1902 Encyclopedia > Asia

Asia




1. This division of the earth’s surface embraces the north-eastern portion of the great mass of land which constitutes what is generally known as the old World, of which Europe forms the north-western and Africa the south-western region.

2. Geography, in common with most of the other branches of human learning which have supplied the foundation of modern science, originated in Egypt and Greece, and its nomenclature naturally carries with it the stamp of the place where it had its birth. The earliest conceptions of geographical position were necessarily formed and expressed in relation to the region in which the ancient geographers lived and wrote; and the first steps in generalization which recognized and distinguished the special characteristics of the countries and people grouped round the eastern end of the Mediterranean, and suggested the three great divisions of the Old World, attest the sagacity of the founders of geography, whose landmarks their successors still respect.

3. Much doubt attaches to the origin of the words Europe, Africa and Asia. Some of the earliest Greek geographers divided their known world into two portions only, Europe and Asia, in which last Libya (the Greek name for Africa) was included . Herodotus, who ranks Libya as one of the chief divisions of the world, separating it from Asia, repudiates as fables the ordinary explanations assigned to the names Europe and Asia, but confesses his inability to say whence they came. It would appear probable, however, that the former of these words was derived from an Assyrian or Hebrew root, which signifies the west or setting sun, and the latter from a corresponding root meaning the east or rising sun, and that they were used at one time to imply the west and the east. There is ground also for supposing that they may at first have been used with a specific or restricted local application, a more extended signification having eventually been given to them. After the word Asia had acquired its larger sense, it was still specially used by the Greeks to designate the country around Ephesus. The word Africa is the Latin substitute for the Greek Libya; its origin is obscure. It may have been a local name. It was long used with special reference to the country about Carthage, and this seems to have been the case even to the time of the Mahometan conquest. The idea of Asia as originally formed was necessarily indefinite, and long continued to be so; and the area to which the name was finally applied, as geographical knowledge increased, was to a great extent determined by arbitrary and not very precise conceptions, rather than on the basis of natural relations and differences subsisting between it and the surrounding regions.

4. The entire surface of the earth being about 196 millions of square miles in area (of which 51 millions are land, and 145 millions water), Asia contains about 17 millions of square miles, or say one-third of the whole of the dry land and one-twelfth part of the whole surface of the globe. Europe contains about 3 _ millions of square miles, or close upon one-fifth of the area of Asia; Africa 11 _ millions; and the two Americas together, rather more than 15 millions. The remainder of the land belongs to Australia, the islands of the Eastern Archipelago and the Pacific, and the Antarctic regions.

5. The northern boundary of Asia is formed by the Arctic ocean; the coast-line falls between the 70th and the 75th parallels of N. lat., and so lies within the Arctic circle, having its extreme northern point in Cape Sievero-Vostochny (i.e. north-east), in lat. 78o N. On the south the coast-line is far more irregular, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the China Sea, reaching about to the northern tropic at themouths of the Indus, of the Ganges, and of the Canton river; while the great peninsulas of Arabia, of Hindostan, and Cambodia, descend to about the 10th degree of N. lat., and the Malay peninsula extends within a degree and a half of the equator. on the west the extreme point of Asia is found on the shore of the Mediterranean, at Cape Baba, in long. 26o E. from Greenwich, not far from the Dardanelles. Thence the boundary passes in the one direction through the Mediterranean, and down the Red Sea to the southern point of Arabia, at the Straits of Bab-el-mandeb, in long. 45o E.; and in the other through the Black Sea, and along the range of Caucasus, following approximately the 40th degree of N. lat to the Caspian, whence it turns to the north on a line not far from the 60th meridian, along the Ural Mountains, and meets the Arctic ocean nearly opposite the island of Nova-Zembla. The most easterly point of Asia is Cape Vostochnyii (i.e., east), in long, 190o E., at the entrance of Behring’s Straits. The boundary between this point and the extremity of the Malay peninsula follows the coast of the Northern Pacific and the China Sea, on a line deeply broken by the projection of the peninsulas of Kamchatka and Corea, and the recession of the Gulfs of Okotsk, the Yellow Sea, Tonquin, and Siam.

6. On the east and south-east of Asia are several important groups of islands, the more southern of which link this continent to Australia, and to the islands of the Pacific. The Kurile islands, the Japanese group, Loo-choo, Formosa, and the Philippines, may be regarded as unquestionable outliers of Asia. Between the islands of the Malay Archipelago from Sumara to New Guinea, and the neighboring Asiatic continent, no definite relations appear ever to have existed, and no distinctly-marked boundary for Asia has been established by the old geographers in this quarter. Modern science, however, has indicated a line of physical separation along the channel between Borneo and the Celebes, called the Straits of Macassar, which follows approximately the 120th meridian of E. long., to the west of which the flora and fauna are essentially Asiatic in their type, while to the south and east the Australia element begins to be distinctly marked, soon to become predominant. To this boundary has been given the name of Wallace’s line, after the eminent naturalist who firs indicated its existence.

7. Owing to the great extend of Asia it is not easy to obtain a correct conception of the actual form of its outline from ordinary maps, the distortions which accompany projections of large spherical areas on a flat surface being necessarily great and misleading. Turning, therefore, to a globe, Asia, viewed as a whole, will be seen t have the form of a great isosceles spherical triangle, having its northeastern apex at Cape Vostochnyii, in Behring’s Straits; its two equal sides, in length about a quadrant of the sphere, or 6500 miles, extending on the west to the southern point of Arabia, and on the east to the extremity of the Malay peninsula; and the base between these points, occupying about 60o of a great circle or 4500 miles, and being deeply indented by the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal on either side of the Indian peninsula. A great circle, drawn through Cape Vostochnyii and the southern point of Arabia, passes nearly along the coast line of the Arctic Ocean, over the Ural Mountains, through the western part of the Caspian, and nearly along the boundary between Persia and Asiatic Turkey. Asia Minor and he north-western half of Arabia lie outside of such a great circle, which otherwise indicates, with fair accuracy, the north-western boundary of Asia. In like manner a great circle drawn through Cape Vostochnyii and the extremity of the Malay peninsula, passes nearly over the coasts of Manchuria, China, and Cochin-China, and departs comparatively little from the eastern boundary.

8. Although for the purposes of geographical nomenclature, boundaries formed by a coast line – that is, by depressions of the earth’s solid crust below the ocean level – are most easily recognized, and are of special convenience; and although such boundaries, from following lines on which the continuity of the land is interrupted, often necessarily indicate important differences in the conditions of adjoining countries, and of their political and physical relations, yet variations of the elevation of the surface above the sea level frequently produce effects not less marked. The changes of temperature and climate caused by difference of elevation are quite comparable in their magnitude and effect on all organized creatures with those due to differences of latitude; and the relative position of the high and low lands on the earth’s surface, by modifying the direction of the winds, the fall of rain, and other atmospheric phenomena, produces effects in no sense less important than those due to the relative distribution of the land and sea. Hence the study of the mountain ranges of a continent is, for a proper apprehension of its physical conditions and characteristics, as essential as the examination of its extent and position in relation to the equator and poles, and the configuration of its coasts.

9. From such causes the physical conditions of a large part of Asia, and the history of its populations, have been very greatly influenced by the occurrence of the mass of mountain, which includes the Himalaya and the whole elevated area having true physical connection with that range, and occupies an area about 2000 miles in length and varying from 100 to 500 miles in width, between the 65th and 100th meridians east from Greenwich, and between the 28th and 35th degrees of N. lat. These mountains, which are the highest in the world, rise, along their entire length, far above the line of perpetual snow, and few of the passes across the main ridges are at a less altitude than 15,000 or 16,000 feet above the sea. Peaks of 20,000 feet abound along the whole chain, and the points that exceed that elevation are numerous , the highest hitherto measured being more than 29,000 feet above the sea. A mountain range such as this, attaining altitudes at which vegetable life ceases, and the support of animal life is extremely difficult, constitutes an almost impassible barrier against the spread of all forms of living creatures. The mountain mass, moreover, is not less important in causing a complete separation between the atmospheric conditions on its opposite flanks, by reason of the extent to which it penetrates that stratum of the atmosphere which is in contact with the earth’s surface and is effective in determining climate. The highest summits create serious obstructions to the movements of nearly three-fourths of the mass of the air resting on this part of the earth, and of nearly the whole of the moisture it contains; the average height of the entire chain is such as to make it an almost absolute barrier to one-half of the air and three-fourths of the moisture; while the lower ranges also produce important atmospheric effects, one-fourth of the air and one-half of the watery vapor it carries with it lying below 9000 feet.

10. Thisgreat mass of mountain, constituting as it does a complete natural line of division across a large part of the continent, will form a convenient basis from which to work, in proceeding, as will now be done, to give a general view of the principal countries contained in Asia.

11. The summit of the great mountain mass is occupied by Tibet, a country known by its inhabitants under the name of Bod, or Bodyul. Tibet is a rugged table-land, narrow as compared to its length, broken up by a succession of mountain ranges, which follow as a rule the direction of the length of the table-land, and commonly rise into the regions of perpetual snow; between the flanks of these lie valleys, closely hemmed in, usually narrow, having a very moderate inclination, but at interval opening out into wide plains, and occupied either by rivers, or frequently by lakes from which there is no outflow and the waters of which are salt. The eastern termination of Tibet is in the line of snowy mountains which flanks China on the west between the 27th and 35th parallels of latitude, and about on the 103d meridian east. On the west the tableland is prolonged beyond the political limits of Tibet, though with much the same physical features, to about the 70th meridian, beyond which it terminates; and the ranges which are covered with perpetual snow as far west as Samarkhand thence rapidly diminish in height, and terminate in low hills north of Bukhara.

12. The mean elevation of Tibet may be taken as 15,000 feet above the sea. The broad mountainous slope by which it is connected with the lower levels of Hindostan contains the ranges known as the Himalaya; the names of ouenlum, or Karakorum, have been given by some geographers to the northern slope that descends to the central plains of the Gobi, though these mountains are not locally known under those names, Kouenlun being apparently a Chinese corruption of some Turkish or Tibetan word, and Karakorum only one of the many passes that lead from Western Tibet to the northward.

13. The extreme rigor of the climate of Tibet, which combines great cold with great drought, makes the country essentially very poor, and the chief portion of it little better than desert. The vegetation is everywhere most scanty, and anything deserving the name of a tree is hardly to be found unless in the more sheltered spots, and then artificially planted. The population in the lower and warmer valleys live in houses, and follow agriculture; in the higher regions they are nomadic shepherds, thinly scattered over a large area.
14.China lies between the eastern flank of the Tibetan plateau and the North Pacific, having its northern and southern limits about on the 40th and the 20th parallels on N. lat. respectively. The country though generally broken up with mountains of moderate possesses none of very great importance apart from those of its western border. It is well watered, populous, and, as a rule, highly cultivated, fertile, and well wooded; the climate is analogous to that of southern Europe, with hot summers, and winters everywhere cold and in the north decidedly severe.

15. From the eastern extremity of the Tibetan mountains, between the 95th and 100th meridians, high ranges extend from about lat. 35o N., in a southerly direction, which, spreading outwards as they go south, reach the sea at various points in Cochin-china, the Malavan peninsula, and the east flank of Bengal. Between these ranges, which are probably permanently snowy to about the 27th degree of N. lat., flow the great rivers of the Indo-Chinese peninsula, the Mekong, the Menam, the Salwen, and the Irawady, the valleys of which form the main portions of the states of Cochin-China (including Tonquin and Camboja), of Siam (including Laos), and of Burmah. The people of Cochin-China are called Anam; it is probably from a corruption of their name for the capital of Tonquin, Kechao, that the Portuguese Cochin has been derived. All these countries are well watered, populous, and fertile, with a climate very similar to that of eastern Bengal. He geography of the region in which the mountains of Cochin-china and Siam join Tibet is still very imperfectly known, but there is no ground left for doubting that the great river of eastern Tibet, the Tachoktsangpo, supplies the main stream of the Brahmaputra. The two great rivers of China, the Hoang-ho and the Yang-tse-kyang, take their rise from the eastern face of Tibet, the former from the north-east angle, the latter from the south-east. The main stream of this last is called Bri-chu in Tibet, and its chief feeder is the Ya-lung-kyang, which rises not far from the Joang-ho, and is considered the territorial boundary between China and Tibet.

16. British India comprises approximately the area between the 95th and 70th meridians, and between the Tibetan table-land and the Indian Ocean. The Indian peninsula from the 25th degree of latitude southwards is a table-land, having its greatest elevation on the west, where the highest points rise to over 8000 feet, though the ordinary altitude of the higher hills hardly exceeds 4000 feet; the general level of the table-land lies between 3000 feet as a maximum and 1000 feet.

17. From the delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra on the east to that of the Indus on the west, and intervening between the table-land of the peninsula and the foot of the Himalayan slope of the Tibetan plateau, lies the great plain of northern India, which rises at its highest point to about 1000 feet, and includes altogether, with its prolongation up the valley of Assam, an area of about 500,000 square miles, comprising the richest, the most populous , and most civilized districts of India. This great plain extends, with an almost unbroken surface, from the most western to the most eastern extremity of British India, and is composed of deposits so finely comminuted, that it is no exaggeration to say that it is possible to go from the Bay of Bengal up the Ganges, through the Punjab, and down the Indus again to the sea, over a distance of 2000 miles and more, without finding a pebble, however small.

18. The great rivers of Northern India-the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Indus-all derive their waters from the Tibetan mountain mass; and it is a remarkable circumstance, that the waters of almost the whole of the summit of the plateau are carried off into British India between the 95th and 75th meridians, and that the only part of the drainage thrown off to the north, is that of the northern mountain slope.

19. The population of India is very large, some of its districts being probably among the most densely peopled in the world. The country is generally well cleared, and forests are, as a rule, found only along the flanks of the mountains, where the fall of rain is most abundant. The more open parts are highly cultivated, and large cities abound. The climate is generally such as to secure the population the necessaries of life without severe labor; the extremes of heat and drought are such as to render the land unsuitable for pasture, and the people everywhere subsist by cultivation of the soil or commerce, and live in settled villages or towns.

20. The island of Ceylon is distinguished from the neighboring parts of British India by little more than it separate administration and the Buddhistic religion of its population. The highest point in Ceylon rises to about 9000 feet above the sea, and the mountain slopes the densely covered with forest. The lower levels are in climate and cultivation quite similar to the regions in the same latitude on the Malay peninsula.

21. Of the islands in the Bay of Bengal, the Nicobar and Andaman groups are alone worth notice. They are placed on a line joining the north end of Sumatra and Cape Negrais, the south-western extremity of Burmah. They possibly owe their existence to the volcanic agencies which are known to extend from Sumatra across this part of the Indian Ocean.

