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A popular series treating their influence on the development 
of civilization 




Smithsonian Institution. 

Director of the Nobel Institute, translated by CLIFFORD s. LEON- 
ARD, Fellow ', National Research Council : Department' of Phar- 
macology, Yale University. 

Smithsonian Institution. 

Editor, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. 

STORIES IN STONE, By WILLIS T, LEE, Late Geologist, United 
States Geological Survey, Washington, D. C. 

Director, Lighting Research Laboratory, National Lamp Works of 
General Electric Company. 

of Psychology, Harvard University. 

Bureau of Soils of the United States Department of Agriculture. 

search Associate in Geography, Yale University* 


Human Life. 

OCEANOGRAPHY, By ROY w. MINER, Curator, Department of 
Lower Invertabrates t American Museum of Natural History. 












All rights reserved, including that of translation 
into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian 

First Printing October ig 
Second Printing January i 



IN any field of study where knowledge increases rapidly, 
it is advisable to take account of stock now and then, and see 
what it all means from the standpoint of the average man as 
well as the specialist. The growth of human geography has 
been especially vigorous during the last few decades. As 
is natural and wholesome under such conditions, several 
" schools ?J have arisen. The German school, exemplified by 
Ratzel, stresses the importance of space relations; the French 
school, in which Vidal La Blache holds high rank, is notable 
for broad generalizations and fine local descriptions; the Eng- 
lish school centers around the natural regions of Herbertson. 
The American school, youngest of all, adds to these points of 
view four others which figure less prominently elsewhere: 
namely, land utilization, the changing quality not only of hu- 
man culture but of man's physical environment, the indirect 
action of geographic environment especially through the process 
of selection, and the effect of geographic environment upon 

The utilization of the land is a fundamental theme in all 
geography, but in America it assumes new significance. This 
is the natural result of the newn$s%,pf the country, for that 
enables us to see all stages of the "profess 'in actual operation. 
A true understanding of the problem has been greatly facili- 
tated by the uniform statistics which the United States and 
Canada provide for an enormous area comprising -almost every 
type of geographic environment. 


Geographers have long recognized that primitive man can- 
not respond to Ms physical environment in the same way as 
civilized man. They have also recognized that the environ- 
ment changes by reason of natural fluctuations such as flood 
and drought and by reason of human actions such as the de- 
pletion of the soil, the felling of forests, and the construction 
of artificial lakes and canals. Nevertheless, it has remained 
for American workers to carry these ideas to their logical con- 
clusion. Mr. C. .S. GilFillan, for example, has compelled us 
to note how man's increasing ability to overcome cold weather 
has caused a movement of civilization into cooler climates; 
Miss Ellen C. Semple has stressed other phases of the prob- 
lem; and others have shown how fluctuations of climate have 
caused the coldward movement to waver. 

One of the most distinctive features of the American school 
of geography is its recognition that the indirect effects of physi- 
cal environment are at least as potent as the direct effects, and 
probably more so. The indirect effects are especially potent 
when they arise through natural selection. Physical environ- 
ment never compels man to do anything; the compulsion lies 
in his own nature. But the environment does say that some 
courses of conduct are permissible and others impossible. In 
any given environment nature exterminates people who try to 
live by means of certain occupations, or who practice certain 
habits, or who have certain types of physique. She may do this 
very slowly, but she does it so effectively that in the long run, 
unless fresh migrations occur, each region comes to be char- 
acterized only by occupations, habits and types of people that 
are adapted to it. This process of selection is the key to a 
large part of the science of geography. 

Another distinctive feature of American geography Is its 
recognition of the importance of health and energy as primary 
factors in determining the rate of human progress. The geo- 


graphical distribution of health and its relation to environment 
have been statistically studied in the United States much more 
than elsewhere. In this respect, as in others, one of the most 
characteristic features of American geography is its use of 
statistics. A book like Vidal La Blache's fascinating and bril- 
liant Human Geography has practically no conscious statistical 
basis. Work like that of Dr. 0. E. Baker on the utilization of 
the land displays the use of statistics in a way that illuminates 
geography most wonderfully. 

The present book is an attempt to give the layman a true 
idea of human geography as interpreted by the American school 
of geographers. It does not pretend to present the proof of 
the many conclusions which it sets forth, for that has been 
done in hundreds of books and articles by scores of authors. 
Nor does it pretend to cover the whole field. It simply selects 
certain main phases of the subject as illustrations and sets 
them forth quite fully. This method makes it necessary to 
omit many highly important phases of geography. The origi- 
nal outline included chapters on cities, commerce, minerals 
and other topics which have been wholly omitted or greatly 
abbreviated. This has seemed advisable because the layman 
is far more likely to find profit in a full and interesting discus- 
sion of a few of the greatest topics than in the brief and per- 
haps dry discussions usually found in books which include 

In preparing this book the author has been indirectly helped 
by hundreds of people, but the direct helpers have been al- 
most limited to those universal standbys, wife, secretary, li- 
brary, government and editors. Mrs. Huntington is respon- 
sible for no end of ideas arising out of talks at the table and the 
like. Miss Helen L. Harrell has not only copied and recopied 
many extremely illegible chapters without a sigh until they 
came around the fifth time, but has been a very keen and eager 


critic. Changes suggested by her dot almost every page; they 
have often been of considerable Importance. The Yale Library 
is one of those wise and patient institutions that rarely get 
proper credit. The bored air of condescending forbearance with 
which the attendants ascertain your wants and then show you 
what you already know in some of the big city libraries makes 
one appreciate the alacrity, good humor, patience and skill with 
which Miss Anne S. Pratt and the other people in the Yale Li- 
brary answer questions. Even if the questions are not easy ? 
the Library can be relied upon to find out something about al- 
most everything. The United States Department of Agricul- 
ture, and especially the Bureau of Farm Economics, is the same 
sort of institution, unexcelled in the patient and intelligent 
courtesy with which it answers all questions and generally gives 
one something new and valuable. As for editors, those in 
charge of the present series suggested the title of this book and 
have made other admirable suggestions which are embodied 
herein. Others of equal value could not be used because this 
book, like many another, kept changing as it grew. 

Aside from these the only other person to whom direct thanks 
are due is Professor Ivy F. Lewis of the University of Virginia. 
He pointed out to the author the contrast between Buckingham 
and Albemarle counties in Virginia and provided much of the 
material in the last chapter of this book. An author is indeed 
fortunate to find such ready and effective help wherever he 


October, 1927. 






















Rice Terraces at Benaul in the Philippines. Courtesy Press 

Illustrating Service, Inc Frontispiece 

I. Siberian Natives in the Snow on northeast coast of Siberia. 

Courtesy American Museum of Natural History 20 

II. Unclothed Natives of New Guinea beside a hut of branches. 

Courtesy Asia Magazine 21 

III. The Cactus Desert of Arizona, showing the kind of environment 

which promotes the Apache mode of life 36 

IV. Apache Hut of Branches in Arizona. An environment affecting 

the Indians much as the Kalahari environment affects the 
Bushmen. Courtesy American Museum of Natural History. 37 

V. Huts of Salt Gatherers beside the Dead Sea 52 

VI. Pima House and Woman with load in Arizona. Courtesy Amer- 
ican Museum of Natural History S3 

VII. Hauling Logs over the snow in the Province of Quebec. Courtesy 

American Museum of Natural History 68 

VIII. An Indian Burial at Wrangell, Alaska. Courtesy American 

Museum of Natural History 69 

IX. A Yard in Alaska. Feeding a two-year-old and a yearling deer 

at Wrangell. Courtesy American Museum of Natural History. 84 
X. Sheep raising on the Coconino National Forest in Arizona. 

Courtesy U. S. Dept of Agriculture 85 

XI. Gathering Dyewood in Brazil. Keystone View Co., Inc. of 

N. Y 100 

XII. Official, and Pygmy assistants, inspecting a native village in the 

Baining District of New Guinea. Courtesy Asia Magazine. . . 101 

XIII. Jain Temple at Calcutta, India. Courtesy American Museum of 

Natural History 116 

XIV. Rice Fields in Ceylon 117 

XV. Ruins of Quirigua in a Forest close to a great Banana Plantation 132 

XVI. Drying Coffee on a plantation in Java 133 

XVII* An Energetic Family of Children on a fruit farm in the United 

States. (Making cider.) 136 



XVIII. Anaemic Indian Coolie trying to sleep and at the same time cool 

Ms British Rulers by working a punka 144 

XIX. The Cedars of Lebanon 148 

XX. Temple of Isis at Petra 164 

XXI. Market Scene in the Far West of China 196 

XXII. Rice Harvest in Japan. Courtesy Asia Magazine 197 

XXIII. Harbor of Malta in the Zone of Compression south of Europe. 212 

XXIV. Russian Post Station in the Zone of Compression east of Europe. 213 
XXV. Cooking Place in the Pueblo Village of Zuni 232 

XXVI. New Settlers on their way to occupy the West. . 240 



1. "Worldwide Distribution of Civilization." From "Business Geog- 

raphy." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons . 139 

2. "Worldwide Distribution of Climatic Energy." From "Business 

Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons. . 145 

3. "Distribution of Climatic Energy in Europe." From a Business 

Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons 217 

4. <e Distribution of Health in Europe (Based on the death rate.) From 

" Business Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons. . . 218 

5. " Distribution of Civilization in Europe." From " Business Geog- 

raphy." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons 219 

6. " Distribution of Climatic Energy in the United States." From " Busi- 

ness Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons 227 

7. " Distribution of Progress in the United States per Expert Opinion." 

From " Business Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons. 228 

8. " Distribution of Progress in the United States per Census Statistics." 

From " An Introduction to Sociology." Courtesy of D. C. Heath 
and Co 228 




THE surface of the earth may be likened to a huge canvas 
upon which a great artist paints with many colors. The re- 
sultant picture embodies all the facts of geography, including 
human geography with which this book is concerned. The 
foundation of the artist's color-scheme is the contrast between 
land and sea. A few hundred thousand people may be able 
to live in boats upon the surface of the sea in the quiet Chinese 
waters of the West River at Canton, or at the station where 
oil is trans-shipped to river steamers off the mouth of the 
Volga. As time goes on, more and more people will doubtless 
float on shallow and protected coastal waters and cultivate 
oysters, clams, lobsters and many other types of sea food as 
assiduously as they now cultivate the lands. But that will al- 
most inevitably be limited to a very narrow area closely fring- 
ing the coast. On the main sea itself, it is not likely that peo- 
ple will ever live permanently, except as they are engaged in 
transportation, or in fishing to supply food for their fellow men 
on the land. So, on the artist's canvas, the great foundation 
pigments of land and sea will stand through the milleniums as 
the most permanent and noteworthy of all the features in the 
great picture of human geography. 

Having laid the foundations of the picture, the artist turns 
to other types of color which can be washed over the enduring 
tints of land and sea without effacing them. His second set of 


colors is furnished by climate. With these, around each pole, 
he paints broad disks of uninhabitable territory sheathed with 
bluish-white ice and snow in Greenland and Antarctica, or 
sparsely covered with the grassy, mossy, brownish-green vege- 
tation of the tundras. Next comes a belt of cold country with 
long snowy winters and moist summers plentifully supplied 
with rain. It is too cool for agriculture, but well adapted to 
dark-green coniferous forests which dominate the landscape far 
and wide. Another sweep of the brush, and the artist has 
painted what we may call the band of cyclonic storms the 
best part of the world from the standpoint of human progress. 
It includes southern Canada, the northern United States, and 
the most progressive parts of Europe. It swings on into Rus- 
sia, is almost lost in Siberia, but revives in Japan. Here cy- 
clonic storms bring rain at all seasons; conifers still persist, 
but broad-leaved deciduous trees obtain the mastery; the sum- 
mers are long enough for agriculture; the winters are not long 
enough to be seriously depressing; and the climate is highly 

As the painter reaches middle latitudes and passes on to 
warmer regions, he seems inclined to make a separation be- 
tween the green lands of the cyclonic belt and those lying near 
the equator. So he begins to paint a band of yellowish and 
reddish deserts. Starting at the west coast of each continent 
in latitudes 20 to 35, he gives a stroke from west to east. 
Except in North Africa, however, he lifts his hand before the 
eastern coast is reached. Then dipping Ms brush in a new 
color, he completes his eastward stroke with a band of heavy 
summer rains which bring luxuriant vegetation, as appears in 
what may best be called the monsoon regions of China, the 
southeastern United States, and the east coast of central Aus- 

Green is the painter's favorite color. So once more, around 


the center of the earth and extending fifteen or twenty degrees 
on either side, he paints a band of permanent verdure. It is 
grassy on the outer borders, away from the equator, but soon 
passes into genuine savannah stippled with trees. Then comes 
the belt where the green is deepest the great tropical jungle 
and equatorial forest. 

One of the most interesting features of the climatic colors 
is the way in which they change from season to season. The 
polar caps, to be sure, retain almost the same bluish-white tint 
from January to July. They merely expand, as it were, until 
the northern cap covers all the lands half way to the equator. 
The tundra belt looks like part of the polar cap much of the 
year, but in the late spring it loses its cover of snow and turns 
to a brownish hue; then the brown becomes shot through with 
green, some parts are genuinely verdant, and brilliant flowers 
display a fleeting glory. But the greenness is short-lived as 
well as imperfect; early in the fall it begins to turn brown, but 
is covered with snow almost immediately. In summer, the 
great belt of conifers displays almost no tints except the dark 
colors of its pines, spruces, larches and other bearers of cones. 
In winter, the dark tints are relieved by patches of white snow, 
while in the spring the whole forest is brightened a little by the 
fresh green of young shoots. Yet the general effect is always 

Along the line of transition between the coniferous and cy- 
clonic zones, the artist has interlaced the deepest somberness 
with the greatest play of colors. In summer, in the portions of 
middle latitudes where cyclonic storms prevail, broad-leaved 
trees combine with conifers and grasses to display almost every 
shade of green. In the autumn, the broad-leaved deciduous 
trees and bushes flame into red, yellow, purple and brown. 
Then a veil of brown and gray is spread over the land, but 
through the veil reddish patches of oak leaves and dark green 


patches of conifers seem to strive to preserve some color as 
long as possible. When winter comes, this variegated zone 
discloses a snowy background as white as the great ice-caps,> 
save where it is shadowed by the gray lace of bare branches, 
or by the dark yet comforting foliage of the conifers. Then 
spring arrives once more, the patches of melting snow dis- 
appear, and the brownness of the landscape is more noteworthy 
than ever. But soon the tender green of young grass is inter- 
spersed with infinitely varied shades of red, yellow, purple 
and brown, wherewith the budding trees delicately forecast 
the brilliant colors which they will don in the final climax of 
autumn. Where the change of color is greatest, there the 
conditions for human progress are most favorable. 

The deserts confirm this last statement, for in their unin- 
habitable reddish or yellowish centers, they show no change 
from year's end to year's end. On their borders, however, and 
in the grassy steppe lands round about where the population is 
now merely sparse but where ancient civilizations once flour- 
ished, there is an annual change from brown or yellow to green 
and back again. The green may be a mere flush lasting but a 
few weeks, or a deep mantle lasting two or three months. This 
in itself is no more noteworthy than the change from brown 
to green anywhere else, but many deserts display another 
flash of color which is almost unique. Other regions do in- 
deed have brilliant flowers at certain seasons, but nowhere else 
is the ground so brilliantly and completely carpeted with a 
marvellous pattern of gorgeous and highly varied flowers. Yet 
even so, in variability of coloring, the desert borders rank only 
a poor second to the belt of cyclonic storms. 

East of the deserts the changes of color in the deciduous 
woodlands of the monsoon type are only a feeble imitation of 
those in the cyclonic woodlands. Snow may whiten the land- 
scape in winter, but not for long, and not everywhere at the 


same time; the landscape may tend to be brown In the autumn 
and In the winter when there Is no snow, but the brownness Is 
broken by great numbers of trees and other plants that remain 
green all the year. In the same way, the spring may see lovely 
tints of pale green and even of red and yellow, together with 
flowering trees and shrubs which are even brighter than those 
of the cyclonic belt, but the general display of tender colors Is 
nothing like so varied and prolonged. In summer, to be sure, 
the greenness is about like that of the other deciduous belt, but 
the dull browns and yellows of autumn are only a faint re- 
minder of the gorgeous colors farther north where frost arrives 
while the leaves are still vigorous. Yet this belt this Incom- 
plete stroke of the artist's brush, stands third In the variety of 
Its colors. 

Farther toward the equator, the savannah belt Is either green 
In the wet season, or brown In the dry season, with green spots 
where clumps of trees still hold their foliage. Then comes the 
broad band of equatorial jungle and forest, where the only 
change is from a slightly brighter to a slightly darker shade of 
green. At some seasons the greenness Is broken here and there 
by the bare branches of trees that have shed their leaves, by the 
tender reddish young foliage which replaces that which is a 
year or so old, or by gorgeous flowers which sometimes deck 
even the barest trees with marvellous patches of red, yellow, 
purple, orange or blue. Yet the prevailing effect is unmistak- 
ably green at all seasons. The colors In the tropical belt are 
not so monotonous as those of the Ice-caps and the centers 
of the deserts, but they are monotonous enough to be depress- 

As It Is with the changes of color from season to season, so 
It Is with the changes from one climatic cycle to another. In 
the polar regions the coming of glacial and Interglacial epochs 
makes relatively little difference. Even if the ice-caps dis- 


appear during inter-glacial epochs, snow still covers the ground 
most of the time, while the coming of a glacial epoch merely 
means that the present conditions are a little more extreme. 
But in the cyclonic belt, in such places as the northern United 
States, southern Canada, and northwestern Europe, the coming 
of glaciation means a change from conditions at least as mild 
as those of today to the severity of an ice sheet as vast as that 
which now shrouds Antarctica. It means all the difference 
between the best that the world now knows from the standpoint 
of human health and activity, and conditions so severe that 
aside, perhaps, from certain lowly bacteria, no life can pos- 
sibly survive. The centers of the great deserts likewise change 
only a little with the coming of glacial epochs. The amount of 
moisture does indeed increase somewhat, but not enough to 
prevent them from still being very dry. In broad strips on the 
desert borders, however, and in the smaller, less arid deserts, 
the change is vast. It means the difference between supplies of 
moisture so abundant that vegetation can thrive for a long- 
season each year, and supplies so scanty and variable that in 
many years the grass makes almost no growth. Farther toward 
the equator the change from a glacial to an interglacial epoch 
once more becomes insignificant. The warm moist regions of 
the earth appear to remain relatively warm and moist no mat- 
ter what happens elsewhere. 

As it was with the great changes of glacial periods, so it has 
been with the similar but smaller climatic pulsations during the 
course of history. Whether we deal with the seasons of a single 
year or with great climatic cycles of tens of thousands of years, 
the principle is the same. Where the artist has painted the 
climatic colors most firmly and unchangeably, there civilization 
is low; where he has painted them in such a way that they 
shimmer and change, glow brightly and then fade, there civil- 
ization rises highest. The civilizations of today are located 


where the changes are greatest of all; the civilizations of the 
past were located where the changes rank next in variety. 

Having sketched his main background by means of the un- 
changing lands and seas and the varying tints of climate and 
season, the artist turns his attention to a wholly different set 
of colors, those depicting the heights and depths of the lands, 
and the waters that flow upon the surface. The greater features 
of the relief of the lands take the form of great plains, moun- 
tains and plateaus. They are painted in shades almost as bold 
and sweeping as those of climate, but the minor features, such 
as valleys, streams, and the minuter hills and hollows, are so 
small that their infinite details can be included only with the 
greatest difficulty. The plains and lowlands are by far the 
most important features in this phase of the picture. Not only 
are they the most extensive parts of the earth's surface, but 
they are the places where plants, animals, and especially people, 
thrive in greatest abundance. So the lowland color is brushed 
over vast areas, but always in such a way that it never obscures 
the main climatic pattern. It assumes a sort of symmetry from 
continent to continent, with the main lowlands on the side 
toward the narrower ocean, which is the Arctic in Europe and 
Asia, the Atlantic in the two Americas and Africa, and the In- 
dian Ocean in Australia. Mountain systems may partially 
separate the main plains from the narrower oceans, but they are 
small compared with the huge ranges and vast plateaus which 
rear themselves on the side toward the broader oceans. 

The mountain systems and plateaus have their own special 
tints on the great terrestrial canvas, but these tints are so 
mixed with those due to climate that the two sets are almost 
inextricable. At the equator the colors indicating relief are 
mixed with climatic colors ranging through all the zones from 
the belt of tropical verdure to that of polar ice. Nevertheless, 
on the mountains, as on the continents, there are certain dis- 


tinct limitations as to what colors shall be used. Just as the 
painter fails to make a complete band of desert clear across 
each mass of land, so he fails to paint deserts on all sides of a 
mountain range, unless perchance the mountains happen to rise 
from the very midst of a desert On many mountain ranges, 
as on the continents, one side is dry, the other moist. 

Rarely or never is it the habit of the artist to paint a single 
mountain range standing alone. His favorite scheme is to 
make the mountains serve as buttresses to broad plateaus. 
Each of these great up-archings of the lands is usually bordered 
by two or three parallel ridges on each side, like waves breaking 
from either direction against a central mass. Ordinarily each 
set of waves numbers two or three, increasing in height toward 
the interior of the plateau. Thus in California we have first 
the Coast Range, then the much higher Sierra Nevadas, and 
next the broad plateau which extends as far as the Rocky 
Mountains. There another series of parallel ranges raises it- 
self before the land plunges off steeply to the east. In Asia 
it is the same way. The little Siwalik Range lies at the foot 
of the Himalayas; the Himalayas themselves comprise no less 
than three parallel ranges, culminating in the great trans- 
Himalaya. Then comes the huge plateau of Tibet, and beyond 
that the ranges of Kuen Lun and Altyn Tagh. 

Now for a finer brush with which to depict the minor details 
of topography the almost invisible swell of the prairie, the 
little hills and hollows of the lowland, the irregular pits and 
ridges of glacial moraines, the deeper, bolder valleys of the 
highlands, and the crags, cliffs and peaks of the lofty moun- 
tains. The finest brush of all is needed to trace the marvellous 
network of the waters the lakes and ponds, the rivers, brooks 
and rivulets all over the broad lands. 

The combination of oceans and lands, climate and relief, 
and waters on the face of the lands, assuredly gives sufficient 


complexity, but there are still other ways of varying the land- 
scape. One way is through the character of the soil. As soon 
as the brush is lifted for this purpose it becomes evident that 
three chief ingredients must be used in mixing the colors. The 
first depends upon the character of the underlying rocks, the 
second upon the relief of the land, and the third upon climate. 
Where the rocks are composed of quartzite or quartzose gran- 
ites, the soil necessarily contains a large percentage of quartz 
grains and is correspondingly sandy and infertile. Where the 
rock consists of basic igneous rocks, and especially of fresh, 
dark, volcanic, eruptive materials, the presence of abundant 
iron, lime, magnesia, potassium, and sodium assures the pres- 
ence of a highly fertile soil, provided the climate and relief do 
not spoil it. 

Most of the soils of the earth do not overlie the rocks from 
which they were originally formed; they have been transported 
anywhere from a few feet to a few thousand miles, and have 
been mixed with other soils. If they lie where the slopes are 
steep, only the coarse materials are likely to remain, but on the 
gentler slopes the transported soils become more and more 
fine-grained until the finest clays prevail. Such soils, in regions 
like the Mississippi flood plain, or the still greater plains along 
the Chinese rivers, are sure to have been derived from such 
diverse sources that they contain all the necessary ingredients 
for the growth of vegetation. They are olten water-logged, to 
be sure, so that the air does not get a chance to penetrate them, 
and the right kind of decay does not take place, but man can 
often remedy such defects. Some of the best soils are those 
which lie in the older parts of alluvial flood plains, near the 
rivers perhaps, but high enough above the water courses so that 
they are not water-logged and the air can penetrate them freely. 
Even the minor differences in elevation or slope often make an 
enormous difference in the chemical quality of the soil, as well 


as in its texture. For that reason, almost no other factor of 
geographical environment, unless it be relief itself, gives rise 
to such marked local differences in vegetation and in human 


In discussing these minute differences in the soil which arise 
by reason of the underlying rocks and the topography, we have 
overlooked certain broad general differences which follow the 
climatic pattern. Where the climate is very cold, and in large 
parts of the huge areas where glaciation occurred during recent 
geological times, the soil is poor because it is too fresh; it may 
be broken into fine grains by frost or by the grinding power of 
moving Ice, but decomposition Is slow. There is, to be sure, 
plenty of moisture, but in the colder areas the low temperature 
causes the vegetation to be so scanty and to decay so slowly 
that the ground water is almost pure. It does not contain much 
carbonic acid and other products of vegetable decay. Yet these 
are of the utmost importance in breaking up the soil, and in 
freeing the chemical constituents which are needed by the 
plants. In addition to all this, weathering can take place only 
a few months each year, because the soil Is frozen the rest of 
the time. When melting occurs, the water in the soil is practi- 
cally always so abundant that the process of leaching takes place 
rapidly and whatever materials have been converted Into the 
soluble forms which alone are available for plants, tend to be 
carried away. 

As we leave the coldest regions and proceed toward lower 
latitudes, the soil gradually improves. In the areas of the pine 
forests, for example, the constant falling of the needle-shaped 
leaves provides a certain amount of humus, for the leaves decay 
so slowly that they become a part of the soil That gives a sup- 
ply of nitrates and other materials which help to make the soil 
good for crops. It also provides acids and bases which help 
toward the decomposition of further soil Nevertheless, the cold 


winters check the decay of the rocks for such long periods and 
the abundant water leaches away the soluble materials so 
rapidly that the soils are only moderately good. Moreover, 
the processes of soil formation In cool regions are so slow that 
in large parts of Canada and Scandinavia where glaciation oc- 
curred recently, there has not yet been time to produce more 
than the most scanty results. 

Even among the deciduous forests of somewhat lower lati- 
tudes, similar conditions prevail, although not to so great a 
degree. Thus the deficiencies just described are more or less 
in evidence in practically all of Canada, except the southern 
prairie portion which lies westward and northwestward from 
Winnipeg to the Rocky Mountains. The same is true in the 
northern United States from northeastern Minnesota and Wis- 
consin eastward through Michigan to New York and New Eng- 
land, and in most of northern and central Europe as far south 
as the Alps and the northern borders of the Black Earth region 
of Russia. Siberia, too, suffers severely from the fact that slow 
weathering and rapid leaching give rise to millions of square 
miles of poor, infertile soil. 

The best soils of the world's forested regions, provided we 
ignore for the moment the local differences due to the character 
of the rocks, are found in the broad-leaved forests of a central 
zone in middle latitudes including regions like Virginia, Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee, and central France. Farther toward the 
equator, the soils again deteriorate. The increasing length of 
the warm period not merely stimulates the growth of vegeta- 
tion and thereby imposes a greater drain upon the soil, but 
causes the vegetation to decay very rapidly. In the warmest, 
moistest regions, this decay takes place so speedily that practi- 
cally none of the vegetable material remains in the soil, and no 
fertilizing humus is added. At the same time, rapid decay 
provides abundant chemicals for the soil water so that particles 


of rock are rapidly decomposed. Then the abundant rains 
leach out the plant food. Since these processes go on at all 
seasons, the soils become very poor indeed. The red material 
known as tropical laterite is one of the poorest soils in the 
world. It does indeed support abundant tropical vegetation, 
but for the majority of crops it is almost as poor as ordinary 

The best of the world's soils have remained almost unused 
until our own day. Some of them are found in the grassy 
plains of middle latitudes, but the best of all occur in deserts. 
In very dry regions the scarcity of water retards the decomposi- 
tion of the soil and in that respect limits the supply of plant 
food. Nevertheless, when moisture is present, as it is from 
time to time, the temperature is often high enough so that the 
rocks are decomposed rapidly. But even if soluble products 
are thus formed in large amounts, they are not easily removed. 
In the first place, there is little vegetation to rob the soil of its 
wealth, and convert it into forms which can be dissipated 
through bacterial decay. In the second place, what little vege- 
tation there is does not decay so rapidly or completely as in 
warm moist regions, and some of it remains to improve the 
soil. The most decisive feature, however, is that there is not 
rain enough to leach the soil. When the infrequent rains come, 
they do indeed dissolve some of the soluble materials, but the 
water thus enriched generally evaporates close to where it fell. 
Therefore the soil is not robbed of its plant food and the desert 
soils grow richer and richer. That is why the irrigated lands 
in the United States produce crops worth from 25 to 65 per 
cent more per acre than do the other soils. The best soils of 
all the world today are probably found in the vast desert areas, 
including both the yellowish or grayish border zones and the 
huge tracts of very fine-grained, reddish sand which form the 
central parts of the world's greatest deserts. If water could 


be led to them, It seems as if the world's food supply might 
easily be doubled or trebled. 

Between the deserts and the forested areas in middle lati- 
tudes lie highly favored grasslands whose soils partake more or 
less of the desert quality. If they happen to be plains, as in 
the prairies of the United States and Argentine and the Black 
Earth region of Russia, the combined effect of relief, climate, 
and vegetation makes them almost as good as the desert soils so 
far as undissolved plant foods are concerned. The rains in 
such regions are not so abundant as in the forested regions, or 
at least they are not so evenly distributed through the year, 
which is the main reason why the vegetation consists of grass 
Instead of forests. The grassy vegetation dies down each year 
and forms abundant humus, but does not completely decay be- 
fore it becomes part of the soil. The gentle topography pre- 
vents the water from running off with great rapidity, but yet al- 
lows it to drain away so that the air has a chance to aerate the 
soil. The result is the production of black or dark soils which 
have been relatively little leached, and are full of nitrates, 
lime, potash, and phosphates, which are the main necessities 
for plants aside from water and the oxygen and carbon dioxide 
found in the air. Such soils may not be quite so rich as those 
of deserts, but they more than compensate for this by occurring 
in places where there is enough rain for agriculture. There- 
fore such regions as the prairie plains of the United States and 
Argentina, and the Black Earth region of southern Russia are 
among the best parts of the earth from the point of view of 

Thus we see that in the great canvas depicting the earth 
as the home of man, the painter adds to his other colors the 
poor soils of cold regions, then better and better soils in the 
well-watered forested areas until the region of broad-leaved 
forests is reached in central latitudes. Then the soils deteri- 


orate until the red equatorial laterites are about as poor as can 
be found anywhere. In both polar and equatorial regions the 
climate tends to produce poor soils all the way around the 
earth. In middle latitudes., however, there is a pronounced 
change as one goes from east to west. On the east side of each 
main land mass, in approximately thirty to forty degrees of 
latitude, or as far north as the borders of the ancient ice sheets, 
one finds in the broad-leaved forest areas the best of the humus 
types formed 'in the forest. Farther west, and at slightly 
higher latitudes, come the extremely fertile black prairie soils. 
The best of all soils, on an average, are found still nearer to 
the western side of each land mass, in the deserts which mainly 
lie in latitudes twenty to forty degrees. 

This broad climatic generalization these sweeping strokes 
of the artist's brush must not make us forget that the soil 
preeminently lends itself to local variations. A spot of fertility 
is found in almost any climate where fresh volcanic ash of a 
basaltic nature occurs; a spot of barrenness, almost a desert, 
occurs in even the best of climates, where coarse, well-washed 
gravel or a soil made of pure quartzite prevails. 

The final stage in our geographical picture, although it 
happens to be an early stage geologically, is the segregation of 
minerals. The metals occur in tiny areas here and there, espe- 
cially among the drier mountains. Coal is found in great 
sheets, chiefly in middle latitudes but with a good deal in 
high latitudes. That which occurs in latitudes below forty 
degrees is not only scanty, but mostly of poor quality. Petro- 
leum seems to have no definite rules of occurrence, although 
the greatest supplies thus far have been found mainly in lati- 
tudes not much higher than forty degrees or lower than fifteen. 
Useful stones such as limestone, granite and slate, together with 
materials like brick clay, sand and gravel, are more widely 
distributed than any other usable minerals. But all minerals 


are alike in one respect; they are not limited to any one zone 
of climate, they may occur under widely diverse kinds of re- 
lief, and they take the form of small isolated and often highly 
vivid spots which almost blot out all the other colors upon the 
great canvas of human geography. 

We have traced the way in which one color after another 
is brushed into the picture of human geography, but have not 
yet brought man into the scene. We have proceeded from the 
larger to the smaller features, from those which determine the 
broadest aspects of the distribution of man and his habits to 
those which determine the minor and more local aspects. The 
most basic colors are those which portray the contrast between 
land and sea, but those of climate are the ones that most de- 
mand study. This is not merely because they form the largest, 
most uninterrupted areas, the fundamental outlines of the 
picture aside from those of land and sea. It is also because 
climate is the most variable of all the factors of geographical 
environment. It varies from place to place, from season to sea- 
son, from year to year, and from one decade, century or mil- 
lenium to another. It is always varying. 

But climate does far more than this. As cause or effect, it 
enters intimately into the colors representing the soil and the 
relief of the earth's surface. It is one of the main agents in 
determining the quality of the soil; a large share of the effect 
of the relief of the earth's surface is due to differences in tem- 
perature and rainfall which the altitude and form of the lands 
themselves engender. Another reason for the overwhelming 
importance of climate is that it alone among the great inani- 
mate features of human environment produces direct physio- 
logical effects upon mankind as well as indirect effects of other 
kinds. The direct effects include not only those of storms, 
tornadoes, fogs, high winds, floods, snow and all the external 
helps and hindrances due to any and every kind of weather, 


but the internal effect of the weather In making people fee! 
energetic at some times and in some regions, and inert at other 
times and in other regions. The greatest of the indirect effects 
arise through plants and animals. Practically no soil is so 
poor or thin, no cliff so steep, that it will not support some vege- 
tation if the climate is right; and wherever there is vegetation, 
some form of animal life is found. But no soil, however rich 
and deep, and no relief, however gentle, will cause vegetation 
to grow on an ice sheet, or in an utterly waterless desert. An- 
other indirect effect of climate arises through bacterial diseases. 
Some of these flourish in one climate and some in another. 
Certain climates such as those of the coldest ice sheets, are 
largely free from bacteria, whereas the warmest, moistest cli- 
mates are full of highly deadly types. Thus through its direct 
effects, especially, upon man's movements and energy, and 
through its indirect effects on soil, vegetation and animals, 
and on man's occupations, food, clothing, shelter, health and 
tools, climate becomes the most potent of all purely physical 
influences in determining what kinds of human activities and 
habits shall prevail in one region or another. 

It is not surprising, then, that the climatic colors stand out 
more prominently than any others when the canvas of human 
geography is viewed from a distance. Nevertheless as one 
comes nearer, the climatic colors often grow faint and indis- 
tinct. Those which depict the soil, the relief of the lands, the 
bodies of water, and the minerals, often stand out so clearly 
that they seem to be of dominant importance. The near view 
differs so greatly from the more general view that many people 
have supposed that the two are in conflict. There have been 
arguments as to whether soil, climate, relief, or position in re- 
spect to bodies of water is the most important feature of geo- 
graphic environment. Such arguments are not necessary; all 
the elements combine to form a harmonious whole; each color 


is important, and each is prominent according to whether we 
view the picture as a whole or in detail. 

Such is the background upon which nature has placed her 
living beings. For better or worse the decrees of nature insist 
on a close adjustment between life and its inorganic environ- 
ment. That is why plants are universally recognized as one of 
the best evidences of the conditions of climate, relief and soil. 
A given kind of plant may indeed migrate over large parts of 
the earth's surface, but if it migrates from one type of climate 
to another, or one type of soil to another, it is almost certain 
to change its characteristics. Animals, in turn, depend very 
closely upon the type of vegetation, as well as upon the more 
direct effects of the environment. Running animals, like the 
antelope, are not at all adapted to wet, marshy regions or river 
beds such as the hippopotamus enjoys. The water buffalo, 
with its almost hairless skin and its fondness for submerging 
itself in mud and water, and the musk ox with its thick coat of 
wool and hair, would promptly die if their habitats were inter- 
changed. Animals, far more than plants, may migrate from 
region to region, but unless some change occurs in them through 
mutation or through the processes of natural selection, they 
cannot go beyond certain definite limits imposed by climate, 
soil, relief and the resultant types of vegetation. The same is 
true of man, except that he is less limited than animals, just as 
animals are less limited than plants. Yet even man is limited. 
Let any type of human beings be divided into groups which live 
for some generations in diverse geographic environments, and 
the groups will tend to diverge in such fashion as to become 
adapted to the various environments, and to the occupations 
which are profitable in those environments. Conversely, if we 
find any peculiar condition of human physique, activity or 
character localized in a special place, the chances are that the 
physical environment has had something to do with its pres- 


ence. It is conceivable, to l be sure, that the present geographic 
environment may have little or nothing to do with the matter, 
but the more carefully the history of any human condition is 
traced, the more probable it becomes that its localization in 
some special part of the earth is due in considerable measure 
to the complex and often indirect influence of many geographi- 
cal conditions, acting partly at present but still more in the 



THE central theme of geography is the distribution of man, 
and of his activities, habits and characteristics, in relation to 
the environment described in the preceding chapter. The first 
step in understanding the matter is to comprehend why people 
are numerous in some places and scarce in others. Consider 
how enormously the density of population varies from place 
to place. Massachusetts and Rhode Island are almost a thou- 
sand times as thickly populated as Nevada, and about thirty 
thousand times as thickly as the Yukon territory of Canada. 
England and Belgium have seven hundred people per square 
mile, but Iceland only two. The Nile Valley, with eleven hun- 
dred people for every square mile, touches the Egyptian desert 
where there is scarcely one person in three thousand times as 
much territory. 

Why do such differences occur? It is easy to answer that 
Nevada and the Egyptian desert are dry, while the Yukon ter- 
ritory and Iceland are cold. But how about New Guinea? 
That East Indian island lies almost next door to Java and has a 
similar equatorial climate with abundant rain, but New Guinea 
has only three people for every square mile while Java has 
seven hundred. 

Consider the matter from your own personal standpoint. 
Are you one of a hundred thousand people packed into the 
apartment houses of a single square mile in a city? Do you 
live in a suburb where there are about a thousand people for 
every square mile? Or do you live in some remote place where 



the average family is separated from Its neighbors by two or 
three miles? Whatever may be the density of the population, 
it obviously has an almost incalculable effect upon you. The 
person in a huge apartment house in a city, the dweller in the 
suburbs, and the one who lives miles from neighbors cannot 
possibly live the same life, or think the same thoughts. They 
are likely to differ radically in the amount that they travel, the 
food they eat, the clothes they wear, the kind of houses they live 
in, the means of transportation they employ, the recreations 
they enjoy, the kind and amount of schooling that they get, the 
degree of choice that they have in finding husbands or wives, 
and a hundred other things. Try to picture your own life if 
the region around you should suddenly become a hundred times 
as populous as now, or if ninety-nine out of every hundred peo- 
ple should move away. 

Each stage of civilization has its own special conditions as to 
the distribution of population. In the lowest stages the people 
are always sparsely scattered. In a somewhat higher stage they 
are not so thinly scattered, and begin to have villages. Then 
comes a stage where the population is fairly dense, but the 
towns are still relatively insignificant. Finally, whenever civili- 
zation rises to high levels, the population tends to be concen- 
trated in cities. This may be dangerous, because cities are the 
destroyers as well as the upbuilders of civilization, but it has 
happened again and again. 

One of the most fundamental facts about the distribution of 
population, and one which many people fail to realize, is that 
by far the larger part of the earth's surface supports about as 
many people as it can under the prevailing types of culture and 
standards of living. Even in a relatively new land like the 
United States, the population cannot long increase at the present 
rate unless we devise new methods of obtaining food and raw 
materials, or adopt lower standards of living. As a matter of 



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fact, both things are actually happening. Parallel with our 
many inventions and discoveries, there has been for two or 
three generations a growing tendency for the great masses of 
the poorer people who swarm in the factory cities to adopt a 
standard of living lower than that of corresponding people at an 
earlier date. One example of this is the reduction in the aver- 
age consumption of meat. In 1907, according to Mr. John 
Roberts of the United States Department of Agriculture, we 
consumed an average of 159 pounds of meat per person, in 
1926 only 143 pounds. During the six years from 1907 to 
1912 the consumption was 149 pounds, during the six from 
192 1 to 1926 only 143. The use of expensive beef has declined 
still more, from 71 pounds in the first period to 61 in the sec- 
ond, but the use of cheap pork has risen from 64 pounds to 69. 
The change in the use of meat Is often supposed to represent a 
swing toward a more healthful vegetarian diet, but the main 
reason for it is that the human population is increasing faster 
than the domestic animals. Hence the price of meat has risen 
with special rapidity and the poorer people are compelled to 
eat less meat and poorer kinds than formerly. In this respect 
at least, the standard of living has fallen. The country as a 
whole may be growing richer, but in the long run there is a 
decided tendency toward the growth of large groups of labor- 
ing people, miners and farmers, whose standards of living aver- 
age lower than did those of the same classes a few generations 
ago. It seems to be almost inevitable that ultimately there 
should come to us, as to others, a time when the population in- 
creases faster than the means of subsistence. 

Another point which few people fully appreciate is that at 
every stage of human culture, and in every type of geographi- 
cal environment, a certain definite density of population repre- 
sents the " 'optimum," or most favorable condition. Take, for 
example, pastoral nomads like the Hottentots, Arabs, or Burlats 


of Siberia. Suppose that there Is only one family for every 
hundred square miles, although there is grass enough to sup- 
port flocks and herds for several times as many. On an aver- 
age each group of five or ten families will be twenty to forty 
miles from neighbors. If the animals wander ? what chance 
has a man to find help or hospitality? If an enemy should 
penetrate so far 3 who will assist the tents which are raided? 
Since large areas are not needed for the flocks and herds, wild 
beasts will multiply, and the young of the domestic animals 
will be in constant danger. If the population increases ten- 
fold, on the contrary, there may not be grass enough unless the 
average herd becomes so small that it will barely support a 
family. When bad seasons occur such conditions are almost 
certain to breed distress, strife and war. Somewhere between 
these two densities lies the optimum the condition where 
each man can have a large herd, but where the camps are near 
enough to be of mutual assistance, yet not near enough to 
cramp one another's supply of grass in dry seasons. 

In our own type of civilization the optimum is equally clear. 
If the farmers are too far apart they cannot afford to build 
good roads; they cannot easily market their produce, attend 
the Grange meetings and church, send their children to school, 
or get the mail or the doctor. If the farmers are too numerous, 
they will not have land enough to yield a reasonable living, 
If people are too closely packed in cities, intense poverty, labor 
troubles, and other bad social conditions will prevail ; the birth 
rate will fall and the death rate rise so that many of the more 
valuable types of people will actually die out from generation 
to generation. The optimum obviously lies somewhere between 
the sparsely settled farms and the crowded cities. 

The area of the earth is estimated at 57,255,000 square 
miles. Almost exactly half of that vast area has less than one 
inhabitant per square mile, and probably does not contain 


much more than ten million inhabitants. Think what that 
means half of all the lands have no more inhabitants than 
New York and London put together. The ten million people 
who live in the central parts of those cities, that is, in New 
York's boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn, and in 
the " registration area " of London, occupy only two hundred 
and fifty square miles; the ten million who live in the sparsely 
populated half of the world have about 22,500,000 square 
miles of space, even if we omit the ice sheets of Antarctica and 
Greenland. Forty thousand persons per square mile against 
less than half a person! A twelfth of an acre per family 
against more than seven thousand acres! Is it any wonder 
that the modes of life and thought are utterly different? 

Although many conditions cooperate in causing half of the 
earth's surface to have less than one inhabitant per square 
mile, the main reason is climate, as might be expected from our 
survey of the great picture of human geography. This is evi- 
dent when the regions of this kind are classified climatically, 
as in the following table: 


Too Cold for Agriculture 

B. Because 

C. Because 

D. Too 

of high Lat- 

of Alti- 




and wet 
























A. Too Dry 
for Agricul" 
Continent ture 

Asia 3>930,ooo 

North America 600,000 

Africa 5,000,000 


South America 470,000 

Australasia 2,020,000 

Europe 80,000 

East Indies 

Total 12,100,000. .12,060,000. , .1,510,000. . .2,730,000. .28,400,000 

1 Based on the Chambers of Commerce Atlas (Putnam's). Greenland is 
included with North America; Iceland with Europe. The distinction between 


The regions that are too dry for agriculture comprise more 
than one-fifth of all the earth's land surface. Each continent 
except Antarctica contains some such regions, although the 
European region northwest of the Caspian Sea is very small. 
Africa alone has two dry areas quite unconnected, one of huge 
size in the north and east, and the other less than a tenth as 
large in the south. The areas that are too cold for agriculture 
are even more extensive, for they include not only high lati- 
tudes, like the northern parts of North America and Asia, but 
high altitudes like those of Tibet. The areas that are too warm 
and wet are much smaller and naturally lie close to the equator. 
They are the regions where the so-called equatorial rain-forest 
flourishes. Asia, surprising as it may seem, has no warm wet 
area where the population sinks to the very lowest levels, and 
of course nothing of the kind would be expected in Antarctica 
and Europe. Even Africa has only a little, whereas the East 
Indian islands of New Guinea and Borneo have somewhat 
more. The really great developments of the sparsely popu- 
lated warm wet tropical regions is found in South America in 
the vast Amazon Plain. There population rises above one per 
square mile only along the main rivers. One of the world's 
major questions is whether the climatic handicaps will ever 
be overcome so that all these regions, and especially the wet 
tropics, will become the homes of a moderately dense and really 
comfortable population. 

Contrast these sparsely populated areas with the most densely 
populated parts of the earth those where the inhabitants 
number more than 128 per square mile. The main areas of 

regions that are too cold because of high latitude and those that are too cold 
because of altitude is rather vague, for areas like the Canadian Rockies, the 
southern Andes, and the Stanovoi Mountains of Asia might go in either group. 
As a matter of fact all of these are placed among the regions that are cold be- 
cause of high latitude, but this makes no practical difference so far as the con- 
clusions of this book are concerned. 


this kind also occur in distinct types of climate. They are lo- 
cated either in warm, moist regions where sugar and rice are 
raised, or in temperate lands where cyclonic storms prevail at 
all seasons. In the rice and sugar lands food is extremely 
abundant; in the cyclonic lands human energy is at a maxi- 
mum. The rice and sugar type of country is by far the more 
populous. In Asia and the Far East it includes much of India 
except the central highland, western desert and high moun- 
tains; it also includes part of the plains of Burma, Siam, and 
Indo-China, as well as Java, the northern Philippines, most of 
China except the high mountains and arid interior, the best 
parts of Chosen, and practically all of Japan. The rice regions 
support approximately seven hundred million people in about 
two and a quarter million square miles one person for every 
two acres compared with one for every twelve hundred or more 
in the sparsely settled half of the world. Although Africa and 
South America contain large areas which are climatically similar 
to the Far East and India, they have only a few small and 
scattered spots of dense population. The explanation of this, 
as we shall see later, seems to lie largely, although not wholly, 
in the absence of rice. 

The type of country where dense population is associated 
with cyclonic storms and a very high degree of human energy 
is divided into two main sections. The chief of these lies in 
western and central Europe, including most of Great Britain, 
and all the region from the Baltic Sea to northern Portugal 
and southern Italy. It extends eastward through Poland into 
Ukraine and also into Rumania and Bulgaria. In North 
America a similar area extends from southern New England 
southward to Baltimore and westward along the Great Lakes to 
Chicago. If we include a few other little scraps of similar type, 
the total area where a dense population seems to arise by rea- 
son of the cyclonic type of climate and the great activity of the 


people scarcely amounts to more than 1,650,000 square miles 
with a population of approximately 370,000,000. 

The amazing fact about all this is that even when the rice 
regions and the cyclonic regions are combined, the total area 
Is only about four million square miles, while the population 
is one billion, one hundred million. In other words, nearly 
two-thirds of the people of the earth are crowded into seven 
per cent of the lands. Evidently mankind is very partial to 
certain limited kinds of environments. 

We have said that climate is the main reason why such vast 
areas are almost uninhabited, but does not poor soil often 
produce the same result? That is certainly the case locally, as 
in some of the sandy, gravelly parts of Maine, but soil, apart 
from rainfall, temperature, relief, and the like never limits the 
population of large areas to any such low figure as one person 
per square mile. The soil of large parts of Germany is very 
poor, as is that of Czechoslovakia and Denmark; yet a popu- 
lation of more than a hundred per square mile is common. In 
Denmark, outside the cities of over twenty thousand people, 
the population numbers more than one hundred and thirty 
per square mile. Vermont, New Hampshire, Scotland and a 
long list of other regions furnish abundant similar examples. 
In these regions very poor soil, even when coupled with unfavor- 
able topography and a climate much too cool for the best agri- 
culture, does not reduce the density of population even of 
the rural population to less than seven or eight per square 
mile as in Vermont. No matter how poor the soil, the right kind 
of people and the right kind of climate can make it yield fairly 
large crops and support a fairly dense population. Artificial 
waterways, artificial topography, and artificial climate are far 
more difficult to create than is a rich soil. Look at Florida, with 
its sands; the soil in many sections is extremely poor, but fer- 
tilizers, energy and brains make it highly productive. In fact, 


they often make the naturally poor soil more valuable than that 
which is naturally good. 

Although poor soil is locally responsible for relative sparsity 
of population, it is doubtful whether it plays any large part in 
determining the location of the world's main areas of sparse 
population, except perhaps in the tropics. It certainly has little 
to do with the sparsity of people in the twelve million square 
miles that are too dry for agriculture. There by far the greater 
part of the soil is of the richest and most desirable types. 
Water, not richer soil, is the great need. In the thirteen and a 
half million square miles where we have ascribed the sparsity 
of population to low temperature, the opposite condition pre- 
vails, for most of the soil is undoubtedly poor, but scarcely 
worse than that in New England and Norway. 

In the most sparsely populated tropical regions the soil is 
worst of all. The constant warmth and moisture cause the 
rocks to decay rapidly, and the constant rains leach away the 
plant foods almost as soon as they become soluble. The cli- 
matic conditions also stimulate certain kinds of bacteria which 
break down organic compounds so that little or no humus re- 
mains in the ground, and the nitrates which are so necessary to 
the majority of crops are almost lacking. Yet weeds grow with 
such extraordinary vigor that crops are choked and killed; 
bacteria are so abundant and virulent that the human inhabi- 
tants are terribly weakened by disease. Just how far the spar- 
sity of population is due to the poor soil, and how far to weeds 
and disease, is not yet clear, but the deficiencies of the soil itself 
are mainly the result of the prolonged action of the same cli- 
matic conditions whose brief and immediate action hampers 
agriculture and promotes disease. Thus even if the soil of the 
warm wet regions is the direct agent in causing a sparse popu- 
lation, the climate is the great indirect agent. 

The relief of the lands ranks with the soil in its effect on the 


density of population. Mankind certainly needs level land; 
the world's greatest populations are all located in regions of 
gentle relief. But does a rugged topography prevent a popula- 
tion from becoming dense if other conditions are favorable? 
That mountains cause the population to be sparse is scarcely 
open to question, but no mountains anywhere in the world re- 
duce the population to one or less per square mile unless they 
affect the climate. They may make the climate too cold, too 
dry, or possibly too wet for agriculture, but if the climate is 
favorable, the population is almost certain to be fairly dense 
even where the mountains are rugged. Japan is an extremely 
mountainous country, but it is likewise densely populated. 
Every little valley is tilled, and so are the slopes, except where 
they become so steep that the farms cannot cling to them, or so 
high that the temperature becomes too low. Java displays sim- 
ilar characteristics; there the mountain sides are often terraced 
so carefully that the height of the terrace walls is about as great 
as the width of the strips that can be cultivated. Syria is one 
of the most mountainous countries ; villages cling precariously 
to the sides of steep limestone mountains, and often the water- 
supply comes from springs at the foot of great limestone cliffs. 
In order to bring the water to a bit of tillable land it may be 
allowed to drop a hundred feet in a picturesque waterfall onto 
a rocky terrace covered with mulberry trees for the silk worms. 
Yet Syria has a fairly dense population. Taking the country 
as a whole, there are fifty people per square mile, but if we leave 
out the mountainous portions that are too cold for agriculture 
and the regions farther inland that are too dry, this figure rises 
almost twice as high. Our own Kentucky mountains are often 
spoken of as highly rugged. Yet the rural population there 
amounts to over forty per square mile, which is as much as in 
the level state of Iowa. The province of Fukien in South China 
is extremely rugged, with mountains rising sheer from the sea 
all along the coast. But all save the steepest slopes are culti- 


Vated and the density of the population amounts to almost five 
hundred per square mile. Although the relief of the land is 
highly important, it practically never reduces the population of 
any large area to one per square mile unless it also injures the 

Are not remoteness, inaccessibility, and stage of civilization 
important reasons for sparsity of population in northern 
Canada, for example? Yes, but remoteness and inaccessibility 
are relative terms and depend largely upon climate, soil, relief 
and the like. A hundred years ago few regions were more in- 
accessible from Europe than were California, southeastern 
Australia and New Zealand. Lapland, Iceland, Greenland, and 
the Saint Lawrence coast of Labrador were all much more ac- 
cessible. So too, were the coastal sections of the Saharan and 
Arabian deserts, especially from, countries like France, which 
border on the Mediterranean Sea. Yet thousands of people dis- 
regarded these more accessible places and made long, difficult 
voyages in order to settle in the much more remote regions 
around the Pacific Ocean. Today California, northern New 
Zealand, and the province of Victoria in Australia support not 
far from twenty people per square mile, but the more accessible 
regions mentioned above still have not much more than one. 
Their climatic handicap makes them almost as remote and in- 
accessible today as they were a century ago, whereas the good 
climate and other resources of the Pacific regions have attracted 
so many settlers that from Paris it is easier to reach California 
than Labrador or the western Sahara. 

In the same way, so far as mere distance is concerned, Green- 
land is more accessible to Europe than is New England; yet 
cold Greenland is almost uninhabited, while Massachusetts has; 
about five hundred people per square mile. We are often told 
that the position of Massachusetts, opposite the North Sea 
area, has caused it to receive the first impetus of immigration 
and trade from the most active parts of Europe, and hence is 


a main cause of the rapid growth of population and develop- 
ment of industry. But Nova Scotia lies more than a half day's 
sail nearer to Europe; its harbors are good, and it has excellent 
coal of its own. Its settlers were essentially the same kind as 
those of New England; its civilization today surpasses that of 
New England in certain ways, such as respect for law, and it 
has long been noted for the ability of its sons and daughters. 
For many years the students from Acadia College in Nova 
Scotia had a higher average standing in the Graduate School 
of Yale University than had those of any other institution. 
Thus sociologically as well as geographically, Nova Scotia 
possesses no mean advantages. Yet the population is now only 
one-fortieth as dense as that of Massachusetts. 

The trouble with Nova Scotia, as Professor R. H. Whitbeck 
has admirably pointed out, seems to lie not in its position with 
respect to the old European centers of civilization, but its sup- 
plies of food. So far as soil is concerned, Nova Scotia is about 
as able to raise food as is Massachusetts. The summers, how- 
ever, are enough cooler and the winters enough longer, so that 
agriculture is less profitable. But such differences by no means 
explain the contrast between populations of twenty-five and 
five hundred per square mile. Only when modern communica- 
tion enabled food to be brought from the western United States 
did Nova Scotia fall much behind southern New England. As 
soon as food could be brought from Ohio and farther west, 
where the soil is very rich, it was distinctly cheaper to bring it 
to southern New England than to Nova Scotia. In the same 
way, as soon as the cotton gin raised the textile industry to high 
importance, southern New England had an advantage because 
it was nearer to the cotton fields, and also to the market for 
manufactured goods afforded by the farmers who raised food 
on the western plains and cotton in the South. 

In other parts of the world similar conditions prevail. Mon- 


golia is extremely accessible from northern China; its bor- 
ders are scarcely more than a hundred miles from Pekin, while 
Indo-China, Formosa, Java and Hawaii are more remote. 
Yet, except during the last few years, far more Chinese have 
migrated to these latter places where agriculture is highly 
productive, than to Mongolia where drought is a constant 

Another impressive illustration of the relative importance of 
location, position, remoteness, accessibility or whatever one 
may call it is found in New Zealand. No sane person would 
deny that because New Zealand is located far away by itself in 
the southern hemisphere, it has a smaller population and much 
less importance to the world as a whole than it would have if it 
lay half-way between New York and Liverpool. Its capacity 
for supporting population may not be so great as that of the 
British Isles because of more rugged mountains, or as that of 
Japan because the climate is not so warm and moist. But these 
physical differences by no means account for the fact that 
while the old United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 
and the main islands of Japan, each have about four hundred 
people per square mile, New Zealand as a whole has only 
twelve. In this case mere remoteness seems to be so important 
that it may long prevent New Zealand from being a great 
manufacturing region, or from being highly populous. But is 
this remoteness as important as soil and climate? Iceland, 
Newfoundland and the northern island of New Zealand are all 
about the same size. Iceland is only eight or nine hundred miles 
from Liverpool, it has been inhabited by Europeans for more 
than a thousand years, and it might easily get food from Amer- 
ica. Yet today, by reason of its unpropitious climate, it has less 
than a hundred thousand people only two per square mile 
and more than half the island is uninhabited. Newfoundland 
lies about nineteen hundred miles from Liverpool, and almost 


within hailing distance of the world's greatest oceanic route. It 
has been known to Europe for four hundred years, and might 
easily and cheaply get food from the interior plains of America 
down the great Saint Lawrence waterway. Yet because of its 
unfavorable climate it has only about two hundred and seventy 
thousand people, or six per square mile. Part of it still belongs 
to the regions with less than one inhabitant per square mile. 
New Zealand, on the contrary, was not discovered by Euro- 
peans till 1779; the sailing distance from England, even via the 
Suez Canal, is about fifteen thousand miles, and external sup- 
plies of food are not so accessible as in Newfoundland. But it 
has a good climate. So today, in spite of the fact that a large 
area in the mountainous interior has less than one person per 
square mile, the North Island has three times as many inhabi- 
tants as Newfoundland, and seven or eight times as many as 
Iceland. Thus we conclude that while newness and remoteness 
are the main factors in determining the sparsity of population 
in New Zealand compared with Great Britain, climate is the 
most potent factor in causing the density to be relatively high 
in New Zealand in contrast with Iceland and Newfoundland. 

