National Geographic : 1907 Apr
NOTES ON CENTRAL AMERICA* THE area of Central America is a little larger than that of Cali fornia, with a population of about 4,300,000. Though it lies wholly within the tropics, it is only the belts ad joining the oceans which have torrid cli mates. The high lands of the interior, five and six thousand feet above the sea, could have been no more effectively sit uated in a temperate zone. The general superficial appearance of Central America may be said to be-save on the Caribbean Sea coasts, where it is low and level-that of a region of forest clad hills, fertile valleys, large lakes, and small rivers. All the capitals are in the interior, and are situated generally at an altitude of from three to five thousand feet, where the climate is cool and salu brious; the seaports connecting with the capitals are small, hot, and unhealthy. A chain of active volcanoes extends through Guatemala, Salvador, and Nica ragua, several of which, notably Santa Maria, in Guatemala, have had violent eruptions during recent years. This sec tion is also frequently visited with de structive earthquakes. Within a few months Central Amer ican travelers will be able to go from New York to Guatemala City by rail, as the few railway gaps in Guatemala and Mexico are being rapidly filled. A Comparisonofthe CentralAmericanRepublics Area in Annual Miles R l Popula- su commerce of Republics. tio.* square in gold rail miles. dollars. ways. Guatemala......... 1,842,134 48,290 $12,6oo,ooo 500 Salvador.......... 1,006,848 7,225 14,000,000 Io Costa Rica.......... 331,34 18,4oo00 12,300,000 340 Nicaragua.......... 420,o00 49,200 1,250,000 200 Honduras........... 744,901 46,250 4,500,000 1oo * Guatemala.-About 60 per cent of the popu lation are pure Indians; most of the remainder being half-caste. The foreign population num bers about 15,000. San Salvador. -Aboriginal and mixed races form the bulk of the population, the latest census returns giving 772,200 Mestizos, and 234,648 Indians. Nicaragua. - The bulk of the population consists of Indians, mulattoes, negroes, and mixed races. Costa Rica. - The population is nearly all white. Honduras.-The bulk of the population is Indian. The capitals, with the populations, are as follows: Guatemala City ...................... 100,000 San Salvador ...................... 6o,ooo San Jose ........................ 24,500 M anagua........ ... .. ..... ....... 30,000 Tegucigalpa ......................... 35,000 NICARAGUA The development of Nicaragua during the last decade has been most gratify ing to the friends of the country. Given a remarkably rich territory of nearly 50,000 square miles and a population of a little over 400,000, the field for success ful enterprise is great indeed. The pros perity of the country is mainly due to the administration of President Jose Santos Zelaya, who now for twelve years has been at the head of affairs in Nicaragua. When General Zelaya first came into power there were only 90 miles of rail road line. Now the mileage is double that figure; but what counts for more is that the work now under way, when com pleted, will assure through communica tion from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The surveys for this transcontinental line have been completed, several miles of track have been laid, and much grading in ad dition has been done. * For further information the following authorities are recommended: The Hand Books on Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras. Guatemala, and Nicaragua, pub lished by the International Bureau of American Republics, Washington, D. C. "The Capitals of Spanish America," by William E. Curtis. Harper and Brothers. "In and Out of Central America," by Frank Vincent. D. Appleton & Company. "The Report of the Inter-Continental Railway Commission," 7 volumes, published by the Commission, Washington, D. C. "Guatemala, the Country of the Future," by C. M. Pepper, Washington, D. C. Also the various reports of Messrs C. M . Pepper and H. G. Davis, of the Inter-Continen tal Railway Commission.