south-east. The main stream of this last is called Dichu in Tibet, and its chief feeder is the Ya-lung-kiang, which rises not far from the Hwang-ho, and is considered the territorial boundary between China and Tibet. British India comprises approximately the area between the 95th and 70th meridians, and between the Tibetan table-land and the Indian Ocean. The Indian peninsula from 25° N. south- wards British is a table-land, having its greatest elevation on the west, where the highest points rise to over 8000 ft., though India. the ordinary altitude of the higher hills hardly exceeds 4000 ft.; the general level of the table-land lies between 3000 ft. as a maximum and moo ft. From the delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra on the east to that of the Indus on the west, and intervening between the table-land of the peninsula and the foot of the Himalayan slope of the Tibetan plateau, lies the great plain of northern India, which rises at its highest point to about 1000 ft., and includes altogether, with its prolongation up the valley of Assam, an area of about 500,000 sq. m., comprising the richest, the most populous and most civilized districts of India. The great plain extends, with an almost unbroken surface, from the most western to the most eastern extremity of British India, and is composed of deposits so finely comminuted, that it is no exaggeration to say that it is possible to go from the Bay of Bengal up the Ganges, through the Punjab, and down the Indus again to the sea, over a distance of 2000 M. and more, without finding a pebble, however small. The great rivers of northern India—the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Indus—all derive their waters from the Tibetan mountain mass; and it is a remarkable circumstance that the northern water-parting of India should lie to the north of the Himalaya in the regions of central Tibet. The population of India is very large, some of its districts being among the most densely peopled in the world. The country is generally well cleared, and forests are, as a rule, found only along the flanks of the mountains, where the fall of rain is most abundant. The more open parts are highly cultivated, and large cities abound. The climate is generally such as to secure the population the necessaries of life without severe labour; the extremes of heat and drought are such as to render the land unsuitable for pasture, and the people everywhere subsist by cultivation of the soil or commerce, and live in settled villages or towns. The island of Ceylon is distinguished from the neighbouring parts of British India by little more than its separate administration and the Buddhistic religion of its population. The highest point in Ceylon rises to about 900o ft. above the sea, and the mountain slopes are densely covered with forest. The lower levels are in climate and cultivation quite similar to the regions in the same latitude on the Malay peninsula. Of the islands in the Bay of Bengal the Nicobar and Andaman groups are alone worth notice. They are placed on a line joining the north end of Sumatra and Cape Negrais, the south-western extremity of Burma. They possibly owe their existence to the volcanic agencies which are known to extend from Sumatra across this part of the Indian Ocean. The Laccadives and Maldives are groups of small coral islands, situated along the 73rd meridian, at no great distance from the Indian peninsula, on which they have a political dependency. The portion of Asia west of British India, excluding Arabia and Syria, forms another extensive plateau covering an area as large The as that of Tibet, though at a much lower altitude. Its Nearer southern border runs along the Arabian Sea, the Persian East. Gulf, the Tigris, and thence westward to the north-east angle of the Levant; on the north the high land follows nearly 36° N. to the southern shore of the Caspian, and thence to the Black Sea and Sea of Marmora. Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Iran or Persia, Armenia and the provinces of Asia Minor occupy this high region, with which they are nearly conterminous. The eastern flank of this tableland follows a line of hills drawn'a short distance from the Indus, between the mouth of that river and the Himalaya, about on the 72nd meridian; these hills do not generally exceed 4000 or 5000 ft. in elevation, but a few of the summits reach io,000 ft. or more. The southern and south-western face follows the coast closely up the Persian Gulf from the mouth of the Indus, and is formed farther west by the mountain scarp, which, rising in many points to 10,000 ft., flanks the Tigris and the Mesopotamian plains, and extends along Kurdistan and Armenia nearly to the 40th meridian; beyond which it turns along the Taurus range, and the north-eastern angle of the Mediterranean. The north-eastern portion of the Afghan tableland abuts on the Himalaya and Tibet, with which it forms a continuous mass of mountain between the 71st and 72nd meridians, and 34° and 36° N. From the point of intersection of the 71st meridian with the 36th parallel of latitude, an unbroken range of mountain stretches on one side. towards the north-east, up to the crest of the northern slope of the Tibetan plateau, and on the other nearly due west as far as the Caspian. The north-eastern portion of this range is of great altitude, and separates the headwaters of the Oxus, which run off to the Aral Sea, from those of the Indus and its Kabul tributary, which, uniting below Peshawar, are thence discharged southward into the Arabian Sea. The western part of the range, which received the name of Paropamisus Mons from the ancients, diminishes in height west of the 65th meridian and constitutes the northern face of the Afghan and Persian plateau, rising abruptly from the plains of the Turkoman desert, which lies between the Oxus and the Caspian. These mountains at some points attain a height of 10,000 or 12,000 ft. Along the south coast of the Caspian this line of elevation is prolonged as the Elburz range(Ilot to be confused with the Elburz of the Caucasus), and has its culminating point in Demavend, which rises to 19,400 ft. above the sea; thence It extends to the north-west to Ararat, which rises to upwards of 17,000 ft., from the vicinity of which the Euphrates flows off to the south-west, across the high lands of Armenia. Below the north-east declivity of this range lies Georgia, on the other side of which province rises the Caucasus, the boundary of Asia and Europe between the Caspian and Black Seas, the highest points of which reach an elevation of nearly 19,000 ft. West of Ararat high hills extend along the Black Sea, between which and the Taurus range lies the plateau of Asia Minor, reaching to the Aegean Sea; the mountains along the Black Sea, on which are the Olympus and Ida of the ancients, rise to 6000 or 7000 ft.; the Taurus is more lofty, reaching 8000 and to,0oo ft.; both ranges decline in altitude as they approach the Mediterranean. This great plateau, extending from the Mediterranean to the Indus, has a length of about 2500 m. from east to west, and a breadth of upwards of 600 m. on the west and nowhere of less than 250 M. It lies generally at altitudes between 2000 ft. and 800o ft. above the sea-level. Viewed as a whole, the eastern half of this region, comprising Persia, Afghanistan and