1902 Encyclopedia > Geography > American Surveys. 19th Century Exploration of South America, Australia and the Pacific.

(Part 47)

American Surveys. 19th Century Exploration of South America, Australia and the Pacific.

On the American continent scientific progress has been made in the United States and the dominion of Canada, where, within the last half century, boundary commissions and surveys have fixed positions and described previously unknown regions of great extent.

In South America there are vast unexplored regions to the eastward of the Andes, and in the basins of the great rivers. Sir Robert Schomburgk did much valuable work in Guiana, and explored the delta of the Orinoco in 1841; while Spix and Marthus, Poeppig and Catelnau, Maw and Smyth, Herndon and Gibbon, Spruce and Bates, Wallace and Chandless, and others, explored the basin of the Amazon.

The labours of Pissis in Chili [Chile], of Raimondi and Werthermann in Peru, of Codazzi in Colombia and Venezuela, and of Morales and others in the Argentine Republic, have been most valuable to geographical science. In Patagonia, Fitz Roy and King explored the Santa Cruz river, Cox and Morales have since added to our knowledge, and Commander Musters, R.N., was the first traveler who traversed the whole of Patagonia from south to north, 960 miles of latitude, of which 780 were previously unknown to Europeans.

The difficulty of exploring the interior of the Australian continent was caused by the scarcity of water, and the immense distances it was necessary to cross without supplies of any kind. Hence the work of exploration has required and called forth high and noble qualities in a degree quite equal to any that have been recorded in any other part of the world. The names of Sturt and Leichhardt, or Eyre and Grey, of Macdouall Stewart and Burke, of Gregory, of Forrest and Warburton, will be handed down as those of intrepid and courageous explorers who laid open the secrets of the interior of Australia.

The Pacific Ocean was explored by numerous expeditions during the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries. Still much remained to be done in the way of verification and more complete survey. From 1826 to 1836 Captain Fitzroy, with the naturalist Darwin, surveyed Magellan’s Strait and the west coast of South America; and further important surveys in the Pacific were afterwards executed by Captain Wilkes of the United States Navy, and by Belcher, Kellett, and Denham.

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