22. The Laccadives and Maldives are groups of small coral islands, situated along the 73d meridian, at no great distance from the Indian peninsula, on which they have a very slight and ill-defined political dependency.

23. The portion of Asia west of British India, excluding Arabia and Syria, forms another extensive plateau covering an area as large as that of Tibet, though at a much lower altitude. Its southern border runs along the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Tigris, and thence westward to the north-east angle of the Levant; on the north the high land follows nearly the 36th degree of N. lat to the southern shore of the Caspian, and thence to the Black Sea and Sea of Marmora. Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Iran or Persia, Armenia, and the provinces of Asia Minor, occupy this high region, with which they are nearly conterminous. The eastern flank of this table land follows a line of hills drawn a short distance from the Indus, between the mouth of that river and the Himalaya, about on the 72d meridian; these hills do not generally exceed 400 or 5000 feet in elevation, but a few of the summits reach 10,000 feet or more. The southern and south-western face follows the coast closely up the Persian Gulf from the mouth of the Indus, and is formed further west by the mountain scarp which, rising in many points to 10,000 feet, flanks the Tigris and the Mesopotamian plains, and extends along Kurdistan and Armenia nearly to the 40th meridian; beyond which it turns along the Taurus range, and the north-eastern angle of the Mediterranean. The north-eastern portion of the Afghan table-land abuts on the Himalaya and Tibet, with which it forms a continuous mass of mountain between the 71st and 72d meridians, and the 34th and 36th parallels of N. lat. From the point of intersection of the 71st meridian with the 36th parallel of latitude, which falls nearly on the pass called Hindukosh ( a name which has been extended by geographers to the ridge on which it is placed), an unbroken range of mountain stretches on one side towards the north-east, up to the crest of the northern slope of the Tibetan plateau, and on the other nearly due west as far as the Caspian. The north-eastern portion of this range is of great altitude, and separates the head waters of the Oxus, which run off to the Aral Sea, from those of the Indus and its Cabul tributary, which, uniting below Peshawar, are thence discharged southward into the Arabian Sea.

The western part of the range, which received the name of Paropamisan Mountain from the ancients, diminishes in height west of the 65th meridian, and constitutes the northern face of the Afghan and Persian plateau, rising abruptly from the plains of the Turkoman desert, which lies between the Oxus and the Caspian. These mountains at some points attain a height of 10,000 or 12,000 feet. Along the south coast of the Caspian this line of elevation is prolonged as the Elburz range (not to be confused with the Elburz of the Caucasus), and has its culminating point in Demavend, which rises to 18,500 feet above the sea; thence it extends to the north-west to Ararat, which rises to upwards of 17,000 feet, from the vicinity of which the Euphrated flows off to the south-west, across the high lands of Armenia. Below the north-east declivity of this range lies Georgia, on the other side of which province rises the Caucasus, the boundary of Asia and Europe between the Caspian and Black Seas, the highest points of which reach an elevation of nearly 19,000 feet. West of Ararat high hills extend along the Black Sea, between which and the Taurus range lies the plateau of Asia Minor, reaching to the Aegean Sea; the mountains along the Black Sea, on which are the Olympus and Ida of the ancients, rise to 6000 or 7000 feet; the Taurus is more lofty, reaching 8000 and 10,000 feet; both ranges decline in altitude as they approach the Mediterranean.

24. This great plateau, extending from the Mediterranean to the Indus, has a length of about 2500 miles from east to west, and a breadth of upwards of 600 miles on the west, and nowhere of less than 250 miles. It lies generally at altitudes between 2000 feet and 8000 feet above the sea level. Viewed as a whole, the eastern half of this region, comprising Persia, Afghanistan, and Baluchistan, is poor and unproductive. The climate is very severe in the winter, and extremely hot in summer. the rainfall is very scanty, and running waters are hardly known, excepting among the mountains which form the scarps of the elevated country. The population is sprase, frequently nomatic, and addicted to plunder; progress in the arts and habits of civilization is small. The western part of the area falls within the Turkish empire. Its climate is less hot and arid, its natural productiveness much greater, and its population more settled and on the whole more advanced.

25. The peninsula of Arabia, with Syria, its continuation to the north-west, have some of the characteristics of the hottest and driest parts of Persia and Baluchistan. Excepting the northern part of this tract, which is conterminous with the plain of Mesopotamia (which at its highest point reaches an elevation of about 700 feet above the sea), the country is covered with low mountains, rising to 3000 or 4000 feet in altitude, having among them narrow valleys in which the vegetation is scanty, with exceptional regions of greater fertility in the neighborhood of the coasts, where the rainfall is greatest. In Northern Syria the mountains of Lebanon rise to about 10,000 feet, and with a more copious water supply the country becomes more productive. The whole tract, excepting south-eastern Arabia, is nominally subject to Turkey or Egypt, but the people are to no small extent practically independent, living a nomadic, pastoral, and freebooting life under petty chiefs, in the more arid districts, but settled in towns in the more fertile tracts, where agriculture becomes more profitable, and external commerce is established.

26. The area between the northern border of the Persian high lands and the Caspian and Aral Seas is a nearly desert low-lying plain, extending to the foot of the northwestern extremity of the great Tibeto-Himalayan mountains, and prolonged eastward up the valleys of the Oxus and Jaxartes, and northwards across the country of the Kirghiz and Kassaks, ot the south-western border of Siberia. It includes Bukhara, Khiva, and Turkistan proper, in which the Uzbeg Turks are dominant, and for the most part is inhabited by nomadic tribes, who are marauders, enjoying the reputation of being the worst among a race of professed robbers. The tribes to the north, subject to Russia, are naturally more peaceable, and have been brought into some degree of discipline. In this tract the rainfall is nowhere sufficient for the purposes of agriculture, which is only possible by help of irrigation; and the fixed population (which contains a non-Turkish element) is comparatively small, and restricted to the towns and the districts near the rivers.

27. The most northern extremity of the elevated Tibeto-Himalayan mountain plateau is situated about on the 73d meridian east, and 39o N. lat. This region is known as Pamir; it has all the characteristics of the highest regions of Tibet, and so far fitly receives the Russian designation of steppe; but it seems to have no special peculiarities, and the reason of its having been so long regarded as a geographical enigma is not obvious. From it the Oxus, or Amu, flows off to the west, and the Jaxartes, or Sir, to the north, through the Turki state of Kokand, while to the east the waters run down past Kashgar to the central desert of the Gobi, uniting with the streams from the northern slope of the Tibetan plateau that traverse the principalities of Yarkend and Khoten, which are also Turki. Here the Tibetan mountains unite with the line of elevation which stretches across the continent from the Pacific, and which separates Siberia from the region commonly spoken of under the name of Central Asia.





28. A range of mountains, called Stanovoi, rising to heights of 4000 or 5000 feet, follows the southern coast of the eastern extremity of Asia from Kamchatka dto the borders of Manchuria, as far as the 135th meridian, in lat. 55o N. Thence, under the name of Yablonoi, it divides the waters of the river Lena, which flows through Siberia into the Arctic Sea, from those of the river Amur, which falls into the North Pacific; the basin of this river, with its affluents, constitutes Manchuria. Approximately at right angles to the last named range, another, known as the Khingan, extends between the 120th ands 115th meridians, from the 55th to the 42d parallel of N. lat., east of which the drainage falls into the Amur and the Yellow Sea, while to the west is an almost rainless region, the inclination of which is towards the central area of the continent, which is Mongolia.

29. From the western end of the Yablonoi range, on the 115th meridian, a mountainous belt extends along a somewhat irregular line to the extremity of Pamir, known under various names in its different parts, and broken up into several branches, enclosing among them many isolated drainage areas, from which there is no outflow, and within which numerous lakes are formed. The most important of these ranges is the Thian-shan, or Celestial mountains, which form the northern boundary of the Gobi desert; they lie along the 42d and 43d parallels of N. lat., between the 75th and 95th meridians, and some of the summits are said to exceed 20,000 feet in altitude; along the foot of this range lie the principal cultivated districts of Central Asia, and here too are situated the few towns which have sprung up in this barren and thinly-peopled region. Next may be named the Ala-tau, on the prolongation of the Thian-shan, flanking the Sir on the north, and rising to 14,000 or 15,000 feet. It forms the barrier between the Issik-kul and Balkash lakes, the elevation of which is about 5000 feet. Last is the Altai, near the 50th parallel, rising to 10,000 or 12,000 feet, which separate the waters of the great rivers of Western Siberia from those that collect into the lakes of North-west Mongolia, Zungaria, and Kalka. A line of elevation is continued west of the Altai to the Ural Mountains, not rising to considerable altitudes; this divides the drainage of South-west Siberia from the great plains lying north-east of the Aral Sea.

30. The central area bounded on the north and northwest by the Yasblonoi Mountains and their western extension in the Thian-shan, on the south by the northern face of the Tibetan plateau, and on the east by the Khingan range before alluded to, forms the great desert of Central Asia, known as the Gobi. Its eastern part is nearly conterminous with South Mongolia, its western forms East Turkistan. It appears likely that no part of this great central Asiatic desert is less than 2000 feet above the sea-level. The elevation of the plain about Kashgar and Yarkend is from 4000 to 6000 feet. The more northern parts of Mongolia are between 4000 and 6000 feet, and no portion of the route across the desert between the Chinese frontier and Kiakhta is below 3000 feet. The precise positions of the mountain ridges that traverse this central area are not properly known; their elevation is everywhere considerable, and many points are known to exceed 10,000 or 12,000 feet.

31. In Mongolia the population is essentially nomadic, their wealth consisting in herds, of horned cattle, sheep, horses, and camels. The Turki tribes, occupying Western Mongolia, are among the least civilized of human beings, and it is chiefly to their extreme barbarity and cruelty that our ignorance of Central Asia is due. The climate is very severe, with great extremes of heat and cold. The drought is very great; rain falls rarely, and in small quantities. The surface is for is for the most part a hard stony desert, areas of blown sand occurring but exceptionally. There are few towns or settled villages, except along the slopes of the higher mountains, on which the rain falls more abundantly, or the melting snow supplies streams for irrigation. It is only in such situations that cultivated lands are found, and beyond them trees are hardly to be seen.

32. The portion of Asia which lies between the Arctic Ocean and the mountainous belt bounding Manchuria, Mongolia, and Turkistan on the north, is Siberia; it is almost equal in area to the whole of Europe. It is for the most part a low-lying diluvial plain, with a nearly level or slightly undulating surface, which extends eastwards from the Ural Mountains almost to Kamchatka. Beyond the 125th meridian the plain is more broken by hills. The extremes of heat and cold are very great. The rainfall, though not heavy, is sufficient to maintain such vegetation as is compatible with the conditions of temperature, and the surface is often swampy or peaty. The mountain sides are commonly clothed with pine forests, and the plains with grasses or shrubs. The population is very scanty; the cultivated tracts are comparatively small in extend, and restricted to the more settled districts. The towns are entirely Russian. The indigenous races nomadic Mongols, of a peaceful character, but in a very backward state of civilization. The Ural Mountains do not exceed 2000 or 3000 feet in average altitude, the highest summits not exceeding 6000 feet, and one of the passes being as low as 1400 feet. In the southern half of the range are the chief mining districts of Russia. The Ob, Yenisei, and Lena, which traverse Siberia, are among the largest rivers in the world.

33.The southern group of the Malayan Islands, from Sumatra to Java and Timor, extends in the arc of a circle, between the 95th and 127th meridians, and from the 5th degree of N. to the 10th degree of S. lat. The central part of the group is a volcanic region, many of the volcanoes being still active, the summits frequently rising to 10,000 feet or more.

34. Sumatra, the largest of the islands, is but thinly peopled; the greater part of the surface is covered with dense forest, the cultivated area being comparatively small, confined to the low lands, and chiefly in the volcanic region near the center of the island. Java is the most thickly peopled, best cultivated, and most advanced island of the whole Eastern Archipelago. It has attained a high degree of wealth and prosperity under the Dutch Government. The people are peaceful and industrious, and chiefly occupied with agriculture. The highest of the volcanic peaks rises to 12,000 feet above the sea. The eastern islands of this group are less productive and less advanced.

35. Borneo, the most western and the largest of the northern group of islands which extends between the meridians of 110o and 150o E., as far as New Guinea or Papua, is but little known. The population is small, rude, and uncivilized; and the surface is rough and mountainous, and generally covered with forest except near the coast, to the alluvial lands on which settlers have been attracted from various surrounding countries. The highest mountains are supposed to rise to about 10,000 feet, but the ordinary elevation seem not to exceed 4000 or 5000 feet.

36. Of Celebes less is known than of Borneo, which it resembles is condition and natural characteristics. The highest known peaks rise to 8000 feet, some of them being volcanic.

37. Papua is perhaps somewhat smaller than Borneo. It extends almost to the same meridian as the eastern coast of Australia, from the north point of which it is separated by Torres Straits. Very little is known even of its coasts. The mountain in the interior are said to rise to 20,000 feet, having the appearance of being permanently covered with snow; the surface seems generally to be clothed with thick wood. The inhabitants are of the Negrito type, with curly or crisp and bushy hair; those of the west coast have come more into communication with the traders of other islands, and are fairly civilized. Eastward, many of the tribes are barbarous savages, with whom it is almost impossible for foreigners to hold intercourse.

38. The Philippine islands lie between the 15th and 20th degrees of N. lat., between Borneo and southern China. The highest land does not rise to a greater height than 6000 feet; the climate is well suited for agriculture, and the islands generally are fertile and fairly cultivated, though not coming up to the standard of Java either in wealth or population. The Spanish Government is established over the greater part of the group, though a considerable numerical proportion of the people is in some districts beyond their active control.

39. Formosa, which is situated under the northern tropic, near the coast of China, is traversed by a high range of mountains, reaching nearly 13,000 feet in elevation. On its western side, which is occupied by an immigrant Chinese population, are open and well-cultivated plains; on the east it is mountainous, and occupied by independent indigenous tribes in a less advanced state.

40. The islands of Japan lie between the 30th and 45th parallels. The whole group is traversed by a line of volcanic mountains, some of which are in activity, the highest point being about 13,000 feet above the sea. The country is well watered, fertile, and well cultivated. The people are industrious and intelligent, and show much capacity for mechanical and ornamental art. They have recently attracted special attention from the sudden efforts made by their Government to accept and introduce Western civilization.

41. Materials are wanting for anything like a connected sketch of the geological structure of the continent of Asia, and little more can be done than to indicate a few facts which tend to throw light on the probable epochs at which the land has assumed its present configuration.

42. There is evidence of the very recent formation, speaking geologically, of the great plains of Northern India, of Mesopotamia, and of portions of Central Asia and Siberia. The existence of deposits containing large mammalian remains of the older Pliocene or Miocene divisions of the Tertiary period, has been ascertained at many places on the low lands of British India, in Burmah on the east, along the foot of the Himalaya, and near the Gulf of Cutch on the west, which indicates that very great changes of level and of conditions of surface have taken place in those localities since the later Tertiary epoch. The far wider spread of the older tertiaries proves that far greater alterations have occurred since the Eocene period. Nummulitic limestone are found from Burmah to Eastern Bengal; they are continuous along the flank of the table-land of Baluchistan, through Sindh to the Himalaya; they are frequent throughout Persia, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and along the Caspian; they are found are great elevations in the Himalaya-in one locality at more than 16,000 feet above the sea; all this indicates that over a vast region, which is now dry land, often rising to very great altitudes, there existed a sea area at a period which, geologically speaking, appertains to the more recent epochs of the earth’s history. Hence the present configuration of the land must be due to movements of a subsequent date, and it is thus shown that the vast elevation of the great Tibetan tableland is due to changes which are among the latest to which the earth’s surface has been subjected. No doubt the Caspian and Aral seas formed part of the ancient ocean which once occupied a great part of what is now Western Asia.

43. The occurrence of a regular succession of the older fossiliferous deposits, from Upper Silurian upwards to the Triassic and Jurassic, and even to the Cretaceous formations, along the line lying to the north of the highest Himalayan ranges, gives ground for the supposition that an ancient sea-coast may have existed along this line; and that from a still earlier period there was dry land to the south, where the Himalaya now stands. Thus these mountains may have continued, as a chain of some importance, to occupy their present position from a period anterior to the Silurian epoch, while their existing very great elevation is probably due to the disturbances which have taken place since the middle of the Tertiary period

44. There is no sufficient evidence of the former extent or distribution of the land south of the Himalaya. But from the absence of marine fossiliferous deposits of the older epochs, it has been inferred that the greater part, at least, of the peninsula of India may have been an area of dry land from a very remote time up to the middle of the Tertiary period, during which the great basaltic formations of Central India are supposed to have been thrown up; a partial submergence then seems to have occurred, followed by a re-elevation, which gave the continent its present form. The fossil remains that have been found indicate the presence, in the Triassic or Permian age, of a great continental area, extending from Europe, and forming a connection across the Indian Ocean between South Africa and the peninsula of India. Grounds also exist for supposing that the Indian peninsula was formerly united by dry land with Austrilia, and that, when these conditions prevailed, the peninsula was separated by sea from the rest of Asia. Other evidence of this is to found and animals.

45. The occurrence of a large area of Silurian and other Palaeozoic rocks in Northern Siberia, extending to the Altai mountains, with an apparent absence of the Mesozoic, has been explained as probably due to the existence of a marine area during the Palaeozoic epoch, at the close of which it was replaced by an area of land; this was again submerged in the latest Tertiary period, during which a great part of the country was covered with the diluvial deposits, in which are found the remains of large mammalia.

46. The presence of coal in many parts of China and Mongolia is a further indication of great former changes of condition of the surface in that part of the continent.

47. Evidence exists of a former far greater extension of glaciers on the Himalaya, possibly at the period during which the great glacial phenomena of Europe occurred; but too little is known to enable us to affirm that this indicates any general period of cold that affected the northern hemisphere as far south as the Himalaya, though the facts are sufficiently striking to suggest such a conclusion. Another explanation of the decrease of Himalaya glaciers is that it was a consequence of the diminution of the fall of snow, consequent on the gradual change of climate which must have followed a gradual transformation of an ocean area into one of dry land. This last-named circumstance would also account for the great changes in the quantity of rain-fall, and in the flow of the rivers, of which there are many indications in Western India, in Persia, and the regions east of the Caspian.

48. A remarkable feature of Asia is the line of volcanic activity which extends along its eastern coast through Kamchatka, the Kurile and Japanese islands, Formosa, and the Philippines, to the Malay archipelago. Thence the line is prolonged to the west, through Java and Sumatra to the Bay of Bengal, where it ends about in lat. 20o N. on the coast of Aracan. To the east and south there also seems to be a connection with the volcanic regions of New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific, and possibly with that of the Antarctic land. There is no authentic evidence of active volcanoes in the interior of the continent.

49. Although these facts give an extremely incomplete view of the geological structure of Asia, they will afford some slight idea of the great changes that have taken place throughout all parts of the continent, and serve to convey a warning of the necessity for taking such changes into account, when attempts are made to understand the manner in which animals and plants are distributed on the earth’s surface, and how their development may have taken place. the phenomena of living creatures as now observed are the results of various causes which have been in operation through a long period of time. Those causes which still continue to be in action may, in some respects, call for special attention, as determining the precise conditions under which organizations now have to exist, and as being those which now tend to destroy what has been, and to substitute something different in its place. but what remains necessarily depends on what preceded it, and the knowledge of the conditions and forms of life in the past is an essential element of the proper understanding of life as it now is.

50. Climate is among the most important of the conditions affecting all forms of life. Under this general term is designated the complicated series of phenomena which arise in the air surrounding any locality, and in the watery vapor diffused through that air. These phenomena, which include the variations of temperature and of moisture, the winds, the rain, and the electrical condition of the air, depend essentially on the action of solar heat on the atmosphere and the materials of the terrestrial globe. The main conditions which determine the climate of any place, are position on the earth in respect to latitude, elevation above the sea level, and character of the surface in relation to its power of absorbing or radiating heat. Owing to the extreme mobility of the air; its temperature and the quantity of moisture it contains are further influenced in a very important degree by the proximity of large areas of land and water and mountain ranges, and by the position of such areas or ranges in relation to the direction of the earth’s motion on its axis. On no portion of the globe are the diversities of climate due to these causes more remarkable, or brought into more striking contrast, than in Asia.

51. Among the places on the globe where the temperature falls lowest are some in Northern Asia, and among those where it rises highest are some in Southern Asia. The mean temperature of the north coast of Eastern Siberia is but a few degrees above the zero of Fahrenheit; the lowest mean temperature anywhere observed is about 4o Fahr., at Melville Island, north of the American continent. The isothermals of mean annual temperature lie over Northern Asia on curves tolerably regular in their outline, having their western branches in a somewhat higher latitude than their eastern; a reduction of 1o of latitude corresponds approximately-and irrespective of modifications due to elevation-to a rise of 1/2o Fahr., as far say as lat. 30o N., where the mean temperature is about 75o Fahr. Further south the increase is slower, and the highest mean temperature anywhere attained in Southern Asia is not much above 82o Fahr.

52. The variations of temperature are very great in Siberia, amounting near the coast to more than 100o Fahr., between the mean of the hottest and coldest months, and to still more between the extreme temperatures of those months. In Southern Asia, and particular near the sea, the variation between the hottest and coldest monthly means is very much less, and under the equator it is reduced to about 5o. In Siberia the difference between the means of the hottest and coldest months is hardly anywhere less than 60o Fahr. On the Sea of Aral it is 80o Fahr.; and at Astrakhan, on the Caspian, more than 50o. At Tiflis it is 45o. In Northern China, at Peking, it is 55o, reduced to 30o at Canton, and 20o at Manila. In Northern India the greatest difference does not exceed 40o; and it falls off to about 15o at Calcutta, and to about 10o or 12o at Bombay and Madras. The temperature at the head of the Persian Gulf approximate to those of Northern India, and those of Aden to Madras. At Singapore the range is less than 5o; and at Batavia in Java, and Galle in Ceylon, it is about the same. The extreme temperatures in Siberia may be considered to lie between 80o and 90o Fahr., for maxima, and between – 40o and – 70o Fahr. for minima. The extreme of heat near the Caspian and Aral seas rises to nearly 100o fahr., while that of cold falls to – 20o Fahr., or lower. Compared with these figures, we find in Soutehrn Asia 110o or 112o Fahgr. As a maximum hardly ever exceeded. The absolute minimum in Northern India, in lat. 30o, hardly goes below 32o; at Calcutta it is about 40o, though the thermometer seldom falls to 50o. At madras it rarely falls as low as 65o, or at Bombay below 60o. At Singapore and Batavia the thermometer very rarely below 70o, or rises above 90o. At Aden the minimum is a few degrees below 70o, the maximum not much exceeding 90o.

53. These figures sufficiently indicate the main characteristics of the air temperature of Asia. Throughout its northern portion the winter is long and of extreme severity; and even down to the circle of 35o N. lat., the minimum temperature is almost as low as zero of Fahrenheit. The summers are hot, though short in the northern latitudes, the maximum of summer heat being comparatively little less than that observed in the tropical countries further south. The moderating effect of the proximity of the ocean is felt in an important degree along the southern and eastern parts of Asia, where the land is broken up into islands or peninsula. The great elevation above the sea level of the central part of Asia, and of the table-lands of Afghanistan and Persia, tends to exaggerate the winter cold; while the sterility of the surface, due to the small rain-fall over the same region, operates powerfully in the opposite direction in increasing the summer heat. In the summer a great accumulation of solar heat takes place on the dry surface soil, from which it cannot be released upwards by evaporation, as might be the case were the soil moist or covered with vegetation, nor can it be readily conveyed away downwards as happens on the ocean. In the winter similar consequences ensue, in a negative direction, from the prolonged loss of heat by radiation in the long and clear nights-an effect which is intensified wherever the surface is covered with snow, or the air little charged with vapor. In illustration of the very slow diffusion of heat in the solid crust of the earth, and as affording a further indication of the climate of Northern Asia, reference may here be made to the frozen soil of Siberia, in the vicinity of Yakutsk. In this region the earth is frozen permanently to a depth of more than 380 feet, at which the temperature is still 5o or 6o Fahr. below the freezing point of water, the summer heat merely thawing the surface to a depth of about 3 feet. At a depth of 50 feet the temperature is about 15oFahr. below the freezing point. Under such conditions of the soil, the land, nevertheless, produces crops of wheat and other grain from fifteen to forty fold.

54. The very high summer temperatures of the area north of the tropic of Cancer are sufficiently accounted for, when compared to those observed south of the tropic, by the increased length of the day in the higher latitude, which more than compensates for the loss of heat due to the smaller midday altitude of the sun. The difference between the heating power of the sun’s rays at noon on the 21st June, in latitude 20o and in latitude 45o, is only about 2 per cent; while the accumulated heat received during the day, which is lengthened to 15 _ hours in the higher latitude, is greater by about 11 per cent. than in the lower latitude, where the day consists only of 13 _ hours.

55. Although the foregoing account of the temperatures of Asia supplies the main outline of the observed phenomena, a very important modifying cause, of which more will be said hereafter, comes into operation over the whole of the tropical region, namely, the periodical summer rains. These tend very greatly to arrest the increase of the summer heat over the area where they prevail, and otherwise give it altogether peculiar characteristics.

56. The great summer heat, by expanding the air upwards, disturbs the level of the planes of equal pressure, and causes an outflow of the upper strata from the heated area. The winter cold produces an effect of just an opposite nature, and causes an accumulation of air over the cold area. The diminution of barometric pressure which takes place all over Asia during the summer months, and the increase in the winter, are hence, no doubt, the results of the alternate heating and cooling of the air over the continent.

57. The necessary and immediate results of such periodical changes of pressure are winds, which, speaking generally, blow from the area of greatest to that of least pressure, -subject, however, to certain modifications of direction, arising from the absolute motion of the whole body of the air due to the revolution of the earth on its axis from west to east. At the equator, where the velocity of revolution is about 1037 miles per hour, what is called calm air is in absolute motion from west to east with that velocity. If such air were impelled by any disturbance of pressure, from the equator northward, it would advance gradually to places having a less and les velocity of rotation, so that at lat. 15o N. the earth would be only moving with a velocity of about 1002 miles per hour, while the air arriving from the equator (supposing it not to have been affected by friction) would be moving from west to east 35 miles per hour faster than the surface, and would therefore be felt as a wind having that velocity from the west. In fact, however, the motion from the south would be combined with that from the west, and the air would blow as a south-west wind; while the friction against the earth’s surface would gradually check the excess of velocity toward the east, and no such great westerly velocity as that named would be developed. In a corresponding manner, air impelled from places situated on a higher latitude towards those on a lower, will be felt as wind having an easterly component. The south-westerly winds, which prevail north of the equator during the hot half of the year, to which navigators have given the name of the S.W. monsoon (the latter words being a corruption of the Indian name for season), arise, in the manner just explained, from the great diminution of atmospheric pressure over Asia, which begins to be strongly marked with the great rise of temperature in April and May, and the simultaneous relative higher pressure over the equator and the regions south of it. This diminution of pressure, which continues as the heat increases till it reaches its maximum in July soon after the solstice, is followed by the corresponding development of the S.W. monsoon; and as the barometric pressure is gradually restored, and becomes equalized within the tropics soon after the equinox in October, with the general fall of temperature north of the equator, the south-west winds fall off, and are succeeded by a N.E. monsoon, which is developed during the winter months by the relative greater atmospheric pressure which then occurs over Asia, as compared to the equatorial region.

58. Although the succession of the periodical winds follows the progress of the seasons as just described, the changes in the wind’s direction everywhere take place under the operation of special local influences which often disguise the more general law, and make it difficult to trace. Thus the S.W. monsoon begins in the Arabians Sea with west and north-westerly winds, which draw round as the year advances to south-west, and fall back again in the autumn by north-west to north. In the bay of Bengal the strength of the S.W. monsoon is rather from the south and south-east, being succeeded by north-east winds after October, which give place to northerly and northwesterly winds as the year advances. Among the islands of the Malay Archipelago the force of the monsoons is much interrupted, and the position of this region on the equator otherwise modifies the directions of the prevailing winds. The southerly summer winds of the Asiatic seas between the equator and the tropic do not extent to the coasts of Java, and the south easterly trade winds are there developed in the usual manner. The China Sea is fully exposed to both monsoons, the normal directions of which nearly coincide with the center of the channel between the continent of Asia and the eastern islands.

59. The south-west monsoon does not generally extend, in its character of a south-wind, over the land. The current of air flowing in from over the sea is gradually diverted towards the area of least pressure, and at the same time is dissipated and loses much of its original force. The winds which pass northward over India blow as south-easterly and easterly winds over the northeastern part of the Gangetic plain, and as south winds up the Indus. They seem almost entirely to have exhausted their northward velocity by the time they have reached the northern extremity of the great Indian plain; they are not felt on the table-lands of Afghanistan, and hardly penetrate into the ranges of the Himalaya, by which mountains, and those which branch off from them into the Malay peninsula, they are prevented from continuing their progress in the direction originally imparted to them.

60. Among the more remarkable phenomena of the hotter seas of Asia must be noticed the revolving storms or cyclones, which are of frequent occurrence in the hot months in the India Ocean and China Sea, in which last they are known under the name of typhoon. The cyclones of the Bay of Bengal appear to originate over the Andaman and Nicobar islands, and are commonly propagated in a northwestward direction, striking the east coast of the Indian peninsula at various points, and then often advancing with an easterly tendency over the land, and passing with extreme violence across the delta of the Ganges. They occur in all the hot months, from June to October, and more rarely in November, and appear to be originated by adverse currents from the north meeting those of the S.W. monsoon. The cyclones of the China Sea also occur in the hot months of the year, but they advance from N.E. to S.W. , though occasionally from E. to W; they originate near the island of Formosa, and extend to about the 10th degree of N. lat. They are thus developed in nearly the same latitudes and in the same months as those of the Indian Sea, though their progress is in a different direction. In both cases, however, the storms appear to advance towards the area of greatest heat. In these storms the wind invariably circulates from N. by W. through S. to E.

61. In the cyclones observed in the Southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar the wind circulates in the opposite direction. These storms advance from N.E. to S.W., with a tendency to turn off to the S.E. as they die out. They occur between the months of December and April, and between the 10th degree of S. lat. and the southern tropic.

62. In all these cases the cyclones occur during he hot months of the year, when strong winds are developed by the proximity of large heated areas of land and relatively cool areas of sea, and when the air, being highly charged with vapor, is liable to great disturbances of temperature on any considerable condensation being set up. moreover, they most frequently happen at the times when the direction of the dominant winds is changing, and when important variations of atmospheric pressure are certainly taking place. actual barometric observations have not yet been obtained in sufficient number or continuity to establish the precise conditions under which these storms arise, but there is no reason to doubt the correctness of the general views held regarding them, or that with the progress of knowledge much may be done to enable mariners to avoid their worst consequences.

63. The heated body of air carried from the Indian Ocean over Southern Asia by the S.W. monsoon comes up highly charged with watery vapor, and hence in a condition to release a large body of water as rain upon the land, whenever it is brought into circumstances which reduce its temperature in a notable degree. Such a reduction of temperature is brought about along the greater part of the coasts of India and of the Burmo-Siamese peninsula by the interruption of the progress of the wind current by continuous ranges of mountains, which force the mass of air to rise over them, whereby the air being rarefied, its specific capacity for heat is increased and its temperature falls, with a corresponding condensation of the vapor originally held in suspension.

64. This explanation of the principal efficient cause of the summer rains of South Asia is immediately based on an analysis of the complicated phenomena actually observed, and it serves to account for many apparent anomalies. The heaviest falls of rain occur along lines of mountain of some extent directly facing the vapor-bearing winds, as on the Western Ghats of India the west coast of the Malay peninsula. The same results are found along the mountains at a distance from the sea, the heaviest rainfall known to occur anywhere in the world (not less than 600 inches in the year) being recorded on the Khasiya range about 100 miles north-east of Calcutta, which presents an abrupt front to the progress of the moist winds flowing up from the Bay of Bengal. The cessation of the rains on the southern border of Baluchistan, west of Kurrachee, obviously arises from the projection of the south-east coast of Arabia, which limits the breadth of the S.W. monsoon air current and the length of the coast line directly exposed to it. The very small and irregular rainfall in Sindh and along the Indus is to be accounted for by the want of any obstacle in the path of the vapor bearing winds, which, therefore, carry the uncondensed rain up to the Punkab, where it falls on the outer ranges of the western Himalaya and of Afghanistan.

65. Somewhat similar results, though on a smaller scale, attend the operation of the well-known land and sea breezes, which are universally prevalent in hot countries bordering on the sea. The relative greater heating of the land than of the sea during the day disturbs the planes of atmospheric equilibrium, and a dispersion of air in the higher regions from over the land leads to a diminution of pressure there and an increase over the sea. This causes the sea breeze, which is an inflow of moist air over the land from below; and where, as in frequently the case, this breeze is forced, as it advances, to rise considerably above the sea level, condensation takes place on the mountain slopes either in clouds or rain. The constant precipitation of rain on tropical coast is mainly due to this action.

66. An analogous, though less well understood, system of alternating winds is almost invariably set up over mountains rising abruptly from plains, currents blowing from the higher ground to the lower during the night and from the lower to the higher during the day. Such winds are often combined with the land and sea breezes, which they tend to exaggerate. The diurnal mountain winds are very strongly marked on the Himalaya, where they probably are the most active agents in determining the precipitation of rain along the chain-the monsoon currents, as was before stated, not penetrating among the mountains. The formation of dense banks of cloud in the afternoon, when the up wind is strongest, along the southern face of the snowy ranges of the Himalaya, is a regular daily phenomenon during the hotter months of the year, and heavy rain, accompanied by electrical discharges, is the frequent result of such condensation.

67. Too little is known of the greater part of Asia to admit of any more being said with reference to this part of the subject, than to mention a few facts bearing on the rainfall. At Tiflis the yearly fall is 22 inches; on the Caspian about 7 or 8 inches; on the Sea of Aral 5 or 6 inches. In South-western Siberia it is 12 or 14 inches, diminishing as we proceed eastward to 6 or 7 inches at Barnaul, and to 5 or 6 inches at Urga in Northern Mongolia. At Nertschinsk in Eastern Siberia it is about 15 to 20 inches. In China we find about 23 inches to be the fall at Peking; while at Canton, which lies nearly on the northern tropic and the region of the S.W. monsoon is entered, the quantity is increased to 78 inches. At Batavia in Java the fall is about 78 inches; at Singapore it is nearly 100 inches. The quantity increase considerably on that part of the coast of the Malay peninsula which is not sheltered from the south-west by Sumatra. On the Tenasserim and Burmese coast falls of more than 200 inches are registered, and the quantity is here nowhere less than 75 or 80 inches, which is about the average of the eastern part of the delta of the Ganges, Calcutta standing at about 64 inches. On the hills that flank Bengal on the east the fall is very great. On the Khasiya hills, at an elevation of about 4500 feet, the average of 10 years is more than 550 inches. As much as 150 inches has been measured in one month, and 610 inches in one year. On the west coast of the Indian peninsula the fall at the sea level varies from about 75 to 100 inches, and at certain elevations on the mountains more than 250 inches is commonly registered, with intermediate quantities at intervening localities. On the east coast the fall is far less, nowhere rising to 50 inches, and towards the southern apex of the peninsula being reduced to 25 or 30 inches. Ceylon shows from 60 to 80 inches. As we recede from the coast the fall diminishes, till it is reduced to about 25 or 30 inches at the head of the Gangetic plain. The tract along the Indus to within 60 or 80 miles of the Himalaya is almost rainless, 6 or 8 inches being the fall in the southern portion of the Punjab. On the outer ranges of the Himalaya the yearly fall amounts to about 200 inches on the east in Sikim, and gradually diminishes on the west, where north of the Punjab it is about 70 or 80 inches. In the interior of the chain the rain is far less, and the quantity of precipitation is so small in Tibet that it can be hardly measured. It is to the highest ranges of the Himalaya that is to be attributed the higher level of the snow-line, a phenomenon which was long a cause of discussion.

68. In Afghanistan, Persia, Asia, Minor, and Syria, winter and spring appear to be the chief seasons of condensation. In other parts of Asia the principal part of the rain falls between May and September, that is, in the hottest half of the year. In the islands under the equator the heaviest fall is between October and February .

69. Such are the climatal conditions of the principal regions of Asia, under which the plants and animals that inhabit them are at present distributed. In attempting to appreciate and to explain the very complicated facts of distribution it is essential to bear in mind that what we find at the present time is, as was before observed, the result of causes that have been in operation from periods long antecedent to that in which the earth has taken its existing form, and acquired its existing conditions of temperature, climate, and arrangement of land and sea areas. Our knowledge of the manner in which the successive changes which have affected the earth’s surface took place is, however, still so imperfect, that it is often not possible to taste with certainty how the facts of distribution have occurred, and much is yet open to conjecture. But there is, notwithstanding, an overwhelming force of argument to establish the conclusion that the diffusion of the forms of animal and vegetable life has gone on for a vast length of time by natural descent, and subject to the action of tendencies to variation; the general result being that the forms which first existed have been suppressed, and others introduced in their places. This modification of form in time is seen to have been commonly accompanied by a corresponding movement or diffusion in place, governed, no doubt primarily by the variations of temperature and climate and conditions of surface which have accompanied the movements of the solid crust of the earth or may have been due to cyclical change. The conformity of the facts of the geographical distribution of life with this conception is no longer seriously questioned. The mutual relations among the several branches of animal and vegetable life, and the marked effects produced on all organized creatures by conditions of climate, are apparent. The abundance of certain forms of animals and plants in certain areas, and their gradual diminution in number beyond such area until they disappear altogether, is well known; as also the ordinary similarity of the general assemblages of living creatures in countries not far distant from one another, and having similar conditions of climate. In proportion as the distance between two areas increases, and their mutual accessibility diminishes, and their conditions of climate differ, the likeness of the forms of life within them becomes less, until the connection may be reduced to what is due to common descent from extremely remote ancestors.

70. Turning to the continent of Asia, such broadly characterized similarities and differences will be seen to be well marked. The general assemblage of animals and plants found over Northern Asia resembles greatly that found in the parts of Europe which are adjacent, and which have a similar climate. Siberia, north of the 50th parallel, has a climate not much differing from the similarly situated portion of Europe, though the winters are more severe and the summers hotter. The rainfall, though moderate, is still sufficient to maintain the supply of water in the great rivers that traverse the country to the Arctic Sea, and to support an abundant vegetation. A similar affinity exists between the life of the southern parts of Europe and that in the zone of Asia extending from the Mediterranean across to the Himalaya and Northern China. This belt, which embraces Asia Minor, Northern Persia, Afghanistan, and the southern slopes of the Himalaya, from its elevation has a temperate climate, and throughout it the rainfall is sufficient to maintain a vigorous vegetation, while the summers, though hot, an the winters, though severe, are not extreme. The plants and animals along it are found to have a marked similarity of character to those of South Europe, with which region the zone is virtually continuous.

71. The extremely dry and hot tracks which constitute an almost unbroken desert from Arabia, through South Persias and Baluchistan, to Sindh, are characterized by considerable uniformity in the types of life, which closely approach to those of the neighboring hot and dry regions of Africa. The region of the heavy periodical summer rains and high temperature, which comprises India, the Indo-Chinese peninsula, and Southern China, as well as the western part of the Malay Archipelago, is also marked by much similarity in the plants and animals throughout its extent. The area between the southern border of Siberia and the margin of the temperate alpine zone of the Himalaya and North China, comprising what are commonly called Central Asia, Turkistan, Mongolian, and Western Manchuria, is an almost rainless region, having winters of extreme severity and summers of intense heat. Its animals and plants have a special character suited to the peculiar climatal conditions, more closely allied to those of the adjacent northern Siberian tract than of the other bordering regions. The south-eastern parts of the Malay islands have much in common with the Australian continent, to which they adjoin, though their affinities are chiefly Indian. North China and Japan also have many forms of life in common. Much still remains to be done in the exploration of China and Eastern Asia; but it is known that many of the special forms of this region extend to the Himalaya, while others clearly indicate a connection with North America.

72. The foregoing brief review of the principal territorial divisions according to which the forms of life are distributed in Asia, indicates how close is the dependence of this distribution on climatal conditions, and this will be made more apparently by a somewhat fuller account of the main features of the flora and fauna.

73. The flora of the whole of Northern Asia is in essentials the same as that of Northern Europe, the differences being due rather to variations of species than of genera. The absence of the oak and of all heaths east of the Ural may be noticed. Pines, larch, birch, are the principal trees on the mountains; willows, alders, and poplars on the lower ground. The northern limit of the pine in Siberia is about lat. 70o.

74. Along the warm temperate zone, from the Mediterranean to the Himalaya, extends a flora essentially European in character. Many European species reach the central Himalaya, though few are known in its eastern parts. The genera common to the Himalaya and Europe are much more abundant, and extend throughout the chain, and to all elevation. There is also a corresponding diffusion of Japanese and Chinese forms along this zone, these being most numerous in the eastern Himalaya, and less frequent in the west.

75. The truly tropical flora of the hotter and wetter regions of Eastern India is continuous with that of the Malayan peninsula and islands, an extends along the lower ranges of the Himalaya, gradually becoming less marked, and rising to lower elevations as we go westward, where the rainfall diminishes and the winter cold increases.

76. The vegetation of the higher and therefore cooler and less rainy ranges of the Himalaya has greater uniformity of character along the whole chain, and a closer general approach to European forms is maintained; an increased number of species is actually identical, among these being found, at the greatest elevations, many alpine plants believed to be identical with species of the north Arctic regions. On reaching the Tibetan plateau, with the increased dryness the flora assumes features of the Siberian type. Many true Siberian species are found, and more Siberian genera. Some of the Siberian forms, thus brought into proximity with the Indian flora, extend to the rainy parts of the mountains, and even to the plains of upper India. Assemblages of marine plants form another remarkable feature of Tibet, these being frequently met with growing at elevations of 14,000 to 15,000 feet above the sea, more especially in the vicinity of the many salt lakes of those regions.

77. The vegetation of the hot and dry region of the south-west of the continent consists largely of plants which are diffused over Africa, Baluchistan, and Sindh; many of these extend into the hotter parts of India, and not a few common Egyptian plants are to be met with in the Indian peninsula.





78. The whole number of species of plants indigenous in the region of south-eastern Asia, which includes India and the Malayan peninsula and islands, from about the 65th to the 105th meridian, is estimated by Dr Hooker at from 12,000 to 15,000. The principal orders, arranged according to their numerical importance, are as follows: - Leguminosoe, Rubiaceoe, Orchideoe, Compositoe, Gramineoe, Euphorbiaceoe, Acanthaceoe, Cyperaceoe, and Labiatoe. But within this region there is a very great variation between the vegetation of the more humid and the more arid regions, while the characteristics of the flora on the higher mountain ranges differ wholly from those of the plains. In shorts, we have a somewhat heterogeneous assemblage of tropical, temperate, and alpine plants, as has been already briefly indicated, of which, however, the tropical are so far dominant as to give their character to the flora viewed as a whole. The Indian flora contains a more general and complete illustration of almost all the chief natural families of all parts of the world than any other country. Compositoe are comparatively rare; so also Gramineoe and Cyperceoe are comparatively rare; so also Gramineoe and Cyperaceoe are in some places deficient, and Labiatoe, Leguminosoe, and ferns in others. Euphorbiaceoe, and Scrophulariaceoe, and Orchideoe are universal present, the last in specially large proportions.

79. The perennially humid regions of the Malayan peninsula and western portion of the archipelago are everywhere covered with dense forest, rendered difficult to traverse by the thorny cane, a palm of the genus Calamus, which has its greatest development in this part of Asia. The chief trees belong to the orders of Terebinthaceoe, Sapindaceoe, Meliaceoe, Clusiaceoe, Dipterocarpeoe, Ternstroemiaceoe, Leguminosoe, laurels, oaks, and figs, with Dillenoaceoe, Sapotaceoe, and nutmegs. Bamboos and palms, with Pandanus and Dracoena, are also abundant. A similar forest flora extends along the mountains of eastern India to the himalaya, where it ascends to elevations varying from 6000 to 7000 feet on the east to 3000 or 4000 feet on the west.

80. The arboreous forms which least require the humid and equable heat of the more truly tropical and equatorial elimates, and are best able to resist the high temperatures and excessive drought of the northern Indian hot months from April to June, are certain Leguminosoe, Bauhinia, Acacia, Butea, and Dalbergia, Bombax, Shorea, Nauclea, Lagerstroemia, and Bigmonia, a few bamboos and palms, with others which extend far beyond the tropic, and give a tropical aspect to the forest to the extreme northern border of the Indian plain.

81. Of the herbaceous vegetation of the more rainy regions may be noted the Orchideoe, Orontiaceoe, Scitamineoe, with ferns and other Cryptogams, besides Gramineoe and Cyperaceoe. Among these some forms, as among the trees, extend much beyond the tropic and ascend into the temperate zones on the mountains, of which may be mentioned Begonia, Osbeckia, various Cyrtandraceoe, Scitamineoe, and a few epiphytical orchids.

82. Of the orders most largely developed in South India, and more sparingly elsewhere, may be named Aurantiaceoe, Diptorocarpeoe, Balsamineoe, Ebenaceoe, Jasmineoe, and Cyrtandranceoe; but of these few contain as many as 100 peculair Indian species. Nepenthes may be mentioned as a genus specially developed in the Malayan area, and extending from New Caledonia to Madagascar; it is found as far north as the Khasiya hills, and in Ceylon, but does not appear on the Himalaya or in the peninsula of India. The balsamineoe may be named as being rare in the eastern region and very abundant in the peninsula. A distinct connection between the flora of the peninsula and Ceylon, and that of eastern tropical Africa is observable not only in the great similarity of many of the more truly tropical forms, and the identity of families and genera found in both regions, but in a more remarkable manner in the likeness of the mountain flora of this part of Africa to that of the peninsula, in which several species occur believed to be identical with Abyssinian forms. This connection is further established by the absence from both areas of oaks, conifers, and cycads, which, as regards the two first families, is a remarkable feature of the flora of the peninsula and Ceylon, as the mountains rise to elevations in which both of them are abundant to the north and east. With these facts it has to be noticed that many of the principal forms of the eastern flora are absent or comparatively rare in the peninsula and Ceylon.

83. The general physiognomy of the Indian flora is mainly determined by the conditions of humidity of climate. The impenetrable shady forests of the Malay peninsula and Eastern Bengal, of the west coast of the Indian peninsula, and of Ceylon, offer a strong contrast with the more loosely-timbered districts of the drier regions of Central India and the North-western Himalaya. There are no plains covered with forest as in tropical America, the low lands of India being either highly cultivated and adorned with planted wood, or where cut off from rain, nearly complete desert.

84. The higher mountains rise abruptly from the plains; on their slopes, clothed below almost exlusively with the more tropical forms, a vegetation of a warm temperate character, chiefly evergreen, soon begins to prevail, comprising Magnoliaceoe, Ternstroemiaceoe, sub-tropical Rosaceoe, rhododendron, oak, Ilex, Symplocos, Laurineoe, Pinus longifolia, with mountain forms of truly tropical orders, palms, Pandanus, Musa, Vitius, Vernonia, and many others. On the east the vegetation of the Himalaya is most abundant and varied. The forest extends, with great luxuriance, to an elevation of 12,000 feet, above which the sub-alpine region may be said to begin, in which rhododendron scrub often covers the ground up to 13,000 or 14,000 feet. Only one pine is found below 8000 feet, above which several other Conifeore occur. Plantians, tree-ferns, bamboos, several Calami, and other palms, and Pandanus, are abundant at the lower levels. Between 4000 and 8000 feet epiphytal orchirds are very frequent, and reach even to 10,000 feet. Vegetation ascends on the drier and less snowy mountains slopes of Tibet to above 18,000 feet. On the west, with the drier climate, the forest is less luxuriant and dense, and the hill sides and the valleys better cultivated. The warm mountain slopes are covered with Pinus longifolia, or with oaks and rhododendron, and the forest is not commonly dense below 8000 feet, excepting in some of the more secluded valleys at a low elevation. From 8000 to 12,000 feet, a thick forest of deciduous trees is almost universal, above which a sub-alpine region is reached, and – vegetation as on the east continues up to 18,000 feet or more. The more tropical forms of the east, such as the tree-ferns, do not reach west of Nepaul. The cedar or Deodar is hardly indigenous east of sources of the Ganges, and at about the same point the forms of the west begin to be more abundant, increasing in number as we advance towards Afghnistan.

85. The cultivated plants of the Indian region include wheat, barley, rice, and maize; various millets, Sorghum, Penicillaria, Panicum, and Eleysine; many pulses, peas, and beans; mustard and rape; ginger and turmeric; pepper and capsicum; several Cucurbitaceoe; tobacco, Sesamum, poppy, Crotolaria, and Cannabis; cotton, indigo, and sugar; coffee and tea; oranges, lemons of many sorts; pomegranate, mango, figs, peaches, vines, and plantains. The more common palms are Cocos, Phoenix, and Borassus, supplying cocoa-nut and toddy. Indian agriculture combines the harvests of the tropical and temperate zones. North of the tropic the winter cold is sufficient to admit of the cultivation of almost all the cereals and vegetables of Europe, wheat being sown in November and reaped early in April. In this same region the summer hear and rain provide a thoroughly tropical climate, in which rice and other tropical cereals are freely raised, being as a rule sown early in July, and reaped in September or October. In southern India, and the other parts of Asia and of the islands having a similar climate, the difference of the winter and summer half years is not sufficient to admit of the proper cultivation of wheat or barley. The other cereals may be seen occasionally, where artificial irrigation is practiced, in all stages of progress at all seasons of the year, though the operations of agriculture are, as a general rule, limited to the rainy months, when a lone is the requisite supply of water commonly forthcoming.

86. The trees of India producing economically useful timber are comparatively few, owing to the want of durability of the wood, in the extremely hot and moist climate. The teak, Tectona grandis, supplies the finest timber. It is found in greatest perfection in the forests of the west coasts of Burmah and the Indian peninsula, where the rainfall is heaviest, growing to a height of 100 or 150 feet, mixed with other trees and bamboos. The sal, Shorea robusta, a very durable wood, is most abundant along the skirts of the Himalaya from Assam to the Punjab, and is found in Central India, to which the teak also extends. The sal grows to a large size, and is more gregarious than the teak. Of other useful woods found in the plains may be named the babool, Acacia; toon, Cedrela; and sissoo, Dalbergia. The only timber in ordinary use obtained from the Himalaya proper is the Deodar, Cedrus not distinct from the cedar of Lebanon. Besides these are the scandalwood, Santalum, of Southern India, and many sorts of bamboo found in all parts of the country. The chinchona has recently been introduced with complete success; and the mahogany of America reaches a large size, and gives promise of being grown for use as timber.

87. The flora of the rainless region of South-western Asia is continuous with the desert flora of Northern and eastern Africa, and extends from the coast of Senegal to the meridian of 75o E., or from the great African desert to the border of the rainless tract along the Indus and the southern parts of the Punjab. It includes the peninsula of Arabia, the shores of the Persian Gulf, South Persia, and Afghanistan, and Baluchistan. On the west its limit is in the Cape de Verde Islands, and it is partially represented in Abyssinia.

88. The more common plants in the most characteristic part of this region in Southern Arabia are Capparideoe, Euphorbiaceoe, and a few Leguminosoe, a Reseda and Dipterygium; palms, Polygonaceoe, ferns, and other cryptogams, are rare. The number of families relative to the area is very small, and the number of general and species equally restricted, in very many cases a single species being the only representative of an order. The aspect of the vegetation is very peculiar, and is commonly determined by the predominance of some four or five species, the rest being either local or sparingly scatted over the area. The absence of the ordinary bright green colors of vegetation is another peculiarity of this flora, almost all the plants having glaucous or whitened stems. Foliage is reduced to a minimum, the moisture of the plant being stored up in massive or fleshy stems against the long-continued drought. Aridity has favored the production of spines as a defence from external attack, sharp thorns are frequent, and asperities of various sorts predominate. Many species produce gums and resins, their stems being encrusted with the exudations, and pungency and aromatic odor is an almost universal quality of the plants of desert regions.

89. The cultivated plants of Arabia are much the same as those of Northern India-wheat, barley, and the common Sorghum, with dates and lemons, cotton and indigo. To these must be added coffee, which is restricted to the slopes of the western hills. Among the more mountainous regions of the south-western part of Arabia, known as Arabia Felix, the summits of which rise to 6000 or 7000 feet, the rainfall is sufficient to develop a more luxuriant vegetation, and the valleys have a flora like that of similarly situated parts of southern Persia, and the less elevated parts of Afghanistan and Baluchistan, partaking of the characters of that of the hotter Meditarranean region. In these countries aromatic shrubs are abundant. Trees are rare, and almost restricted to Pistacia, Celtis, and Dodonoea, with poplars, and the date palm. Prickly forms of Statice and Astragalus cover the dry hills. In the spring there is an abundant herbaceous vegetation, including many bulbous plants, with genera, if not species, identical with those of the Syrian region, some of which extent to the Himalaya.

90. The flora of the northern part of Afghanistan approximates to that of the contiguous western Himalaya. Quercus Ilex, the evergreen oak of Southern Europe, is found in forests as far east as the Sutlej, accompanies with other European forms., in the higher parts of Afghanistan and Persia Boragineoe and thistles abound; gigantic Umbelliferoe, such as Ferula, Galbanum, Dorema, Bubon, Peucedanum, Prangos, and others, also charactirize the same districts, and some of them extend into Tibet.

91. The flora of Asia Minor and Northern Persia differs but little from that of the southern parts of Europe. The mountains are clothed, where the fall of rain is abundant, with forests of Quercus, Fagus, Ulmus, Acer, Carpinus, and Corylus, and various Coniferoe. Of these the only genus that is not found on the Himalaya is Fagus. Fruit trees of the plum tribe abound. The cultivated plants are those of Southern Europe.

92. The vegetation of the Malayan Islands is for the most part that of the wetter and hotter region of India; but the greater uniformity of the temperature and humidity leads to the predominance of certain tropical forms not so conspicuous in India, while the proximity of the Australian continent has permitted the partial diffusion of Australian types which are not seen in India. The liquidambar and nutmeg may be noticed among the former; the first is one of the most conspicuous trees in Java, on the mountains of the eastern part of which the casuarinas, one of the characteristic forms of Australia, is also abundant. Rhododendrons occur in Borneo and Sumatra, descending to the level of the sea. On the mountains of Java there appears to be no truly alpine flora; Saxifraga is not found. In Borneo some of the temperate forms of Australia appear on the higher mountains. On the other islands similar characteristics are to be observed, Australia genera extending to the Philippines, and even to Southern China.

93. The analysis of the Hong Kong flora by Mr Bentham indicates that about three-fifths of the species are common to the Indian region, and nearly all the remainder are either Chinese or local forms. The number of species common to Southern Chinba, Japan, and Northern Asia is small. The cultivated plants of China are, with a few exception, the same as those of India. South China, therefore, seems, botanically, hardly distinct from the great Indian region, into which many Chinese forms penetrate, as before noticed. The flora of North China, which is akin to that of Japan, shows manifest relation to that of the neighboring American continent, from which many temperate forms extend, reaching to the Himalaya, almost as far as Kashmir. Very little is known of the plants of the interior of Northern China, but it seems probable that a complete botanical connection is established between it and the temperate region of the Himalaya.

94. The vegetation of the dry region of Central Asia is remarkable for the great relative number of Chenopodiaceoe, Salicornia and other salt plants being common; Polygonaceoe also are abundant; leaders forms being of frequent occurrence, which gives the vegetation a very remarkable aspect. Peculiar forms of Legumonosoe also prevail, and these, with many of the other plants of the southern and drier regions of Siberia, or of the colder regions of the desert tracts of Persia and Afghanistan, extend into Tibet, where the extreme drought and the hot (nearly vertical) sun combine to produce a summer climate not greatly differing from that of the plains of Central Asia.

95.The zoological provinces of Asia correspond very closely with the botanical. The northern portion of Asia as far south as the Himalaya, is not zoologically distinct from Europe, and these two areas, with the strip of Africa north of the Atlas, constitute the Palaearctic region of Dr Sclater, whose zoological primary divisions of the earth have met with the general approval of naturalists. The south-eastern portion of Asia, with the adjacent islands of Sumatra, java, Borneo, and the Philippines, form his Indian region. The extreme south-west part of the continent constitutes a separate zoological district, comprising Arabia, Palestine, and Southern Persia, and reaching, like the hot desert botanical tract, to Baluchistan and Sindh; it belongs to what Dr Sclater calls the Ethiopian region, which extends over Africa, south of the Atlas. The Celebes, Papua, and the other islands east of Java beyond Wallace’s line (see par. 6), fall within the Australian region.

A few words may be said about the characteristic animals of each of these divisions.

96. Nearly all the mammals of Europe also occur in Northern Asia, where, however, the Palaearctic fauna is enriched by numerous additional species. The characterstic groups belong mostly to forms which are restricted to cold and temperate regions. Consequently the Quadrumana, or monkeys, are nearly unrepresented, a single species occurring in Japan, and one or two others in Northern China and Tibet. Insectivorous bats are numerous, but the frugivorous division of this order is only represented by a single species in Japan. Carnivora are also numerous particularly the frequenters of cold climates, such as bears, weasels, wolves, and foxes. Of the Insectivora numerous forms of moles, shrews, and hedgehogs prevail. The Rodents are also well represented by various squirrels, mice, and hares. Characeristic forms of this order in Northern Asia are the marmots (Arctomys) and the pikas, or tailless hares (Lagomys). The great order of Ungulata is represented by various forms of sheep, as many as ten or twelve wild species of Ovis being met with in the mountain chains of Asia; and more sparingly by several peculiar forms of antelope, such as the saiga (Saiga tatarica), and the Gazella gutturosa, or yellow sheep. Coming to the deer, we also meet with characteristic forms in Northern Asia, especially those belonging to the typical genus Cervus. The musk deer (Moschus) is also quite restricted to Northern Asia, and is one of its most peculiar types.

97. The ornithology of Northern Asia is even more closely allied to that of Europe than the mammal fauna. Nearly three-fourths of the well-known species of Europe extend throughout Siberia into the islands of the Japanese empire. Here again we have an absence of all tropical forms, and a great development of groups characteristic of cold and temperate regions. One of the most peculiar of these is the genus Phasianus, of which splendid birds all the species are restricted in their wild state to Northern Asia. The still more magnificently clad gold pheasants (Thaumalae), and the eared pheasants (Crossoptilon), are also confined to certain districts in the mountains of North-eastern Asia. Amongst the Passeres, such forms as the larks, stone chats, finches, linnets, and grosbeaks, are well developed, and exhibit many species.

98. The mammal fauna of the Indian region of Asia is much more highly developed than that of the Palaearctic. The Quadrumana are represented by several peculiar genera, amonst which are Semnopithecus, Hylobates, and Simia. Two peculiar forms of the Lemurine group are also met with. Both the insectivorous and frugivorous divisions of the bats are well represented. Amongst the Insectivora very peculiar forms are found, such as Gymnura and Tupaia. The carnovora are likewise numerous; and this region may be considered as the true home of the tiger, though this animal has wandered far north into the Palaearctic division of Asia. Other characteristic Carnivora are civets, various ichneumons, and the benturong (Arctictis). Two species of bears are likewise restricted to the Indian region. In the order of Rodents squirrels are very numerous, and porcupines of two genera are met with. The Indian region is the home of the Indian elephant-one of the two sole remaining representatives of the order Proboscidea. Of the Ungulates, four species of rhinoceros and one of tapir are met with, besides several peculiar forms of the swine family. The Bovidae, or hollow-horned ruminants, are represented by several genera of antelopes, and by species of true Bos – such as B. sondaicus, B. frontalis, and B. bubalus. Deer are likewise numerous, and the peculiar group of Chevrotains (Tragulus) is characteristic of the Indian region. Finally, this region efforts us representatives of the order Edentata, in the shape of severalspecies of Manis, or scaly ant-eater.

99. The assemblage of birds of the Indian region is one of the richest and most varied in the world, being surpassed only by that of tropical America. Nearly every order, except that of the Struthiones, or ostriches, is well represented, and there are many peculiar genera not found elsewhere, such as Buceros, Harpactes, Lophophorus, Euplocamus, Pavo, and Ceriornis. The Phasianidae (exclusive of true Phasianus) are highly characteristic of this region, as are likewise certain genera of barbets (Megaloema), parrots (Palaoeronis), and crows (Dendrocitta, Urociussa, and Cissa). The family Euryloemidoe is entirely confined to this part of Asia.

100. The Ethiopian fauna plays but a subordinate part in Asia, intruding only into the south-western corner, and occupying the desert districts of Arabia and Syria, although some of the characteristic species reach still further into Persia and Sindh, and even into Western India. The lion and the hunting-leopard, which may be considered, as in this epoch at least, Ethiopian types, extend thus far, besides various species of jerboa and other desert-loving forms.

101. In the birds, the Ethiopian type is shown by the prevalence of larks and stone-chats, and by the complete absence of the many peculiar genera of the Indian region.

102. The occurrence of mammals of the Marsupial order in the Molucca Islands and Celebes, while none have been found in the adjacent islands of Java and Borneo, lying on the west of Wallace’s line, or in the Indian region, shows that the margin of the Australian region has here been reached. The same conclusion is indicated by the absence from the Moluccas and Celebes of various other Mammals, Quadrumana, Carnivora, Insectivora, and Ruminants, which abound in the western part of the Archipelago. Deer do not extend into New Guinea, in which island the genus Sus appears to have its eastern limit. A peculiar form of baboon, Cynopithecus, and the singular ruminant, Anoa, found in Celebes, seem to have no relation to Asiatic animals, and rather to be allied to those of Africa.

103. The birds of these islands present similar peculiarities. Those of the Indian region abruptly disappear at and many Australian forms reach but do not pass, the line above spoken of. Species of birds akin to those of Africa also occur in Celebes.

104. Of the marine orders of Sirenia and Cetacea the Dugong, Halicore, is exclusively found in the Indian Ocean; and a dolphin, Platanista, peculiar to the Ganges, ascends that river to a great distance from the sea.

105. Of the sea fishes of Asia, among the Acanthopterygii, or spiny-rayed fishes, the Percidoe, or perches, are largely represented; the genus Serranus, which has only one species in Europe, is very numerous in Asia, and the forms are very large. Other allied genera are abundant, and extend from the Indian seas to Eastern Africa. The Squamipennes, or scaly-finned fishes, are principally found in the seas of Southern Asia, and especially near coral reefs. The Mullidoe, or red mullets, are largely represented by genera differing from those of Europe. The Polymemi which range from the Atlantic through the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, supply animals from which isinglass is prepared; one of them, the mango-fish, esteemed a great delicacy, inhabits the seas from the Bay of Bengal to Siam. The Scioenidoe extend from the Bay of Bengal to China, but are not known to the westward. Horse mackerel are numerous. The Stromateidoe, or pomfrets, resemble the dory, a Mediterranean form, and extend to China and the Pacific. The sword fishes, Xiphiidoe-the lancer fishes, Acanthuridoe – and the scabbard fishes, Trichuridoe, are distributed through the seas of South Asia. Mackeresl of various genera abound, as well as gobies, blennies, and mullets.

106. Among the Anacanthini, the cod family so well known in Europe showsd but one or two species in the seas of South Asia, though the soles and allied fishes are numerous along the coasts. Of the Physostomi, the siluriods are abundant in the estuaries and muddy waters; the habits of some of the se fishes are remarkable, such a that of the males carrying the ova in their mouths till the young are hatched. The small family of Scopelidoe affords the gelatinous Harpodon, or bumalo. Thegar-fish and flying fishes are numerous, extending into the seas of Europe. The Clupeidoe, or herrings, are most abundant; and anchovies, or sardines, are found in shoals, but at irregular and uncertain intervals. The marine eels, Muroenidoe, are more numerous towards the Malay Archipelago than in the Indian seas. Forms of sea-horses (Hippocampus),pipefishes (Syngnathus), fife-fishes (Scleridermus) and sun-fish, globe-fish, and other allied forms of Gymndontes are not uncommon.

107. Of the cartilaginous fishes,Chondropterygii, the true sharks and hammer-headed sharks, are numerous. The dog-fish also is found, one species extending from the Indian seas to the Cape of Good Hope. The saw-fishes, Pristidoe, the electricalrays, Torpedincoe, and ordinary rays and skates, are also found in considerable numbers.

108. The fresh waters of Southern Asia are deficient in the typical forms of the Acanthopterygii, and are chiefly inhabited by carp, siluroids, simple or spined ells, and the walking and climbing fishes. The Siluridoe attain their chief development in tropical regions. Only one Silurus is found in Europe, and the same species extends to Souther Asia and Africa. The Salmonidoe are entirely absent from the waters of Southern Asia, though they exist in the rivers that flow into the Arctic ocean and the neighboring parts of the Northern Pacific, extending perhaps to Formosa; and trout, though unknown in Indian rivers, are found beyond the watershed of the Indus, in the streams flowing into the Caspian. The Cyprinidoe, or carp, are largely represented in Southern Asia, and there grow to a size unknown in Europe; a Barbuys in the Tigris has been taken of the weight of 300 lb. The chief development of this family, both as to size and number of forms, is in the mountain regions with a temperate climate; the smaller species are found in the hotter regions and in the low-lying rivers. Of the Clupeidoe, or herrings, numerous forms occur in Asiatic waters, ascending the rivers many hundred miles; one of the best known of Indian fishes, the hilsa, is of this family. The sturgeons, which abound in the Black Sea and Caspian, and ascend the rivers that fall into them, are also found in Asiatic Russia, and an allied form extends to Southern China. The walking or climbing fishes, which are peculiar to South-eastern Asia and Africa, are organized so as to be able to breathe when out of the water, and they are thus fitted to exist under conditions which would be fatal to other fishes, being suited to live in the regions of periodical drought and rain in which they are found.

109. The insects of all South Asia, including India south of the Himalaya, China, Siam, and the Malayan islands, belong to one group; not only the genera, but even the species, are often the same on the opposite sides of the Bay of Bengal. The connection with Africa is marked by the occurrence of many genera common to Africa and India, and confined to those two regions, and similarities of form are not uncommon there in cases in which the genera are not peculiar. Of Coleopterous insects known to inhabit East Siberia, nearly one-third are found in Western Europe. The European forms seem to extend to about the 30th parallel of N. lat. south of which the Indo-Malayan types are met with, Japan being of the Europeo-Asiatic group. The northern forms extend generally along the south coast of the Mediterranean up to the border of the great desert, and from the Levant to the Caspian.

110. Of the domesticated animals of Asia may first be mentioned the elephant. It does not breed in captivity, and is not found wild west of the Jumma river in Northern India. The horse is produced in the highest perfection in Arabia, and the hot and dry countries of Western Asia. Ponies are most esteemed from the wetter regions of the east, and the hilly tracts. Assess are abundant in most places and two wild species occur. The horned cattle include the humped oxen and buffaloes of India, and the yak of Tibet. A hybrid between the yak and Indian cattle, called zo, is commonly reared in Tibet and the Himalaya. Sheep abound in the more temperate regions, and goats are universally met with; both of these animals are used as beasts of burden in the mountains of Tibet. The reindeer of Northern Siberia call also for special notice; they are used for the saddle as well as for draught.

111. Among the later results of scientific research, the demonstration of man’s existence on the earth at a period vastly anterior to any of which we have any knowledge through existing records, is one of the most important in giving a solid foundation to the study of ethnology. We have learned that man was the contemporary of many extinct animals, at a time when the main outlines of the land within the area of the present continent of Europe were wholly different from what they now are; and that human societies have been advancing towards their present condition during a series of ages for the extent of which our ordinary conceptions of time afford to adequate measure. Such facts have given an altogether different direction to the current of opinion as to the manner in which the great groups of mankind have become distributed over the areas where they are now found. So, too, the knowledge of the want of stability of forms of human speech has had an important bearing on these same subjects; for the evidence of the modifications which the chief spoken languages have undergone during he historic period shows that there is probably no country in which the tongue in use a thousand years ago would now be intelligible, and leads to the conclusion that even a radial diversity of language need not imply difference of race. in short, the science of ethnology being, like all others, built up on facts only to be obtained by actual observation, requires that these shall be interpreted by an intelligent and constantly repeated review of the whole series of available data as precise knowledge advances.

112. Asia, including its outlying islands, has become the dwelling-place of all the great families into which the races of men have been divided. By far the largest area is occupied by the Mongolian group. These have yellow-brown skins, black eyes and hair, flat noses, and oblique eyes. They are short in stature, with little hair on the body and face. In general terms they extend, with modifications of character probably due to admixture with other types and to varying conditions of life, over the whole of Northern Asia as far south as the plains bordering the Caspian Sea, including Tibet and China, and also over the Indo-Malayan peninsula and Archipelago, excepting Papua and some of the more eastern islands.

113. Next in numerical importance to the Mongolians are the races which have been called by Professor Huxley Melanochoric and Xanthochoric. The former includes the dark-haired people of Southern Europe, and extends over North Africa Asia, Minor, Syria to South-western Asia, and through Arabia and Persia to India. The latter race includes the fair-haired people of Northern Europe, and extends over nearly the same area as the Melanochroi, with which race it is greatly intermixed. The Xanthochori have fair skins, blue eyes, and light hair; the others have dark skins, eyes, and hair, and are of a slighter frame. Together they constitute what were once called the Caucasian races. The Melanochroi are not considered by Professor Huxley to be one of the primitive modifications of mankind, but rather to be the result of the admixture of the Xanthochroi with the Australioid type, next to be mentioned.

114. The third group is that of the Australoid type. Their hair is dark, generally soft, never woolly. The eyes and skin are dark, the beard often well developed, the nose broad and flat, the lips coarse, and jaws heavy. This race is believed to form the basis of the people of the Indian peninsula, and of some of the hill tribes of Central India, to whom the name Dravidian has been given, and by its admisxture with the Melanochroic group to have given rise to the ordinary population of the Indian provinces. It is also probable that the Australiod family extends into South Arabia and Egypt.

115. The last group, the Negroid, is represented by the races to which has been given the name of Negrito, from the small size of some of them. They are closely akin to the Negroes of South Africa, and possess the characteristic dark skins, woolly, but scanty beard and body hair, broad flat noses, and projecting lips of the African; and are diffused over the Andaman Islands, a part of the Malay peninsula, the Philippines, Papua, and some of the neighboring islands. The Negritos appear to be derived from a mixture of the true Negro with the Australian type.

116. The distribution of the Mongolian group in Asia offers no particular difficulty. There is complete present, and probably previous long-existing, geographical continuity in the area over which they are found. There is also considerable similarity of climate and other conditions throughout the northern half of Asia which they occupy. The extension of modified forms of the Mongolian type over the whole American continent may be mentioned as a remarkable circumstance connected with this branch of the human race.

117. The Mongolians of the northern half of Asia are almost entirely nomadic, hunters and shepherds or herdsmen. The least advanced of these, but far the most peaceful, are those that occupy Siberia. Further south the best known tribes are the Manchus, the Mongols proper,the Moguls, and the Yurks, all known under the name of tartars, and to the ancients as Scythians, occupying from east to west the zone of Asia comprised between the 40th and 50th circles of N. lat. the Turks are Mahometans; their tribes extend up the Oxus to the borders of Afghanistan and Persia, and to the Caspian, and under the name of Kirghis into Russia, and their language is spoken over a large part of Western Asia. Their letters are those of Persia. The manchus and Mongols are chiefly Buddhist, with letters derived from the ancient Syriac. The Manchus are now said to be gradually falling under the influence of Chinese civilization, and to be losing their old nomadic habits, and even their peculiar language. The predatory habits of the Turkish. Mongolian, and Manchu population of Northern Asia, and their irruptions into other parts of the continent and into Europe, have produced very remarkable results in the history of the world, to which further reference will be made hereafter.

118. The Chinese branch of the Mongolian family are a thoroughly settled people of agriculturists and traders. They are partially Buddhist, and have a peculiar monosyllabic, uninflected language, with writing consisting of symbols, which represent words, not letters.

119. The countries lying between India and the Mongolian area are occupied by populations chiefly of the Mongolian and Chinese type, having languages fundamentally monosyllabic, but using letters derived from India, and adopting their religion, which is almost everywhere Buddhist, from the Indians. Of these may be named the Tibetans, the Burmese, and the Siamese. Cochin-China is more nearly Chinese in all respects.