Baluchistan, is poor and unproductive. The climate is very severe in the winter and extremely hot in summer. The rainfall Is very scanty, and running waters Ire hardly known, excepting among the mountains which form the scarps of the elevated country. The population is sparse, frequently nomadic and addicted to plunder; progress in the arts and habits of civilization is small. The western part of the area falls within the Turkish empire. Its climate is less hot and arid, its natural productiveness much greattl~,, and its population more settled and on the whole more advanced The peninsula of Arabia, with Syria, its continuation to the north-west, has some of the characteristics of the hottest and driest parts Ara4ia. of Persia and Baluchistan. Excepting the northern part of this tract, which is conterminous with the plain of Mesopotamia (which at its highest point reaches an elevation of about 700 ft. above the sea), the country is covered with low mountains, rising to 3000 or 4000 ft. in altitude, having among them narrow valleys in which the vegetation is scanty, with exceptional regions of greater fertility in the neighbourhood of the coasts, where the rainfall is greatest. In northern Syria the mountains of Lebanon rise to about ro,000 ft., and with a more copious water supply the country becomes more productive. The whole tract, excepting south-eastern Arabia, is nominally subject to Turkey, but the people are to no small extent practically independent, living a nomadic, pastoral and freebooting life under petty chiefs, in the more arid districts, but settled in towns in the more fertile tracts, where agriculture becomes more profitable and external commerce is established. The area between the northern border of the Persian high lands and the Caspian and Aral Seas is a nearly desert low-lying plain, II. 24extending to the foot of the north - western extremity of the great Tibeto-Himalayan mountains, and prolonged east- Trans-ward up the valleys of the Oxus (Amu-Darya) and caspian Jaxartes (Syr-Darya), and northward across the country re gion and of the Kirghiz to the south-western border of Siberia. central It includes Bokhara, Khiva and Turkestan proper, in Asia. which the Uzbeg Turks are dominant, and for the most part is inhabited by nomadic tribes, who are marauders, enjoying the reputation of being the worst among a race of professed robbers. The tribes to the north, subject to Russia, are naturally more peace-able, and have been brought into some degree of discipline. In this tract the rainfall is nowhere sufficient for the purposes of agriculture. which is only possible by help of irrigation; and the fixed population (which contains a non-Turkish element) is comparatively small, and restricted to the towns and the districts near the rivers. The north-western extremity of the elevated Tibeto-Himalayan mountain plateau is situated about on 73° E. and 39° N. This region is known as Pamir; it has all the characteristics of the highest regions of Tibet, and so far fitly receives the Russian designation of steppe; but it seems to have no special peculiarities, and the reason of its having been so long regarded as a geographical enigma is not obvious. From it the Oxus, or Amu, flows off to the west, and the Jaxartes, or Syr, to the north, through the Turki state of Khokand, while to the east the waters run down past Kashgar to the central desert of the Gobi, uniting with the streams from the northern slope of the Tibetan plateau that traverse the principalities of Yarkand and Khotan, which are also Turki. Here the Tibetan mountains unite with the line of elevation which stretches across the continent from the Pacific, and which separates Siberia from the region commonly spoken of under the name of central Asia. A range of mountains, called Stanovoi, rising to heights of 4000 or 5000 ft., follows the southern coast of the eastern extremity of Asia from Kamchatka to the borders of Manchuria, as far Man- as the 135th meridian, in lat. 55 ° N. Thence the Yablonoi churia. range, continuing in the same direction, divides the waters of the river Lena, which flows through Siberia into the Arctic Sea, from those of the river Amur, which falls into the North Pacific; the basin of this river, with its afiluents, constitutes Manchuria. From the north of Manchuria the Khingan range stretches southward to the Chinese frontier near Peking, east of which the drainage falls into the Amur and the Yellow Sea, while to the west is an almost rainless region, the inclination of which is towards the central area of the continent, Mongolia. From the western end of the Yablonoi range, on the 115th meridian, a mountainous belt extends along a somewhat irregular line to the extremity of Pamir, known under various names Mongolia. in its different parts, and broken up into several branches, enclosing among them many isolated drainage areas, from which there is no outflow, and within which numerous lakes are formed. The most important of these ranges is the Tian-shan or Celestial Mountains, which form the northern boundary of the Gobi desert; they lie between 400 and 430 N., and between 75° and 95° E., and some of the summits are said to exceed 20,000 ft. in altitude; along the foot of this range are the principal cultivated districts of central Asia, and here too are situated the few towns which have sprung up in this barren and thinly peopled region. Next may be named the Ala-tau, on the prolongation of the Tian-shan, flanking the Syr on the north, and rising to 14,000 or 15,000 ft. It forms the barrier between the Issyk-kul and Balkash lakes, the elevation of which is about 5000 ft. Last is the Altai, near the 50th parallel, rising to 10,000 or 12,000 ft., which separates the waters of the great rivers of western Siberia from those that collect into the lakes of north-west Mongolia, Dzungaria and Kalka. A line of elevation is continued west of the Altai to the Ural Mountains, not rising to considerable altitudes; this divides the drainage of south-west Siberia from the great plains lying north-east of the Aral Sea. The central area bounded on the north and north-west by the Yablonoi Mountains and their western extension in the Tian-shan, on the south by the northern face of the Tibetan plateau, and on the east by the Khingan range before alluded to, forms the great desert of central Asia, known as the Gobi. Itseastern part is nearly conterminous with south Mongolia, its western forms Chinese or eastern Turkestan. It appears likely that no part of this great central Asiatic desert is less than 2000 ft. above the sea-level. The elevation of the plain about Kashgar and Yarkand is from 4000 to 6000 ft. The more norther'? parts of Mongolia are between 4000 and 6000 ft., and no portion of the route across the desert between the Chinese frontier and Kiakhta is below 3000 ft. The precise positions of the mountain ridges that traverse this central area are not properly known; their elevation is everywhere considerable, and many points are known to exceed 10,000 or 12,000 ft. In Mongolia the population is essentially nomadic, its wealth consisting in herds of horned cattle, sheep, horses and camels. The Turki tribes, occupying western Mongolia, are among the least civilized of human beings, and it is chiefly to their extreme barbarity and cruelty that our ignorance of central Asia is due. The