National Geographic : 1939 Dec
HEART OF A HEMISPHERE Of Vital Importance is the Area Portrayed in The Society's New Map of Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies FROM the day of the explorer's cara vel to the modern age of flying clip pers and aerial armadas, the roman tic region of the Caribbean has played a vitally important part in the destiny of the Americas. Never has its importance been greater than today when the alarms of a war troubled world turn thoughts to problems of defense of the Panama Canal and to co operative efforts among the 21 neighbor Republics of the Western Hemisphere. This region, then, one of the world's main crossroads, is the subject of the National Geographic Society's latest ten-color map which reaches more than 1,100,000 member families as a special supplement to the De cember issue of THE GEOGRAPHIC. In a year of unparalleled cartographic activity, a total of 4,400,000 large colored maps have been issued to members, giving accurate and detailed geographic informa tion on such diverse areas as New York City and vicinity (April), the world that rims the narrowing Atlantic (July), Cen tral Europe and the Mediterranean (Octo ber), and now the Caribbean region. HIGHLIGHTS OF HISTORY IN RED This new map of Mexico, Central Amer ica, and the West Indies recalls one pub lished five years ago, which proved to be in such demand that the edition of more than a million copies is now out of print. Aviators, ship captains, military men, stu dents of history and current events, vaca tionists cruising Caribbean waters, business men with their eyes on Latin-American trade, armchair travelers to whom such a map is a magic carpet-all will find the new supplement even more satisfactory.* Among the improvements are the histori cal notes, printed in red, which give this modern map a sort of fourth dimension. * Members wishing additional copies of the map, "Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies," may obtain them by writing the National Geo graphic Society, Washington, D. C. Prices, in United States and Possessions, 50¢ on paper (un folded) ; 75¢ mounted on linen; index, 25¢. Out side of U. S. and Possessions, 75¢ on paper; $1 on linen; index, 50¢. Postage prepaid. Through them one can peer into the past of the Caribbean, and may travel vicari ously both in space and in time. FOUR POWERS HAVE NAVAL BASES HERE These sunny waters, tropic isles, and ad joining continental shores form a locality of primary interest whether peace or war prevails. Here is the heart of the Western Hemisphere, and its vital arteries-the Panama Canal and the sea lanes converging toward it. Sixteen flags fly in this area. Eleven naval bases protect the varied in terests of four world powers, the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands. If the ocean could be drained away, this would be by far the most spectacular spot in the whole Atlantic basin. The Carib bean and Gulf of Mexico are not mere submerged parts of a continental shelf, as are Hudson Bay, the North Sea, or the Baltic. The Caribbean alone, which has an area about equal to those three seas to gether, has a volume 26 times as great; in area it is a little smaller than the Mediter ranean, but the Caribbean is about twice as deep, averaging one and two-thirds miles. In reality, the West Indies are a huge mountain system, rising from the ocean floor. From the greatest depths to the highest peaks, they rise five and six miles on the Caribbean side, six and seven on the Atlantic. Forces which created them are still active, as earthquakes, volcanoes, and submerged cities so dramatically attest. AMONG THESE ISLES GROPED COLUMBUS In keeping with its cataclysmic geologi cal history, the record of men in this region is as dramatic as an eruption of Mount Pelee, or an equinoctial hurricane. Here Columbus came in 1492, and in his wake there followed the Conquistadors: Ojeda, fearless, with an absolute faith in his invulnerability; Balboa, who, to escape his creditors, smuggled himself from his farm on Hispaniola to the mainland in a large cask; Pedrarias, by whom Balboa was beheaded; Pizarro, Cortes, Alvarado, De Soto, Cordoba, to mention only a few.