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USES OF COLONIES. The following are the principal uses of the British Colonies (taking the word in its largest meaning of "Possessions ") to the mother country.
(1) They provide a home for the surplus population. It would in time become impossible for a small country like the British Islands to contain and support the whole of the British race, increasing as it does at an enormous rate from year to year. Millions of persons who have found it difficult to maintain themselves and their families at home, have obtained a comfortable and prosperous field for their labour in the colonies.
The persons most suitable as colonists are:-Farmers with small capital, agricultural labourers, gardeners, artisans (as carpenters, smiths, masons, bricklayers, etc.), laundresses,
* The dates affixed to the Australian Colonies are the dates of their organization respectively.
domestic servants. Professional men, as doctors, apothecaries, will find a limited field for their skill. No one should become a colonist who is not prepared to work hard. Frugality, industry, and perseverance are the chief qualifications necessary to success in the colonies.
(2) They afford new and profitable markets for British manufactures and other produce. Our colonists require manufactured goods from us, as they are at present unable to make these themselves. A very large portion of our manufactured goods is sold
in the colonies.
(3) They increase the strength of the British empire. Through the increase of the British race in various parts of the world, there are continually more and more persons of the same descent as ourselves, bound together by common ties of blood, language, laws, and customs, morally, if not politically bound to render each other assistance in times of difficulty with foreign nations. Canada has more than once offered to send us troops when we have seemed likely to be involved in war. A great confederation of the British States, for purposes of common defence, has often been a favourite project of statesmen, and it may one day be carried into effect.
Scattered as our
(4) They are useful as commercial stations. colonies are all over the world, our ships (and those of other nations also), are able to call at their ports to seek refuge from storms, effect needful repairs, take in water, coal, and other things required on a long voyage, and trade with the neighbouring population.
(5) They are useful as naval stations. Many of them have fortified ports, docks, and arsenals, where our ships of war can obtain protection, repairs, coal, water, provisions, etc. Many of our possessions occupy commanding positions, as Gibraltar, which controls the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.
(6) They provide us with food and various articles which we require, but could not produce in our own country. The pupil who studies the geography of our colonies will learn what a vast number of products we import from our various possessions.
I. BRITISH POSSESSIONS IN
SITUATION. Heligoland is a small island in the North Sea, situated about 36 miles from the mouth of the Elbe, and 400 miles from London. The name signifies "Holy Land."
EXTENT AND POPULATION. Its length is about a mile, its breadth about one-third of a mile, and its area rather more than half a square mile. It is about 2 miles in circumference. The population is about 2,200, chiefly of Danish descent.
PHYSICAL FEATURES. One portion of the island is rocky, and attains a height of about 170 feet. The other is low and sandy, and is being gradually washed away by the sea. The coast is surrounded by sand-banks.
OCCUPATIONS OF THE PEOPLE. The principal occupation is fishing. The chief fish are haddock, lobster, oyster. Some of the men are engaged as pilots. The agriculture is poor and scanty. Many visitors, especially from Germany, resort to the island in summer. This has caused the building of lodging
houses for their reception.
PRODUCTIONS. None of any importance.
HISTORY. It was taken from Denmark in 1807, the year after Napoleon issued his famous Berlin Decree, excluding English traders from Continental ports. It was used by the English during the remainder of the war with France as a naval station, and as a depôt for introducing English goods into the Continent.
MISCELLANEOUS. It contains a small town in the southSteamers connect the island with Hamburg and Cuxhaven in the summer, and are chiefly employed in conveying
visitors to and from it. The island has telegraphic communication with England.
SITUATION. Gibraltar is situated at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, on a rocky promontory connected with the Spanish peninsula by a narrow sandy isthmus. The rock is strongly fortified, and commands the entrance to the Mediterranean. It is about 1,150 miles from Southampton.
EXTENT AND POPULATION. Length, 3 miles; breadth, mile; area, 1 square mile. Population, about 25,000, including the English garrison. The population varies considerably, according to the number of British soldiers present at any one time.
PHYSICAL FEATURES. The rock rises to a height of about 1,450 feet, and is inaccessible on the north and east. On the west it slopes gradually down to the Bay of Gibraltar. This being the vulnerable side, it is defended by fortifications of enormous strength. The rock itself is excavated into galleries containing guns of great strength. The southern extremity is called Europa Point.
OCCUPATIONS OF THE PEOPLE. Agriculture is carried on to some extent. The climate being warm, southern fruits are cultivated. The commerce is considerable, mostly with England. The imports are upwards of £1,100,000; the exports, £100,000. Much smuggling is carried on in the port of Gibraltar, to the great annoyance of the Spanish authorities.
PRODUCTIONS. Not very important. Southern fruits, as oranges, figs, etc., are grown. There are some wild animals, as rabbits, partridges, apes.
HISTORY. This rock was known to the ancients under the name of Calpe, one of the Pillars of Hercules. It belonged successively to the Romans, Saracens, Spaniards, and English. The latter came into possession of it in 1704, when it was cap
tured by Sir George Rooke. The Spaniards have made several efforts to recover it, but unsuccessfully. From 1779 to 1782 it sustained a memorable siege by the combined French and Spanish fleets and armies; but was gallantly and successfully defended by General Elliott. In 1842 it was constituted a see of the English Church.
TOWN. The town of Gibraltar lies at the foot of the rock, on the north-west. The harbour is not good, being exposed to the winds and the sea. The trade is chiefly in manufactured goods imported from England. The nearest Spanish town is Algesiras, lying on the other side of the Bay of Gibraltar, at a distance of 5 miles.
MISCELLANEOUS. Gibraltar is connected with England by means of steamships and the electric telegraph. It is one of the packet stations on the route to India through the Suez Canal.
(AND ADJACENT ISLANDS).
SITUATION. Malta is situated nearly in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, about 54 miles south-west of Sicily, 180 from Africa, and 660 from Marseilles.
EXTENT. The largest island, Malta, is about 18 miles long, and 10 miles broad. Its area is 115 square miles. Gozo lies to the north-west of Malta, and has an area of about 18 square miles. Between these lies the small island of Comino, with an area of between 2 and 3 square miles.
POPULATION. About 150,000, including about 7,000 British soldiers and their families. The population is more than one thousand to the square mile. The Maltese are a mixed race descended from African and European nations. The great majority profess the Roman Catholic religion.
PHYSICAL FEATURES. These islands are mountainous