climate is very severe, with great extremes of heat and cold. The drought is very great; rain falls rarely and in small quantities. The surface is for the most part a hard stony desert, areas of blown sand occurring but exceptionally. There are few towns or settled villages, except II along the slopes of the higher mountains, on which the rain falls more abundantly, or the melting snow supplies streams for irrigation. It is only in such situations that cultivated lands are found, and beyond them trees are hardly to be seen. The portion of Asia which lies between the Arctic Ocean and the mountainous belt bounding Manchuria, Mongolia and Turkestan Siberia. on the north is Siberia. It includes an immense high and broken plateau which spreads from south-west to north-east, losing in width and altitude as it advances north-east. it is fringed on either side by high border ridges, which subside on the north-west into a stretch of high plains, 1500 to 2000 ft. high, filially dropping to lowlands a few hundred feet above sea-level. The extremes of heat and cold are very great. The rainfall, though not heavy, is sufficient to maintain such vegetation as is compatible with the conditions of temperature, and the surface is often swampy or peaty. The mountain-sides are commonly clothed with pine forests, and the plains with grasses or shrubs. The population is very scanty; the cultivated tracts are comparatively small in extent and restricted to the more settled districts. The towns are entirely Russian. The indigenous races are nomadic Mongols, of a peaceful character, but in a very backward state of civilization. The Ural Mountains do not exceed 2000 or 3000 ft. in average altitude, the highest summits not exceeding 600o ft., and one of the passes being as low as 1400 ft. In the southern half of the range are the chief mining districts of Russia. The Ob,Yenisei and Lena,which traverse Siberia, are among the largest rivers in the world. The southern group of the Malay Archipelago, from Sumatra to Java and Timor, extends in the arc of a circle between 95° and Malay 127° E., and from 5° to to° S. The central part of the Archi- group is a volcanic region, many of the volcanoes being pe/ago. still active, the summits frequently rising to Io,o00 ft. or more. Sumatra, the largest of the islands, is but thinly peopled; the greater part of the surface is covered with dense forest, the cultivated area being comparatively small, confined to the low lands, and chiefly in the volcanic region near the centre of the island. Java is the most thickly peopled, best cultivated and most advanced island of the whole Eastern archipelago. It has attained a high degree of wealth and prosperity under the Dutch government. The people are peaceful and industrious, and chiefly occupied with agriculture. The highest of the volcanic peaks rises to 12,000 ft. above the sea. The eastern islands of this group are less productive and less advanced. Borneo, the most western and the largest of the northern group of islands which extends between t Io° and 150° E., as far as New Guinea or Papua, is but little known. The population is small, rude and uncivilized ; and the surface is rough and mountainous and generally covered with forest except near the coast, to the alluvial lands on which settlers have been attracted from various surrounding countries. The highest mountain rises to nearly 14,000 ft., but the ordinary elevations do not exceed 4000 or 5000 ft. Of Celebes less is known than of Borneo, which it resembles in condition and natural characteristics. The highest known peaks rise to 8000 ft., some of them being volcanic. New Guinea extends almost to the same meridian as the eastern coast of Australia, from the north point of which it is separated by Pacific. Torres Straits. Very little is known of the interior. The /stands. mountains are said to rise to 20,000 ft., having the appear- ance of being permanently covered with snow; the surface seems generally to be clothed with thick wood. The inhabitants are of the Negrito type, with curly or crisp and bushy hair; those of the west coast have come more into communication with the traders of other islands and are fairly civilized. Eastward, many of the tribes are barbarous savages. The Philippine Islands lie between 5° and 20° N., between Borneo and southern China. The highest land does not rise to a greater height than 10,250 ft.; the climate is well suited for agriculture, and the islands generally are fertile and fairly cultivated, though not coming up to the standard of Java either in wealth or population. Formosa, which is situated under the northern tropic, near the coast of China, is traversed by a high range of mountains, reaching nearly 13,000 ft. in elevation. On its western side, which is occupied by an immigrant Chinese population, are open and well-cultivated plains. on the east it is mountainous, and occupied by independent indigenous tribes in a less advanced state. The islands of Japan, not including Sakhalin, of which half is Japanese, lie between the 30th and 45th parallels. The whole group is traversed by a line of volcanic mountains, some of which are in activity, the highest point being about 13,000 ft. above the sea. The country is generally well watered, fertile and well cultivated. The Japanese people have added to their ancient civilization and their remarkable artistic faculty, an adaptation of Western methods, and a capacity for progress in war and commerce, which single them out among Eastern races as a great modern world-force. Ex PLO RATION The progress of geodetic surveys in Russia had long ago extended across the European half of the great empire, St Petersburg being connected with Tiflis on the southern slopes of the Caucasus by a direct system of triangulation carried out with the highest scientific precision. St Petersburg, again, is connected with Greenwich by European systems of triangulation; and the Greenwich meridian is adopted by Russia as the zero for all her longitude values. But beyond the eastern shores of the Caspian no system of direct geodetic measurements by first-class triangulation has been possible, and the surveys of Asiatic Russia are separated from those of Europe by the width of that inland sea. The arid nature of the trans-Caspian deserts has proved an insuperable obstacle to those rigorous methods of geodetic survey which distinguish Russian methods in Europe, so that Russian geography in central Asia is dependent on other means than that of direct measurement for the co-ordinate values in latitude and longitude for any given point. The astronomical observatory at Tashkent is adopted for the initial starting-point of the trans-Caspian triangulation of Russia; the triangulation ranks as second-class only, and now extends to the Pamir frontier beyond Osh. The longitude of the Tashkent observatory has been deter-mined by telegraph differentially with Pulkova as follows: H. M. S. In 1895 via Ekaterinburg and Omsk . 2 35 52.151 „ 1891 „ Saratov „ Orenburg . 2 35 52.228 „ 1895 „ Kiev „ Baku . 