120. The Malays, who occupy the peninsula and most of the islands of the Archipelago called after them, are Mongols apparently modified by their very different climate, and by the maritime life forced upon them by the physical conditions of the region they inhabit. As they are now known to us, they have undergone a process of partial civilization, first at the hands of the Brahminical Indians, from whom they borrowed a religion, and to some extend literature and an alphabet, and subsequently from intercourse with the Arabs, which has led to the adoption of Mahometanism by most of them.

121. The name of Aryan has been given to the races speaking languages derived from, or akin to, the ancient form of Sanskrit, who now occupy the temperature zone extending from the Mediterranean, across the highlands of Asia Minor, Persia, and Afghanistan to India. The races speaking the languages akin to the ancient Assyrian, which are now only represented by Arabic, have been called Semitic, and occupy the countries south-west of Persia, including Syria and Arabia, besides extending into North Africa. Though the languages of these races are very different they cannot be regarded as physically distinct, and they are both without doubt branches of the Melanochroi, modified admixture with the neighboring races, the Mongols, the Australioids, and the Xanthochroi.

122. The Aryans of India are probably the most settled and civilized of all Asiatic races. This type is found in its purest form in the north and north-west, while the mixed races and the population referred to the Australiod type predominate in the peninsula and Southern India. Among the hill tribes of Central India are some which appear to have a Mongolian origin, and to have come in from the north-east, such as the Koles and Bhils. The spoken languages of Northern India are very various, differing one from another in the sort of degree that English differs from German, though all are thoroughly Sanskritic in their vocables, but with an absence of Sanskrit grammar that has given rise to considerable discussion. The languages of the south are Darvidian, not Sanskritic. The letters of both classes of languages, which also vary considerably, are all modifications of the ancient Pali, and probably derived from the Dravidians, not from the Aryans. They are written from left to right, exception being made of Urdu or Hindustani, the mixed language of the Mahometan conquerors of Northern India, the character used for writing which is the Persian. From the River Sutlej and the borders of the Sindhian desert, as far as Burmah and to Ceylon, the religion of the great bulk of the people of India is Hindu or Brahminical, though the Mahometans are often numerous, and in some places even in a majority. West of ther Sutlej the population of Asia may be said to be wholly Mahometan, with the exception or certain relatively small areas in Asia Minor and Syria, where Christian predominate. The language of the Punjab does not differ very materially from that of Upper India. West of the Indus the dialects approach more to Persian, which language meets Arabic and Turki west of the Tigris, and along the Turkoman desert and the Caspian. Through the whole of this tract the letters are used which are common to Persian, Arabic, and Turkish, written from right to left.

123. The presence of the Negroid type in isolated Asiatic areas, so far removed from the existing Negro region, appears to require for its explanation the former extension of dry land from Africa across the area now occupied by the Indian Ocean, and the later disappearance of such land by changes of level of the earth’s surface. If, again, the relation of the Dravidian (non-Aryan) population of Southern and Central India to that of Australia be real, - and the relationship seems to be sufficiently established, - the presence in India of this race seems also to require the former occurrence of great alterations in the distribution of sea and land across the equatorial region of the Indian Ocean, and probably an alternation or repetition of movements such as our better knowledge of other parts of the earth shows us to have been normal rather than abnormal. That changes on a very great scale have taken place in Southern Asia in the very latest geological periods is well established, and as was before observed (par. 44), these hypotheses are supported by direct geological evidence, and corroborated by the facts of botanical and zoological distribution.

124. In looking back on the materials at our command for ascertaining how the existing condition of the earth and its inhabitants has been brought about, we are generally forced to the conclusion that they are but fragmentary and disappointing; this is more especially the case in dealing with our own race. of historical records there are hardly any that extend to seven centuries before the Christian era, except those in the form of monuments and of fragmentary and obscure inscriptions. What it left of more remote antiquity is little more than the material wreck of human societies; the living forces that carried them forward have necessarily escaped us, except as matter of conjecture.

125. Of prehistoric man little has yet been discovered in Asia; but a sufficient number of stone and bronze implements or weapons has been found in various parts of India to show that the first steps of the human race in civilizaktion are everywhere almost identical.

126. The feeble light thrown on the earliest history of the Aryan race exhibits it as a pastoral people occupying the valleys and mountains along the Oxus. In its proximity to the south were the Semitic races, distributed from Syria to the Euphrates and Persia, and perhaps further east. These two races are seen to have spread across Southern Europe, North Africa, and South-western Asia; the Aryans supplying their language to the greater part of Europe and of the temperature zone of Asia, from the Mediterranean to India; the Semites giving theirs to Arabia, Syria, and North Africa. It is supposed that the population of the area referred to was thus distributed by reason of migrations caused by pressure from Mongolian tribes on the north, such as is known to have arisen since the historical period. Possibly the movements may have been due to changes in the climate, and the gradual diminution of the rain-fall (of which there is evidence), which might have rendered the area originally occupied by the Aryans unable to support them. But it may be regarded as certain that the Brahminical race, formerly dominant in Upper India, entered that country from the north-west as invaders. The ascertained connection of the languages of India and of the intermediate tract with the ancient Aryan or Vedic language, the fact that the founders of the Brahminical faith fixed themselves in or near the mountains of Northern India the greater predominance of the Aryan type in this region, the separation of a privileged higher from a servile lower calls or caste, and the general evidence of the diffusion of Indian civilization from west to east, with many other circumstances, tend to corroborate such a view. An intrusion of Aryans into the countries originally occupied by the Semites seems also to have taken place in Iran or Persia. As the Aryan language developed into the Sanskrit in India, so in Persia it gave birth to the Zendic or Pehlvi, the language of the sacred books of the Fire-worshippers; and as the Aryans seem to have borrowed the Dravidian letters in the formercountry, so they adopted those of the Semites, or ancient Assyrians, in the other. The European branch of the Aryans, the Hellenic races, likewise appear to have had no letters of their own, and to have borrowed a Semitic alphabet from the Phoenicians. The Bactrian Aryans used an archaic quasi-Phoenician alphabet in North India till 250 B.C., about which time the Pali letters, on which the Devanagari alphabet was based, are known to have been current.

127. The races that formerly occupied the plains of Mesopotamia and the neighboring mountains-the Babylonians and Assyrians-are, next to the Egyptians, those whose monuments and inscriptions supply the earliest definite records of mankind, going back possibly nearly 4000 years from the present time. these, and the corresponding remains of the Egyptians, which are of even greater antiquity, tasking us back perhaps 6000 years or more, indicate that powerful kings then ruled over these countries, with frequent changes in the boundaries of the separate states, under conditions not very greatly different from those that continued until the kingdoms disappeared before the progress of Roman or Mahometan power. How long these races may have taken to arrive at the state of civilization in which they were as they first become known to us it is impossible to say; but there is nothing to suggest that their condition is to be accounted for otherwise than by prolonged gradual transformations, such as they and all other races are known to have undergone in the time subsequent to that from which our historical records commence.

128. The task of tracing from these remote epochs to more recent times the mutual relations that have arisen between the people of the several parts of Asia and the surrounding countries, leads us to a review of the history of the continent, of which a very brief outline will be attempted. From this we shall see how the progressive races of Europe appear to have had their origin in Asia; how in Asia and Egypt were taken the first steps in human civilization and learning; how in Asia arose all the forms of religion which have so greatly influenced the history of man, - the Vedantic, the Buddhist, the Hebrew, and, more especially, Christianity and Mahometanism; how the movements of the population of Central Asia have affected the surrounding regions; and lastly, how the condition of almost the whole continent has, from the earliest ages to the present day, been one to invite foreign conquest, and to lead to the supremacy of foreign races over all its parts.

129. The earliest event in Hindu chronology which has any pretence to being called historical is the war of the Mahabharat. The account of this is contained in a poem, written about 500 B.C., which is one of the Vedas. It seems to have been a contest between two branches of the house reigning in Northern India, an to have occurred about 1400 B.C. The accounts of antecedent periods are manifestly mythical, and merely indicate the probability of the gradual progress of the conquering Brahminical race from west to east. The Vedas are a collection of hymns and heroic poems, containing the religious doctrines of the Aryans at that remote period, and embodying the earliest system of philosophy which we possess. The inroad of Alexander the Great to the Sutlej (Hyphasis) in 350 B.C. affords a landmark in a very obscure past. The Greek colony left in Bactria survived nearly to the Christian era. In 1550 B.C. was born, in Northern India, Sakya, the founder of Buddhism. This was a development of the Vedic theology; in the course of two or three centuries it became dominant in India, whence it was carried into Tibet and China, and at length became, and still remains, the religion of the greater part of Asia, though it eventually declined in India, and has now almost entirely disappeared from the country of its origin. Asoka, one of the Hindu kings of whom memorials exist in inscriptions found in various parts of India, lived when Buddhism was triumphant, in 250 B.C. The subsequent annals consist of little more than lists of kinds of various dynasties settled in various parts of the country, until we reach the period of the Mahometan conquests.

130. Of the western parts of Asia it will suffice to say that about 600 B.C. the kingdoms known under the names of Babylonian, Assyria, Media, and Persia, began to coalesce, and were at length united under Cyrus, the Persian, the "Great King," whose territories are said to have extended from the Meditarranean to the Indus.

During this period the civilization and learning of Egypt and Western Asia had penetrated into Greece, where was developed, from the branch of the Aryan race with occupied that country, the most extraordinarily intellectual community which has ever existed. The successful resistance of Greece to the advance of the Persians probably prevented the spread of the western Asiatics over Europe, and left that continent open to the evolution of the far higher type of civilization which is its characteristic. The destruction of the Persian monarchy by Alexnader took place about 330 B.C. After the Indian expedition and death of the great Greek conqueror, his Asiatic kingdom fell to pieces, and numerous petty sovereignties were formed out of it. About fifty years before the Christian era the Roman for the first time appeared on the arena of Asia, took possession of Syria, and soon after occupied a large part of Asia, Minor, and at length established them selves on the Tigris. During this interval the more eastern part of the old Persian kingdom, called by the Romans Parthia, had again acquired an independent existence, and its monarch, once more assuming the title o the "Great King" fruitlessly attempted to drive the Romans out of Asia. In the year 274 A.D. later successes of the Romans in the East were celebrated by the famous triumph of the Emperor Aurelian, in which, it is said, ambassadors appeared from all parts of Asia, even from China. The conflicts between the Persians and Romans continued long after the division of the Roman empire, 395 AD., without any material change of the boundaries of the contending parties. The Romans or Byzantines never advanced beyond Armenia or the Tigris; nor could the Persians permanently retain possessions to the west of those limits, though once (620) they had penetrated to the walls of Constantinople.

131. While these conflicts were in progress, events of an altogether different character had arisen, which have brought a small portion of Western Asia into prominent notice in the world’s history. Christianity had its origin in Syria, among the Jews, a tribe of Semitic race, whose sacred writings and history are of extreme antiquity, and have been preserved and are well known by reason of the special interest created in them. The Christian faith spread rapidly over Asia Minor, and soon extended to all parts of the Roman empire, in which it was at length accepted as the state religion about 320 A.D.

132. Among the efficient agencies of Western progress no doubt can exist that Christianity was one of the most active. It necessarily happened that the religion which established itself on the ruins of the superstitions of the Old World should have an important influence on the new forms of society that arose; and as the Christian faith gradually became the dominant and at length the only religion of Europe, it shared greatly, both through its doctrines and its organization, in bringing about the intellectual and social advance that has there taken place.

133. But Christianity, though it had its origin in Western Asia, has produced no such consequences there. The progress which it had made to the eastward during the first six centuries was very soon after cutshort by the founding of a rival proselytizing religion by Mahomet, 620 A.D., whose followers and successors effectually arrested the spread of the Christian faith in this direction.

134. The Arabs, under the influence of the fanatical preachings of their prophet, now burst forth upon the countries around them; in less than a century, 730 A.D., they had possessed themselves of Persia and Transoxiana, penetrated to the Indus, driven the Byzantine armies out of Asia Minor and Syria, overcome Egypt, advanced along Northern Africa to the Atlantic, had conquered Spain, and even entered France. Now was this a mere temporary success. Though the Arabs were at once repelled from France, the Mahometans held their ground in Spain for more than seven centuries, and have not only been dominant to the present day in all other parts of their earliest conquests, but have since added largely to the area in which the religion of Mahomet has been adopted.

135. It was to the immediate successors of Mahomet that our race is indebted for the impulse given to science, which was so long wholly neglected or deliberately condemned by Christian authority in Europe. But although it is not possible to say that Mahometanism has been without beneficial tendencies or results, yet the general history of Mussalman races has been marked by horrible barbarities and utter disregard of human life. The annals of Asiatic kingdoms present us, for the most part, with a succession of unscrupulous tyrants, among whom have appeared, at most, two or three sovereign under whom anything like real progress towards civilization was possible. And, admitting that rulers of all races and religions have in turn exhibited qualities which can only be regarded with reprobation, and that it is not easy to discriminate between what is due to the influence of race and what to that of religion, it is certain that the Mahometan Mongols to whom Asia was for centuries a prey far outstripped, in the violation of the principles on which civilization is based, all other communities in any part of Europe or Asia.

136. The Arab empire, under the khalifs of Baghdad, culminated about 800 A.D. but hardly maintained its integrity fifty years more. On its disruption a Turki dynasty established itself in Ghazni, from which sprung Mahmud, who first invaded India in 1001, and extended his rule to the Oxus and Persia. His successors (not descendants) established the Mahometan kingdom of Delhi in 1200, which gradually extended over all Northern India in the next two centuries. After Mahmud’s death another Turki house, that of the Seljuks, established itself in Persia, Asia Minor, and Syria, about 1050, extended its authority to Egypt 1170, and retained its vitality till 1300. The Crusades, between 1100 and 1300, set up a small Christian power in Syria, with which the Seljuk Turks were in a state of almost constant conflict, the famous Saladin (Salah-u-din) having been one of their chiefs. In the wars between the followers of the crescent and the cross, it is hard to say which party inflicted the greatest atrocities on the unfortunate inhabitants of the country around the Holy Sepulchre.

137. Two centuries before the Christian era the Mongolian races of Central Asia are known to have begun the series of predatory incursions on their neighbors, which so long made them the terror of all parts of the Old World less barbarous than their own. The most important of these irruptions took place about 1220. Chenghiz Khan, a Mongolian chief, having made himself master of Central Asia, established his capital at karakorum, the precise site of which is doubtful. In 1215 he took possession of Northern China, and then turned westward; he overran the whole of Turkistan, the countries along the Oxus, Afghanistan, and Persia, and added them to his empire. After his death, in 1227, his successors, dividing his kingdom among them, continued their advance to the west. They swept away the remains of the Arab khalifs of Baghdad in 1258, and overthrew the Seljuks in Asia Minor in 1300; several of their expeditions for plunder reached India; and they spread themselves over South-eastern Europe, into Russia, Hungary, and Poland, and entered Siberia. During this interval, as they became settled, they abandoned the simple deistical faith of their fathers, and adopted the religion of the races they had conquered.

138. In the year 1370 there rose, above the ordinary level of the successors of Chenghiz, another chief, who claimed descent from the great khan, but was more indebted for his position to his own force of character. From an obscure position in Samarkhand, Timur, commonly spoken of as Tamerlane by European writers, had acquired in the course of twenty years the sovereignty of Afghnistan, Transoxiana, of Persia as far as the Euphrates, and of Eastern Turkistan to Kashgar. His armies reached to Siberia, and he carried his devastations into the heart of Russia, almost to the walls of Moscow. In the years 1398-99, excited by fanaticism and the love of rapine, he made his celebrated march into India, an account of which, with his other exploits, exists, written by himself. He plundered and burnt Delhi, which city was surrendered under a solemn promise of protection; he carried off innumerable captives, ravaged the neighboring country, and massacred the Hindu inhabitants to wash out the stains of Mussulman blood spilt by his sword; and finally quitted India, leaving anarchy, famine, and pestilence behind him, having in four short months overwhelmed the provinces of Northern Hindustan by calamities which prostrated the kingdom of Delhi for nearly a century. From these ruins the ruthless barbarian turned to the extreme west of Asia, which he ravaged with greater ferocity, if possible, than India. After the overthrow of the Seljuk Turks in 1300, the descendants of Chenghiz ruled in Asia Minor for some years. Amid the disorders that accompanied the successions of this dynasty, there started up another adventurer, Osman or Othman, who established himself in the north-western region of Asia Minor, overlooking the Euxine and Sea of Marmora. The descendants of Osman had already become important chiefs, in 1360, when they had driven the Byzantines out of Asia and, under Amurath, established themselves in Europe in the provinces adjoining Constantinople, and had also extended their sway eastward to the Euphrates. It was against Bajazet, the successor of Amurath, that Timur turned his arms (1400). Aleppo and Damascus were utterly destroyed by him. From Syria, passing the plains of Mesopotamia, where it is said he erected a pyramid of 90,000 heads on the ruins of Babylon, he pursued the Osmanlis into Anatolia; there Bajazet was defeated and made prisoner. Timur having established his supremacy throughout Western Asia and made the Greek emperor his tributary, turned back to Samarkhand, and died in 1405, on his way to attack China. The successors of Bajazet soon recovered their hold on Asia Minor and Syria, and in 1453 took Constantinople, and put a final end to the Byzantine power, establishing in its place the ottoman empire, extending over Greece, the Danubian provinces, and Asia Minor.

139. Turning once more to India, we find the kings of Delhi still in a feeble condition in 1526, when Babar, th sixth descendant of Timur, and on his mother’s side of the family of Chenghiz Khan, who had established himself at Cabul, marched upon Delhi, defeated the king at Paniput, and made himself master of Northern Hindustan. On this occasion cannon were first used in war in India, On his death, Cabul with the Punjab were separated from the kingdom of Delhi, and after some years of disorder in the succession, the India sovereignty came into the hands of his grandson Akbar, 1556, who had been justly spoken of as taking a place among that rarest order of princes whose reigns have been a blessing to mankind. He died in 1605, having re-established the Mogul kingdom of Delhi over all Northern India, from Candahar to Bengal, and as far south as the Deccan. He was remarkable alike for his learning, his tolerance, his justice, the excellence of his personal character, and his administrative capacity; and it may truly be said that the foundations of the present system of government in Northern India were laid by this great man, who for the first time really consolidated the kingdom, and established an organized administration.

140. Akbar’s successors, among who may be named Shah Jehan as being but little less eminent than his grandfather, ruled in India till 1748, extending their power further south, over nearly the whole of the peninsula, but with various reverses and a gradual decay of strength. The Mogul dynasty dragged on a feeble existence, till it virtually fell before the Mahrattas; after this it maintained for a few years a sovereignty little more than nominal, and finally disappeared on the establishment of the British power in Northern India. Among the more notable incidents in this interval are the establishment of the Mahratta government in the Deccan under Sevaii in 1647, and that of the Sikhs at Lahore in 1708 (the founders of the religion having lived, Nanuk in 1419, and Guru Govind in 1675), and the third sacking of Delhi by Nadir, Shab, the king of Persia, in 1739.

141. Nothing is more remarkable in the history of human societies than the manner in which the ancient civilization of India has maintained itself through the centuries which have elapsed since the inroads from the West began, the records of which form so large a part of Indian history. Long before the time to which the annals of any part of Europe go back, India had made considerable material and intellectual progress, and the fundamental characteristics of the community at present are probably but little different from what they were 2000 or 3000 years ago. The natural wealth of the country, its open character, and the smaller energy and physical force of its inhabitants, have made it a continual prey to the more warlike nations without, and constant internal, wars have completed its political disorganization, so that the remains of any truly national governments have, with few fragmentary exceptions, long ceased to exist. But probably few countries that have been subjected to such vicissitudes have changed so little. The well-being of the indigenous population has been preserved in a remarkable degree by that inaptitude to change which appears to be inherent in their race, and which suggest the necessity of the efflux of a very long period of time for the growth of those customs, which have been so little modified since they became fixed in the form described in the ancient Sanskrit writings.

142. The early history of China offers little to call for remark in such a review as the present. The date of the writings of Confucius is fixed at 550 B.C. The great wall, constructed to oppose the inroads of Mongols from the north, was a work of the Han dynasty about 200 B.C. About 585 A.D., the whole of China was untied into one empire, having previously been governed by many petty chiefs, The first successful invasion of the Mongols under Chenghiz Khan took place in 1234 A.D., and he retained possession of the northern half of the empire, handling it to his son, Kublai-Khan, in 1260, who completed the conquest of the whole country in 1279, and founded the Mongolian dynasty. In his reign Marco Polo, the Venetian traveler, visited China, having traversed the whole of Asia, and from him are derived our first authentic accounts of those countries. The Mongolian dynasty fell, from internal insurrection, in 1366 A.D. when a national government was again set up, once more to be overthrown by an invasion of the Manchus from the north, about 1643, when commenced the Manchu dynasty, which has existed till the present time, and from the establishment of which the political importance of the Chinese empire began. The supremacy of the present dynasty of China over Central Asia, and the neighboring states of Eastern Turkistan, dates apparently from about 1680; but it has recently been thrown off in the extreme west by the Turkish races, and is very doubtfully maintained in other distant provinces, and has further been seriously limited in late years by the advances of Russia.

143. The islands of Japan have maintained an independent position from remote antiquity. Formosa is half occupied by the Chinese, half in possession of independent tribes. The whole island has quite recently, after a threatened conflict with Japan, been recognized as subject to China.

144. Of the earlier history of the Indo-Chinese nations little is known. The kingdoms are politically insignificant, and the physical peculiarities of the territories on which they are established make foreign invasion by land almost impossible, and internal communication and intercourse with the rest of the world, except by sea, difficult. Similar remarks apply to the Malay Archipelago.

145. The history of Asia thus far is the record of events brought about by the conflict of forces almost wholly developed within the continent itself. But external influences came into operation by which an altogether new set of conditions was created, leading to consequences among the most remarkable of any in the world’s history. The germs of civilization, which had their origin in Western Asia and Egypt, were thence carried by the Greeks into Europe. In Asia arose the first systems of religion and conceptions of philosophy, which have given scope and food to man’s intellectual development; and in it were taken the first steps in the formation of the sciences of observation. But it is to Greeks, instructed in Asiatic learning, that the world is indebted for its further advances. And as Asia no more contributed to this movement which she had started, so she had but little share in its results, or in the benefits it conferred on mankind. Her history presents an unceasing repetition of barbaric invasions, instigated by the love of plunder, which swept, wave after wave, over the most fertile and populous provinces where civilization and wealth had begun to appear, and left ruin and demoralization in their departing track. It may well be doubted whether Asia, speaking generally, had made any permanent advance in the arts of civilization since the disruption of the Roman empire, until those events occurred which have brought her under the immediate influence of the powers of the West, and which may prove to have given the whole continent a lasting impulse towards progress. These events are the establishment, little more than a century ago, of British supremacy in the south, and still later of that of Russia in the north.

146. The extension of Russian authority into Northern Asia began about the year 1700, and by the end of the century Russian settlements extended across Siberia to Kamchatka. The advance of this power on the west of Asia into the borders of Turkey, Persia, and Turkistan, and on the east into the outlying provinces of China, is of much later date, and must be regarded as a natural and necessary consequence of the position of a powerful and civilized state brought into contact with barbarous neighbors.

147. The first introduction and subsequent growth of European power and influence in Eastern and Southern Asia have been almost wholly the result of maritime discovery and enterprise. Under the stimulus of expected commercial gain, and guided by the intelligence of mariners who, like Columbus, were acquainted with the astronomical teachings of the Arabs, and who, in defiance of the Christian church, believed in the sphericity of the earth, the first of a great series of voyages of discovery and enterprise. Under the stimulus of expected commercial gain, and guided by the intelligence of mariners who, like Columbus, were acquainted with the astronomical teachings of the Arabs, and who, in defiance of the Christian church, believed in the sphericity of the earth, the first of a great series of voyages of discovery was undertaken, which in 1492 gave to Europe its knowledge of America. A few years later the discovery of the passage round the Cape of Good Hope by Vasco di Gama, in 1498, opened out Asia to the commercial enterprise of the maritime nations of Europe. The trade with the East, which had hitherto found a route overland along the Black Sea and Caspian, or up the Red Sea by Egypt, or by the Persian Gulf to Syria, and had been seriously affected by the irruptions of the Mongols, had been centered with the merchants of Genoa and Venice. The opening of the sea route destroyed the monopoly previously established by the Italians, and the Portuguese naturally were the first to benefit by their discovery. The other maritime nations soon followed in their track. A new impetus was thus given to intercourse with Asia, which in a short time altogether changed the current of events in that continent.

148. The Portuguese landed on the Malabar coast of Hinduostan in 1498, and speedily made themselves masters of the Indian Ocean, which they swept with their fleets from Arabia to China. They took Ormuz and Aden, became supreme on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts, in Ceylon and the Malayan islands, and established powerful settlement at the mouth of the Ganges. They first reached China in 1516, and were permitted to establish about twenty years later a factory at Macao, which they still maintain. From that tie the intercourse between China and Europe by sea has been regularly and gradually extended. The power of the Portuguese in India, after lasting nearly a century, fell into insignificance, partly by arms of the Mahometans, partly by the efforts of the Dutch and English- to which latter nation they ceded the island of Bombay in 1661, on the treaty of marriage of Charles the Second.

149. The Dutch, the Danes, the Spaniards, the and the British, all acquired in a similar manner, and (excepting the Danes) still retain settlements of various degrees of importance in India, the Malay peninsula and Archipelago, and China, of which those of the British in India, Ceylon, and the neighboring islands, of the French in Camboja, and the Spaniards in the Philippine Islands, alone call for mention. The celebrated Jesuit missionaries, who were long the only authorities on China, first reached Canton in 1579, though Christian teachers had penetrated into the country several centuries before, even, it is said, as early as 635 A.D., and churches were built and converts made in 1274, as reported by Marco Polo. The Jesuits, from their superior knowledge, soon made themselves a powerful body in the state, and their influence was great till about 1700, after which, owing at first apparently to conflicts regarding the limits of the Pope’s jurisdiction over Chinese, they lost favor, and eventually were subjected to positive persecution. They have never regained their former authority. The later intercourse of Europeans with China has introduced some of the forms of Western progress, and opened the empire to commerce.

150. The history of the British settlements in India calls for more detailed notice. The English East India Company was founded in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in 1599, with a purely commercial aim. For 150 years the Company confined itself to extending its trade, but the difficulties of protecting the operations of commerce in the midst of such anarchy as prevailed in the provinces in which their settlements were, at length forced them to arm in defence of their factories. The example and rivalry of a powerful foe, the French East India Company, first led them to take an active part in the political intrigues of the numerous native chiefs, and from this, step by step, a simple body of traders has been transformed into a recognized branch of the British Government, exercising supreme authority over the whole of India from the Indus to the Malay peninsula.

151. The French Company, established in 1664, had existed side by side with that of the English in complete harmony for 70 or 80 years, though the two nations had been repeated at war in Europe. But in 1744 the war which then broke out was carried into India by the French, with consequences which the most far-seeing could not have predicted. The French governor of Pondicherry, Dupleix, a man of genius and ambition, formed the project of founding a French empire in the Deccan, a project which, under the efforts of a succession of able men, at one time seemed about to be realized. But after a struggle of fifteen years, during which both sides formed alliances among the more powerful native states, the English finally defeated the French in 1760, and destroyed their settlements. Two years later, on the restoration of peace, the French were permitted to re-occupy their former factories. But the opportunity of taking a place as the paramount political power in India was gone, nor were their later efforts, which were continued till 1802, more successful.

152. On the other hand, the English Company, with the military aptitudes and experience developed among its servants in these contests, was brought more and more into contact with the many self-constituted chiefs who with more or less pretence of a nominal allegiance to the puppet emperor of Delhi, had carved out for themselves kingdoms from the ruins of the Mogul empire, and subjected all parts of India to rapine and violence. The results of the conflicts that ensued were to add fresh strength to the Company. The battle of Plassy, in 1757, gained by the British under the celebrated Clive over the viceroy of Moorshedabad, made them masters of Bengal and its dependencies. From that date the history of the Company is a record of the gradual subjugation of all their opponents. The Delhi sovereignty had already entirely fallen to pieces, and the British became by the force of events the paramount power in India, and on them have devolved all the duties and responsibilities of that position.

153. From the commencement of the present century the main scope of the action of the East India Company was the introduction of order and good government into the countries that had fallen under its rule; and since the final destruction of the predatory armies of the Pindarees in 1817-18, India has enjoyed, with few and short exceptions, a condition of internal peace such as had never been approached in any part of its previous history. Under such circumstances the wealth of the country has enormously increased, and the progress of civilization in all its branches has been great and continued; and it may be truly affirmed that nowhere has there been established by any race of foreigners a rule more beneficent and unselfish, or better designed to advance the best interests of the subject population, than that which has now existed under Great Britain for upwards of a century over a large part of Southern Asia. (R. S.)



The above article was written by Lieut.-General Richard Strachey, R.E., G.C.S.I., LL.D., F.R.S.; served in Sutlej Campaign, 1845-46; Public Works Secretary to the Government of India, 1862; Member of the Council of India, 1873-89; President of the Royal Geographical Society, 1888-90; author of Lectures on Geography; joint-author of Finances and Public Works of India.




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