1902 Encyclopedia > France > France: Manufactures, Mines and Quarries; Commerce and Banking; Colonies.

(Part 6)


Manufactures, Mines and Quarries. Commerce and Banking. Colonies.

Manufactures, Mines, and Quarries

One of the foremost branches of manufacture in France is that which has for its object the working up of textile materials. The gross amount of its produce is not less than 3,500,000,00 francs a year, and statistics published in 1873 return it as employing 308,481 men, 306,898 women, 69,948 children, 2777 steam-engines, and about 9,500,000 spindles. These figures relate to the period between 1861 and 1865, and are certainly very much less than if the enumeration had been taken more recently.

The flax gathered in 1873 weighted 54,874,740 kilogrammes (1,081,276 cwt.) , and represented a minimum value of 84 millions of francs, to which must be added 10,188,721 kilogrammes (200,766 cwt.) of hemp, at an average price of one franc a kilogramme. About 800,000 spindles are kept busy with this material. In this branch of trade the department of Nord ranks first; it manufactures more than one-third of the total amount of linen produced. Seine, sarthe, Maine-et-Loire, Seine-Inferieure, Calvados, Ille-et-Vilaine, Lot-et-Garonne, Indre-et-Loire, and Seine-et-Oise are, next to the department of Nord, the chief seats of this industry.

The cotton manufacture has its center in Normandy. More than a third of the total produce of the French cotton looms comes from the department of Seine-Inferieure; Nord, Vosges, Calvados, Aisne, Aube, Orne, Meuse, and Eure have also a large share in the production of cotton yarn and cotton cloth. The department of Rhone is famous for its cotton muslins, the value of which is not less than 28 millions of francs. Meurthe produces a special kind of trimming, valued at about 3 millions of francs a year. French cotton goods cannot cope in cheapness with the English, but they are of fine quality, and on this account command a sale in the markets. In the absence of authentic documents, we may safely estimate the produce of cotton manufacture for 1872 at 500 millions of francs, and the plant engaged in the trade at 6 millions of spindles and 260 millions of looms of various kinds. The loss of Alsace has been a heavy blow to the cotton trade of France.

In the woolen factories, 3,200,000 spindles are employed, giving work to more than 172,000 people. Wool fabrics amount in value to 1,200,000,000 francs, figures which present a striking contrast to the valuation of Count Chaptal in 1812, which was not above 250 millions of francs. Large manufacturing hourses are tobe found especially in the departments of Ardennes (Sedan), Nord (lille, Cambrai, &c.), marne, Eure (Louviers), Herault; while Rhone is noted for shawls, Bouches-du-Rhone for washing and comning, Calvados for wool yarns, Aisne for both yarns and tissues, Aude for drapery, &c. The special manufacture of Paris is that of shawls, damasks for furniture, merinos, and lighter fabrics as gauzes, muslins, bareges, &c.

The rearing of silk-worms and the production of silk can be traced far back in the industrial history of France. The first Avignon pope Clement V., is said to have introduced the first silk-worms and the first mulberry trees (1305). This branch of industry soon assumed a national character, and all kings who, like Louis XI. and Henry IV., cared for the progress of commerce and manufactures, gave it encouragement and privileges. In 1780 France produced 6,600,000 kilgorammes of cocoons (14,549,194 lb), having a value of 15,500,000 francs. The following table shows the progress made in the rearing of silk-worms from that date: -


These 9,871,116 kilogrammes of cocoons gave 636,800 kilogrammes (12,547 cwt.) of raw silk. Twenty-one departments are engaged in the rearing of silk-worms, - those which yield the largest produce being Gard, Drome, Ardeche, Vaucluse, Bouches-du-Rhone, Var, Isere Herault, Basses-Alpes, &c. After having undergone the various operations which transdform the cocoon into regular yarn, the silk goes to the weaver. Nine-tenths of the silk is woven at Lyons, by 120,000 looms, belonging to 400 firms, with nearly 800,000 workers, who every year produce silk goods to a value of about 460 millions of francs.

