National Geographic : 1899 Mar
PORTO RICO new and interesting facts concerning the climate and its local variation, which will be mentioned in a future article. The whole island may be divided into a wet and a dry belt, on the north and south sides of the central Cordillera, respect ively. The greatest rainfall, which sometimes attains 120 inches a year on the slopes of El Yunque, is at the northeast end. On the south side, from Guayama to Cabo Rojo, the region is dryer, but the whole island is wet in comparison with the standard of the United States. The higher mountains are slightly cooler than the coast belt, but the temperature is so uniformly warm that alti tude has but little bearing upon distribution of vegetation. The mountains are constantly bathed in moisture, either by daily rainfalls or dense mists which collect upon them at night, except upon the lower portion of their southern slopes; hence it may be said that the superfice is never dry and the subsoil is con stantly saturated in the mountain region. On the southern coast, however, owing both to the porosity of the limestone, which quickly drains off the moisture, and the generally dryer climate, the surface above has a parched and arid look, especially in the long dry season. Some portions of this south belt are very arid, and great complaint was heard upon the island in places that the rainfall for the past two years had been insufficient for domestic supply. In fact, in order to cultivate the staple crops of the lowlands of the south coast, irrigation is necessary and is practiced with great skill and at considerable cost along the whole southern border from Guayama to Cabo Rojo. In a subsequent article I shall set forth the economic geog raphy of the island, and show the intimate relation which exists between the configuration and geology, which I have described, and the vegetal conditions-the agricultural, hygienic, and com mercial capacities. NoT'r.- In order to meet the wishes of the author, the name of the island treated of in the foregoing article is spelled in the form commonly in use in England and the United States. The form "Puerto Rico" is that commonly used by the people of the island itself and by those of other Spanish-speaking countries, and is good Spanish. It is the form adopted by the U. S. Board on Geographic Names, in accordance with its logical principle of adopting for other countries the names by which they are known to their own inhabitants. The Editors wish it to be understood that in acceding to Mr Hill's request in this trifling matter they are not establishing a precedent.