Page images
PDF

Minorca lies 37 miles E. of Majorca. It contains 240 square miles and 31,000 inhabitants. The surface is rough and hilly. The productions are in general the same with those of Majorca. The importance of the island in a political sense has been altogether owing to the valuable harbor of Port Mahon on the S. E. side of the island. This harbor is one of the safest and most convenient in the Mediterranean, with sufficient depth and extent to hold a fleet of ships of war. It was the excellence of the harbor of Port Mahon that made the possession of Minorca an object of so much importance to the British during the last century, until the acquisition of a still better naval station in Malta. The British owned Minorca, with one short interruption, from 1708 to 1781.

Ivica, situated about 40 miles from the coast of Spain, contains 190 square miles and 15,200 inhabitants. It is full of mountains and covered with verdure, and presents at sea a grand and agreeable picture. Along the coast there are watch towers, erected on the principal elevations, from which a vessel at sea may be seen at a great distance, and an alarm given in case of danger; a necessary precaution, on account of the vicinity to Barbary, the corsairs from which used to make frequent descents on the coast. Each district furnishes its quota to form a militia to repel the inroads of these barbarians. The climate is mild, and the soil fertile, producing corn, wine, oil, fruit, flax and hemp. Salt is made here in large quantities by natural evaporation. Ivica, the capital, is a fortified town on the S. E. side of the island,with a good harbor and 2,700 inhabitants. Formentera is a small island lying south of Ivica, with 1500 inhabitants.

GIBRALTAR.

Gibraltar is a well known promontory in the south of Spain, at the entrance from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean, near the part where the sea between Europe and Africa is narrowest. It consists of a great rocky mountain running from north to south about three miles in length, from half a mile to three-fourths in width, and from 1200 to-1400 feet in height. On the north side is an isthmus, about a mile and a half in length and half as much in breadth, which connects this vast mass of rock with the continent. The northern front of the rock is almost perpendicular: the east side is full of frightful precipices, while the south, being narrow and abrupt, presents hardly any posibility of approach. On none of these sides has this tremendous mass ever been attacked; there remains only the western front, which is almost as abrupt as the others, but which may be approached by shipping from the bay. Here accordingly have the efforts of assailants been directed, and here are the great batteries and works of defence.

The importance of Gibraltar arises chiefly from its bay, which is very spacious, (9 miles long and 5 broad,) and forms a convenient naval station, being protected from the more dangerous winds. The eastern side of the bay is formed by the promootory and isthmus; to the south is the sea; the other aides are formed hy the mainland of Spain, but the command of the bay depends on the possession of its formidable promontory. The town of Uihrnltar*slands a! the foot of the promontory on the X. IV. side. It is strongly fortified, particularly on the side toward* the bay, whore there are walls within walls, double and treble outworks, but its chief protection after all is derived from the batteries on the neighboring heights, which sweep both the isthmus and the approach to the town by water.

Gibraltar was first fortified in the modern style in the reign of the emperor Charley V7. It was taken by the English in 1704, and has since been repeatedly besieged, but always without success The most memorable attack was in 1782, when general Elliot successfully defended the place against the combined forces of France and Spain. Since that time the British have spent large sums in improving the fortifications. Excavations of great extent have been made by gunpowder in the solid rock, to establish communications between the different posis, and enable them to be relieved without a loss of lives from the enemy's fire; and the place may now be considered as absolutely impregnable to any military force and can be reduced only by treachery or starvation. The number of the garrison at present is 3,000; in 'time of war it is much greater. The population of the town, including the military, is about 13,000, partly British, partly Spaniards, Italians, Jews and even Moors, all attracted hither by mercantile considerations. The commerce of the place embrace? a great variety of articles, being derived not from ihe produce of any particular tract of country, but from the fitness of the town for a general entrepot. Cottons and other manufactures of England ; sugar, rum and other produce of the West-Indies; tobacco, rice and flour from North America, are imported here from the we'st; while wine, fruits, silk, wax and other Mediterranean articles are brought in from the east.