The manufacture of lace gives employment to 240,000 women at Alencon, Bailleul (Valenciennes), Lille, Chantilly, Caen and Bayeux, Mirecourt, Le Puy, and Paris; and there are 150,000 embroiderers spread over Paris, Lyons, Nancy, Epinal, Tours, Mirecourt, Luneville, Plombieres, St Mihiel, St Die, Alencon, Tarare, Caen, Le, Puy, Lille, Cambrai, St Quentin, &c. The two industries contribute to the public wealth about 90 millions of francs every year.

Cotton hosiery has its central point in the department of the Aube, wool in Picardy, and silk at Nimes, Lyons, and Paris; the last also manufactures nearly the whole produce of France in linen hosiery. The annual value of this branch of industry may be stated approximately at 200 millions of francs.

The number of shoemakers is above 83,000, and they employ about 120,000 workmen and assistants. Shoes of cloth (chaussons) are made by 819 firms, employing 5200 workmen and assistants; and wooden shoes, an important branch of the business, are made chiefly in the departments of Cantal, Orne, Sarthe, Vosges, Vaucluse, and Puy-de Dome, and in Brittany, by 34,700 makers, assisted by 77,500 workmen. It has been calculated that this article has a value of about 530 millions of francs. Paris, Grenoble, Luneville, Vendome, Blois, Beziers, Annonay, and Niort are the chief seats of the manufacture of gloves, which represents a sum of about 70 millions of francs.

Hats and caps are made every year to the value of 50 milions, by 6200 houses, employing about 24,000 workmen. Millinery, chiefly made in Paris, gives work to about 4000 persons, most of whom are women. It may valued at 25 millions of francs. Tailors and outfitters of all kinds number about 74,000, and give work to 82,000 workmen, seamstresses, and shop-assistants.

Beet sugar is extensively made in the north of France. The manufacture of this sugar in a raw state was thus distributed for the year 1876:-


These quantities are produced by about 510 manufactories. Ninety establishments are especially engaged in refining the first produce extracted from beetroot, for from the sugar cane; about 180,000 tons of raw sugar are received annually from the colonies, French and foreign, by these refining establishments, which employ 3400 workers. The yearly value of the manufacture amounts to 140 millions of francs.

Wine, treacle, and the juice of the beetroot are the substances from which the largest quantity of the alcohol produced in France is extracted. About 3500 firms are engaged in distillation; the produce for the year 1875-76 was divided thus: -


To this 429,648 hectoliters (9,456,409 gallons) are to be added, distilled by small proprietors who do not manufacture much more than for their own consumption, and are known by the name of bouilleurs de cru. Normandy and Brittany are the chief centers for the production of cider. In 1876 about 7,035,669 hectoliters (154,845,539 gallons) were manufactured. There are about 3200 brewers, who send out not less than 7,400,000 hectoliters of beer (162,871,543 gallons), worth about 200 millions of francs; but, as hops are but little cultivated in France, 3 millions of francs are spent yearly in importing them. The largest manufactories of vinegar are in the departments of Loiret and Loire-Inferieure; it is made almost exclusively from wine, but malt and some other substance are now beginning to be used. The total value is about 3 millions of francs.

The dressing and tanning of hides and skins has greatly increased of late years; it now represents a sum of 400 millions of francs, or about a million of francs more than inn 1852.

