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Extent.] The surface of the globe is estimated to contain 197, 000,000 square miles, of which more than 50,000,000, or one quarter of the whole, is land.
Natural Divisions.] The great natural division of the earth’s surface is into Land and Water.
1. The land consists of continents, islands, peninsulas, isthmuses, capes, mountains, hills, and valleys.
A Continent is a great extent of land, no where entirely separated by water.—There are two continents; the Eastern and the Western. The Eastern continent is subdivided into Europe, Asia, and Africa; the Western, into North America and South America.
An island is a portion of land smaller than a continent, entirely surrounded by water; as Great Britain, Newfoundland, Cuba, Madagascar.
À peninsula is a portion of land almost surrounded by water, as Spain, Florida.
An isthmus is the narrow neck of land which joins a peninsula to the main land; as the isthmus of Darien, the isthmus of Suez.
A cape is a point of land projecting into the sea; as Cape Cod, Cape Horn.
A mountain is a portion of land elevated to a great height above the surrounding country. When the land rises to a small height it is called a hill. The spaces between hills are called dales or Talleys. A volcano is a burning mountain which emits smoke and fame.
2. The water is composed of oceans, lakes, seas, sounds, bays or gulfs, harbors, roads, straits, rivers and friths or estuaries.
The largest collections of water on the globe are called oceans. There are five oceans; the Indian ocean, lying between Africa, Asia, and New-Holland; the Atlantic, between America on one side and Europe and Africa on the other; the Pacific, between America on one side, and Asia and New-Holland on the other; the Northern or Arctic, around the north pole; the Southern, around the south pole.
A lake is a collection of water in the interior of a country, as Lake Superior, Lake Erie.
A sea is a large collection of water communicating with an ocean, as the Mediterranean sea, the Baltic.
A sound is a small sea so shallow that it may be sounded Long Island Sound.
A gulf or bay is a part of an ocean, sea, or lake, extending up into the land. The terms sea, gulf, and bay are very vaguely used. Sometimes the same body of water is called a sea, and also a gulf, or bay; as the Red Sea or Arabian Gulf, the Adriatic Sea, or Gulf of Venice. Sometimes a lake is called a sea, as the Caspian sca and sea of Aral, both of which answer to the definition of lake.
A larbor or haven is a part of the sea, almost surrounded by land, where vessels may anchor with safety.
A road is a place at some distance from the shore where ships may safely ride at anchor.
A strait, is a narrow channel connecting two large bodies of water; as the strait of Gibraltar.
A river is a large stream of inland water; small streams are called brooks.
A frith or estuary is the part of a river towards its mouth which is affected by the tide. It may be considered as an arm of the
Grand Divisions.] Geographers have commonly considered the world under four grand divisions, America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Besides these, there are two clusters of islands, which form separate divisions, Australasia and Polynesia.
America is remarkable for the size and grandeur of its mountains, lakes, and rivers. Large parts of America are inhabited only by savages and wild beasts, and have never yet been visited by white men.
Europe is the smallest of the four grand divisions, but is distinguished above all the rest for learning and science, for excellence in the useful and elegant arts, and for the intelligence, refinement, activity and enterprise of her inhabitants. Owing to her superior knowledge and military skill, this little portion of the globe holds the greater part of America, and large portions of Asia, Africa and their islands in colonial bondage.
Asia is remarkable, as the part of the world where the human race were first planted, and as the theatre of almost all the interesting events recorded in the Bible. Here was the garden of Eden; here lived Adam and Noah, Abraham and all the prophets ; here our Saviour was born and was crucified; here was Jerusalem, and Babylon and Nineveh. Here were established the Assyrian, the Babylonian and the Persian empires.
Africa is the most barbarous portion of the world. It is remarkable for its vast deserts of burning sands, for the multitude of its ferocious animals, and for the black color of its inhabitants.
Political Divisions.] An empire consists of several large countries, under the dominion of one man, usually called an emperor.
A kingdom consists of a single country, subject to a monarch, called a king.
A dutchy, a grand dutchy, and a principality, are smaller portions of country subject severally to a duke, a grand duke, and a prince, who are themselves subject to the sovereign power.
Provinces, countries, departments, cities, towns, parishes, hundreds, &c. are still smaller subdivisions of countries.
Governments.] There are but three simple forms of government, monarchy, aristocracy and democracy.
1. A simple monarchy is a government in which the sovereign power is exercised by one man.
If the power of the monarch is limited by law it is called a limited monarchy; if not, it is an absolute monarchy. In absolute monarchies there is usually some check upon the power of the sovereign, in the institutions or customs of the country; but if not, the government is a despotism.
2. An aristocracy is a government administered by a few men, usually styled the nobility.
3. A democracy is a government exercised by the great body of the people.
When two or all of the simple forms are united, it is denominated a mixed government. Thus the British government partakes of the | monarchical, aristocratical, and democratical forms.
Population. The number of people in the world is variously estimated, from 500,000,000 to 1,000,000,000. Hassel makes it 682,000,000. The following is his statement of the extent and population of each of the grand divisions of the globe.
The third column shows the density of the population, or the number of inhabitants on each square mile of the territory.
Religions.] The principal religions of the world are the Christian, the Mahometan, the Jewish, and the Pagan, or Ileathen.
Christianity is the religion of Europe, and of European settlements in every part of the world.
Mahometanisin prevails in the northern part of Africa, and the southern and western parts of Asia.
The Jews are dispersed all over the world.
The Pagans or Heathen are more numerous than all the rest, and include all savages in every part of the world, together with the inhabitants of the half-civilized countries in the southeast part of Asia.
The numbers attached to the different religions may be estimated as follows.
Christians are subdivided into three principal sects.
1, Roman Catholics, who have a Pope at their head, and are thence often called Papists. The Roman Catholics inhabit the southern parts of Europe, and the Spanish, French and Portuguese settlements in different parts of the world.
2. Protestants are those who have separated from the church of Rome, and no longer acknowledge the authority of the Pope. They inhabit the northwest parts of Europe, the United States of America, and the English and Dutch settlements in different parts of the world.
Protestants are subdivided into a great many smaller sects, the principal of which are Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, Moravians, Friends or Quakers, &c.
3. The Greek church is established in Russia in Europe, and part of Turkey. The members of this ehurch never acknowledged the authority of the Pope.
Situation and Extent.] America is bounded on the east by the Atlantic, which separates it from Europe and Africa ; and on the west, by the Pacific, which separates it from Asia. Towards the north, its limits have not been discovered. Towards the south, it terminates in a point, called Cape Horn. It is more than 9,000 miles long, and, on an average, about 1500 broad.
History of its Discovery.] America was unknown to the civilized world till about 300 years ago. It was discovered in 1492, by Christopher Columbus, a native of Genoa. From long study of Geography, Columbus became deeply impressed with the belief, that there was a new continent in the west. To determine this point, he.resolved upon a voyage; and applied to the governments of Genoa, Spain, Portugal and others, for the necessary assistance; but his applications were rejected.
At length Ferdinand and Isabella, the sovereigns of Castile and Arragon, listened to his proposals; a squadron of three small vessels was fitted out, victualled for twelve months, furnished with 90 men, and Columbus appointed admiral.
He lest Spain in August, and steered his course for the Canary islands; and thence, sailed due west, for more than 2000 miles, into an unknown ocean, without seeing land. His men now became impatient, and began to mutiny, and Columbus was forced to promise that he would return, if land was not discovered in three days.