PORTUGAL.

initiation and Extent.] Portugal is bopnded N. and E by Spain, 8. and W. by the Atlantic. It extends from 36° f>6 to 42° 7' N. lat. and from 6° 15' to 9° 30' W. Ion. Its form is oblong; its length from N. to S. is 350 miles and its average breadth about 120. The area is estimated at 40,875 square miles.

i)ivisions. Portugal is divided into six provinces as follows:

l’rovinces. Square Miles. Population Pop, on a sq. m. Chief towns: £ntre Duero 3,490 907,965 260

é Minho, * 1,300 Oporte. Tras os Montes, 5,450 318,605 58 Miranda. Beira, 8.725 1,121,595 129 Coimbra. Estremadura, 9,855 826,680 84 Lisbon. Alentejo, 10,575 380,480 36 Evora. Algarve, 2,780 127,615 46. Tavira.

Total, 40,875 3,683,000 90

- JMountains and Rivers.] Several of the great mountain chains of Spain penetrate into this country and terminate in large promontories on the Atlantic coast. The largest rivers also come from Spain and merely terminate their course in Portugal. The principal are the Minho, which forms part of the northern boundary, the Duero, the Tagus, and the Guadiana which in two places forms part of the eastern boundary. Face of the Country and Climate.] The country is intersected by several mountain ranges, and between the different ridges are numerous picturesque vallies; but the only plains of great extent are one to the south of the Tagus, near Santarem, and another on the coast of Beira. The climate of Portugal is in general more mild and pleasant than in Spain, the heat being tempered by the sea-breezes all along the coast, and by the north wind in the interior. Snow seldom lies in the vallies, and the winter resembles the spring of more northern climates. Soil and Productions.] The soil is generally light and sandy, but where it is well watered is very fertile. Wheat, barley, oats, flax, hemp and other productions of a northern latitude are raised in the high grounds; vines and maize in those of warmer temperatures; and rice in the low grounds. The chief fruits are olives, oranges and lemons. The mineral productions of this country are numerous, though none but iron mines have as yet been wrought. Of salt large quantities are formed in the bays along the coast by natural evaporation. Agriculture.] The cultivation of the soil is very much neglected in the southern provinces, owing to the ignorance and indolence of the peasantry. Nothing can be more awkward than their implements. The plough is composed of three pieces of wood, and often encumbered with two clumsy wheels; the harrow and hoe are nearly unknown; even threshing is seldom practised, the grain being separated from the straw by the old method of trampling it under the feet of horses and oxen. Almost two thirds of the country is uncultivated, and the quantity of corn raised is not more than half enough for the supply of the inhabitants. In some of the northern provinces, particularly in Entre Duero è Minho, the case is very different... The people are industrious, and the lands are well watered partly by natural

stream?, and partly by artificial irrigation. Here, accordingly, the hills are covered with vineyards to their tops; olive, orange, apricot and other fruit trees are abundant; while in situations of less warmth, wheat, barley and oats are carefully cultivated. The province of Enlre Duero e Minho is in short one of the most populous agricultural districts in Europe.

Chief Towns.] Lisbon, the capital, is built on several hills on the N. hank of the Tagus, which here expands into a fine body of water several miles in breadth. It is unfortified, and open on all sides. The harbor is one of the best in Europe, uniting in t very unusual degree the four qualities »f size, depth, security and convenience. The entrance, at the mouth of the Tagus i« defended by several forts. The appearance of Lisbon at a distance, particularly from the S. E. is extremely beautiful and picturesque: the great body of water, the number of ships which lie at anchor, and cover it like a forest, the city extending in the form of an amphitheatre along successive elevations, the hills in lhe l>ack ground, covered with villas, churches and olive plantations, all concur to form a picture which is scarcely surpassed by the view of Constantinople. But the interior of the city ill corresponds to its external beauty; the streets are generally narrow and irregular, and although less dirty than in former times, have still much that is offensive. There are, however, several spacious squares, and many splendid houses, and the principal quays are said to exceed in beauty every thing of the kind in London or Pari"; but the noblest specimen of architecture is the aqueduct, to the north of the city. It rests on a long row of marble pillars, is nearly half a mile long and is carried across the lale of Alcantara from one mountain to another on 75 arches. It was built in the years 1713—1732, and remained unhurt by the great earthquake of 1755, which destroyed the greatest and best part of the city. The commerce of Lisbon is very extensive, comprising all the colonial and perhaps three fourths of the foreign trade of the kingdom. The population is estimated at 23(),<tdO, of whom a large number arc foreigners, mulattoes and negroes.

Oporto, the capital of Entre Duero e Minho, and next to Lisbon, the most populous, wealthy and commercial town in Portugal, is on the Duero about 4 miles from its mouth. The river forms a spacious and secure harbor, but the entrance is difficult and dangerous, and requires a pilot and great care to avoid the rocks and sand-banks; and on this account it is so secure that the Portuguese government have but partially fortified it. The principal trade is in wine, of which upwards of 80,006 pipes are exported annually. The population, including foreigners, is 74.00O.

Elvas is a strong frontier town, in the province of Alentejo, situated on a rockv hill not far from the Guadiana, and three leagues to the we«t of the Spanish fortress of Bndajoz. It is one of the most important strongholds in the kingdom. Here is a lara^e nrsenal and manufactory of ,arm«, spnrious and bomb proof barracks, and an immense cistern, supplied with water by a remarkable aqueduct, 4 miles in length, and supported by three arches one over the other. The population is about 16,000. Coimbra, the capital of Beira, and formerly the residence of the kings of Portugal, is a fortified town 60 miles S. of Oporto, on the north bank of the Mondego, which is here crossed by an elegant stone bridge. The town rises beautifully along the side of a hill in the form of an amphitheatre; but is in the interior narrow, crowded, ill paved and dirty. It contains 12,000 inhabitants and a celebrated university. Braga, 27 miles N. N. E. of Oporto, has 13,000 inhabitants, and a manufactory of small hats which supplies a great part of Portugal. Setubal or St. Jbes, is a considerale town on a bay of the Atlantic, 16 miles S. E. of Lisbon. It has a commodious harbor and an active trade, particularly in bay salt, of which no less than 200,000 tons are made here annually. The population is 12,000. Evora, the capital of Alentejo, is a fortified town, situated on an eminence in a vast elevated plain, 65 miles E. of Lisbon. The population is 12,000. Santarem is a considerable town, on the right bank of the Tagus, 47 miles N. E. of Lisbon. It contains 8,000 inhabitants. Education.] The only university in Portugal is at Coimbra. It consists of 18 colleges and has 39 professors, viz. eight of theology; nine of canon law; eight of civil law; six of medicine, four of mathematics and four of philosophy. The average number of students is 800. Education, generally, is very much neglected, although within a few years many improvements have been adopted. Schools on the plan of Bell and Lancaster have been introduced, and in 1820 they contained nearly 5,000 puils p Population.] The population, according to an estimate founded on the last return of the number of houses, in 1798, was 3,683,090. The province of Entre Duero & Minho is much the most populous, and next to this are Beira, and Estremadura. The southern provinces are very thinly peopled. With respect to rank; the higher classes are divided as in Spain into the Titulados or high nobility, and the Fidalgos or gentry. The peasantry, though not in a state of servitude, are subject to a system of mismanagement, the effects of which are nearly as bad as those of direct oppression. Character.] The national character of the Portuguese is similar to that of the Spaniards; their bigotry and superstition, their indolence, their temperance in eating and drinking, and their predilection for the amusement of bull-fighting are strong points of resemblance. There is a great difference of character, how. ever, in different provinces. The inhabitants of the northern provinces are much more industrious than those in the south. The industry of the inhabitants of Entre Duero & Minho would not suffer on a comparison with those of the more northern countries of Europe, and accordingly they are possessed of opulence, and enjoy all the comforts and luxuries of life. Those of Trasos-Montes are a hardy race, and industrious also, in spite of their

« PreviousContinue »