The principal soap manufactories are at Marseilles, its production being 800,000 quintals (1,576,354 cwt.) ; Nantes and Paris hold the second rank. It has been calculated that France produces annually 2 millions of quintals (3,940,886 cwt.) of sopa. Candles are chiefly made at Paris. This branch of manufacture has a total value of 300 millions of francs, whilst the production of soap amounts to 450 millions. French perfumery is appreciated through the world, and gives a yearly return of more than 50 millions of francs.
The departments of Vienne, Seine, Sarthe, and Puy-de-Dome are the centers of the fabrication of earthenware and bricks; in Haute-Vienne, Var, and Girande the special manufacture is china. In 1847 official statistics valued at 85,964,000 francs the total produce of that industry; but this value has certainly more than doubled since. A great manufactory kept up by the state at Sevres forms a school in which artistic workmen are trained, so that the art is maintained in a high degree of perfection. Crystal wares are made in eight works established in the departments of the Meurthe-et-Moselle, Seine, and Orne, among which special mention must be made of Baccarat, which is to this branch of industry what Sevres is to the ceramic. Looking-glasses are a very important article of manufacture in France, - that country possessing no fewer than 6 out of the 15 or 16 establishments in Europe. The principal manufactory is at St Gobain (Aisne), and the value of the produce of the whole is above 14 millions of francs. Glass of a more common kind is made in about 250 establishments, and is valued at 80 millions of francs. The departments of Nord, Haute –Saone, Haute-Loire, Allier, Seine-Inferieure, Seine, Aveyron, and Loire are famed for common window and plate glass; bottles are chiefly manufactured in the department of Nord and in the basins of the Loire and Rhone; the most ancient works established for this manufacture are at Quiquengrogne (Aisne), and date as far back as 1291.

The most important paper-mills are situated in Charente, Pas-de-Calais, Seine-et-Oise, Isere, Vosges, Seine-Inferieure, Seine, Eure, and Siene-et-Marne. Paris is celebrated for its paper-hanging and stained papers. In 1856 Moreau de Jonnes valued the produce of this manufacture at 55 millions of francs. Notwithstanding the special taxes now levied on it, this amount has undoubtedly increased by a large sum.

In the period between the 1st November 1811 and the 31st December 1872 603,849 works have been published in France, subdivided thus: -


In 1872 the number of publications of all kinds was 15,744, 3614 of which were musical works, and 1571 engravings, maps, or plans. Proprietors of political newspapers must deposit with the treasury a guarantee that they will pay the fines to which the press law often renders them liable; security to the amount of 24,000 francs is required in the department of Seine, and 12,000 francs in the others. If the paper appears only once or twice a week, the security required is only 18,000 francs in the department of Seine and 6000 in the rest of France. The paper on which political newspapers are printed is charged besides with a tax of 20 francs per 100 kilogrammes (about 8s. 1 _ d. per cwt.). Notwithstanding this 854 political newspapers, 210 of which were daily, were published in France (54 of them in Paris) in 1873. Non-political periodicals were not fewer than 1220, to which number Paris contributed 718, divided thus: - religious, 81; educational, 21; legal, 42; administration, 18; political economy, insurance, and commerce, 40; stock-exchange interests, 39; medical, 54; natural philosophy, 45; agricultural, 37; military and naval, 23; history and geography, 17; fine arts and architecture, 49; literary and critical, 56; fashion and the amusement of the young, 84’ archaeological, 14; public works, 26; technology and popular science, 50.

The printing and bookselling trades are carried on by about 7000 persons, who may be classed as follows: -


The principal mines which France possesses are coal and iron mines. Coal-pits are almost exclusively confined to the east, south-east, and north of the country. The richest departments are Nord (239square miles), Pas-de-Calais (201), Gard (187), Saone-et-Loire (165), Herault (113), Loire (110), and Bouches-du-Rhone (107). The whole area is about 2200 square miles, and comprises 623 separate concessions, which, however, are not all being worked. The yield of coal mines in 1876 was 170,477,613 quintals (16,795,824 tons), the following being the most productive districts: -


Peat is to be found in 40 departments, but especially in Somme, Pas-deCalais, Loire-Inferieure, Isere, Oise, Seine-et-Oise, Aisne, Nord, Doubs, Marne, Vosges, and Aube. The cutting of his fuel, so useful to the poorer classes, gives work of from 30,000 to 40,000 men, whose wages amount to a total of about 4 millions of francs. The mines of mineral tar yield about 3 millions of quintals (295,566 tons) annually. Saone-et-Loire, Allier, and Ardeche are the principal centers of its production.

