The United States of America: A Study of the American Commonwealth, Its Natural Resources, People, Industries, Manufactures, Commerce, and Its Work in Literature, Science, Education, and Self-Government

By Nathaniel Southgate Shaler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II. NATURAL CONDITIONS OF THE EAST AND SOUTH.

To give in brief the results of our knowledge as to the regions of North America which are unfit for the use of our people, we may state that about one fifth of the area of the continent is made desolate by cold. About another fifth is useless except for the maintenance of flocks and herds, for which it will afford a scanty pasturage. A certain part of the remainder, in all about one hundred and twenty thousand square miles, is now in the condition of fresh-water swamps and marine marshes, the greater part of which may be won to the uses of agriculture, and will doubtless in time be made serviceable to our people. In the absence of complete studies of the country, such as the United States Geological Survey is now undertaking, it is not possible to make a definite estimate as to the portion of the continent which is fit for the uses of agriculture. The foregoing estimates must therefore be taken as of a general nature. The proportion of the total area of this great land which may serve the needs of highly organized societies is greater than that of any other continent except Europe -- a land which indeed is not truly continental in its nature, but is, in fact, the mere western fringe of the Asiatic area.

We turn now to a somewhat detailed consideration of the several geographic districts of the continent, beginning our task with the Atlantic coast, where the geographic variety of the country affords more distinct fields than in most of the other parts of the continent.


ST. LAWRENCE DISTRICT.

The most northern division of the Atlantic coast which affords the conditions required by civilization is that which lies about the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and the gulf of that name. This part of the continent is made up mainly of a group of peninsulas and islands, which inclose a great gulf or shallow sea. The peninsulas are those of Gaspé and Nova Scotia, and the islands of considerable size Newfoundland, Anticosti, Prince Ed

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