If location, age, and stage of civilization are all taken into 
account, the real state of affairs seems to be this : When re- 
gions where civilization is low come into contact with regions 
where it is high, the density of population in the " new " region 
for a while depends largely upon the relative locations of the 
various places and upon the length of time that the new regions 
have been in contact with the higher civilization. As time goes 
on, mere location and age have less and less effect. If the cli- 
mate, soil and relief attract progressive people in even moderate 
numbers, lines of transportation are sure to be developed. To- 
day New Zealand and Australia can be reached from Europe, 
America, Japan or almost any civilized part of the world far 
more comfortably and by far more frequent service than can t5>. 


sparsely populated coast of Somaliland. Yet Somallland is an 
" old " region lying directly upon the main route from Europe to 
India and the Far East. New Zealand and Australia have 
grown rapidly in population, and will doubtless continue to 
grow, whereas Somaliland remains almost unchanged. Iceland, 
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Maine, in diminishing degrees, 
are like Somaliland. At first, their location in reference to 
northwestern Europe helped them. Today they have lost that 
advantage because other conditions, especially climate and soil, 
have caused a new center of civilization to be located in North 

In all this discussion we must bear in mind that we live 'in 
an age when the newness of America and Australia, and even 
of other regions like South Africa, is only just wearing off. We 
are therefore unduly impressed by the importance of mere loca- 
tion in respect to northwestern Europe. We are always hear- 
ing that the newness of a region is the reason why it has no 
population worth mentioning, and no lines of transportation, 
and why only the most ardent pioneers want to go there. Since 
the days of Columbus this has undoubtedly been true, but it 
represents a highly unique condition which is rapidly dying out. 
Even in the United States mere newness will soon cease to 
count much in determining the density of population. Nevada 
is scarcely newer than California, but it has about seven-tenths 
of a person per square mile while California has twenty-two. 
Wyoming can hardly be called newer than the state of Wash- 
ington, but Wyoming has two people per square mile while 
Washington has twenty. Newness, like remoteness and acces- 
sibility, is indeed highly important, but its effects rapidly dis- 

Our final conclusion is that in the long run, soil, relief, and 
especially climate are the main determinants of where people 
shall live. Soil and relief are especially important in determin- 


ing local differences. Mere location on the earth's surface, 
apart from climate, is mainly important when the discovery of 
new lands, the development of new types of human culture, 
and the occurrence of great migrations upset the relatively 
stable conditions which normally prevail. In recent centuries 
such factors have probably been more important than ever be- 
fore, or than they are likely to be for thousands of years, but 
their effect is passing away. Back of all these other factors 
lies climate; it paints the background of the picture; other fac- 
tors sketch the details. 



THE sparse populations described in the preceding chapter 
are systematically found in the most repressive geographic en- 
vironments, and stand very low in the scale of civilization. An 
environment which is repressive at one stage of human develop- 
ment may indeed be relatively favorable at another, but that 
does not affect our principle. Thus Australia was repressive 
so long as it remained isolated from the rest of the world. One 
reason was the vast deserts, which are still repressive. Another 
and far more potent reason was the complete absence of in- 
digenous animals which could be domesticated and form the 
basis of the pastoral mode of life, and the almost equally com- 
plete absence of plants capable of sustaining man as an agri- 
culturist. No race has ever been known to advance far toward 
civilization without agriculture. Thus the Australian environ- 
ment was highly repressive until wheat, barley, cattle, sheep, 
and other useful plants and animals were introduced. Pre- 
cisely the same is true of California where the aboriginal In- 
dians stood at the very bottom in the scale of civilization, 
whereas for people of European culture, the environment is 
highly favorable. 

For our present purposes the best way to understand the true 
relation between man and his environment seems to be to take 
a relatively few typical examples and treat them quite fully. 
The Kalahari Desert in southwestern Africa " the southern 
Sahara " furnishes an excellent example of an environment 
that is repressive because of its extreme aridity. Although the 



Kalahari is nothing like so large as the Sahara only a hun- 
dred and twenty thousand square miles compared with three 
million it is equally inhospitable, as the Boers found in 1878. 
In that year a party of Boers, unwilling to submit to the annexa- 
tion of their country by Great Britain, trekked northwest across 
the Kalahari to Lake Ngami with about three hundred wagons. 
They were on their way to the interior of Angola. Water for 
the animals soon gave out; the cattle grew weak and died; and 
finally there was no water for the people. Men, women and 
children died of thirst. Those who survived say that about two 
hundred and fifty people and mine thousand cattle perished. 

In the central part of the Kalahari Desert the Boers found 
a great ocean of red sand. The crests of the waves were the 
tops of sand dunes rising from thirty to a hundred feet, while 
between them lay broad, flat troughs of varying width. On 
some of the dunes the sand was loose, but a great many were 
covered with tough, sunbleached grass growing knee-high in 
clumps at intervals of about fifteen inches. Here and there 
the travelers came upon dry stream beds where rivers once 
flowed long ago. Elsewhere the weary oxen found relief as the 
creaking carts moved easily across broad level stretches, flat as 
a floor. These " playas ?> or "pans " turn into shallow lakes 
If the scanty summer rains are sufficiently abundant, but the 
water is usually brackish and never lasts long. Sometimes as 
it dries up, it deposits a bed of sparkling salt crystals which 
give a curious beauty to the otherwise monotonous scenery. 
The Boers saw plenty of dry stream beds, playas and salt, but 
the water that they sought could not be found. 

Not all of the Kalahari Desert consists of sand. In the outer 
portions long finger-like tongues of sand alternate with stretches 
of grassy land called veldt. Still farther from the center of the 
desert, especially on the west and north, the grasslands give 
place to dense scrub and occasional patches of forest. Even in 




<f 1-4 iCJ 




the central parts, and still more on the margins, one of the most 
characteristic features is the herbaceous plants which quickly 
spring up from drought-resistant tubers as soon as the scanty 
summer rains begin in earnest. One of the most remarkable 
plants is the watermelon, both sweet and bitter. The bitter kind 
has leaves like an ordinary watermelon and most beautiful little 
mottled green fruits with the bitterest taste imaginable. Both 
kinds supply man and beast with water. Another remarkable 
feature of the desert is the abundance of game, including the 
lion, leopard, zebra, jaguar, baboon, ostrich, and many kinds of 
antelopes such as the kudu and gnu. Along the few more per- 
manent rivers, the hippopotamus, rhinoceros and elephant are 
found, while giraffes and elands are by no means unknown. Of 
course these animals are largely confined to the border regions 
where they swarm around the water holes. In the wet season 
however, they wander far and wide, and some of them reach the 
sand, for the succulent herbage that then shoots forth with 
almost miraculous speed, enables them to live for weeks without 
a drink. 

This curious desert is the home of three kinds of people; one 
is the Bushmen who live entirely by hunting, and inhabit the 
worst parts of the desert; the second and most numerous, is the 
Ba-Kalahari, or men of Kalahari, who depend mainly upon 
hunting, but live where the desert is not quite so extreme as in 
the home of the Bushmen, and hence are able to keep a few 
animals and practice a little agriculture; the third is the Hotten- 
tots who inhabit the desert border and depend mainly on cattle, 
although practicing a little agriculture. 

These three races are extremely interesting because they 
represent three stages of development, and three types of 
adaptation to a desert. The Bushmen illustrate the effect of the 
desert upon people whose stage of culture is very low. Of 
course the ancestors of the Bushmen came from some other 


environment, and doubtless brought with them habits which 
were not appropriate to the desert, but that was long ago. 
Today the earlier adaptations are practically lost, and there 
remain few characteristics save those which are appropriate to 
a desert people who not only have no domestic animals except 
the dog ? but live in an environment so dry that it is almost im- 
possible to keep any. 

How far the physical features of the Bushmen reflect the 
desert environment it is impossible to say. They are very short 
people, the men averaging scarcely five feet. Their dirty- 
yellow faces are described as rather unattractive, partly be- 
cause of the long low skulls, large prominent cheekbones, and 
deeply set eyes which give the face a crafty expression. The 
nose is small and flat, and the wide mouth, projecting jaws, and 
protruding lips give an animal-like appearance. These char- 
acteristics probably antedate the desert, and at least have no 
known relation to the geographic environment. Nevertheless, 
like most desert people, the Bushmen are slim, lean, almost 
emaciated. Even the children lack the dainty roundness which 
is so pretty in those of more favored regions. So little fat ac- 
cumulates under the skin that in both men and women the skin 
often seems as dry as leather and falls into strong folds around 
the stomach and at the joints. Crooked backs and protruding 
stomachs are also common, although many of the Bushmen are 
well proportioned. In spite of all these seeming defects, the 
Bushmen are active and are capable of enduring the greatest 
privations and fatigue, for none who are otherwise can survive 
in so harsh an environment. 

These primitive people go about almost naked, for the tem- 
perature is never very low. What clothing they have is com- 
posed of skins of animals. Practically no other material is 
available, and none can be purchased because the desert does 
not permit the people to accumulate a surplus sufficient to pay 


for clothing from other regions. The men often wear nothing 
except a triangular piece of skin which passes between the legs 
and is fastened around the waist with a piece of string. Many 
of the men, however, and nearly all the women wear the kaross, 
a kind of cape made of skins sewn together and used as a wrap 
at night. For footgear both men and women wear sandals made 
of hide or else of plaited bark. In the absence of clothing, the 
people need something to keep away the insects. Accordingly 
both sexes smear their bodies with a kind of native ointment. 
Dust soon gathers on this and forms a sort of coating like a 
rind. As bathing is almost unknown, this constitutes a more 
or less permanent protection, not only from insects, but from 
the scratching of the bushes. 

The way in which the desert limits the Bushmen is seen in 
their crude attempts at ornamentation. They decorate their 
necks, arms and legs with all kinds of teeth, hoofs, horns and 
shells, which they find in their wanderings through the desert, 
and stick in their hair rare feathers or the tails of hares. Of 
course they have a few ornaments which come from other parts 
of the world, chiefly beads and rings of iron or copper. In 
order to make their faces beautiful, the women follow the same 
practice as in America, staining their faces with a red pigment 
made from the rocks around them. Tobacco is another of the 
few luxuries which the Bushmen obtain in exchange for the 
skins of animals. It would be too expensive to carry this in im- 
ported tobacco pouches, so the horns of goats are used, or the 
shells of a land tortoise. A jackaPs tail, tied to the end of a 
stick, is used sometimes for a fan, and sometimes for a handker- 

The dwellings of the Bushmen are made of matting woven 
from reeds which grow in swamps along some of the dwindling 
rivers. In the plains the low huts of reed matting are often 
placed above holes in the earth; in the mountains they may take 


the form of shelters on the windward side of holes among the 
rocks. Almost no people in the world have fewer household 
utensils. Practically the only receptacles are ostrich egg-shells 
for water, and occasionally a few rough earthenware pots. The 
food, which of course Is practically all meat. Is cooked by 
merely holding It over the fire ; and fire Is obtained by rubbing 
hard and soft wood together. Equally primitive people are 
found only In equally repressive environments. 

In spite of their primitiveness, the Bushmen are very clever 
in their methods of hunting wild animals. Their knowledge of 
the habits and movements of every kind of wild animal is mar- 
vellously keen and accurate, as appears in their favorite prac- 
tice of following a herd of antelope In Its migrations and killing 
the animals one by one without driving away the rest. The 
chief weapon with which they do this is a bow, cut in the bushy 
region on the borders of the desert, and strung with a sinew 
from some of the larger animals which they kill. The arrow 
likewise Is made of the material that Is most available, namely, 
a reed, about the thickness of a finger and two or three feet 
long. It is wound with thread to keep it from splitting, and Is 
notched at the end for the string. Iron Is too rare and ex- 
pensive to be used for the heads of arrows which may be easily 
lost, so the arrow Is pointed with bone or stone and a quill Is 
attached to make a barb. Only In rare cases and for special 
purposes can the Bushmen afford to use iron arrows which 
they obtain from their Bantu neighbors. Yet curiously enough, 
tobacco, which only left America four hundred years ago, has 
penetrated to the Bushmen. So great a solace do they find in 
it, that when they cannot raise It they sacrifice almost anything 
to buy it from their neighbors of other races, 

With their ordinary bows and arrows the distance at which 
the Bushmen can be sure of hitting the game Is not over fifty 
feet, yet the clever fellows succeed In approaching thus closely 


to even the most timid animals. Even at this distance the light 
reed arrows would not be very effective were not the tips coated 
with a gummy, poisonous compound which kills even the 
largest animals in a few hours. This compound is prepared 
very cunningly and Europeans have not found out just how it 
is made. It is known, however, that it contains the murky juice 
of an abundant amarylis or of a euphorbia, together with the 
venom of snakes or of a large black spider, or the entrails of a 
very deadly caterpillar, this latter being often used alone. 
These poisoned arrows cause the Bushmen to be greatly feared 
by the races who live around them. The Bushmen must have 
exercised extraordinary persistence and intelligence in testing 
the sap of every available plant and the minute organs of 
innumerable insects and larger animals in order to discover 
those that make the best poisons. Their ingenuity in this 
respect vies with that of other primitive men who long ago 
tested all possible plants and animals to see which could 
best be domesticated. But the search for poisons leads up 
a blind alley, whereas the other search led onward to agri- 
culture, transportation, and many other broad avenues of 

For use at close quarters, the Bushmen again use the thing 
that they can most easily procure, namely, a club about twenty 
inches long with a knob as big as a man's fist at the end. Even 
in our day, knives and spears with their sharp metal cutting 
edges are too expensive for most of the Bushmen. The scanty 
resources of the desert do not allow them to accumulate enough 
capital to purchase even such obviously useful implements. 
Almost the only other implement of the Bushmen is a rude 
digging stick, consisting of a sharpened spike of hard wood in- 
serted in a round flat stone with a hole in it. The stone is 
fastened to the stick by a wooden wedge driven into the hole. 
The stick is used by the women to dig the succulent tuberous 


roots of various plants that grow in the desert. It is also used 
to dig pitfalls for animals. 

The skill and endurance which the Bushmen display in pro- 
curing food are extraordinary. Sometimes, for example, they 
actually run down many kinds of game, pursuing them relent- 
lessly until they themselves are almost exhausted and the game 
is completely exhausted and bewildered. On their own legs 
they do what we modern people pride ourselves on being able 
to do by means of fast automobiles. Another special accom- 
plishment is the ability to imitate the cries of birds and beasts 
so cleverly that the creatures draw near. This is one of the 
Bushman's best methods of getting within striking distance of 
the animals which are almost his sole means of livelihood. 

Such traits present one of the most interesting questions to 
the geographer, sociologist, psychologist, and student of his- 
tory. The Bushmen undoubtedly display an extraordinary de- 
gree of skill in certain highly specialized lines. Their powers 
of observation, of endurance, and of patient persistence ap- 
parently far surpass those of the average civilized man. But 
are these powers innate, or are they merely the result of train- 
ing from infancy? Could the Bushman be equally well trained 
to the steady industry required by agriculture, or to the life of 
the merchant with its physical inertness and its necessity for 
constant study of the desires and characteristics of his cus- 
tomers? Doubtless these questions will always be debated, for 
the simple reason that such traits as those of the Bushmen are 
partly Innate and partly the result of practice. 

A little reflection shows that we are dealing with one of the 
most fundamental of all principles involved in the study of 
geography. That principle is that the physical environment, 
either directly or more often through the type of occupations 
which it favors, exercises a selective effect. For example, in 
a region such as that of the Bushmen, where the desert is too 


dry to permit the use of domestic animals to any appreciable 
extent, the man who is fat and sluggish is almost doomed to 
destruction. With the resources available to him, it is impos- 
sible for such a man to procure sufficient game to support him- 
self and his family. So too, with the man who lacks the sort of 
endurance which enables him to follow the fleet antelope for 
hours. He is equally doomed to destruction if he is so clumsy 
that he cannot approach cautiously and warily, without disturb- 
ing the game. The absence of good eyesight may be equally 
fatal. Certainly the man who is not a keen observer of nature 
can never hope to get a living as a hunter in the wild desert. 
Thus certain types of people almost inevitably tend to be 
weeded out. 

On the other hand, the thin, wiry person who can go a long 
time without food, the one who is fleet and light-footed when 
approaching game, the one who is especially skilled in imitating 
the cries of animals and birds, especially keen-eyed and quick 
of hearing, and above all the one who not merely observes 
keenly but reasons correctly from his observations is enor- 
mously helped towards survival. He is able not only to pre- 
serve his own life in times of scarcity, but to obtain a surplus 
sufficient to support his wife and children. Therefore, if there 
is any such thing as the inheritance of physical and mental 
qualities, it seems inevitable that an environment like that of 
the Bushmen must tend, in the course of many generations, to 
weed out those who depart too far from the type described 

At this point, the social phase of the matter enters in. The 
youth who is skilled along the lines here set forth is especially 
desirable as a husband; the parents of marriageable girls seek 
such a youth. He becomes the ideal, and therefore gets the 
wife who also approaches most closely to the feminine ideal. 
Whatever that ideal may be, it always includes good health and 


physical strength of the kind which makes a woman best able 
to bear children and rear them. Thus social selection, through 
the institution of marriage, joins with what we may call purely 
natural selection through ability to get a living, and puts a 
premium on a certain type of physique and mentality. 

There is still another side to the matter. The father and 
mother who approach most nearly to the type which is ideal 
from the point of view of survival, naturally try to train their 
children along similar lines. The less competent people also 
do their best in this respect. So important is this that the train- 
ing of the children often seems to students of sociology to be 
the sole cause of the qualities which it aims to develop. The 
fact is, however, that among the Bushmen, and among prac- 
tically every other type of people, the selection due to physical 
environment, occupation and social ideals, tends to cause a 
certain type to become the ideal. Then education seizes upon 
that type as its aim, and still further intensifies it. Every en- 
vironment favors some occupations and makes others of less 
importance or even impossible. Each also generally favors 
some types of physique more than others. Thus everywhere, 
in the long run, both the physique and the mentality of the 
people tend to become adjusted to the environment, and the 
adjustment becomes still better because training ordinarily 
works in the same direction. 

Turn now again to the Bushmen. Another of the traits where 
they are extraordinarily well adapted to their environment is 
their habits in regard to eating. Often game is so scarce that 
the Bushmen are on the point of starvation. For days at a 
time they search almost in vain for food. At such times, 
lizards, snakes, frogs, worms and caterpillars are eagerly de- 
voured. Lice and ants are by no means despised, being always 
eaten raw, and the eggs of the ants being regarded as especially 
delicious. Yet when such foods fail, the Bushmen survive in 


the face of hardships which would be fatal to persons of a less 
tough and sinewy physique, or with less of the temperament 
which makes them accept privation without nervous strain. 
On the other hand, when the Bushmen find food, they eat 
ravenously; it is said that five adults will eat a whole zebra in 
a few hours, entrails and all, half-cooked and often raw. The 
greatest delicacies, such as the occasional honeycombs found in 
the desert, and the tubers and roots which give relief to a 
monotonous animal diet, are also eaten voraciously without 
much thought for the morrow. Is this an indication of thrif t- 
lessness on the part of the Bushmen? Perhaps, but it is the 
natural, in fact, the almost inevitable, result of their mode of 
life. Not only do they often need large amounts of food when. 
they have been half-starved, but in their hot climate the meat 
of a zebra, for example, will keep only a short time. To attempt 
to preserve it and carry it around with them would in many 
cases merely mean losing it. 

One of the most interesting things to the geographer and to 
every other student of mankind, is the way in which moral 
characteristics seem to be associated with certain occupations 
and modes of life. The Bushmen, for example, are accused of 
being extremely cruel. And so they are. To the white men who 
settled around the borders of the Kalahari desert, the Bushmen 
were a veritable scourge. One of their favorite methods was 
to make raids on the cattle and drive them off in large numbers. 
Their relations to the white man were almost identical with 
those of the Apaches of Arizona and New Mexico to the early 
American settlers. Naturally, such a state of affairs brings out 
the most cruel side of both parties, Bushmen, like the Apaches 
and practically all wandering people of the desert, regard raids 
as one of the legitimate means of making a living. They are 
the only available resource when every other means of obtain- 
ing food has failed. Under such circumstances, the early white 


men naturally hated the Bushmeo 7 and made systematic plans 
for their wholesale destruction. Cruelty met cruelty, for both 
races were living under conditions which almost invariably 
bring out that quality. 

In other ways beside raids the Bushmen have the same char- 
acteristics as other desert people such as the Arabs, Turkomans 
and Mongols. They are passionately fond of freedom, for ex- 
ample; not because of high moral ideals, but simply because 
each man must fend for himself, and because the man who re- 
fuses to submit to the will of others is not killed off or ostracized 
as he is in more settled communities. The Hottentot neighbors 
of the Bushmen easily and almost willingly permit themselves 
to be made slaves, but the Bushman himself will fight to the 
last gasp for his personal liberty. Someone has described him 
as " the anarchist of South Africa." This does not prevent him 
from voluntarily becoming a servant, for sometimes he does so, 
and is considered trustworthy. What it means is that his mode 
of life neither gives him a training in submission nor eliminates 
those who refuse to submit. 

Among the Bushmen, as among other nomadic people, the 
mode of life makes it impossible to have anything except a very 
loose type of political organization. In fact, the word " po- 
litical " can scarcely be used, for there is almost no tribal organ- 
ization. Each family runs itself as a rule. Sometimes, to be 
sure, in special circumstances, as when game is abundant and 
a large herd of antelope is being followed, it is an advantage for 
several families to act as a unit. Then they join together and 
appoint a chief, but the arrangement is never more than tem- 
porary. Why should it be? Under such conditions, the indi- 
vidual families, or at most only two or three families, most gen- 
erally live separately; otherwise there would be too many 
people for the scanty supply of game. 

Courage is another Bushman quality which appears in prac- 


tically all nomadic and desert people. Old residents, who seem 
to know what they are talking about, say that with a dozen 
Bushmen behind them, they would not be afraid of a hundred 
Kafirs. The fear inspired by the Bushmen, like that inspired 
by the American Indians in early colonial days, is said to have 
had a good deal to do with the cutting down of the trees around 
the early settlements in the more fertile lands south and east of 
the Kalahari Desert. If the "bush" were removed far and 
wide around their dwellings, the colonists had much less fear 
of the raids of the Bushmen. 

Another evidence of the highly specialized mentality of the 
Bushmen seems to be found in the singular lack of success of 
missionary work. The ideas of Christianity are said to have no 
appeal whatever for the Bushman type of mind. Christianity 
is a peaceful, agricultural sort of religion. The Bushmen have 
no interest in either peace or agriculture. Christianity teaches 
industry, but industry in the ordinary sense of the word does 
the Bushmen no good. It teaches " thou shalt not steal," but 
when no food can be procured from the chase or in any other 
occupation open to the Bushmen, how can one keep his family 
alive except by making raids? If one makes raids as part of 
his regular work, he must sometimes kill people as a part of the 
day's work. So why, says the Bushman, should he adopt a 
religion that would spell failure at the most crucial of all crises? 
Even though the Bushmen may not put the matter that way, 
that is the inevitable result of their mode of life, their innate 
temperament, and their training; and all three of these depend 
on the extremely harsh and unproductive geographic environ- 
ment. In this respect, as in a hundred others, the Bushmen act 
and think as one would expect from a study of similar environ- 
ments elsewhere. 



ONE of the most interesting phases of human geography Is 
the way in which certain habits and mental traits are rapidly 
transformed when people migrate from one environment to 
another, whereas other habits and traits are almost intermin- 
ably preserved. A man who migrates from latitude 30 to 
60 must change his mode of dress and clothing, or perish. 
But if women take their husbands 7 names when married, it 
is hard to see how any degree of change in geographic environ- 
ment could alter the custom. Such a habit does not impose 
a handicap in any type of environment. 

The way in which the environment picks out some traits 
for extermination or survival when people go to new regions can 
easily be seen by comparing the Bushmen of the last chapter 
with their neighbors the Ba-Kalahari in the parts of the desert 
that are not quite so bad, and the Hottentots in the more fertile 

The Bushmen, as we have seen, live in the most extreme part 
of the Kalahari Desert of South Africa. They have no cattle or 
other domestic animals except the dog and cannot keep any 
because the desert is too arid. Whatever they may have been in 
the past, the severity of the desert has now made them hunters 
pure and simple 3 almost completely adapted to a wandering and 
highly precarious life, and endowed with a corresponding physi- 
cal and mental equipment. The Ba-Kalahari are much more 
recent arrivals, though no one knows when they came. One 
of the most interesting facts about them is that their character 

4 s 


and tastes seem to be appropriate to an environment quite dif- 
ferent from that of the desert. They appear to have been 
driven into the desert by invading Hottentots. When they first 
came vaguely into view, they appear to have lived outside the 
desert and to have had great herds of horned cattle. The Hot- 
tentots apparently drove them into the borders of the desert 
and largely took away their cattle. At a later date they were 
pushed still farther into the worse parts of the desert when the 
Bantus, who are known as Zulus and Kafirs, overwhelmed the 
Hottentots and drove them also desertward. Being thus driven 
into an environment where cattle-keeping is almost impossible, 
the Ba-Kalahari had to change their habits and adjust them- 
selves to hunting as the main mode of life. 

But old characteristics are highly persistent. Unless they 
form an important obstacle to survival, it seems to take many 
generations to weed them out. In the case of the Ba-Kalahari, 
we may suspect that originally they were not merely herders, 
but also agriculturalists. At any rate, although they live in the 
desert, they are said to have a genuine passion for both agri- 
culture and cattle herding. This is manifest in the care with 
which they raise a few melons and pumpkins wherever they 
can find water, and keep a few small herds of goats. If 
they relied wholly on such slight resources, however, most of 
them would soon disappear. So perforce they have learned 
to be clever hunters, with something of the skill of the Bush- 

Unlike the great majority of pastoral people, but not un- 
like many people among whom agriculture has long been es- 
tablished, the Ba-Kalahari are relatively peaceful and timid. 
They also differ from their neighbors in being grave and almost 
morose, as is often the case among people who are timid. Liv- 
ingstone says that he never saw the Ba-Kalahari children at 


The fondness of the Ba-Kalahari for agriculture and herd- 
ing doubtless helps them to survive, since it aids them in using 
such scanty supplies of water as are available. Their timidity 
would seem to be a distinct handicap which would tend toward 
their extinction. The clearest point, however, even though no 
exact facts are available, seems to be that the Ba-Kalahari who 
were not able to adjust themselves to the life of the desert 
hunter must have been rapidly exterminated. If parents could 
not procure food for their children, their line must have per- 
ished, unless perchance they left their people and yielded them- 
selves as slaves to their neighbors in the better environments 
round about. In some such way, apparently, the Ba-Kalahari 
have become adjusted to the life of the desert hunter. They 
have doubtless acquired skill in hunting through the hard school 
of experience, but they have presumably also undergone a bi- 
ological selection which has exterminated the stocks that were 
not able to become good hunters. 

All over the world the same thing seems to be happening. 
People who migrate from one geographical environment to 
another are compelled not only to face new conditions of health, 
food, shelter and clothing, but especially to enter new occupa- 
tions or employ new methods of carrying on old occupations. 
Any innate traits or acquired habits which are positively harm- 
ful in the new environment tend to be eliminated by natural 
selection, but other traits or habits which are not harmful may 
persist indefinitely, even though they have no special relation 
to the new environment. In this lies, apparently, the explana- 
tion of many cases where people seem to be closely adapted to 
their environment in some ways, although other prominent 
traits appear to be adapted to quite a different environment. 

A Ba-Kalahari method of obtaining water furnishes an in- 
teresting example of the way in which a people who have been 
forced to migrate into an arid environment have invented or 


adopted a new and clever device. Here and there the desert 
contains hollows in the sands where water can be obtained at a 
depth of a few feet. Generally such places are in the beds of 
the many channels which cross the desert and seem once to 
have carried large streams, although now they are waterless 
year after year. The first thing which the Ba-Kalahari do in 
such a place is to dig a hole deep enough to reach moist sand. 
Then a bunch of grass is tied to the end of a hollow reed, and 
placed at the bottom of the hole. The damp sand is rammed 
firmly down around the grass, and a water-drawer generally 
a woman sits down with the other end of the reed in her 
hand. Opposite her on the ground she places the shell of an 
ostrich egg, for the Ba-Kalahari, like the Bushmen, are so 
primitive that such shells are their usual vessels for water. 
Taking the reed in her mouth, the woman sucks vigorously. 
Water seeps out from the wet sand, and finally she is able to 
draw it into her mouth. When her mouth is full, she cleverly 
squirts the water into the egg shell. In order that no water may 
be lost, she holds in her mouth not only the end of the reed, but 
a straw running to the egg shell, and down that the water runs. 
When the shells are full, they are covered and buried. The Ba- 
Kalahari often procure stores of water in this way and hide 
them so that they cannot be found in case of the sudden raids 
to which they are subject at the hands of the Bushmen and 
Hottentots. The early travelers in the Kalahari were never 
able to find these supplies of water, although they knew of their 
existence. No amount of bullying or persuading would cause 
the Ba-Kalahari to provide water, but as soon as cordial and 
friendly relations were established, the natives always seemed 
able to find it no matter how dry the country might be. 

Just as the Bushmen represent the full response of primitive 
man without domestic animals to the most rigorous kind of 
desert, and the Ba-Kalahari the modified response of a pastoral 


and agricultural people who have been forced into parts of the 
desert only a little less arid, so the Hottentots represent the 
response of a cattle-raising people to the part of the desert 
where there is grass enough for herds, but where agriculture is 
generally not profitable. Some authorities do indeed hold that 
the Bushmen, Ba-Kalahari, and Hottentots represent three 
successive stages of development, and that none of the stages 
can be regarded as permanent. It is doubtless true that no 
stage in human culture is really permanent, for new discoveries 
may be made anywhere at any time, new plants or animals may 
be introduced, and new ideas and methods may also be intro- 
duced from abroad. Nevertheless, so long as no such new 
factors enter into the situation, the modes of life of the Bush- 
men, Ba-Kalahari, and Hottentots respectively appear to repre- 
sent a relatively complete and permanent adjustment to the 
most extreme desert, the desert which is not quite so rigorous, 
and the grassy borders of the desert where cattle can thrive but 
agriculture without irrigation is too precarious to form the main 
basis of life. 

It is Indeed true that the Hottentots have a great cultural 
advantage over the Bushmen and Ba-Kalahari because they 
depend upon cattle rather than upon the chase; but they are 
able to profit by that advantage only because they live on the 
borders of the desert instead of in its driest parts. They illus- 
trate two of the most fundamental geographic principles: the 
first is that as men rise in the scale of culture their reactions to 
their geographic environment become different; the second is 
that while relatively low types of human culture are able to sur- 
vive in almost every environment aside from ice-caps and the 
most extreme deserts, the higher types thrive and advance only 
in better environments. Each type of human culture appears to 
develop most fully in its own environment and tends to be 
modified as soon as it is transferred elsewhere. These two 

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principles go far toward explaining a great many of the most 
outstanding facts of geography, sociology, and history. 

To return to the Hottentots, they are primarily nomadic 
herders. Since cattle are their chief animals, their habits are a 
little different from those of similar people in similar environ- 
ments who depend mainly on sheep, camels, or other animals. 
But the differences thus occasioned are insignificant compared 
with the high degree in which not only the mode of life but the 
mental character of the Hottentots resemble those of other 
nomadic herders such as the Arabs, Turkomans, and Khirghiz. 
The most important fact in the lives of the Hottentots is not 
merely that they have to depend on grass for a living, but that 
no other mode of life except hunting is available. This means 
that so long as they are not helped by people of higher culture, 
who, under better circumstances, have discovered how to pump 
water from deep wells, and store large supplies of hay, they 
must be nomadic. 

It makes little difference whether the animals that nomadic 
tribes depend upon are cattle, reindeer, yaks, camels, sheep, 
goats, horses, or llamas. It makes little difference Whether they 
are pastured in a very cold or a very dry region. Whichever 
may be the case, the supply of grass is not only limited in 
amount, but is renewed only at long intervals, for the growing 
season is usually too short for the grass to spring up more than 
once each year. Under such circumstances, if a herd or flock, 
large enough to support a small group of families is kept for 
any great length of time in one place, it will soon eat up all the 
available grass within easy reach of a favorable camping place 
in cold regions, or of a water supply in the desert. This would 
not be true if the temperature were sufficiently high all the year 
round, or if the rains were so abundant that the grass could 
keep renewing itself for many months, or could be easily turned 
into hay in large quantities. But in the regions that we are 


talking about, one of the greatest characteristics is the parsi- 
mony of nature, her failure to provide vegetation except in 
small quantities and at long intervals. Therefore if the people 
of the very dry and the very cold regions would keep their ani- 
mals in fit condition, and would have meat and milk from them 
all the time, they must drive them from one pasturage to an- 
other. So they too, like the hunting people, have to be no- 
madic. Thus nomadism is the central feature in the human life 
of vast areas that are too cold or too dry to support more than 
one person per square mile. 

At each encampment among the Hottentots, as they were be- 
fore the coming of the white man, the huts were generally 
placed on the smoothest and grassiest spot available, just as 
among the Arabs and especially the Khirghiz. There the huts 
were set in circles of varying size according to their number 
and that of the cattle. The huts, like those of the Bushmen and 
Ba-Kalahari were made partly of skins and partly of reed mat- 
ting. In the center of each a hole served as a villainously smoky 
fireplace, while round about it the sleeping places of the family 
were marked by a series of little hollows where the earth had 
been dug away for an inch or two to accommodate the hips and 
other projecting bones of the sleeping Hottentots. Within the 
tent the supply of utensils was extremely scanty, not only as 
befits the poverty which is the usual lot of nomads, but as is 
necessary where all the household goods must be packed up 
every few weeks and transported to new pastures on the backs 
of cattle. Yet the household goods, even before the coming of 
the white men, were more extensive than those of the Bushmen. 
This was natural, for the Hottentots not only needed more be- 
cause they had to take care of milk, but they had greater wealth 
than their more primitive neighbors by reason of their cattle, 
and were more easily able to transport their material posses- 
sions for that same reason. So we find in their huts tortoise 


shells for spoons and dishes; calabashes, bamboos and skins for 
holding milk and butter; a few earthen vessels and well-made 
bowls of hollowed wood for cooking and other purposes; and 
mats of rushes interwoven with bark (bast) to sit and lie upon. 
These almost complete the list, but they represent nearly all 
that one finds in the tents of almost any nomads, and nearly all 
that is compatible with the nomadic mode of life. 

Just as the household appliances of the Hottentots were very 
simple and yet a little more elaborate than those of their neigh- 
bors in the less favorable part of the desert, so their weapons 
and dress were primitive but a little better and more varied 
than those of the more strictly desert people. Thus, although 
bows and arrows were their primary weapons, and wooden 
knob-kerries a secondary type, iron-tipped assegais or spears 
were also not uncommon. This was true even before the com- 
ing of the white man made it much more easy to procure iron. 

In those old days the Hottentots, like their Bushmen and Ba- 
Kalahari neighbors, dressed almost entirely in skins. The skin 
coat, or kaross, was worn across the shoulders, and a smaller 
one around the loins. These cloaks were worn, all the year 
round, the hairy side being turned inward during the winter 
and outward during the summer. The Hottentots even slept 
in them at night, and were buried in them when they died. In 
addition to the kaross, the women wore a little apron to which 
they hung their ornaments, and underneath this one or two 
fringed girdles, while a skin cap adorned the head. Even now, 
when the Hottentots procure cotton cloth from Europeans, 
their clothing is almost as simple and inexpensive as in the, 

It would be interesting to describe many other habits of the 
Hottentots, but we must limit ourselves to a few which illus- 
trate the way in which the cattle-keeping mode of life which is 
possible in the grasslands not only made the Hottentots more 


prosperous than the Bushmen, but apparently altered their 
habits and character. One of the characteristics which the 
older writers especially emphasize, and in which they all agree, 
is the friendly, hospitable character of the Hottentots. These 
people despised anyone who would eat, drink or smoke alone. 
When strangers arrived, they set forth the finest feast that they 
could prepare, even if it impoverished them for weeks. Such 
unstinted hospitality is one of the most prominent qualities 
among practically all nomadic keepers of animals. Sometimes 
it is ascribed to the fact that because the nomads travel so 
much, they constantly meet new people and therefore lose all 
fear of strangers. This is true, but not the whole truth. Hos- 
pitality appears to be not only an acquired but an inherited 
characteristic, for it is highly important as a means of self- 

Compare the Hottentots in this respect with the Bushmen 
hunters on the one hand, and with settled agricultural people 
on the other. The Hottentot, because he has animals, is always 
on the move, not only when he transfers his camp to a new 
place, but still more often when the cattle stray, as happens 
continually. As soon as it is discovered that the fear of wild 
animals or some other cause has driven some of the animals 
away, the nomad must immediately start in pursuit, even 
though without supplies of food and water or a wrap in which 
to sleep. If he meets a stranger, who is perhaps also searching 
for lost cattle, it is of the greatest advantage that the two 
should exchange information in friendly fashion, and perhaps 
combine to search where neither has yet looked. If night 
comes on, and the animals are not found, it is a great advantage 
to be hospitably received and helped next day by anyone whose 
camp happens to be near. 

But how is it with the hunter? The last thing he desires is 
to meet people. If he is trailing an animal, the arrival of 


another hunter may drive the animal away, or the other man' 
may get the game, and at the same time disturb the neighbor- 
hood so much that the other animals also flee away. So as the 
hunter wanders in search of game, his object is to avoid the 
habitations of his fellowmen. The others do not want him any 
more than he wants them. Naturally, then, hospitality and 
friendliness are of little advantage to the hunter and may be a 
distinct disadvantage. The man who is too friendly in tem- 
perament may actually diminish the food supply of both him- 
self and the others. 

Among agricultural people quite a different situation pre- 
vails. Hospitality may not hurt them, but it is of no such great 
advantage as among the nomadic cattle keepers. The farmer 
works on his own land, his animals are generally fenced in. 
Only rarely does he have to go long distances, and then he 
usually knows just where he is going. He can definitely plan 
to spend the night at some familiar place. Moreover, the pop- 
ulation at the market towns which are his most frequent goal is 
usually large enough so that there are places which make a 
business of entertaining strangers. Only rarely and in regions 
where the population is sparse, is it necessary for the farmer 
to drop in on the neighbors unexpectedly for the night. Of 
course a friendly disposition and the spirit that makes one man 
help another are advantages everywhere. But the open- 
hearted hospitality and keen delight in meeting strangers which 
are characteristic of nomads are not of special survival value 
to the hunter or farmer, whereas they are to the cattle-keeper. 
Although the matter has never been statistically tested, this 
value is probably so great that in the course of ages it produces 
a genuine selective effect. We all know that some people are 
innately hospitable, while others are not, and we infer that 
during the course of uncounted generations, nomadic keepers 
of cattle have tended to become more hospitable than people of 


other occupations, not merely by training but by actual in- 

Another characteristic which the Hottentots share with prac- 
tically all pastoral nomads is physical and often mental indo- 
lence among the men. Nevertheless they are capable of 
arousing themselves to sudden and extreme activity. Here, as 
in other cases, no one can say how much of this is due to train- 
ing, and how much to innate character, but the argument is pre- 
cisely the same as in respect to hospitality. When the cattle 
are quietly feeding on good grass near the tents, there is prac- 
tically no work to be done aside from milking them, and that 
is ordinarily left to the women. Suppose, however, that the 
animals stray to a considerable distance and then begin to fol- 
low those from some other encampment, or suppose that a 
storm arises and the cattle begin to drift before it. Or perhaps 
wild animals approach the herd and stampede it, or raiders 
from another tribe swoop down upon the herds. 

Under each of these conditions, what kind of man succeeds 
in saving his property and in insuring a supply of food for 
himself and his children? Obviously it is not the steady-going 
man who has been laboriously at work upon something else and 
who starts after his animals at the slow, dogged pace of the 
man who is already wearied with the day's work. It is the one 
who jumps to his feet, fresh and rested, and pursues the animals 
with the utmost ardor. Such a man, no matter how lazy he may 
be the rest of the time, succeeds in the main work of life, for his 
flocks and herds are not depleted. Thus indolence, joined with 
the power of sudden and extreme activity, is one of the most 
prominent characteristics of pastoral nomads all over the world. 

People who are often called upon for such extreme exertion 
cannot be fat and heavy; they must be slender and well propor- 
tioned. Their hands are not likely to be large large hands 
may even be a disadvantage for they imply large, flat feet 


which are not so good for running or for jumping onto a horse 
as are the smaller feet with higher insteps. On the contrary, a 
large strong hand is a great advantage to the farmer. There- 
fore in the course of ages it seems inevitable that the dry or 
cold environment which favors pastoral nomadism as a per- 
manent occupation, should indirectly favor the perpetuation of 
relatively slender people with small, delicate hands and feet, 
whereas the more moderate environment which favors agricul- 
ture tends to preserve a sturdier, larger people, with big, strong 

How far the food of a people influences its physical char- 
acteristics and temperament is not yet certain. If food does 
have any such effect, it would seem as though this ought to be 
apparent when hunters are contrasted with pastoral people, or 
with others who are agricultural. At any rate, the food in the 
three cases is extremely diverse. The hunters eat meat as their 
main diet, although of course they gather such wild products 
as they are able. The pastoral nomad, whether he be Hotten- 
tot, Arab, Turkoman or Lapp, is by no means so great a meat- 
eater as is the hunter. People often make the mistake of think- 
ing that because these people depend on animals, they eat meat 
all the time. That is not true. Of course meat is an important 
part of the diet, but only the rashest nomad kills the female 
animals so long as they are of any value as mothers. The 
young males can indeed be killed, but if the nomads would buy 
anything from the settled people, who alone are able to furnish 
them with grain, dates, cloth, iron and other manufactured 
goods, the young males must be sold. Therefore, so far as pos- 
sible, practically all pastoral nomads depend upon milk. 
Among most pastoral people fresh milk is rarely used, and 
sometimes is considered nauseating. The regular rule is to put 
the rnilk into vessels in which there remains a little old milk, 
and there it promptly sours into the form sold in America under 


various names such as leben, madzun, yowort. Among the 
Hottentots, however, contrary to the case among Arabs and 
even among the neighboring Bantus, the milk is drunk fresh, 
not being allowed to turn sour. Cows' milk is drunk by both 
sexes, but ewes 7 milk only by the women. In the old days, if 
cows' milk was scarce, the women were not permitted to use it, 
but were obliged to drink either ewes 7 milk or water. Practi- 
cally all pastoral nomads make some form of butter and cheese. 
The butter soon becomes rancid, but the cheese is often kept a 
long time and is one of the main articles of diet when fresh 
milk becomes scarce. The poorer the pastoral nomads, the less 
meat he eats, but even among the rich, milk in one form or 
another, together with whatever vegetable products may be 
purchased in exchange for the young male animals, is the main 

In addition to the milk and sometimes the flesh of cattle, the 
Hottentots who preserve the old habits use the flesh of animals 
which they hunt. Occasionally they kill buffalo, hippopotamus, 
antelope or other game. Hares and rabbits are also eaten by 
the women but not by the men, whereas the flesh of the mole 
as well as the pure blood of beasts is forbidden to the women, 
but not to the men. This sounds as though such Hottentots 
obtained a large part of their food from wild animals, but that 
is not the case, at least among the cattle keepers. They do 
indeed supplement their supplies by hunting, but they are only 
indifferent hunters compared with the Hottentots and Ba- 
Kalahari. Among them, perhaps, the art of hunting has not 
been important enough to act as a selective factor and give a 
material advantage to the good hunters. 

Still another interesting result of the difference between the 
environments, and hence the social customs of the Hottentots 
and their neighbors, is seen in the form of government. Among 
cattle keepers, although the population is inevitably scanty, a 


given area will support many more people than among hunters. 
Moreover, it is an advantage for several families to live to- 
gether. The more the better, up to the point where the number 
of animals becomes so large that they eat off the grass near the 
camp with undue rapidity. Accordingly, like most people who 
follow the same mode of life, the Hottentots had a patriarchal 
system of government. Each tribe had its semi-hereditary 
chief and each camp its captain or patriarch. The chiefs and 
captains met in council whenever any great matters had to be 
decided, but for the most part each patriarch managed the 
affairs of his own little group, assisted perhaps by the older 
men. He settled all disputes regarding property, and punished 
criminals without consulting any outside authority. Theft, es- 
pecially cattle stealing, was regarded as one of the worst crimes, 
just as was horse stealing on the American frontier in the days 
when the frontiersmen more or less adopted pastoral nomad- 
ism as their mode of life. The thief was bound hand and foot 
and left on the ground without food for a long time. If his of- 
fense were slight, he was beaten mildly with a stick before being 
released. If the offense was great, he was severely beaten and 
then banished from the corral. It should be noticed, however, 
that although theft was so severely punished when a man stole 
among his own people, the Hottentots, like practically all other 
nomads, had no scruples against stealing when they made raids 
on their neighbors. Among them, as among the Arabs, that 
was a recognized mode of getting a living. The moral code, 
like a large number of the personal habits and mental char- 
acteristics of the nomads, conformed to the requirements of the 
environment. The environment does not make a moral code, 
a human habit or a mental tendency. It merely weeds out 
codes, habits and tendencies if they sufficiently diminish the 
capacity of an individual or a community to survive. 



THE parts of the earth, that are too cool for agriculture He 
mainly in high latitudes but partly at high elevations. In both 
cases the results are essentially the same, and are much like 
those which occur where the climate is too dry. The essential 
point is that the indigenous culture, that is the occupations, 
habits and customs which grow up locally, must be adapted to 
conditions where animals furnish practically the only way of 
getting a living. The animals may be wild, in which case the 
people will resemble the Bushmen in many respects. But if 
there is grass enough for domestic animals, pastoral nomadism 
will take the place of hunting, and people like the Lapps and 
mountain Khirghiz will resemble the Arab, Hottentot, and 
Turkoman nomads of dry regions. 

The gist of the whole thing is that peoples' occupations are 
the most powerful of all factors in determining their mode of 
life. Fishermen in all parts of the world, for example, as a 
rule resemble one another in their main habits, more than they 
resemble their near neighbors who are cattle raisers, farmers, 
merchants or miners. Aside from difficulties due to the cold 
climate, a Malay fisherman could probably get a living much 
more easily by fishing in the waters of Norway than by farm- 
ing in the interior of Sumatra. A Hindu merchant, provided he 
could speak the language, would probably adapt himself more 
easily to a shop in Paris than to a mine in his own country. 

In order to appreciate the resemblance between people whose 
geographic environment practically forbids them to practice 



any mode of life except hunting or fishing, compare the Eskimos 
and other people of the far north and the Onas of the far south 
in Tierra del Fuego with the Bushmen of Kalahari. It is 
scarcely necessary to describe the Eskimos. Almost everyone 
knows that they live along the coasts of North America where 
they join the polar bear in moving from place to place accord- 
ing to the migrations of the seals. Sometimes they migrate in 
order to visit places where the birds are nesting in great abun- 
dance, or where fish can be easily procured; or perchance they 
travel a little inland, following the caribou or musk ox, but that 
is the exception, not the rule. Wherever they go the quest for 
wild animals is their main object, just as among the Bushmen. 
Of course the Eskimos in their moist, cold, Arctic environment 
dress warmly in thick furs, whereas the Bushmen in their dry, 
hot, subtropical environment often wear practically nothing. 
But the Bushmen as well as the Eskimos dress in skins, for in 
both cases that is the material which they can most easily pro- 
cure. In like fashion, just as the Bushmen eat every sort of 
animal food on which they can lay their hands, and stuff it 
down half-cooked in vast quantities when it is abundant, so 
the Eskimos eat anything and everything in bad times. Then 
when they make a kill of seals or other game, they gorge them- 
selves until they regurgitate, and even then keep on eating. 
One of the most characteristic pictures of the Eskimos which 
every explorer long retains is their shining, greasy faces as 
they stuff good fat blubber into their mouths and cut it off 
with knives wielded dangerously near their noses. 

The hardiness of the Eskimo and his ability to endure in- 
tense cold and prolonged hunger are paralleled by the ability of 
the Bushman to endure a degree of heat and thirst that would 
kill a civilized man. The Bushman's long hard chases after 
game and his ability to stalk an animal with almost infinite 
patience are paralleled by the tremendous efforts of the Eskimo 


when he spends scores of hours paddling in his canoe in search 
of a seal, and by his patience in watching beside a hole in the 
wet ice while lying on his stomach. In the same way, the 
cleverness of the Eskimo in devising an oil lamp, a skin kayak 
and a harpoon, and in using bones and bits of driftwood to 
make his sledges, shows the same sort of ability as appears in 
the Bushman's preparation of poison for arrows and in the 
Ba-Kalahari method of sucking water out of the sand. Other 
resemblances appear in the ability of both races to endure days 
and weeks of hunger almost without complaint or apparent 
suffering, and in the lack of ability of either to withstand the 
diseases and luxuries of civilization. In both cases, a very 
severe geographical environment, which rules out all occupa- 
tions except hunting, not only causes people to develop a culture 
whose aim is to train people in certain physical, mental and 
moral qualities, but in the course of many generations actually 
weeds out the families in which such traits are especially de- 

Just as the Bushmen follow the agile antelopes, so the Es- 
kimos follow the seemingly clumsy animals of the sea. Some 
summers the Eskimos are full of the zest of life, for each time 
they put forth among the floating ice in their skin kayaks, they 
come back with a seal or two or perchance a polar bear, for 
where the seals are there are the bears also. In such years 
almost everyone is well fed and happy. When the hunting 
season with its wanderings is over, each little group settles 
down in quiet for the long winter, assured that it will be well 
fed, well clothed and well protected from the nipping winds. 

The same sort of thing occurs among other people regardless 
of the race to which they belong. In northern Canada, for ex- 
ample, the Eskimos sometimes come into contact with the In- 
dians of the pine forests farther south. That is especially likely 
to happen when seals are scarce but musk ox and caribou 


abundant. Large bands of these animals drift slowly from one 
region to another, and both the Eskimos and the Indians follow 
them persistently. They take their families with them, In 
order that as many animals as possible may be utilized, not 
only for food but for their skins which are of the utmost value 
for clothing and for tents during the biting days of winter. Far 
away in northern Siberia the annual migration of the wild rein- 
deer is eagerly awaited in the same way, as the great event of 
the year, among such people as the Yukaghirs. If the animals 
are found in abundance, joy reigns universally, for the winter 
will be comfortable. 

But now there comes a summer when the seals fail to appear 
in large numbers on the coast, the musk ox and caribou are 
scarce, even the rabbits farther south in the interior where the 
Indians dwell seem almost to vanish, and the reindeer in Siberia 
seem almost to have been exterminated. Then what happens? 
More than ever the hunters must be nomadic; they must travel 
hither and thither, searching for game of some sort. Some 
years it seems as if everything combined to produce disaster. 
The animals seem to be not only scarce but shy, and the fish 
are equally wary. To add to the general misery, the unusually 
wide wanderings of the tribes bring hostile people together so 
that one tribe clashes with another. In northern Canada the 
Indians may fight with the Eskimos; or in northern Siberia the 
Samoyedes with the Ostiaks. When winter comes, no one can 
settle down in peace, no food supply is laid away for the cold 
dark days, no blubber fat is ready to be burned; no fresh thick 
furs replace the worn garments of last year, and the old skins 
that form the walls of the huts must do duty again, even though 
they are full of holes. Then, more than ever, the hunting 
people of the cold regions must wander. They are sure to 
starve to death if they stay in one place; if they move elsewhere 
there is at least a chance that they may find something. The 


wanderings and consequent exposure may kill many of the little 
children and old people, as well as some of the women and even 
a few men in the prime of life, but wander they must, for in no 
other way can they find food. 

The Samoyedes of northern Siberia appear to afford an inter- 
esting example of the way in which a change in environ- 
ment causes a change in civilization. According to Rodlov and 
others, the Samoyedes once lived much farther south than now, 
in the better part of Siberia, and were correspondingly more 
civilized. They were well acquainted with mining, for example, 
and sometimes dug shafts to a depth of fifty feet. They knew 
how to build furnaces wherein to melt copper, tin and gold ; they 
manufactured weapons of hard bronze and made great pots, 
one of which weighs seventy-five pounds. Their polished deco- 
rations of bronze and gold testify to a high development of ar- 
tistic feeling and industrial skill. They were not nomads, but 
husbandmen who practiced irrigation and built canals whose 
ruins can still be seen. They kept domestic animals, including 
a few horses, together with sheep and goats. 

The Turkish invasion of southern Siberia in the fifth century 
of the Christian era enslaved part of the Samoyedes and drove 
others farther north. Those who live in the north today have 
degenerated to a very low stage of civilization. Along the 
lower course of the Ob they have no domestic animals and 
maintain themselves by hunting and fishing. They dress in 
skins, use implements of bone and stone, and eat carnivorous 
animals including the wolf. Instead of finely-made copper ves- 
sels, they use the crudest earthenware. Their huts resemble 
the stone huts of the Eskimos; their graves are mere boxes left 
in the tundra. Such a low stage of culture is almost essential 
because a higher stage can scarcely be maintained on such a 
slender environmental basis, but it by no means implies the ab- 
sence of fine qualities. The Samoyedes, for example, are noted 


for their honesty. They never take anything left by their 
neighbors in the tundra or near the huts. They are likewise 
described as independent and highly courageous. But neither 
these qualities nor almost any others can compensate for the 
repressive effect of an environment where even the herding of 
reindeer is beset with great difficulties, and men of every race 
are forced to become nomadic hunters if they would procure 
the means of life. 

In the most southern of all inhabited lands the Onas of 
Tierra del Fuego differ widely from the Eskimos and Indians of 
Canada, and from the Samoyedes and Yukaghirs of Siberia, In 
race, language, and many other respects. Yet they have the 
same kind of environment, and therefore the same mode of life 
and the same habits in many respects. The guanaco, a wild 
relative of the llama of Peru, is their main reliance. 

Like the Eskimos, the Onas wear no clothing except the skins 
of animals. Like the Bushmen they wear only a single gar- 
ment, a guanaco cape thrown over the shoulders and clutched 
by the hand in front. They do not want to fasten it, for like the 
Hottentots they may at any moment desire to throw off their 
clothing in order to shoot an arrow. The women dress as 
simply as the men, and freely throw off their capes in order to 
plunge into the icy water and gather sea weed. Their neighbors, 
the Yaghans, go fishing quite naked in open canoes even when 
the water is full of ice. This is not very different from the 
habits of the Eskimos who sit in their huts almost naked, and 
think nothing of rushing out of doors unclothed to stop one of 
the frequent dog-fights, even though the thermometer is fifty 
below zero. 

The people of cold regions who are able to keep domestic ani- 
mals, differ from those who live by hunting in almost the same 
way that the Hottentots differ from the Bushmen. They have 
somewhat larger tents or huts, more equipment, a greater 


variety of utensils and weapons than do the hunting folk. Since 
their mode of life provides greater material resources, they are 
able to purchase a greater abundance of articles from more 
civilized people. Nevertheless, nomadic people are always 
poor according to our standards. There are definite limits to 
the size of the herds which any one man can maintain, and no 
one can become what we would call rich. Moreover, no nomad 
can carry many goods and chattels with him, and practically 
all of what we call necessities as well as luxuries are out of the 

The Lapps of northern Scandinavia illustrate the matter. 
James Thompson's description of them is still essentially true: 

"The reindeer form their riches; these their tents, 
Their robes, their beds and all their homely wealth 
Supply; their wholesome fare and cheerful cups." 

Not all of the Lapps, to be sure, depend upon reindeer, for 
many are fishermen, but they are poorer than the others. Even 
the mountain Lapps, who rely most fully upon reindeer, have 
learned to drink coffee and to wear stout Norwegian cloth. 
Nevertheless, their wealth is all in their reindeer. The extraor- 
dinary place which reindeer occupy in the lives of the Lapps is 
evident from the fact that the Lapp language contains more 
than three hundred native words connected with that animal. 
The deer supply practically all the food of their owners, for 
the Lapp diet consists mainly of reindeer milk and cheese in 
the summer and reindeer meat and cheese in the winter. Of 
course the Lapps, like other primitive hunters and nomads eat 
some green food in the shape of succulent plants that spring tip 
for a brief season. Moreover, like others who keep domestic 
animals, they buy a little food from the settled people on the 
borders of their territory. Nevertheless, that often amounts to 
so little that the Lapps grow tired of their monotonous food. 

P3 gj to 

H *2 - 

M cd ^t 


525 ^ ^ 

W . * 

I Si 

O O c 



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A region where low summer temperature still permits the forests to resist the 
encroachment of agriculture. (Courtesy American Museum of Natural History.) 


Their experiences suggest those of the Arabs who grow weary 
of " this vile milk " as Doughty vividly relates, and long for 
something that will really fill their stomachs. In the same way 
among the Khirghiz who migrate back and forth between the 
high plateaus and the dry steppe lands of central Asia, the chil- 
dren often beg for bits of bread as our pampered children beg 
for candy or ice cream. 

Among the mountain Lapps the regular habit is to erect a 
small wooden storehouse raised above the ground on piles. In 
this, during the autumn, they store the cured meat of the sur- 
plus reindeer bulls. When winter sets in, they wander with 
their reindeer, making the storehouse their center, but taking 
the animals here and there where it is possible for them to paw 
through the snow and find dry grass and moss. As soon as the 
weather grows warm in the spring, the Lapps leave their store- 
house in the low country and push up to the summer pastures 
among the mountains. That is the good time of the year, the 
time when the fawns follow their mothers, when milk is abun- 
dant, and great quantities of it can be converted into cheese for 
the winter. 

In a certain way, the life of the Lapps with their reindeer is 
very different from that of the Khirghiz with their horses, yaks 
and sheep in the lowlands and high plateaus of central Asia. 
It differs still more from that of the Arabs with their camels 
and sheep in the dry desert, the Hottentots with their cattle on 
the borders of another dry desert, and the Peruvian Indians 
with their llamas in the high plateau of the Andes. Yet the dif- 
ferences are mostly external; all these people must perforce 
dwell in light, easily movable dwellings which can be taken 
down and packed onto animals in a few moments. All of them 
dress in the skins of their animals, or in garments woven from 
the wool or hair; all make their huts and tents of these same 
materials. All likewise use only the simplest utensils, cook 


their meals much of the time over fires of dried dung; eat out 
of a common dish; store their milk in skins; and sleep on the 
ground on beds consisting merely of a layer or two of fur, skins 
or felts. All alike think mainly in terms of animals, so that 
their talk is as full of animals as that of a traveling salesman is 
of prices and bargains. Their form of government is almost 
universally patriarchal, for no other form is really practical. 
Education is extremely rare, and arts of all kinds are almost 
unknown save for a few simple processes connected with pre- 
paring milk, preserving skins, and weaving rough cloth. 

The point of the whole matter, as we have already said, is 
that throughout the vast areas where the environment permits 
the rearing of domestic animals, but does not permit agricul- 
ture, mining, or any other mode of life except hunting and 
fishing, this same sort of nomadic life is almost certain to pre- 
vail. If the environment is still worse, so that hunting is the 
only possible mode of life, a still lower degree of culture pre- 
vails. In a few cases, to be sure, tribes which depend on hunt- 
ing might improve their situation by keeping domestic animals. 
The Indians and Eskimos of northern Canada and Alaska, for 
example, might in some regions keep reindeer, or ovibos, as 
Stefansson suggests that we call the musk ox. In other cases, 
people who wander with their herds might settle down to a 
precarious type of agriculture. Such cases, however, are rare, 
and the change from one mode of life to the other is much more 
difficult than most people suppose. In fact, even where the 
environment seems to civilized people to be appropriate to a 
higher mode of life, the experience of the natives often proves 
that this is not the case. Thus as a rule, all over the globe the 
half of the lands where the population numbers less than one 
per square mile is inhabited by primitive people who remain 
primitive in large measure because their environment does not 
permit them to become more advanced. 



WHAT happens when the lands that are too dry or too cold 
for agriculture are penetrated by the white man? Will he suc- 
ceed in spreading his civilization over them and in making them 
productive? He will doubtless succeed to a certain degree, but 
how far and how soon? In some far future, irrigation may 
enable the twelve million or more square miles where the cli- 
mate is too dry for agriculture to support enough people to 
double the world's population. The regions that are too cold 
for agriculture may then harbor a vast industrial population 
which will exchange its manufactured goods for the food and 
raw materials of the reclaimed deserts. But all that, if ever it 
comes to pass, lies a long, long way in the future; we are con- 
cerned with the actual facts of today. 

