National Geographic : 1900 Jun
THE COLONIAL EXPANSION OF FRANCE untouched by English institutions, those of Reunion seem to have been unaffected by the thought and life of contemporary France. The remnants of the old French possessions of India are not of much moment. St Pierre and Miquelon, near Newfoundland, generally known as St Pierre, are serving an important national purpose. They are the center of fisheries so extensive that at least 40,000 per sons in France and in St Pierre depend upon them. They are also nurseries of well-trained seamen, indispensable to the French navy. It should be remembered that these colonies are but dislocated frag ments of two vast colonial empires, and that their experiences prove nothing as to French colonial ability. FRENCH COLONIES IN ASIA Of the newer colonies, there are the Polynesian possessions, which, territorially, are not very important, but whose value will be greatly affected by the American trans-isthmian canal. The most promising is New Caledonia. It has the advantage, which so many French col onies lack, of being very rich in minerals, the extraction of which has proven very remunerative. Though a penal colony, it is attracting from France new elements, whereby the wealth of the island will be developed. While making mistakes of policy and of judgment, France has achieved many beneficent results in Indo-China. She has introduced an order in the country which had never existed before; has organ ized the finances, and instituted regular budgets. That of Indo-China in 1898 had a surplus of nine million francs. She has introduced the etat-civil, which is a great instrument of social security and social justice. She has established schools, model farms, important rail roads, telegraphs, river navigation, quays, beautiful buildings, and extensive public works. Commerce has increased, and a study of the number of Frenchmen who have settled in this colony as compared with the Englishmen who have settled in India would be to the advantage of Indo-China. MADAGASCAR, THE SAHARA, AND TUNIS Africa seems to be the great sphere of French expansion. On the east side she has Obok, close to the southern entrance of the Red Sea. Its value is largely strategic. It has a good harbor, good water, and the territory is said to contain much coal.