France is very rich in iron mines; but as these are generally far from the disricts which produce coal, the working expenses are considerably increased, and sometimes to such an extent that the metal extracted cannot repay the outlay required for its extraction, and the mines have to be abandoned. The production of iron, however, is on the increase, and reaches 7 _ millions of quintals (738,915 tons), which represent about 14,500,000 quintals (1,428,571 tons) of pig-iron. The details in quintals of this production for 1876 are appended:-


In some iron-works, especially those which are established in the chain of the Pyrenees, wood is still used as fuel: 185,024 quintals (18,266 tons) of iron were made by this process in 1876. the production of steel was for the same year 2,618,767 quintals (258,006 tons), the largest part of which came from the departments of Loire, Saone-et-Loire, gard, Allier, Nord, and Rhone. In 1864 there were 64 mines from which other metals than iron were extracted, viz., 39 of silver ore (galena argentifere and alquifoux) in the departments of Hautes-Alpes, Finistere, gard, haute-Garonne, Ille-et-Villaine, Isere, Loire, Haute-Loiure, Lozere, and Puy-de-Dome; 12 of cooper (Rhone and Vosges); 8 of antimony (Cantal, Haute-Loire, Lozere, Puy-de-Dome); 4 of manganese, and 1 of nickel. There were 5066 men employed in working these mines, which gave a return of 4,955,515 francs. But these statistics cannot be relied on, except for the year of their publication, as old mines are constantly closed and new ones opened. In 1869, for example, there is no mention of silver mines, and the mines of manganese are 9 in number instead of 4 as given above.

The quarries of France are about 24,000 in number, giving employment to more than 88,000 men. The last valuation of the produce was made in 1846, and amounted to 41,047,519 francs, but it must be much higher now. Marble is abundant, especially in the departments of Pyrenees, Bouches-du-Rhone, Puy-de-Dome, Herault, Hautes-Alpes, Corse, Ariege, &c. Alabaster is found in the departments of the Yonne, in the valley of Aspe (Pyrenees), at Lagny (Seine-et-Marne), and at Montmarter (Pasris). Lithographic stones are common in the departments of Ain, Indre, and Cote-d’or. Slates are principally extracted from the quarries of Cherbourg and St Lo (Manche), Angers (Maine et-Loire), and Fumay (Ardennes). Limestone is abundant in 50 departments, and 38 yield plaster.

Paris is the chief center of the manufacture of artistic objects in gold or silver; in 1860 the workmen were 18,731 in number, distributed among 3199 establishments, and the business was transacted to the value of not far from 184 millions of francs. Lyons holds the second place, and then Bordeuax, Marseilles, Nimes, Besancon, Clermont-Ferrand, and Toulouse. The gross value of the various metals used by the trade at the same period was calculated at 52,625,000 francs, silver forming about a third of the whole.

The manufacture of watches and clocks yields a revenue of 30 millions of francs. Large iron clocks are made at Morez (Jura); time-pieces are constructed in part at St Nicolas d’Aliermont (Seine-Inferieure) and at Montbeliard, and finished at Paris; watches are begun at montbeliard and Cluses (Haute-Savoire), and finished at Paris and Besancon. This last town is the central place of the trade, and represents 99 _ per cent. of the total manufacture; 15,000 persons, men, women, and children, are employed in this trade, and in 1872 they turned out 135,276 gold and 259,626 silver watches.

Commerce and Banking Establishments

Commerce is naturally divided into home and foreign trade, the former being greatly more important than the latter. It is impossible to give a strict and correct valuation of the inland traffic, but, judging of the whole from the few accessible details, we may, without exaggeration estimate its amount at about 35 to 40 thousand millions of francs. The gross weight of goods conveyed through the canals and navigable rivers has been given above (p. 518); these goods principally consist of coals, wood, stones, metals, wines, corn, and other heavymaterials. This mode of conveyance is slow, but cheap, the duty levied varying from 1 to 5 centimes per 100 kilosgrammes per kilometer, i.e. the maximum rate is about _ d. a ton per mile.

The administration of public works published in 1867 a table of the traffic on French railways by goods trains, from which the following is an extract: -


In 1869 the total weight of goods conveyed by petite pitesse (goods trains) was 44,013,433 metric tons. Since that time a considerable increase has evidently taken place, the consequence at once of the general progress of commerce and of the great extension of railways.