2 35 51'997 With these three independent values, all falling within a range of os•25, it is improbable that the mean value has an error as large as os•Io. Exact surveys in Russia, based upon triangulation, extend as far east as Chinese Turkestan in longitude about 75° E. Extent of of Greenwich. In India geodetic triangulation furnishes exact surthe basis for exact surveys as far east as the eastern veys in boundaries of Burma in longitude about too° E. Asia. The close of the 19th century witnessed the forging of the final links in the great geodetic triangulation of India, so far as the peninsula is concerned. Further geodetic connexion with the European systems remains to be accomplished. Since 1890 further and more rigorous application of the telegraphic method of deter-mining longitudes differentially with Greenwich has resulted in a slight correction (amounting to about 2” of arc) to the previous determination by the same method through Suez. This last determination was effected through four arcs as follows: I. Greenwich—Potsdam. II. Potsdam—Teheran. IV. Bushire—Karachi. Each arc was measured with every precaution and a multitude of observations. The only element of uncertainty was caused by the retardation of the current, which between Potsdam and Teheran (3000 m.) took os•20 to travel; but it is probable that the final value can be accepted as correct to within os•o5. The final result of this latest determination is to place the Madras observatory 2' 27” to the west of the position adopted for it on the strength of absolute astronomical determinations. But while we have yet to wait for that expansion of principal triangulation which will bring Asia into connexion with Europe Connexion by the direct process of earth measurement, a topo- between graphical connexion has been effected between Russian /lssian and Indian surveys which sufficiently proves that the and deductive methods employed by both countries for the Indian determination of the co-ordinate values of fixed points so surveys. far agree that, for all practical purposes of future Asiatic cartography, no difficulty in adjustment between Indian and Russian mapping need be apprehended. In connexion with the Indian triangulation minor extensions carried out on systems involving more or less irregularity have been pushed outwards on all sides. They reach through Extension Afghanistan and Baluchistan to the eastern districts of ogee. Persia, and along the coast of Makran to that of Arabia. graphical They have long ago included the farther mountain surveys. peaks of Nepal, and they now branch outwards towards western China and into Siam. These far extensions furnish the basis for a vast amount of exploratory survey of a strictly geographical character, and they have contributed largely towards raising the standard of accuracy in Asiatic geographical surveys to a level which was deemed unattainable fifty years ago. There is yet a vast field open in Asia for this class of surveys. While at the close of the 19th century western Asia (exclusive of Arabia) may be said to have been freed from all geographical perplexity, China, Mongolia and eastern Siberia still include enormous areas of which geographical knowledge is in a primitive stage of nebulous uncertainty. Of scientific geographical exploration in Asia (beyond the limits of actual surveys) the modern period has been so prolific that it is only possible to refer in barest outline to some of the principal Indian expeditions, most of which have been directed either to explorers. the great elevated tableland of Tibet or to the central depression which exists to the north of it. In southern Tibet the trans-Himalayan explorations of the native surveyors attached to the Indian survey, notably Pundits Nain Singh and Krishna, added largely to our knowledge of the great plateau. Nain Singh explored the sources of the Indus and of the Upper Brahmaputra in the years 1865–1867; and in 1874–1875 he followed a line from the eastern frontiers of Kashmir to the Tengri Nor lake and thence to Lhasa, in which city he remained for some months. Krishna's remarkable journey in 1879–1882 extended from Lhasa northwards through Tsaidam to Sachu, or Saitu, in Mongolia. He subsequently passed through eastern Tibet to the town of Darchendo, or Tachienlu, on the high road between Lhasa and Peking, and on the borders of China. Failing to reach India through Upper Assam he returned to the neighbourhood of Lhasa, and crossed the Himalayas by a more westerly route. Both these explorers visited Lhasa. In 1871-18i3 the great Russian explorer, Nicolai Prjevalsky, crossed the Gobi desert from the north to Kansu in western China. Russian He first defined the geography of Tsaidam, and mapped explorers. the hydrography of that remarkable region, from which emanate the great rivers of China, Siam and Burma. He penetrated southwards to within a month's march of Lhasa. In 1876 he visited the Lop Nor and discovered the Altyn Tagh range. In 1879 he followed up the Urangi river to the Altai Mountains, and demonstrated to the world the extraordinary physical changes which have passed over the heart of the Asiatic continent since Jenghiz Khan massed his vast armies in those provinces. He crossed, and named, the Dzungarian extension of the Gobi desert, and then traversed the Gobi itself from Hami to Sachu, which became a point of junction between his journeys and those of Krishna. He visited the sources of the Hwang-ho (Yellow river) and the Salween, and then returned to Russia. His fourth journey in 1883-1885 was to Sining (the great trade centre of the Chinese borderland), and thence through northern Tibet (crossing the Altyn Tagh to Lop Nor), and by the Cherchen-Keriya trade route to Khotan. From Khotan he followed the Tarim to Aksu. Following Prjevalsky the Russian explorers, Pevtsov and Roborovski, in 1889-1890 (and again in 1894), added greatly to our know-ledge of the topography of western Chinese Turkestan and the northern borders of Tibet ; all these Russian expeditions being con-ducted on scientific principles and yielding results of the highest value. Among other distinguished Russian explorers in Asia, the names of Lessar, Annentkov (who bridged the Trans-Caspian deserts by a railway), P. K. Kozlov and Potanin are conspicuous during the 19th century. Although the establishment of a lucrative trade between India and central Asia had been the dream of many successive Indian Other viceroys, and much had been done towards improving explore- the approaches to Simla from the north, very little was bons to really known of the highlands of the Pamirs, or of the central regions of the great central depression, before the mission of Asia. Sir Douglas Forsyth to Yarkand in 1870. Robert Barkley Shaw and George Hayward were the European pioneers of geography into the central dominion of Kashgar, arriving at Yarkand within a few weeks of each other in 1868. Shaw subsequently accompanied Forsyth's mission in 187o, when Henry Trotter made the first maps of Chinese Turkestan. The next great accession to our knowledge of central Asiatic geography was gained with the Russo-Afghan Boundary Commission of 1884-1886, when Afghan Turkestan and the Oxus regions were mapped by Colonel Sir T. H. Holdich, Colonel St George Gore and Sir Adelbert Talbot; and when Ney Elias crossed from China through the Pamirs and Badakshan to the camp of the commission, identifying the great " Dragon Lake," Rangkul, on his way. About the same time a mission, under Captain (afterwards Sir Willaim) Lockhart, crossed the Hindu Kush into Wakhan, and returned to India by the Bashgol valley of Kafiristan. This was Colonel Woodthorpe's opportunity, and