How rapidly is civilization taking possession of the cold and 
the dry lands with less than one inhabitant per square mile? 
The answer is summed up in the general principle that lands 
which fall below a certain degree of productivity are not yet 
wanted by civilized people. This does not include desert oases 
where agriculture affords a permanent and adequate basis for 
progress. We mean the cold or dry areas which cannot be 
cultivated. Throughout the twenty-five million square miles of 
such lands it seems to be an almost universal rule that highly 
civilized people are there mainly as intruders; only rarely as 
permanent settlers. The intruders come mainly as traders, 
miners, missionaries or officials. They often come without 
their wives and children, and their settlements lack the funda- 



mental elements of permanence, no matter whether they are in 
Alaska, Siberia, Patagonia, central Australia, or the French 

Greenland furnishes a good illustration of a land that is too 
cold. During the four hundred years after Eric the Red ex- 
plored the coast of that island between 982 and 985 A.D., and 
again during the last two centuries, the Norse and Danes have 
been free to settle there. Yet only in the rarest cases has an, 
official, trader, or missionary been willing to let his wife stay 
any great length of time. Still more rarely have Danish 
parents wanted their children to remain permanently in Green- 
land. The children themselves have felt impelled to go else- 
where in search of careers. Greenland may temporarily at- 
tract a few active young people who are full of the spirit of 
adventure, curiosity or religious zeal, but it does not hold 
them. Even among the three hundred Danes who live there 
now, the percentage of women and children is small, 
and only a handful look upon Greenland as a permanent 

This is typical of what happens in the less desirable parts of 
the world. A few people from more favored lands go there for 
special purposes. Those who go are generally of strong phy- 
sique and of a more or less adventurous temperament. As 
long as they stay, they give to the small settlements in which 
they live an appearance of vigor and progress. But the more 
competent rarely remain all their lives, and still more rarely do 
they want their children to do so. If any are willing perma- 
nently to endure the uncultured, unattractive conditions which 
prevail among the sparse and untutored native populations, 
they generally revert toward the native culture. For example, 
during the fourteenth century communication between Norway 
and Greenland was interrupted and the Eskimos migrated into 
southern Greenland in large numbers, presumably because of 


unusually snowy winters farther north. When Greenland was 
again discovered, no trace of the few thousand Norse who 
formerly lived there was found. Some were doubtless killed, 
but it is generally supposed that the remainder amalgamated 
with the Eskimos and completely lost their European civiliza- 
tion. However this may be, it is certain that since the re-dis- 
covery of Greenland by Europe, two centuries of contact with 
the Danes have not appreciably changed the Eskimo mode of 
life. The main reason seems to be that even such highly ad- 
vanced people as the Danes have not succeeded in introducing 
new occupations, or any essentially new methods of conducting 
the old occupations. In a land like Greenland, the geographic 
environment makes it extremely difficult to do this except where 
mineral resources are found. 

Scandinavia furnishes a still more convincing example along 
this same line. Ever since the dawn of history, the scanty no- 
madic population of Lapland has been in contact with the 
rapidly advancing civilization of Norway, Sweden and Finland. 
If ever the conditions have been favorable for the spread of 
high civilization into the cold parts of the world, it has certainly 
been there. But what has happened? The Norse do indeed 
conduct summer excursions to the Land of the Midnight Sun; 
the Swedes have opened iron mines on the borders of Lapp ter- 
ritory; and the Lapps have been provided with a few manu- 
factured articles such as knives, cloth and the like. But how 
far does the Scandinavian culture prevail In Lapland, and how 
far have the Lapps changed their mode of life? Scarcely at all. 
The average Swede, Norwegian, or Finn can make a far better 
living and find life far more comfortable and enjoyable in his 
own region than he could by going a few hundred miles north 
into Lapland. Not only are the conditions of life unpleasant in 
Lapland, but a given amount of energy and thrift applied to the 
limited resources of that region will not yield nearly so large a 


return as when applied to the better resources where the cli- 
mate is more favorable. That is one of the great secrets of the 
backward civilization of the entire half of the lands where the 
population is less than one per square mile. When people have 
once risen to a relatively high standard of living, the rewards of 
human effort in the less favored parts of the earth are not great 
enough to attract them. 

Alaska is a case of the same kind. For two generations the 
people of the United States have been urged to settle there. 
They have been told about the coal, gold and other mineral re- 
sources, the vast supplies of timber, the wonderful possibilities 
for fishing and fur raising. They have been officially informed 
that something like a hundred thousand square miles of land 
are fit for tillage or pasturage. Yet the white population has 
increased only from about ten thousand when Alaska was pur- 
chased by the United States in 1867 to 27,900 in 1920. Only 
one in four of the white population is a girl or woman, and 
the entire number of married women is only 3,920. By far the 
larger number of the families with children are in the southern 
part of Alaska, the only portion where the population rises to 
a density of a quarter of a person per square mile. That is the 
only portion where there seems as yet to be much assurance 
that a permanent white population will ever take root. There 
the children under ten years of age form twenty-three per cent 
of the white population in contrast to only fourteen per cent in 
the northern half. In a normal state like Michigan, such chil- 
dren form twenty-six per cent. 

The present tendency among the fifty-five thousand people 
who inhabit Alaska is illustrated by the fact that both the 
whites and the Indians have declined since 1900. The most 
significant feature is illustrated in the following table which 
shows the number of whites and Indians respectively in 1920 
for every hundred of the same race in 1910. The figures are 


arranged according to the four judicial districts, the most 
southerly district being labelled A, the next B, and so on. 

Whites in Indians in 

1920 per igso per 

100 Whites too Indians 

in IQIO in igio 

District A (South) 134 91 

District B 81 98 

District C 48 107 

District D (North) 36 121 

This means that although the white population is increasing 
in the south, it is rapidly leaving the north. The Indians on the 
contrary, are doing exactly the opposite. Unless the census Is 
In error they are leaving the south, or possibly dying out there, 
and are migrating northward or perhaps increasing rapidly 
through excess of births over deaths. The immediate cause of 
this is the exhaustion of mines and the unusual condition in- 
duced by the World War. But this does not account for the 
opposite tendencies among the intrusive white men and the 
native Indians respectively. It does not explain the curious 
way in which the two types of civilization are pulling apart, 
temporarily at least. If this continues, the slight veneer of 
European culture which has come to the Indians is likely to 
become thinner and thinner, while the few white men who stay 
in the north are more and more likely to adopt a mode of life 
resembling that of the Indians. That they are doing this is evi- 
dent from the fact that a goodly percentage of the seventeen 
hundred whites who remained in the northern judicial district 
in 1920 were hunters, guides, trappers and fishermen, the rest 
being predominantly miners. In this respect they are like the 
Indians, among whom hunters, guides and trappers form nearly 
half of those whose occupations are listed by the census, while 
fishermen form more than a quarter. 


All over Alaska the occupations of the white men are quite 
different from those of corresponding people at home, and re- 
semble those of the Indians. This is evident in the following 
figures which show the approximate number of men engaged in 
each occupation for every man who would be so engaged if the 
percentages in the various occupations were the same as in the 
entire United States. 

Occupation Whites Indians 

Farming 08 .01 

Trade .5 - 1 

Mining and Mechanical Pur- 
suits S -3 

Clerical Work S - 6 

Stock raising ix> 7- 6 (Reindeer herders) 

Professions i.o .2 

Domestic and Personal Service 14 4 

Transportation 1.5 -2 

Public Service 3- 1 - 2 

Lumbering 3-5 2.8 

Fishing S-3 I 4o 

Mining n.8 1.4 

Hunting, guiding, etc 66,7 2,005.0 

Among the white men farming amounts to almost nothing. 
Only about half as many men proportionally are engaged in 
trade, in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits, or in clerical 
work as in the United States as a whole. Stock-raisers and pro- 
fessional men show about the normal proportion, although 
three-fourths of the stock-raisers are reindeer keepers instead 
of dairy-men. Personal service and transportation require 
nearly a half more white men there than here, but this is largely 
because the Indians take little part in these pursuits. When it 
comes to public service, the demand for men in Alaska is rela- 
tively three times as great as at home; even if the Indians are 


taken into account, it remains twice as great. The occupations 
which are especially characteristic of Alaska are lumbering, 
fishing, mining and hunting, which take anywhere from three 
and a half to sixty-seven times as many persons proportionally 
as in the main United States. Among the Indians these same 
occupations are likewise important, except that the place of 
mining is taken by reindeer herding. In other words, the white 
man in Alaska largely gives up the pursuits which most fully 
occupy him in more favorable climates, and turns especially to 
four occupations which are peculiarly adapted to sparsely 
populated countries, but none of which tends to produce a per- 
manent progressive civilization. 

But how about parts of the world where there is no native 
population? Will not European civilization spread into them? 
Iceland illustrates what happens in the cool, wet regions; the 
Near East, Australia and Nevada in the dry. A thousand years 
ago Iceland had only recently been discovered and was prac- 
tically uninhabited, but between 880 and 930 A.D. perhaps fifty 
thousand Norse migrated thither. These migrants contained 
an astonishingly high percentage of the upper classes, mainly 
chiefs who would not endure the kingship and the taxes im- 
posed by Harold Fairhair, the first Norwegian king. Taking 
the best of their retainers, these proud Norse either made 
Viking raids, or if more peaceably inclined, went to Iceland. 

After the first migration, practically no new settlers came 
for a thousand years. During that period the Icelanders per- 
formed one of the greatest feats in all history. Although never 
numbering more than a hundred thousand, they produced a 
literature which, according to many of the best authorities such 
as Lord Bryce, former British Ambassador in America, has 
never been surpassed by any primitive literature except that 
of Greece. But they did far more than this. They established 
a free representative government which secured uncommonly 


good results with a minimum of machinery. They likewise 
maintained a high degree of culture. Sometimes, to be sure, 
the people nearly starved, and culture flickered almost to the 
point of expiring. Each time, however, they recovered. Dur- 
ing the last three centuries the Icelanders, in proportion to their 
numbers, have produced more eminent men who are mentioned 
in the Encyclopedia Britannica than have the people of any 
other country outside England and Scotland. Moreover, in our 
own day, Iceland still maintains a highly creditable university 
and all sorts of scientific and philanthropic institutions. It 
has kept pace with the most advanced countries in improving 
its laws, health, industries and education. 

Does all this seem to be in direct contradiction to our state- 
ments as to the failure of the higher civilizations to occupy the 
poorer lands of the world? Not at all. The inhabited part of 
Iceland is limited to a narrow fringe, mainly on the southern 
border but with a few outliers in the form of little fishing sta- 
tions in the north. A considerable area of Iceland might be 
utilized by people who were willing to live as the Lapps and 
Eskimos live. The Icelanders, however, have never been will- 
ing to do this. Without consciously framing the matter they 
have refused to give up a standard of civilization which in- 
volves permanent homes, books, schools, churches and a settled 
form of government. Therefore, although the Icelanders de- 
pend upon animals as fully as do nomads like the Lapps, they 
inhabit only a small part of their island. The winters in that 
part are no more severe than in New England; the summers, 
although too cool for agriculture, are warm enough and long 
enough so that grass grows with extraordinary luxuriance. 
Without being absent from their homes more than a few weeks 
in the summer, the Icelanders can pasture their sheep and other 
animals and can lay by great stores of hay to feed them through 
the winter. They can likewise engage in fishing, wandering far 


and wide over the waters, but returning to permanent homes. 
Wherever it is impossible thus to maintain permanent homes, 
the Icelanders leave the land unused. That is why a large 
part of Iceland is today practically uninhabited. The secret 
of the whole matter seems to lie in the fact that when the re- 
sources fall below a certain level, the standards of civilized life 
cannot be maintained. Therefore civilized people either avoid 
such places as permanent homes, or decline toward the level 
of the native populations. The discovery of new methods and 
resources will doubtless change the limits beyond which civil- 
ization tends to decline, but that will not change the great geo- 
graphic principle. 

Turn now to the dry regions where agriculture is impossible. 
They differ from the cold areas because they are less uniformly 
uninhabitable, being spotted with oases or traversed by rivers 
or mountains where the presence of water fosters abundant 
vegetation. Moreover, by means of wells, reservoirs, canals 
and the like, human ingenuity is able to overcome the climatic 
conditions to a much greater extent than in the cold regions. 
Nevertheless, in the Near East where civilization has been 
longest established, it has practically never spread out into the 
real desert. Within sight of the fertile lands of Egypt, which 
have been cultivated for six thousand years, the people of the 
desert live practically as they have always lived since the 
camel and horse were domesticated. In Palestine even today 
one has only to go from Jerusalem a few miles into the dry 
wilderness of Judea or the Dead Sea valley to come upon Arabs 
who pursue the habits of their fathers practically uninfluenced 
by the Assyrians, Syrians, Jews, Egyptians, Romans, Naba- 
teans, Saracens, Turks and British who have successively ruled 
the land. Many of the desert people, to be sure, migrate into 
the better watered lands, and there acquire a new type of civil- 
ization. A few from the better watered lands are sometimes 


forced Into the desert, but they leave their civilization behind 
them and soon become like the desert wanderers. 

The same thing is true in the great deserts of Arabia, Trans- 
Caspia, Turkestan, Gobi and Mongolia, and in the smaller 
desert tracts of Persia, Baluchistan and northwestern India. 
Even in the Kalahari the life of the Hottentots who have sud- 
denly been brought into contact with highly civilized Dutch 
and English settlers has not been essentially modified so long as 
the Hottentots stay in their old environment. The cultivated 
areas have been increased in size by means of irrigation, and 
new supplies of water for cattle have been procured by digging 
wells. Moreover, certain habits pertaining to dress, imple- 
ments, food and the like, have been somewhat altered. But 
among the Hottentots who remain in the old environment, the 
essential customs pertaining to getting a living have been 
altered only a little. Nor have the people of the 'higher civiliza- 
tion penetrated into the desert to any great degree. The lands 
too dry for agriculture, like those that are too cold, offer little 
temptation to permanent settlement on the part of the white 
man, provided there are nomads there who will use the grass for 
flocks and herds and let him make a profit by buying and 

But how about regions like Australia and the southwestern 
United States where the white man found dry regions whose 
millions of acres of grass were wasted because the native in- 
habitants had no domestic animals? Do those not prove that 
European civilization will spread Into even -the driest parts of 
the earth? The answer is yes, in certain respects, but this does 
not contradict the principles that we have just laid down. In 
Australia, for example, white men have carried the highest 
type of culture out into the driest desert where there Is less 
than ten inches of rain per year. 

They have done this partly by opening mines, but mining is 


a local industry, highly specialized and relatively temporary, 
and need not detain us here. The main way in which the white 
man has attempted to conquer the Australian desert is by imi- 
tating the more primitive pastoral people and raising cattle, 
sheep, horses and even camels. At first he seemed to do this 
and still retain his old type of civilization. Here and there 
throughout a million square miles of the dry parts of Australia 
one could formerly find homes where the latest books were 
read and appreciated, where the children were sent far away 
to be educated, and where the hospitality was as delightful as 
in any place in the world. That is what often happens when a 
high civilization has attained success after a sudden vigorous 
onslaught on the desert or any other unfavorable new environ- 

But what comes next? Today, the great stations, as the 
Australian sheep ranches are called, are being broken up. The 
government has decided that no one man shall hold enough 
land to yield him a fortune, but that a larger number shall have 
enough to yield to each a comfortable living. In the drier parts, 
the ideal now is not a millon, or even a hundred thousand acres 
as was common in the past, but ten or twenty thousand. The 
day of the old, free-handed, cultured and adventurous settler 
in the desert is gone; the older men of that kind are dying out 
or have moved to the cities; the profits from cattle and sheep 
are not what they once were, and the children are rarely will- 
ing to stay in the old homes. 

It is easy to say that all this is due to the government, 
but the government has merely hastened what was bound to 
happen anyway: The type of white man who is content to live 
in the drier regions tends slowly but surely to decline. Driven 
wells, automobiles, mowing machines, and other appliances do 
indeed make it possible for the white man to raise animals In 
desert regions without being a nomad. A similar change may 


some day occur even In places like Arabia where a nomadic 
population is well established. But even where the white man 
has things almost wholly to himself, there are vast tracts 
one or two millon square miles in Australia where practically 
no one yet lives, wants to live, or is likely to live until the earth 
is far more crowded than is yet the case. But the most sig- 
nificant thing is that after the cream has once been skimmed 
and the newness worn off, the most competent types of people 
are rarely willing to get a living permanently by means of the 
desert resources. 

Why should they? The summer heat is scorching; fierce 
winds often fill the air with blinding dust; and the flies are a 
constant nuisance. Even though they may be kept out of the 
house by means of screens, they cannot be driven away out of 
doors so long as animals are kept. Far worse than this is the 
fact that the children in such places can only be sent to school 
with the greatest difficulty; and social contacts are few and un- 
satisfactory. Men of the finer types feel unwilling to have 
their wives and children subjected to such conditions. The re- 
sult is that little by little the drier parts of Australia are de- 
teriorating. How far this process will go no one can tell, but it 
seems quite clear that after a few generations the people who 
remain will be different from those who have gone away, and 
will have a lower civilization. The tendency of the desert is 
like that of the cold lands. It attracts people when wealth can 
rapidly be acquired, but after a while the more active people, 
the leaders, tend to go back to regions of higher civilization, 
and progress is followed by retrogression. 

This conclusion seems to be verified by the driest parts of the 
United States. Nevada is the state where aridity makes agri- 
culture least feasible; although compared with the world's 
really great deserts, it is highly favored. Now it so happens 
that among the forty-eight states of the Union, none displays 


so many peculiar features according to the Census, and most of 
the peculiarities are directly or indirectly due to aridity. The 
first peculiarity is the extremely low density of population, 
only .7 of a person per -square mile, or about a third as many as 
in Wyoming, which comes next in this respect. But low as the 
population is, it fell off more than five per cent between 1910 
and 1920. Vermont and Mississippi also lost a little, but not 
at nearly so great a rate. Another peculiar feature is that the 
number of men compared with women is far larger than in any 
other state. This is especially true in the rural sections where 
there are a hundred and fifty-six males per hundred females. 
If children are omitted, the discrepancy becomes even greater. 
In 1920 there were actually about two hundred and forty men 
and boys over fifteen years of age for every hundred women 
and girls. Such a ratio means that unsettled frontier con- 
ditions still prevail far more than in neighboring states. Men 
come for a little while without any intention of establishing 
homes, so that the population contains an extraordinarily large 
percentage of men between the ages of twenty and forty-five. 
Such a condition is, of course, very bad socially. Perhaps it 
has something to do with the fact that the laws of Nevada per- 
mit Reno to be the great divorce mill of the United States. It 
certainly explains why that town has at various times achieved 
an uncommonly bad reputation for organized vice. 

Of course this is largely because Nevada has a larger per- 
centage of miners than any other state, over a fifth of the men 
being engaged in that occupation. But Nevada is not a really 
great producer of minerals; half of the states excel it in the 
value of their mineral products. Nevada merely seems to be a 
great producer because it has at one time or another had some 
very famous mines, and its other products are relatively neg- 
ligible. No, the real fact of the matter is that because it is so 
dry nobody wants the land for much of anything except mining, 


and of course the percentage of vagrant miners is bound to be 
high. If Nevada were as moist as Virginia its miners would 
scarcely be noticed, and its social problems would be corre- 
spondingly different. 

Another interesting result of the fact that the white man does 
not want the land of Nevada is found in the fact that among all 
the states there is none except Arizona where the proportion of 
Indians is so high. In the driest parts of these states the primi- 
tive civilization of pre-Columbian days more nearly holds its 
own than anywhere else in the United States. 

The fact that nearly twenty-two per cent of the men of 
Nevada are miners is no more peculiar than is the fact that 
eleven and a half per cent are engaged in transportation. No 
other state except Idaho has so large a percentage. This is 
natural, for where the population is sparse the distances from 
one center to another are great, and the amount of work de- 
voted merely to getting one's self and one's goods from place to 
place becomes excessive. That is another of the handicaps of 
a sparse population. If left to itself, however, Nevada might 
let its transportation sink to a relatively low level because of 
lack of funds. As a matter of fact, a large percentage of the 
men engaged in transportation are employed upon transconti- 
nental railways. They are in Nevada not because that state 
maintains them, but because great trans-continental railroads 
have to cross the state to reach California and the coast. 

Another peculiar feature of Nevada is that scarcely twenty 
per cent of the men are engaged in agriculture, a smaller per- 
centage than in any other part of the country except the Middle 
Atlantic States and New England. In those states, the per- 
centage is low, not because there are so few farms but because 
such vast numbers of people are engaged in manufacturing. In 
Nevada, on the contrary, it is low because there is so little land 
that can be cultivated, or where cattle can be raised without 


resorting to a genuinely nomadic mode of life. Such farms as 
can survive are very large, averaging seven hundred and forty- 
five acres, which is more than in any states except Wyoming 
and New Mexico. If only the improved acreage is included, 
their average of one hundred and eighty-eight acres is exceeded 
only in North and South Dakota. No less than ninety-four per 
cent of all the improved lands are irrigated, which shows how 
dry Nevada really is. 

The way in which this land is used illustrates the civilized 
substitute for the nomadism of more backward people. Most 
of the farms are cattle centers. The animals are pastured on 
the outlying dry land, but when the pasturage there is ex- 
hausted, the owners do not migrate elsewhere like the Arabs. 
They simply feed their animals with hay. In order to have 
enough hay nearly sixty per cent of all the improved land, and 
no less than ninety per cent of all the land for which crops are 
reported, is devoted to raising hay and forage. No other state 
raises so much hay proportionally, and nowhere else is the 
number of cattle, sheep, horses, mules and burros so large per 
farm. Think what it means when the average farm has twelve 
hundred sheep, one hundred and thirteen cattle, and seventeen 
horses! Naturally, the price of these animals is almost the 
lowest in the country, for prices normally fall when the quan- 
tity of any product is great in proportion to the number of 
people who want it. 

Although these large figures sound as though agriculture 
were highly important only 0.8 per cent of the whole state of 
Nevada consists of improved land, whereas in Iowa the figure 
is 85.5. Yet even this small figure shows a decline, for Nevada 
was the only state aside from New England, New York and 
New Jersey where the amount of land in the farms, and even 
the amount of improved land, declined from 1909 to 1919. As- 
tonishing as it may seem, the improved land actually fell off 


more than twenty per cent. Here we have an illustration of 
what we often find in the less favorable lands. At the first rush 
of settlement, all the available land may be occupied more or 
less completely. As time goes on, people find that they cannot 
make a good living under such a stern environment. Therefore 
little by little they give up the poorer portions of the land, the 
less profitable mines, the less traveled railroads. In Nevada 
few ranches are still running except those where irrigation 
makes it possible to raise hay for cattle which pasture on sur- 
rounding tracts that are unwatered. 

With this goes the fact that in Nevada a larger percentage 
of the farms are run by managers than in any other state in the 
country. The number thus operated is only five per cent to be 
sure, but even that is very significant. It shows that the own- 
ers of the better farms tend more than in any other state to go 
away. People who succeed well enough to live elsewhere do 
not like to stay on the Nevada farms any more than on the 
great sheep and cattle stations in Australia. Another notable 
thing in this connection is that the proportion of tenants, only 
nine per cent, is less than in any other state. Most of the 
farms are not profitable enough to support both a landlord and 
a tenant, nor are they desirable enough to attract tenants when 
abandoned by their owners. This illustrates the almost uni- 
versal rule that the more desirable the land the greater the 
percentage of tenants. 

All these facts from the Census form an extremely inter- 
esting picture. Take from Nevada the people who get a liv- 
ing from some source other than the ninety-nine per cent of 
the soil which is unwatered, and who remain? The twenty- 
two per cent of the population who depend on mining are gone 
so are the eleven or twelve per cent engaged in transporta- 
tion, the twenty per cent more or less who run farms where ir- 
rigation Is practiced, and the merchants, artisans, servants, pro- 


f essional men and others who get their living by caring for the 
wants of the groups first mentioned. There remains in Ne- 
vada almost no one except a small and growingly impoverished 
group of cattle-raisers who live on isolated ranches where there 
is not enough water to raise hay for the animals. Little by little 
4 the more energetic and ambitious people on such ranches are 
moving away, while the rest tend to go downhill. Their chil- 
dren cannot go to school; there are no amusements for either 
parents or children; good roads cannot be built because of the 
great distances and the prohibitive expense. The more ener- 
getic among the children hate such conditions, and hurry to the 
towns as soon as they are old enough. Thus even in the United 
States an environment too dry for agriculture, and where no 
other factors, such as mines and railroads, bring other modes 
of life, promotes a tendency to revert to a low stage of civiliza- 
tion. All over the world the lands too dry for agriculture, as 
well as those that are too cold, seem to be unfavorable to any 
appreciable advance in human culture. Even when a high 
civilization is introduced into such regions, it tends to decline. 
That tendency is likely to continue until some new invention 
or discovery introduces a new mode of getting a living. 



THE tropical and semi-tropical parts of the world may be 
divided into three great types. The first comprises the two 
million or more square miles where there are practically no in- 
habitants. The second comprises another eight million square 
miles or so where the population ranges from one to a hundred 
per square mile. The third consists of the relatively small, but 
extremely populous areas where the density averages above one 
hundred. Many people seem to think that the inhabitants of 
all these regions can be lumped together as inefficient, back- 
ward and uncivilized. That is a great mistake. The differ- 
ences between the most primitive tropical people, such as the 
wilder Hill tribes of India, and the most advanced, such as the 
Parsis, are enormously greater than the differences between the 
most advanced tropical people and ourselves. 

The most primitive tropical people are generally savages who 
live in the equatorial rain forests where the population is 
scarcely more than one per square mile. They Include such 
types as the pigmies of Africa, the Negritos of the East Indies, 
and the Indians of the Amazon Basin. Such people wear al- 
most no clothing; they live in tiny shelters of branches and 
leaves which ofttti are placed among the trees; they hunt with 
the most primitive implements such as poisoned arrows. Even 
in our day they are so poor and have so little contact with the 
outside world that iron tools are rare, and stone implements 
are still employed. Organized government is almost unknown, 
while religion is often so undeveloped that only by patient re- 



search has its presence been detected. Among such people 
cannibalism, witchcraft, and similar savage customs prevail 
even to this day. 

The resemblances of such people to the Bushmen of the 
Kalahari, the Onas of Tierra del Fuego, and the Eskimos of the 
north are readily apparent. All of these primitive groups live 
in a low stage of culture because they have never been able 
to overcome the many handicaps of their environment. But 
does the warm moist climate and luxuriant vegetation of the 
Amazon Basin, equatorial Afric^a, and the interior of Borneo 
and New Guinea offer handicaps at all like those of Arctic re- 
gions and deserts? Is it not the ease of life rather than the 
difficulty which holds people backr^Or if there are difficulties, 
are they not due to disease and physical inertia rather than to 
the impossibility of agriculture ?$*"^ a 

One of the most common complaints of outsiders who go to 
the more primitive tropical regions is the lack of variety in the 
food. Here is the way Commander Todd of the United States 
Navy reports the matter: " The crying need of the Amazon 
Valley is food for the people. ... At the small towns along 
the rivers it is nearly impossible to obtain beef, vegetables or 
fruit of any sort, and the inhabitants depend largely upon river 
fish, manioc and canned goods for their subsistence." But the 
people here referred to are mainly foreigners, or those who de- 
pend upon foreign methods. Out in the great forest the 
natives themselves generally have no grain or vegetables what- 
ever, aside from the manioc root. In spite of the common sup- 
position to the contrary, they rarely get fruit and nuts from the 
trees which form a dense canopy far above them; nor is it pos- 
sible to raise domestic animals. Almost their only source of 
livelihood is such game as they can bring down, a little manioc, 
and such other edible herbs, fruits and nuts as they can pick up 
in the forest. Even if they were not terribly handicapped by 


the damp heat and the virulent diseases, it is doubtful whether 
they could cultivate the soil. It is too thoroughly leached and 
water-logged; useful plants run to stem and leaf rather than 
seed, and are choked by weeds with amazing rapidity. 

Although people of this most primitive forest sort occupy a 
considerable area, they form only a small percentage of the 
inhabitants of the tropics. A vastly more important group 
comprises those who dwell where jungle rather than dense rain 
forest prevails, and who practice what may be called hoe and 
tree culture. Such people drop the seed into holes punched 
with a stick, and grub up the weeds with a hoe, but do not em- 
ploy animals to plow or cultivate the soil. They are found in 
practically all parts of the tropics aside from the most sparsely 
populated regions and those of dense population where rice cul- 
ture almost invariably prevails. They form almost the whole 
of the eighty-five million in Africa between the dry Sudan on 
the north and the Kalahari on the south. They likewise com- 
prise a large fraction, possibly a quarter, of the three hundred 
million of India. In the East Indies and Indo-China perhaps 
fifteen million of them live outside the rice areas, while in 
America from central Mexico southward well toward the south- 
ern side of Brazil, the majority of the sixty-five million inhabi- 
tants are of this same type. 

The degree ' of progress among the two or three hundred 
million tropical people who practice hoe culture varies 
greatly. The most primitive generally occupy the regions 
where the rainfall is heaviest, or most constant throughout the 
year, and where the jungle is consequently most dense. They 
ordinarily live in rough, pointed huts with heavy thatches of 
palm leaves or similar material, and with flimsy walls of sticks. 
Around their huts they usually have a few fruit trees, especially 
cocoanut palms and bananas. Their fields consist of almost 
inconceivably weedy patches of yams, cassavas, pumpkins, 


millet or Indian corn. Often a field is cultivated only one or 
two years <and then abandoned in favor of another which has 
been freshly cleared and burned. 

Above this lowest type of agriculture a whole series of higher 
types is found. Where the jungle is less dense, trees and roots 
more and more give place to millet and Indian corn, and the 
stage of culture gradually rises. These cereal crops require 
at least a certain degree of regular cultivation, and thus are 
a great help toward civilization. In still higher stages tropical 
agriculture branches along two lines, both of which were prob- 
ably introduced from regions beyond the tropics. One of these 
is rice culture which we shall discuss in the next chapter, and 
the other plantation agriculture, which is a relatively new 
venture whose effects on civilization cannot yet be fully esti- 

Tropical agriculture and transportation are generally con- 
fronted by difficulties greater than those experienced in middle 
latitudes. One of the greatest difficulties is the soil. Fresh 
volcanic soil, such as that of Java and Martinique is as good in 
the tropics as anywhere else, but unfortunately it is scarce. 
Most parts of the vast area within the tropics suffer as we 
have seen, because the soils are so highly weathered and thor- 
oughly leached that they have lost much of their plant food. 
They may form the red material known as laterite, the dregs of 
a soil after the good parts have been carried off. Even where 
laterite does not prevail, decay occurs so rapidly that the soil 
lacks humus, and is poor in nitrates, as well as in other essential 
constituents. Elsewhere, as in vast sections of the Amazon 
Basin and the low plains along the coast of New Guinea, the 
soil is water-logged so that it does not have a chance to become 
aerated and productive. The heavier the rainfall and the more 
even its seasonal distribution, the worse this handicap. 

Another great hindrance to tropical agriculture is the vast 


number of fungi, insects, birds and beasts which devour the 
crops or otherwise destroy them. Even in temperate countries 
the farmer is often in bad straits because of wheat rust, potato 
blight, cut worms, potato bugs, squash bugs, currant worms, 
and tent caterpillars. In some places, such as parts of New 
England, he is also seriously hampered by crows and deer 
which eat his corn, and by rabbits, raccoons and woodchucks . 
which destroy his vegetables. In lower latitudes leaf blight, 
root rot, hoppers and boll weevils do hundreds of millions of 
dollars worth of damage to the cotton fields, while the San 
Jose scale is a terrible pest to the orange raisers. As the tropics 
are entered, the pests become more numerous and destruc- 
tive, until they become well nigh unconquerable unless a very 
high type of agriculture is introduced. 

The people of cooler climates rarely appreciate the diffi- 
culty imposed upon the tropical farmer by the rapid growth 
of vegetation. Of course the crops develop with marvelous 
speed, but the weeds grow still faster. Anyone who has 
struggled with a garden knows that in dry weather it is easy 
enough to root up the young weeds and let the sun kill them. 
In wet weather, however, not only is it difficult to manipulate 
the damp, sticky soil, but even when the weeds are dug up, 
they take root again at once. In order to keep them down, the 
tropical farmer who practices ordinary hoe culture must work 
far harder than the farmer of cooler regions. 

This fact, together with the poverty of the soil and its 
tendency to become sour or otherwise unfit through the ac- 
cumulation of bacteria, accounts for a common but seemingly 
wasteful method in large parts of tropical America, Burma, 
Indo-China, the East Indies and equatorial Africa. That 
method is to cultivate a field a year or two and then abandon 
it. The first crop may be good, but the second is much less 
abundant aad the third may be scarcely worth harvesting. 


Even if the slight supplies of soluble plant food are not ex- 
hausted and if the soil still remains sweet, the fields may be 
completely clogged by grass. In the Philippines when cogon 
grass six feet high gets into a field ? the roots often form so 
tough a mat that the weak native oxen with primitive plows 
cannot plow it. In Guatemala the weeds sometimes grow so 
fast that the corn crop is practically smothered. Or perchance, 
when a new field is being prepared, the nominally dry season 
is so rainy that after the trees and bushes have been felled they 
do not become dry enough for burning before the genuine rainy 
season comes again. When that is over, so much new wood 
has grown that the work of clearing the land must be done all 
over again. 

Even if conditions are not so bad as all this, it requires a 
high degree of persistence, energy and intelligence to overcome 
the handicaps of poor soil, bacterial diseases, insect pests and 
weeds on a tropical farm. A corn crop of fifty bushels an acre 
can be raised by almost any farmer in central Illinois, but a crop 
of that size on the borders of the Amazon or Congo valleys 
would be a remarkable example of human energy. All this is 
one of the reasons why the standards of tropical living are so 

Even when the tropical farmer has raised his crops, he has 
more difficulty in preserving them than does the farmer in 
cooler lands. One reason for this is the nature of the crops 
themselves. Bananas will not keep like apples; corn and 
millet spoil more quickly than wheat; and cassava roots and 
yams cannot be kept so easily as potatoes. Another difficulty 
in storing tropical crops is the nature and abundance of the in- 
sects and animals that attack them. It is very difficult, for 
example, to make storehouses which are proof against the all- 
devouring termite, while thatched roofs which are needed to 
shed the rain are a great resort for mice and other little rodents. 


Moulds and other fungi likewise develop very rapidly in the 
moist warm air which prevails so steadily in many parts of the 
tropics. Most people in the northern United States know how 
difficult it is to keep food and other products in the damp dog- 
days of August. If a few days of such weather produce such 
an effect, think what must happen when the dog-days continue 
for months. 

The problem of draught animals is especially serious for the 
tropical farmer. The rapid and rank growth of vegetation 
makes strong work animals especially necessary in order to 
plow land beset with large weeds or grasses. Unfortunately, 
aside from the water buffalo, such animals do not thrive in the 
majority of tropical countries. Ordinary European cattle, and 
especially horses with their delicate skins, rapidly deteriorate 
in tropical countries unless given extreme care. One reason for 
this is that every animal has what is known as its optimum cli- 
mate, and cannot live beyond certain climatic limits. The 
optimum means the condition under which the animal's health 
and vigor are greatest; the farther the climate departs from 
this, the more susceptible the animal becomes to disease. 

Unfortunately, the causes of disease are especially numer- 
ous in warm countries. One such cause is the vegetation. 
Many tropical grasses are too coarse and stiff for the tender 
mouths of European cattle and horses. Others are so rank 
and watery that they derange the digestion. In addition to 
this, insect pests are especially abundant. The tsetse fly of 
Africa is so fatal to horses and cattle that it excludes them from 
millions of square miles in central Africa. Ticks are almost as 
bad in other places. Even if the insects are not so poisonous 
as the tsetse, the stings of flies, ticks, mosquitoes and the like 
often irritate horses to the point of frenzy. That diminishes 
their strength, increases their susceptibility to disease, and 
shortens their lives. The water buffalo, or caribao as it is 


called in the Philippines, is indeed free from most of these diffi- 
culties. Its optimum climate is warm and moist. Its digestive 
system is adapted to coarse, watery vegetation, and its thick 
hide, plus the coat of mud with which it loves to encase itself, 
make it fairly immune to insects. But unfortunately the water 
buffalo is not adapted for the cultivation of dry crops, being 
useful mainly for wet crops like rice. For other kinds of agri- 
culture, the native humped cattle of India and the allied bateng 
of Java are the best available, but they are relatively small, 
inefficient and unintelligent compared with the horse. More- 
over they are not immune to creatures like the tsetse fly. 

The handicaps arising from the difficulties of agriculture are 
increased by those of transportation. Even if everything else 
were the same, it is probable that the moister tropical countries 
would have harder work to maintain good transportation than 
would the countries that are cooler. One reason for this is the 
rapid deterioration of roads because the warm dampness causes 
any material used for hard roads to weather and decompose, 
but this is not so bad as the frost farther north. A much worse 
trouble is the rapid growth of vegetation which in many tropical 
countries makes it difficult to keep ordinary roads and trails 
open unless the population is dense. In much of Africa there 
are not even trails, let alone roads, through hundreds of thou- 
sands of square miles of tropical forest. In a region like Yuca- 
tan, after the gatherers of chiclee sap for chewing gum have 
been through a forest and tapped all the available trees, the 
trails which they make disappear almost overnight. Not only 
do new bushes and trees grow up from below, but lianas drop 
down from above and effectually close the paths. If a road or 
trail is kept free from vegetation it usually suffers from torren- 
tial rains which, as a rule, are much heavier than in higher lati- 
tudes. Where the trails lie on slopes, the rains convert them 
into rocky ruts extremely difficult to traverse; where they are 


more level, the rains give rise to seas of mud. These difficulties 
are of the same kind as those In other parts of the world, the 
only difference being in degree. 

Transportation suffers even more than agriculture by reason 
of the poor quality of the domestic animals. A place like the 
Khirghiz steppes or the prairies of Iowa, where the horse thrives 
almost without attention, has an enormous advantage over a 
place where horses can be kept alive only with the great- 
est difficulty. Even mules do not thrive in the moist tropics, 
for the donkeys which are their paternal ancestors are best 
adapted to climates drier than those where the horse is at his 
best. If civilization in a tropical region advances to the point 
where wheeled vehicles and finally motor vehicles are used, 
the difficulties still continue. Not only do the rains tear the 
roads to pieces, but all sorts of tools and machinery rust very 

Some people may say that these difficulties are no greater 
than those imposed by snow in higher latitudes. But until 
the automobile was invented, snow was a great help in many 
regions. The Indian waited until winter to make his longest 
journeys because it is so easy to travel over the snow on snow- 
shoes. The New England farmer thought it a waste of energy 
to haul his winter's wood except when the snow made it pos- 
sible to use sledges. Not till civilization had reached a very 
high stage and people were easily able to cope with it, did snow 
become the nuisance which it now is in cities and wherever 
motor traffic is the rule. 

All this does not mean that the difficulties of tropical agri- 
culture and transportation are insuperable. It merely means 
that they are more discouraging than those of the temperate 
zone, progress in civilization demands that people raise a 
variety of foods and raw materials, and accumulate a surplus 
on which to live while making new discoveries and taking new 


steps in advance. It also demands that people be able easily 
to travel about so as to get ideas and materials from other 
places. All this is more difficult in tropical than in temperate 
lands. Moreover the incentive to do so is less than in cooler 
countries. Not only is there less need of clothing, shelter and 
fire, but the absence of strong seasonal contrasts removes one 
of the greatest of all stimuli to activity. 

The necessity to hustle around and lay in supplies of food, 
fuel, and clothing before the arrival of cold weather is an 1 ex- 
tremely powerful stimulant to both physical and mental activ- 
ity. It is likewise one of the most potent of all factors in weed- 
ing out the kind of people who are too stupid or lazy or shiftless 
to provide for their children during the winter. Within the 
tropics, on the contrary, although it is difficult to provide much 
of a surplus where hoe and tree culture are the modes of getting 
a living, it is relatively easy to pick up a hand to mouth living 
from day to day. Thus in tropical lands the lazy, indolent 
type of man has been able to live and to support a family al- 
most as well as has the one who is more industrious. In fact, 
although the matter has never been adequately tested, the man 
who exerts himself relatively little may possibly have a better 
chance of preservation than has the one who exerts himself 
strenuously. It has been abundantly demonstrated that in 
warm, moist air, a given degree of exertion raises the body tem- 
perature and leads to exhaustion more quickly than in cold air. 
Such exhaustion probably increases the liability to disease or 
causes a diseased person to be more likely to die than is one 
who is not thus exhausted. When primitive tribes have mi- 
grated to tropical countries, asTias frequently been the case, 
those who wanted to be Always on the move, always doing 
something, may actually have killed themselves off because 
over-exertion has rendered thfem subject to disease. In this 
way tropical people may have Become relatively indolent, not 


merely because life is easy, bi t Because the most energetic, 
strenuous types have been exterminated. 

In the long run, the relatively low level of tropical civiliza- 
tion perhaps depends on people's inclination to work even more 
than on their ability to work. Ordinary experience, as well as 
careful scientific tests like those of the New York State Ventila- 
tion Commission, shows that in the steadily warm and often 
moist air of tropical countries people do not feel like working 
so hard as in the more bracing air of cooler climates. This 
applies to mental work quite as much as to physical. Many a 
man who works alertly all day at a temperature of 66 becomes 
sleepy after a few hours at 80 and simply cannot pursue a 
long hard line of reasoning. In this, perhaps, lies the most 
serious of all tropical handicaps. 

Still other conditions also cause the human animal to be 
rarely at his best in tropical countries. His condition is like 
that of the horse; he is plagued by tropical insects, even if he is 
not in danger from tropical snakes and wild beasts. Anyone 
who has ever tried to make his way through tropical bush in- 
fested with ticks knows what misery may be entailed. The 
black flies of the pine woods of the north are worse for the 
moment, but they do not leave such long-continued festering 
sores. In the same way the mosquitoes of the northern woods 
bite as viciously as those of the tropical forests, but in the 
north the bitten person is all right in a day or two when the 
swelling disappears; in the tropical regions he is soon groaning 
with malaria that will not leave him for years, even if it does 
not kill him. 

In certain places the mosquito exterminates man almost as 
effectively as the tsetse fly exterminates cattle. The way in 
which malaria decimated the workers in the early days in 
Panama is well known. During the building of the Indian rail- 
way from the Portuguese port of Goa to the main British sys- 


tern, sixty-three thousand patients were treated for malaria. 
When the Tehuantepec railroad was being built in southern 
Mexico, work had to be suspended because of the loss of work- 
ers through disease. 

Malaria is not the only disease which peculiarly handicaps 
the tropics. The hook worm disease, although not so fatal, 
perhaps does quite as much to reduce efficiency. In a great 
many tropical regions, half the population is infected with 
hook worm, and practically all have been infected at some time. 
How greatly this diminishes people's activity, even when it does 
not make them really sick, may be judged from the fact that in 
Costa Rica the amount of coffee land cultivated by sixty-six 
laborers increased from five hundred and sixty-three acres per 
month before they were treated for hook worm disease, to 
seven hundred and fifty afterward. In India, Java, British 
Guiana, and other places, a similar increase of from twenty-five 
to fifty per cent in the efficiency of laborers has been found 
after the hook worm was eradicated. 

The efficiency of tropical people is also reduced by at least 
one other condition, namely, the variety and quality of the 
food. The many conditions already described, especially in 
the rain forest and the denser Jungle, tend to cause tropical 
people to depend on a very small number of food products 
the ones that can be most easily raised. That in itself has a 
bad effect upon health. In addition, the quality of the tropical 
foods is relatively poor. The banana, the melon-like papaya 
growing at the top of trees that suggest dark palms, the guava, 
bread fruit, cocoanut, mango, are excellent fruits, but for 
steady use it is very doubtful whether they equal the apple, or 
the orange which, unfortunately, is of poor quality in genuinely 
tropical regions. 

The main trouble with the tropical fruits, however, is not 
their quality, but the excessive amounts in which 'they are 


eaten in the regions where they grow luxuriantly. Many a 
child may eat little except bananas for several days in succes- 
sion. The root crops and vegetables are likewise inferior. 
Manioc (or cassava), yams, pumpkins and sweet potatoes are 
scarcely so good a diet as onions, green corn, beans and white 
potatoes. The cereals, too, show the same contrast. Millet, 
maize and even rice are starchy foods, by no means so well 
balanced as rye, barley, wheat and oats. Then too, it is much 
more difficult to procure meat, milk and eggs in tropical coun- 
tries. The animals best adapted to furnishing meat do not 
lay on flesh in warm moist countries; those adapted to supply- 
ing milk do not thrive at all well; the " tea-cup " cows of south- 
ern China illustrate how little milk they give. Even though 
the hen thrives, the other conditions which keep civilization low 
have prevented her egg-laying powers from being developed. 

Here then is the sum and substance of the situation in by 
far the greatest tropical areas. Agriculture in one form or an- 
other is practically the only feasible occupation that has thus 
far been developed. The handicaps and difficulties of agricul- 
ture are decidedly greater than in cooler climates. At the same 
time, the warm climate, the constant growth of vegetation, and 
the absence of long seasons when no food can be gathered 
make the demands of life so few that it is easy to get a, mere 
living without much effort. Hence the effect of natural selec- 
tion in weeding out people who lack energy, thrift and fore- 
sight has presumably been much less than in temperate cli- 
mates. This doubtless tends to reinforce the direct effect of 
the climate in producing a population among whom the average 
degree of energy is relatively low. The prevalent diseases have 
a similar effect, and so djDes the type of food. 

The net result of all this is that while the difficulties are 
great, the stimulus to meet these difficulties and the energy 
wherewith to meet them are slight. Thus no matter what the 

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degree of intelligence, or type of civilization, the tendency is 
for tropical people to accomplish less than those in lands that 
are cooler. It must constantly be remembered, however, that 
even in the tropics the differences from place to place are enor- 
mous. Where a great number of conditions are highly un- 
favorable, as in the dense rain forests, we have primitive sav- 
ages like the pigmies. In other places, as in Ceylon, although 
many conditions are more unfavorable than in temperate re- 
gions, they do not prevent the growth of a much higher type of 
civilization, especially if rice culture prevails, as explained in 
the following chapter. 



THE places where people live In great numbers, as we have 
already seen, fall into two distinct categories, rice regions and 
manufacturing regions, but the rice regions contain by far the 
greater number of people. If a shaded map showing the 
amount of rice per square mile is superposed upon a similar 
map showing the percentage of the population engaged in 
manufacturing, the result is a map much like that of density 
of population. If all the areas having over one hundred peo- 
ple per square mile are considered as densely populated, the 
rice type of dense population is represented in most of China; 
in much of India aside from the northwest and the north cen- 
tral part of the peninsula; in the central plains of Burma, 
Siam and Indo-China; In the islands of Java, the northern 
Philippines, Formosa and Japan; and in Egypt. Two main 
areas represent the manufacturing type. One in northwestern 
Europe includes most of the region from Great Britain and 
France through Germany to Italy, and eastward to Hungary, 
Poland, Lithuania, and even 'Ukraine; the other and smaller 
lies in the eastern United States from southern New England 
and New Jersey westward to Chicago and Milwaukee. Italy 
and Japan belong to a transition type combining the character- 
istics of the rice and manufacturing areas. All of the rice 
areas which are tropical have an unusually high civilization in 
proportion to their latitude, although those that are not tropi- 
cal are less advanced than some of the other countries in cor- 
responding latitudes. The rice type of civilization does not 


differ from latitude to latitude so much as might be ex- 

Does rice really have anything to do with the fact that the 
tropical or semi-tropical rice lands support approximately 
seven hundred million people, and have a relatively high and 
uniform civilization? That cereal certainly feeds mo-re people 
than does any other single crop ; its effect upon civilization has 
probably been greater than that of any other product except 
iron; and it seems to excel all other products in its effect upon 
the distribution of population. In order to understand all 
this, consider the yield of food per acre from rice compared 
with other crops. Few plants except potatoes exceed rice in 
their capacity to support a large population on a small area. 
In Java, for example, the average yield per acre is something 
like 2,000 pounds of rough rice 1 . If we make allowance for 
two or three crops per year, as well as for the parts of each 
grain not generally eaten by man, and if we remember that rice 
can be grown every year without exhausting the soil, it appears 
that Javanese rice land supplies four to six times as much food 
per acre as does wheat land in the United States. Similar, 
although less extreme, conditions prevail in China, Japan, 
India and Egypt 

The most essential point about rice, however, is not the 
amount of food which it yields, but that its cultivation auto- 
matically solves many of the difficulties of tropical agriculture 
as described in the last chapter. The mere fact that rice re- 
quires constant irrigation is a great help in preserving the 
fertility of the soil, for new material is constantly brought from 
higher levels, while deep plowing is easily possible because the 
ground is soft. This obviates the necessity of clearing new 
fields every year or two, and enables a given tract of country to 
support a far greater population than is possible when large 
areas of unused land must constantly be left to grow up to 


bushes. Moreover, the opportunity for concentrating effort on 
a single area year after year and of utilizing the streams for 
cultivation causes people to gather thickly wherever rice fields 
are cultivated. The mere fact that the population is dense and 
the land quite fully cleared diminishes the depredations of wild 
animals and helps to free the people from certain insect pests 
such as ticks. The insects and bacterial pests which attack the 
rice itself are relatively harmless compared with those which 
trouble such crops as corn and cotton. The fact that the rice 
fields are covered with water so much of the time helps greatly 
in keeping down the weeds. For storage purposes, likewise, 
rice far excels most of the other tropical foods. Because of its 
hardness it can be kept almost as well as wheat, for almost no 
other kind of tropical food is so resistant to the ravages of in- 
sects and fungi. 

In addition to all this, the fact that rice is raised in water 
enables its cultivators to use domestic animals more freely than 
can those who employ other methods of tropical agriculture. 
This is partly because oriental cattle and especially water buf- 
faloes are fond of wallowing in the mud, and work better in a 
wet rice field than almost anywhere else. Another reason is 
that rice fields, being soft and almost free from weeds, can 
easily be plowed with crude implements and weak work ani- 
mals which would be completely balked by the stumpy, weedy, 
grassy fields of the people who practice hoe-culture. This last 
advantage is of extreme importance. The use of domestic ani- 
mals, like that of machinery, vastly increases the work that 
each individual can perform and thus raises the scale of living. 
When all these conditions are combined it is evident that the 
rice raisers have an overwhelming advantage over the people 
who merely plant corn, yams and pumpkins in holes punched 
among half -burned stumps, and rely half the time upon the 
poor food furnished by bananas and coconuts. 


Even yet we have not touched upon the main reason why 
the rice regions are so densely populated and are the most 
highly civilized places within the tropics. We have already 
seen some examples of the great geographic principle of natural 
selection. Let us see how it seems to work in the case of rice. 
We have, to be sure, no historic record of just what actually 
happened, but there can be little question as to the general 
accuracy of our inferences. 

Wild rice is widely distributed, but its cultivation apparently 
began in India or possibly China. Thanks to some unknown 
genius, a group of Asiatics long ago attempted to cultivate this 
plant whose wild seeds they had presumably long been gather- 
ing. Among those who made the attempt some doubtless suc- 
ceeded and others failed. Success then as now may have been 
partly a matter of accident^ but in the main it must have come to 
those who were intelligent enough to profit by experience, and 
who were temperamentally stable enough to work in the hope of 
a deferred reward. At first the methods of cultivation were 
undoubtedly very crude. As time went on, the rice raisers 
learned to smooth off terraces and rim them round with little 
walls so that water might stand upon the growing rice for 
weeks. They built ditches whereby to bring the water from 
the streams. Each day they found it advisable to go around 
among their fields to make sure that the water was flooding all 
the terraces and to repair the breaks wherever they might be. 
This may not sound like a very arduous task, but such work is 
extremely irksome and confining for primitive people who have 
been in the habit of wandering freely here and there as fancy 
dictates in search of wild fruits, seeds and game. Only the in- 
telligent, far-sighted and strong-willed, and only those who 
were physically and temperamentally fit for steady labor were 
likely to persist until the art of raising rice was mastered and 
a new and abundant source of food assured. 


All this presumably required many generations. During 
that time, and for hundreds or even thousands of years there- 
after, the art of raising rice spread gradually abroad. It ex- 
panded along the southeastern borders of Asia as far as Korea; 
it spread to some of the islands of the sea, especially Java, the 
Philippines, Formosa and Japan on the one side, and to Ceylon 
and Madagascar on the other. To other islands such as Su- 
matra, Borneo, Celebes and New Guinea, which at first sight 
would seem almost equally well fitted for rice, the art spread 
little or not at all Whether this was due to difficulties arising 
from poor soil, droughts and the like, or to the backward char- 
acter of the native inhabitants, or to the failure of these re- 
gions to receive sufficient immigration from rice-raising lands, 
has not yet been convincingly determined. Westward from 
India the spread of rice was checked by the dry climate. Rice 
did indeed reach Mesopotamia in the sixth century B.C. or 
thereabout, but neither there nor in Egypt did it become im- 
portant until modern times. 

Wherever rice culture took root two opposing groups must 
generally have arisen. One consisted of people who had 
enough intelligence, adaptability, patience and physical apti- 
tude to carry out the rigorous and exacting routine of rice- 
raising; the other, of those who lacked these qualities. At first 
the two groups doubtless intermarried, but there was presum- 
ably a growing tendency for each to live by itself. Moreover, 
since social distinctions almost invariably follow the lines of 
occupation, they doubtless cooperated with geographical sepa- 
ration to check intermarriage, so that the groups must have be- 
come more and more differentiated. The wild, careless group 
presumably did not increase greatly in numbers because its re- 
sources did not expand. It still persists among the more primi- 
tive inhabitants of the remoter mountains and forests of Java, 
the Philippines, Formosa, and other rice-raising areas, and 


among most of the population of the huge islands of Sumatra, 
Borneo, and New Guinea. In such places, even though hunting 
has ceased to be a main mode of life, the crude cultivation of 
coconuts, bananas, yams and such easily raised products pro- 
vides a far less certain basis for progress than does the more 
arduous rice culture. Similar conditions are still dominant 
among the Indians who roam the vast tropical lands of South 
America. So long as these simpler modes of life persist, 'they 
seem to doom people to remain few in numbers and very low in 
civilization. They apparently persist not only because they 
are handed down by social Inheritance and training, but because 
the inherited temperament of such people probably makes it 
difficult for most of them to settle down to steady work. 

Wherever the cultivation of rice becomes well established, 
on the contrary, there is presumably a constant premium upon 
industry, forethought, and orderly government. The family 
that carefully looks after its terraces and dikes, pulls out the 
weeds, adds new fields, and saves good seed for the next year, is 
much more sure to have abundant food than is the careless 
family. The children are less likely to suffer from malnutri- 
tion and disease, and more likely to grow up and have children 
of their own. Moreover, the rich men of this type are the ones 
who can afford to purchase other wives and thereby increase 
the number of their children. Similar conditions are of course 
more or less true of every kind of agriculture, but rice culture 
exerts an especially strong selective effect because of the de- 
mands of constant irrigation. 

For this same reason, as well as because the population be- 
comes dense, the rice people must evolve an orderly form of 
government. People whose entire food supply for many 
months may be ruined by the lack of water for two or three 
days cannot afford to be squabbling and fighting all the time. 
They must agree upon methods of dividing the water fairly 


and uniformly year after year. They must submit to regular 
officials to whom is entrusted the regulation of the water sup- 
ply. Those whose fiery tempers or individualistic tempera- 
ments prevent them from submitting are likely to be ostracized 
or banished. Their case may be like that of an Afghan from 
near Kabul whom I once hired as a caravan man in Trans- 
caspia. He and his brothers quarrelled with the neighbors over 
the division of water. First one party and then the other cut 
the ditches of their opponents. Finally, my man killed one 
of the neighbors and himself fled the country. In the course of 
many generations, such events weed out the kind of people who 
are not of an orderly disposition, willing to submit to author- 

We cannot trace the whole process step by step, but there 
appears to be abundant evidence that wherever rice is raised, 
not only do the standards of living rise and the qualities of 
thrift and industry increase, but a selection occurs which gradu- 
ally weeds out those who will not work, and who will not sub- 
mit to authority. All this produces a people who may be slow 
according to our standards, but who are comparatively steady, 
industrious, faithful, and law-abiding. The Javanese, Siamese, 
Hindus, Chinese and Japanese all exemplify these traits. In 
this respect they are a strong contrast to the non-rice-raising 
people of equatorial Africa, New Guinea, and the Amazon 
Basin, and likewise to the Mongols and Ainus north of China 
and Japan. So different are they from the others that Hindu 
coolies in South America and Africa are usually considered 
much better workers than are Africans or American Indians. 
Where they have been introduced, tropical agriculture improves 
decidedly. They cause British Guiana, for example, to stand 
much higher than its neighbors in the production of rice, sugar 
and other tropical products. In Natal, in spite of their good 
qualities as workers, their introduction has raised a serious race 


problem. The Oriental exclusion laws of our Pacific coast are 
another place of the same problem. 

Let us now inquire into the geographical conditions under 
which rice culture is most likely to take place. The Dutch 
possession of Java, lying a little south of the equator, serves as 
an admirable example. Java is smaller than Iowa. Nearly 
half of its surface is occupied by rugged volcanoes and other 
mountains. Yet it supports fifteen times as many people as 
Iowa. Moreover, its population has increased enormously 
only five million a century ago, over thirty-five million today. 
Already Java has nearly as many people as France which is 
four times as large, and the end is not yet. Most marvelous of 
all, this equatorial island, with its teeming masses of human 
beings, is still practically self-supporting. Only a handful of 
people live in the cities, and only a few of the rest are engaged 
in trade or industry. The vast majority nearly thirty mil- 
lion live on tiny farms and raise food. They raise enough 
so that more than a thousand people are supported on an aver- 
age square mile of cultivated land. Two acres of such land 
per family, and less in many cases, is all that the Javanese can 
claim as a source of livelihood. How is this possible? Of 
course the policy of the Dutch government enters into the mat- 
ter, but we shall not discuss that, because similar conditions of 
land and people lead to extraordinarily dense populations in 
other places where the natives rule themselves, as in China and 
Japan. The presence of the Dutch in Java, like that of the 
British in India, and the French in Indo-China, intensifies con- 
ditions which already prevail. 

The physical conditions which enable a country to support 
the maximum number of people without help from outside in- 
clude level plains, deep rich soil, high mountains, abundant 
water throughout much of the year in the form of either 
rain or rivers, and high temperature and abundant sunshine 


throughout a long growing season. Java has all of these, and 
so do China, Formosa, India, Egypt, Japan and Italy every 
one of the regions where both rice and people are especially 
abundant. The mountains of Egypt, to be sure, are located 
far away in central Africa, but that is a minor detail. The out- 
standing fact is 'that aside from portions of the great manu- 
facturing regions and very limited areas close to a few great 
cities elsewhere, practically every country which has over two 
hundred people per square mile possesses the physical qualities 
just described, and raises a relatively large amount of rice. 
The only important exceptions are the islands of Mauritius 
east of Africa, and Porto Rico in the West Indies. They pos- 
sess the physical characteristics of rice lands, except that 
the mountains are low and do not produce long-continued 
floods. They also have a population of over two hundred per 
square mile, but sugar takes the place of rice as the main 

The necessity for level or only gently sloping land is so ob- 
vious that we need not discuss it. Nevertheless it is not so 
necessary as might be supposed. Even if there is not much 
level land, the rice-raising people's method of agriculture makes 
it natural for them to manufacture such land by terracing the 
mountain sides. That is one reason why such countries can 
support so many people. The terraces save the hillsides from 
being denuded of soil in the way that is so disastrous in our own 
South. In Java, however, although most of us picture the 
island as mountainous, one rides hour after hour over rolling 
plains, partly the old sea floor and partly the work of rivers. 
Of course, the mountains are never far away and that is one 
reason why Java can support so many people. 