The coasting trade has always been of great importance in France, though it is far inferior to that of England. In 1875 the total weight of goods transported by coasters was 2,022,559 tons, an increase of nearly7000 tons on the preceding year. These goods were of various kinds, - building materials (258,174 tons), wine (225,595 tons), salt (213,185 tons), wood (207,211 tons), corn and flour (199,461tons), coals (125,243 tons), being the chief articles in the general traffic. 62,396 vessels, the tonnage of which amounted to 3,207,933 tons, were engaged in this trade, while in 1874 there were only 57,888, of 2,952,414 tons. The harbors most frequently by coasters are Marseilles, Le Havre, Bordeaux, Dunkirk, Rouen, Cettes, Dieppe, Nantes, St Nazaire, and Boulogne.

The annual produce of river and pond fishing in the interior of France may be valued at about 10 millions of francs. Coast fishing was carried on in 1871 by 8995 boats, manned by 38,150 men, with a tonnage of 98,517 tons, giving a return of 51,609,200 francs. In 1875 the increase was considerable, the number of the boats being 20,159, the tonnage 101,852 tons, the crews 68,651 hands, and the revenue 61,780,160 francs. The same year 178 vessels, with a tonnage of 30,295 tons, and manned by 7800 men, sailed from French ports to fish for cod on the coasts of Newfoundland; the year before the number of the boats engaged in cod fishing was 188. The average value of the Newfoundland fisheries is estimated at about 17 millions of francs. The rearing of oysters has of late made very great progress in France. Large beds are established on almost every suitable point of the coast, as at Cancale, Auray, Marennes, Oleron and Arcachon. The last-named place is the most important of all, the beds being not fewer than 2427, which gave for 1876 a return of 3,941,309 francs, represented by 196,885,450 oysters, 4,700,000 of which were shipped to England.

In 1510 towns a duty is levied on goods, especially upon provisions and liquors, brought to market for public sale, or disposed of privately. In 1871 the total revenue yielded by this tax, which is known by the name of "octroi," was 156,490,935 francs, divided as follows: -


The following table shows the returns of the octroi tax, in the town wher it yielded more than I million of francs for the years1874 and 1876: -


This tax is far from being uniform, the percentage in some places, as Paris, being as low as 4.76 francs for every 100 inhabitants and in some others, as highas 13.55 (Amiens), 14.15 (Rouen), 14.98 (Bordeaux), and 15.56 (Versailels). It is fixed by a decision of the municipal council, subject to the sanction of the legislative chambers. If the average of the tax be reckoned at 10 per cent. of the value of the goods liable to it, the returns would show that such goods have a value of about 16 millions of francs, not including, of course, the considerable trade which is carried on in places where no octroi has been yet established.

Although the principles of free trade are now better understood in France than they were formerly, and are generally considered by French economists and statesmen as most conducive to the interests of a nation, their application is still far from complete, owing to the enormous charges brought upon the country by the late war, but chiefly to the personal influence of M. Thiers, the first president of the republic, who was a determined upholder of protection. This is not the place to enter on any discussion of the merits of the two opposite doctrines; but the facts does not admit of question that, notwithstanding the tax on raw materials and other duties which hamper the commercial intercourse of France with other nations, her foreign trade has been constantly increasing. The imports amounted in 1875 to 3,537,000,000 francs, and the exports to 3,872,000 francs (goods in transit not being included in these numbers), which is an increase of 24 millions for imported and 171 millions for exported goods over the year 1874. In 1869 the value of the imports was 3,153,100 francs, and that of the exports 3,074,900 francs. Foreign goods weighing 1,988,770 quintals (195,930 tons) entered and left France in transit during the course of 1875, showing a decrease of 318,745 quintals as compared with 1874. The principal articles of this class are silk goods (value 137 millions of francs), cottons, woolens, jewellery, gold and silver plate, mats, manufactured leather, corn, coffee, &c. The commercial transactions of France with foreign countries and her own colonies are shown in the following table, the returns being thoseof 1875: -


With regard to the nature of the goods, the values of the imports and exports (1875) were as follows:


The whole export and import trade, along with the salt tax, brought in the same year to the custom house a return of 267,907,791 francs, divided thus: -


The foreign trade is for a great part carried on by sea. France, however, has a very limited number of trading vessels; and foreign ships, chiefly English, convey about two-thirds of her goods, both imports and exports.