he was then enabled to verify the results of W. W. M'Nair's previous explorations, and to determine the conformation of the Hindu Kush. In 1885 Arthur Douglas Carey and Andrew Dalgleish, following more or less the tracks of Prjevalsky, contributed much that was new to the map of Asia ; and in 1886 Captain (afterwards Sir Francis) Younghusband completed a most adventurous journey across the heart of the continent by crossing the Murtagh, the great mountain barrier between China and Kashmir. It was in 1886-1887 that Pierre G. Bonvalot, accompanied by Prince Henri d'Orleans, crossed the Tibetan plateau from north Tibetan to south, but failed to enter Lhasa. In 1889-1891 the explore- American traveller, W. W. Rockhill, commenced his boas. Tibetan journeys, and also attempted .to reach Lhasa, without success. By his writings, as much as by his explorations, Rockhill has made his name great in the annals of Asiatic research. In 1891 Hamilton Bower made his famous journey from Leh to Peking. He, too, failed to penetrate the jealously-guarded portals of Lhasa; but he secured (with the assistance of a native surveyor) a splendid addition to our previous Tibetan mapping. In 1891-1892-1893 the gallant French explorer, Dutreuil de Rhins, was in the field of Tibet, where he finally sacrificed his life to his work; and the same years saw George N. (afterwards Lord) Curzon in the Pamirs, and St George Littledale on his first great Tibetan journey, accompanied by his wife. Littledale's first journey ended at Peking; his second, in 1894-1895, took him almost within sight of the sacred walls of Lhasa, but he failed to pass inside. Greatest among modern Asiatic explorers (if we except Prjevalsky) is the brave Swede, Professor Sven Hedin, whose travels through the deserts of Takla Makan and Tibet, and whose investigations in the glacial regions of the Sarikol mountains, occupied him from 1894 to 1896. His is a truly monumental record. From 1896 to 1898 we find two British cavalry officers taking the front position in the list of Tibetan travellers—Captain M. S. \Vellby of the 18th Hussars and Captain H. Deasy of the 16th Lancers, each striking out a new line, and rendering most valuable service to geography. The latter continued the Pamir triangulation, which had been carried across the Hindu Kush by Colonels Sir T. H. Holdich and R. A. Wahab during the Pamir Boundary Commission of 1895, into the plains of Kashgar and to the sources of the Zarafshan. Since the beginning of the century the work of Deasy in western Tibet has been well extended by Dr M. A. Stein and Captain C. G. Rawling, who have increased our knowledge of ancient fields of industry and commerce in Turkestan and Tibet. Ellsworth Huntington threw new light on the Tian-shan plateau and the Alai range by his explorations of 1903; and Sven Hedin, between 1899 and 1902, was collecting material in Turkestan and Tibetan fields, and resumed his journeys in 1905-1908, the result being to revolutionize our knowledge of the region north of the upper Tsanpo (see TIBET). The mission of Sir Francis Younghusband to Lhasa in 1904 resulted in an extension of the Indian system of triangulation which finally determined the geographical position of that city, and in a most valuable reconnaissance of the valleys of the Upper Brahmaputra and Indus by Captains C. H. D. Ryder and C. G. Rawling. Meanwhile, in the Farther East so rapid has been the progress of geographical research since the first beginnings of investigation into the route connexion between Burma and China in 1874 (when the brave Augustus Margary lost his life), that a gradually increasing tide of exploration, setting from east to west and back again, has culminated in a flood of inquiring experts intent on economic and 'commercial development in China, essaying to unlock those doors to trade which are hereafter to be propped open for the benefit of humanity. Captain William Gill, of the Indian survey, first made his way across China to eastern Tibet and Burma, and subsequently delighted the world with his story of the River of Golden Sand. Then followed another charming writer, E. C. Baber, who, in 1877-1878, unravelled the geographic mysteries of the western provinces of the Celestial empire. Mark Bell crossed the continent in 1887 and illustrated its ancient trade routes, following the steps of Archibald Colquhoun, who wandered from Peking to Talifu in 1881. Meanwhile, the acquisition of Burma and the demarcation of boundaries had opened the way to the extension of geographical surveys in directions hitherto untraversed. Woodthorpe was followed into Burmese fields by many others; and amongst the earliest travellers to those mysterious mountains which hide the sources of the Irrawaddy, the Salween and the Mekong, was Prince Henri d'Orleans Burma was rapidly brought under survey; Siam was already in the .map-making hands of James M'Carthy, whilst Curzon and Warrington Smyth added much to our knowledge of its picturesque coast districts. No more valuable contribution to the illustration of western Chinese configuration has been given to the public than that of C. C. Manifold who explored and mapped the upper basin of the Yang-tsze river between the years 1900 and 1904, whilst our knowledge of the geography of the Russo-Chinese borderland on the north-east has been largely advanced by the operations attending the Russo-Japanese war which terminated in 1905. Turning our attention westwards, no advance in the progress of scientific geography is more remarkable than that recorded on the northern and north-western frontiers of India. Here there is little matter of exploration. It has rather been a wide extension of scientific geographical mapping. The Afghan war of 1878-8o; the Russo-Afghan Boundary Commission of 1884-1885; the occupation of Gilgit and Chitral; the extension of boundaries east and north of Afghanistan, and again, between Baluchistan and Persia —these, added to the opportunities afforded by the systematic survey of Baluchistan which has been steadily progressing since 188o—combined to produce a series of geographical maps which extend from the Oxus to the Indus, and from the Indus to the Euphrates. In these professional labours the Indian surveyors have been assisted by such scientific geographers as General Sir A. Houtum Schindler, Captain H. B. Vaughan and Major Percy M. Sykes in Persia, and by Sir George Robertson and Cockerill in Kafiristan and the Hindu Kush. In still more western fields of research much additional light has been thrown since 1875 on the physiography of the great deserts and oases of Arabia. The labours of Charles Doughty and Arabia. Wilfrid S. Blunt in northern Arabia in 1877-1878 were followed by those of G. Schweinfurth and E. GIaser in the south-west about ten years later. In 1884-1885 Colonel S. B. Miles made his adventurous journey through Oman, while Theodore Bent threw searchlights backwards into ancient Semitic history by his investigations in the Bahrein Islands in 1888 and in Hadramut in 1894-1895. In northern Asia it is impossible to follow in detail the results of the organized Russian surveys. The vast steppes and forest-clad mountain regions of Siberia have assumed a new geographical aspect in the light of these revelations, and already promise a new world of economic resources to Russian enterprise in the near future. A