But level plains are of little use in themselves, no matter 
how deep their soil. The Amazon Basin has some of the most 
vast and level plains in the whole world, while New Guinea 


likewise has extremely level plains along large parts of the 
coast. The trouble in those cases is that the plains are too 
flat, and too near the level of the ocean. Consequently they 
are practically always water-logged, the soil never has a chance 
to become aerated, or to be subjected to the useful bacteria 
which break it up in such a way as to prepare it for useful 
crops. The importance of the soil increases as one goes from 
colder to warmer climates. In Spitzbergen it makes little dif- 
ference whether the soil is pure quartz sand containing prac- 
tically no plant food, or the richest black volcanic ash. No 
crops will grow anyhow, by reason of the climate. In middle 
latitudes differences in the soil become important, for a state 
like Illinois shows a remarkable contrast between the rich- 
soiled central areas and the poor-soiled areas a few score miles 
farther south. In tropical regions, where the climate is espe- 
cially favorable to vegetation, the quality of the soil becomes 
extremely important. To it is due no small share of the dif- 
ference between densely populated Java and Jamaica on the 
one hand, and sparsely populated savage New Guinea and 
Amazonia, if we may so call it, on the other. 

Even within Java itself and in regions where there is no 
question of water-logging, the mere difference in the quality of 
the soil produces an immense difference in population. In Java 
the rural population on the best soils of the lowlands, omit- 
ting the towns, reaches the extraordinary density of over one 
thousand persons per square mile in a volcanic strip extending 
across the center of the island from Tegal on the north to 
Djokjakarta on the south. In an area of about eight hundred 
square miles this rises to fifteen hundred, and in another area 
of three hundred square miles to nearly seventeen hundred. 
All of the people thus included are either farmers or tradesmen, 
artisans and so forth who serve the farmers and are in reality 
supported by the soil. Almost nowhere else in the whole 


world do the soil, topography and climate combine to make it 
possible to support so many people on a given area. 

Only two hundred miles to the west, on the north coast, the 
region of Krawang, some two thousand square miles in area, is 
quite as favorable as the most densely inhabited parts of Java 
so far as the relief of the land is concerned, and has almost as 
good a climate. Regions close by on either side have a rural 
population approaching a thousand per square mile. But Kra- 
wang is not enriched by fresh volcanic soil, and has a poor 
lateritic soil. Accordingly, the rural population falls to three 
hundred and eighty per square mile. That may be enormously 
dense according to the standards of most parts of the world, 
but it is sparse for Java. The difference between the laterite 
and the fresh volcanic material causes the population in Kra- 
wang to be only a quarter as great as in Klaten, two hundred 
miles farther east. Even if we make the fullest allowance for 
differences in the climate and relief of these two districts, the 
soil alone still appears to make it possible for three people to 
get a living in one area and only one in another. Let an equally 
poor soil be water-logged for thousands of years and we get 
a condition like that of the Amazon Basin where agriculture is 
practically impossible for primitive people. Thus the quality 
of the soil reaches its highest importance in warm wet regions 
where mankind has relatively little energy and is still in a low 
stage of culture so that he cannot adopt elaborate devices in 
order to improve it. That is where the volcanoes do the most 
good. Java and Japan without their volcanoes, old and new, 
would be quite different places. 

It is easy to see how plains and good soil are necessary if 
the population is to be dense in rice-raising regions, but why 
are high mountains needed? The answer is two-fold; the 
mountains are needed partly to keep the soil from being ex- 
hausted, and still more to supply water. In Japan and Java 


their importance in enriching the soil is especially great. Some- 
times the volcanoes cover the fields with lava and ashes; they 
even destroy villages; but on the whole they are highly benef- 
icent. Volcanic soil, especially of the dark types, is generally 
rich in the mineral constituents which are often called plant 
food. Java's active young volcanoes resemble those of Japan 
In containing large amounts of soft and friable material, easily 
eroded by rain, especially in the parts where the slopes are cul- 
tivated. If the underlying rock were solid, this would soon put 
a stop to further cultivation on -the mountains. But as things 
are, erosion simply exposes fresh soil for the use of the moun- 
tain farmers, and carries other fresh soil down to the plains. 
Except among the upper parts of the virgin forests on the 
steep south side of Java, there is scarcely a clear stream in the 
whole island. That injures the scenery, but increases the fer- 
tility, for in every rice field a new layer of fresh soil is deposited 
each year. At the same time a great amount of organic fer- 
tilizer is deposited on the fields, for all over Java the universal 
custom is to use the running streams as privies. It matters not 
at all that the same stream is used lower down for the washing 
of people and clothes, for cooking food, and for drinking. Of 
course such a system tends greatly to spread typhoid, dysen- 
tery, and other diseases, but it certainly conserves the fertility 
of the soil. The results would be far worse, were not tea used 
very widely and most food eaten cooked. 

The mountains do much more than this. Good soil alone 
will not lead to a dense population. Rain is likewise needed. 
Java would get a fair amount of rain even if it were level, for 
it is an island and lies near the equator. But the mountains 
there, as in every other rice region of dense population, greatly 
help the matter. They cause the inblowing air to rise and give 
up its moisture at seasons which otherwise would be dry. They 
also act as reservoirs so that springs keep the streams flowing 


even in the dry season. In the same way India's dense popu- 
lation depends largely upon the tremendously heavy rains 
which fall not only upon the Himalayas but on the plains and 
on the border ranges of the peninsula. China receives very 
heavy rains both on its plains and on the high western moun- 
tains which feed its great rivers. Chosen and Japan are like- 
wise remarkable for the torrential showers which water their 
mountains in summer, while the snows of winter in the high- 
lands provide abundant water to irrigate the rice fields in the 
spring. Although Egypt itself gets no rain worth mentioning, 
the high, rainy equatorial regions which feed the Nile play the 
same part as do the mountains of Java. Even in Italy much 
of the density of the agricultural population is due to the Ap- 
pennines and especially the Alps which condense the atmos- 
pheric vapor and send it earthward to form streams that can 
be used for irrigation. In all these regions the mountains and 
the rain join hands to water the lowlands, and incidentally to 
enrich them. 

Still another condition is needed if a region Is to support an 
extremely dense population. That condition is a growing sea- 
son so long that more than one crop can be grown each year. 
Even in the more northerly rice-raising regions such as Korea, 
Japan and northern Italy, the summers are long enough and 
warm enough for two crops of some sort, although not of rice. 
In many areas of dense population and abundant rice, a stead- 
ily high temperature, averaging not far from 80. all the year 
in Ceylon and Java, often makes it possible to cultivate three 
crops per year, two of rice and one of some other quick-growing 

Before we can fully understand the density of population 
and the stage of civilization in the rice lands, the people must 
likewise be considered. One fact worth noting is that as a rule 
they need less food than do Americans or Europeans. This is 


partly because most of them are small, as is especially well 
known among the Japanese but as is also true in southern 
China, much of India, Java and elsewhere. It is also in' part 
because the percentage of young children is high. In the 
United States in 1920 less than twenty-eight -out of every hun- 
dred persons were under fifteen years of age, whereas in Java 
the number was forty-one. The warmth of the climate still 
further reduces the food requirements. Not only are tropical 
people less active than those of cold countries, but they do not 
need so much fat and carbo-hydrates in order to keep warm. 
Where all these conditions combine, as among the Javanese, 
it is probable that the consumption of food by the average per- 
son is not much more 'than half so much as among Americans. 
In addition to all this, meat is not much used, and is not greatly 
needed. This also helps to increase the density of population, 
for at least two or three times as much land is needed to pro- 
duce a given food value in meat as in vegetable products. In 
view of all this it appears that a given area of cultivated land 
produces food for twelve or fifteen times as many people in 
Java as in the 'United States. And what is true of Java is true 
to a less degree of each of the other rice areas where the popula- 
tion is extremely dense. 

Even yet we have not gotten at the full reason why the rice 
lands are so thickly populated. The rural population of Java 
is approximately thirty times as dense as that of Iowa in pro- 
portion to the cultivated land, but purely physical and physio- 
logical conditions seem to explain only how it can be twelve or 
fifteen times as dense. The remainder of the difference must 
be due mainly to the standards of living. The people of the 
thickly crowded rice-raising regions do not require so much as 
do the people of Europe or the United States in the way of 
clothing and shelter because most of them live where it is rel- 
atively warm even in winter. Woolen clothing, furnaces, coal, 


and cellars are only a few of the things that are needed for 
personal comfort in cold regions, but not in warm. Even in 
Japan this is largely true. It is not true in Chosen and northern 
China, where the winters are severe, but those countries only 
half belong to the rice type, for other grains such as wheat, 
barley, and millet assume high importance. 

Not only the needs but the desires of the rice raisers are 
generally small. They are content with a scale of living which 
would seem impossible to the vast majority of Europeans and 
Americans. The immediate cause of this difference is doubt- 
less found in social customs and long established habits, but 
why have such customs and habits arisen? Would they have 
been the same if the geographical background had been dif- 
ferent? In all the main rice-raising countries the climate is so 
warm, damp and monotonous for a considerable part of the 
year that people do not have much energy. Even in Japan peo- 
ple rarely display the restless energy which often makes a 
Minnesota farmer almost resent every interruption. A series 
of hot days often gives us an inclination to work slowly. In 
countries like Java, Siam, India and southern China, a similar 
inclination lasts for generations. One of the things that most 
impresses the traveler is the leisurely way in which almost 
everyone does his work there; the people either sit around 
laughing and talking to a degree that seems to us inordinate, 
or else move listlessly. They do indeed go to their work early 
and keep at it late day after day, but the vigor with which they 
work is low compared with that of the people in western Europe 
and the northern United States. 

All over the world, as we shall see in a later chapter, the 
standard of living has a close relation to health and physical 
vigor. The man whose temperament is inert, either by nature 
or by reason of an enervating climate, may be stirred by new 
desires, but after the imperative needs for food and shelter and 



the like have been satisfied, he is likely to feel that the satis- 
faction of most of those desires does not justify the extra work 
which they demand. When such a spirit becomes common, as 
happens almost universally in regions that are hot and damp, 
the march of progress is bound to be slow. There arises, as it 
were, a social inheritance of inertia in addition to the personal 
inertia of the individual. The old ways are good enough, not 
merely because they do not demand much exertion, but just 
because they are old. Thus the climate creates a tendency 
toward a small amount of work, and low economic standards, 
which become petrified in a conservative social system. Then 
climatic inertia and the social system work together to resist 
further changes. 

Where the standards of living thus become petrified at a 
low level, the density of population is bound to be great if a 
large supply of food is easily obtainable. It is simply a case of 
mathematics. So much land is available, so much food can be 
raised per acre, and so much is needed per person. The popula- 
tion is bound to increase until these three conditions balance 
each other. In a rice region, each family, let us say, needs only 
half as much food as in a certain more active region; each acre 
supplies six times as much food as in the active region; and 
each family is content with no more goods than can be bought 
if it raises one-fifth more food than it consumes. The man in 
the active region can raise only one-sixth as much per acre, 
the average member of his family consumes twice as much 
food, and the other needs which he considers imperative de- 
mand that he raise surplus crops amounting to twice as much 
as he and his family eat. In the one case the land will support 
thirty times as many people as in the other, and the contrast 
will be like that between Java and Iowa. 

Such then are the physical and sociologic features most 
favorable to an extremely dense population. As a rule, the 


more nearly they are approached, the denser becomes the 
population and the higher the civilization compared with oth- 
ers in similar latitudes. New Guinea, as we have already im- 
plied, probably has failed to become a rice-raising region partly 
because of the water-logged condition of the soil along its 
coast and the lateritic character in many other regions. The 
same is true of the great Amazon Plain and of parts of Africa. 
Nevertheless, the highly important factors of distance and mi- 
grations must not be overlooked. The people who practice 
rice culture have never shown such energy In spreading their 
civilization over the world as have the Europeans. Even the 
Chinese never established genuine colonies at any great dis- 
tance until European modes of transportation made it easy for 
them to do so. Thus in the future It Is not improbable that 
rice culture will spread far more widely than at present. 

Suppose the course of human progress should make it pos- 
sible for the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes and New 
Guinea to be inhabited by rice-raising people. The condi- 
tions of soil, relief and rainfall would doubtless make it im- 
possible to support a population as dense as that of Java. 
But almost certainly the population might be as dense as in 
the most sparsely populated sub-district of Java. There, in 
the western province of Bantam, the administration district of 
Lebak, nearly thirteen hundred square miles in extent, is ex- 
traordinarily rugged and has soil of only ordinary quality. It 
is part of the only region in Java where the people are so wild 
and independent that Europeans are not allowed to travel with- 
out special permits which are hard to get. Nevertheless, the 
density of the population is approximately one hundred and 
sixty per square mile. If New Guinea, Celebes, Borneo and 
Sumatra were populated with rice raisers even as densely as 
that, they would support more than one hundred and thirty 
million people instead of only twelve million as is now the case. 


So great is the power of rice culture not only to supply food 
but to stimulate industry and select hard-working types for 
preservation, that the chances are that the introduction of a 
rice-raising population would in due time raise the density to a 
still higher figure. 

The corresponding parts of Africa and South America could 
probably each support a far greater number. If rice culture 
should spread as widely as possible, the world's population 
might perhaps be increased by fifty per cent. Such an increase 
would scarcely be more phenomenal than the increase of the 
population of Java seven-fold in a century. It might take 
place with little or no disturbance to the rest of the world. But 
whether it would help the rest of mankind in its food problems, 
and otherwise, is quite a different question which we shall con- 
sider later. Our purpose here is merely to point out that in the 
past, and perhaps in the future, the conditions that favor the 
greatest density of population and the greatest aggregations of 
human beings are those which make rice cultivation feasible 
for people with tropical appetites, desires and modes of living, 
and yet with a high degree of culture according to tropical 



DURING the last century or two a new type of agriculture, 
the tropical plantation, has arisen within the tropics. A tropi- 
cal plantation is usually most interesting and attractive to the 
northerner. Perhaps it is a sugar plantation in Brazil. In some 
convenient site, in the midst of a gently rolling topography, a 
tall; smoking chimney marks the location of the " central " or 
mill, surrounded by many smaller buildings, sheds and the like. 
Off to one side stands a group of pleasant houses, the larger and 
more pretentious of which are surrounded by pretty gardens 
set with trees enough to provide shade but not enough to shelter 
damp spots fit for mosquitoes. They are the homes of the 
white manager, chemists, engineers and others who form the 
brains of the organization. Farther away, perhaps out of sight 
of the mill, the brawn of the organization dwells in the thatched 
huts of a native village. 

Outside the mill little tram cars on rails scarcely two feet 
apart are being pushed up one by one to the unloading plat- 
form. There colored men with more or less shouting and sing- 
Ing throw the canes out of the cars. Others cast them onto a 
moving platform which feeds them to large rollers that press 
out an astonishing amount of sweet, watery juice. Inside the 
mill the atmosphere is steamy and enervating; stickiness is the 
pervading characteristic; the sap as it flows into the containers 
is sticky; the steaming kettles are sticky; and stickiest of all 
are the slow streams of brown molasses that are gathered into 
hogsheads, and the great bins where yellowish sugar, not yet 


refined, is being shovelled about like coal Over everything 
there hangs a curious heavy smell compounded of the pleasant 
scent of fresh cane, the smell of molasses and sugar, and the 
odors of machine oil, steam and burning bagass, as the Span- 
iards call the squeezed cane fiber which is used for fuel. 

Out along the many little tramways which radiate in all di- 
rections, one perhaps passes first a field of cane stubble, green 
to be sure, but looking like a weedy, poorly cut mowing field 
combined with a corn field where the stalks have been cut but 
only half carried away. Next comes a field where a new crop 
of canes has sprouted to a height of two feet, very rank and 
flourishing. The grass and weeds have likewise grown so well 
that a small army of brown-skinned men must be put to work 
cutting them down. Elsewhere another group is plowing the 
earth and burying bits of cane to start another crop. The 
next field is full of splendid great canes like corn stalks twice 
as high as a man. On one side its beauty is being spoiled, 
for a gang of cutters armed with big sharp machetes, as the 
heavy knives are called, is hacking away, felling a cane at each 
stroke. Where labor is cheap the leaves are stripped from the 
canes by hand, the useless tops are cut off, and only the neat 
green or reddish stalks are piled on the little tram cars. Where 
labor is expensive, as on the Australian plantations where white 
men do the work, the ripe fields are set on fire to burn off the 
leaves and tops. That saves work, but the blackened canes 
discolor the sugar so that more work is needed to refine it. But 
the work of refining is done by machines and is cheap. 

On another plantation, far away in Ceylon, the lovely tints 
of row after row of pale green tea bushes, almost as high as a 
man, cover slope and hollow for miles near the crests of the 
mountains. The highest plantations, four or five thousand feet 
above the sea, become so cool during the nights of the dry 
season that sometimes a few acres of blackened bushes in some 


hollow tell the tale of cool descending air that has brought a 
frost. In the unfrosted fields, an army of women with scanty 
clothing gracefully draped around them are plucking the ten- 
derest leaves, while men bare to the waist pick up great baskets 
on their shoulders and carry them to the drying sheds. There 
the baskets are weighed, the tea is dried by artificial heat, and 
another group of women and girls sort it ready for market. A 
pleasant smell of green -leaves and tea fills the air, and the 
women laugh and chat as they work. 

A little removed from the factory and its many outbuildings, 
perhaps on the open top of some sightly knoll with a glorious 
view over miles of tea fields and dark green tropical forests, one 
finds the home of the owner or manager. Not far away, half 
hidden, but not too closely surrounded by trees, a few other 
houses of the white staff may be clustered. There you will find 
Englishmen of intelligence, sometimes with their wives and 
families, but often alone. Many of them, like some of the 
Americans at the sugar plantation, have traveled widely, know 
more about world affairs than do we who stay at home, and can 
talk most interestingly. But all too often, even men of this 
type are so bored and tired that they join their less intelligent 
countrymen in spending much of their spare time in the lightest 
kind of reading, in gambling, drinking, and otherwise trying to 
forget that they are exiles, as they feel themselves to be. They 
are in the tropics to make money, but not to make homes; their 
great desire usually is to succeed well enough to retire and go 

Fly now to Venezuela, and visit a banana plantation, in a 
rolling, heavily forested region a few miles inland from the 
coast. It is something like a sugar plantation when looked at 
from above, for its characteristic feature is great areas of big- 
leaved green canes interspersed by the tiny threads of narrow- 
guage tram lines. But here the canes are nearly twenty feet 


high and six inches in diameter at the butt. The heart of the 
whole plantation is the big, cool-looking, heavily-screened 
house of the manager, a house with wide pleasant porches, 
standing on a grassy knoll where all the trees have been re- 
moved In order to invite the breezes and avoid the insects. 
Around it are other houses of the same sort, not quite so good, 
but fit for American families. On another knoll the hospital, 
mainly used by colored people, but with a section for the white 
Americans, forms a second center. Some distance away are 
the native quarters. Generally they do not stand on such high 
land as those of the foreigners, nor so far from trees and stand- 
ing water, and they are by no means so carefully screened. Yet 
even there, much pains has been taken to insure proper drain- 
age and sanitation, so that the conditions of health are far su- 
perior to those in an ordinary native village. 

Each morning a troop of dark-skinned men leaves the village 
and goes out on the tram lines. They are drawn by a tiny 
engine operated perhaps by a white man who lost his job else- 
where through too much drink, or by an eager youth who 
longs for novelty, travel, and adventures. Arrived at a place 
where the weeds and bushes between the rows of banana canes 
are two or three feet high, part of the gang jump off to hack 
down the surplus vegetation and give the bananas the full right 
of way. Part go on to a section where many of the huge canes 
are bent downward under the weight of fat green bunches con- 
taining perhaps a hundred and fifty fruits. Two or three 
men take each row. If a bunch looks ready for market, the 
" cutter " lifts his long knife tied to a pole and slashes the 
trunk a few feet below it. As the bunch topples over, he eases 
it down with his pole onto the shoulders of the "backer. 77 
Other quick strokes of the machete sever the stem and lop off 
the long flower bud. Then the backer hands the bunch to the 
" mule man," or himself lays it down beside the tramway. 


We might visit a coffee plantation in Brazil, a cocoa planta- 
tion in the Portuguese island of San Thome off the coast of 
Africa, a rubber plantation in the Malay Peninsula, a model 
quinine plantation in Java, a coconut plantation in the 
Philippines, or a clove plantation in Zanzibar. In all cases the 
essential features are the same; namely, a product which is 
desired by the white man; relatively inefficient tropical labor; 
and white overseers, superintendents and skilled technicians. 

The primary reason for tropical plantations is that the white 
man desires certain products which grow in warm countries and 
nowhere else. The people of the tropics, however, have so little 
initiative and are so content with life as it is, that they do not 
raise these products in sufficient quantities, no matter what 
price the white man offers. Accordingly, the white man goes to 
the tropics and tries to stimulate production. His first method 
was merely to establish a trading center here and there, and 
try to persuade the native people to bring what he wanted by 
offering them cloth, beads, knives and the like. Calcutta, 
Singapore, Batavia and Hongkong at one time were little more 
than centers of this sort. This kind of trading did not long 
prove successful because the tropical people were not tempted 

The white man's next step was to employ his own agents, 
who traveled about picking up small quantities of tea, coffee, 
bananas or other products from the natives. He likewise began 
employing natives to gather wild products such as rubber, 
quinine and mahogany in the jungle. This likewise proved un- 
satisfactory. The quality of both the cultivated and the wild 
products varied enormously, and was often highly inferior. 
Moreover, the supply was hopelessly irregular. 

The only remaining alternatives were for the white man to 
give up or else acquire land and begin to raise the things that he 
wanted. During the last few generations the plantations thus 


established not only have increased enormously In number and 
size, but new products have constantly been added. Only a 
generation or two ago wild rubber was an important article of 
commerce; but none whatever was cultivated. Today rubber 
is one of the chief plantation products, and the wild article has 
almost disappeared from commerce. In the same way, no 
longer ago than the World War most of the palm trees whose 
coconuts furnish copra and palm oil either grew wild or were 
the property of natives, each of whom owned only a few. To- 
day plantations of coconut palms are fast assuming great im- 

We hear so much about tropical products and tropical trade 
that we often greatly exaggerate their importance. How many 
truly tropical products are really important and how great is 
our trade in them? To begin with the genuine food products, 
sugar is far and away the leader the most important of all 
tropical products whether foods or raw materials. The United 
States imports close to four 'hundred million dollars' worth of 
it, the largest of all our imports. Coconuts in various 
forms, including copra, palm oil, and the shredded meat, come 
next among tropical foods, but are worth only forty or fifty mil- 
lion; then come bananas, worth scarcely half as much. All the 
other tropical foods such as pineapples, Brazil nuts, tapioca, 
rice, and chicle for chewing gum are only worth about half as 
much as the bananas. Moreover, although coconuts and their 
oil are employed for confectionery, salad oils and butter sub- 
stitutes, most of the oil is not used for food, but goes into such 
commodities as soap and candles. Other fruits, aside from the 
banana, count for practically nothing as supplies of food, 
although long lists of them can be made. People often think 
that tropical fruits are more important than they are because 
the orange, lemon and grapefruit are mistakenly included. 
As a matter of fact, these are primarily semi-tropical and 


rarely are found in good quality within the tropics. Aside from 
sugar, all the genuine food products imported into the 
United States from tropical countries are worth about as 
much as the peanuts raised in the country. In fact so far 
as food value is concerned, the peanuts rank far ahead. Ob- 
viously then, the tropical countries thus far do very little in the 
way of feeding us. 

But even if the tropics do not feed us, they at least make us 
enjoy our meals. That is why we spend a quarter of a billion 
dollars each year for coffee, and something over one-tenth as 
much for cacao and likewise tea. Spices were the first of such 
stimulants or appetizers to be sought, but today, in spite of 
their large number, all of them together are worth scarcely half 
as much as the tea. Even if we add what little tropical tobacco 
we get, all the quinine, the coca from which drug-store drinks 
are made, and every other tropical stimulant or drag that we 
can think of, or that the Department of Commerce can haul 
into its statistics, all the rest of them, including the tea, and 
cacao, and even adding the palm products, are not valued at a 
third as much as the coffee alone. 

But surely sugar and coffee are not the only highly important 
products which we get from the tropics. How about all the raw 
materials? Well, what are the raw materials? Which of them, 
for example, fall among the thirty most important products im- 
ported into the United States? Only rubber, worth two hun- 
dred million or so, and jute worth sixty million. With the jute, 
which comes mainly from the province of Bengal in India, 
should be put perhaps fifteen million dollars worth of Manilla 
hemp from the Philippines and nearly as great a value of sisal 
from Yucatan. Each of these fibers is peculiarly adapted to a 
special climate, and can be raised easily almost nowhere else. 
Aside from this, we do indeed import a few million dollars 
worth of cotton from India, Mexico, and other tropical coun- 


tries, and some dye wood and mahogany from South America, 
but the wood is not a plantation product. 

The whole matter sifts itself down to this; we obtain from 
tropical regions three really important articles, sugar, coffee 
and rubber. Raw silk is the only other import that vies with 
them in value, but that comes from farther north in China and 
especially Japan. We also import two other stimulants tea 
and cacao which are moderately important; three fibers 
jute, Manilla hemp and sisal; one fruit the banana; one nut 
the coconut; and a group of spices. That completes the list 
of important tropical products which come to the United States 
or any other country. All together they comprise about one- 
fourth of our imports. The importation of any or all of them 
save sugar and rubber could come to an end without doing us 
any serious harm. To put it in another way, we could anni- 
hilate our trade with all tropical countries except Cuba, whence 
comes most of our sugar, and the Dutch and British East 
Indian region, whence comes our rubber, without seriously in- 
commoding ourselves, and without cutting off our foreign trade 
by more than about twelve per cent. All our tropical trade 
together amounts to no more than our trade with China and 
Japan, and to less than that with Great Britain, or Canada 
alone. Why then do we make such a fuss about It? Why do 
we hear far more about increasing our tropical trade than about 
increasing any other kind? 

The answer seems to be partly that the plantation products 
which give rise to almost the whole of the trade between tropi- 
cal lands and others are mainly luxuries, and almost everybody 
spends far more time and energy in deciding about luxuries 
than about necessities. Another reason is that while trade with 
other regions increases of its own accord with the growth of 
population, tropical trade increases only when the white man 
acts as the motive force at both ends of the line. Almost no de- 


gree of demand for rubber, for example, would cause large ad- 
ditional supplies to be available unless the white man himself 
starts plantations. In the third place, all the agitation about 
tropical trade is perhaps justified by the fact that nowhere else 
In all probability are the ultimate possibilities so great. 

To turn back now to plantation agriculture, one curious fact 
about it is that practically all of the plantation products are 
perennials and the majority grow on trees or bushes. Jute, to 
be sure, is an annual, but it is not a plantation product to any 
appreciable extent, being raised in little plots by the Hindu 
farmers of Bengal. It is mentioned here merely because it is 
one of the chief articles exported from the tropics. Thus in his 
first attempt at cultivation within the tropics, the white man 
practically limits himself to trees, bushes and large succulent 
perennials. He is following in the footsteps of his tropical 
predecessors. Like the primitive savage, he began his exploita- 
tion of the tropics as a collector, who wandered around here and 
there picking up what he could of the products prepared by 
nature. Then be undertook to cultivate the trees and bushes, 
just as the primitive tropical people first began cultivating the 
trees that supply coconuts, bananas, bread fruit, and the like. 
As yet he has not reached a stage corresponding to that of the 
hoe culture of the tropical people who raise cassava, yams, 
sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Whether he will take that next 
step, and then go on to raise annual crops of cereals such as 
corn, millet, and especially rice, no one can yet tell. The 
chances are that he will do so. If these new steps mark as great 
a degree of progress for the white man within the tropics as 
they have marked for other races, one wonders what will be the 
final outcome. Will there arise a new and highly advanced type 
of civilization which stands as high above the white man's pres- 
ent tropical level as the rice-raising type of culture stands 
above all other types of culture that have thus far prevailed 
within the tropics? 


Leaving these speculations, let us inquire as to how widely 
plantations are distributed within the tropics. The answer is 
that they are highly restricted. Only a few plantations are lo- 
cated as much as a hundred miles from the ocean, and the 
great majority are almost within sight of the coast. But all 
coasts by no means fare alike. Islands are the seat of tropical 
plantations far more than is the mainland. Cuba, Jamaica, 
Porto Rico, Mauritius, Ceylon, Sumatra, Java, the Philippines, 
Formosa and the Hawaiian Islands, together with the island- 
like Malay Peninsula furnish by far the major part of all 
plantation products. To these we may add a few coastal 
areas such as those around the Caribbean Sea, the palm- 
raising coasts of central Africa, and some parts of the coasts 
of India and Indo-China. Even the coffee region of Brazil 
is not far inland. The white man's penetration of tropical 
lands with his plantation agriculture is scarcely farther along 
than was his occupation of the New World and Australia when 
practically no settlements had been made as far inland as the 
Appalachian Mountains, even in North America. Is this in 
any respect an augury of the future? 

We shall not attempt to answer this question, but there are 
several factors which greatly delay the white man in penetrat- 
ing far inland. One of these is the climate. The health of the 
white man is one of the greatest difficulties in establishing plan- 
tations. In general, the seacoasts are more healthful than the 
inland regions, for the ocean winds, especially the trades, blow 
far more steadily than the land winds, thus tempering the heat 
and driving away the insects. Where a small island lies in the 
Trade Wind belt, on the borders of the tropical zone, as do the 
Hawaiian Islands, Porto Rico, and Luzon, the conditions of 
health are far superior to those in the interior of a great tropical 
land mass like Africa or South America. 

Although the relatively healthful quality of the tropical 
coasts is highly important, it has not necessarily been the main 


factor In determining the location of the plantations. The 
original reason for their location on islands and near the coast, 
and one of the main reasons even now, is accessibility. The 
people of European races went to tropical countries in ships, 
and ships are the only means of carrying away the products. It 
is vastly easier to go from one plantation to another by water 
than by land, for the difficulties of tropical transportation are 
very great in the regions where the rainfall favors planta- 
tions. With this may be put the fact that level land of the 
kind needed for sugar is more abundant near the coast than 
farther inland, while the coconut palm, like the human being, 
seems to thrive best where there is a touch of sea salt in the 

Another interesting feature of tropical plantations is the 
large percentage that are located upon hilly or even moun- 
tainous land. In the Philippines, Java, Sumatra, the Malay 
Peninsula and Ceylon, as well as in Jamaica and on the main- 
land of the Caribbean countries and Brazil, many of the best 
plantations are on fairly hilly land at altitudes of several thou- 
sand feet. Practically all coffee and tea are raised in such re- 
gions, and so is a good share of cacao, spice and rubber. It is 
chiefly the sugar plantations which are located on the lowlands, 
although banana and coconut plantations show a similar 
tendency. The reasons why sugar needs level lands are ob- 
vious. The extreme weight and bulk of the sugar cane and the 
necessity of transporting it to the mills make the use of rough 
land almost impossible. This is likewise true to a less degree 
of bananas, but their perishable quality also makes it advisable 
to raise them near the sea coast so that no time shall be wasted 
in getting them to market. Palm trees grow as well and can be 
harvested almost as easily on slopes as on level land, but the 
direct effect of sea salt seems to be important in making them 
thrive near the ocean. 


If a plantation product weighs little In comparison with its 
value, as is true of tea, coffee, cacao, spices, and even rubber, a 
fair degree of hilliness is no great disadvantage. In fact, It Is 
often an advantage, for it insures good drainage during the 
heavy tropical rains, thereby helping both the plants and the 
people who work among them. But hilly and mountainous re- 
gions have another advantage. The white man who establishes 
a plantation at a moderately high altitude among the hills finds 
himself In a relatively healthful location. Not only is the tem- 
perature lower than at sea level, but there are more apt to be 
breezes on the hilltops than In valleys or where the land is level. 
For this reason, the man whose plantation is high up and whose 
house is on an open location at the top of the hill is decidedly 
more likely to succeed than is Ms neighbor In a lower and more 
malarial location. The less level lands have another advan- 
tage, especially where rice culture prevails, for they are rela- 
tively cheap. Good rice land is always expensive, even where 
everything else is cheap. Values as high as five or six hundred 
dollars per acre are not uncommon In almost all the main rice- 
raising lands. So the white man, in order to save expense, as 
well as to preserve his health, finds it advisable to take himself 
and his plantations to the hills. 

Still another condition, the quality of native labor, imposes 
a serious limitation upon the location of tropical plantations. 
Since the white man cannot or will not work with his hands 
within the tropics, he must employ native labor, or else import 
people like the Chinese. The efficiency of tropical labor, as we 
have already seen, varies enormously. Hunting tribes like the 
Amazon Indians, Pigmies and Negritos, are almost useless as 
laborers; they are here today, gone tomorrow. People who 
practice hoe culture in Its simplest forms, like some of the 
people of Africa, are a trifle better, but very unreliable. Those 
who raise millet and corn, as do the Negroes near the Niger, and 


the Indians of the highlands of Central America, are more re- 
liable. Yet even they may behave like the Maya Indian in 
Yucatan who failed to do the last day's work on a two weeks' 
job. " Why didn't you come to finish your work and get your 
money? " asked the white employer when the man at last 
turned up. " Oh, we had nothing to eat, so I spent the day fish- 
ing." He chose the chance of getting a few fish by nightfall in 
place of the certainty of two weeks' wages. The best of all 
tropical workers are the rice raisers. That is probably the 
main reason why the great majority of tropical plantations are 
found in the East Indies and the neighboring coast of south- 
eastern Asia. There the white man takes the best available 
lands near the rice fields and hires the rice raisers to work for 
him. Sometimes to be sure, when he raises sugar, he actually 
cultivates the rice lands. He would do so much more fre- 
quently were it not for governmental regulations. In Java, for 
example, the government does not allow the rice land to be used 
for sugar more than one year out of three, nor can the white 
man purchase it. 

In the New World, most of the labor on tropical plantations 
is performed by Negroes imported from Africa, or by a mixed 
race in which the blood of the people of Spain adds an element 
of enterprise and industry rarely found in either the Negroes 
or the Indians. On the whole, however, the tropical labor of 
America, aside from the West Indies and southern Brazil where 
the percentage of white blood is high, is by no means so satis- 
factory as that of southeastern Asia and the more advanced 
East Indies. Its unsatisfactory character is one reason why 
Great Britain and Holland, with their rice-raising dependencies, 
have had a practical monopoly of rubber, while Java raises 
nearly ninety per cent of the world's quinine. Most of the 
world's tea, as well as hemp and jute, come from that same 
general region. 

The ancient Mayas of Guatemala developed a high civilization in a region of 
dense tropical forest where today the heavy rains almost prohibit the raising 
of ordinary food crops like corn. 

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One of the most Interesting questions connected with tropi- 
cal plantations and with, the tropics as a whole is whether they 
will some day furnish other parts of the world with large sup- 
plies of food. Many people believe that the vast unused tropi- 
cal lands of South America and Africa, not to mention those of 
the great islands of Borneo and New Guinea, are capable of 
producing enormous quantities of food as well as raw materials, 
and thereby supporting the rapidly growing population of the 
manufacturing countrie| of Europe and North America. Per- 
haps something like this may happen in the future, but not 
unless a new mode of tropical development appears. Thus 
far the tendency has been in exactly the opposite direction. A 
hundred years ago, when tropical plantations were in their 
infancy, the tropical people were self-supporting. Cuba, 
Jamaica, Porto Rico, and Java never thought of bringing food 
from abroad except in minute quantities for a few white peo- 
ple. Today quite a different situation prevails. The produc- 
tion of food has declined in comparison with the population. 
When a white man starts a plantation, he needs perhaps a hun- 
dred laborers. He pays them such good wages thai not only 
they but their families cease cultivating their own land. Food 
must at once be brought from somewhere else. So the planter 
begins to import corn or wheat in the ships which carry away 
his sugar or tea. That is the easiest way to feed his workers, 
for he does not see how he can take time to improve the local 
methods of agriculture, or increase the industry of the tropi- 
cal people around him. 

Of course the matter is not quite so simple as all this, but that 
is the gist of it. Cuba today is scarcely more self-supporting 
than England; in proportion to the needs of the people, the im- 
portation of food in the two regions is approximately the same. 
Even though vast quantities of sugar are exported, together 
with some pineapples and other foods, Cuba today is much 


more of a drain on the food-producing resources of the temper- 
ate countries than she ever was before, and her tendency to 
require flour, meat and fish from other countries is increasing. 

The same is true of every other place where tropical plan- 
tations have been highly developed. Where rubber, tea, coffee, 
cacao, spices and ropemaking fibers are raised, the products 
have no real food value whatever, yet the people who raise them 
must be fed. The wheat farmer in the Dakotas, Argentina, 
Russia and Australia is more and more called upon to feed not 
only his own country and the manufacturing countries of Eu- 
rope, but the brown-skinned tropical men who raise the coffee 
and sugar that he drinks for breakfast, the afternoon tea and 
cocoa used by his more prosperous neighbors in the city, the 
cloves that his wife sticks in the juicy roast ham, the jute bags 
and the sisal or Manilla twine that he uses to tie up his wheat, 
and the rubber on which he rides to town. This may be good 
or bad, but people surely ought to understand it and not think 
that by developing the tropics we are increasing the world's 
food supply. We are -doing just the opposite we cause the 
population of the tropical countries to increase enormously, 
seven-fold in a century in Java while the food production in- 
creases only a little, if at all. 

There is, of course, no certainty as to how long the present 
tendency will continue. Some day, as we have said, the white 
man may evolve a type of agriculture as superior to the present 
type of plantation methods as rice culture is to primitive hoe 
culture. In that case he may raise the staple kinds of food as 
well as luxuries, which provide little nutriment. Suppose, for 
example, that the vast plains of the Amazon could be drained 
and plowed so that the soil would be aerated. Suppose that 
they could be converted into rice fields where the machinery 
now used in Louisiana could be applied on a vastly larger scale. 
In that case, the work of one efficient man with a tractor might 


easily produce as much food as is now produced by a hundred 
industrious rice raisers. If that should happen, the world's 
supply of food in proportion to the population would increase 
enormously. Whether that is possible no one can yet tell. It 
depends partly on the degree to which the white man can live 
permanently in the tropics, partly on the degree to which the 
energy of tropical people and their desire for higher standards 
of living can be increased, partly on the soil, especially its 
degree of weathering, and partly on the lines where man's in- 
ventive genius next exercises itself. For the present we can 
merely point out that plantation agriculture is a new thing in 
the world; it is thus far mainly limited to a few islands and sea 
coasts where the conditions of transportation, health, relief and 
labor are especially favorable. Will it spread, flourish and 
evolve as the civilization of Europe has spread, flourished and 
evolved in the New World discovered by Columbus, or as the 
oriental type of rice culture spread long ago in the mainland 
and islands of southeastern Asia? 



THE greatest of all problems in human geography Is con- 
cerned with the degree of progress in different parts of the 
world. How far does this depend upon geographic conditions? 
Before we answer, we must define progress; for to one man it 
may mean greater faith in God; to another, more trade; to a 
third, more money to spend on art or pleasures. For our pres- 
ent purposes we may define progress as increasing ability to 
dominate the forces of nature. 

This may not be the highest type of progress, nor the one 
that is now taking place most actively. The Hindus, with 
their Meals of quiet, mystical contemplation, may perchance be 
groping their way toward a new sense telepathy and thus 
be far out-distancing the rest of us. That would be no more 
strange than the evolution of the sense of vision. Hundreds of 
millions of years ago, when sight did not yet exist, a mere 
sensitiveness to light presumably caused some lowly organism 
to move toward the sun and thereby gain food or energy. 
Later, when many small mutations, or a few large ones, at last 
gave birth to the sense of vision, the organism's whole mode 
of life must have changed. A creature with eyes, living in a 
world of light and among creatures which cannot see, possesses 
an almost incredible advantage. 

It may be that minds like those of certain Orientals who 
appear to be in touch with distant or dying friends may behave 
like an ordinary radio set. Waves of energy set up in one mind 
may make an impress upon others. If this should develop into 


1 1 








a genuine sense of telepathy, it would revolutionize the world 
even more fully than sight has done. No one could harbor 
evil thoughts, for the moment he put them into words, even 
though unspoken, they might become known to others. Peo- 
ple who were not pure and true and noble in thought as well 
as deed would be avoided as we now avoid those whom we know 
to be criminals. Little by little they would presumably die 
out. On the other hand, groups of people, even though physi- 
cally far apart, could all tune in on the same wave-length and 
thus solve problems which now are utterly beyond the capacity 
of a single mind. All this, of course, is pure fancy, but it may 
bring home the fact that our particular line of progress is by no 
means the only or the greatest line. Nevertheless, since the 
control of nature is today the dominant aspect of human prog- 
ress, we shall use it as our criterion. 

Why, then, does man's power to control his physical sur- 
roundings differ so much from place to place? Is it mere coinci- 
dence that the English can fly in the air, sail beneath the ocean, 
manufacture machines by the million, and talk by radio, while 
not a man among the Kamchadales ever thinks of doing these 
things? Perhaps, but only in the same sense that the migration 
of sorely persecuted and highly skilled weavers from France and 
Belgium to eastern England rather than Kamchatka was an ac- 
cident. Even if they had gone to Kamchatka, the cold winters, 
the chilly wet summers, the sparsity and barbarism of the popu- 
lation, the poor means of communication, and the difficulty of 
providing surplus food and raw materials, would scarcely have 
permitted them to stimulate that country's industrial life as 
they stimulated England's. 

If accidents are not the main reasons for progress, are those 
reasons found in institutions like Christianity and democracy, 
in the special ability of certain races, and the development of 
certain fundamental institutions, or in the position of plains in 


reference to oceans, rivers, land routes, Iron, coal and climate? 
The truth seems to be that each and every one of these condi- 
tions plays its part. The task of the student is to determine 
where each stands in the chain of cause and effect. 

This brings us back to the first chapter of this book. Cli- 
mate paints the fundamental colors on the great human canvas, 
as we have seen again and again. The other geographic factors 
paint less widely distributed colors, which in certain places are 
so intense that the climatic pattern is obscured. But a new so- 
cial institution and, still more, a new type of human culture 
may sweep over the whole canvas or some part of it, and alter 
the entire aspect of the picture. Yet however much this may 
obscure the old tints, it does not eliminate the geographic pat- 
tern. We have already seen examples of how occupations, dis^ 
eases, food, clothing, transportation and the like conform to 
the main outlines set by climate and to the details set by other 
factors such as the soil. Such conditions represent man's in- 
direct response to climate. They appear most clearly among 
people in the lower stages of development. The next step is to 
study man's direct response as shown by the effect of climate 
upon the human body and thus upon the way in which man's 
comfort, health, energy and initiative give him more or less as- 
sistance in the great task of making progress along the line 
of control over the forces of nature. 

In order to see what the situation really is we need a map 
of human progress. Statistics and opinions are the only feasible 
means of making such a map. Both have been tried, and both 
are beset with difficulties. A reliable statistical map of prog- 
ress in the world as a whole is as yet impossible because some 
countries have no statistics that are worth using; a great many 
have no statistics that throw much light on progress; and even 
where reliable statistics of the right kind are available, the 
methods of compiling them are often so varied that comparl- 


sons are almost impossible. Nevertheless, a fairly good statis- 
tical map of Europe can be prepared, and a much better one of 
the United States, as will appear in a later chapter. These 
maps are so much like the corresponding maps based on the 
opinions of well-informed men that we may safely infer that the 
same would be true if we had a statistical map of progress in 
the world as a whole. A map of progress based on the opinion 

ISO 150 ISO 60 80 

120 150 180 

180 .160 120 

From-" Business Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons. 

of about fifty well-informed people in fifteen countries, includ- 
ing China, Japan, Canada, the United States, Australia and ten 
European countries, is shown in Figure i. The general fea- 
tures are just as one would expect. The regions surrounding 
the North Sea in Europe and extending east into western Rus- 
sia and south into Italy are heavily shaded, indicating a Mgh 
degree of progress. The northern United States and southern 
Canada are also heavily shaded, as is the Pacific coast and part 
of Australia and New Zealand, together with Japan. 

Geographers have again and again made maps of race, re- 
ligion, government, and many other factors, and have com- 


pared them with the map of progress. Certain marked resem- 
blances are visible, but discrepancies are equally obvious. 
Coal, for example, is undoubtedly a great factor in human prog- 
ress. Nevertheless, a map of the coal produced per capita in 
various countries and states bears little real resemblance to one 
showing the degree of progress or even the per capita amount 
of manufacturing. In England, Belgium and Pennsylvania, 
coal, manufacturing and progress are closely associated; but 
Switzerland, Sweden, Massachusetts and California, where 
there is no coal, show far more industrial development than do 
West Virginia and Wyoming where the production of coal per 
capita is two or three times as great as in Pennsylvania, or than 
China and Siberia where the coal available in the ground is 
more abundant than in any other countries except the United 
States and Canada. So it is with soil, plains, races, Christian- 
ity, and a hundred other conditions. Each of these is closely 
associated with progress, but their distribution over the earth's 
surface is very different. 

A map of climate, or rather of climatic energy, as we may 
call it, resembles a map of progress far more closely than does 
a map of any other factor which may be a cause rather than a 
result of the distribution of progress. The way to make the 
climatic map is to find out what each climate does to peo- 
ple's health and energy. This has been done In part through 
investigations as to the speed and accuracy with which physi- 
cal work in factories and mental work in schools is carried on 
under different conditions of weather. Another way has been 
by experiments to determine the conditions under which peo- 
ple's physical strength and comfort are greatest and the speed 
with which they decline as the conditions depart from this op- 
timum. Still a third way is by comparing the number of 
deaths in many countries and cities with the general climate 
or with the weather during the day, week or month before the 


death occurred. The more accurate these various lines of re- 
search have become, the more thoroughly they agree in show- 
ing that man is like all other animals. Under certain optimum 
conditions his physical and mental capacities are at a maxi- 
mum; his power to work is greatest; his initiative highest; and 
his ability to resist disease correspondingly high. Any de- 
parture from these conditions means less efficiency both men- 
tally and physically, poorer health, and a higher death rate. 

A final definition of the best climate for human health and 
activity has not yet been made, but the essential points are ap- 
proximately as follows: (i) A fairly strong but not extreme 
contrast between summer and winter is needed, the summer 
temperature averaging not much higher than 65 for night and 
day together. This appears to be the temperature at which the 
white race is physically most active and healthy. The winter 
temperature out of doors should average not much below 40 , 
for this is the temperature at which people with our type of 
food, clothing, shelter, and occupations appear to be most ac- 
tive mentally. (2) There must be rain at all seasons. This 
does not mean constant rain, but enough so that the air is 
moderately moist much of the time. If the air is dry for any 
long period, people's health is not so good as when it is damper. 
Abundant statistics in many regions demonstrate this in spite 
of the popular opinion to the contrary. That opinion probably 
has arisen because people confuse the beneficial effect of the 
outdoor life in dry climates with the effect of the dryness it- 
self, or of the dust which comes with the dryness. 

(3) Constant but not undue variability of weather is almost 
as important as the right conditions of temperature and hu- 
midity. Among factory workers and students, for instance, it 
has been found that if the temperature of one day is the same 
as that of the preceding day which generally means that the 
other conditions are likewise uniform people's work is not 


so good as If there Is a change, especially a drop of tempera- 
ture. The health of the community and the death rate vary- 
in the same way, a drop of temperature being almost invari- 
ably beneficial, unless it be very extreme. This is true in 
winter as well as summer, and even if the actual temperature is 
so low as to be harmful if continued. The point of the matter 
is that the change is exhilarating. Like a cold bath it stimu- 
lates both body and mind, provided the cold conditions do not 
last long enough to induce a chill. Changes in sunshine and hu- 
midity as well as in temperature are probably a stimulant, al- 
though their effect has not been accurately measured. The 
wind likewise appears to have a stimulating effect, provided it 
is not too strong. The gustiness or irregularity which usually 
characterizes moving air acts like a constant series of little cool 
spells, each of which is refreshing provided always that they 
do not become too severe and frequent. The failure to appre- 
ciate the great importance of variability in the weather is one 
of the main reasons why the pervading effect of climate and of 
changes of climate is even yet only dimly appreciated. 

Variability of atmospheric conditions arises partly from the 
alternation of day and night, partly from the seasons, and 
partly from the passage of areas of high or low atmospheric 
pressure, especially the ordinary storms of the temperate 
zone. Other things being equal, people's health is apparently 
best where there is considerable variation between day and 
night. Such variability is especially valuable if the mean tem- 
perature and humidity are both high. It is at a minimum over 
the oceans in low latitudes; the maximum occurs in middle 
latitudes far from the sea where the air is dry and at seasons 
when day and night are nearly equal in length. 

The variability due to the march of the seasons is probably 
much more important than that due to day and night. We 
have already spoken of its value in stimulating foresight and 


thrift, but it appears to be highly valuable in its direct effect on 
health. Few conditions are more stimulating than the change 
which occurs when summer temperatures averaging 65 to 
70 F. for day and night together are followed by weather 
when the thermometer begins to drop to 50 or 40 at night. 
The net effect of a change in the other direction in the spring, 
after cold weather, is also favorable, although a sudden warm- 
ing up is debilitating and temporarily causes lassitude and a 
high death rate. 

The storms which form the third great element in producing 
changes in the weather appear to be particularly valuable. 
Perhaps this is because they include variations not only in 
temperature, such as are the primary feature of day compared 
with night and even of season compared with season, but in 
sunshine, wind, humidity and cloudiness. A moderate storm 
such as may sweep across almost any part of the United States 
in the spring or fall, with a fairly warm day of rain followed 
by a cool, sparkling day of sunshine, is like a veritable tonic 
to both body and mind. 

Such storms prevail abundantly in only a small part of the 
earth, a belt in each hemisphere. The main axis of the northern 
belt enters North America from the west a little north of the 
Canadian border, but the belt itself has a width of perhaps 
five hundred miles or more north of the axis and fifteen hun- 
dred south of it. As the belt crosses North America eastward 
it becomes more intense in longitudes where the axis lies in the 
great plains from Alberta to Manitoba, and still more so when 
the longitude of Ontario is reached just east of the Great Lakes. 
Then, with diminishing intensity, it proceeds eastward south 
of Newfoundland to Europe. There the North Sea countries 
receive the most storms, although their storminess is not so 
great as that of North America. Northern Italy has a storm 
area of its own a little separate from the main belt, and so does 


Scandinavia. In Russia and the regions east of Italy the 
storminess greatly declines. Western Siberia is indeed trav- 
ersed by a moderate number of storms, and it is there that 
wheat farming and railroads have become abundant, but prac- 
tically all the rest of continental Asia is rarely traversed by 
ordinary storms. The continent is so big that it destroys most 
of the atmospheric whirls or traveling areas of low pressure 
which constitute genuine cyclonic storms. This is highly 
significant; it means that the inner regions of Asia 
where civilization is low are handicapped by lack of storms 
as well as by undue extremes of aridity and temperature. 
On the Pacific coast of Asia, storminess revives a little, 
while Japan Is blessed with fairly abundant storms at all 

In the southern hemisphere the storm belt is very strong 
and well-defined. Unfortunately it lies too far south to do 
much good to mankind, for most of the storms circle around 
the Antarctic continent, touching practically no land save the 
cold southern tip of South America. 

In addition to the more frequent kind of cyclonic storm 
found in the two temperate belts of climate there is another, 
the tropical hurricane, or typhoon. This kind always origi- 
nates in low latitudes, -and moves westward instead of eastward 
at first. At this stage In their history, such storms often pro- 
duce violent wind and rain. Nevertheless their stimulating 
power Is weak because, while the wind and rain may be very 
harmful, the changes of temperature are too mild to make 
much difference. Moreover, such storms occupy smaller areas 
than those in higher latitudes which are often a thousand or 
fifteen hundred miles in breadth. 

In addition to this, tropical hurricanes are so rare in any 
one place that between one visit and another a score or a 
hundred ordinary storms may visit a region in the storm belt 

< *0 



farther north. It seems a curious irony of fate that the tropi- 
cal hurricane which often does extreme damage in tropical 
countries should become an agent of good in higher latitudes, 
but such is the case. A great many hurricanes swing away 
from the equator as they approach the lands; then they re- 
curve more and more, spread out over a wider area, become less 
intense, and finally before reaching latitude 40 or so become 
well-behaved, stimulating eastward-moving storms which not 
only help to make the summers healthful, but provide rain for 
agriculture. The Atlantic coast of the United States receives 
many such storms, while a large share of the cyclonic storms 
which make Japan unique among Asiatic countries are of this 

The combined effect of temperature, humidity, seasons, and 
storms upon health and energy Is summed up in Figure 2 . This 

From " Business Geography." Courtesy of Jobn Wiley and Sons. 

shows how much climatic energy, as we may call it, the average 
person of European race would have if his energy and health 
depended on climate alone. The corresponding maps for other 


races have never been made. They may differ a little from 
the map before us, but apparently not much. In the United 
States, for instance, the Negro students at Hampton Institute 
in Virginia are at their best when the air is not more than four 
or five degrees warmer and a few per cent moister than the 
optimum for the white man. The difference between their 
optimum and that of the whites is nothing like so great as be- 
tween the climates where the two races long dwelt before com- 
ing to America. For Cubans of mixed white and colored blood 
nearly the same is true, while the optimum for the Japanese 
seems to be almost the same as for the white race. Hence it 
appears that although racial differences doubtless exist, they 
are slight; the same general optimum applies to all namely 
a climate with a decided seasonal swing but without great ex- 
tremes of heat, cold, aridity or humidity, and with frequent 
moderate changes due to cyclonic storms. 

A comparison between Figures i and 2 is highly significant. 
It shows that the areas of rapid progress and favorable climate 
are practically identical. The most prominent features are 
two great high centers in the northeastern United States and 
northwestern Europe* Away from these, in all directions, both 
climatic energy and civilization decline in essentially the same 
fashion in both maps. Even in the most favored latitudes be- 
tween forty and fifty degrees from the equator there is a slight 
decline toward the dry interior of the United States and a great 
decline toward the far drier and vaster interior of Asia. On 
the Pacific Coast in both cases, there is a revival of health and 
progress, for the region from Los Angeles to Vancouver in 
America and the Japanese fringe of islands off the coast of 
Asia are peculiarly favored in both respects. 

North and south of the main areas of good climate and 
great progress, both maps show a rapid falling off until the 
lowest conditions are reached in the cold regions of high lati- 


tude ? In the centers of the great deserts, and in the regions oc- 
cupied by the densest tropical forests. In other words, the 
least healthful and invigorating climates are found in the very 

regions where dwell the people whom we have described as 

lowest in the scale of civilization. 



IP only our two maps of progress and climatic energy were 
before us, we should have little hesitation in concluding that, 
barring the effect of recent migrations, the general distribution 
of human progress agrees with that of climatic energy. But 
the past, as well as the present, must be considered. If the 
climate of today is the main determinant of the areas of most 
rapid progress, as we believe to be the case, why was the dis- 
tribution of progress so different in the past? Surely no one 
would claim that the map of civilization as it was two thousand 
years ago looks like the present map of either civilization or cli- 
matic energy. 

The difficulty which thus arises had been met and largely 
settled before the close relation between civilization and cli- 
mate had been thoroughly worked out. The climate of the past 
does not appear to have been quite the same as that of the 
present. Even in our own time, there are marked fluctuations 
from year to year. Thus the year 1925 will long be remem- 
bered for its sudden hot spell all over the United States in early 
June. The next year will be remembered especially for a hur- 
ricane which wrecked Miami in Florida, and for a combination 
of weather conditions which nearly ruined the South by pro- 
ducing a bumper cotton crop; but it was equally notable for its 
mild winter up to about the middle of February and then for 
a cold, raw period of two months which sent the death rate 
thirty or forty per cent above the normal The year 1927 will 
be remembered not only for its Mississippi floods, but for its 


relatively warm winter, followed by a cool spring and early 
summer, a condition which produced the lowest death rate on 

Thus far we have spoken only of minor climatic pulsations. 
There are longer ones of almost every degree of intensity. The 
so-called Bruckner cycle, highly irregular in length but aver- 
aging thirty-three to thirty-five years, may cause periods of as 
much as ten years to average distinctly rainier or cooler than 
normal, while similar periods average warm or dry. Thus in 
England the years 1885 to 1892 were unusually cool, especially 
in winter. During those eight years the months from Decem- 
ber to April fell below the average temperature in thirty-five 
cases out of forty. During the next eight years, on the con- 
trary, no less than sixty-three of the ninety-six individual 
months were warmer than the average. In the United States 
abundant rains occurred almost everywhere for several years in 
the early eighties, while droughts were equally widespread from 
about 1891 to 1895. 

Above the Bruckner cycles in the scale of length and inten- 
sity come irregular periods lasting hundreds of years. A period 
of this kind in the fourteenth century was marked by a series 
of cool moist summers which produced one crop failure after 
another in England, and finally resulted in dire famine. The 
same thing happened in Norway and Iceland. Agriculture re- 
ceived a blow from which it did not recover for generations. 

On the other hand, the seventh century after Christ was phe- 
nomenally dry, so that many formerly habitable regions on the 
borders of the desert were finally abandoned after straggling 
for centuries against the irregular progress of aridity. Evi- 
dence of an earlier moist period is found in ruined cities, aque- 
ducts, gardens, public baths, canals, terraced fields, abandoned 
roads, hostelries and bridges in places where at present there is 
no appreciable water supply, or at least so little that the popu- 


lation cannot be a tenth as great as formerly. Similar, but less 
convincing and accurate evidence is found in historic records 
of famines, crops, the dates of harvest, and the like. More re- 
liable, but less easily dated evidence appears in old strands of 
salt lakes which for decades or centuries received enough water 
so that they rose many feet above their present level, compelling 
roads to make long detours to circumvent their deep bays, or 
dashing their waves against submerged ruins where the marks 
can still be seen. Some of these lakes disclose ruins that are 
even now buried beneath the water, so that we know that some- 
times their level must have been lower than now as well as 
higher. Evidently, in the course of centuries the climate has 
suffered pulsations from wet to dry and back again. 

The general opinion seems to be that the most reliable record 
of the climate of the historic past is found in the rate of growth 
of the great Sequoia trees of California. The growth of the 
woody layers of trees varies from year to year in response to 
the climate; that is why the annual rings differ so greatly in 
thickness and also in quality. In the high Sierras of California, 
where grow the Sequoias, the chief, although not the only, factor 
in determining the rate of growth is the amount and season of 
rainfall. By measuring the rings in the stumps of four or five 
hundred trees whose date of cutting is known, it has been pos- 
sible to construct a climatic curve for California. Some of the 
trees were only a few hundred years old when cut, but three had 
lived more than three thousand. Nearly a hundred were close 
to two thousand years of age so that a fairly reliable record is 
available back to a date before the beginning of the Christian 
era, and a moderately reliable record for several hundred years 

This record applies primarily to California, but is a help in 
determining the climate in other parts of the world. When it 
was constructed, a surprising thing became evident in the fact 


that Its main fluctuations closely resemble those of a curve of 
climatic changes in western Asia prepared on the basis of ruins, 
lakes, and the other lines of evidence described above. Then 
the growth of the trees was compared year by year with modern 
records of rainfall at Jerusalem. The two agree quite closely, 
especially when minor fluctuations are disregarded and the 
main trend for several years is considered. 