Besides the two banking companies especially founded with a view to assist agriculture, of which notice had been taken under that heading (credit foncier, credit mobilier), there are other establishments of credit which partake of the nature of public institutions, and must not be passed over in silence when speaking of French trade. The first of them is the Banque de France, founded in the year VII. (1799), and definitely organized by the law of the 26th April 1806, which givens the management of the bank to a government and two deputy governors appointed by the chief of the state, and assisted by a council of fifteen regents and three censeurs elected by the shareholders. The capital of the Bank of France is 182,500,000 francs. Besides issuing bank notes, which circulate as freely as gold, the bank has the power to discount bills and letters of exchange at three months, when endorsed by three signatures; to collect bills payable given to it by private persons or commercial houses for that purpose: to receive deposits and open current accounts; and to keep in trust the coupons, deeds, silver and gold bars, bullion, and jewels which may be entrusted to it, at the rate of one per cent, per annum. The Bank of France has now a branch in each department. In the following towns, Bourg, Cahors, Tarbes, Aurillac, Mende, Tulle, Digne, Belfort, Foix, Gap, Montde-Marsan, La Roche-sur-Yon, and Meaux, these branches are not yet open; but the law has been passed, and their being opened is only a question of time. This establishment is the great instrument of credit in the country. It has more than once supported the Government by loans in difficult circumstances. The Government, which holds a great number of its shares, is therefore interested in its preservation, and, when money is unusually scarce, gives to its notes the value and privileges of coin, by decreeing what is called the cours force. This measure was resorted to during the late war, and confidence in the bank remained unshaken. During the year 1876 the quotation of the shares of the Bank of France fluctuated between 3875 and 3470 francs. Of other banks the Comptoir d’Escompte, which dates from 1848 and was reorganized in 1854, the Societe generale de Credit industriel et commericle, founded in 1859 after the model of the London joint stock banks, the Societe generale pour favoriser le development du Commerce et de l’Industrie en France, established in 1864, whose special feature to endeavor to make the use of cheques popular in France, and the Caisse des Depots et Comptes-courants, are also worth mentioning. Among the local banks, the Credit Lyonnais, the Colonial Banks, and the Bank of Algerias may be named, as the most important.

The coining of money is carried on by private contractors under the strict superintendence of the state. There are now in France six hotels des monnaies (mints), in Marseilles, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyons, Paris, and Rouen respectively. Paris is the chief center, and the other mints hardly now issue anything except copper coins. From 1795 till the 1st January 1874 the quantity of gold and silver monies coined in France was as stated below:


This amount (with 307,232,889 francs value re-coined) is apportioned thus among the different governments which have ruled France during the period specified:


Measures, Weights, and Money. - The basis of all French measurements is the meter, the length of which is the ten millionth part of the arc from the pole to the equator. Multiples of this, increasing by tens, are expressed by Greek prefixed (the decameter, hectomeyter, and kilometer being 10, 100, and 1000 meters respectively), while the subdivisions have Latin prefixed (the decimeter, centimeter, and millimeter being 1/10, 1/100 and 1/1000 of a meter). Similar decimal systems are formed from the other units of measure. The are is 100 square meters, and the liter the thousandth part of a cubic meter. The gramme is the weight of a cubic centimeter of distilled water at 4oV. (its maximum density). The measures in common use are here given, with their English equivalents: -


Money is reckoned by the franc of 100 centimes, in value a little over 9 1/2d. 1 pound sterling = 25 francs.


