1902 Encyclopedia > Bushire (Abuschehr), Persia

Bushire (or Abuschehr)
Persia




BUSHIRE, or ABUSCHEHR, a town of Persia, in the province of Fars, situated in the Persian Gulf. The surrounding country is a parched and barren desert, con-sisting of brown sand or grey clay and rock, unenlivened by any kind of vegetation. The town, which is of a triangular form, occupies the extremity of a peninsula eleven miles long and four broad, and is encircled by the sea on all sides except the south. It is fortified on the land side by a mud wall with round towers. The houses being mostly built of white stone gives the city, when viewed from a distance, a rather clean and handsome appearance, but on closer inspection the streets are found to be narrow, irregular, ill-paved, and filthy. Almost the only handsome buildings are the sheikh's palace and the British residency. Ships of 300 tons are obliged to lie in the roads six miles from the town. The water immediately east of the town is deep, but its navigation is impeded by a bar, which can only be passed by vessels drawing not more than 8 or 9 feet of water, except.at spring-tides, when there is arise of from 8 or 10 feet. Bushire carries on a considerable trade, particularly with Calcutta, Bombay, and Java. Its im-ports are indigo, sugar, rice, spices, steel, cotton and woollen goods, coffee, &c.; and its principal exports are raw silk, opium, Kerman wool, shawls, silk goods, carpets, horses, dried fruits, wine, grain, copper, turquoises, pearls, asafoetida, and gall-nuts. The climate is excessively hot, particularly in the months of June, July, and August. The water is very bad; that fit for drinking requires to be brought in goat-skins from wells, distant 1J nude from the city walls. The population is variously estimated at from 10,000 to 20,000.

The importance of Bushire has much increased of lateyears. It is now not only the headquarters of the English naval squadron in the Persian Gulf, and the land terminus of the Indo-European line of telegraph, but it alsc forms the chief station in these seas of the British Indian Steam Navigation Company, which runs its vessels weekly between Bombayand Bussorah, and it is further expected that, if our Foreign Juris- diction Act should be applied to Persia, an appellate court will be formed at Bushire. In the meantime several Euro- pean mercantile houses have been established in the town, and there can be no doubt that if the means of communica- tion with the interior were improved, trade would rapidly increase, Notwithstanding, indeed, the drawbacks of bad roads, insufficient means of transport (wheeled carriages being unknown and beasts of burthen being few and dear), want of security, and illegal exactions, the annual value of the Bushire trade is now estimated at £600,000, of which one-quarter represents the exports and three-quarters the imports, the balance of trade against Persia at this single port thus amounting to about £300,000 a year, which is met by a constant drain of the precious metals to India. During the late war with Persia (1856-57) Bushire sur- rendered to a British force, and remained in our occupation for some months. The town yields a yearly revenue of about £15,000, mainly derived from customs, and is the chief place of a district, extending for 300 miles along the sea-coast from Dilem to Congoon, which is assessed in the Shir-iz register at about £25,000 per annum. At Bishire, in the vicinity of Bushire, there are extensive ruins, among which bricks stamped with cuneiform legends have been found, showing that the place was a very old Elamite settlement under the kings of Susa. It continued also to flourish under the name of Biv-Ardeshir, during the Sassanian period, and only fell into decay after the Arab conquest, its place as the great emporium of trade being successively taken by Siraf (the modern TAhiri), Keis, and Ormuz. The British commercial factory was transferred from Gombroon (modern Bander AbbAss) to Bushire during the last century; but the duties of the Bushire resident at present are exclusively political. (H. C. E.)








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