Such an agreement is consistent with a great body of facts as 
to the relation of the climate in different regions. The earth's 
surface is spotted with what may be called climatic centers, that 
is, areas of more or less permanent high or low pressure. In all 
the high-pressure areas of a certain type, the fluctuations from 
year to year in pressure, temperature, and even rainfall are 
practically identical. In an opposite type of low-pressure areas 
the same is true, but the fluctuations are the reverse of those in 
the high-pressure regions. Intervening areas naturally display 
irregular fluctuations. 

All this agrees with independent conclusions based on a study 
of the climate of the past. In Guatemala, for example, the final 
abandonment of the ancient Maya ruins and the northward mi- 
gration of the center of Maya culture into the drier region of 
Yucatan appears to have been hastened and perhaps rendered 
inevitable by increasing rainfall. This presumably accentu- 
ated the difficulties of agriculture and transportation, and 
rendered the tropical diseases more virulent. The Mayas, it 
will be remembered, were the only people in the western hemi- 
sphere to invent the art of writing; they may well be called the 
Greeks of the New World. It may be highly significant that 
their northward migration finally culminated about the middle 
of the seventh century at the time when the Arabs burst forth 
from Arabia under the impetus of Mohammedanism. In both 
cases some human factor, such as the rise of a great leader, 
strife with neighbors, or zeal for a new religion, may have been 


the Immediate cause of a great historic movement. Neverthe- 
less, in Arabia we have abundant evidence that prolonged and 
terrible drought had made the Arabs restless. They were not 
only willing but eager for a leader and a cause which would aid 
them in leaving their desert homes and ravaging the more 
fertile lands round about. Whether a similar social condition, 
due to excessive rainfall, prevailed among the Mayas on the 
tropical borders of the New World we cannot yet say, but the 
idea can by no means be lightly dismissed. 

To go back to the Big Trees, they furnish interesting sugges- 
tions concerning events at many other times and in many other 
lands. For example, the oldest tree of all appears to have en- 
dured an extraordinarily dry time in its early youth. Of course 
the evidence of a single tree does not amount to much. Never- 
theless, it is interesting to find that this tree appears to have 
been almost killed by prolonged drought at the very time when 
various lines of evidence indicate a dry period in the lands 
around the eastern Mediterranean. In the Bible this dry pe- 
riod seems to be recorded in the so-called plagues which Moses 
is reported to have brought upon Egypt. If the miraculous ele- 
ment is eliminated, the rest of the biblical record appears to be 
a straight-forward and convincing narrative of exactly what 
would happen if the Nile fell to an extraordinarily low stage. 
In addition to the migration of the Israelites who invaded 
Palestine, many other migrations are recorded at this same time, 
twelve or thirteen hundred years before Christ. They are just 
the sort of thing that normally occurs during great periods of 

At a later time, the trees record a period of heavy rain during 
which Babylonia, Assyria, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and finally 
Greece all rose to a high level of progress. Ultimately, how- 
ever, a new period of drought, migration, war and misery set in 
after the days of Alexander the Great. Trouble seems to have 


prevailed almost everywhere about two hundred years before 
Christ, as the very time when a period of rapid decline in growth 
is recorded in the Big Trees. At that time the Chinese were 
impelled to complete the Great Wall which they had been build- 
ing piecemeal for two generations or more. Its purpose was to 
keep out the marauders who had continually invaded China 
from the deserts to the north. In the third century before 
Christ these marauders seem to have become far worse than 
formerly, while drought and famine apparently afflicted the 
Chinese to an unusual degree. The nomads of the desert pre- 
sumably found themselves in such straits because of the dry- 
ness that they continually made raids upon their agricultural 
neighbors to the south. Even the marvelous Chinese wall did 
not suffice to keep them out, for the northern barbarians again 
and again overran China and imposed their rule upon it. In 
Greece and Rome at this same time depopulation and the de- 
generation of agriculture took place at an extraordinarily rapid 
rate. Palestine endured a period of great distress which prob- 
ably had much to do with preparing the Jews to follow the lead 
of the Maccabbees in their desperate revolt against the Ro- 

Some good authorities have supposed that the decline of 
agriculture in Italy at this time, about two centuries before 
Christ, was due to the exhaustion of the soil. This view is un- 
tenable; there is not the slightest reason to suppose that such 
deterioration would produce so sudden a change, or that it 
would occur simultaneously in Italy, Greece, Palestine and 
other places. Still less is It probable that a decline in the 
growth of cultivated plants in those regions would suddenly 
occur because of the depletion of the soil just when a similar 
decline in wild trees and grasses was occurring because of lack 
of rain in California, China and elsewhere. Moreover, the soil 
of China, Japan and India, although used for thousands 


of years has not led to any such results by reason of exhaus- 

A century or two later, Increased rainfall was coincident with 
one of the most peaceful periods that ever came to Rome the 
reign of Augustus when the Temple of Janus was closed for the 
first time in two hundred years. Christ was bom in Nazareth 
of Galilee at about that time, and Palestine was prosperous. 
All this suggests that if the Zionists would restore Palestine to 
its former glory, they must be careful not to choose a time like 
the dry epochs about thirteen hundred and two hundred years 
before Christ, or six and a half centuries after Christ. They 
must choose epochs of abundant rainfall and storminess such 
as apparently prevailed for centuries between 1 100 and 300 B.C. 
and for decades in the Fourteenth Century of our own era. 

Space forbids us to continue this record of climatic pulsa- 
tions. For our present purpose the important point is that the 
climate of the earth is always fluctuating. There is almost no 
such thing as a normal climate, for the farther back we go the 
greater become the fluctuations. The extremes of the historic 
period were much greater than those observed since records 
have been kept, but were themselves exceeded by those which 
prevailed during the climatic stages that have marked the pe- 
riod since the culmination of the last ice age. Yet those in 
turn were mild compared with the huge pulsations belonging to 
the glacial period with its repeated recurrence of glacial and 
interglacial epochs. 

Evidently then, a map of climatic energy in 400 B.C. when 
Greece was in Its glory, would be different from a map of the 
same kind either today or thirty thousand years ago when the 
last gladation was near its height. So far as we can judge, 
although opinions differ, the most important feature of climatic 
pulsations is changes in the location and intensity of the main 
areas of atmospheric pressure and of the storms which skirt the 


edges of such areas. In our own day, such differences from 
year to year and decade to decade are of extraordinary impor- 
tance. They bring events like the Mississippi flood of 1927, 
the bumper cotton crop of 1926, and the droughts that drove 
people out of Kansas in the early nineties. Even when the 
barometric pressure and storminess are notably different from 
normal, the mean temperature for the year as a whole may de- 
part very little from the average. Yet the rainfall and still 
more the variability of the weather may vary to an extraordi- 
nary degree, 

On the basis of reasoning like this, we conclude that when 
Greece was in its prime the belt of maximum climatic energy 
apparently lay nearer the equator than at present, perhaps not 
far from Greece and Rome. At any rate, the storminess of 
Greece and Rome seems to have been enough greater than now 
to cause an appreciable improvement in health and efficiency, 
not only there but in all the lands around the eastern end of the 
Mediterranean. At the same time excessive storminess ap- 
parently lessened the efficiency of Germany and England, for 
storms, like almost everything else, have their optimum, their 
level of most favorable frequency. 

Pulsations of climate are not the only factor which has 
tended to change the location of the geographic areas whose 
climate is best for human progress. Another factor, the " cold- 
ward march of civilization," first adequately discussed by 
S. C. GilFillan, must by no means be overlooked. Types of 
civilization, like types of humanity, have optima. These op- 
tima may depend mainly upon climate but they are also greatly 
influenced by soil, vegetation, fuel and the like. Somewhere, 
for example, perhaps in Java or perhaps farther north in Japan, 
a certain combination of conditions has the maximum tendency 
to promote progress among people whose culture is based upon 
the art of raising rice. Obviously, the optimum cannot occur 


where frosts, droughts, or floods often ruin the rice crop. Nor 
can it occur where the people are continually weakened and 
discouraged by malaria. The optima for the crop and the 
people may perchance be located far apart. That is unfor- 
tunate, for then the optimum for that particular stage of human 
progress will have to be located between the two other optima, 
and neither the crop nor the people will be at its best. 

Similar conditions are true for every other type of culture. 
Take the extreme case of people who have not yet learned to 
use fire, clothing or any shelter other than the trees. Such 
people might be greatly stimulated by a cold climate if only 
they could stand it. If set down in Greenland, however, they 
would probably all perish in a year; in New York they would 
barely survive; in Virginia they might do fairly well; but only 
as far south as Florida, perhaps, could they really be at their 
best. Their physiological reactions to climate might be exactly 
like ours; yet the highest development of their culture might 
occur in a climate much warmer than that which is best for us 
today. Remember that when we define a climate as healthful 
or the reverse, we are not thinking of naked savages, but of 
ourselves with our warm clothing, warm houses, easy trans- 
portation, and corner groceries supplied by well-filled cold 
storage warehouses and grain elevators. 

As mankind rises in the scale of civilization, his power to 
cope with low temperature increases. The first man who threw 
the skin of a slain animal over his back to keep him warm made 
it possible for primitive man to endure considerably colder 
winters than before. The first who built a fire or a warm hut 
took another great step in the same direction. The fireplace, 
stove, hot-air furnace and steam heater represent still other 
steps. Glass was extremely important in this respect. It per- 
mitted people to have light enough for all sorts of delicate work, 
and at the same time keep their hands warm enough to do the 


work even In the coldest weather. Winter days which had 
formerly been largely wasted could now be devoted to useful 
sedentary work like weaving, the making of tools, or the dis- 
covery of scientific truth. But the use of glass for the windows 
of houses and workshops did not become common until after 
1600 A.D. In his book on Glass in the Old World Mr. Wallace- 
Dunlop states that a century before that time glass was so 
scarce that according to a law made in 15055 although the win- 
dows of a house belonged to the heir the glass was the property 
of the executors and might be removed by them^ " for the house 
is perfect without the glass." In 1599, however, the law was 
changed to read that glass annexed to windows by nails or in 
any other manner could not be removed, " for without glass it 
is no perfect house." Yet as late as 1650 the use of window 
glass was still so uncommon in Scotland that only the upper 
rooms in the royal palaces were furnished with it, the lower 
part having wooden shutters which were opened or closed as 
might be necessary. 

Now it so happens that some of the most valuable climatic 
conditions from the point of view of both health and mental 
stimulus occur mainly where the temperature during part of 
the year is low. This is true of storms with their high varia- 
bility; it is also true of the seasons with their tremendous 
stimulus toward forethought and thrift. 

If people can obtain the benefit of these climatic conditions 
without suffering from low temperature, they will evidently en- 
joy better health and achieve more than otherwise. That 
seems to be what has now happened. We have reached the 
point where our command over nature permits us to live almost 
anywhere. If we so desired, we might live on the ice in Green- 
land or Antarctica. Many occupations, to be sure, would be 
impossible there, but that need not prevent a dense population, 
provided some other factor makes it worth while to go to the 


enormous labor of transporting everything over the snow and 

Agriculture is one of the occupations which cannot move to 
Greenland. It prospers only where both soil and climate are 
favorable. Rice raising, for instance, cannot spread into cool 
climates, and the rice raisers must permanently endure the 
handicap of unfavorably warm, damp and monotonous weather 
unless some marvelous new discoveries are made. The miner, 
too, must live where the ore is found. In fact, every primary 
producer is geographically tied to his product. Those who 
cater to the immediate wants of the primary producers are like- 
wise tied down to definite geographical locations, no matter 
whether the climate is good or bad. What use is a grocer, 
policeman, barber, carpenter, doctor or minister unless he lives 
near enough so that you can find him when you want him? 

Certain occupations, however, are almost independent of 
such geographic controls as the soil, the location of minerals, 
and relation of climate to agriculture. As time goes on, they 
are becoming still more free. One of these is manufacturing. 
Originally, to be sure, the manufacturer needed to be near his 
raw material, and likewise near the primary producers who 
provide his main market, as well as food for his workers. Later 
he felt the necessity of being as near as possible to supplies of 
coal As the value of human labor increases in comparison 
with the value of mere materials, the necessity for being tied 
down to any special geographic environment diminishes. At 
Birmingham, Alabama, for example, the presence of coal, iron 
and limestone, seems to be a reason for the development of a 
great and varied group of iron industries. Yet only the coarser 
types of manufacturing are done there to any large degree. 
The finer types are found in the North where, on the whole, 
the labor is more efficient. The cotton industry furnishes an- 
other interesting example of a similar sort. During the present 


century there has been a strong tendency for the cotton mills 
to move from New England to the South, They have gone 
there partly to be near the raw materials, partly to avoid re- 
strictive legislation concerning child labor and other mat- 
ters, partly to be near the southern portion of their market, 
and partly to draw on an untouched supply of white labor 
where wages are low. 

All of these are sound geographic reasons for the location of 
the cotton industry in one place rather than another. Never- 
theless, the finer types of cotton spinning and weaving main- 
tain their hold in the North. Massachusetts still has more 
spindles than any other state. Just what the future will bring 
forth is not clear, but many observers prophesy that within 
a generation most of the cotton mills will move back to the 
North. If wages and laws should become the same in the two 
regions, and the intelligence of the laborers should be equal ? 
the experience of other industries suggests that the more stimu- 
lating climate, and the better health and greater energy of the 
workers in the North might bring the industry back again. But 
the iron and cotton industries deal with bulky or heavy raw 
materials, and for that reason are still tied quite closely to 
geographic conditions other than climate. 

Quite a different set of conditions prevails in certain other 
industries, for already they are almost foot-loose, so that they 
can be established anywhere. Silk weaving, watch-making, the 
making of high-grade chemicals, and the manufacture of jew- 
elry are examples of industries where the cost of transportation 
is so small that the quality of the workers becomes the chief 
factor in determining whether a given location is good or bad. 
The higher types of mental activity are likewise becoming more 
and more free to locate themselves where they will. Institu- 
tions of research, banking houses, universities, stock exchanges 
and wholesale organizations are a few examples of the many 


types of institutions which are almost free to choose their own 

In the higher branches of university education, such as 
graduate schools, and most of all in pure research, the non- 
climatic factors of the geographical environment still further 
lose their importance, while the health, energy, initiative and 
physical buoyancy of the workers become of paramount im- 
portance. Almost anyone who has done much creative think- 
ing or writing will tell you that in no other type of work does 
he find his powers so different from day to day, so dependent 
on his state of physical well-being. Today one writes slowly, 
wearily, grinding out a few poor pages that later are thrown 
away. Tomorrow one writes rapidly, easily, clearly, accu- 
rately, page after page, till a whole chapter is finished. Such a 
chapter often requires only a little revision, whereas the chap- 
ter written in ten times as many days must be worked over 
and over, and even then is not satisfactory. The days when 
the worst chapters are written are those when the air is close 
indoors, no matter what it may be outside, and when one feels 
dull, sleepy, and discouraged both physically and mentally. 
The days when the best chapters are written are usually cool 
and fresh, with a bit of sparkle and tang in the air, or perhaps 
gently and pleasantly rainy; the kind when it is joy to be alive. 

Unconsciously but surely, people tend to go to the places 
where such conditions prevail most frequently, for that is where 
they can accomplish the most. The immediate spot where 
this can be done may be determined by the location of a 
harbor, river, or easy route to the interior. The general re- 
gion Is determined mainly by climate. That is why the world's 
scientific research and other intellectual activities, as well as 
its financial, commercial, industrial and political control are 
more and more becoming concentrated in the few limited re- 
gions where the climate Is most healthful and stimulating. 


Does all this mean that mankind is becoming free from geo- 
graphical control? Not at all. It merely means a change in 
the geographic factors which exert that control Here is the 
whole thing in a nutshell: The lower the stage of human cul- 
ture, the more inevitably man is compelled to live near his 
food supply, and to follow only the occupations for which the 
local environment is favorable. As he advances in culture he 
becomes able to transport food and raw materials so that he 
begins to concentrate his industries in places which he finds 
especially advantageous. At the same time he finds himself 
more and more able to pursue sedentary industries in cool cli- 
mates because he learns to utilize clothing, buildings, glass, 
and heating devices. In addition to this, he unconsciously finds 
that in fairly cool climates his innate ability increases because 
he must exercise judgment, economy, thrift and foresight in 
preparing for the winter. Those who fail in these respects are 
likely to be eliminated. Finally, although even yet he scarcely 
knows it, mankind discovers that in a certain type of cool, 
stormy climate with a strong but not overwhelming contrast 
of seasons, he has better health, greater energy, and more ini- 
tiative than anywhere else. 

As a result of all these tendencies, the centers of civilization 
keep moving into the regions where man's stage of progress 
makes him most efficient. In doing this the direct effect of the 
climate upon the well-being of the human body assumes greater 
and greater importance, because it is the condition of environ- 
ment over which man's control is thus far least perfect. He 
can bring food and raw materials from the ends of the earth, 
and they are just as useful as if raised in his back yard, but 
manufactured climates are not yet satisfactory. We have a 
moderate sort in our houses in winter, but no one has manu- 
factured a good climate for arctic regions or the tropics. Finally, 
in addition to all these reasons for changes in the centers of 


civilization, the climate itself varies more or less from century 
to century and millenium to millenium. When storms are more 
abundant in lower latitudes than at present they are especially 
helpful in increasing the activity and progress of people whose 
control over nature is limited compared with ours. Thus the 
climatic conditions during the more stormy epochs before the 
days of Christ were highly advantageous to countries like 
Egypt, Assyria and Greece, because they provided the stimulus 
of greater variability and windiness to people who could not 
yet be at their best in the cooler climates where storminess now 
does the most good. Thus the final location of the centers of 
civilization and of the main regions of manufacturing and the 
like, is the result of man's changing control of nature, plus the 
changing aspects of nature itself. 

In spite of 'this relationship between climate and progress, 
we should not expect a perfect agreement between the two at 
all times. Man is a migratory animal; he keeps moving from 
one environment to another; he carries his civilization with 
him. When Englishmen settle in Jamaica, or Germans in tropi- 
cal Brazil, they form an island of high civilization in the midst 
of a lower civilization. Nevertheless, as time goes on, even 
the migrants tend to conform to the climate in which they live. 
This does not mean that the British settlers in Australia and 
South Africa will ever go back to the level of the natives near 
whom they dwell. It does mean, however, that in the future 
the people who settle in these unfavorable lands are not likely 
to go ahead as fast as those who remain where the climate is 
better. The people in the poorer climates are practically cer- 
tain to have poorer health and less energy than the others. The 
population as a whole is likely to be less prosperous, so that 
education and contact with other people are less prevalent. 
Moreover, under such circumstances there is a strong tendency 
for the more able people to leave the poorer environment. 


This last tendency is clearly evident in the Bahamas. Those 
Islands are occupied by a combined population of British and 
Negroes. Many of the British are descendants of Loyalists 
who left the southern parts of the United States at the time 
of the Revolutionary War. The Loyalists as a whole were 
people of high character and ability. Their descendants still 
display those same qualities; many of them are as cultivated, 
high-minded and competent as any of their fellow Britons else- 
where. Yet in a certain sense they have degenerated. They 
themselves deplore the fact that their physical ability is not 
equal to that of the Loyalists who migrated from New Eng- 
land to Ontario. They deplore still more the fact that it seems 
wise for many of the more vigorous young people to go away 
from the islands, not only for education, but for their life work. 
They sympathize with the Bahaman girl who had studied nurs- 
ing in New York: " Do you enjoy life more in the United States 
or in the Bahamas? " she was asked. Quick as a flash she an- 
swered: " How can one help enjoying it more there? There one 
feels like doing things; here one never feels like anything." 

But there is more than this to the matter, for the abler boys 
and girls are attracted to the more stimulating climate not 
only because it makes them feel energetic, but because the 
opportunities are greater than elsewhere. Thus the higher the 
degree of civilization and the greater the freedom with which 
people can move themselves and their goods from place to 
place, the greater becomes the tendency toward the concentra- 
tion of manufacturing, finance, government, education, science, 
art and every other kind of leadership in the regions which of- 
fer the optimum conditions of comfort, health and energy. As 
time goes on, this tendency becomes so strong that the centers 
of power actually begin to swing from place to place according 
to the seasons. The thirteen million people who are concen- 
trated within a hundred miles of New York are one of the most 


powerful groups in the whole world, unrivalled perhaps except 
by the thirteen million in an approximately similar area around 
London, But in February and especially in July the New York 
area loses a good deal of its power because so many of its lead- 
ers are in Florida, southern California and the Riviera, or at 
Newport, Bar Harbor and the Adirondacks. 

The preceding discussion partially answers our question in 
a previous chapter as to whether the tropics will ever be re- 
claimed. Doubtless the white man will do much toward re- 
claiming vast areas in tropical America, Africa and elsewhere. 
He will introduce machinery, he will act as supervisor, he may 
even run the machinery himself, and he will teach the tropical 
people to work much more effectively than at present. The 
productivity of areas like the Amazon Basin and central Africa 
may rival that of any other part of the world. Nevertheless, it 
is practically certain that the center of power will never swing 
to tropical countries unless some wholly unsuspected discovery 
revolutionizes the tropical mode of life. The discovery would 
have to cause life in the tropics to become so attractive and 
so invigorating to both mind and body that the most able peo- 
ple would want to live there. That might happen if the people 
of the future should learn to protect themselves against heat as 
readily as we protect ourselves against cold. That will be 
very hard to do because the inertia which is the keynote of 
comfort within the tropics is also one of the greatest enemies of 
human progress. Activity on the other hand, is highly valuable 
as a means not only of keeping warm, but of making progress. 
Of course it is possible that in some far future a new race 
may evolve whose optimum climate is warmer than that of the 
races of today, but that scarcely cuts much figure in the. plans 
of the present generation. 

Putting aside all speculation as to the far future, we can 
sum up the whole thing by saying first, that the general pattern 


These ruins in eastern Palestine appear to represent a high Nabatean civilization 

which developed under the influence of a more favorable climate not far from 

the time of Christ, 


of the distribution of civilization throughout the world has al- 
ways depended closely upon climate; second, that man's in- 
creasing control over nature keeps tending to change that 
pattern; third, that migrations likewise introduce continual 
changes in the pattern; and fourth, that as soon as a migra- 
tion has occurred, the climatic conditions begin to mold and 
select the migrants to fit the new environment. The climate 
makes certain occupations profitable, and others unprofitable; 
it is enjoyed by people of some temperaments and not by those 
of other temperaments; it causes people with one type of phy- 
sique to have better health and more children than those with 
other types of physique; it makes certain types of food, shelter 
and clothing advisable, and others unhealthful. In the long 
run, ill health, failure and gradual extinction are the lot of 
those who cannot or will not adapt themselves to the climate, 
but before that happens many migrate to other climates better 
adapted to their physiques, temperaments, occupations, habits, 
institutions and stage of development. This has happened re- 
peatedly, though slowly, in the past; it is happening far more 
rapidly today, especially among the peoples who are most 
highly civilized and mobile. 



WHAT sort of picture do the words " Japan " and " China " 
bring to your mind? Do they suggest the same sort of people, 
the same sort of scenery, the same sort of civilization? Or do 
they suggest countries as different as England and Italy? To 
those who know them best, the differences are generally more 
noteworthy than the resemblances. To me the word " Japan " 
brings up a vision of the deck of a steamer, a soft warm rain 
falling straight down without wind, blue mountains dimly seen 
through banded streaks of pale clouds above a dull greenish sea 
dotted with white sails. Then mists roll in and we are solitary. 
When the mists rise once more the land is near at hand. No 
mountains now are visible; great inaccessible cliffs, slashed 
by steep-sided gorges, rise abruptly from the water. At the top 
of the cliffs a low plateau forms a maze of hills. Some are cov- 
ered with trees, mostly pines, which break the sky-line with 
dark clumps; but the majority display the paler tint of dense 
thickets of tall reedy grasses, clumps of bamboo and other 
bushes, and groves of maples and other deciduous trees. 
Everything is green, as it is all over Japan, save on the rocky 
mountains, or during the winter at high levels and in the north. 
Few countries save Ireland are greener. Between us and the 
green hills lies the pearly, misty, moving water, and groups of 
fishing boats. Little wisps of cloud keep forming in the val- 
leys and spreading out as bands along the hills, only to rise as 

1 Much of this chapter and the next is based on the author's two books en- 
titled West oj the Pacific and The Character of Races. 



shreds and tatters, and disappear in the great cloudiness above. 
But the Intense greenness, with its many shades, impresses us 
even more than the wetness and the pearly mistiness. 

But where is man in all this scene? The boats indicate an 
abundant fishing-population. That great headland ends in 
the fine white column of a modern lighthouse, but where are the 
houses of the fishermen? See that dark-brown patch at the 
mouth of the valley, with a bit of bright green behind it? Look 
more closely, to right and left. There is another and another. 
They are the villages, and the pale-green patches are bits of 
rice land. See how that village stretches out, a thin brown 
line of houses at the base of the cliff. Will not the waves of the 
next typhoon eat it up? Every speck of level land seems to be 
covered with houses or rice fields. How can so many people 
live where there seems to be only room for a road? 

Come closer to the shore and look at this lovely bit of Japa- 
nese scenery. Directly in front a dainty little gorge opens its 
green jaws, with a bit of yellow cliff on one side for variety* A 
laughing waterfall surely lies hidden among the trees. On 
either side the sea is faced by green bluffs, not precipitous like 
those we saw before, but far too steep, it would seem, for 
habitation. They are shrouded in bushes and trees, among 
which crooked pines bent by the wind are conspicuous. Al- 
ready we are becoming familiar with a large part of the ele- 
ments that make Japanese art so unique mountains, cliffs, 
clouds, mist, bays, boats and pearly seas, and likewise brooks, 
waterfalls, dense vegetation, and picturesque crooked trees. 
We have seen these landscapes dimmed almost to black-and- 
white, as in the southern school of Japanese art, mere impres- 
sions that can be painted in a few strokes and we have seen 
them bursting into masses of color, full of dainty detail, as in 
the northern school. 

Now we see other scenes on which that same art is based. 


A dozen small boats appear and a crowd of people flocks along 
the shores. In the boats the bare brown limbs of fishermen 
harmonize with their blue garments. Here is a man with tight 
white trousers and a blue smock bearing between the shoulders 
a big white circle enclosing white designs. His head is swathed 
in a black cloth, while a white cloth hangs under his chin like a 
beard. Others have tight brown or blue trousers, long blue 
robes, and dark-blue cloths around their heads. More pic- 
turesque are the mushroom hats, very convenient to shed the 
rain. Here come some more boats, better still. See the grass 
hats like little tents, the dripping grass cloaks like bigger tents, 
and the grass shelters like little cabins. On shore a rapidly 
gathering crowd displays the long Japanese kimonos of both 
men and women, the gay umbrellas of oiled paper, and the awk- 
ward shuffling gait due to wooden clogs. We are not on an 
uninhabited shore, as one might at first imagine. Even on 
these steep slopes scores of thickly thatched houses, yellowish 
or blackish in tint, peep out from among the trees. Japan is 
assuredly not only a moist land, a green land, and a land of 
mountains, mists and seas, but it is densely populated so 
densely that one marvels again and again. 

Sail up now into one of the scores of land-locked bays that 
help to make the Japanese one of the most maritime people in 
all the world. On our left, miles away but clear as crystal 
against the freshly washed blue sky, rises the lovely cone of 
shapely Fuji, white on top, shading off to blue lower down, and 
vanishing at the base in a faint dainty haze which seems almost 
to be some sort of ethereal soil from which the magic mountain 
grows like a fairy mushroom. Nearer at hand two business- 
like tugs send out columns of black smoke to trail far behind 
them and cast purple shadows on the water. But they cannot 
spoil the lovely sunset, for now the sky is partly cloudy, and the 
sun goes down in a brief blaze of crimson. Before it is gone 


we have sailed up Yokohama Bay, past modern lighthouses, a 
modern breakwater, great dry-docks and shipyards, tugs, 
barges, huge ocean-steamers, and up-to-date wharfs cen- 
turies distant from the grass-clad fishermen whom we saw a 
score of miles away. 

Come ashore now, in the morning, and ride in a jinrikisha. 
What a disorderly jumble fills the rough, muddy streets 
bicycles, man-carts, jinrikishas, horse-carts, ox-carts, a few 
automobiles, and hosts of people. Most of the people walk on 
wooden clogs to keep out of the wet. They are fairly agile in 
avoiding the mud splashed up by the running jinrikisha men, 
but pay little attention to automobiles, for in Japan the auto- 
mobile is merely tolerated. The vehicles that really belong in 
the Japanese streets are man-drawn. According to the official 
figures of 1920 for every automobile in Japan there were at 
least a hundred bicycles, and twenty jinrikishas or man-drawn 
carts for merchandise, compared with fifty horse-drawn carts 
and seven or eight ox-carts. Even now the proportions are not 
much different, although automobiles are more common there 
as everywhere. 

One of the most pleasant features of a ride in any Japanese 
city is the brightness and vivacity of the streets. I do not 
mean merely the multitude of gay banners above almost every 
business street, nor yet the colorful openness of the shops where 
one can see what is going on inside. I mean also the great 
variety in the style of dress. A man dressed in a grass hat and 
coat may be exchanging courteous bows with another dressed 
in ordinary European clothes and looking extremely well 
groomed. A much larger number, although dressed in Euro- 
pean style, have extremely baggy trousers while their shoes 
are much turned up at the toes from sitting on their knees 
on the floor. A far more attractive type of dress is the long 
kimono, or gown, restrained brown tones for young students, 


darker and more beautiful colors for the more conservative 
older men. Mingling freely among these more elegant types 
are the working people and coolies in tight trousers or bare- 
legged, and wearing short dark-blue smocks with large white 
designs implanted boldly between the shoulders. Some wear 
straw hats, of all descriptions, many are hatless, and some wear 
mushroom-like rain-shedders, like miniature umbrellas, some- 
times of black paper, sometimes of straw. But why try to 
describe the indescribable? Japan is in transition, and the 
Japanese are extremely sensible in permitting people to wear 
the dress that best fits their work. The coolie's tight trousers, 
bare legs, and bare shoulders are admirably adapted to his 
work. European clothes are all right for people who sit on 
chairs. If those same people want to sit on the floor, those who 
can afford it substitute kimonos for trousers and coats. And 
delightfully comfortable those kimonos are for an evening at 

Not all of Japan is changing. The women are almost uni- 
formly dressed in the old style regardless of the impracticable 
character of their kimonos with pillows behind and long sashes. 
The kimonos are so tight around the knees that walking is diffi- 
cult, the ten-foot sash wound around the waist is hot, and 
often has to be drawn much too tight in order to hold the full 
skirt out of the mud. But even if the women's dress is uniform 
in cut, it varies delightfully in color, and is wonderfully set off 
by the contrasts between the kimonos themselves and the 
pillows. Nevertheless, the dress _ of the Japanese is not what 
makes their streets so bright. The smiling faces of the men 
are what do it, the dainty charm of the women, and the delight- 
ful vivacity and merriment of the children. A race with such 
qualities has a tremendous asset. 

But look closer into the life of the Japanese. One is con- 
tinually puzzled to know just where to place these people. If 


one comes to them directly from China, they seem qulck ? alert 
and prompt. If one comes to them from America one is Im- 
pressed by the frequent delays, the apparent disregard for set 
hours. One sympathizes with the English clerk at Cook's of- 
fice in Yokohama: "Where do you think you are? You are 
not In America. It takes two days to get a letter eighteen miles 
from Yokohama to Tokyo." Yet at that same Yokohama one 
boards a trolley car as freely as at home. We Americans think 
that our street-car system Is the most highly developed in the 
world, but in many Japanese cities trams seem to be as numer- 
ous and as crowded as among us. Or one travels by train and 
quickly realizes that for so mountainous a country Japan has 
an extremely well developed and widely spread net of railways. 
A few things such as the disorderly way in which fruit skins, 
papers, and everything else are thrown on the floors, and a cer- 
tain lack of precision In the cleaning of corners and the repair 
of things like door knobs, give the critically minded foreigner a 
chance to gibe. But the Japanese trains are practically always 
on time much more so than ours, although they do not go so 
fast. All over Japan one has this same feeling of perfection 
in some respects, coupled with carelessness in others. 

In spite of what has just been said about greenness, no one 
can deny that while Japan Is green on top, it is bare under- 
neath. What I mean is typified by a beautiful garden in Tokyo, 
lovely with azaleas and Irises and shaded by pines and other 
trees. Stone paths wind among the trees and encircle a tiny Mil 
and a miniature lake most delightfully. So much Is crowded 
into half an acre that it might hold one's attention for hours. 
Nevertheless, the American or European misses our level turf 
with its cleancut edges. In place of turf he finds bits of bare 
ground, patches of moss and liverwort. The summers are good 
for the ranker kinds of vegetation, but much too constantly 
wet as well as warm to favor the growth of the finer types of 


grasses. That is one of the great reasons why domestic ani- 
mals of all kinds are relatively scarce in Japan, and why milk 
is such a luxury that it is sold in little bottles like ginger ale at 
the railway stations. 

The Japanese streets as well as the gardens seem unfinished 
to a European ; even in Tokyo there are only a few bits of side- 
walk, miles and miles of city streets show little hint of any plan 
to separate pedestrians and vehicles. The streets are dug up 
on every side and the majority are rough and have a disorderly 
look. Curiously enough, few people take much responsibility 
for the streets outside their own grounds, no matter how fine 
the grounds may be. Although the Japanese are proverbially 
of a public-spirited and artistic temperament, this does not 
seem to apply to public streets, public conveyances, or any- 
thing public. Love of beauty is not love of order. Among the 
Japanese the love of beauty sticks out everywhere, but the love 
of order is far more highly developed in England and Holland. 

In the Japanese factories the same characteristics stand out 
clearly. One is impressed by the extent to which the factory 
system has developed, at least so far as the cotton and silk in- 
dustries are concerned. Yet one constantly feels that the exact 
mechanical side of manufacturing is not the point in which 
the Japanese excel. They can copy other people's machines 
to the letter, but they rarely invent anything themselves or 
even make changes to adapt other people's machinery more 
perfectly to their own uses. 

On the other hand, when it comes to social agencies such as 
day nurseries for children, dormitories for working girls, public 
libraries, dispensaries and the like, one feels that the Japanese 
are in their element. Among them, as a sociologist would put 
it, the social instinct is very highly developed. Yet curiously 
enough, even in their most up-to-date bits of work, such as a 
well-equipped hospital connected with an industrial plant, the 


sort of carelessness which goes with the artistic temperament 
is often apparent. The basins in the operating rooms are often 
broken and rusty where the enamel has chipped off; there is 
dirty water in some of them, and in genera! there is a certain 
lack of finish and precision. 

Of course I recognize that similar deficiencies occur in every 
country. The point is that while in some countries they im- 
press even the casual traveler, in others one does not think 
of them, although other deficiencies may be glaring. In Hol- 
land, England and Sweden one rarely thinks of this particular 
type of deficiency, whereas in India, Turkey and Mexico it is 
glaringly evident, while in southern Italy and the northern, 
tropical part of Australia it is evident to a milder degree, as in 
Japan. Perhaps the whole thing may be summed up by saying 
that the English, Dutch and Swedes possess in high degree, and 
the Japanese only in low degree, the quality which enabled the 
character in PINAFORE to sing: 

" I polished up the handle so carefullee 
That now I am the ruler of the Queen's navee." 

The explanation of the Japanese deficiencies in orderliness 
and in the quality which keeps things in good repair is often 
said to lie in training. The Japanese, so the argument runs, 
have only recently learned to use machinery, modern sanita- 
tion, modem transportation, and the like. Therefore they have 
not yet learned to take care of their tools. This explanation 
does not seem satisfactory. When the English and Dutch had 
had only sixty or even twenty years of modern industrial de- 
velopment, the newness of the tools and methods certainly did 
not prevent them from being just as neat and tidy and or- 
derly as they are now. It seems to me that the explanation lies 
mainly, and perhaps equally, in two things: first, the artistic 
and social temperament of the Japanese, the origin of which I 


shall not attempt to explain; and, second, their comparative 
lack of physical vigor due to the wide prevalence of anaemia 
and other minor ailments. 

Few people realize the extent to which the capacity of a na- 
tion is tied up with the number of illnesses and the death rate. 
Even in June an inordinate number of the Japanese, especially 
the children, suffer from colds and running noses. Among civi- 
lized nations few have so high a death rate as Japan. The 
average there, since 1900, has been above twenty per thousand 
practically all the time, and in many years has risen above 
twenty-one, especially from 1916 onward. It is often said that 
this is due to the increase of manufacturing and the movement 
of the population to the cities. That, however, can scarcely 
be the explanation, for in countries like Australia and the 
United States the relative growth of the cities has been greater 
than in Japan, but the death rate has fallen. Moreover, the 
manufacturing population is still relatively small in Japan. 
Even if the death rate among factory operatives has doubled 
or trebled since 1900, it would scarcely account for the ap- 
parent rise in the general death rate. The fact seems to be 
that aside from a few countries like Spain, Hungary and Chile, 
Japan has the worst health among the comparatively advanced 
nations, and it is almost unique in showing no apparent de- 
cline in the death rate. 

Three of the main reasons for Japan's high death rate are: 
(i) the unbalanced diet; (2-) the great density of population; 
and (3) the unfavorable summer climate. The great deficiency 
of the diet is the excess of rice, which must form eighty or 
ninety per cent of the food of millions of people. As to density 
of population, it is a well-established fact, that the death rates 
in cities and in dense populations are higher than in rural dis- 
tricts or sparsely populated regions. Japan has so many peo- 
ple that whenever a child is born, it is almost essential that 


somebody die to make room. Such conditions mean that 
major diseases, and likewise minor ailments of all descriptions^ 
are correspondingly common, and that people's energy is con- 
stantly sapped by disease. 

The heat and humidity of the summer are probably as im- 
portant as a poor diet and overpopulation in sapping the 
strength of the Japanese. Perhaps the strongest evidence of 
this is the relation between the birth rate and death rate at dif- 
ferent seasons, as I have shown in Civilization and Climate. 
In order to understand the effect of the climate on the births, 
let us take the month of conception. In June, when the stimu- 
lating effect of the beautiful spring weather reaches its cul- 
mination, the average daily number of conceptions which gave 
rise to living children was 574 during the years from 1901 to 
1910. The corresponding number of deaths was only 233. 
Three months later, in September, when the hot humid sum- 
mer had produced its maximum effect, the conceptions that re- 
sulted in living children fell to an average of only 311, whereas 
the deaths rose to 317. In others words, the summers are so 
debilitating that the Japanese have not the strength to pro- 
duce children. If they had to endure the summer climate all 
the year, their numbers would apparently diminish, instead 
of increasing at the rate of half a million a year ? as is now 
the case. 

Thanks to their diet and the summer climate, most of the 
Japanese feel more or less wilted from the end of June to the 
early part of September, nearly three months. When people 
feel physically inert, especially if they have the artistic tem- 
perament, it is extremely easy to leave things at loose ends 
and to be careless about all sorts of little details. When good 
weather returns in the fall, It takes months to get over the 
physical effects of the bad summer. It Is doubtful whether 
these effects are ever completely neutralized. Moreover^ If 


physical inertia causes people to form the habit of being care- 
less during part of the year, the habit is apt to persist indef- 
initely. Thus the climate and diet of Japan, when taken in 
conjunction with the artistic and social temperament, help 
greatly in explaining why the Japanese fail to rise to European 
standards in orderliness, precision and mechanical accuracy, 
although rising above the European standards in courtesy, love 
of beauty, and social responsiveness. Yet bear in mind that 
in orderliness and so forth as well as in energy the Japanese 
stand farther ahead of the Chinese than we stand ahead of 

It is harder to draw a picture of China than of Japan. That 
huge country is so diverse that it has all sorts of climate and 
scenery. In the far west eternally snowclad mountains display 
peak after peak which far surpasses Fuji in height if not in 
symmetry. Massive plateaus, snowclad for more than half the 
year, present vast stretches of grassland in summer, or of 
gravel scantily clothed with a little vegetation. To the north 
of China, as well as to the west, lie vast deserts, among the 
largest and most intense that the world can boast. In some 
of them, as in Chinese Turkestan or Sinkiang, waves of pink- 
ish sand yellowish near the borders extend for hundreds 
of miles, rising in line after line to heights of anywhere from 
five to five hundred feet. Such deserts are not the most com- 
mon kind; still greater areas consist of scores or even hun- 
dreds of miles of gravel, silt and clay laid down one after the 
other as turbulent rushing rivers debouch from the mountains, 
spread widely in many finger-like branches, and are compelled 
to flow more and more slowly by reason of the gentler slopes of 
the lowlands. Sometimes the water of a single river spreads 
out over hundreds of square miles at the acme of the summer 
floods, provided the snow on the great mountains has been espe- 
cially abundant. The clays, in turn may extend almost level 


for hundreds of barren miles, or they may be eroded into 
fantastic tables separated by steepsided troughs where the 
scouring winds have had free play for centuries. Sometimes 
the clays are interbedded with salt and gypsum, in which case 
we infer that they represent the deposits of lakes that have now 
disappeared because of increasing aridity. Sometimes the beds 
of the old lakes are visible in the form of great plains of white, 
gleaming salt broken into rough masses like the waves of a 
choppy sea, as at Lopnor. 

The sand and the salt of the great deserts are almost unin- 
habited, but the gravel and clay, as well as the plateaus, are 
the home of nomads like the Mongols who dwell in round felt 
tents and wander in regular circuits with their camels, horses 
and sheep in the lower deserts, or like the Tibetans and Khir- 
ghiz in the high plateaus. But why do we describe the homes 
of such people? They are not Chinese. No, but they are an 
essential part of the cultural area which centers in the rich 
deltaic plains near the coast. All through the ages they have 
sent their overflow outward into China and thus have pro- 
foundly molded Chinese history and differentiated China from 

Even if we confine ourselves to China Proper and southern 
Manchuria, which is as much Chinese as any other part, the 
contrasts are far more extreme than in Japan. In the north the 
traveler may bear away a strong impression of bitterly cold 
winters, and of a mantle of snow in which the cart-wheels 
creak complainingly while clouds of vapor rise from the tug- 
ging horses. Or perchance one thinks of a bitterly cold wind, 
well down toward zero, sweeping remorselessly across bare 
open plains and bearing a miserable, irritating load of dust 
from the desert. That is the kind of dust which in Shensi and 
Shansi has accumulated to a depth of scores of feet and forms 
the famous loess. Japan has cold weather in the far north 


and on the high mountains, and Its mountains have dep snows, 
but orange trees grow where most of the Japanese live, and 
there is nothing comparable to the dry, dusty, bitterly cold 
winds of North China. In summer, on the contrary, the air 
all over China is warm and moist, even warmer than in Japan, 
but not so persistently damp. Yet when rain does fall heavily, 
it is even more severe than in Japan. Think what it means 
when twenty inches fall in as many days. But in an ordinary 
summer the rain is merely heavy enough to cause everything 
to be delightfully green. Then China like Japan becomes a 
land of gardens and crops. Millions of people may be seen 
wading in water half way to the knees, bending at the waist, 
hour after hour, day after day, as they stick the pale green 
rice seedlings into the watery mud, or plowing with cattle in 
the north and with water buffaloes farther south where most 
of the rice is grown. As the Chinese work in the fields they give 
the same general impression as the Japanese indomitable pa- 
tience, eternal industry, and unvarying economy in utilizing 
every scrap of ground, every scrap of fertilizer, every hour of 
the day. 

The Chinese, even more than the Japanese, may move slowly 
compared with Europeans and Americans, they may leave 
things in disorder to an extent that tries our nerves, or at least 
our esthetic sensibilities, but both races certainly do work and 
save. In that respect they display the most highly developed 
qualities of the rice-raising type of culture, carrying them to a 
higher pitch than anyone else. Watch that plot of ground in 
Chekiang province south of the Yangtse with its spring crop of 
wheat, barley or beans, its summer crop of rice, and its winter 
crop of rape to be eaten as greens when young and tender. See 
how the living encroach upon the plots allotted to the dead 
leaving first a space three feet by seven feet in the midst of a 
cultivated field, then whittling it down with each plowing until 


it becomes two by five, and one by three. Finally, In some dis- 
tricts, the grave is represented by a little pottery cylinder six 
inches in diameter and so small that it merely occupies the 
space that must anyhow be left between most kinds of plants 
in order that they may get light and air. By and by the cylin- 
der will be shattered by the plow and not replaced. That is 
how ancestor-worshipping China manages to find space for the 
living instead of the dead. If all the graves were allowed to re- 
main full size, most of China would now be a graveyard. 

In spite of many resemblances North China makes a very 
different impression from Japan. In Japan, on a clear day, the 
mountains are always in sight so near that they can scarcely; 
be forgotten; the rivers are merely small streams which usually^ 
cut little figure in the life of the inhabitants; in China the plains 
seem boundless, and the swells and hollows are so slight that 
one can scarcely detect them. But what is that line of hills off 
there in the distance? Hills? Oh, no, that is the river, in a 
mile or two we will climb up to it. Here we are on top of the 
embankment; behind us a slope leads down to the plain where 
the people dwell; in front, almost at our very feet, a boiling, 
swirling, yellow river gurgles past; if the rains keep on it may 
soon overtop the bank whereon we stand. 

In the Yangtse region the plain is more frequently broken by 
hills and the rivers do not flow at such high levels as in the 
Huang region and that of its southern neighbor, the Hwai. Yet 
all through the lowland coastal sections of China one is op- 
pressed by the flatness of the plains, their nearness to the water, 
and the degree to which they are everywhere intersected by 
waterways. One sees it at Nanking on the Yangtse, at Shang- 
hai and the neighboring cities, at Fuchow, even though moun- 
tains rise close to the lowland, at Amoy, Canton and a hundred 
other places. Because the Chinese plains are so flat and so 
interlaced with sluggish water-courses navigation by means of 


small boats Is more highly developed than in almost any other, 
large area. Rice culture helps to bring this about not merely 
because it demands many canals, but because it floods the lands 
and makes it difficult to maintain roads and the innumerable 
bridges that they would require. 

South of the Yangtse the resemblances to Japan are greater 
than to the north, even though North China lies in the Japanese 
latitudes. The reason is that North China has very cold win- 
ters and a long dry season coincident with the cooler months. 
Japan and South China are alike in having enough rain and 
heat to keep the fields green practically all the year; they are 
also alike in their intimate mixture of mountains and little 
plains and in the abundance of trees wherever nature is left to 
her own devices. Nevertheless even in South China the Mils 
are sadly denuded of trees, whereas in Japan this is rarely the 
case. Even as far south as Amoy, close to the tropic of Cancer, 
many a rough Chinese hillside, that might furnish abundant 
fuel and timber if protected, is so barren that the Chinese grub 
up the grass by the roots in order to get any fuel whatever. 
Thereby, of course, they make matters far worse, for the rains 
wash away the finer soil, and the result is little better than a 
desert. This is due partly to human folly, but even in South 
China long periods of dry weather in the cooler months place 
the trees under a greater handicap than in Japan. 

Another condition wherein Japan resembles South China is* 
the coarseness of the native grasses. This may sound like a 
small matter, but it largely explains why the work of preparing 
the fields and of carrying loads is performed by human labor 
more fully in Japan and South China than in any other regions 
where the degree of civilization is equally high. The same wet 
warm climate which makes rice culture far more common than 
In the north also causes the grasses to be so tough and watery 
that they provide very poor forage. Rice straw is indeed abun- 


dant, but it Is not much better. The water buffalo Is the only 
beast of burden that really thrives on such a diet, but he is of 
little use outside the rice fields. Other beasts of burden can be 
raised only at such great expense that human labor is cheaper. 
In North China a better type of grasses, together with the straw 
of wheat and barley and the stalks of millet provide food that 
is good for horses, donkeys and ordinary cattle. 

In order to sum up our ideas of the human geography of the 
Far East, let us think of Japan, South China and North China 
as forming a series arranged in the order of the excellence of 
their environment, their degree of progress, and many other 
essential qualities. These other qualities include the size of 
the people, the Japanese being the smallest. They also include 
freedom from extreme fluctuations of prosperity, especially 
those dependent upon crop failures and famines; friendliness, 
cheerfulness, and willingness to help others; readiness to adopt 
new customs and to throw off harmful ones such as f ootbinding 
and hara-kiri; ingenuity and originality in making inventions 
and developing new ideas; political sagacity and ability to run 
a government in which the people have some part, even if only 
a little. In all these respects Japan now leads the way; South 
China comes second; and North China brings up the rear. 



MANY Americans and Europeans feel that the finest Chinese 
rival or surpass the Japanese in real ability. Whether this is 
true or not I cannot say, but great ability is by no means rare; 
one finds it among hundreds of thousands of Chinese as well as 
Japanese. Why, then, does China make progress so much more 
slowly than Japan? Why does footbinding persist in North 
China although rare in South China? Why has Japan a pro- 
gressive industrial system; South China, especially the Yangtse 
Valley, the beginnings of such a system; and North China al- 
most none of it? Why do great hordes of unemployed people 
present a scowling, truculent attitude in North China, in con- 
trast to the smiling friendliness of happily occupied people in 
South China and extraordinary charm of manner in Japan? 
Why does North China consistently stand for reaction in gov- 
ernment, religion, industry, commerce and social usages ; while 
Japan leads in these respects, and South China hangs between 
the two? All these and a hundred other matters suggest deep- 
seated differences which the science of human geography can 
help to explain. 

Here as in so many other problems, one school of thinkers 
turns at once to historical causes, to institutions, to the ideas 
evolved by the leaders, and to the type of training given to the 
young. The feudal system in Japan, the modifications of 
Buddhism introduced by Shintoism with its cult of loyalty, the 
greater contact of Japan with Europe, the conservative tend- 
encies of Confucianism and ancestor worship in China, the 



slow development of foreign trade, the paternalistic system of 
government, the lack of a sense of personal responsibility are 
given as causes of the contrasts that we have just outlined. 
True, but back of them certain great facts of geography pro- 
vide a background which makes it much harder for the North 
Chinese than for the South Chinese to be progressive, and 
harder for the South Chinese than for the Japanese. If we 
would understand the problem aright, the proper method is first 
to analyse these physical factors and their effects; then we can 
rightly evaluate the social, political, religious, commercial, in- 
dustrial and psychological factors. The trouble with much of 
our thinking is that we begin to construct our historical houses 
at the roof, and forget that there are any foundations, walls 
and beams. 

It is very important to understand China and Japan aright. 
Together they contain fully a quarter of all the people in the 
world; both of them, especially China, are in a stage where 
development may be extremely rapid; our trade with them has 
grown by leaps and bounds faster than with almost anyone 
else. Even if we combine South America with the whole 
of Africa and Australia, our total trade with those three 
continents only slightly exceeds our trade with Japan and 

One of the most essential steps in understanding these highly 
important countries is to get rid of two widely prevalent mis- 
conceptions. The first is that China and Japan are backward 
because they have long been isolated. But from what have 
they been isolated? From Europe, doubtless, but the Euro- 
peans have been equally isolated from them. From India, but 
Europe has been still more so. They have certainly not been 
isolated from each other except by their own choice, nor from 
Chosen and Indo-China. They have been able to reach the 
East Indies and India more easily than the Scandinavians have 


been able to reach the Mediterranean. It is only because we 
think in terms of European culture that we suppose China and 
Japan to have been isolated. 

Take a map of the world. Suppose that you know nothing 
whatever about the civilization of different parts. Bear in 
mind that communication by water is far more easy and cheap 
than by land. Remember that though an occasional tropical 
typhoon is worse than any storm on the oceans in higher lati- 
tudes, the tropical oceans are free from storms many months 
in the year. Now put your finger on the region most easily in 
touch with a large number of other lands where the possibilities 
of development are great. Do you pick out Sicily in the cen- 
ter of the Mediterranean, or Borneo in the center of the mar- 
velous East Indian archipelago with its fringe of continents? 
Or does your choice lie between Denmark and Chosen, with 
Cuba as another candidate? If you take into account the 
great river systems, some point like Amsterdam, Shanghai or 
New Orleans may get the palm. But certainly for mere acces- 
sibility from other regions, regardless of their civilization, it 
is hard to see how Europe has an advantage over eastern Asia. 
If lack of contact with Europe is the reason for the relative 
backwardness of the Oriental countries, why is it that India, 
after its long and intimate contact with England, Java after its 
similar contact with the Dutch, and Indo-China where the 
French have long been established, are so much less advanced 
than Japan where contact with foreigners has been far less 
common until about two generations ago? 

The second misconception is that Japan has undergone a 
unique transformation since Admiral Perry first sailed up to 
Yokohama in 1853. Of course Japan has changed enormously, 
but not from an uncivilized to a civilized nation. Up to the 
time of the coming of the foreigners, Japan was indeed exclu- 
sive, but she was by no means stagnant. Read Japanese his- 


tory and you will find that little by little, for one or two thou- 
sand years, Japan had been gradually evolving. She had not 
gone backward as had China; although she had had her ups 
and downs, she was still going ahead; even if no foreigners had 
come to her, the chances are that new developments would have 
taken place. So far as real civilization is concerned, Japan in 
1860, let us say, was almost as advanced as England in 1760 
when the Hanoverian kings were dominating her. She did 
indeed begin her industrial revolution later than western Eu- 
rope. Therefore that revolution produced a more sudden 
change than in the West, but Japan was ready for the change 
and that is why she made it. In China a similar change has 
hung fire, and in India it has never been made except as Euro- 
peans have enforced it in spite of native indifference. 

To return now to our main problem, even if European civil- 
ization had never introduced a complicating factor, Japan 
would apparently have been an energetic, progressive nation 
with its present qualities of love of beauty, loyalty, and reli- 
ance upon the advice of others. South China would have been 
less advanced than Japan, but progressive compared with 
North China; while North China would have been what most 
of it is today, a land poorer than either of the others, inhabited 
by people who are more conservative, less cheerful, less fond 
of art. Round about the borders of North China would have 
been a fourth area peopled by nomads with the boldness, physi- 
cal energy and proneness to wander and plunder which are 
commonly characteristic of such nomads. The coming of Eu- 
ropeans has introduced a new factor, but it has not changed the 
general situation. 

Three physical conditions have played an important part in 
bringing about this situation. The first is that Japan is an 
island. This has acted as a selective factor upon immigrants; 
it has enabled Japan to maintain a high degree of isolation and 


so develop its culture undisturbed; and it has influenced the 

In studying the effect of the insular position of Japan upon 
the migrations which determined the original character of 
the Japanese, we have no exact facts and can merely reason 
from analogy. The importance of migrations in altering racial 
character Is only beginning to be understood. Practically every 
migration is selective; the selection may be good or bad. When 
criminals or contract laborers are sent to a colony the selec- 
tion is good for the home country, but bad for the colony. 
The same is true if the poor of the cities have their expenses 
paid to some far-off colony by the government, or are helped to 
go by steamship agents seeking to fill their ships. Although 
such types of migration have been common in recent genera- 
tions, they are the rare exception when history as a whole is 
considered. In most migrations people either move from one 
region to another on their own initiative, or under compulsion. 
The longer and harder the migration, the more certain it is to 
be selective. This is true even if all the people of a community 
migrate together. The selection occurs in this way. No group 
of people, especially no primitive group, can migrate far with- 
out encountering physical hardships and human hostility. 
When the English first settled in Jamestown, nearly nine-tenths 
of the original settlers perished within the first few years; at 
Plymouth, half died during the first winter. When the Ar- 
menians were driven from their homes by the Turks after the 
Great War, three-fourths or more are estimated to have per- 
ished before they finally settled in other lands. The fatigues 
of the journey, the hunger which is sure to come, the suffer- 
ings from cold and heat, the ravages of enemies, the dangers 
from flood, storm, river, or ocean, all take their toll of lives. 
The first to die are the physically weak, especially those who 


have organic diseases. With them perish the mentally deficient, 
and those who are so stupid thatthey exasperate their com- 
panions, or their enemies when taken captive. 

The selective action of migration applies not only to the 
physique and intellect of the migrants, but to their tempera- 
ment. A despondent temperament, the tendency to see only 
the difficulties and to hark back to the old home and its de- 
lights are great handicaps to survival. People of that kind are 
much less able to endure hardship than are those who look 
ahead courageously and plan for a happy future. The spirit 
of curiosity, on the contrary, buoys people up, while those to 
whom hardship is a welcome challenge may even rejoice in 
the chance to put their metal to the utmost test. The woman 
who is charming enough to make the men help her, and who 
is at the same time a good sport and a good comrade, is the 
one for whom shelter and food are provided, whose burdens are 
carried, and whose children are well fed. The baby which 
gaily laughs and tries to do its bit, or who simply begs for 
food in an endearing way instead of crying and making itself 
a nuisance is the one to whom the men are attracted, whom 
they are willing to carry in their arms, and for whom they are 
willing to sacrifice their own food. All these types of selec- 
tion become more and more potent the longer and harder the 

All this appears to apply to the early inhabitants of Japan, 
just as it applies to England, Iceland and New Zealand. Each 
of these islands in the days when it received its original popu- 
lation, was the goal of a long and difficult migration. It may 
not have been very hard to cross the water from the mainland 
to either Japan or England, but it is highly probable that the 
people who finally did so had previously been battling their 
way toward the coast through all sorts of hardships and hostil- 


ity. It is likewise probable that it was only the bolder, healthier 
and more adventurous spirits who finally crossed the sea to 
the new land, especially among the women. 

If such people reach a land that is relatively uninhabited, or 
if they drive out the old inhabitants without mingling with them 
to any great extent, as appears to have happened when the 
Japanese drove out the Ainus, they have a great advantage. 
The stupid, the weak, the cowardly, the conservative, have been 
eliminated. Like must marry like, and the good qualities of 
the migrants are preserved. This is especially likely to happen 
if further migration is checked, as is notably illustrated in Ice- 
land. After the first migrants have reached a new land and 
civilization has become established, further migration becomes 
relatively easy so that the degree of selection is not high. In 
Japan we do not know the extent of later immigration, but we 
are sure that there was very little for many centuries. Thus 
it appears probable that the island character of Japan not only 
exerted a highly beneficial selection on the early settlers, 
but provided comparative isolation so that the original qualities 
of the first settlers have been preserved, and civilization has 
been able to develop normally without the interruptions and 
set-backs due to repeated invasions and immigration. 

In later times that same island character, together with the 
highly mountainous nature of the interior, has probably been 
an advantage because so large a portion of the Japanese have 
been compelled to live near the sea coast. That appears to be 
a real advantage from the point of view of health and energy, 
but it is also an advantage because such people become fisher- 
men and go down to the sea in ships. In Japan this has been 
particularly easy because of the enormous number of bays and 
small islands arising from the drowned character of the shores. 
Fishing is a hard and dangerous mode of life. The coasts of 
Japan are stormy enough so that frequent accidents are bound 


to occur. The proportion of the Japanese who have been sea- 
faring people, and the percentage who have lost their lives, 
have probably been large enough to have a real effect in weed- 
ing out the men who are less alert in mind and. body, less willing 
to obey at the word of command, and less able to take care of 
themselves in an emergency. 

Abundant figures show that in maritime countries the death 
rate among young men at the ages when they first go to sea Is 
very high, being higher than among young women of corre- 
sponding ages by about seventy-five per cent in Iceland and 
twenty-five per cent in Norway. In Japan, although no figures 
are available, there is every reason to think that similar con- 
ditions still prevail and were far more prevalent in earlier days 
when manufacturing had not developed, and fishing was an in- 
dustry of relatively greater importance. To be sure, the selec- 
tive effect upon the fishermen in Japan is by no means so great 
as in Iceland or Norway because the waters are not so cold and 
stormy, and voyages are not so long. Nevertheless, so far 
as this was a factor, it must have tended to make the Japanese 
alert and competent. Thus an initial selection of immigrants, 
and a later selection in every generation have combined with 
the effect of the island in maintaining isolation, thus permitting 
the Japanese to evolve their own culture, and maintain the 
characteristics with which they were originally endowed. 

The next point to be considered is the direct effect of the 
climate upon health. This may be discussed briefly. Japan, 
as we have seen, is the only part of Asia which has a genuine 
cyclonic climate. Because of the long, warm, wet summers the 
conditions there are not so stimulating as in the North Sea 
region of Europe or in the northern United States; nor do they 
equal those on the Pacific Coast of the United States, and in 
New Zealand and the extreme southeastern part of Australia. 
Nevertheless, even in summer the monotony of the heat and 


dampness in Japan Is relieved by glorious days of blue sky and 
strong, cool winds following a storm. In winter, on the other 
hand, the climate is in many respects almost Ideal cool 
enough and stormy enough to be bracing, but not to do harm 
to health. 

Turning now to China, one would expect the north to be 
more progressive than the south. Other regions within 30 to 
40 of the equator are almost invariably more progressive than 
the neighboring regions lying in latitudes 25 to 30. Yet in 
China, as we have already seen, the south is progressive, the 
north conservative. This arises partly from the peculiar cli- 
matic conditions. Although South China is distinctly tropical 
during the summer, its winter climate is better than that of al- 
most any other region of similar latitude. This is because the 
extremely low temperature of Siberia causes strong cold winds 
to blow outward. These sometimes bring frosts as far south 
as Canton, and make even Hongkong on its island quite chilly. 
Nevertheless, the temperature is rarely low enough to produce 
serious consequences. The result is that although the sum- 
mers are debilitating, the winters are stimulating; the only 
trouble being that they do not last long enough. 

In North China the summers are nearly as bad as in 
South China, but nothing like so long. The winters, on the 
other hand, are very severe; temperatures below zero being 
frequent. The worst feature is the strong, dry, dust-laden 
winds. Numerous studies, as we have already explained, show 
that -in winter as well as during all except the very hot weather 
of summer, continued dry weather is distinctly less healthful 
than that which is moister and more variable. Great dustiness 
added to great dryness is especially harmful. In North China 
the handicap thus arising is so heavy that the healthfulness and 
stimulating qualities are scarcely greater than in the south. 

Let us turn next to the indirect effects of the Chinese climate. 


Here the relation of North China to the deserts and plateaus 
farther north and west comes into play. In earlier chapters we 
have discussed the problem of historic pulsations of climate. 
We have seen that a change toward aridity may drive the peo- 
ple of the deserts outward in great migrations. A change to- 
ward greater rainfall with heavier snows may produce a similar 
effect upon people like the Tibetans who live in high plateaus. 

The part of the world where climatic pulsations appear to 
have had most effect upon men during historic times is the dry 
regions of Asia from the borders of Manchuria westward to 
the Mediterranean. New and highly convincing facts along 
this line have lately been added to our store of knowledge by 
Professors Berkey and Morris as a result of their work with 
the Andrews' expeditions for the American Museum of Natural 
History. Their work, like that of their predecessors, makes it 
clear that during historic times a constant series of climatic 
pulsations large and small has taken place, and has driven the 
people of the deserts and plateaus outward again and again. 
The Great Wall of China, as we have seen, was built some- 
thing more than two hundred years before Christ in order to 
check such migrations at a time of rapidly increasing aridity. 
But no human wall is able to check the forces of nature. 
Whenever their land has been unusually dry, the nomads have 
swooped down upon China in great hordes, or else have trickled 
through the wall in small bodies time after time. 

One result of this is that North China has been ruled by 
foreign dynasties during practically half of the last two thou- 
sand years. The regular sequence in Chinese history is, first, 
a period of domination by northern or western foreigners like 
the Manchus; then a period of anarchy like the early decades 
of the present century; and finally a southern dynasty. After 
a period of quiet, which may last decades or centuries, another 
invasion occurs, coming from the north like that of the Mon- 


gols, or from the west like that which established a Tibetan 

Such migrations are bound to have a great effect upon the 
racial composition and social organization of the people. In- 
stitutions, customs, cities which have grown up during long 
periods of painful effort may be overthrown and perhaps de- 
stroyed in a day. Then a long, slow process of re-building has 
to begin once more. In addition to this, such migrations almost 
always dispossess a considerable number of people, and drive 
them forth as wanderers. 

It is probably no exaggeration to say that during the last two 
thousand years, hundreds of millions of people in North China 
have been compelled to change their homes by reason of migra- 
tions from the north and west. Whether the people who move 
out are of higher or lower caliber than those who corne in, is 
open to question. The invaders on the whole appear to have 
been relatively competent, for pastoral nomads must be 
vigorous, alert and resourceful in order to survive. They must 
possess the power of leadership and cooperation or else they 
are eliminated in the struggle for existence. That is one rea- 
son why nomadic invaders coming into China or almost any 
other country are generally able to impose themselves as a rul- 
ing class. It it quite probable, however, that the people whom 
they displace are among the most able of the former population. 
In the fighting it is naturally the brave and courageous who are 
killed, while the cowardly run away and hide. Then when the 
new people have imposed their rule and taken the land into 
their possession, it is the old landowners and aristocracy who 
are most likely to be forced to wander away to other parts of 
the world. Such seems to have been the case in China. The 
wanderers went south into the Yangtse Valley. Some went up 
the Yangtse to the province of Szechuan in the famous Red 
Basin, and others southward into the hilly country as far as 


Canton and the coast. Such migrations seem to be the main 
reason why the Chinese of the south are more purely Chinese 
than those of the north. They are also a main reason for the 
progressive and competent quality of the Chinese of the 

The last physical factor which seems to have differentiated 
North China from South China, and still more from Japan, is 
famines. North China is peculiarly unfortunate because it 
combines highly irregular climatic conditions with a topog- 
raphy extremely favorable to floods. The climatic difficulty 
is that the rainfall is extremely seasonal and extremely irregu- 
lar. In North China most of the rain comes during the months 
from June to September. During that season it falls heavily. 
Because of the long dry winters the mountains, even if left 
alone by man, are only imperfectly covered with vegetation 
and do not hold the rain very well. Since the mountains are 
steep, the rain runs off still more rapidly. Thus even under 
the best conditions, the floods are likely to be extreme. The 
Chinese have made the matter much worse by ruthlessly cut- 
ting off the trees. Thus the annual floods during the sum- 
mer are always of large dimensions. Moreover, the water is 
very muddy and therefore deposits large amounts of material 
In its bed as it flows through the lowlands. 

Normally as soon as a river raises its bed, it breaks loose 
and flows somewhere else. That is what makes alluvial plains 
so vast and so flat. As soon as the rivers are confined arti- 
ficially by dikes, the stream beds rise higher and higher, and 
the dikes have to be raised accordingly; as has happened to our 
own Mississippi. There seems to be no visible end to dis- 
asters like the flood of 1927 unless we provide definite means 
whereby the river, after a certain length of time, may change its 
course and build up some other part of its flood plain. In 
China the situation is rendered worse because the summer rains 


are sometimes tremendously heavy, so heavy that they actu- 
ally flood the lower depressions in the gently swelling plains 
to a depth of several feet even if the rivers do not spill over. 
Then when the rivers break loose, the conditions are inde- 

During the year 1927, the United States was horrified by a 
tremendous flood of the Mississippi River which inundated 
twenty thousand square miles, or as much as Massachusetts, 
Connecticut and New Jersey combined. It damaged property 
to an extent estimated at anywhere from two hundred million 
to a billion dollars. Worst of all it drove nearly three-quarters 
of a million people from their homes, and compelled six hun- 
dred thousand of them to depend on the Red Cross. Anyone 
who read the papers at that time knows how huge the calamity 
seemed. They know how the resources of the whole nation 
were called upon. The Red Cross sent its people there; the 
Army was ordered to help; the national government sent agents 
and so did state governments. There was a strong demand for 
a special session of Congress in order to provide relief for the 
sufferers. When the flood was over, the population in the af- 
flicted towns was different from what it had been before. In 
most cases it was smaller, for some of the people did not return 
to their old homes. Just what the ultimate selective effect will 
be is not yet clear. In some cases the industrial workers in the 
small cities failed to return. Having found work elsewhere 
they saw nothing to tempt them back, for the industries in the 
flood area were prostrate. Most of the small landowners ap- 
parently went back, as did a large part of the huge army of 
colored tenants. In the case of the large landowners, however, 
the case is not so clear. The men indeed, went back, at least 
temporarily, to get their land under cultivation once more, but 
a well-to-do family which had been driven from its home and 
had become established elsewhere is likely to remain away for 


some time and perhaps permanently rather than run the risk 
of again enduring the horrors of flood. 

If the Mississippi Flood had occurred in China, it would have 
been considered a small affair. America would scarcely have 
heard of it. Those who have studied the problem say that 
somewhere in China, mainly in North China, a flood which af- 
fects as many people as our Mississippi flood of 1927 occurs 
every two or three years. Once in a decade or so floods afflict 
millions of people, the number sometimes running up to thirty, 
forty or fifty millions. Suppose that our Mississippi flood had 
been ten times as bad as it was; then it would have been no 
worse for us than the Chinese floods are for them. But the 
poor Chinese have no powerful government behind them; they 
cannot draw on the sympathy, wealth and active cooperation 
of the richest nation in the world; they have few railroads and 
no big fleet of power-driven river boats and launches to take 
care of them; only within a few years have they even had a 
Famine Relief Commission and a Red Cross run by foreigners. 

Even yet the full tale is not before us. China suffers from 
famines due not only to floods, but to droughts. A famine due 
to drought often arises not because of lack of rain, but because 
the rain comes too late to permit the crops to develop. Some- 
times such a drought may be followed by flood, and very often 
a drought one year is followed by a flood the next. Frequently 
the droughts last several years. Then a famine affects far 
larger areas than in the case of floods, so that sometimes a 
hundred million people suffer at one time. 

Space forbids us to enter Into all the ramifications of the 
effect of famines. In brief, the case is this. When a famine is 
due to drought, the people who hold a good economic position 
may not suffer for some time. The price of food goes up, but 
there is no sudden disaster. Those who are thrifty, economical 
and foresighted, suffer relatively little. Thus the selective 


effect of famines due to drought may be highly beneficial, for it 
weeds out the persons who are wasteful, who are so lacking in 
self-control that they eat up their supplies in a hurry, or who 
are unthrifty and fail to lay by as much as possible for the fu- 
ture. Such famines must also weed out a great many who are 
constitutionally weak in either body or mind. They likewise 
put a premium not only upon the ability to endure long periods 
of scanty food, but upon many fine qualities such as thrift and 

If this were the whole story, China's case might not be so 
bad. But in a dry famine which lasts several years and in most 
of the wet famines due to flood, the people of large areas are 
ultimately forced to leave their homes, no matter how thrifty, 
economical and well-to-do they may be. When that happens, a 
wholly different kind of selection appears to take place. Sup- 
pose such a famine had begun to rage in your district; your 
business was dead, your savings were yielding little or noth- 
ing; and prices were soaring. What would you do? If you 
are intelligent, you would probably say that the best thing to 
do is to get out while the going is good. Get ahead of the crowd 
and go far enough so that the crowd will never catch up. You 
might go to the city, thinking to get a job there before the 
crowd came and there were twenty applicants for every job. 
You might go to some distant province where there had been no 
flood or drought. These courses are just the ones that the 
more intelligent and thrifty Chinese pursue. Of course the 
Chinese are bound to their homes more strongly than we are; 
their ancestor worship takes them back in a way unknown 
among us. Nevertheless, the Chinese migrate in vast numbers 
and for long distances. During every one of the greater fam- 
ines, millions of people wander forth, some to go purposively 
to places where they can get a living, others to wander hope- 
lessly hither and thither like flotsam on a stormy sea. 


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When a famine is over, who comes back to the old homes? 
The first to come are the poorest. They have not found work 
in the cities; they have lacked the wisdom and initiative to go 
far away; their one great yearning is to get back to the land 
that has fed them. But often their land has become salty by 
reason of the evaporation of the water from it, or sandy be- 
cause the river has deposited new material. Under any cir- 
cumstances, it is not likely at first to yield such good crops as 
formerly. Moreover, new houses have to be built and the diffi- 
culties of life are great. Therefore only the poorest and least 
competent who cannot do anything else bring back their fam- 
ilies immediately. Little by little the others return, but a cer- 
tain proportion who are especially skilled in handicrafts or 
otherwise, or who have gone far away, or feel well established 
in new and favorable positions, never come back. The most 
competent of all may indeed come back, for they are the large 
landowners. Naturally they do not abandon their property, 
even though they may leave their families in the cities for a 
while. Nevertheless, each great famine means the loss of some 
of the more competent people. Part of them re-enforce the 
cities, but the descendants of such people tend to die out 
because of high death rates and low birth rates which are char- 
acteristic of cities. Others strengthen distant regions such as 
the Red Basin of Sz^chuan or the southern regions where fam- 
ines are rare. But the poor famine regions tend more and more 
to be populated mainly by a vast mass of stupid and inefficient 
peasantry, controlled but not leavened by an efficient though 
small group of landowning aristocrats. 

Many other phases of this great problem are most fascinat- 
ing. Enough has been said, however, to show that geographic 
conditions go far toward explaining the present status of China 
and Japan. In both countries, but especially in Japan and 
South China, the rice-raising type of culture is the foundation, 


for there it reaches its highest development. Japan, by reason 
of its island character, has the advantage not only of a highly 
selected body of immigrants at first, but of relative freedom 
from immigration or disturbance so that the early qualities of 
activity, adaptability and initiative have been preserved. A 
climate much more invigorating than that of most parts of Asia 
has also helped in this direction. 

South China is handicapped by the fact that its climate is 
somewhat enervating, but because of the cool winters it is not 
so enervating as other climates in the same latitude. It has 
been the gainer through selective immigration arising not only 
by reason of barbaric invasions of the north, but by another 
product of climatic pulsations in the form of famines. 

North China has suffered terribly because it has been the 
world's greatest seat of famines. The famines may have made 
the people physically tough and mentally thrifty and economi- 
cal, but they have also caused an alarming proportion of them 
to be dull, conservative and inefficient by driving away those 
with the opposite qualities. They have thus tended to convert 
the population into a vast and incompetent peasantry with only 
a small sprinkling of competent, landowning aristocrats. 

And lastly, the desert regions of the cold plateaus have har- 
bored a nomadic population which has constantly been driven 
into China by climatic pulsations. How far or in what way 
such migrations have changed the character of the nomad popu- 
lation we do not know, but certainly the coming of the nomads 
has had a tremendous effect upon China, especially upon the 



IN our study of the earth's decrees, we have examined sev- 
eral types of human culture, each based upon some special as- 
pect of nature. In Europe we find still another, wheat culture, 
which culminates in the manufacturing type of civilization. In 
order to see just where this stands let us recall the nature of the 
other types. We began with the hunting and fishing type based 
solely on wild animals. It still prevails in vast regions, but 
only where the climate is as yet too cold, too dry, or too warm 
and moist to permit any other mode of life except fishing or 
mining. We then passed to pastoral nomadism, another form 
of human culture dependent solely upon animals, but upon 
those that have been domesticated. This prevails in enormous 
tracts where the climate favors an abundant growth of grass, 
but is too cool or dry for agriculture except in certain spots 
such as oases. Like the hunting type, it necessitates frequent 
migrations and thus dooms its people to a low stage of civiliza- 
tion. Equally fatal to progress is the low mode of tropical life 
known as hoe or tree culture, wherein people rely almost wholly 
upon the fruits of trees like the banana and coconut, or upon 
roots like the yam .which can be cultivated with a minimum of 
labor among the trees and bushes. This likewise occupies vast 
areas, so that these three lowest types, together with the unin- 
habited lands, claim fully two-thirds of the earth's land sur- 
face. All these are so handicapped by their environment that 
they have never produced anything which can really be called 



Above these in the scale of progress come four main types 
of culture based on cereals, millet in Africa, corn in pre-Colum- 
bian America, rice in southeastern Asia, and wheat in western 
Asia, Europe, and the middle latitudes of modern America. 
Each of these four cereals thrives best in a different physical 
environment so that the degree to which man is able to ad- 
vance varies greatly. We have already seen why people who 
raise rice stand far ahead of other tropical people. The raisers 
of corn likewise rose to a fairly high level in America before 
the days of the white man. They might have surpassed the rice 
people had they not been prevented from advancing into the 
best climates by reasons which we shall explain in the next 

The millet type of human culture has never achieved any- 
thing noteworthy. Millet includes a number of species; the 
sorghums, for example, are large and cornlike except that the 
small grains grow on the head instead of in ears; other less 
important types are smaller and wheatlike. One or another 
of these will grow in almost any moderately warm region, but 
millet assumes an important place only in regions where there 
is a long hot period and only a short or very irregular wet sea- 
son. Elsewhere people raise something else. In Africa millet 
is the staple crop of the border regions between the pastoral 
part of the Sudan and the more equatorial regions where hoe 
and tree culture prevail. It is also a main source of food on 
the southern margin of the tropical belt of Africa, where rain 
falls only for a short time when the sun is highest, and in cor- 
responding parts of the Indian Peninsula and in the parts of 
North China where a delay in the summer rains most fre- 
quently brings dangerous droughts. The millet people are 
especially handicapped not only because the millets are gener- 
ally less nutritious than the other major cereals and are raised 
mainly where the climate is unstimulating, but because the cli- 


mate is also especially unreliable. That indeed is the reason 
why millet is used, for if a sufficiency of rain is assured, some 
better crop is almost certain to be substituted. Thus wher- 
ever millet is the main crop, progress is almost always sub- 
ject to the heavy handicap of frequent and severe droughts 
which produce terrible famines, as we have already seen in 

Wheat culture presents quite a different situation, for in al- 
most every respect the regions where it thrives have peculiar 
advantages. Let us begin far back and examine the geographi- 
cal conditions which have moulded the progress of this type of 
culture from its primitive beginnings to its culmination in the 
modern industrial type of civilization. Wheat must not be con- 
sidered alone, for it is merely the best of a group of cereals all 
of which require the same methods of cultivation. All the oth- 
ers thrive in the climate best suited for wheat, but will grow 
well under certain conditions which are unfavorable for wheat. 
Thus barley and some of the smaller millets can be substituted 
for wheat in regions too dry for the better cereal. If the wheat 
farmer migrates into regions too cold for his old standby, he 
can cultivate rye or oats without having to change his methods 
to any appreciable extent. In places where the soil is poor, 
either barley or rye, according to the climate, can take the place 
of wheat. Thus as soon as people learned how to raise wheat 
or barley they possessed a technique which made it possible 
for them easily to make a living in vast areas of widely vary- 
ing types. In addition to this, wheat, barley and even rye can 
be grown as either winter or spring crops which greatly en- 
larges the climatic areas to which they are adapted. Wheat 
and barley are both natives of the Mediterranean type of cli- 
mate, wild wheat being now found in Palestine. Thus they 
are primarily adjusted to a climate where the seeds germinate 
when the autumn rains begin in September, October or Novem- 


ber, after the long dry summer. Although the growth of the 
seedlings is checked during the cooler months, it is by no means 
stopped, for frost and snow are only temporary. When the 
weather begins to become warm in the spring they make a 
rapid growth and mature their seed by the time the dry season 
conies on, which may be anywhere from April to June. Sup- 
pose that the seed which then ripens is not allowed to sprout 
in the rains of the following autumn, but is carried north to a 
climate where the winters are cold and snowy. It can be 
planted in the spring and will ripen its grain in the fall. Thus 
it becomes spring wheat instead of winter wheat, and the range 
of climate where it can be grown is vastly enlarged. 

Still another important fact is that the climate where wheat 
is indigenous is more healthful and stimulating than are the 
more tropical or sub-tropical climates which appear to have 
been the original homes of rice, corn and millet. Moreover, al- 
though we do not know exactly when or where the cultivation 
of wheat and barley began, we are almost certain that both 
events occurred in some eastern Mediterranean land so long 
ago that the climate much of the time for several thousand 
years thereafter was stormier and more stimulating than at 
present. Thus, although the first wheat people doubtless lived 
in a fairly warm climate with a pronounced dry season in sum- 
mer, they had the advantage not only of a climate more en- 
ergizing than that of the rice, corn or millet people, but of a 
mode of life easily capable of being expanded northward into 
still more stimulating climates as fast as man learned to over- 
come the handicaps of low temperature, grasslands and forests. 

Before any type of human culture can spread abroad, it 
must develop its own technique, that is, its methods of work, of 
government, of training for the young, and the like. The en- 
vironment taken in conjunction with the nature of the main 
crop has an enormous influence in this respect, as we saw in 


our study of rice. Suppose that you were a primitive, flint- 
using hunter to whose highly original mind there came the revo- 
lutionary idea of assuring to yourself and your children a large 
and permanent supply of nutritious food by raising some of the 
seeds that you had been in the habit of gathering in small 
quantities by laborious search for the wild plants. If you hap- 
pened to live in a prairie region you would soon give up in de- 
spair. A few experiments would convince you that it is useless 
to plant wheat in the midst of grass. Even if you burn off all 
the grass, its roots will sprout more speedily than your seed 
and will choke most of the seedlings. In the forest you might 
find that your seeds would produce nothing in the shade, but 
would grow quite well if dropped into little holes in some 
chance open spaces. Nevertheless the return for your labor 
would be discouragingly small because even the largest natural 
clearings would be of insignificant size, and any that you might 
make with your crude stone tools at that stage of develop- 
ment would not amount to much. Moreover, even if you had 
a good clearing and could keep it free from trees, you could 
not prevent it from turning into grassland, for you have neither 
animals wherewith to plow the sod, nor good iron tools where- 
with to dig it. But suppose you live near a river and in a cli- 
mate and a topography such that great floods inundate the land 
at certain seasons, but disappear in due time and leave large 
tracts of land soaked with water and covered with mud. If the 
floods are followed by a warm dry season, few trees will grow 
in such places; almost the only other vegetation will be grasses 
growing in clumps which can easily be rooted up by hand. 
Sow yoiite seed there in the wet earth as soon as the floods re- 
tire, and ybu can get a good crop year after year. 

When you have gone thus far in making use of natural Irri- 
gation, you discover that something more is needed. In order 
to prevent your crop from getting too dry before it is mature, 


you may find it expedient to build a wall of mud somewhere up- 
stream from your field, and make a reservoir, or divert some 
water from the river. Then by making little walls around your 
field and digging a ditch In just the right way, you can give 
the crop a second watering. If you do that, you may find your- 
self going farther and constructing a more elaborate system of 
embankments, ditches, mud dikes, terraced fields and pumping 
devices. You will also find that it pays to clear the land of 
weeds before the flood comes. All this will make you want 
definite boundaries which others will respect, and there- 
fore you will become an advocate of law, order, government. 
Moreover, you will have to stay by your fields a good deal of 
the time. If you go off to hunt or to take care of cattle, wild 
animals will eat your young field or lie down and roll in it. 
When the grain is ripening, not only they but many birds and 
some of the wild men round about who do not yet practice 
agriculture will be only too glad to eat the crop as fast as pos- 
sible. But mere watching is not enough; you must gather the 
ripe grain before it falls from the heads and is lost. So you 
must evolve a technique for harvesting the crop as fast as pos- 
sible and must have the help of your whole family. Then 
you must devise a method of threshing the grain, storing 
It, and protecting it from rain and rodents, insects and bac- 
teria. The longer the dry or cold part of the year, the easier 
this is. 

Even the poorest grains are more easily preserved than 
fruits, vegetables or roots, but wheat is almost the best of all 
kinds of food in this respect, not only because of its hardness 
but because of the relatively dry cool climates where it is raised. 
The advantages of the wheat raisers in storing their grain do 
them little good unless they protect their food supply from hu- 
man thieves as well as from rain, rust and rodents. So you, 
as a primitive wheat raiser, acquire another potent reason for 


evolving a stable, civilized social system with property lines 
which need to be marked and recorded, with a regular system 
as to the digging of ditches and the parcelling out of the water, 
and with people whose duty it is to prevent theft and preserve 
the established order. 

But what does all this mean? Already we are establishing 
a rather complex civilization with the necessity for written rec- 
ords, geometrical means of laying out boundaries, a system of 
public works and police, and the necessity for paying taxes in 
order to recompense the people who do public work. We seem 
to be ages removed from the primitive hunter or even the pas- 
toral nomad. We are face to face with the potency of agricul- 
ture, especially the irrigation type, to compel men to become 
civilized. Only In certain highly limited types of environment 
was this development possible. Here are the requisites: a cli- 
mate right for wheat, barley, rice, corn or millet; a flood-plain; 
floods of the type that bring down mud and do not encourage 
the growth of trees; a warm period after the floods subside to 
enable the grain to grow quickly; a dry period when the grain 
approaches maturity so that it may ripen properly and be har- 
vested and stored without loss. These requisites might be met 
by a small flood plain, but a large one is far better. If the 
primitive farmers with whom we are identifying ourselves live 
beside small streams they are often hampered because they are 
still in close contact with wild hunters or pastoral nomads who 
raid them unmercifully and steal their hard-won crops. The 
ravages of beasts and birds are correspondingly severe, for 
what wild pig or pigeon would refrain from gorging itself where 
grain is so abundant? Even in our day the isolated farmer 
often suffers heavily from just such causes. But if the flood 
plain is large, the irrigators will be able to protect themselves 
from marauders both human and animal; those in the center 
will be protected by those on the outside, but they will soon 


realize that they must help the outsiders or themselves soon be 
exposed to ravages. That will join with irrigation and all the 
other factors in stimulating the people of the flood plains to 
frame an efficient type of government. 

One of the most important phases of the great transition 
from other modes of life to agriculture based on cereals and ir- 
rigation is the selection which must inevitably occur, and the 
subsequent increase in the number of the people who choose 
the new mode of life. When people first began to settle in the 
flood plains we may be certain that it was not the conservatives 
who left the old mode of life and took up the new; it was not 
the stupid or those most prone to live from hand to mouth; it 
was not the physically weak or those especially averse to physi- 
cal labor; nor was it those who were fondest of the chase and so 
successful in it that they rarely felt the pinch of want. Unless 
the men of those days were utterly different from those of to- 
day, the ones who took up the new discovery were progressive 
in temperament, thrifty and intelligent enough to plan far into 
the future, physically strong and not averse to labor, and per- 
haps socially-minded so that they liked to be near neighbors. 
When the children of such people were old enough to marry, 
they must have married their own kind, as a rule, because 
propinquity and similarity of social standards are dominant 
factors in determining marriage. Their children in turn must 
have been strongly endowed with similar qualities derived 
from both parents. Moreover, at first, for many generations 
while the new civilization was taking form, there must have 
been a % highly selective reverse movement away from agricul- 
ture and back to hunting or pastoralism. It must have affected 
the people to whom physical work, steady or even intermittent 
industry, and submission to authority were irksome. Thus the 
innate characteristics of the agricultural population must have 
become different from those of the other groups and must 


have been appropriate to a sedentary, industrious, law-abiding 

In an earlier chapter we said that at any given stage of 
human development, the population tends to be about as dense 
as is compatible with the geographic environment. Before the 
advent of agriculture, ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia may have 
been able to support one hunter for every square mile; a few 
generations later the number may have been ten, twenty, or 
perchance a hundred times as great, depending on how rapidly 
the new art developed. But anyhow, it was many times as 
great. Were the additional people derived from the hunting 
or pastoral group outside the agricultural area? Not to any 
great extent, for that is not the way mankind behaves. When 
the economic basis of life is broadened, and when the condi- 
tions of nutrition and health are improved, as must have hap- 
pened with the adoption of agriculture, the birthrate and espe- 
cially the survival rate of children increase at once. When 
the early colonists came to America, they had very large 
families, larger than those of the corresponding classes of so- 
ciety in the old homes. Whenever people go to a new region 
where there are great opportunities for economic expansion the 
same thing occurs. This leads us to conclude that when agri- 
culture was newly established, the world's population undoubt- 
edly experienced a rapid increase. The additional people were 
mainly the descendants of those who had chosen to practice 
the new art. Therefore they must have inherited an unusual 
degree of the mental and physical qualities which promote civi- 
lization. Moreover, in the big flood plains the people of this 
kind were numerous enough and near enough together so that 
they stimulated and helped one another. Now we begin to see 
why treeless flood plains in fairly warm regions with long dry 
seasons have been the main centers of early civilization the 
plains of the Nile, Euphrates, Tigris, Indus and Huang in the 


Old World, and of a series of smaller streams in Peru and 


The geographical environment of the flood plains in the lands 
near the eastern Mediterranean gave the early raisers of wheat 
and barley certain advantages which need further explanation. 
One of the greatest advantages was the animals which they 
could domesticate. To us who live in a civilization dependent 
upon coal, steam and electricity, it is almost impossible to ap- 
preciate the importance of animals, not merely as a source of 
food, but still more as a source of power. In fact most of us 
fail to realize that because we run a vast number of machines 
by means of coal, petroleum, and water power, we multiply 
the work of each individual scores of times. If everything used 
in the construction and operation of your house had to be 
brought on men's backs, what kind of house could you afford, 
how much furniture, how many imported goods ? and how great 
a variety of foods, ornaments and the like? Do you eat or- 
anges? How much would a box of oranges cost if it had to 
come from Florida on the back of a human porter? Perhaps 
you have a tiled fireplace, costing a hundred dollars or so 
the equivalent of the work of an unskilled laborer for twenty- 
five or thirty days. But suppose no machine had been used in 
digging the clay for the bricks and tiles, cutting the wood that 
borders the bricks, getting out the sand, lime and cement for 
the mortar, making the trowels, shovels, brooms, hammers and 
other tools that were used at one stage or another, or in bring- 
ing the various materials from a hundred miles in one direction, 
two hundred in another, fifty in a third, and two thousand in a 
fourth. Then how many days' work would it have cost? A 
hundred? A thousand? No one can tell, but the mere job of 
bringing the wood from the mountains of Oregon on a man's 
back would probably mean that you could not afford any such 


The main importance of domestic animals lies In the fact 
that aside from waterways they were the first great means of 
multiplying man's labors. Commerce could never be very ac- 
tive, on land at least., until loads were carried on the backs of 
animals. Nor could people travel far and frequently and thus 
obtain new ideas from other places until they could ride on ani- 
mals, or else use waterways. In fact the ability to use both 
animals and waterways was doubtless one of the greatest fac- 
tors in enabling early civilization to make such rapid progress 
in the great deltaic plains of Egypt and Mesopotamia. An even 
more important contribution of animals to civilization in the 
long run may have been that they made it possible to plow the 
land. That greatly increased the area that any one man could 
cultivate even in the flood plains, and thus gave surplus wealth 
and freedom wherewith to do such things as invent writing, find 
out how to measure land, use wheels for transportation, and 
make knives, spears, plows, and hoes of iron. Outside the flood 
plains the art of plowing did something still more important, 
for it enabled man to spread agriculture into grasslands and 
forests, and into the climates that are most stimulating. 

What kind of animal is most useful to man? The best of all 
animals would possess the following qualities: its flesh would 
be good to eat; it would grow rapidly so that a small amount of 
forage would provide a large amount of meat; it would furnish 
abundant milk; its body would be covered with wool good for 
clothing, while a hairy mane and tail would furnish material for 
strings, tent cloth and the like; it would be big enough to carry 
a man with a little baggage, but not so .big that its owner when 
traveling alone would have to give it much more food than 
would be needed for a beast just comfortably capable of doing 
the work; it would be able to endure all sorts of climates; it 
would be speedy; it would be high-spirited and not give up 
under difficulties; it would also be intelligent and tractable; 


and it would have hard hoofs so that it could dig into the ground 
thereby getting the benefit of its full weight when it was used 
for plowing or other kinds of hauling. No animal possesses all 
these qualities. The horse comes nearest to the ideal; cattle, 
especially the European type, stand high, but lack intelligence 
and spirit; the donkey is good except that it is a trifle too small 
and is more stubborn than the horse; the camel is too big and 
stupid, it cannot pull well because its hoofs are not hard and 
it is adapted to only a small range of climate; the sheep, goat 
and llama are good from the standpoint of wool, milk, and hair, 
but are too small for riding and not very intelligent; the rein- 
deer would be excellent if it were a little larger and were adapted 
to a wider range of climate, but its feet, like those of all beasts 
with cloven hoofs, are not so good for hauling as are those of the 
horse and donkey; the pig is useful for little except food. It is 
astonishing to see how few animals are really of much use to 
man, and how the horse stands out as preeminently the most 
valuable so far as the progress of civilization is concerned, 
while cattle in one form or another come next. 

The geographic distribution of these few useful animals has 
given a great advantage to the people who started wheat cul- 
ture east of the Mediterranean Sea. The hoe people have prac- 
tically no domestic animals, not because they are not needed, 
but because the more valuable types do not thrive in their re- 
gion by reason of the dense jungle, the coarseness, toughness, 
and scarcity of grasses, and the presence of harmful insects and 
bacteria. The corn people of ancient America likewise had no 
domestic animals aside from the llama in Peru and the dog 
and turkey elsewhere. The llama is one of the least useful 
animals in our list. The American bison, which represents the 
cattle genus in America, is too large, stupid and completely 
gregarious for domestication. Such conditions put the corn 
type of culture under a heavy handicap, as we shall see later. 


The rice 1 people fared better than the corn people, but the 
water buffalo, which is the main species of cattle in rice regions, 
Is of little use outside wet fields. He cannot live far from the 
water, and at best is slow, stupid and often dangerous. The 
Indian and Javanese types of cattle are better, but are not so 
useful as the buffalo in the wet fields, and scarcely as good as 
European cattle for other purposes, especially milk. Unfortu- 
nately horses, donkeys, European cattle, sheep and goats, not 
to mention camels and the rest, do not thrive in the climates that 
are best for rice. The long, wet summers are bad for them, 
the coarse, tough, bulky grasses injure their delicate mouths 
and stomachs, and rice straw is not nutritious. The millet peo- 
ple fare better, for most of the more useful domestic animals 
can live in the main millet regions. Nevertheless the exces- 
sive dryness for long periods, followed by excessive moisture 
puts these animals at a disadvantage. Where millet is the main 
crop a fair number of cattle and pigs are likely to be found, un- 
less the tsetse fly prevails, but other animals are generally few 
in numbers and of poor quality. 

Among the wheat people the situation as to animals is very 
different. The regions where wheat was first cultivated are 
favorable to horses, donkeys, cattle, sheep, goats, water buf- 
faloes and camels. The reason is not merely that the, climate 
has a moderately cool season as well as a hot season and is 
neither extremely wet nor extremely dry, but that the grass 
which grows there is soft, fine and highly nutritious when dry 
as well as when fresh. The abundance of good animals enabled 
the wheat people to produce a surplus because they could plow 
the land, haul home their crops, and thus multiply their own 
labor far more than anywhere else. That enabled them to pro- 
duce a correspondingly large surplus and broad basis for 
civilization. In conjunction with the openness of the Mediter- 
ranean countries, with their broad grassy expanses and few 


trees, It made commerce and communication easy. This in it- 
self must have given the wheat people a great advantage in the 
race of progress. Another important consideration is that in 
the early wheat regions for the first time we find animals of a 
kind that supply abundant milk as well as meat and that fur- 
nish valuable wool and soft, useful hair like that of the goat and 
camel, thus greatly increasing man's health and comfort. 

In addition to all this, the qualities of the animals made it 
possible to take advantage of the fact that wheat and barley can 
be raised as spring crops as well as winter crops, and of the 
further fact that rye and oats as well as barley are cultivated 
in the same way as wheat. Being able to plow any kind of 
land when once the trees are removed, the wheat type of cul- 
ture was able to migrate into more and more stimulating cli- 
mates just as fast as the use of metals and the ability to keep 
warm increased man's power over forests and low tempera- 
ture. Thus at the start the type of wheat and barley culture 
which was first possible on a large scale in Egypt and Mesopo- 
tamia had an advantage over other types of human culture, 
not only in irrigation which it shared with the rice and corn 
types; but in a more healthful and stimulating climate; better 
food because of the kinds of animals as well as the grain that it 
could use; greater opportunity to multiply man's power by 
means of animals as well as waterways and thus provide the 
surplus needed by civilization; greater power to engage in com- 
merce and communication by reason of those same animals; 
greater power to spread agriculture beyond the immediate 
limits of the flood plains because the animals made it possible 
to plow the soil; and finally the power to move into other re- 
gions in response either to changes of climate or man's own 
changing ability to control nature. Thus when civilization 
finally moved into Europe that continent reaped the benefit 
of all the geographic circumstances which had combined tc 

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focus progress in the early wheat lands around the eastern 

Even yet we have not finished our catalogue of the advan- 
tages of Europe and of the way in which the geographic en- 
vironment has helped to concentrate there the most rapid hu- 
man progress. In order to understand the matter fully, we 
must turn to the purely human element, the process of improv- 
ing the human inheritance of Europe, in distinction from the 
cultural inheritance. 

It seems quite clear that the people of Europe, especially 
around the North Sea, stand unusually high in energy, in- 
ventiveness, adaptability and the spirit which makes people go 
ahead and do things. One of the reasons for this may perhaps 
be found in the origin of the European races. Aside from 
North America, no part of the world has suffered such ex- 
traordinary changes of climate as Europe. Twenty-five or 
thirty thousand years ago, and at several earlier periods, great 
sheets of ice covered regions where now the climate is the best 
in the world from the standpoint of human health and activity. 
At the same time the rest of Europe north of the Alps must have 
been so cold and stormy as to be almost uninhabitable. A re- 
peated recurrence of such epochs, alternating with interglacial 
epochs when the climate was even milder than now, obviously 
rendered much of Europe first uninhabitable for tens of thou- 
sands of years and then even more habitable than at present. 
In the cold periods the inhabitants must have been largely 
driven out or exterminated; in the warm periods they must 
have increased in numbers and have migrated back again to the 
regions formerly occupied. 

South of Europe in Africa and to the southeast in Asia lies 
the world's greatest series of deserts. We have already seen 
how great an effect has been produced upon the people of these 
deserts by climatic pulsations during historic times. The far 


greater pulsations of the ice age, coincident with the advance 
and retreat of the ice in Europe, must have produced still 
more extensive migrations. When the ice was most extensive, 
much of the Sahara Desert, at least in its northern portion, was 
well watered and presumably an admirable home for mankind. 
The same was true in the deserts of Asia. At the height of 
the interglacial epochs, on the contrary, the desert conditions 
were apparently even more intense and widespread than at 
present. Thus in the deserts there must have been a con- 
stantly recurring tendency to drive people away when Europe 
was warm and hospitable, and to invite them when Europe was 
cold and raw. Climatic fluctuations did not come to an end 
with the retirement of the last ice sheet; between that time 
and the beginning of recorded history there is abundant evi- 
dence of climatic pulsations intermediate between those of the 
glacial period and those of historic times. Thus on a larger 
or smaller scale, and with varying degrees of intensity and 
duration, this pushing, pulling process has prevailed through- 
out practically the whole of man's existence. 

It is easy to infer certain results of such extreme and persist- 
ent climatic variations. Between the deserts and the area cov- 
ered by the ice sheets lies the Mediterranean region and its east- 
ward extension in Mesopotamia, Asia Minor and Persia. That 
was the seat of the early wheat culture and of the greatest of all 
developments in human history. Perhaps the modern indus- 
trial revolution, and the knowledge of biology which has fol- 
lowed in the wake of the theory of evolution, may in due time 
produce equally revolutionary changes. Otherwise history 
probably offers nothing comparable to the great inventions and 
discoveries which took place in this Mediterranean and west- 
ern Asiatic belt. There animals were domesticated; the plow 
and other appliances of agriculture were invented; there writ- 
ing evolved to a higher degree than anywhere else; the me- 


chanical arts received their first great impetus in such Inven- 
tions as the wheel and its application to transportation, spin- 
ning and the grinding of corn. That too was the place where 
the world's greatest ideas in education, government, philosophy 
and religion originated. We of the present are merely meek 
followers in many of these matters. There early science made 
its greatest strides,, while printing, architecture and sculpture 
flourished as nowhere else. Without disparaging the people of 
other lands and other regions, it seems fair to say that during 
the milleniums when civilization was making its first great 
advances, and even down to the time of Christ, the people of 
the Mediterranean belt and its Asiatic extension displayed an 
extraordinary degree of ability. Of course the wheat type of 
agriculture, with its favorable conditions for supplementing 
man's energy by that of animals, was an important factor. So 
too was the fact that the belt where all this occurred lies round 
about the Mediterranean Sea and its branches in such a way 
that communication by water is easy. Another favorable fac- 
tor lay in the fact that most of the time in those days the belt 
of storminess presumably lay farther south than now, so that 
the climatic stimulus was great. 

But behind all this lies still another factor. If we are right 
as to the power of migrations to eliminate the weak and pre- 
serve the strong, vigorous, adaptable and progressive, the 
Mediterranean-Asiatic belt must have been peculiarly blessed. 
It lies between the glacial regions of the northwest and the des- 
erts of the southeast. Whenever the inhabitants were pushed 
out of one or the other of these regions, the Mediterranean re- 
gion and western Asia must have formed a sort of zone of com- 
pression. Migrations, wars, suffering, and the drastic process 
of selection whose effects we have seen so often must have been 
the order of the day for thousands of years. There must also 
have been great mingling of races, for that is always the result 


of migrations on any large scale. That would increase the op- 
portunity for diversity and would therefore provide natural 
selection with more varied and valuable material upon which 
to work. The inevitable result would seem to be that the peo- 
ple who finally formed the population of that belt must have 
been an unusually competent and vigorous remnant, well able 
to take advantage of their environment and evolve the wheat 
type of civilization. 

All this of course is inference, but it is based on a great many 
facts. The details indeed are obscure, but the general fact of 
constant migrations first one way and then the other, great 
mixture of races, and vigorous natural selection seems well as- 
sured. The inferred result corresponds exactly with what we 
find, namely, a people of uncommon vigor, just the sort among 
whom great discoveries and rapid progress would naturally 

Now take a step farther. In northwestern Europe the last 
period of habitability has been very short compared with man's 
entire existence. No longer than ten thousand years ago much 
of that region was either uninhabitable or else so stormy and 
Inclement that few people could live there. With the ameliora- 
tion of the climate, tribe after tribe moved in. They were still 
moving in vigorously in the early part of the Christian Era. Of 
course the movement was not all in one direction, for even if 
climate alone had been responsible, the movement would have 
been one way when the Asiatic deserts grew drier and Europe 
more favorable, and the other way when the reverse took place. 
Since other factors have also cooperated, the resultant move- 
ments have been extremely complex. Nevertheless, in general 
the tendency has been toward a northwestern migration. The 
migrants have included Celts, Teutons, Angles, Saxons, Norse- 
men, Goths, Vandals, Huns and Roman soldiers, but practically 
all have come from the belt of compression between the deserts 
of Africa and Asia and the cold lands of northern Europe and 



eastern Siberia. In the course of these last migrations, a still 
further sifting has occurred. Thus the present people of north- 
western Europe represent the end result of a long, long process 
of migration and natural selection. It is only to be expected 
that they should display an extremely high degree of the quali- 
ties which tend to promote survival in times of stress, and 

From " Business Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons. 

to cause civilization to make progress when the stress is 

So much for the people and for the type of civilization which 
came out of the Mediterranean and west Asiatic zone of com- 
pression. Now for the land into which the people and the cul- 
ture migrated. It is perhaps the most highly favored part of 
the earth. The advantage most stressed in this book is cli- 
matic. It is summed up in Figure 3 which shows the distribu- 


tion of climatic energy in Europe according to the same criteria 
used in constructing our map of climatic energy in the world 
as a whole. Notice the dark area surrounding the North Sea 
and including Great Britain, France, Germany, northern Italy, 
the three Scandinavian countries, Holland, Belgium and Switz- 
erland. Turn now to Figure 4, showing the distribution of 

From " Business Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons. 
FIG. 4. DISTRIBUTION OF HEALTH IN EUROPE. (Based on the death rate.) 

health in the various European countries. In all essential re- 
spects this map is like the other; there is the same dark area 
surrounding the North Sea, the same bulges toward Italy, to- 
ward the Black Sea, and along the Baltic. Even if abundant 
other evidence were not before us, these two maps would be 
enough to show that the distribution of health and energy is 
very closely dependent upon that of climate. Now compare 


Figure 5 with the other two. This depicts the distribution of 
civilization according to the judgment of fifty well-informed 
people of many nationalities, as already described. Here again, 
the resemblance to the other three maps is so obvious that it 
suffices merely to point it out. The dark North Sea area and 
the three projections southeastward, eastward and northeast- 

From " Business Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons. 

ward, are all there just as in the others. Obviously then, not 
only does Europe have welF-nigh the finest and most stimulat- 
ing climate in the whole world for people of our type of civiliza- 
tion, but the distribution of health and of progress agree with 
the climate just as we should expect. Thus after rigorous selec- 
tion had presumably made the races of the zone of compression 
unusually competent, and had helped them to utilize the advan- 


tages of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and so forth, this same 
culture was bequeathed to a freshly selected group of people 
to whom was given the culminating advantage of the world's 
best climate. 

On top of all these come two other advantages which might 
be called accidental were there really any such thing as acci- 
dents. One is that no great mass of land rivals Europe in the 
degree to which it is indented by deep arms of the sea, and is 
traversed by plains or lowlands so that one sea coast is easily 
accessible from another. No part of the area where the climate 
is most stimulating, as shown in Figure 3, is as much as three 
hundred miles from the ocean, and the greater part is much 
nearer. Thus great numbers of the sons of Europe have been 
trained by the power of the sea, and many of the weaker have 
been winnowed out. Because the sea coasts are so extensive, 
commerce is especially easy and the discovery of America 
exerted an extraordinarily stimulating effect, for this was the 
region whence America was most accessible. 

Finally, the region where all the other conditions rank high- 
est happens also to be a region where coal is especially abundant 
and accessible. We have already referred to the mistaken idea 
that coal is the cause of progress in manufacturing and of the 
present industrial supremacy of Europe. Coal is not the cause; 
Europe would probably hold nearly its present position in in- 
dustry even if there were no coal. It would bring coal from 
elsewhere just as it brings " petrol/' cotton, jute and the like. 
In fact, the supremacy of Europe in manufacturing was as de- 
cisive as now before the steam engine was invented, and when 
coal had no special value. What coal has done is merely to 
reinforce the commanding position bequeathed to Europe by 
other conditions of long standing. 

Here then is the geographical explanation of the fact that 
the North Sea countries stand farther ahead in the path of 
progress than does any other part of the world unless it be the 


manufacturing sections of America where another selective 
migration has brought Europe's children to another region of 
marvelous climate and abundant coal; (i) the great climatic 
fluctuations of the glacial period with their tremendous effect 
upon migrations, natural selection, and the evolution of the 
races in the belt of compression between the deserts and the 
ice sheets; (2) the type of vegetation and of animals which 
gave rise to the wheat type of culture with its dependence upon 
animals and its possibilities for increasing man's strength by 
using that of animals; (3) a most stimulating climate which 
could be utilized because the wheat type of agriculture adapts 
itself to the climates where man is physiologically at his best; 
(4) an unpopulated region into which selective migration was 
able to bring highly selected types of people In relatively recent 
times; (5) a peculiarly favorable conformation of land and sea, 
lowlands and highlands, and a peculiarly favorable position in 
reference to America; (6) an abundance of coal whereby, when 
the time came, man could still further increase his capacity to 
multiply his own energy. 

Is it any wonder then that Europe still dominates the world? 
Is it surprising that the foreign commerce of the countries 
within the most stimulating climatic area of Europe, is as large 
as that of all the rest of the world combined? Is it any wonder 
that those same countries, together with their offspring in 
North America and Australia, possess three-fourths of the 
world's wealth, eleven-twelfths of the world's steamships, that 
they probably manufacture nine-tenths of the world's manufac- 
tured goods, and that they govern two-thirds of the world's 
habitable territory, and have a controlling voice in the develop- 
ment of most of the remainder? With such a marvelous com- 
bination of geographical advantages, it seems impossible that 
nature could decree anything except that when civilization had 
evolved far enough, the people of this region should dominate 
the world. 



WHY are the United States and Canada so different from 
Great Britain and Europe? Why are some parts of the United 
States and Canada so different from other parts? Why is the 
distribution of progress in these countries so different now from 
what it was before the days of Columbus? These three ques- 
tions by no means embrace the whole of human geography. 
Yet complete answers to them would require a discussion of 
practically the entire subject. The answers depend largely 
upon the interplay of four great factors: first, selective migra- 
tion; second, climate; third, resources; and fourth, stage of 

Americans often pride themselves on their activity, alertness, 
progressiveness, and readiness to try something new. They 
seem to Europeans to be always boasting that everything of 
theirs is bigger, better, and more up-to-date than anywhere else. 
Is all this because the United States is new and young, and has 
not yet learned to do otherwise? It certainly seems to be true 
that the newer a region is the more likely its people are to be 
" boosters." Nowhere is this more evident than in the newly 
settled parts of Australia. But what about the fact that a 
similar spirit is obvious in China? In spite of the enormous 
difference between Great Britain and China, the gradual transi- 
tion from conservatism to the pioneer type of progressiveness 
as one goes out into the more recently settled tracts is the same. 
From England go to Nova Scotia or New England, thence to 
Ontario or Illinois, and on to Alberta or Wyoming, and you will 



find a change of character almost identical with what you will 
find in going from conservative Shantung to southern Man- 
churia, thence to central Manchuria and on to the north. The 
same type of contrast, although to a milder degree, follows the 
trail of Chinese migration from North China to South China, 
and then across the sea to Formosa, Java or Hawaii. It can be 
seen likewise if one goes with the Italian emigrants from Naples 
to Buenos Aires and then into the newer parts of Argentina. 
Even when one compares Bostonians who still live around Mas- 
sachusetts Bay with those in New York ? in Florida, and finally 
in China, Mexico, or equatorial regions, one likewise finds a 
progressively strong development of what are well called the 
characteristics of the pioneer. 

Thus it appears that the contrasts with which we are now 
concerned are not due to either new lands or old lands in them- 
selves, but to the selection arising from migration. As a gen- 
eral thing new lands are also remote and inaccessible, so that 
they are not reached from the old lands at a single bound. The 
usual method is for people to move into the nearest or most ac- 
cessible region that suits them. Such movement, when purely 
voluntary and unassisted, involves a selection on the basis of 
health, optimism, the spirit of adventure and the like. It also 
involves financial and social selection, for the well-to-do, unless 
young and adventurous, are generally kept at home by their 
worldly position, while the poor, unless they are unusually 
enterprising, are kept at home by their poverty and by the 
inefficiency which commonly lies at the root of that poverty. 
After the migrants are established in their new homes, a later 
generation is likely to migrate once more, as from New Eng- 
land to Ohio and Illinois. Again selection takes place, al- 
though all of the selective factors need not necessarily be the 
same as before. When New England was settled the religious 
factor played one of the chief roles; but when the sons of 


New England began to go West, the economic motive was 
dominant. A generation or two later another similar migra- 
tion and selection brought a new population to Iowa, Ne- 
braska and the Dakotas. The last wave of all has done the 
same thing for Wyoming, Montana, and the Canadian North- 
west. Each time the resultant population in the newest region 
has been more completely of the pioneer type than formerly. 
It is as if each migration put people through a sieve whose 
meshes more and more assume a peculiar shape. 

Migration to new and unoccupied lands does not differ 
greatly from migration to any other place with fresh oppor- 
tunities. Those are what count. They cause the young men 
and women who migrate from the country to the city to be 
sifted in much the same way as are the people who go from the 
older East to the newer West; and the same is true of the mi- 
grants to Florida during the boom of 1925. The California 
climate, a newly opened gold field, a tropical region with un- 
usual opportunities for making a fortune are samples of the 
hundreds of conditions that lead to migration and selection. 
The city and the tropical country may indeed appeal mainly to 
the love of gain, while the new country and the remote mine 
may appeal still more to love of adventure, but that is a minor 
difference. Thus the outstanding difference between new coun- 
tries like the United States and old countries like those of Eu- 
rope is that the new countries contain a much larger proportion 
of the pioneer type of people, whose characteristics become 
more pronounced the more remote and new the country. 

We who live in new countries are apt to glorify the pioneer 
type. Undoubtedly it possesses a high degree of vigor and 
energy, a strong spirit of progress and reform, and much of the 
" go-get-it " temperament which gives the United States the 
reputation of being dollar-mad. By no means all of these qual- 
ities are good, and it is doubtful whether most new countries re- 


ceive their full proportion of people who are Intellectual, ar- 
tistic and highly cultured, or of those most competent to carry 
on the affairs of government. In many cases, indeed, a " new " 
country fails to get the most earnestly religious types unless 
there happens to be persecution. Of course the circumstances 
vary continually so that no generalization is universally true. 
Nevertheless, while a new country does usually obtain set- 
tlers endowed with unusual energy and initiative, its failure 
to obtain enough of the more thoughtful, artistic, literary, and 
cultured types is one of the chief reasons why it is so apt to 
seem young or even childish. Its people are so active that they 
often suppose energy to be a reasonable substitute for sound 
judgment, or wealth for culture. When looked at in this way 
the mere fact of migration and selection seems to account for a 
good deal of the difference between Europe and America, be- 
tween the East and West in America, and between states like 
Florida and its neighbors. 

These facts seem to explain so much that one is tempted to 
inquire what remains for the other factors. So far as climate 
is concerned, part of the answer, for the United States at least, 
is found in the difference between the areas of highly stimulat- 
ing and healthful climate in Europe compared with North 
America. The European area is excellent partly because the 
temperature and humidity stand close to the optimum for 
physical activity during several of the summer months. Only 
rarely is the weather hot enough, cold enough, or dry enough to 
be really harmful. The other main element in the excellence 
of the weather of the North Sea regions of Europe is the con- 
stant succession of storms, usually mild in character, but never- 
theless bringing frequent stimulating changes. In the north- 
eastern United States the factors are a little different. Here as 
in the North Sea regions, there is a highly stimulating contrast 
of seasons, but with us the summers are likely to be too warm 


and the winters too cold, while very dry spells may occur at all 
seasons, thus doing considerable harm. This happens largely 
because our main area of the best kind of climate lies on the 
eastern side of the continent, and the prevailing winds blow 
from the west, thus bringing the extremes which are character- 
istic of continental interiors and which are one of their great 
disadvantages. These disadvantages, as compared with Eu- 
rope, are balanced more or less fully by the fact that our storms 
are more frequent and bring more pronounced changes of 
weather than do those of western Europe. That region has 
nothing to compare with our rarest days when a storm has 
just passed and a marvelous wind from the northwest brings the 
most crystal-clear of skies and combines with a temperature of 
sixty or seventy degrees to stimulate every nerve. 

As to which of these two types of climate is the better, it 
is hard to say. I am inclined to give the palm to Europe, for 
the European climate favors a more steady and less nervous 
type of activity. There the mind and body of the person whose 
health is good are never swayed far above or below a reasonable 
level of activity, so far at least as the weather is concerned. It 
is therefore possible to work cheerfully, purposively and effec- 
tively day after day and month after month without exhaus- 
tion. With us the fluctuations are much greater both from 
season to season and day to day. We are pulled down by our 
winters, and often by our summers; our activity may be 
checked for a few days at almost any season by cold spells, 
warm spells, or extreme storms. To make up for this our best 
seasons, and our best days at almost any season, possess a 
stimulating power almost unknown elsewhere. Thus although 
our activity is often checked, it is also often spurred to the 
utmost. When such a stimulus is applied to people who have 
been selected because of their relatively alert and active tem- 
peraments, extreme or even undue activity and nervous energy 



are almost inevitable, and action is in danger of outrunning 
judgment. We are likely to resemble the Filipino who de- 
scribed himself as having too much engine for his steering gear. 
That then is the handicap which we must face as a partial off- 
set to our undoubted ability to put things over. 

Now for the differences between one part of the country and 
another. Figures 6 and 7, which are like the corresponding 

From " Business Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons. 

maps of Europe and the world, show the close agreement be- 
tween climatic energy and the degree of progress as estimated 
by a group of experts. Figure 8 allows us to test the opinion of 
these experts. It is a map of progress based on exact statistics 
selected so as to reflect the actual economic, social, educational 
and personal characteristics of the people as accurately as pos- 
sible. Transportation facilities and income per capita have 
been selected to illustrate the purely economic conditions. In 
order to give each state a rank in transportation we find how 
many miles of railway there are for each square mile of ter- 



From " Business Geography." Courtesy of John Wiley and Sons. 

From " An Introduction to Sociology." Courtesy of D. C. Heath and Co. 


ritory and each inhabitant, how much Is spent per mile in main- 
taining the public roads, how many trolley cars per thousand 
people, and how many people for every automobile. When all 
these facts are put together by the proper mathematical meth- 
ods, we can rank the states according to the ease with which 
one can travel within them, and can make a composite map il- 
lustrating transportation facilities. Southern New England 
and the states from Ohio to Iowa stand in the van. New York 
and Pennsylvania rank almost as well, but fall a trifle behind 
because of difficulties imposed by the Appalachian mountain 
system. The most backward states, on the other hand, are Ala- 
bama, Mississippi and Arkansas, and still more the whole tier 
of Rocky Mountain States with New Mexico at the bottom and 
Montana and Nevada next. The Pacific Coast stands high. 
The map as a whole looks surprisingly like a map of climatic 
energy, except that the Appalachian mountains and especially 
the Rockies introduce obstacles which even our system of trans- 
portation has not yet overcome. 

For information as to income we rely on the estimates of the 
National Bureau of Economic Research. In 1919, 1920, and 
192 1 the average income per person in the United States ranged 
from $2 63 in Mississippi to $943 in New York state and $909 
in California. Except for Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado, 
which are high, and North Dakota which is low, the states rank 
very closely as in the maps of climatic energy (Figure 6) and 
progress according to the experts (Figure 7). The incomes in 
the South are depressed by the presence of the Negroes who are 
not separated in our statistics, but even without them the gen- 
eral aspect of the map would not be changed. 

Let us look next at the distribution of social conditions as 
shown by the percentage of the people engaged in professional 
work and manufacturing. We have assumed that high per- 
centages indicate progress. The range in the percentage en- 


gaged in professions is great, from 7.7 in California to only 2.7 
in Mississippi and South Carolina. Here again, the census data 
do not separate the colored people, and this tends to depress 
the southeastern states, but the presence of great numbers of 
foreign-born does the same in the northeast. Hence New York, 
which stands highest among the eastern states, is rivalled or 
surpassed by ten states lying west of the Mississippi, namely 
Iowa, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and 
the three states on the Pacific Coast. Manufacturing is quite 
different, for the regions from southern New England to 
Illinois are easily supreme. A map of manufacturing looks 
much like the maps of climatic energy and progress except that 
the Pacific Coast is not yet so much of a manufacturing region 
as one might expect from its other conditions. Mississippi and 
North Dakota stand at the bottom in manufacturing. 