Algeria is the most important colonial possession of France. Its extent between the Mediterranean in the north. Tunis in the east, Morocco in the west, and the Sahara in the south, is about 47,000,000 hectares (181,474 square miles), 4,597,000 hectares of which are peopled by 1,132,414 inhabitants, ruled by the ordinary laws of the mother country. A part of the rest is divided into douars, dependent on regularly administered communes, 166 in number. This portion extends to 1,511,000 hectares (5834 square miles), with 555,807 inhabitants, 127,321 of whom are French, 32,660 Jews, 113,018, foreigners, and 282,808 Mussulmans. Another portion of the douars is administered by French functionaries either civil or military, assisted by native and Euorpean councilors; the territory under civil authorities measures 3,086,000 hectares (11,915 sq. miles), and contains 576,007 inhabitants; 9,888 are French or naturalized Jews, 1683 foreigners, and 567,036 Mussulmans. Finally, 32 communes are still directly managed by native chiefs, although their authority is subordinate to that of French officials; the number of inhabitans is 1,219,285,1747 of whom are French, 93 Jews, 649 foreigners, and 1,216,796 Mussulmans. The European, colonist who have settled in Algeria number about 117,175. They have received from the state (1875) 565,000 hectares (2181 square miles); they have bought from the natives 260,000 hectares (1004 sq.m.), and 130,000 hectares (502 sq.m.) have been conceded to the Societe Generale Algerienne and to the Societe Genevoise. The budget of Algeria in 1876 amounted to about 27 millions of francs, of which two-third was devoted to public works or works of general interests. In 1869 the surface of ground under tillage was 1,684,000 hectares (6502 sq.m.), which produced 10,676,500 quintals (1,051,871 tons) of grain. In 1874, 2,950,000 hectares (11,390 sq.m.) have a harvest of 16,676,290 quintals (1,642,984 tons), more than two millions of which were exported, representing a value of about 40 millions of francs. Vineyards occupied a surface of 11,360 hectares (28,072 acres), without taking into account the plantations made by the natives, and yielded 230,000 hectoliters (5,062,236 gallons) of wine; in 1866 this crop did not give more than 99,000 hectoliters (2,178,957 gallons). The importance of the cultivation of flax has doubled during the last five years, this plant covering now about 9000 hectares (22,240 acres) of ground. The same progress is to be noticed everywhere; thus the last census (1874) showed that there were in Algeria about 4,500,000 had of cattle and 10 millions of sheep, double the numbers returned in 1869. Algeria contains mines of iron, copper, lead, and zinc, which give a produce of about 600,000 metric tons, of a value of 7 millions of francs at least,- that is, a fifth part of the production of those metals in France. Alfa 9a plant which gives excellent material for the manufacture of paper) and tobacco are the other products of importance. Alfa was exported in 1874 to the sent to England. About 9000 planters are engaged in the cultivation of tobacco, which gave in 1875 a crop of more than 4,300,000 kilogrammes (84,629 cwt), representing a value of about 3,300,000 francs. See Algeria.

The other colonies of France are – in Asia, Pondichery, Karikal, Mahe, Yanaon, Chandernagor and Surate, and the French Cochin-China; in Africa, Senegal, with the island of Goree, the island of Reunion or Bourbon, the islands of Sainte-Marie de Madasgascar, Mayotte, and Nossi-Be; in America, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St Barthelemy, French Guiana, and the islands of St Pierre and Miquelon; in Oceania, the Marquessa Islands, Tahiti, and New Caledonia. Among these settlements, Martinique, Guadeloupe, La Reunion, and Guiana are, properly speaking, the only colonies, the rest being rather mercantile stations, except perhaps the French possessions near Madagascar and in the Pacific Ocean, which have better prospects, and one of which, New Caledonia, now contains the principal penitentiary establishments maintained abroad by France.

All these colonies submitted, till 1861, to what was called the colonial pact, which bound them to France so closely and jealously that they could trade with no other nation than the mother country. This state of affairs has been greatly changed, chiefly for Martinique, Guadeloupe, and La Reunion; and but for some privileges of navigation and some special taxes, trade with the colonies is almost as free as trade with France itself.

An account of the colonies of France will be found under the particular headings. It is only necessary here to give some statistical information about their produce and trade, so far as it concerns the general state and interests of French commerce.