remarkable expedition by Baron Toll in 1892 through the regions watered by the Lena, resulted in the collection of material which Chinese explorations. Indian frontiers—Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Persia. Northern Asia, Siberia, 2c. will greatly help to elucidate some of the problems which beset the geological history of the world, proving inter alia the primeval existence of a boreal zone of the Jurassic sea round the North Pole. In no other period of the world's history, of equal length of time, has so much. scientific enterprise been directed towards the field of Asiatic inquiry. The first great result of recent geographical research has been to modify pre-existing ideas of the orography of the vast central region represented by Tibet and Mongolia. The great highland plateau which stretches from the Himalaya northwards to Chinese Turkestan, and from the frontier of Kashmir eastwards to China, has now been defined with comparative geographical exactness. The position of Sachu (or Saitu) in Mongolia may be taken as an obligatory point in modern map construction. The longitude value now adopted is 9'1° 54' E. of Greenwich, which is the revised value given by Prjevalsky in the map accompanying the account of his fourth exploration into central Asia. Other values are as follows: Prjevalsky, by his second and third explorations 94° 26' Krishna • 94° 23' Carey and Dalgleish . 94° 48' Littledale . . 94° 49' Kreitner (with Szecheny's expedition) • 94° 58' The longitude of Darchendo, or Tachienlu, on the extreme east, may be accepted as another obligatory point. The adopted value by the Royal Geographical Society is 102° 12'. Krishna gives 102° 15", Kreitner 102° 5", Baber 102° 18". South and west the bounding territories are well fixed in geographical position by the Indian survey determinations of the value of Himalayan peaks. On the north the Chinese Turkestan explorations are now brought into survey connexion with Kashmir and India. No longer do we regard the Kuen-lun mountains, which extend from the frontiers of Kashmir, north of Leh, almost due east to the Chinese province of Kansu, as the southern limit of the Gobi or Turkestan depression. This very remarkable longitudinal chain is undoubtedly the northern limit of the Chang Tang, the elevated highland steppes of Tibet; but from it there branches a minor system to the north-east from a point in about 83° E. longitude, which culminates in the Altyn Tagh, and extends eastwards in a continuous water-divide to the Nan Shan mountains, north of the Koko Nor basin. Thus between Tibet and the low-lying sands of Gobi we have, thrust in, a system of elevated valleys (Tsaidam), 8000 to 9000 ft. above sea-level, forming an intermediate steppe between the highest regions and the lowest, east of Lop Nor. All this is comparatively new geography, and it goes far to explain why the great trade routes from Peking to the west were pushed so far to the north. On the western edge of the Kashgar plains, the political boundary between Russia and China is defined by the meridional range of Russo- Sarikol. This range (known to the ancients as Taurus Chinese and in medieval times as Bolor) like many others of the boundary. most important great natural mountain divisions of the world, consists of two parallel chains, of which the western is the water-divide of the Pamirs, and the eastern (which has been known as the Kashgar or Kandar range) is split at intervals by lateral gorges to allow of the passage of the main drainage from the eastern Pamir slopes. In western Asia we have learned the exact value of the mountain barrier which lies between Mery and Herat, and have mapped its connexion with the Elburz of Persia. We can now Indian frontiers— fully appreciate the factor in practical politics which Afghan- that definite but somewhat irregular mountain system istan, tee. represents which connects the water-divide north of Herat with the southern abutment of the Hindu Kush, near Bamian. Every pass of importance is known and recorded; every route of significance has been explored and mapped; Afghanistan has assumed a new political entity by the demarcation of a boundary; the value of Herat and of the Pamirs as bases of aggression has been assessed, and the whole intervening space of mountain and plain thoroughly examined. Although within the limits of western Asiatic states, still under Asiatic government and beyond the active influence of European Persia interests, the material progress of the Eastern world has appeared to remain stationary, yet large accessi8ns to geographical knowledge have at least been made, g~rriid in some in-stances a deeper knowledge of the surface of the coufitry and modern conditions of life has led to the straightening of many crooked paths in history, and a better appreciation of the slow processes of advancing civilization. The steady advance of scientific inquiry into every corner of Persia, backed by the unceasing efforts of a new school of geographical explorers, has left nothing unexamined that can be subjected to superficial observation. The geographical map of the country is fairly complete, and with it much detailed in-formation is now accessible regarding the coast and harbours of the Persian Gulf, the routes and passes of the interior, and the possibilities of commercial development by the construction of trade roads uniting the Caspian, the Karun, the Persian Gulf, and India, via Seistan. Persia has assumed a comprehensible position as a actor in future Eastern politics. In Arabia progress has been slower, although the surveys carried out by Colonel Wahab in connexion with the boundary determined in the Aden hinterland added more exact geographical Arabia, knowledge within a limited area. Little more is known of the wide spaces of interior desert than has already been given to the world in the works of Sir Richard F. Burton, Wm. Gifford Palgrave and Sir Lewis Pelly amongst Englishmen, and Karsten Niebuhr, John Lewis Burckhardt, Visconte, Joseph Halevy and others, amongst foreign travellers. Charles Doughty and Wilfrid S. Blunt have visited and illustrated the district of Nejd, and de-scribed the waning glories of the Wahabi empire. But extended geographical knowledge does not point to any great practical issue. Commercial relations with Arabia remain much as they were in 1875. In Asia Minor, Syria and Mesopotamia there is little to record of progress in material development beyond the promises held out by the Euphrates Valley railway concession to a Asia German company. The exact information obtained by Minor, the researches of English surveyors in Palestine and beyond Jordan, or by the efforts of explorers in the regions that lie between the Mediterranean and the Caspian, have so far led rather to the elucidation of history than to fresh commercial enterprise or the possible increase of material wealth. Asiatic Russia, especially eastern Siberia and Mongolia, have been brought within the sphere of Russian exploration, with results so surprising as to form an epoch in the, history of Asia. Russia in Here there has been a development of the resources Asis. of the Old World which parallels the best records of the New. The great central depression of the continent which reaches from the foot of the Pamir plateau on the west through the Tarim desert to Lop Nor and the Gobi has yielded up many interesting Chinese secrets. The remarkable phenomenon of the periodic Turkestan shifting of the Lop Nor system has been revealed by the andoxus researches of Sven Hedin, and the former existence of basin. highly civilized centres of Buddhist art and industry in the now sand-strewn wastes of the Turkestan desert has been clearly demonstrated by the same great explorer and by Dr M. A. Stein. The depression westward of the Caspian and Aral basins, and the original connexion of these seas, have also come under the close investigation of Russian scientists, with the result that the theory of an ancient connexion between the Oxus and the Caspian has been displaced by the more recent hypothesis of an extension of the Caspian Sea eastwards into Trans-Caspian territory within the post-Pleiocene age. The discovery of shells (now living in the Caspian) at a distance of about 100 m. inland, at an altitude of 140 to 280 ft. above the present level of the Caspian, gives support to this hypo-thesis, which is further advanced by the ascertained nature of the Kara-kum sands, which appear to be a purely marine formation exhibiting no traces of fluviatile deposits which might be considered as delta deposits of the Oxus. In the discussion of this problem we find the names of Baron A. Kaulbars, Annentkov, P. M. Lessar, and A. M. Konshin prominent. Further matter of interest in connexion with the Oxus basin was elucidated by the researches of L. Griesbach in connexion with the Russo-Afghan Boundary Commission. He reported the gradual formation of an anticlinal or ridge extending longitudinally through the great Balkh plain of Afghan Turkestan, which effectually shuts off the northern affluents of that basin from actual junction with the river. This evidence of a gradual process of upheaval still in action may throw some light on the physical (especially the climatic) changes which must have passed over that part of Asia since Balkh was the " mother of cities," the great trade centre of Asia, and the plains of Balkh were green with cultivation. In the restoration of the out-lines of ancient and medieval geography in Asia Sven Hedin's discoveries of the actual remains of cities which have long been buried under the advancing waves of sand in the Takla Makan desert, cities which flourished in the comparatively recent period of Buddh ' ist ascendancy in High Asia, is of the very highest interest, filling up a blank in the identification of sites mentioned by early geographers and illustrating more fully the course of old pilgrim routes. With the completion of the surveys of Baluchistan and Makran much light has also been thrown on the ancient connexion between east and west; and the final settlement of the southern Beach_ boundaries of Afghanistan has led to the reopening of istan and one at least of the old trade routes between Seistan Makran. and India. Farther east no part of Asia has been brought under more careful investigation than the hydrography of the strange mountain wilderness that divides Tibet and. Burma from China. Burma In this field the researches of travellers already men- and china. tioned, combined with the more exact reconnaissance of native surveyors and of those exploring parties which have recently been working in the interests of commercial projects, have left little to future inquiry. We know now for certain that the great Tsanpo of Tibet and the Brahmaputra are one and the same river; that north of the point where the great countermarch of that river from east to west is effected are to be found the sources of the Salween, the Mekong, the Yang-tsze-kiang and the Hwang-ho, or Yellow river, in order, from west to east; and that south of it, thrust in between the extreme eastern edge of the Brahmaputra basin General results of investigalion. and the Salween, rise the dual sources of the Irrawaddy. From the water-divide which separates the most eastern affluent of the Brahmaputra, eastwards to the deep gorges which enclose the most westerly branch of the upper Yang-tsze-kiang (here running from north to south), is a short space of too m.; and within that space two mighty rivers, the Salween and the Mekong, send down their torrents to Burma and Siam. These three rivers flow parallel to each other for some 300 m., deep hidden in narrow and precipitous troughs, amidst some of the grandest scenery of Asia; spreading apart where the Yank-tsze takes its course eastwards, not far north of the parallel of 25°. The comparatively restricted area which still remains for close investigation includes the most easterly sources of the Brahmaputra, the most northerly sources of the Irrawaddy, and some 300 m. of the course of the upper Salween. Modern Boundary Demarcation.—The period from about 188o has been an era of boundary-making in Asia, of defining the politico-geographical limits of empire, and of determining the responsibilities of government. Russia, Persia, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, India and China have all revised their borders, and with the revision the political relations between these countries have acquired a new and more assured basis. See also the articles on the different countries. We are not here concerned with understandings as to " spheres of influence," or with arrangements such as the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 concerning Persia. The advance of Russia to the Turkoman deserts and the Oxus demanded a definite boundary between her trans-Caspian conquests Southern and the kingdom of Afghanistan. This was determined boundary on the north-west by the Russo-Afghan Boundary Corn- mission mission of 1884-1886. A boundary was then fixed of Russ in Asia. between the Hari Rud (the river of Herat) and the Oxus, which is almost entirely artificial in its construction. Zulfikar, where the boundary leaves the Hari Rud, is about 70 m. south of Sarakhs, and the most southerly point of the boundary (where it crosses the Kushk) is about 6o m. north of Herat. From the junction of the boundary with the Oxus at Khamiab about 150 M. above the crossing-point of the Russian Trans-Caspian railway at Charjui, the main channel of the Oxus river becomes the northern boundary of Afghanistan, separating that country from Russia, and so continues to its source in Victoria Lake of the Great Pamir. Beyond this point the Anglo-Russian Commission of 1895 demarcated a line to the snowfields and glaciers which overlook the Chinese border. Between the Russian Pamirs and Chinese Turkestan the rugged line of the Sarikol range intervenes, the actual dividing line being still indefinite. Beyond Kashgar the southern boundary of Siberia follows an irregular course to the north-east, partly defined by the Tian-shan and Alatau mountains, till it attains a northerly point in about 53° N. lat. marked by the Sayan range to the west of Irkutsk. It then deflects south-east till it touches the Kerulen affluent of the Amur river at a point which is shown in unofficial maps as about 117° 30' E. long. and 49° 20' N. lat. From here it follows this affluent to its junction with the Amur river, and the Amur river to its junction with the Usuri. It follows the Usuri to its head (its direction now being a little west of south), and finally strikes the Pacific coast on about 42° 30' N. lat. at the mouth of the Tumen river too m. south of the Amur bay, at the head of which lies the Russian port of Vladivostok. At two points the Russian boundary nearly approaches that of provinces which are directly under British suzerainty. Where the Oxus river takes its great bend to the north from Ishkashim, the breadth of the Afghan territory intervening between that river and the main water-divide of the Hindu Kush is not more than to or 12 m.; and east of the Pamir extension of Afghanistan, where the Beyik Pass crosses the Sarikol range and drops into the Taghdumbash Pamir, there is but the narrow width of the Karachukar valley between the Sarikol and the Murtagh. Here, however, the boundary is again undefined. Eastwards of this the great Kashgar depression, which includes the Tarim desert, separates Russia from the vast sterile highlands of Tibet; and a continuous series of desert spaces of low elevation, marking the limits of a primeval inland sea from the Sarikol meridional watershed to the Khingan mountains on the western borders of Manchuria, divide her from the northern provinces of China. From the Khingan ranges to the Pacific, south of the Amur, stretch the rich districts of Manchuria, a province which connects Russia with the Korea by a series of valleys formed by the Sungari and its affluents—a land of hill and plain, forest and swamp, possessing a delightful climate, and vast undeveloped agricultural resources. Throughout this land of promise Russian influence was destroyed by Japan in the war of 1904. The possession of Port Arthur, and direct political control over Korea, place Japan in the dominant position as regards Manchuria. Coincident with the demarcation of Russian boundaries in Turkestan was that of northern Afghanistan. From the Hari Rud on the west to the Sarikol mountains on the east her northern Afghan political limits were set by the Boundary Commissions of 1884 bound- 1886 and of 1895 respectively. Her southern and eastern boundaries were further defined by a series of minor The Pamir extension of Afghan territory to the north-east reaches to a point a little short of 75° E., from whence it follows the water-divide to the head of the Taghdumbash Pamir, and is thenceforward defined by the water-parting of the Hindu Kush. It leaves the Hindu Kush near the Dorah Pass at the head of one of the minor Chitral affluents, and passing south-west divides Kafiristan from Chitral and Bajour, separates the sections of the Mohmands who are within the respective spheres of Afghan and British sovereignty, and crosses the Peshawar-Kabul route at Lundi-Khana. It thus places a broad width of independent territory between the boundaries of British India (which have remained practically, though not absolutely, untouched) and Afghanistan; and this independent belt includes Swat, Bajour and a part of the Mohmand territory north of the Kabul river. The same principle of maintaining an intervening width of neutral territory between the two countries is definitely established throughout the eastern borders of Afghanis-tan, along the full length of which a definite boundary has been demarcated to the point where it touches the northern limits of Baluchistan on the Gomal river. From the Gomal Baluchistan itself becomes an intervening state between British India and Afghanistan, and the dividing line between Baluchistan and Afghanistan is laid down with all'the precision employed on the more northerly sections of the demarcation. Baluchistan can no longer be regarded as a distinct entity amongst Asiatic nations, such as Afghanistan undoubtedly is. Baluchistan independence demands qualification. There is British Baluch- Baluchistan par excellence, and there is the rest of Baluch- lstan. istan which exists in various degrees of independence, but is everywhere subject to British control. British Baluchistan officially includes the districts of Peshin, Sibi and of Thal-Chotiali. As these districts had originally been Afghan, they were transferred to British authority by the treaty of Gandamak in 1879, although nominally they had been handed over to Kalat forty years previously. Now they form an official province of British Baluchistan within the Baluchistan Agency; and the agency extends from the Gomal to the Arabian Sea and the Persian frontier. Within this agency there are districts as independent as any in Afghanistan, but the political status of the province as a whole is almost precisely that of the native states of the Indian peninsula. The agent to the governor-general of India, with a staff of political assistants, practically exercises supreme control. The increase of Russian influence on the northern Persian border and its extension southwards towards Seistan led to the appointment of a British consul at Kirman, the dominating Kirman. town of southern Khorasan, directly connected with Meshed on the north; and the acquisition of rights of administration of the Nushki district secured to Great Britain the trade between Seistan and Quetta by the new Helmund desert route. While British India has so far avoided actual geographical contact with one great European power in Asia on the north and west, she has touched another on the east. The Mekong river which limits British interests in Burma limits also those Boundary of France in Tongking. The eastern boundaries of between Burma are not yet fully demarcated on the Chinese French frontier. At a point level in latitude with Mogaung, terditoIndiary near the northern termination of the Burmese railway and . system, this boundary is defined by the eastern watershed of the Nmaikha, the eastern of the two great northern affluents of the Irrawaddy. Then it follows an irregular course southwards to a position south-east of Bhamo in lat. 24°. It next defines the northern edge of the Shan States, and finally strikes the Mekong river in lat. 21° 45' (approximately). From that point southwards the river becomes the boundary between the Shan States and Tongking for some 200 m., the channel of the river defining the limits of occupation (though not entirely of interest) between French and British subjects. Approximately on the parallel of 20° N. lat. the Burmese boundary leaves the Mekong to run westwards towards the Salween, and there-after following the eastern watershed of the Salween basin it divides the Lower Burma provinces from Siam. The following table shows the areas of territories in Asia Area and (continental and insular) dependent on the various extra- political Asiatic powers, and of those which are independent or division. nominally so: Territory. Sq. m. Russian 6495.970 British . 1,998,220 Dutch . 586,98o French 247,580 U.S.A. . 114,370 German 193 Turkish 681,980 Chinese 4,299,600 Japanese 161,1to Other independent territories . . 2,232,270 The total area of Asia, continental and insular, is therefore some-what over 16,819,000 sq. m. (but various authorities differ consider-ably in their detailed estimates). The population may be set down roughly as 823,000,000, of which 330,000,000 inhabit Chinese territory, 302,000,000 British, and 25,000,000 Russian. (T. H. H.*) ro"'' commissions, working on the basis of the Kabul agreement of 1893, which lasted for nearly four years, terminating with the Mohmand settlement at the close of an expedition in 1897. .Cu. c.l.i. 0.i.o C.I.i.
End of Article: VIA
[back]
VEZELAY
[next]
VIANDEN

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.