Although these economic and social conditions are an impor- 
tant element of progress, the education of the individual mem- 
bers of the population is still more important. We can test this 
by means of illiteracy and educational facilities. When colored 
and foreign-born persons are omitted, illiteracy is least preva- 
lent in southern New England and in a triangle with its apex in 
Minnesota and its base along the whole Pacific Coast. The 
worst conditions are in the southeast, in practically the same 
place where Negroes are abundant even though the Negroes 
have been omitted. New Mexico, however, is still worse, pre- 
sumably because of its large number of Mexicans who were 
born there and are counted as native whites. 

Illiteracy is only a moderately good indication of progress 
because in newly settled regions such as our western triangle of 
low illiteracy, the education of the people depends on the places 
whence they came, not those where they now live. We want to 
know how well those same people maintain their educational 
facilities. In order to make this as accurate as possible let us 


combine five different conditions. We will begin with the per- 
centage of native white children seven to fourteen years of age 
who are actually enrolled in the schools. This is highest in the 
northwest where Utah and Idaho stand in the lead, and lowest 
in the southeast where Maryland and Georgia rank a little 
better than Louisiana. The frequency with which we find a 
contrast between the northwest and the southeast is interesting. 
Another good criterion of education is the young people eight- 
een years of age who have graduated from a high school. 
Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and the neighboring states 
rank five or six times as well as Georgia, South Carolina and 
their neighbors. This great contrast occurs even though we 
have given the South the advantage of omitting the Negro pop- 
ulation and assuming that all the High School graduates are 
whites. Another characteristic of the better school systems is 
that they are open for a large part of the year and the pupils 
are in regular attendance. The number of days when the aver- 
age child is actually present ranges all the way from about a 
hundred and fifty per year in Massachusetts and New Jersey to 
only half as many in South Carolina and Mississippi. 

How about the salaries of teachers? Contrary to general be- 
lief, the salaries are about the same in the northeast as in the 
far west, the highest averages for all the public school teachers 
in individual states being nearly thirteen hundred dollars in 
New Jersey and Massachusetts compared with fourteen hun- 
dred in Oregon and thirteen hundred in Washington. In the 
southeast the level is very low, with a minimum of less than 
three hundred in Mississippi and a little over four hundred in 
Georgia, but this includes colored teachers as well as white. 
Nevertheless the scale for the white teachers is lower in the 
South than anywhere else. Finally, one of the best indications 
of the effectiveness of a school system is the extent to which 
the boys as well as the girls keep on into the higher grades. Our 


social system has departed so far from the ancient method 
where men alone were educated that now our girls often get 
more education than our boys. Maryland and Utah keep their 
boys the longest, while Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas 
are the places where the boys are most likely to be out-dis- 
tanced by the girls. When all these conditions are combined 
it appears that education is most advanced in the states from 
southern New England to Illinois, on the Pacific Coast, and in 
Utah. This last state illustrates the way in which a social in- 
stitution may alter the results which one would expect on the 
basis of environment. The Mormons insist that their children 
shall be educated. Otherwise the map of education is almost 
identical with those of climatic energy and progress. 

The systematic way in which most of our maps conform to 
the climatic map, or else to modifications of that map which 
are easily explained by migration and selection is becoming 
monotonous. But we must face it again when we attempt to 
estimate the personal qualities of our people. One intimately 
personal quality is health. Strange as it may seem this boast- 
ful country of ours is so backward that a reliable map of health 
based on official statistics is still impossible. Some states keep 
no such records, and in others, such as Mississippi, the records 
are doubtful. The records of insurance companies give a map 
of health which might almost be mistaken for the map of cli- 
matic energy except that farming states such as Iowa and 
Nebraska make a better showing than manufacturing states 
like New York and its neighbors. 

As a final measure let us take something even more personal, 
namely the accuracy with which people answer the census ques- 
tions as to age. This seems like a queer criterion. How does 
it measure people's ability, and how do we know whether they 
answer correctly? As a matter of fact it is an extremely good 
measure of general intelligence, and we can tell with great ac- 


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curacy how much error there is In the answers of thousands 
of people, although we cannot be sure with respect to any given 
individual. The matter works in this way: If you are an 
intelligent, careful person the census-taker has no terrors for 
you. You give him the names and ages of all the people in 
the house with accuracy. If he is also intelligent and careful 
he makes sure that you understand everything and that he un- 
derstands you. But suppose a careless census-taker is talking 
to a shiftless, ignorant mother or grandmother who looks upon 
him as a nuisance and perhaps even a menace. When she gives 
the names of the children she says that Austin is twelve when 
he is really thirteen, and forgets that Virginia's tenth birthday 
will not come till next month. When the man of the house 
comes home and she relates the day's experiences, she exclaims, 
" Good land, I clean forgot the baby. Did you ever hear the 
beat of that? " This is not mere imagination; it actually hap- 
pens. Moreover, not a few census-takers think it too much 
trouble to go half a mile up a side road to get the facts about 
a house or two. They or their wives think they know all about 
it, but they get the ages wrong and have never heard that a 
new baby came four months ago. 

If you want the proof of this look at the census tables and 
see whether the number of children decreases systematically 
with age. In any normal population those under one year of 
age must be more numerous than those between one and two, 
because from a tenth to a fifth of the babies usually die during 
the first year. In the same way the two-year olds must be more 
numerous than the three-year-olds, and so on. Again, children 
aged four, six, eight, ten and especially twelve even ages 
ought to be a little less numerous than those of the preceding 
odd ages three, five, seven, nine, eleven and so on. Accord- 
ing to the census neither of these conditions prevails in large 
parts of the United States. Babies almost never appear to be 


quite as numerous as they really are; children of even ages, 
especially twelve, almost invariably appear to be more numer- 
ous than is warranted by the facts; the only odd age that gets 
a surplus is twenty-one, mainly among the boys because they 
want to vote while they are still twenty. In a high-grade popu- 
lation consisting largely of recent native-born migrants from 
the old states such errors are slight, as in Minnesota. In Mis- 
sissippi, on the contrary, even the native whites of native 
parentage report more children at the ages of ten and twelve 
than at any other age. Ridiculous as it may be, the census 
figures would seem to indicate not merely that none of the 
infants ever die, but that the number of children born in 1910, 
let us say, has increased greatly by 1920. Then it drops 
ten per cent or so, and in 1922 again rises as high as in 1920. 
Of course this* is the sheerest nonsense. It arises simply from 
the fact that the people as a whole, and likewise the census- 
takers, are so careless that perhaps a fifth of the children, even 
those who are native whites of native parentage, are not re- 
corded in the census, and the ages of those who are there are 
often wrong. 

Among foreign families and especially among Negroes these 
tendencies are still stronger. Among the Negroes of South 
Carolina the children twelve years of age are actually reported 
as forty or fifty per cent more numerous than those eleven 
years of age or than the babies under one year. Yet in Minne- 
sota, among the native whites of native parentage, the twelve- 
year-olds are reported as a trifle less numerous than the eleven- 
year-olds, and tie infants under one year of age exceed them 
by more than fifty per cent. Thus it appears that the census 
data as to age are one of the most delicate tests of the average 
intelligence of a population. 

When we apply this test to the United States as a whole, but 
limit it to native whites of native parentage, we find a strip of 


high Intelligence and accuracy from southern New England to 
Oregon, including all the northern tier of states except north- 
ern New England. Maine falls off quite badly, perhaps because 
many of her more intelligent people have migrated away, and 
perhaps because the sparsity of her population causes the 
census-takers to do a great deal of guessing. In the southwest, 
California falls in the same class as New Hampshire and Ver- 
mont, but the other states stand somewhat lower. Nevada falls 
as low as Maine, perhaps because there too an unfavorable out- 
ward migration has occurred. The southeast brings up the 
rear, especially South Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi, but 
Florida, by reason of recent immigration, rises to the level of 
New Hampshire and California. 

When these eight methods of measuring progress are put to- 
gether, as is explained in An Introduction to Sociology, the 
result is Figure 8. That map seems to me the best measure 
yet available of the degree of progress and intelligence in dif- 
ferent parts of the United States. In spite of minor differences 
it resembles the map of progress according to the experts so 
closely that we feel assured of the general accuracy of the 
latter. But our map of progress on the basis of statistics is 
even more like the map of climatic energy. Thus by the most 
accurate tests yet available our main conclusions as to the inti- 
mate relations between climate, health, energy and progress 
are verified. Migrations may upset this pattern, but the ex- 
traordinary feature is that in a new country like the United 
States, where people are still moving actively from place to 
place, the general pattern of progress conforms almost per- 
fectly to that of climate. This is partly because energetic 
people more or less unconsciously seek energizing climates, but 
it is also because with equal unconsciousness most people con- 
form their degree of activity to the type of climate in which 
they live. 


Although the direct effect of climate may determine the main 
lines of the distribution of progress, we must not overlook other 
factors such as the distribution of the Negroes, and the occur- 
rence of upheavals like the Civil War. If there had never been 
any Negroes in the United States it is almost certain that the 
general aspect of Figure 8 would be essentially the same, but 
the shading of the southeast might be one degree lighter. But 
after all, the presence of the colored people and the occurrence 
of the war are closely connected with climate. Black slaves 
were originally brought to New England as well as the Caro- 
linas, and nobody thought it wicked. In the North the slaves 
did not thrive because the climate was too cold for them; in 
the winter they spent most of their time shivering and trying to 
keep warm. In summer they did not work hard enough to be 
of much use in a region where the white man loved to work 
and did it very vigorously. As house servants the slaves were 
of some use, but not very good or cheap compared with the effi- 
cient white servants who could easily be brought over from 
England. In the South all this was different; the Negroes en- 
joyed life, had better health, and worked better because it was 
warm. The white man did not like to work so well as in the 
North and could not work so hard. Moreover, it was much 
cheaper to support a slave where the demands for clothing and 
shelter were so much less than in the North. More important 
still was the fact that in tobacco the South had found a highly 
profitable crop with a market much larger than the early col- 
onists could fill. Negroes were just the people for such a crop, 
and so it paid to keep them. Then in later days, after the in- 
vention of the cotton gin, cotton supplied another highly 
profitable crop just fit for Negro labor. 

To make a long story short, the climatic conditions gradually 
exerted their usual power of selection; they drew the Negroes 
to the South, but not to the North. They also selected a moral 


Idea for preservation in the North. In Europe the problem of 
whether slavery was right or wrong became acute before It did 
in America; the people opposed to slavery won because those 
to whom it was an economic advantage were few and not highly 
influential. In America the ideal of liberty and equality for 
all men throve in the North where black men were of little use 
as slaves, but was forcibly rejected by the South. That is the 
way it often happens. An idea may originate anywhere, but 
in some environments it is nipped in the bud; in others it grows 
and bears fruit, even if that fruit is a devastating civil war. 
Thus while the contrasted climates of the North and South are 
not the direct causes of slavery and the Civil War, they are the 
reason why two opposing ideals were located within one coun- 
try so that they had the opportunity to come into conflict. 

One other phase of progress in America still remains to be 
considered. Is not a large part of what we have said about 
climate and civilization contradicted by the distribution of 
human progress among the Indians before the days of Colum- 
bus? Not at all. On the contrary, the adjustment between 
man and his environment was just as close then as at any other 
time and perhaps closer. In those old days there were three 
centers of progress among the Indian population of America. 
In one, the central feature was the corn type of agriculture. 
In another it was fishing and commerce, and in a third, war 
and government. One had its center in Guatemala and Mexico 
where the Mayas were its highest exponents; the second had 
its center among the Haidas in the Queen Charlotte Islands off 
the coast of British Columbia north of Vancouver Island; and 
the third among the Iroquois or Six Nations of the state of New 

The relation between the cultivation of grains and human 
progress has been so fully explained that it is easy to see why 
the first and only really great civilization of America arose 


where corn was cultivated. The cultivation of corn requires 
certain very distinctly limited climatic conditions. The corn 
seed will sprout properly only in a fairly high temperature and 
with a fair amount of water. The growing plants must have 
abundant moisture for two or three months, especially when 
the ears are making their first growth. After that a relatively 
dry season is needed, for otherwise a large part of the crop 
may be ruined. 

We are so familiar with corn as the greatest crop of Iowa, 
Illinois and the other richest agricultural portions of the United 
States that we fail to realize that among the Indians it was al- 
most impossible to grow corn there. Bear in mind that in 
North America the Indians had no domestic animals that could 
plow the land or even carry burdens to any appreciable extent. 
In addition to this they had no iron implements and practically 
none of copper. Thus no matter how high their cultivation 
might rise in other respects, it could not spread into grasslands 
and only very imperfectly into forests. Just why the greatest 
of all native American civilizations grew up in the lowlands of 
Guatemala rather than in the highlands is not yet certain. 
Selective migrations may have had something to do with the 
matter. It is also possible that the storm belt at that time was 
shifted far enough south so that the climate of that region was 
fairly stimulating as well as drier than now. That, however, is 
by no means certain and we must leave the matter unsettled. 
This much, however, is clear. When the white man came to 
America, something had caused the Maya civilization to fall 
almost completely into decay. It was scarcely more than a 
memory, and the Mayas themselves did not know who built 
the great ruins among which they lived. 

The highest American civilizations at that time were located 
in Peru among the Incas and in Mexico among the Aztecs. In 
both cases the basis of life was corn grown by means of rain 


during a relatively short wet season. This kind of culture 
spread as far as the climate permitted, reaching its northerly 
limit just north of the boundary of New Mexico in Colorado. 
Northward, eastward or westward from there corn culture on 
any large scale is impossible for people who have neither draft 
animals nor iron tools. Even in Texas the rains increase so 
that grassland becomes more and more common, and finally 
forests prevail. Nevertheless the grasses there are sufficiently 
bunchy rather than turfy so that corn culture did spread inter- 
mittently as far east as Georgia. Northward the summer rains 
which corn loves give place to winter rains which are of little 
use to it. Westward the same is true. Where the Colorado 
River provides natural irrigation, the Mojave Indians formed 
the last outpost of the corn type of civilization on the west and 
were immensely superior to their immediate neighbors whom 
we shall describe in a moment. The similar northern outposts 
in southern Colorado, the northern parts of Arizona, and New 
Mexico eked out a precarious existence by means of small 
streams used for irrigation. Some dwelt in such desert regions 
that when the time for corn-planting came they placed each 
seed of corn in a ball of mud, and buried the saturated ball in 
the sand of a dry flood plain one of those rivers that flow 
with the sandy side up, as they say out there. The corn was 
able to sprout and grow for some time before it again needed 
to be watered. 

Beyond the limits of the corn area the culture of the Indians 
fell to an extremely low level, especially in California and 
Utah. In our day California seems to have a very good cli- 
mate the people there claim that it is the best in the world. 
But for primitive Indians the California environment is about 
as bad as that of the Kalahari Desert. The Calif ornians of to- 
day, so far as they depend upon local products, owe their pros- 
perity mainly to cattle, wheat, barley, oranges, grapes, vegeta- 


bles, gold and petroleum. Every one of the main food products 
is of European or Asiatic origin, and was not available to the 
Indians before the days of Columbus. Moreover, all except 
wheat and cattle depend upon systems of irrigation much more 
elaborate than was possible for the primitive Indians. The 
steepness of the California mountains, the early ending of the 
rainy season, and the general conditions of topography cause 
the streams to provide almost no natural irrigation fit for corn. 
Consequently the few Indians who lived in California were 
doomed to a mode of life almost identical with that of the 
Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert. 

In Utah, Nevada and the other dry regions where winter 
rains prevail, the condition of civilization was equally low for 
similar reasons. Farther east in the great plains, agriculture 
was practically impossible. Not only did the absence of beasts 
of burden for plowing and of iron tools wherewith to cultivate 
the land make it impossible to subdue the grasslands, but the 
presence of great herds of buffalo added another serious diffi- 
culty. Not till the buffalo were exterminated could even the 
white man profitably cultivate most parts of the great plains. 
On the other hand, the buffaloes provided a means of livelihood 
more reliable and abundant than that of the hunters elsewhere, 
and the plains Indians were correspondingly advanced in 

The second center of primitive Indian culture lay, as we have 
said, in the Queen Charlotte Islands, north of Vancouver Is- 
land off the coast of British Columbia. There the Haidas, 
although unable to practice agriculture, built relatively large 
and permanent villages; engaged actively in commerce, kept 
slaves, and had a rather highly organized system of government 
and of social intercourse. How was this possible? Simply be- 
cause the sea provided two of the great necessities of civiliza- 
tion. One was a permanent supply of food within easy reach 




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and abundant enough so that a considerable number of people 
could live close together without being obliged to wander about. 
The other was easy transportation. The Haidas ^were prima- 
rily fishermen. Of course the fish wander around, but never- 
theless among the Queen Charlotte Islands they are found in 
abundance much of the time and every year are so abundant at 
some seasons that a supply can be laid by for the rest of the 
year. The cool but not unpleasant summers were a great help, 
while the mild winters made it possible to engage in fishing of 
some sort practically all the time. The fact that the Queen 
Charlotte Islands form an archipelago and that there are many 
deep bays and narrow inlets along the coast made navigation 
easy, as did the presence of forests of splendid pines from which 
boats could be hollowed. Thus among the Haidas, ships took 
the place of horses and cattle, just as fish took the place of 
corn, rice or wheat. In addition to all this the climate is very 
healthful, so that this small area provided the primary requi- 
sites of civilization. 

Turn now to the northeastern part of the United States where 
manufacturing is now most abundant and the population most 
dense. There where the climate is most stimulating ought we 
not to expect the highest development of Indian civilization? 
Certainly no such thing occurred there, but the reason is clear 
enough in the light of the previous discussions of this book. 
Without iron, beasts of burden or any such special advantages 
as those enjoyed by the Haidas, the Indians could not to any 
large degree practice any mode of life except hunting. They 
did indeed cultivate a little corn in openings in the forest, but 
to clear large patches and maintain them as permanent fields 
was out of the question. The speedy growth of grass and the 
extreme difficulty of spading up enough weedy, grassy land 
with their crude implements made it impossible. 

Nevertheless, and here is the significant fact, so far as 


energy, activity and the development of ideas are concerned, 
the Indians of the north rank extremely high. The Iroquois or 
Six Nations take the lead. They lived in what is now the state 
of New York. Only recently has the world realized how far 
these people had gone in the way of developing governmental 
institutions. A sort of constitution framed by them and 
preserved by word of mouth, has recently been published. It 
is crude and cruel, but it shows the prevalence of high ideals. 
The constitution outlines an institution suggesting the League 
of Nations. Its purpose was to create peace and justice among 
a group of neighboring and often hostile tribes. It provided 
that if any tribe had a grievance against another there should 
be meetings for consultation and adjustment. It further pro- 
vided that if any tribe failed to keep the peace, it should be 
chastised until it was ready to join with the rest in the great 
aim of creating a stable political system. 

In addition to this germ of modern Ideas as to peace and 
arbitration, the Iroquois had what may almost be regarded as 
the germ of woman's rights. At any rate, women were re- 
spected among them as among very few other primitive people. 
The main councils were Indeed composed of men, but the 
older women had the privilege of nominating the chiefs. 

The more these people are studied the more probable it 
seems that if they had had an adequate material basis for civ- 
ilization, they would have progressed rapidly. If beasts of 
burden and iron tools had enabled them to join their political 
sagacity with the material prosperity afforded by the corn cul- 
ture of the Pueblos and with the commercial skill of the Haidas, 
as might readily have happened, who knows but that Columbus 
and his followers might have found a highly civilized and popu- 
lous nation occupying the region where now the United States 
makes greatest progress. Taken as a whole does it not seem 
that when allowance is made for their stage of culture, the ad- 


justment of the Indians to their climate and to the resources of 
their land was as close as that of the people in other parts of 

the world? In the past as in the present, the main colors in the 

picture of human progress and activity in America seem to have 
been painted by the geographic environment. 



HAVING surveyed the general principles of human geography, 
and having looked at certain main portions of the earth in the 
light of those principles, we may well complete our study by a 
more detailed examination of certain phenomena in the United 
States. Let us first consider an example where the soil plays 
a dominant part. Although the effect of the soil upon the dis- 
tribution of human progress vies with that of climate and relief, 
it is much less noticeable. This is partly because the average 
person is unable to detect the quality of the soil, whereas a 
child can describe the weather and the hills. Moreover, the 
effects of the soil are easily and speedily altered by drainage, 
irrigation, fertilization, plowing, rotation of crops and various 
other methods, whereas it is much more difficult to change the 
climate and the relief. 

Alabama offers an excellent example of the way in which the 
soil may enter into the warp and woof of human relationships. 
From the standpoint of human geography, three main areas 
may be distinguished. The northern half of the state has poor 
soil, and is relatively rugged, two conditions which often go to- 
gether. The central part of this northern half is the south- 
western tip of the Appalachian Mountains which enter the 
state at the northeast corner, and are flanked on the south- 
east by the comparatively infertile plateau of old contorted 
rocks known as the Piedmont, and on the northwest by the 
roughly dissected continuation of the Allegheny plateau of 
Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Tennessee, consisting of moder- 
ately old rocks which still lie nearly horizontal. South of these 



three kinds of country, and sweeping around them parallel to 
the Gulf of Mexico, lies a series of belts of younger rocks form- 
ing the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The older belts, which were the 
first to be exposed as the sea retired, lie at greater altitudes and 
farther inland than the younger, and have naturally been more 
fully dissected by streams. In Alabama the differences be- 
tween one belt and another are peculiarly clear. The belts 
which rim the southern and western margin of the Piedmont, 
the Appalachians, and the Plateau consist of sandy rocks con- 
taining little lime. They form a somewhat hilly country, not 
so rough as the plateaus, but with relatively poor soil, good 
enough for pines, but not especially favorable to broad-leaved 
trees or crops. This completes the northern area of relatively 
poor country which becomes excellent only in the far north- 
west where the Tennessee River has worn out a broad valley 
and deposited rich alluvium. 

The second area centers in the Black Belt, or central prairie 
region, which extends across the state a little south of the cen- 
ter in the neighborhood of Montgomery and Selma. The Black 
Belt consists of a sort of rotten limestone known as Selma chalk. 
The rock is so soft that it has been worn down to a gently un- 
dulating topography which permits practically all parts to be 
cultivated. The soil, a dark gray or almost black clay with 
some sand, is extremely fertile, and is especially good for cot- 
ton. The dark color of this " black waxy " soil, as it is called, 
has given the region the name of the " Black Belt." There are 
indeed plenty of black people, but they are not responsible for 
the name. With the Black Belt should be put what is known 
as the Post Oak and Blue Marl Regions, as Dr. R. M. Harper 
has named them, where the soil is also excellent. The three 
together form a peculiarly fertile strip thirty or forty miles 
wide extending roughly from southeast to northwest across the 
state a little south of the center. 


Farther south in a transitional area of reddish sandy loam, 
known as the Red Hills, the soil is moderately rich but the hills 
sometimes rise two hundred feet. Then come the infertile 
Lime Hills and Lime Sinks, and the poor sandy soil of the 
Southern Pine Belt, making the third of the main areas from 
the human standpoint. Thus in a broad way Alabama has 
three main parts; first, an area of poor soils and unfavorable 
topography in all the northern half aside from the Tennessee 
Valley; second, the rich, black, waxy soil of the Black Belt, 
together with the good soil of its immediate borders; and third, 
a southern belt of poor soils. 

In practically every phase of human activity the results of 
this situation are so apparent that the student of the geography 
of Alabama is likely to forget the dominant tints which deter- 
mine the main outlines of the great picture of human geog- 
raphy, and to be lost in enthusiasm over the beautiful contrasts 
and shadings afforded by the soil and relief in a single small 
part of the canvas. 

Let us consider the nature of some of these contrasts, and 
then explain them. One of the most noteworthy features of the 
Black Belt is the small proportion of white inhabitants, no- 
where much over thirty per cent. The two areas where the 
soil is poor, on the other hand, have a very large percentage of 
white inhabitants, rising to over ninety in the rugged and infer- 
tile northern counties, and to seventy or eighty in the infertile 
southern counties. Of course the reverse is true of the Ne- 
groes; in some counties of the Black Belt they comprise almost 
ninety per cent of the population, whereas in some of the north- 
ern counties they number less than one per cent. The white 
people seem almost to shun the good land, whereas the colored 
people seek it. This is true not only of Alabama but all over 
the South, as has been well shown by Dr. Harper. Moreover, 
the same principle applies in other parts of the world, such as 


China, England, and Italy. Wherever the soil is highly fertile, 
the higher elements of the population are apt to form only a 
small minority, while the lower elements form a huge majority. 

Among the farmers this is even more notably the case than 
among the rest of the population. In the Black Belt there is 
less than pne white farmer per square mile; on the infertile 
sands of the south there are five or even seven on an average, 
and in the lands of the north where ruggedness is added to in- 
fertility, the number runs still higher, being five to nine in a 
large group of counties. The number of colored farmers varies 
in the inverse way, being four to seven per square mile in the 
counties of the Black Belt where the soil is richest, and drop- 
ping to little more than one in the sands of the south. Curious 
as it may seem, the tendency of the white farmers to keep away 
from the good soil and settle on the poor soil is even greater 
than that of the white people engaged in other occupations. 
The Negro farmer, on the contrary, seems to be drawn toward 
the good soil almost as by a magnet, and avoids the poorer, less 
fertile soils. 

The products of the soil, as well as the people who till it, 
vary greatly from the Black Belt to the other parts of the 
country. Since the soil of the Black Belt is admirable for cot- 
ton, it is not surprising that about 1910, when the cotton-raising 
industry of Alabama was most prosperous, half or two-thirds 
pf all the cultivated land was devoted to this crop. As one 
goes away from the fertile soil of the Black Belt, the tendency 
to utilize the land for cotton declines rapidly. In a large part 
of northern Alabama, and likewise on the sandy soil of the 
south, the area in cotton is less than ten per cent of the total 
area cultivated by the white people. The Negroes, however, 
everywhere have had the habit of raising an unduly large pro- 
portion of cotton. In 1910, in practically every county in the 
state, more than half of the land cultivated by Negroes was 


given to cotton. In the Black Belt many of the colored farmers 
actually used to put more than four-fifths of their land into 
cotton, planting practically nothing else except a patch of corn 
too small to supply the needs of even their own families. 

This represents the extreme of what is known as one-crop 
farming. It needs no argument to show how dangerous it is. 
If many of the people depend on a single crop, any variation in 
the size and price of that crop is bound to be important. If the 
crop is unstable, like cotton, the situation is far worse. Cotton 
is unstable partly because the boll weevil lays its eggs in the 
green cotton balls and ruins them. It is also unstable because 
the United States still raises more than half of the world's total 
cotton crop and formerly raised an even larger percentage. 
Thus the price depends largely upon the American crop, for a 
poor crop here is not likely to be fully balanced by a good crop 
elsewhere. Moreover, cotton is an export crop, and therefore 
is much more subject to interruptions by such events as the 
Civil War or the World War than is a crop like corn which is 
grown mainly for home consumption. All these things combine 
to cause the one-crop system of farming to be very precarious 
in Alabama, especially among the colored people, and most of 
all among the colored people of the Black Belt. 

Since the soil of the Black Belt is so well adapted to cotton, 
one would naturally expect the yield per acre to be large, but 
this is by no means the case. On a map showing the yield of 
cotton per acre on the farms of white men, the Black Belt 
forms a continuous strip where the average yield in 1909 was 
less than a third of a bale per acre, and in some counties less 
than a fourth. Yields of more than four-tenths of a bale per 
acre as the average for a whole county were obtained only in 
countries where the soil is relatively poor. Among the Negroes 
a similar but even more extreme condition prevails. In the 
Black Belt the average yield on the colored farms is systematic 


cally less than on the white man's farms, but it shows the 
same tendency to be low where the soil Is good. In 1909, 
before the boil weevil had begun to do serious damage, it aver- 
aged less than a fourth of a bale in the Black Belt, and in some 
counties less than a fifth. Away from the Black Belt, the yield 
increases quite regularly except in the Tennessee Valley where 
it is also low. One of the most curious features of the whole 
situation is that the more the soil and the social conditions de- 
part from the type found in the Black Belt, the greater the 
yield and the more nearly the colored farms rival the white 
farms. Where the soil is poor, Negroes and whites both get 
about the same return and both get much more than in the fer- 
tile Black Belt. 

The good yield in the poorer regions is of course due partly 
to the fact that only the best land is there put into cotton. But 
that does not explain the very low average yield of the best 
land, nor the tendency for the Negroes to rival the whites on 
the poor land. Nor does it explain the equally curious fact 
that where the soil is most fertile the value of the farm land per 
acre is less than in almost any other part of the state. Of course 
the value of the land depends directly upon its productivity. 
People cannot afford high prices for land that brings a small 
return. But why is the return so small in the Black Belt? It 
was not so a century ago, for then the land there was highly 
valued, while land in the sandy regions and the hills could be 
had almost for the taking. It begins to look as though good 
soil were a distinct disadvantage. 

Looking at the matter more closely we discover that the 
disadvantages of the good soil fall mainly on the Negro, not 
the white man. The size of farms illustrates this. On the good 
soil of the Black Belt the white farms are large, averaging 
nearly two hundred acres. The colored farms, on the contrary, 
are small, averaging less than a fourth as large as those of the 


white men. But where the soil and relief are poor, the farms 
of the two groups do not differ greatly in size, the average for 
the whites being seventy-five to eighty acres and for the col- 
ored people fifty-five. This illustrates two important geo- 
graphic principles. One of these is that as a rule, the better the 
land, the larger the holdings of the rich and the smaller the 
holdings of the poor. The second is that, under adverse con- 
ditions, social contrasts of all kinds are reduced to a mini- 
mum, whereas under favorable conditions they are accentu- 

This last principle is illustrated by the ownership of homes 
and farms. In the Black Belt practically all of the white farm- 
ers own their farms; on the poorer soils this is not so fully the 
case. The great contrast, however, occurs among the Negroes. 
Among them the degree of tenancy in the Black Belt is as- 
tounding. Scarcely five per cent own their homes free of mort- 
gage, and less than half own their farms even under heavy 
mortgages. Around Birmingham, on the contrary, more than 
half of the colored people own their farms without mortgages, 
while in Mobile county the percentage actually rises above 
eighty. Here again as one goes away from the Black Belt, the 
condition of the colored people approximates toward that of 
the whites. 

Information as to the rates of interest paid by the colored 
people as compared with the whites are not available, but they 
are high. When both races are taken together, a clear contrast 
is apparent between good soil and poor. All rates of interest 
are higher in the South than in the North, so that the majority 
of farm mortgages in Alabama bear seven per cent or more. 
In the Black Belt, however, and there only, save for three coun- 
ties near Mobile, the rate of interest in 1920 averaged less than 
six per cent. Elsewhere it rises higher, and in the less favored 
counties actually reaches eight per cent. If the value of land 


per acre in the Black Belt were higher than elsewhere, this 
would not be surprising. The most valuable land would be ex- 
pected to carry the lowest rate of interest. But the land in the 
Black Belt, as we have seen, is less valuable than the other farm 
land. The point seems to be that even though it yields 
less per acre, the land in the Black Belt is more profitable and 
hence more easily salable than the land elsewhere. It is profita- 
ble because crops can be raised upon it with the minimum 
degree of labor and intelligence. 

Before we explain these seeming inconsistencies, let us look 
at the contrast between the whites and the colored people in 
still another way. Houses and barns furnished one of the best 
measures of prosperity. In this respect, as in almost every 
other, the Black Belt stands out conspicuously. According to 
the Census, the average value of the farm buildings of the 
white men in the Black Belt nowhere fell below $674 in 1910, 
while in one county it rose above $1,000. These values do in- 
deed sound very small, but compared with those for other parts 
of the South at that time, they are large. As one goes away 
from the Black Belt, the values decline almost to $300 in the 
sand hills and lime sink country of the south, and to $250 or 
less in the poor counties of the north. The magnitude of this 
difference becomes apparent when one considers that the aver- 
age white farmer's house and barn are worth three or four 
times as much in the Black Belt as in almost any other part 
of the state. 

For the colored people the reverse is true. Not only does 
the value of the buildings fall to the almost incredibly low 
limits of $94 in the poorest counties and $297 in the best, near 
Birmingham, but where the white people's farm buildings are 
most valuable, those of the colored people are poorest. In no 
less than five counties of the Black Belt and there alone 
the value of the buildings on colored farms falls below a him- 


dred dollars. In the Black Belt the white man's farm buildings 
average five to eight times as valuable as those of the colored 
people around him; in most of the state the corresponding fig- 
ure is only two or three, while in the sandy southern counties 
the figure falls below two. Is it not extraordinary that the fer- 
tility of the soil should lead to such high prosperity among the 
white people and such poverty among the colored, whereas the 
poor soils bring equality? 

This tendency toward a high-grade aristocracy and a low- 
grade peasantry on the good soil is especially clear in respect 
to illiteracy. Ordinarily illiteracy is higher in rural regions than 
in cities, but in Alabama the rural Black Belt shows the lowest 
illiteracy among the native whites, even less than in the cities 
of Birmingham and Mobile. That gives a measure of the de- 
gree to which the white people of the Black Belt surpass the 
other inhabitants of Alabama. In some of the rugged, infertile 
counties of the north and the sandy counties of the south 
the white illiteracy is from six to eleven times as great as in the 
Black Belt. Among the colored people, on the contrary, the 
illiteracy in the Black Belt in 1920 was far greater than in any 
other part of the state and from twenty to thirty times as great 
as among the white people. In many counties more than forty 
per cent of the colored adults cannot read or write. Nowhere 
else in Alabama are conditions so bad. Moreover, the very 
regions where infertile soil and unfavorable relief are com- 
monly given as excuses for illiteracy among the white people, 
are the parts where the colored people are best educated. In edu- 
cation, as in the value of buildings, the regions where the soil 
is best are characterized by a scanty white aristocracy which 
stands very high and by dense masses of colored people whose 
level is extremely low. Where the soil is poor and the condi- 
tions of life are hard, not only are the colored people relatively 
few compared with the whites, but the whites are depressingly 


ignorant, being almost rivalled in some counties by the colored 
people, who there do better than anywhere else. 

The difference between the Black Belt and the poorer parts 
of Alabama is reflected in politics as clearly as in economic con- 
ditions and education. For example, in 1848 the Democratic 
Party had begun the process whereby it finally gained control 
of the South and ultimately carried it out of the Union. That 
sweep of a political idea represents a stroke of the artist's 
brush dipped in the colors of climate. In the ultimate analy- 
sis, as we have seen elsewhere, slavery persisted in the South 
and not in the North for economic reasons. As long as the 
institution of slavery remained unassailed, the people of the 
southern states divided themselves between the two great polit- 
ical parties in the normal fashion. The prosperous people, 
unless they had some special interest, tended to be conservative 
and to adhere to the Whig Party. The less prosperous people, 
unless they also had some special interest, tended to be pro- 
gressive and favored the Democratic Party with its promises of 
a new order and of a millenium for the poor and oppressed. 
Inevitably, then, the white people of the Black Belt were 
predominantly Whigs. 

The presidential election of 1848 occurred when the South 
was already beginning to be strongly swept by the conflict over 
slavery. Nevertheless the aristocratic Black Belt still cast 
about ten votes for Taylor, the Whig candidate, for every six 
or eight cast for Cass, the Democratic candidate. In northern 
Alabama on the contrary, among the poor white people of the 
mountains, many counties cast three votes for Cass compared 
with one for his Whig opponent. Still more significant is the 
fact that even in southern Alabama where the sandy soil pre- 
vails, the vote for the Democratic candidate likewise exceeded 
that for the Whig in at least four counties. The Black Belt 
was the last stronghold of the conservative Whigs. Only when 


they saw that their economic situation was threatened, did they 
swing over to the Democratic Party. The character of the soil 
was the foundation of the train of causes which made that par- 
ticular region politically conservative, whereas the poverty of 
the soil elsewhere made the people more radical. 

Let us try to bring more order out of the mass of facts pre- 
sented in this chapter. Our main conclusion thus far is that, 
In Alabama at least, the best soil has tended to concentrate on 
itself a small, but rich, well educated, powerful and conserva- 
tive white aristocracy who lord it over a highly numerous, poor, 
ignorant and incompetent colored peasantry. The poorer soils, 
on the other hand, have tended toward the concentration of a 
people among whom there are no such extremes as on the rich 
soil; the white and the black, the rich and the poor, the well 
educated and the ignorant, the highest and the lowest tend to 
differ far less than in the Black Belt. Indeed, the poorer the 
soil and the rougher the relief the more fully the contrasts 
disappear. The social conditions are closely analogous to those 
which cause the people of deserts to be highly democratic. Just 
as no one in the desert can have a very large tent or carry with 
him a great amount of breakable, heavy furniture, so the peo- 
ple on the poorer soils cannot accumulate the capital wherewith 
to build fine houses, add lands to lands to form great estates, 
and educate their children at the best schools wherever they 
may be. 

Although this sociologic contrast owes its origin in part to 
the direct effect of wealth on the one hand and poverty on the 
other, it may owe still more to the process of social selection 
which we have so often seen exemplified. Let us trace the his- 
toric process by which the Black Belt has become so different 
economically and sociologically from the rest of Alabama 
Most of the first settlers approached Alabama from the states 
farther north. Some traveled along the Piedmont Plateau at 


the base of the mountains; some came down the great Appa- 
lachian Valley just west of the Blue Ridge; a few came from 
the coast. The settlers of a new country of course comprise 
many different types. Some are earnest seekers for new 
homes; others are adventurers who want to get away from the 
restraints of older societies; some have failed at home and fare 
forth with the hope of retrieving their fortunes; others have 
succeeded but are so full of the spirit of adventure, the love of 
novelty, or the desire to get ahead rapidly, that they cannot be 
happy at home when new regions beckon them onward. 

When people of various types like these leave their old 
homes, the accuracy and extent of their knowledge of the new 
land are highly diverse. Some have merely heard that Ala- 
bama, for example, offers a good chance to the settler. They 
load up their household goods and venture forth without any 
definite plan. They tell themselves that they will keep an 
open mind, look over the land as they go along, pick up in- 
formation here and there, and settle in some place that strikes 
their fancy. Others, of a more thoughtful type, investigate 
the possibilities of the new region, read about it in books or 
papers, or as was much more often the case in the history of 
Alabama, get information by letter from persons who have 
already gone to the new country. In that way they find out 
where the best land is located, and where they had better set- 
tle. Thus at the very start there arises a process of selection. 
Some of the ignorant and happy-go-lucky people may settle 
on some of the best land, but many settle elsewhere. Among 
those who are especially thoughtful and competent, on the 
other hand, a much larger proportion are likely to go directly 
to the best region. 

Many factors beside the quality of the soil doubtless enter 
into the choice of homes. Our point is merely that when a new 
country is settled, other things being equal, a higher percentage 


of the more intelligent people go to the good lands than to the 
poor. That appears to have been what happened in Alabama. 
It is certainly what happens today, provided there are no dis- 
turbing factors such as the race question. If we divide the 
counties of almost any large state on the basis of the value of 
the land, the United States census shows that the foreign-born 
farmers who settle on the good land are better educated 
- more literate than those who settle on the poor. In other 
words, among modern settlers those who have intelligence use 
it, and those who have not, trust to luck. In early Alabama 
there is plenty of evidence that the same was true. 

In later generations this initial advantage of the Black Belt 
was intensified, as is usually the case, but was also mingled 
with disadvantages, as is also usually the case. Suppose that 
two men, one intelligent and industrious, the other unintelli- 
gent and shiftless, happen to settle near together on poor soil. 
Which is more likely to move away? Many factors of course 
enter into the matter, but the course of history and the census 
data of the United States seem to show that the intelligent 
man is the more likely to go. Not -only does Ms intelligence 
prompt him to this, but his hard work enables him to acquire 
sufficient capital to buy land where the soil is better. If two 
similar men settle on good soil like that of the Black Belt, the 
unintelligent and thriftless one is likely to fall into debt, and 
perhaps mortgage his farm. In a year of misfortune his mort- 
gage is likely to be foreclosed, and he may move away to a dis- 
trict where the soil is poorer and land can still be had almost for 
the taking. 

Exactly this sort of thing happened in Alabama again and 
again during the early days. In that way, as well as because 
wealth provided opportunities, the Black Belt became the home 
of an aristocracy which furnished a surprisingly large propor- 
tion of leaders. When such an aristocracy becomes established, 


the children tend to intermarry with their own kind and the 
original qualities are preserved. Thus even today the per- 
centage of young people who go to college is peculiarly high 
among the white people of the Black Belt, as is the number of 
adults included in Who's Who. 

Now for the disadvantages of a fertile soil. Why has the 
Black Belt developed an ignorant Negro peasantry as well as 
an intelligent white aristocracy? The causes which lead to 
one have also led to the other. When intelligent men acquire 
large holdings and are able to raise profitable crops, they nat- 
urally need laborers. They do not wish to sell their land to 
independent farmers; they want workers who are willing to 
become tenants. In the early days of Alabama the natural 
way to supply this need was to purchase slaves. The rich 
planters wanted a certain number of the more delicate and 
intelligent type, the so-called "Guinea Niggers/ 3 to act as 
house servants, but the great need was for large numbers of 
field hands, the brawny and rather stupid type often desig- 
nated as " Congo Niggers." That gave a low stamp to the 
colored population as a whole. 

The sale of slaves from one state to another did not help 
matters. In Kentucky, for example, the climate is so cool 
that cotton cannot be raised in appreciable quantities. So 
the Kentucky slave owners sold their surplus slaves farther 
south, and some of them even raised slaves as they raised 
horses. Before the Civil War the shipment of slaves from Ken- 
tucky and other relatively northern slave regions to the cot- 
ton country became a regular business. The first to be thus 
sold were naturally those who had strong physiques but were 
lacking in intelligence or were surly in disposition. Such 
Negroes were good enough to pick cotton in the hot sun. The 
Black Belt, by reason of its good soil, absorbed a high propor- 
tion of them. 


Before the Civil War another factor may have slightly low- 
ered the caliber of the Negroes in the Black Belt; since then 
it has quite certainly done so to a high degree. In the days of 
slavery a few slaves in every generation were set free. Some- 
times the freedmen were given a bit of land and allowed to 
settle near the old home. If they had ambition, however, they 
were likely to wish to strike out for themselves. In that case 
the natural thing was to go off to the sparsely settled regions 
of infertile soil where plenty of land was available at an ex- 
tremely low price. Thus the infertile parts of Alabama re- 
ceived a few Negroes who were unusually intelligent and com- 
petent, and of excellent disposition, as evinced by the fact that 
their masters set them free. 

Since the Civil War, a similar selective process has acted 
more fully. As soon as the slaves were set free, most of them 
rented the land on which they were already at work. Before 
long, however, a considerable number of the more independent 
and ambitious wanted to do things on a larger scale than before, 
and to feel that they were really free, like the white men. In 
the parts of Alabama where the soil and topography are less 
favorable, large tracts of land were still almost unoccupied. 
So the first great movement of the Negroes after the War in 
Alabama was an outward migration of the more independent 
and ambitious types from the congested Black Belt into the 
regions of poorer soil. Their new neighbors were mainly white 
men who had been less successful than the aristocracy of the 
Black Belt. Thus on the poor soil the two races approached 
one another, not only geographically, but socially and even in 
their biological inheritance of intelligence and temperament. 
But in the Black Belt the contrast became greater than ever, 
because the abler, thriftier Negroes were more likely than the 
stupid, thriftless ones, to move away. 

A later series of events has still further lowered the quality 


of the Negroes in the Black Belt. This began with the demand 
for colored people as servants in the North, and with the op- 
portunities for education offered by northerners who estab- 
lished schools in the South. Both factors tended to draw off 
the more ambitious young people and to prevent them from 
returning to the Black Belt. If a boy educated in a school 
like Hampton or Tuskegee wants to buy a farm of his own 
rather than become the tenant of some large white owner in the 
Black Belt, he naturally settles in one of the counties where the 
soil is poorer and the Negroes less numerous. 

Then came the boll weevil, which reached the southwestern 
corner of Alabama in 1907, and during the next eight years 
spread completely over the state. That dealt a terrible blow to 
the cotton industry. The more fully people depended upon 
cotton, the more they suffered. The region of greatest suffering 
was naturally the Black Belt, and the people who suffered 
most were the colored people. On the heels of this disaster 
the World War sent the price of cotton toppling downward so 
fast that everyone was urged to " buy a bale " in order to save 
the cotton states from ruin. Before the cotton farmers recov- 
ered from this blow, the war industries in the North created a 
tremendous demand for labor,, which could no longer be sup- 
plied by immigrants from Europe. Finally, in 1926 a phenome- 
nally abundant crop, the greatest in history, caused the price 
of cotton to drop so low that all the profit on a whole year's 
work was destroyed. 

These conditions subjected the colored people of the cotton 
belt to a tremendous outward push because their one great 
crop failed them, and to a tremendous pull because of the high 
wages offered not only in their own city of Birmingham, but 
far north in Chicago and elsewhere. The inevitable result was 
a tremendous abandonment of cotton raising and a migration 
away from the Black Belt. In many counties the area devoted 


to cotton was only half as great in 1919 &$ fa *99> while the 
population fell off twenty per cent. Nevertheless in the poor 
soils of the north and south of Alabama both the area devoted 
to cotton and the population actually increased. In the south- 
ern tier of counties the increase in population ranged from 
twelve to twenty-four per cent, and around Birmingham it 
reached thirty-seven per cent. In this crisis, as in almost every 
other, the Black Belt acted differently from the rest of the 
state. Moreover, this last migration, like practically every 
other, was selective. The most conservative and shiftless Ne- 
groes were the ones most likely to stay at home; the more ener- 
getic and ambitious moved out. Thus a long series of events 
has tended more or less steadily to concentrate a very poor 
type of Negro on the rich land of the Black Belt. Now we see 
why it is that, although the soil of the Black Belt is unusually 
good for cotton, the yield per acre is smaller than anywhere 
else in the state. As the quality of the Negroes has declined, 
not only has the soil been depleted by the constant cultivation 
of a single crop without proper fertilization and rotation, but 
the methods of cultivation have grown more lax, and the rav- 
ages of the boll weevil have not been intelligently checked by 
burning the cotton stalks and otherwise. The white man him- 
self has been unwise in his methods, and the Negro still more 
so. Even on the white farms the Negroes do all the work and 
the owners cannot make them work intelligently. So the white 
planters have yielded to the temptation to get the best possible 
returns, regardless of what happens to the land or of how much 
the boll weevil increases. 

Here then is what has happened: the soil of the Black Belt 
was originally very fertile. It attracted settlers of a high type. 
Their success and the nature of their crops attracted people of 
a poorer type. The inefficiency of the poor type, together with 


the desire of the higher type for immediate gain, permitted 
the soil to deteriorate. Other factors like the boll weevil, the 
World War, the bumper crop of 1926, have taken a hand. The 
geographic factors have remained almost unchanged, for even 
the depletion of the soil is only temporary, but a human cycle 
has taken place. 

Such a cycle is typical of what is happening all over the 
world. One sees it in England, for example, where the fertile 
eastern counties have been surprisingly productive, both agri- 
culturally and as a source of leaders. But today the peasantry 
there has fallen to a low ebb and it is doubtful whether the up- 
per classes are holding their own in the face of the attractive 
power of the city. One sees an extremely old phase of the cycle 
in China, where the best soil in the Great Plains is peopled by 
a highly intelligent and competent aristocracy which appears 
to be declining, and by a vast body of industrious but dull and 
unprogressive peasants. 

Even in a new state like Iowa the same thing is evident. In 
the six almost purely rural counties with the least valuable 
farm land, only thirty-eight per cent of the native white farm- 
ers and fourteen per cent of the foreign-born are tenants. In 
the six similar counties with the most expensive land, the corre- 
sponding numbers are sixty and fifty, even though the first 
settlers arrived only about 1860. Of course all parts of Iowa 
rank high agriculturally, but even so, there is a great difference 
between one part and another as to the rapidity with which a 
tenant class is developing. Sometimes indeed, tenancy is a 
step toward ownership, but as a rule it is a sign of the develop- 
ment of a group of people who, through lack of ability or oppor- 
tunity, are forced to remain at a relatively low social level in 
comparison with that of the owners of the soil How far this 
tendency will go in a state like Iowa, no one can say. The sig~ 


nificant thing is that wherever good soil and poor lie near to- 
gether, and other conditions are similar, the good soil tends 
toward the development of class distinctions and an aristo- 
cratic form of social organization, whereas the poor soil tends 
toward uniformity and democracy. 



IN our study of the decrees whereby the earth allots certain 
occupations, modes of life, degrees of health, and stages of prog- 
ress to certain definite regions, we have passed from the bolder 
to the more delicate tints of the terrestrial canvas. In this last 
chapter let us confine ourselves to a small section of the earth's 
surface where two contrasted tints stand side by side. They 
illustrate the local contrasts which we encounter almost every 
day, even though we often fail to think of them. 

Albemarle and Buckingham counties in central Virginia af- 
ford an impressive contrast. Albemarle is a beautiful, hilly 
district in the Piedmont region at the eastern base of the Blue 
Ridge. Riding over its finely paved main roads, one is charmed 
by fertile fields of corn, wheat and hay, broad, well-kept apple 
orchards, wooded hills, and picturesque pastures studded with 
dark cedars or pretty scrub pines. In spring the pastures are 
gorgeous with orange-yellow masses of Scotch broom, intro- 
duced by Thomas Jefferson to check the growth of gullies in 
his fields; the meadows are yellow with European buttercups, 
or white with daisies which likewise came to Virginia from Eu- 
rope, but by way of the hay which the northern soldiers brought 
with them for their horses during the Civil War. 

Even more charming than the fields are the many attractive 
farm houses nestling among the trees, and the large planta- 
tion homes, which might almost be called manor houses. 
Walls of red brick, set off by tall white pillars two stories high, 
gleam for a moment on some fair hilltop and then are hidden 


among the trees. Supreme among such houses stands Monti- 
cello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, on Its acres of tree-girt 
lawn where many feet of the hilltop were cut off in order to 
provide level land for a human habitation. The house itself is 
a superb example of the way in which a truly great mind inter- 
ests itself in every phase of life, and evolves original ideas along 
a score of lines. Witness, for example, the clever way in which 
the slave quarters that flank the house on either side are hidden 
beneath the brow of the hill, so that from the house itself one 
scarcely sees more than their roofs. From Monticello one can 
look eastward and downward upon the well-tilled Piedmont 
lowland, or southwestward to the prosperous little city of 
Charlottesville and to its hilltop where Jefferson, through a tele- 
scope, watched day by day the rising walls of the University of 
Virginia, another beautiful and influential product of his fer- 
tile imagination. 

Throughout almost its entire history, Albemarle County has 
been noteworthy for its prosperity, education, churches and or- 
ganizations devoted to culture and progress as well as to mate- 
rial prosperity. It has been still more noteworthy for its large 
proportion of highminded leaders like the early families of 
Lewis and Clark who led the famous expedition that explored 
the Columbia River and saved that region to the United States; 
or like Monroe who moved to the county to be near Jefferson; 
or the Langhorne family which came in later times and gave to 
the world that fine exponent of America and of feminism, 
Lady Astor. 

Southeast of Albemarle County lies Buckingham. The 
muddy flood of the Potomac rolls between the two, but there is 
a greater separation. Buckingham County has the reputation 
of being one of the most backward counties of Virginia, while 
Albemarle is highly progressive. Buckingham not only has 
scarcely three-quarters as many people now as in 1810, while 


Albemarle has twice as many, but Buckingham has lost its 
leaders in far greater proportion than its common people. For 
mile after mile one rides through a scrubby, half-grown forest 
of hardwood trees with large patches of abandoned fields 
grown up to the useless scrub pine which is too small and light 
for either timber or fire wood. On the roads, muddy, horse- 
drawn vehicles have not yet been replaced by automobiles. 
Not a mile of road in the county is paved; practically none of 
the roads are even dragged or scraped to get rid of the ruts cut 
deep in the sticky spring mud. Here and there a little shack 
stands in a clearing, but one cannot tell whether it belongs to 
white people or colored. Once in a while a more pretentious 
house is surrounded by broader, more fertile fields, but most 
of the houses of this sort are old, some are unoccupied, and 
practically all are decaying. In such a county it is not strange 
that the hunting and fishing are good. The schools are like- 
wise poor and widely scattered. In one district perhaps 
eight by fifteen miles in extent there is only one school for 
the white children, and that has only one room. Many of the 
children cannot possibly get to school much of the year. 

The people complain that such conditions are the result of 
neglect and unfairness on the part of the state government. 
More to the point is the assertion that the local government is 
corrupt and wasteful, but even this is mainly a result rather 
than a cause of the inefficiency of the people. Nevertheless 
the value of the taxable property is so low, and the population 
so sparse, that even the most honest officials, unless extraor- 
dinary wise, energetic and persuasive, could not build cement 
roads and maintain good schools, as is done in Albemarle 

Why should there be such a difference between regions so 
close together and so similar in many respects? The obvious 
answer is that the people are different, but why should the 


people thus differ? Is It sheer accident? This is a geograph- 
ical problem, and we must inquire whether either county has 
any appreciable advantage. So far as general location is con- 
cerned there seems little to choose; both counties lie on the 
James River in the Piedmont Plateau with their centers about 
sixty miles from Richmond in a more or less westerly direction. 
In climate they are almost identical. Albemarle does indeed lie 
a little higher than its neighbor and is consequently a trifle 
more healthful and stimulating, but even an ardent advocate 
of climatic influences could scarcely find in this any appreciable 
cause of the general disparity. 

When it comes to the relief of the land the main advantages 
are with Buckingham. That county is distinctly the more 
level of the two, easier to cultivate and easier to traverse. 
Parts of Albemarle are so rough that when you ask the intelli- 
gent people of Charlottesville where the nearest Mountain 
Whites are found, they answer: " Only four or five miles away, 
over there in the Ragged Mountains. That is the place for 
moonshine whiskey. They put it in quart fruit jars and bring 
it to the city." 

Perhaps the soil of the two counties is different. The pro- 
fessor of botany at the University of Virginia says tl^at judging 
by the wild vegetation the soil of the poorer county is better 
than that of the other; the professor of geology says that judg- 
ing by the rock formations it may be the other way around. 
Judging by the United States census one would say that there 
is little to choose. In 1919 the average value of the crops per 
acre amounted to more than $65 in Albemarle and less than 
$70 in Buckingham. So from the standpoint of the soil, as 
from that of relief, the advantage, if there is any, lies with the 
poorer county. The same is true of the mineral resources, for 
Buckingham produces good slate and once had some insignif- 
icant mines of gold and iron, while Albemarle has no minerals 


worth exploiting. But none of these differences is enough 
to account for the social and economic contrast. 

Where then shall we turn for an explanation? The only re- 
maining feature of the geographic environment is the routes of 
travel which traverse the two counties. Do they show any dif- 
ferences capable of explaining the profound differences in the 
people? Yes, in two respects, although neither works in quite 
the way that one would expect. In pioneer times when the 
character of a population is being determined, rivers, river 
valleys and mountain passes are extremely important because 
they guide the routes of migration. Later they are equally im- 
portant because they determine where canals, railways, motor 
highways and centers of communication shall be located. In 
Virginia the James River has always been the most important 
waterway and its valley was for a long time the most vital line 
of movement from east to west. This condition gave Bucking- 
ham County an advantage at the start, and would lead us to ex- 
pect a condition the opposite of that which actually prevails. 

The James River forms the northwestern and northern 
boundary of Buckingham County for forty miles much more 
if all the windings are taken into account. In the middle of 
that stretch the southern end of Albemarle County is bordered 
by the river for a dozen miles or more. No part of Bucking- 
ham is more than twenty-five miles from the river, while three- 
fifths is within ten miles. Part of Albemarle, on the contrary, 
lies more than thirty miles from the river, while only about a 
quarter lies within ten miles. This fraction does not rise to 
a half even if we include the short navigable portion of the little 
Rivanna River which flows south through Albemarle. 

In our day of railroads and automobiles, such conditions 
make practically no difference; in early days they made all the 
difference in the world. On the ordinary dirt roads of Vir- 
ginia, with horses or mules to do the pulling, a haul of a tun- 


died miles eats up all the profit on wheat or corn and makes 
the ultimate sale an actual loss. So a haul of even sixty miles 
from the center of either Buckingham or Albemarle counties to 
tide-water at Richmond was a very serious matter. Of course 
it was not so bad in the case of tobacco, for that product is light 
compared with its value, a fact which helps Buckingham where 
much tobacco is grown, but not Albemarle. Nevertheless even 
for tobacco growers the cost of transportation over dirt roads 
is so serious that as soon as the settlements of Virginia spread 
beyond tide-water, that is, west of Richmond, there began to 
be agitation for the improvement of the waterways. Washing- 
ton was the most earnest and influential advocate of this policy. 
He wished not only to benefit Virginia but to connect the At- 
lantic Coast with the Great Lakes, the Ohio, the Mississippi, 
the Far West, and even the Pacific, by a series of waterways 
supplemented by short links of good road. No one then 
dreamed of railways or automobiles, and it looked as if water- 
ways would always be the best means of communication. 

The first step was to overcome the falls and rapid along the 
" fall line " where the old Piedmont rocks meet the new rocks 
of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. That meant canals and locks 
around the falls above Richmond on the James River, above 
Washington on the Potomac, and at corresponding points else- 
where. The second step was to straighten and deepen the chan- 
nel above the fall line until the base of the Appalachians was 
reached. Then came the third step in the form of more canals 
around the rapids where the streams traverse the Blue Ridge. 

The Revolution checked the plans for such development, but 
when peace was assured Washington began agitating again. 
The whole matter is fully described by Professor W. F. Dun- 
away in a useful member of that great series of documents 
known as doctors' theses, published in this case by Columbia 
University. To cut a long story short, the James River Com- 


pany, which later became the James River and Kanawha Com- 
pany, was organized by private subscription, but with state 
aid, to improve the James River. By 1795 a cana l around the 
falls above Richmond had been completed, so that boats from 
upriver could load and unload at the city; the river as far 
upstream as Lynchburg near the foot of the Blue Ridge was 
soon cleared of obstructions, and the future looked bright. In- 
deed it was bright. For sixty years thereafter the James River 
Company, or its successor, was the largest and most influential 
corporation in the state; for decades it yielded its stockholders 
twelve per cent or more each year. The state took it over, to 
be sure, in 1820 because it had difficulty in financing its more 
ambitious projects, but that is beyond our problem. 

Suppose you had lived in Albemarle or Buckingham counties 
in 1795, ^ ow would you have felt? If you were an ordinary 
intelligent farmer living within ten miles of the river, you would 
have been overjoyed. No more long drives to Richmond; just 
a short haul five miles or less for about a third of the Buck- 
ingham people put your produce on a regular boat, and 
there you are as good as at the market. Thus spoke many of 
the Buckingham people and some of those in Albemarle, but 
only a few, for nearly nine-tenths of Albemarle still had a 
haul of five to thirty miles to navigation. 

No wonder the balance swung in favor of Buckingham. In 
1790 that county contained nearly ten thousand people com- 
pared with twelve and a half in Albemarle; in 1800 Bucking- 
ham had increased about thirty-seven per cent and Albemarle 
thirty-two per cent. In i'8io Buckingham had forged ahead 
to a total of over twenty thousand inhabitants, an increase of 
about fifty-four per cent, against only eighteen thousand for 
Albemarle. Is it any wonder that many serious geographers, 
seeing bright spots of color like this dotted all over the canvas 
of geography, have supposed that mere location in respect to 


transportation facilities is the central theme of their whole sci- 
ence? They forget that exactly the same conditions of rivers, 
rapids, soil and the like would by no means produce such re- 
sults in the half of the earth's land that are too cold, too dry, 
or too warm and wet for agriculture, nor yet in the tropical re- 
gions of hoe culture where technical skill has never yet devel- 
oped, nor even in the rice lands where the level of productivity 
is so low that people can maintain their standards of living 
without being obliged to dispose of surplus products to any 
large degree. Only where the farmers are so skilled and en- 
ergetic that they raise and sell abundant produce do facilities 
for long distance transportation assume such importance as in 
Virginia. Yet even in the most backward environments trans- 
portation is often the dominant factor in producing local dif- 
ferences of extraordinary intensity. 

The next step in the history of our two counties emphasizes 
still further the overwhelming local importance of transporta- 
tion, especially in the higher stages of civilization. As long as 
the James River Company paid good dividends, its stockholders 
did not care to spend their money on either upkeep or improve- 
ments. So there was constant complaint that the river was not 
kept properly open. Boats sometimes stranded on sandbars 
within a few hundred yards of the mouth of the canal, and 
there were bad places all along the river. The final result was 
that when the state took over the James River Company in 
1820, the plan was to build a canal parallel to the river, and 
close beside it, all the way to Lynchburg and beyond. Which 
side of the river should it go on? Should Albemarle and its 
neighbors get it on the north, or Buckingham on the south? 

The decision went to the north mainly because the first set- 
tlers in Virginia wanted to locate on an island for the sake of 
safety, and found such an island on the north side of the James 
River. Therefore settlement naturally proceeded fastest on 


that side, and Richmond happened to be ' so much more abil- 
a town was founded at the head of tide-watei - 
low the falls. From that time on, the north side of'-frh made 
was preferred to the south more than ever. Not only was it ave 
advantage commercially to be on the side of the river where the 
ships from England, New England and Holland came to port, 
but it was still more of an advantage socially and politically. 
What a nuisance to be marooned by floods on the south side 
of the river just when the great social or political events of 
the year were taking place! So the more influential aristo- 
crats tended to be concentrated on the north side of the James 

When the canal was built around the falls, the north side 
again was the natural place for it. Only if there had been some 
strong geographical reason would it have been located on the 
south. As soon as the longer canal was planned to run parallel 
to the river for many scores of miles, the north side was still 
the place, for otherwise the canal would have had to cross the 
river, thus exposing it to danger from floods. In later times, 
when a railroad supplanted the canal, by far the cheapest and 
easiest place to build it was along the old tow-path of the canal, 
but that falls later than our story. 

The final decision to build a canal along the James River on 
the north side was the death knell of Buckingham County's 
prosperity. Ridiculous, do you say? Well, perhaps, but it is 
true. Between 1810 and i82 ( o the population of Buckingham 
fell off about twelve per cent, while that of Albemarle increased 
about eight per cent. The only assignable causes for such a 
contrast appear to be the poor way in which the river naviga- 
tion was maintained, the prospect that a canal on the north 
would soon make matters worse, and the over-development of 
the previous decade which may have led to the use of poor land. 

But why should it make such a difference whether the canal 


transportation fthe other? The river is only a few hundred 
ence? T^uld not bridges or at least ferries be installed? 
rapid-, not easily. The James River is subject to severe 
jas which make it difficult to build bridges that will stand 
permanently. A flood in 1771, which carried off a mill belong- 
ing to Thomas Jefferson, was so severe that it led to special ac- 
tion by the provincial legislature. Not till 1855 were the 
" South Side Connections " finally built by the state-controlled 
canal company in the form of three bridges, scores of miles 
apart. There are more bridges now, but they still have an un- 
pleasant habit of being carried out by the floods. Those same 
floods make it hard to maintain ferries, and there never has 
been traffic enough to maintain more than a few. Thus the 
fact that the canal was on the other side of the river subjected 
most of the Buckingham farmers to the extra cost and delay 
not only of ferriage but of a considerably longer haul than was 
necessary when the river boats would stop anywhere. Why 
should people put up with such difficulties when there was 
plenty of better land to be had for the taking farther west? 
So people began to move away; by 1870 the population of 
Buckingham County had declined to thirteen thousand, less 
than half of what Albemarle had at the same time. 

Was this necessary? Might not the twenty thousand Buck- 
ingham people of 1810 have gotten the canal located on their 
side of the river? Or failing in that might they not have built 
and maintained ferries and bridges so that they would suffer 
no serious handicap? These questions bring up the most subtle 
of geographical problems the human element. If families 
like those of Jefferson, Monroe, Lewis, Clark and Lady Astor 
had dwelt in Buckingham instead of Albemarle, would they 
not have overcome the relatively slight handicap of having the 
canal beyond the river? Very likely, but they lived north of 
the river instead of south of it, and the main question that con- 


fronts us is why the people to the north had so much more abil- 
ity than those to the south. 

We have already traced the sequence of events which made 
the north side of the James River more aristocratic than the 
south side, and put the canal on that side of the river. The in- 
evitable continuation of that sequence was that when the zone 
of settlement moved west the settlers in the Piedmont counties 
north of the river tended to surpass those on the south side in 
their percentage of men of fine ancestry and innate intelligence. 
Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Randolph and others exemplify 
the matter. Albemarle county got its full share of such people, 
helped perhaps by its natural beauty and by the fact that it is 
traversed by a main line of communication leading from Rich- 
mond to the Great Appalachian or Shenandoah Valley by way 
of a low gap in the Blue Ridge west of Charlottesville. That 
gap helped not only to bring able aristocrats, but to provide the 
element most lacking in old Virginia. The great social defect 
of colonial Virginia, as has often been pointed out, was its 
almost complete lack of a middle class. It had its rich and 
aristocratic planters who gave rise to a remarkable galaxy of 
very able men including not only those just named, but Wash- 
ington, the Lee family and others. It had its manual workers 
in the form of slaves, and it also had a considerable number of 
poor whites people not competent enough to become large 
landowners, but not willing to compete on equal terms with the 

In Albemarle County, as in some others, a different situation 
prevailed, for there was a middle class. This appears In the 
following quotation keen, though none too complimentary 
from the letters of Major Thomas Andrews, a British prisoner 
who was kept in restraint, but not confinement, at Charlottes- 
ville for a year or more during the Revolutionary War: 1 

1 Quoted by Edgar Woods in his History of Albemarle County, 1901. 


" There are three degrees of rank among the Inhabitants, 
exclusive of the negroes. . . . The first class consists of gen- 
tlemen of the best families and fortunes, which are more re- 
spectable and numerous here than in any other province. For 
the most part they have had liberal educations, possess a thor- 
ough knowledge of the world, with great ease and freedom in 
their manners and conversation. Many of them keep their 
carriages, have handsome, services of plate, and without ex- 
ception keep their studs, as well as sets of handsome carriage 

" The second class consists of such a strange mixture of char- 
acter, and of such various descriptions of occupation, being 
nearly half the inhabitants, that it is difficult to ascertain their 
exact criterion and leading feature. They are however hospit- 
able, generous and friendly; but for want of a proper knowl- 
edge of the world, and a good education, as well as from their 
continual intercourse with their slaves, over whom they are ac- 
customed to tyrannize, with all their good qualities they are 
rude, ferocious and haughty, much addicted to gaming and dis- 
sipation, particularly horse racing and cock fighting. In short, 
they form a most unaccountable combination of qualities, di- 
rectly opposite and contradictory, many having them strangely 
blended with the best and worst of principles, many possessing 
elegant accomplishments and savage brutality; and notwith- 
standing all this inconsistency of character, numbers are valu- 
able members of the community, and very few deficient in intel- 
lectual faculties. 

"The third class [the Poor Whites apparently], which in 
general composes the greatest part of mankind, are fewer in 
Virginia in proportion to the inhabitants, than perhaps in any 
other country of the world; yet even those who are rude, il- 
liberal and noisy, with a turbulent disposition, are generous, 
kind and hospitable. We are induced to imagine there is some- 


thing peculiar in the climate of Virginia, that should render all 
classes of so hospitable a disposition. The lower people possess 
that impertinent curiosity so disagreeable to strangers, but in 
no degree equal to the inhabitants of New England. They are 
averse to labor, much addicted to liquor, and when intoxicated 
extremely savage and revengeful Their amusements are the 
same with those of the middling sort, with the addition of box- 
ing matches." 

In Albemarle County the middle class described by their 
prisoner and enemy was much more numerous than in most 
parts of Virginia east of the Blue Ridge. It consisted largely 
of Scotch-Irish who came by way of Pennsylvania, migrated 
southwestward down the great Appalachian Valley between the 
Blue Ridge on the east and the Front of the Allegheny Plateau 
on the west. They were in Albemarle because when they found 
the low gap in the Blue Ridge near Charlottesville, they spilled 
southward, back toward the seacoast. Some of them held as 
much land as the aristocrats who had moved up from Tidewater 
Virginia; land holdings of a thousand to twenty thousand acres 
were by no means uncommon in either group. 

The way in which the Scotch-Irish supplemented and 
strengthened the Virginians can best be made clear by repeat- 
ing the essence of what John Fiske has said about them in his 
Old Virginia and Her Neighbors. Their migration to America 
was " an event of scarcely less importance than the exodus of 
English Puritans to New England and that of English cavaliers 
to Virginia/' During the four decades after 1611 about three 
hundred thousand Scotch migrated to the Irish province of 
Ulster because James I wanted a Protestant population that 
would outnumber the Catholics. The settlers were picked men 
and women of the most excellent sort. Although Ulster had 
previously been little more than a wilderness of bogs and fens, 
they transformed it into a garden, and into a notable center for 


the manufacture of woolens and linens. By the beginning of 
the eighteenth century they numbered nearly a million, not 
peasants, but intelligent yeomanry and artisans. In 1 718 when 
a miscellaneous group of 319 men signed a document, no less 
than 306 wrote their names in full, a record almost no other 
part of the British Empire, perhaps not even New England, 
could have rivalled. 

The prosperity of the selected Scotch immigrants in Ulster 
aroused the jealousy not only of rival manufacturers in Eng- 
land, but of the English church which looked askance upon 
Presbyterians. About 1700 this resulted in legislation which 
seriously damaged the Irish linen and woolen industries and 
threw many workmen out of employment. It also led to laws 
forbidding the Presbyterians to keep schools, perform marriage 
ceremonies, or hold any office higher than that of petty con- 
stable, and so on through a long list of silly and outrageous 
enactments. For a few years this tyranny was endured, but by 
1719 the hope of improvement had worn away. So from that 
year, until the passage of the Toleration Act for Ireland in 
1782, the people of Ulster kept flocking to America still 
another selective migration. 

Of all the migrations to America previous to the days of 
steamships, this was by far the largest in volume, for it prob- 
ably comprised at least half a million people. With their de- 
scendants they formed not less than one-sixth of our population 
at the time of the Revolution. The majority went to Pennsyl- 
vania and many settled in the Allegheny region. Thence they 
spread rapidly and in large numbers toward the southwest 
along the mountain country through the Shenandoah Valley 
and then into Virginia and the Carolinas. When they first 
came Into Virginia, about 1730, Governor Gooch was dispens- 
ing the frontier lands so freely and indiscriminately that one 
Jacob Stover, it Is said, secured many acres by giving his cattle 


hii'man names as settlers; and a young woman, by dressing in 
various masculine disguises, obtained several large farms. 

These Scotch, with a slight veneer of Ireland, soon began to 
woif'k profound modifications in the life of Old Virginia. 
Hit-herto it has been purely English and predominantly Episco- 
pal,' Cavalier and aristocratic. There was now a rapid inva- 
sion of Scotch Presbyterianism, with small farms, few slaves, 
and democratic ideas, made more democratic by life in the 
backwoods. In the course of two generations the bloodless but 
stut born conflict between these two social groups, so different 
in habits and ideas, resulted In the separation of church and 
stat 3, complete religious toleration, the abolition of primogeni- 
ture and entails, and many other important changes, most of 
which were consummated under the leadership of Thomas Jef- 
fersi <n between 1776 and 1785. 

Albemarle was one of the counties where the fusion of Eng- 
lish and Scotch ideals was most complete. The character of so- 
ciety there arose from the fact that between the aristocracy 
represented by Jefferson and Monroe, and the submissive poor 
whites, there was injected a strong, sturdy, self-reliant, religious 
middle class with leaders like Andrew Jackson, Daniel Boone, 
Anthony Wayne, and the Lewis and Clark whose explora- 
tions utimately made it possible for the United States to se- 
cure the great states of our northwest. Among these men 
Lewis was a citizen of Albemarle county, while the parents 
of Clark lived there, but moved away before he was born. 

The secret of the contrast between Buckingham and Albe- 
marle counties now seems clear. Buckingham has lost in the 
race because it is sidetracked south of the James River in a 
sort of enclave through which no regular railroad or main 
highway yet passes even in our day. Therefore in spite of a 
boom early in the nineteenth century, it has suffered an ad- 
verse migration which has finally weeded out practically all 


the people who are able to lead and to maintain progress. Alb|e- 
marie, merely by virtue of lying north of the James River, ajnd 
possibly because of its physical beauty, and its position o| i a 
main line of traffic to the west, received an unusually g| jod 
quota of able Virginia aristocrats. Then, by reason of the fgap 
in the Blue Ridge, it received also just the element thaft it 
needed in the form of a sturdy middle class of high qual ity, 
selected and tempered by successive migrations from Scotland 
to Ireland, from Ireland to the New World, and again from 
Pennsylvania to Virginia. Because the union of these - two 
groups created such wholesome and attractive social condi- 
tions, because they founded many churches and schools, an 
academy, a university, an agricultural society, a Bible Society 
and the like, and also because their county is physically beauti- 
ful, it became a place that attracted, and still attracts ether 
able people who would never entertain the thought of settling 
in Buckingham. 

That brings us to the end of our story. In a case like this 
the ultimate difference in the fate of two adjacent regions is 
out of all proportion to the geographical differences that origi- 
nally entailed that fate. The reason is that geographic condi- 
tions act not only directly but indirectly. Their direct effect 
in the present case was merely to make it a little more expen- 
sive to ship tobacco and wheat out of Buckingham County 
than out of Albemarle, and to make it easy for people to get 
to Albemarle county from the northwest. But those small 
differences, combined perhaps with certain other minor geo- 
graphic conditions such as the scenery, so loaded the dice that 
people of the more able type moved away from Buckingham 
County but were attracted to Albemarle. Thus there arose a 
concentration of people of relatively low ability in the county 
south of the James River and a concentration of highly able 
people in the county to the north. 


Such concentrations are of almost incalculable importance. 
They often give rise to slums in the parts of a city where the 
land is low and level near the water front, along the river bank, 
or around the freight yards. Where the western or northern, 
hills are high, but not too high, so that the houses are lifted 
above the city and the prevailing northwest winds can blow 
without first loading themselves with the dust of factories, the 
concentration takes the form of an exclusive residential district 
where only a few of the children have intelligence quotients be- 
low one hundred. On a larger scale similar concentrations oc- 
cur in backward highlands versus progressive lowlands. Berea 
College aims above all things to elevate the mountain people 
of Kentucky and Tennessee, but it is located on the edge of the 
fertile lowland because there it is accessible. That it accom- 
plishes much of its purpose cannot be doubted. Yet little by 
little it adds to the conditions which it strives to alleviate. Ac- 
cording to its carefully compiled records, among its graduates 
with bachelor's degrees who have been out of college long 
enough to be established in their life work, less than four-fifths 
of the men who came from the mountains, and only three- 
fifths of the women, have gone back there. Practically none 
from other regions go to the mountains permanently. More- 
over, even among the mountaineers who go back to the moun- 
tains the great majority do not settle in the old regions, but in 
the county seats and mining towns. Hundreds of other places 
where transportation is difficult are being drained of their most 
energetic and able people in this same way, just as has hap- 
pened in Buckingham County. In the long ran such occur- 
rences and the corresponding concentration of the abler people 
in cities where they gradually tend to die out, may prove to be 
by far the greatest of all the results of differences in trans- 

Here we must bring this volume to a close, leaving hundreds 


of important geographic truths untold. But whether we deal 
with climate, soil, relief or any other geographic factor, the 
fundamental principles are the same. Aside from the direct 
physiological stimulus of climate, geographic conditions are 
passive. They do not say that we must do this or that. The 
choice lies with ourselves. The physical environment merely 
says that if we do certain things we will prosper, increase, and 
be able to take new steps of progress. If we do others, diffi- 
culty, danger, and even extermination will be our lot. Nature 
makes no announcement of her decrees; she simply carries 
them out. 


Aborigines, io6f. 

Acadia College, 30 

Accessibility, of Far East, 184; im- 
portance of, 31 

Adventure, as condition of selection, 

Afghan, caravan man, 108 

Africa, 108, 129, abandoned fields, 92 ; 
backwardness of, 118; future of, 
119, 133$.; habitability of, 25; 
health in, 129; hoe culture in, 90; 
insect pests, 94; laborers from, 108, 
132; millet, 200; transportation in, 


Age, in census, 232 

Agriculture, Ba-Kalahari, 49; Middle 
Atlantic States, 84; Nevada, 84; 
New England, 84; origin of, 202; 
regions unfit for, 24; selective force, 
206; tropical, 9off. 

Agricultural people, vs. desert people, 
56; hospitality of, 57 

Ainus, character of, 108 

Alabama, Black Belt of, 24411.; rank 
in transportation, 229 

Alaska, civilization in, 74 

Albemarle County, 263$. 

Alleghenies, 244 

Alps, rain and population, 114 

Amazon Basin, backwardness of, 118; 
character of people, 108, 131; food, 
89; population of, 112; rice in, no; 
soil of, 91, mf. 

America, abandoned fields, 92; ani- 
mals, 210; children of colonists, 207; 
civilizations of, 238; hoe culture, 
90; Indian culture, 237; Indian 
workers, 108; past and present, 
222ff.; tropical labor, 132 

American Museum of Natural His- 
tory, 191 

Amoy, 180 

Andrews' Expeditions, 191 
Andrews, Major Thomas, 273 
Animals, Chinese, 180; and civiliza- 
tion, soSff.; geographic distribution, 


Antelope, 37, 60 

Apaches, 45 

Appalachians, 244; transportation in, 

Appenines, rain and population, 114 

Arabia, So; remoteness of, 29 

Arabs, 53!, 59, 61, 79, outburst of, 
151; vs. other nomads, 69 

Argentine, immigrants, 233; plains, 13 

Aridity, and Mohammedanism, 151; 
in VII Century, 149 

Aristocracy, and Black Belt, 256; and 
soil, 2446.; Virginian, 273; vs. peas- 
antry, 252 

Arizona, corn in, 239; Apaches, 45; 
Indians, 84 

Arkansas, transportation in, 229 

Armenians, selection among, 186 

Art, Japanese, 167 

Asia, accessibility of, 184; climatic 
changes, 151; climatic energy, 146; 
plantations in, 132; rice in, 106; 
storms in, 144 

Assyria, climatic stimulus in, 162 ; and 
rain, 152 

Astor, Lady, 264, 272 

Atlantic Coastal Plain, 245 

Australia, 32, environment of, 35; re- 
moteness of, 29; temperament in, 
173; and white men, So 

Aztecs, civilization of, 238 

Baboon, 37 

Babylonia, and rain, 152 
Bahamas, climate of, 163 




Ba-Kalahari, 378.; 48$.; occupations, 
49; selection among, 50; water, 

Baluchistan, So 

Bananas, 100; imports of, 125; plan- 
tations, 122, 130 

Bantam, population, 118 

Bantus, 40, 60; migrations of, 49 

Barley, animals and, 212; adaptability 
of, 201 

Barns, in Alabama, 251 

Batavia, 124 

Bateng, of Java, 95 

Bears, 64 

Belgium, coal in, 140; migrations, 
137; population, 19 

Bengal, jute in, 126, 128 

Berea College, 279 

Berkey, C. P., 191 

Big Trees, 152 

Birmingham, Alabama, 158, 250:8:.; 259 

Birth rate, among agriculturists, 207 

Bison, 210 

Black Belt, 245!?.; aristocracy, 256; 
boll weevil, 259; cotton, 247; farm- 
ers, 247; home ownership, 250; il- 
literacy, 252; interest rates, 250; 
peasants, 252; politics, 253; reasons 
for uniqueness, 254:8:. ; size of farms, 
249; value of buildings, 251; whites 
vs. negroes, 246 

Black Earth Region, 13 ; soil of, n 

Blue Marl Regions, 245 

Blue Ridge, 268 

Boers, 36 

Boll weevil, social effects, 259 

Boone, Daniel, 277 

" Boosters," 222 

Borderlands, of deserts, 48 

Borneo, aborigines, 107; future of, 
118, i33ff.; rice in, 106 

Boston, emigrants, 223 

Brazil, 129; coffee plantations, 124; 
hoe culture, 90; imports, 125; tropi- 
cal labor, 132 

Bread, among Khirghiz, 69 

Bridges, over James River, 272 

British, in India, 109; trade with, 

British Columbia, native culture of, 


British Guiana, Hindus in, 108; hook- 
worm in, 99 

British Isles, population, 31 

Bruckner Cycle, 149 

Buckingham County, 263, 264ff.; con- 
trast with Albemarle, 277 

Buffalo, 60, 181; and agriculture, 240 

Burma, abandoned fields, 92 ; habita- 
bility, 25; rice civilization, 102 

Burros, in Nevada, 85 

Bushes, on plantations, 128 

Bushmen, 37ff.; Christianity among, 
47; clothing, 38; dwellings, 39; 
food, 40, 44; ornamentation, 39; 
physique, 38; poisons, 41; political 
organization, 46 ; powers, 42 ; selec- 
tion among, 43$.; utensils, 40; vs. 
Eskimos, 63; vs. Onas, 63, 67; vs. 
Hottentots, 56 

Butter, 60 

Buttercups, in Virginia, 263 

Calcutta, 124 

California, accuracy as to ages, 235; 
coal in, 140; environment, 35; in- 
come, 229; Indian culture, 239; im- 
migrants, 224; professions, 230; re- 
moteness, 29; Sequoias, 150; vs. 
Nevada, 33 

Camel, 210 

Canada, coal, 140; soil, nj trade with, 

Canal, of James River, 269 

Canton, frosts in, 190 

Caravan, Afghan, 108 

Caribao, 94 

Caribbean Coast, plantations, i29f. 

Caribou, 64 

Cassj Presidential candidate, 253 

Cattle, 210; Indian, 95, an; Javanese, 
211 ; in Nevada, 85; tropical, 94 

Cattle-herding, among Ba-Kalahari, 
49; among Hottentots, gaff. 

Cattle-stealing, 61 

Celebes, future of, 118; rice in, 106 

Census, accuracy of, 233; of age, 



Central Americans, as laborers, 132 

Cereals, and human culture, 200; 
tropical, 100 

Ceylon, plantations in, 129!.; rice, 106; 
tea plantations, 12 if.; temperature, 

Change, value of, 142 

Charlottesville, Va., 266, 273 

Cheese, 60 ; among Lapps, 68 

Chekiang, 178 

Chicago, 259 

Chicle, imports of, 125 

Children, of agricultural people, 207; 
of American colonists, 207; in Java, 
115; in U. S., 115; white, in deserts, 

Chile, health in, 174 

China, 176; "boosters," 222; charac- 
ter of people, 108, 178; climate and 
health, 190; coal, 140; contrasts in, 
177; contrasted with Japan, 166, 
179; energy in, 116; famines, i93ff.; 
geography, no; habitability of, 25; 
isolation, 183; migrations, 31, 118; 
millet, 200; rain, 153; rain and 
population, 114; rice civilization, 
102; trade, 127; size of people, 115; 
social cycles, 261; South vs. North, 
180; standards, 116; vs. Japan, 176, 
182 ; wild rice, 105 

Chinese Turkestan, 176 

Chosen, habitability of, 25; rain and 
population, 114; standards, 116 

Christianity, among Bushmen, 47 

Civic Order, and irrigation, 107 

Civil War, effect on progress, 236 

Civilization, in Alaska, 74; and ani- 
mals, 209; coldward march of, 155; 
and deserts, 8of.; distribution, 145; 
165; and environment, 35; in Eu- 
rope, 199, 219; and glass, 156; and 
Indian corn, 91; location of, 6; 
margins of, 71 ; migration of, 161 ; 
and millet, 91; in Nevada, 82; and 
population, 20, 29, 32; and rice, 
io2fL; types of, 199; varieties in 
tropics, 88ff.; and waterways; 209; 
of whites in deserts, 82 

Civilization and climate, 174 

Clark, and Lewis, 264, 272, 277 
Climate, Asia vs. California, 151; at- 
tractive power of, 163; changes of, 
148; Chinese, 177; colors of, $f.; 
and corn, 238; European, 225; gen- 
eral distribution, 2 ; and health, 
189!; importance of, 15; Japanese, 
174, 177; North American, 225; 
optimum, 94; and population, 23; 
and progress, i38ff.; pulsations of, 
6; pulsations in China, 191; selec- 
tor of mental types, 160; and 
slavery, 236; and soil, loff. ; of 
Spitzbergen, in; of U. S. vs. Eu- 
rope, 225 ; and white man in tropics, 
129; and work, 98 

Climatic energy, distribution of, 139; 
in Europe, 217; and progress, 148; 
in U. S., 227 

Clothing, of Bushmen, 38; of Onas, 67 
Clove plantations, in Zanzibar, 124 
Coal, 140; distribution of, 14; in Eu- 
rope, 220 
Cocoa, imports of, 126; plantations in 

San Thome, 124 
Coconuts, 125; plantations, 124, 130; 

and sea salt, 130 

Coffee plantations, 130; Brazilian, 124 
Cogon grass, 93 

Cold areas, 24; and white men, 74 
Coldward march, of civilization, 155 
College students, from Black Belt, 


Colonists, children of American, 207 
Colorado, ancient corn culture, 239; 

professions in, 230 
Colorado River, 239 
Colors, and climate, $f. ; of vegetation, 


Compression, belt of, 216 

Conception, in Japan, 174 

" Congo Niggers," 257 

Coolies, 108 

Copra, 125 

Corn, and animals, 210; ancient cul- 
ture of, 238; and civilization, 200; 
in Guatemala, 93; transportation in 
Va., 268 

Cost, of plantation land, 131 



Costa Rica, hook worm, 99 

Cotton, in Black Belt, 247!?.; fluctua- 
tions in, 259; imports of, 126; loca- 
tion of industry, 158; and slavery, 

Courage, of Bushmen, 46 

Crops, Chinese, 178; in Va., 266; loss 
in tropics, 93; number per year, 

Cuba, food supply, 133; climate of, 
146; plantations in, 120, 129; trade, 

Culture, and environment, 52 

Cycles, of social progress, 261 

Cyclonic storms, 144; and population, 

Czechoslovakia, soil of, 26 

Daisies, in Va., 263 

Dakotas, girls vs. boys in school, 232; 
professions in, 230 

Danes, in Greenland, 72 

Day and night, effect of, 142 

Deathrate, Japanese, 174; in manu- 
facturing, 174; among men, 189 

Democracy, and soil, 244$. 

Democratic Party, 253 

Denmark, soil of, 26 

Density of population, and climate, 
23; in rice-lands, 114 

Desert people, 46; vs. agricultural 
people, 56 

Deserts, adaptation to, 38^.; border- 
lands, 48; Chinese, 176; and civ- 
ilization, 8of . ; flies in, 82 ; of Near 
East, 79; soils of, 12 

Diet, Japanese, 174; of nomads, 59 

Difficulties, of transportation, 95 

Distribution of civilization, 145, 165 

Divorce, in Nevada, 83 

Djokjakarta, population of, in 

bonkeys, in Nevada, 85 ; in tropics, 96 

boughty, cited, 69 

Draught animals, in tropics, 94 

Dress, of Eskimos, 63; of Hottentots, 
55; of Japanese, 169 

Droughts and famines, 195 

Dryness, effect of, 141, 190 

Dry regions, 24; soil of, 27; and white 

men, 79 

Dunaway, W. K, 268 
Dustiness, harm of, 190 
Dutch, policy of, 109; trade, 127 
Dwellings, of Bushmen, 39; of hoe 

culturists, 90; of Hottentots, 54 
Dye wood, imports of, 127 

Earth, 22, 24 

East Indies, abandoned fields, 92 ; hoe 
culture, 90; plantations, 132 

Education, in U. S., 230 

Egypt, 209; ancient, 207; climate, 
162; desert, 19, 79; geography, no; 
plagues, 152; rain, 114, 152; rice 
civilization, 102, 106; wheat culture, 

Eland, 37 

Elephant, 37 

Encampments, of Hottentots, 54 

Encyclopedia Britannica, and Ice- 
landers, 78 

Energy, European climate, 217; Japan 
vs. China, 176; and progress, 136; 
in rice-lands, 116 

England, ancient climate, 155; Bruck- 
ner Cycle, 149; coal, 140; early in- 
habitants, 187 ; food supply, 133 ; in 
XIV Century, 149; vs. Kamcha- 
dales, 137; migrations, 137; popula- 
tion, 19; social cycles in, 261; tem- 
perament of people, 173 

Environment, and civilization, 35; 
and culture, 52 j and hunting, 70 ; 
of Iceland, 78; and moral codes, 61; 
and nomadism, 70 

Equator, rain-forests, 24; soils of, n 

Eric the Red, 72 

Eskimos, vs. Bushmen, 63; vs. Onas, 
67; migrations of, 65, 72 

Europe, accessibility, 184; advantages, 
212; civilization, 199, 219; climate, 
146, 217, 225; coal, 220; deserts, 80; 
effect on East, 185; future food sup- 
ply, 133 &; glaciation, 213; habita- 
bility, 25; health, 218; people, 213; 
recent occupations, 216; sea coast, 



220; soil, ii ; standards, 115; 

storms, 143; vs. North America, 


Euphrates, plains of, 207 
Extremes, effect of, 35 

Factory workers, and climate, 141 

Famines, causing selection, 196; Chi- 
nese, iqjff . ; and droughts, 195 ; Re- 
lief Commission, 195 

Far East, accessibility, 184; habitabil- 
ity, 25 

Farmers, of Black Belt, 247; limbs of, 
59; literacy of foreign-born, 256 

Farms, in Alaska, 76; buildings in 
Alabama, 251 ; in Nevada, Ssff.; size 
in Black Belt, 249; in Virginia, 263 

Feet, of nomads, 58 

Ferries, on James River, 272 

Fertility, disadvantages of, 257; effect 
of, 252 

Fertilizer, from privies, 113 

Fields, abandonment of, 92 

Finances, as condition of selection, 

22 ,"* 

Finland, contrasted with Lapland, 73 

First settlers, in Virginia, 270 

Fishing, 62; Alaska, 77; basis of prog- 
ress, 241; Iceland, 78; Japan, iSS; 
Lapps, 68; type of civilization, 199 

Flies, in deserts, 82 

Floods, Chinese, 193; James River, 
272; Mississippi, igsff. 

Florida, accuracy as to ages, 235; 
immigrants, 224; soil, 26 

Fluctuations, of climate, 148 

Food, of Bushmen, 40, 44; effect on 
Nova Scotia, 30; of Esldmos, 63; 
and physique, 59; of Samoyedes, 
66; supplies, i2off.; and tempera- 
ment, 59; tropical, 89, 99, 114, 125 

Forage, in Nevada, 8$; in South 
China, 180 

Foreigners, inaccuracy among, 234; 
literacy of farmers, 256 

Forests, and agriculture, 238 ; and soil, 

Formosa, aborigines, io6f . ; Chinese in, 

31; geography, no; immigrants, 
223; plantations, 129; rice civiliza- 
tion, 102, 106 

Fourteenth Century, climate of, 149 
France, vs. Java, 109; in Indo-China, 

109; migrations, 137," soil of, n 
Freedmen, of Black Belt, 258 
Frosts, in Canton, 190; in tropics, 122 
Fruits, tropical vs. temperate, 99 
Fuji, 168 
Fukien, effect of mountains, 28 

Game, among Hottentots, 60; in 

Kalahari, 37 
Geography, and occupations, 158; 

Javanese, 109 
Georgia, schools, 231; ancient corn 

culture, 239 
Germany, ancient climate of, 155; soil, 


GilFillan, S. C, 155 
Giraffes, 37 
Glaciation, effect on land, 6 ; effect on 

races of Europe, 213 
Glass, and civilization, 156 
Gnu, 37 
Goa, 98 
Goat, 210 
Gobi, So 

Gooch, Gov., 276 
Government, of Hottentots, 60; of 

Iceland, 77; origin of, 204; patri- 
archal, 61 ; of rice-raisers, io7ff. 
Grapefruit, 125 
Grass, and agriculture, 238, 24of . ; and 

Hottentots, 153; in Iceland, 78; 

in Philippines, 93 ; soil of lands, 13 ; 

in South China, 180; tropical, 93; in 

wheat regions, 211 
Graves, Chinese, 179 
Great Britain, trade with, 127 
Great Plains, Indian culture in, 240 
Great Wall, of China, 153, 191 
Greece, ancient climate, 15$'; climatic 

stimulus, 152; rain, 152! 
Greenland, civilization, 72ff.; relation 

to Norway, 52; remoteness, 29 
Greenness, of Japan, 167, 171 



Growing season, length of, 114 

Guanaco, 67 

Guatemala, corn, 93 ; high civilization, 
238; Maya ruins, 151; native cul- 
ture, 237; weeds, 93 

" Guinea Niggers," 257 

Habitability, 24 

Haidas, culture of, 237, 240 

Hampton Institute, 146 

Hands, of nomads, 58 

Hares, 60 

Harper, Dr. R. M., 245^ 

Hawaii, Chinese in, 31; health, 129; 
immigrants, 223; plantations, 129 

Hay, in Nevada, 85 

Health, and climate in China, 190; 
and climate in Japan, 174, 189; 
distribution in U. S., 232; in Eu- 
rope, 217; and progress, 136; in 
rice-lands, 116; of sea coasts, 129; 
and seasons, 143; selective factor, 
223; of white men in tropics, 

Hemp, Philippine, 126 

Himalayas, rain and population, 114 

Hindus, character of, 108; progress, 

Hippopotamus, 37, 60 

History of Albemarle County, 273 

Hoe culture, 9off., 199 

Holland, temperament in, 173 

Homes, owned in Black Belt, 250 

Honesty, of Samoyedes, 67 

Hongkong, 124; climate of, 190 

Hook worm disease, 99 

Horses, 210; in Nevada, 85 ; in tropics, 
94, 96 

Hospitality, 56! 

Hottentots, 59; cattle-raising, 2ff.; 
encampments, 54; game among, 60; 
government, 60 ; and grass, 53 ; hos- 
pitality, 56; indolence, 58; perma- 
nence of habits, So; use of milk, 60; 
vs. Bushmen, 56; vs. Onas, 67; vs. 
other nomads, 69; wars with Ba- 
Kalahari, 49 

Houses, in Alabama, 251 

Human changes, and climatic, 148 

Huang, plains of, 207 

Hungary, health in, 174 

Hunting, in Alaska, 77; of Bushmen, 
40; and environment, 70; and hos- 
pitality, s6f.; type of civilization, 

Hurricanes, 144 

Iceland, early inhabitants, 187; Ency- 
clopedia Britannica, 78; environ- 
ment, 78; XIV Century, 149; 
deathrate among men, 189; popu- 
lation, 19, 31 j progress, 77,* re- 
moteness, 29 

Ice sheet, effect on migrations, 214 

Idaho, children in schools, 231; trans- 
portation, 84 

Illinois, corn in, 238; education, 232; 
manufacturing, 230; soil, in 

Illiteracy, in Black Belt, 252; and 
land, 256; in U. S., 230 

Imports, 127 

Inaccessibility, and population, 29 

Incas, civilization of, 238 

Income, in U. S., 227, 229 

Indian corn, effect on civilization, 91 
(See Corn) 

Indian railway, 98 

Indians, 107, Alaskan, 74; in Arizona, 
84; culture of, 88, 242; labor of, 
132; migrations, 65; in Nevada, 84; 
occupations, 76; of pine forests, 64; 
progress among, 237 

India, 80, 126; British in, 109; cattle, 
95; energy in, 116; geography, no; 
habitability, 25; hoe culture, 90; 
hook worm, 99; millet, 200; popu- 
lation, 114; rain, 114; rice, 102, 
105!; size of people, 115; tempera- 
ment, 173 

Indo-China, abandoned fields, 92; 
Chinese in, 31; French in, 109; hab- 
itability, 25; hoe culture, 90; rice 
civilization, 102 

Indolence, 58 

Indus, plains of, 207 

Insect pests, 94 



Insurance companies, health records, 


Interest rates, in Alabama, 250 
Introduction to Sociology, 250 
Iowa, corn in, 238; health, 232; pro- 
fessions, 230; rank in transporta- 
tion, 229; social cycles, 261; vs. 
Java, 109, 115 
Ireland, Protestants in, 275 
Iron industries, location of, 158 
Iroquois, native culture of, 237 
Irrigation, civic order, 107; lands in 
U. S., 12; in Nevada, 85; origin of, 

Islands, Japan, 185; plantations, 129 
Isolation, of China, 183 
Israelites, migrations of, 152 
Italy, emigrants, 223; geography, no; 
growing season, 114; rain and pop- 
ulation, 114; rice civilization, 102; 
storms, 143; temperament, 173 

Jackson, Andrew, 277 

Jaguar, 37 

Jamaica, food supply, 133; planta- 
tions, i29f.; soil, in 

James River, 267!, 272 

James River Company, 268, 270 

James River and Kanawho Co., 

Jamestown, early settlers, 186 

Janus, Temple of, 154 

Japan, character of people, 108; cli- 
mate, 146, 177, 189; contrast with 
China, 166, 179; early inhabitants, 
187; geography, no; growing s^- 
son, 114; habitability, 25; health, 
174; island, 185; deathrate, 189; 
mountains, 28; optimum climate, 
146; population, 31, 114; rain, 114; 
rice civilization, 102, 106; size of 
people, 115; standards, 116; storms, 
144; streets of, 169; trade, 127; 
transformation, 184; transportation, 
169; and U. S., 145; vs. Chinese, 
176; 182; volcanoes, 112; women, 

Java, aborigines, io6i; bateng, 95; 

character of people, 108; compared 
with Iowa, 115; Chinese in, 31; 
energy in, 116; food supply, 133; 
geography, 109; habitability, 25; 
hook worm, 99; immigrants, 223; 
mountains, 28; plantations, i2Qf.; 
population, 19, in, 113!; quinine, 
124, 132; rain, iisf.; rice, io2f., 
132; size of people, 115; soil, 91, 
in; temperature, 114; volcanoes, 
112; wildness, 118 

Jefferson, Thomas, 263f.; 272:?,, 277 

Jerusalem, rainfall, 151 

Jews, revolt of, 153 

Jute, 126, 128 

Kaffirs, migrations, 49 

Kalahari, desert, 35$., 48!., 80 

Kamchatka, 137 

Kansas, droughts, 155 

Kentucky, 279; effect of mountains, 

28; slave-raising, 257; soil, u 
Khirghiz, $3f- 5 177; bread, 69; vs. 

other nomads, 69 
Klaten, soil and population, 112 
Korea, growing season, 114; rice in, 

1 06 

Krawang, soil and population, 112 
Kudu, 37 

Labor, on plantations, 131 

Labrador, remoteness, 29 

Lady Astor, 264, 272 

Lake Ngami, 36 

Lakes, fluctuations of, 150 

Land, and illiteracy, 256; population, 
115; relief, 7 

Langhorne, family of Va., 264 

Lapps, 59; civilization, 73; remote- 
ness, 29; and Scandinavia, 68; vs. 
other nomads, 69 

Laterite, 12, 112 

Lebak, population, 118 

Leben, 60 

Lee, family of Va., 273 

Lemons, 125 

Leopards, 37 

Lewis, and Clark, 264, 272, 277 



Lime Hills, 246 

Lime Sinks, 246 

Lions, 37 

Literature, of Iceland, 77 

Llamas, 210 

Location, importance of, 31; and 

newness, 33 ; of plantations, 130 
Loess, 177 

London, concentration of ability, 164 
Lopnor, salt, 177 
Lord Bryce, 77 
Louisiana, accuracy as to age, 235; 

schoolchildren, 231 
Loyalists, in Bahamas, 163 
Lumbering, in Alaska, 77 
Luzon, health in, 129 

Maccabbees, 153 

Madagascar, rice in, 106 

Madison, Pres., 273 

Madzun, 60 

Mahogany, imports, 127 

Maine, accessibility, 33; accuracy as 
to age, 235; high school graduates, 

Malaria, 98! 

Malay, plantations, 124, 129! 

Man, limitations, 17; distribution, 19 

Manchuria, immigrants, 223 

Manchus, 191 

Manilla, 126 

Manufacturing, and deathrate, 174; 
distribution of, 139; Japanese, 172; 
location, 158, 230; persons engaged 
in, 229; type of civilization, 102, 

Map of progress, 13 8f. 

Mar&ins of civilization, 71 

Marriage, and social selection, 44 

Martinique, soil of, 01 

Maryland, schoolchildren, 23 if. 

Massachusetts, coal, 140; cotton in- 
dustry, 159; population, 19, 29; 
schools, 231 

Mauritius, geography, no; planta- 
tions, 129 

Mayas, .culture, 237!; laborers, 132; 
migrations, 151 

Meat, consumption, 21; among no- 
mads, 59 

Mediterranean, 214 

Men, deathrate of, 189; indolence, 58 

Mental activity, 159; climatic types 
of, 160; in tropics, 98!!. 

Mesopotamia, 209; ancient, 207; rice, 
106; wheat culture, 212 

Mexico, 126; civilization, 238; hoe 
culture, 90; illiteracy, 230; malaria, 
99; native culture, 237; plains, 208; 
temperament of people, 173 

Middle Atlantic States, agriculture, 84 

Migrations, Black Belt, 259!; and Chi- 
nese climate, 118, igiff.; of civiliza- 
tion, 161 ; Eskimo, 72 ; and famines, 
196; French weavers, 137; Israelites, 
152; Japanese, 186; Mayas, 151; 
Mediterranean belt, 215; method of, 
223; and racial character, 186; rein- 
deer, 65; rice-raisers, 118; and 
temperament, 187 

Milk, among Japanese, 172; among 
Lapps, 68; among nomads, 59 

Millet, type of culture, 200; effect on 
civilization, 91 ; relation to animals, 

Minerals, and world canvas, 14 

Mining, in Alaska, 77; Nevada, 83 

Minnesota, accuracy as to age, 234; 
illiteracy, 230 

Missionary work, among Bushmen, 47 

Mississippi, 155; Census, 234! ; flood, 
i93ff.; health, 232; income, 229; 
manufacturing, 230 ; population, 83 ; 
professions, 230; schools, 231; 
transportation, 229 

Mobile, 250, 252 

Mohammedanism, relation to aridity, 

Mojave Indians, 239 

Mongolia, 80, 177; character of peo- 
ple, 108; Chinese in, 31 

Monroe, Pres., 264, 272!, 277 

Montana, schools, 232; transporta^ 
tion, 229 

Monticello, 264 

Moral codes, 45, 61 



Mormons, education, 232 

Morris, F. K., 191 

Moses, 152 

Mountains, people of, 28, 279; planta- 
tions, 130; rice culture, no; II2JBL; 
on world canvas, 7 

Mountain Whites, 266 

Mules, in Nevada, 85 ; in tropics, 96 

Musk ox, 64 

Natal, Hindus in, 108 

National Bureau of Economic Re- 
search, 229 

Native labor, on plantations, 131 

Navigation, Chinese, 179 

Near East, desert, 79 

Nebraska, health, 232; professions, 230 

Negritos, culture of, 88; laborers, 131 

Negroes, and climate, 146; distribu- 
tion in Alabama, 246; illiterate, 
230; inaccuracy among, 234; labor 
of, 132; relation to progress, 236; 
vs. whites in Ala., 246$. 

Nevada, accuracy as to age, 235; 
agriculture, 84; civilization, 82; di- 
vorce, 83; Indians, 84, 240; irriga- 
tion, 85; managers on farms, 86; 
population, 19, 83 ; professions, 230 ; 
tenants on farms, 86; transporta- 
tion, 84, 229; vs. California, 33 

New England, accuracy as to age, 
235; agriculture, 84; education, 
232; farmers, 92; illiteracy, 230; 
manufacturing, 230; remoteness, 
29; slaves in, 236; transportation, 
229; vs. Nova Scotia, 30. 

Newfoundland, population, 31 

New Guinea, 108; aborigines, 107; 
backwardness, 118; food supply, 
I33jff.; future of, 118; population, 
19; rice, no; soil, 91, in 

New Hampshire, accuracy as to age, 
235; high school graduates, 231; 
soil, 26 

New Jersey, schools, 231 

New Mexico, ancient corn culture, 
239; Apaches, 45; illiteracy, 230; 
transportation, 229 

Newness, and location, 33 

New York, concentration of ability, 
163; health, 232; income, 229; na- 
tive culture, 237; professions, 230; 
transportation, 229 

New York State Ventilation Commis- 
sion, 98 

New Zealand, 32; early inhabitants, 
187; population, 31; remoteness, 29 

Nigerians, as laborers, 132 

Nile, low stage, 152; plains, 207; 
population of Valley, 19; rain and 
population, 114 

Nomads, 54; activity of, 58; charac- 
ter of, 192; Chinese, 185; in cold 
regions, 67; effect of sparsity of 
population, 2 if. ; and environment, 
70; limbs of, 58; indolence of, 58; 
and meat, 59 

North, slaves in, 236 

North America, climate, 225; food 
supply, I33ff.; habitability? 25; 
storms, 143; vs. Europe, 226 

North Dakota, manufacturing, 230 

Norway, contrasted with Lapland, 
73; XIV Century, 149; men's 
deathrate, 189; and Greenland, 72 

Nova Scotia, vs. New England, 30 

Ob, and Samoyedes, 66 

Occupations, Alaska, 76; effect of, 62; 
geographic controls, 158; Indian, 
76; and moral characteristics, 45 

Ocean, and plantations, 129 

Ohio, transportation, 229 

Onas, 67; compared with Bushmen, 


One-crop farming, 248 
Optimism, selective factor, 223 
Optimum, climatic, 141; of human 

culture, 156; of population, 21; of 

whites vs. negroes, 146 
Oranges, 125 
Oregon, accuracy as to age, 235; 

schools, 231 
Orientals, exclusion of, 109; minds of, 

Ornamentation, of Bushmen, 39 


Ostiaks, 66 
Ostrich, 37J eggs, 51 
Ownership, of homes in Black Belt, 

Pacific Coast, climate, 146; educa- 
tion, 232; illiteracy, 230; profes- 
sions, 230; transportation, 229 

Palaces, glass in, 157 

Palestine, deserts, 79; rain, 152; wild 
wheat, 201 

Palms, 1 25 

Panama, 98 

Pastoral nomadism, 199 

Patriarchal government, 61 

Peasantry, Black Belt, 252 

Pennsylvania, coal, 140; transporta- 
tion, 229 

Perennials, on plantations, 128 

Persia, So 

Peru, civilization, 238; Indians vs. 
other nomads, 69; plains, 208 

Pests, of tropical agriculture, 92 

Petroleum, distribution of, 14 

Philippines, aborigines, io6f.; charac- 
ter of people, 227; grass, 93; hab- 
itability, 25; hemp, 126; rice 
civilization, 102, 106; plantations, 
124, i2 9 f. 

Physique, of Bushmen, 38; and food, 


Piedmont Plateau, 244, 263 
Pigmies, culture of, 88; as laborers, 


Pigs, 210 

Pineapples, imports, 125 

Pine forest, Indians of, 64 

Pioneer type, 224 

Plagues, Egyptian, 152 

Plains, 13; Chinese, 179; rice culture 
in, no 

Plantations, i2off.; altitude of, 130; 
cost of land in, 131 ; distribution of, 
129; food supply, i33ff.; history of, 
124$.; location, 130; native labor, 

Playas, of Kalahari, 36 

Plymouth, early settlers, 186 

Poisons, among Bushmen, 41 

Politics, Black Belt, 2535 among 
Bushmen, 46 

Population, of Alaska, 74; Bantam, 
118; British Isles, 31; Centers of, 
102; and civilization, 29; and cy- 
clonic storms, 25; and agriculture, 
207; density and standards of liv- 
ing, 117; distribution, 20; Iceland, 
31; and inaccessibility, 29; increase 
of, 119; India, 114; Japan, 31, 174; 
Java, 109, in; Lebak, 118; Massa- 
chusetts, 29; mountains, 28; Ne- 
vada, 83; Newfoundland, 31; New 
Zealand, 3 iff.; "optimum," 21; 
and relief of land, 27; and remote- 
ness, 29; rice-lands, 114; and soil, 
26; sparsest, 23ff.; Wyoming, 83 

Porto Rico, food supply, 133; geog- 
raphy, no; health, 129; plantations, 

Position, importance of, 31 

Post Oak region, 245 

Potomac, 268 

Presbyterians, in Ireland, 276 

Pressure areas, 151 

Prices, in Nevada, 85 

Primary producers, location of, 158 

Privies, in Java, 113 

Professions, 229f. 

Progress, and climatic energy, 148 ; de- 
nned, 136; and energy, 137; fish as 
basis of, 241; and health, 136; 
among Indians, 237; map of, 138; 
in U. S., 227, 235; and vegetation, 

Protestants, in Ireland, 275 

Pulsations of climate, 149, 154, 191 

Queen Charlotte Islands, culture of, 

237, 240 
Quinine, Javanese plantations, 124, 132 

Rabbits, 60, 65 

Racial character, and migrations, iS6 
Ragged Mountains, 266 
Raids, of Bushmen, 45 ; of Hottentots, 



Railways, Japanese, 171; in Nevada, 

Rain, effect on tropical agriculture, 
92; in Java, 113; at Jerusalem, 
151; optimum, 141; and population 
in India, 114; and tree growth, 150 

Rain forests, culture of, 88 

Randolph, of Virginia, 273 

Raw silk, imports of, 127 

Red Cross, iQ4f. 

Red Hills, 246 

Reindeer, 210; importance to Lapps, 
68; migrations of, 65; Siberian, 


Relief of land, 7 ; and density of popu- 
lation, 27; and plantations, 130; in 
Va., 266 

Remoteness, importance of, 31; and 
population, 29 

Reno, 83 

Revolutionary War, 273 

Rhinoceros, 37 

Rhode Island, population, 19 

Rice, effect on civilization, io2ff. ; im- 
ported, 125; Japanese, 174; Java- 
nese, 103 

Rice lands, animals of, 211; civiliza- 
tion, loaff.; cost of, 131; habitabil- 
ity, 25; health, 116; population, 
114; standards, 115 

Rice raisers, as laborers, 132; migra- 
tions of, 118 

Richmond, 268, 271 

Rivanna River, 267 

Roberts, John, 21 

Rocks, and soil, 9 

Rocky Mountain States, transporta- 
tion, 229 

Rodlov, cited, 66 

Rome, and rain, 153!, 

Root crops, tropical, 100 

Routes, of Virginia counties, 267 

Rubber, 125; imported, 126!; planta- 
tions, 130!.; Malayan, 124; monop- 
oly, 132 

Ruins, climatic evidence, 159; in 
Guatemala, 151 

Rural population, in Java, in 

Russia, plains, 13; soil of, n; storms, 

Sahara, in Ice Age, 214; remoteness 
of, 29 

Saint Lawrence, remoteness of, 29 

Salaries, of teachers, 231 

Salt, at Lopnor, 177 

Samoyedes, environment, 66; honesty, 

Sand, of the Kalahari, 36 

San Thome, cocoa plantations, 124 

Scandinavia, environment, 73; Lapps, 
68; soil, ii ; storms, 144 

Schools, in Virginia counties, 265; 
children in, 231 

Scotch broom, in Va., 263 

Scotch-Irish, in Va., 275$. 

Scotland, soil of, 25 

Sea coast, European, 220; health of, 
129; Japanese, 188 

Sea salt, and cocoanuts, 130 

Seal, 64 

Seasons, changes, 3 ; contrasts and civ- 
ilization, 97; effect of variability, 

Selection, 223; by agriculture, 206; of 
Ba-Kalahari, 50; of Bushmen, 43!! ; 
of Eskimos, 64; by famine, 196; by 
hospitality, 57; of mental types by 
climate, 160; by migration, 186; by 
rice culture, 105, 108; tropical, 97, 

Selma chalk, 245 

Semi-tropical regions, 88ff. 

Sequoias, of California, 150 

Seventh Century, climate of, 149 

Shansi, 177 

Sheep, 210; in Iceland, 78; in Nevada, 

Shensi, 177 

Siam, character of people, 108; energy 
in, 116; habitabflity, 25; rice civil- 
ization, 1 02 

Siberia, coal, 140; reindeer, 65; 
Samoyedes, 66; soil, u; storms, 144 

Sierras, trees of, 15 

Singapore. 12 A 



Sinkiang, 176 

Sisal, from Yucatan, 126 

Six Nations, culture of, 237, 242 

Slavery, 236; in Black Belt, 257; Ken- 
tucky, 257; South, 253 

Snow, and transportation, 96 

Social agencies, Japanese, 172 

Social progress, cycle of, 261 

Social selection, Alabama, 254; condi- 
tion of, 223; and marriage, 44 

Soil, in Alabama, 244; and aristoc- 
racy, 244ff. ; and backwardness, 
118; and climate, iof.; and democ- 
racy, 244!.; denudation of, no; 
dryness of, 27; exhaustion of, 153; 
fertility, 252; and forests, ioff.; in 
Illinois, in; and population, 26; 
and rice culture, in; and rocks, o; 
in tropics, 27, 91; in Virginia, 266; 
on world canvas, 8 

Somaliland, accessibility, 33 

South, schools, 231; slavery, 236, 253; 
soil, no 

South America, aborigines, 107; coo- 
lies, 108; food supply, i33ff.; future 
of, 119; habitability, 25; health, 
129; storms, 144; wood, 127 

South Carolina, Census inaccuracy, 
234f.; professions, 230; schools, 

South China, mountains, 28 

Southern hemisphere, storms, 144 

Southern Pine Belt, 246 

Spain, health, 174 

Spices, imports, 126; plantations, 
13 of. 

Spitzbergen, climate, in 

Standards of living, in rice-lands, 115; 
and density of population, 117 

Storehouses, tropical, 93 

Storms, ancient, 155; effect, 143; 
North America vs. Europe, 226; 
variability, 143 

Stover, Jacob, 276 

Street-cars, Japanese, 171 

Streets, Japan, 169; Tokyo, 172 

Students, and climate, 141 

Sugar, and habitability of lands, 25; 

importance, 125; imports, 127; 
plantations, 120, 130 

Sumatra, aborigines, 107; future of, 
118; plantations, I20JF.; rice in, 106 

Survival rate, among agricultural peo- 
ple, 207 

Sweden, coal, 140; contrasted with 
Lapland, 73; temperament of peo- 
ple, 173 

Switzerland, coal, 140 

Syria, mountains, 28 ; rain, 152 

Tapioca, imports, 125 

Taylor, Presidential candidate, 253 

Tea, imports, 126; plantations, I2if., 

Teachers, salaries, 231 

Tegal, population, in 

Tehuantepec, 99 

Telepathy, 136 

Temperament, Chinese, 178; and food, 
59 ; Japanese, 173; and migration, 
187; in rice-lands, 116 

Temperature, optimum, 141 

Tenants, on Nevada farms, 86 

Tennessee, 246, 249, 279; soil, n 

Theft, 6 1 

Thompson, James, 68 

Tibet, 24; people of, 177 

Ticks, 94 

Tierra del Fuego, 63, 67 

Tigris, plains of, 207 

Timidity, of Ba-Kalahari, 49! 

Tobacco, Bushmen, 40; slavery, 236; 
Virginia, 268 

Tod, Commander, 89 

Tokyo, garden, 171; streets, 172 

Trade Wind Belt, health, 129 

Training, and selection, 44 

Trans-Caspia, 80 

Transportation, difficulties, 95; exam- 
ple of, 263; Idaho, 84; Japan, 169; 
Nevada, 84; U. S-, 227 

Trees, Chinese, 180; culture, 199; 
growth and rainfall, 150; planta- 
tions, 128 

Tropics, i2off.; agriculture, 9 iff.; bo- 
tanical products, 128; civilization, 



88ff.; food, SSff,, 114; fruits, 125; 
future of, 164; pests, 94; products 
of, 125; selection, 97; soil, 27; trade, 
127; transportation, piff.; white 
men, 129 

Tsetse fly, 94 

Turkestan, So 

Turkey, 210; temperament of people, 
66, 173 

Turkomen, 53, 59 

Typhoons, 144 

Ulster County, 276 

United States, "boosters," 222; chil- 
dren, 115; climate, 225, 235, 146; 
coal, 140; deserts, 82; irrigation, 12; 
plains, 13; progress, 227, 235; soil, 
ii ; standards, 115; sugar imports, 

Utah, education, 232; Indian culture, 
239!; professions, 230; schools, 

Utensils, Bushmen, 40; Hottentots, 54 

Value, Black Belt buildings, 251 
Variability, optimum, 141 
Vegetables, tropical, 100 
Vegetation, colors, 3^.5 and progress, 

4; and soils, ioff.; tropical, 92, 94 
Veldt, 36 

Venezuela, banana plantations, 122 
Vermont, accuracy as to age, 235; 

population, 83; soil, 26 
Victoria, remoteness of, 29 
Virginia, 263^.; Srotch-Xrish, 275$.; 

settlement, 270, 273; soil, n 
Vision, origin of, 136 
Volcanic soil, in 
Volcanoes, Japanese, 112; Javanese, 


Wallace-Dunlop, cited, 157 
Warmth, effect on population, 24 
Washington, teachers' salaries, 231; vs. 

Wyoming, 33 
Washington, city, 268 

Washington, family, 273; George, 268 

Water, Ba- Kalahari, $of.; and civiliza- 
tion, 209; on world canvas, 8 

Water buffalo, 94, 211 

Wayne, Anthony, 277 

Weapons, Bushmen, 40; dress, 55 

Weather, effect on man, 16; optimum, 

Weavers, migrations of, 137 

Weeds, in Guatemala, 93 ; tropical, 92 

West Indies, tropical labor, 132 

West Virginia, coal, 140 

Wheat, relation to animals and cli- 
mate, 21 if.; type of culture, 199, 
201; transportation, 268; adaptabil- 
ity, 201 

Whig Party, in Ala., 253 

Whitbeck, R. H., 30 

White men, in Australia, 80; dry 
regions, 79; cold regions, 74!; trop- 
ics, 129; vs. negroes, 246$. 

Who's Who, and Black Belt, 257 

Wild Rice, 105 

Wolf, 66 

Women, Alaska, 74; Hottentot, 60; 
Iroquois, 242; Japan, 170; Nevada, 
83; Onas, 67; whites in deserts, 82 

Woods, Rev. Edgar, 273 

Work, and climate, 98 

World War, effect on Black Belt, 259 

Wyoming, coal, 140; population, 83; 
schools, 232; vs. Washington, 33 

Yaghans, 67 

Yale University, graduate school, 30 

Yokohama, 169 

Yowort, 60 

Yucatan, 95; Indians, 132; Mayas, 

151; sisal, 126 
Yukagirs, 65 
Yukon, population, 19 

Zanzibar, dove plantations, 124 

Zebra, 37, 45 

Zionists, 154 

Zulus, migrations of, 49 


1 36 370