The island of Martinique specially produces sugar canes ; they were cultivated in 1874 on a surface of 19,314 hectares (47,727 acres), more than a third of the entire area of the island, and yielded a return of 38,653,000 francs. Cocoa trees came next, covering 262,000 hectares of ground (647,539 acres), and giving a crop of 284,000 francs; then coffee, planted on 210,000 hectares (518,940 acres), representing a yearly income of 203,000 francs; and lastly, cotton, which occupies only 42,000 hectares (103,788 acres), and does not bring more than 34,000 francs. The foreign trade amounts (1874) to 61,810,481 francs, 28,398,309 francs for imports, and 33,412,172 francs for exports. In these totals the trade with France amounts to 36,700,560 francs.

The large island of Guadeloupe, with its dependencies La Desirade, Les Saintes, and the French part of St Martin, imported in 1874 goods to the value of 24,526,212 francs, and exported 22,470,302 francs value, making a total of 46,996,414 francs, to which trade with France contributed 27,825,183 francs. The value of the natural produce is as follows: - sugar canes (20,686 hectares, or 51,100 acres) 40,775,732 francs; coffee, 676,846 francs; cotton, 35,470 francs; cocoa trees, 120,300 francs.

Cod fishing is the principal industry of the islands of St Pierre and Miuqelon. The imports amount to 8,285,416 francs, the exports to 10,825,336 francs, and the trade with France to 9,913,532 francs.

French Guiana (Cayenne), which also contains penitentiary establishments, produces the same articles of trade as Guadeloupe, as follows: - coffee to the value of 48,028 francs; sugar canes, 243,984 francs; cocoa trees, 52,430 francs; cotton, 1,750. Its trade with France amounts to 4,914,002 francs; its imports to 6,571,067 francs, and its exports to 681,211 francs.

La Reunion or the island of Bourbon produces sugar canes to the value of 34,474,825 francs; coffee, 294,850 francs; tobacco, 494,100 francs; cocoa trees, 43,959 francs. The imports amount to 24,819,421 francs, and the exports to 30,219,829 francs. The trade with France is 34,869,267 francs.

The imports of Senegal (St Louis and Goree) amount to 12,134,631 francs, the exports to 16,628,069 francs, and the trade with France to 16,346,032 francs. The chief articles of trade are gum, gold powder, wax, ivory, a kind of vegetable oil, and valuable woods.

For Mayotte, Nossi-Be, and Sainte-Maire-deMadagascar the value of the imports is 4,080,229 francs, and of the exports, 3,773,280 franbcs. The trade with France amounts to 2,973,941 francs. The principal productions are sugar (5,088,750 francs), (1,799,008 francs) rum (334,480 francs), and coffee (11,275 francs).

For the French establishments in India (Pondichery, Karikal, Yanaon, Mahe, Chandernagor, Surat) the imports are 6,675,583 francs; the exports, 17,671,100 francs; and the trade with France, 7,600,116 francs. Pondichery and Karikal are the most important centers of cultivation, the former having 19,8345 hectares under culture which produce, 1,494,714 francs, and the latte5r 9114 hectares yielding 1,122,525 francs.

The imports of French Cochin-China amount to the value of 67,044,022 francs, and the exports to 88,011,123 francs. This settlement comprises extensive cultivated grounds, distributed thus; - rice, 279,703 hectares; fruit trees, 32,989; vegetables, 30,938, sugar canes, 8052; water palm trees; 5,640.

In Oceania, the returns for the Society Islands, Tahiti and Mourea, are- imports 3,458,735 francs; exports, 3,112,8989 francs; and trade with France, 562,369 francs.

For New Caledonia the returns are – imports, 12,561,577 francs; and exports, 880,970 francs. This large island might afford an extensive and profitable field to the enterprise of colonists, but it has hitherto been to much neglected by the Government, which considers it almost exclusively as a penal settlement, and has not even taken the necessary steps to secure the few plantations around the town of Noumea against the inroads of the native tribes, who still possess the greatest part of the country.

France has lately acquired from Sweden the island of St Barthelemy, in the Antilles. It is an islet of 25 kilometers (16 miles) in circumference, without drinkable water. This acquisition was made, it is reported, with the view of founding there a new penal settlement less distant from the mother country.

Read the rest of this article:
France - Table of Contents

Search the Encyclopedia:

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries