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Divisions.! Arabia was divided by the ancients into three parts ; Arabia Feliz, or Happy Arabia, comprising the southwestern part of the country, bordering on the Indian ocean, and on the southern part of the Red sea; Arabia Petroea, lying on the Red sea north of Arabia Felix; and Arabia Deserta, much the largest division, embracing all the eastern and northern part of the country. These names are still in common use among Europeans ; the natives, however, divide the country into five parts, as follows, 1. Yemen. 2. Hedsjas. 3. Oman. 4. Lachsa. 5. Nedsjed. The first of these seems to correspond with Arabia Felix ; the second with Arabia Petroea, and the three last with Arabia Deserta.
Face of the Country.] Arabia is an arid desert interspersed with a few fertile spots, which appear like islands in a desolate ocean. Stony mountains and sandy plains form the prominent features in the surface of this vast peninsula. To the north it shoots out into a very extensive desert, lying between Syria and the countries on the Euphrates. The whole coast of Arabia, from Suez to the head of the Persian gulf, is formed of a plain called the Tehama, which presents a picture of the most complete desolation. The interior is diversified by extensive ranges of mountains, but there is no river of any consequence in all Arabia, almost every stream either losing itself in the sandy plains or expanding into moors and fens.
Climate.] lo the mountainous parts the climate is temperate, but in the plains intolerable heat prevails. A hot and pestiferous wind, called the Simoom, frequently blows over the desert and instantly suffocates the unwary traveller; and whole caravans are sometimes buried by moving clouds of sand raised by the wind. In almost every part of the country they suffer for want of water.
Soil and Productions. The soil, wherever it is well watered, exhibits an uncommon fertility, but where this is not the case it degenerates into a waste, affording barely a scanty support to a few wild animals and the camels of the wandering Arabs. The most fertile district is Yemen or Arabia Felix, which in many parts is cultivated like a garden. The principal productions are coffee, myrrh, aloes, frankincense, pepper, and tropical fruits.
Animals. The camel and the horse are produced in greater perfection in Arabia than in any other country. The camel is wonderfully fitted by Providence for traversing the hot and parched desert. His stomach is formed for the retention of a large supply of water, and he is thus enabled to travel for six or eight days without drinking. His feet are made of a hard fleshy substance, well fitted to resist the heat of the sand. The ordinary pace of the camel employed in caravans is slow; being at the rate of two or three miles an hour for seven or eight hours in a day. He usually carries 800 pounds on his back, which is not taken off during the journey : when weary he kneels down to rest, and sleeps with his load upon his back.
The Arabian horses have been celebrated in all ages. They are remarkable for speed, admirably adapted for battle, very
sprightly, full of fire, and they never appear fatigued ; they are besides extremely docile. Nothing can exceed the care taken by the Arabs in training their horses, and very particular attention is paid to the purity of the breed. Their pedigree is counted as carefully as that of their masters, being often traced as far back as 2,000 years. A horse of high birth will sell for a thousand crowns.
Chief Towns.) Mecca, celebrated as the birth-place of Ma. homet, is situated in a dry, barren, and rocky country 40 miles inland from the Red sea, in lat. 21° 18' N. It is entirely supported by the concourse of pilgrims from every part of the Mahometan world. The chief ornament of Mecca is the famous temple, in the interior of which is the Kaaba or house of the prophet, a plain square building built of stone. The most sacred relic in the Kaaba is the stone said to have been brought by the angel Gabriel to form the foundation of the edifice. The grand ceremony through which pilgrims pass is that of going seven times round the Kaaba, reciting verses and psalms in honor of God and the prophet, and kissing each time the sacred stone. They are then conducted to the well of Zemzem, situated in the same part of the temple, where they take large draughts, and undergo a thorough ablution in its holy waters. Another ceremony, considered as of equal virtue, is the pilgrimage to Mount Arafat, situated about 30 miles to the south of the city. The population of Mecca was formerly estimated at 100.000, but is now reduced to 16,000 or 18,000, the resort of pilgrims within a few years having greatly diminished. Jidda on the Red sea serves as the port of Mecca.
Medina, 176 miles N. of Mecca, is celebrated as containing the tomb of Mahomet, around which 300 silver lamps are kept continually burning. The population is 8,000. Jambo op the Red sea is the port of Medina.
Mocha, situated near the southern extremity of Arabia, is the principal port on the Red sea, and the channel through which almost all the intercourse of Europe with this part of ihe world is carried on. The great article of export is coffee, 'which is celebrated as the finest in the world. The population is estimated at 5,000.
Sana, the capital of Yemen, is a handsome city situated 128 miles N. N. E, of Mocha.
Mascat, the principal port on the eastern coast, carries on an extensive trade with the British settlements in India, the Malay peninsula, the Red sea, and the eastern coast of Africa. It is under the government of an independent chief. The Arabs of Mascat are considered fine sailors, and their power at sea was at one time so formidable, and exercised in so piratical a manner, as to give serious alarm to the English. Of late, however, they have become quite civilized and orderly, and Europeans are now treated here with more respect ihan in any other part of Arabia.
Curiosities.) Near the head of the Red sea, 150 miles S. E. of Suez, is Mount Sinai, where God delivered to Moses the ten commandments, and immediately west of it is Mount Horeb, where the
angel appeared in the burning bush. These mountains are now inbabited by monks, who pretend to show the very spot where the miracles happened.
Population.] The number of inbabitants is commonly esti. mated at 10 or 12,000,000. They are almost exclusively Arabs, a part of whom dwell in towns and villages, but the greater number are migratory.
Bedouins.] The wandering Arabs of the desert are called Bedouins. They all live under tents, and migrate with their families and property from place to place in quest of subsistence. Many tribes are notorious robbers, and without a sufficient force, or a passport from one of their chiefs, it is dangerous to pass througb any territory occupied by them. The rights of hospitality, however, are held in sacred observance, and an asylum once granted proves a security to the most defenceless. These predatory tribes are dispersed through the deserts in various parts of Asia and Africa, and are dreaded by all the civilized people around them.
Language.] The prevailing language is the Arabic, which is one of the most extensively diffused languages in the world. It is spoken not only in Arabia, but in Syria, Pepsia, Tartary, part of India and of China, half of Africa, and on all the coast of the Mediterranean.
Mahometanism.) Arabia was the birth-place of Mahomet and is still the centre of his religion. Every true Mahometan be. lieves that there one God, and but one, and that Mahomet is his prophet. He says his prayers five times every day; at day break, at noon, middle of the afternoon, at sun-set and at twilight; he abstains from pork and spiritous liquors; at one season of the year he neither eats, drinks nor smokes between sun-rise and sunset, for 30 days in succession; and once in bis life he performs a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Wahabees.] The Wahabees are a new sect of Mahometans, who originated about the middle of the last century, and acknowledge Abdoul Wahab as their founder. They believe in the unity of the Deity and the genuineness of the koran, but reject all the traclitions and all the worship paid to saints and the successors of Mahomet. The most memorable era in their bistory was in 1803, when they entered Mecca and destroyed 80 splendid tombs, erected in honour of the descendants of Mahomet.
In 1804 they took Medina, and these two holy cities continued for a long time in their possession. They are now masters of all the interior of Arabia and of parts of the sea coast, and are supposed able to muster an army of 120,000 men. Within a few years, however, the Turkish pacha of Egypt has succeeded in expelling them from Mecca and Medina.
Government.] Arabia is divided among a number of independent tribes or clans, each governed by its own chief, called imam, emir or sheich, and confederacies are often formed among these for mutual defence. The city of Mecca and its dependencies, however, acknowledge at present the sovereignty of the Grand
Seignor, and the late rise of the Wahabees has united the whole interior of Arabia under one religious and military head, though it has probably left unaltered the division into clans and the independence of the separate chiefs.
Arts and Sciences.] The arts are universally in the lowest stage. A modern traveller declares that in Mecca, which may be considered the capital city, ne person could be found capable of making a look or a key. Even the slippers and sandals used there, are brought from Egypt and Constantinople. There is not a single map who knows how to engrave an inscription or any kind of design on hewn stone. The sciences also are entirely neglected. Education is limited to reading and writing and even these acquirements extend only to a few.
Caravans.] The inland trade of Arabia, Persia, Turkey, Tartary and Africa is carried on principally by caravans, consisting of large companies of merchants, travellers and pilgrims, who march with their camels over the sandy deserts, carrying their water and provisions with them. They go armed, and travel in company to defend themselves from the wandering Arabs. This mode of travelling and trading has subsisted from the earliest antiquity, for it was to a caravan that Joseph was sold by his brethren.
Islands.] The Bahrein islands in the Persian gulf, near the coast of Arabia, in lat. 27° N. are famous on account of the extensive pearl fishery, carried on upon their shores.
Situation and Extent.] Independent Tartary is a part of central Asia, extending from the Belur Tag mountains to the Caspian sea, and bounded N. by Russia ; E. by the Chinese empire; and S. by Cabul and Persia. Very little is known about this country, it having been seldom visited by Europeans in modern times. The area is variously estimated from 600,000 to 1,000,000 square miles.
Face of the Country.] The northern part of the country is an immense deşert extending into Russia ; the western part, lying between the Oxus and the Caspian, is also a desert called the desert of Karasm. The district in the S. E. extending from the Belur Tag mountains to the sea of Aral and watered by the Oxus, the Sibon and their numerous tributaries, was well known to the
ancients for its delightful climate, its fertile 'soil, and dense population. The Arabian geographers describe it as the paradise of Asia, and are never weary of expatiating in its praise. It is represented as filled with splendid cities, and the populousness is said to be such, that an army of 300,000 horse and the same number of foot could be drawn from it, without the country suffering by their absence. This tract is now called Great Bukharia. It has been touched by modern travellers only at a few points, and even the names of most of the cities mentioned by the Arabian geographers are wholly unknown to the moderns.
Rivers.) The Oxus or Amu rises in the S. E. part of Great Bukharia, and flowing in a N. W. direction, receives numerous tributaries and falls into the sea of Aral after a course of 1,200 miles. It has been generally believed that this river fell anciently into the Caspian sea, and was turned artificially into its present receptacle, but this opinion seems now to be abandoned by the best geographers. The Sihon or Sir, the ancient Jaxartes, falls into the sea of Aral on its eastern side after a N. W. course of 600 miles, during which it receives numerous tributaries.
Chief Towns.) Samarcand, an ancient and celebrated city, once the residence of the famous Tamerlane, is on the Sogd, a branch of the Oxus. It is famous among the Mahometans as a seat of learning, and is resorted to from all the neighboring countries. It has manufactures of leather, cottons and silks, and carries on an extensive commerce with Persia, Hindoostan and the Chinese dominions.
Bokhara, also on the Sogd, 50 miles from its mouth and 100 W. of Samarcand, has a celebrated school for the study of Mahometan theology and law. It is said to contain 100,000 inhabitants.
Inhabitants.] The number of inhabitants is variously estimated from 2,000,000 to 5,000,000. They consist principally of two nations of Tartars, the Kirgees or Kirghises in the north, and the Usbecks in the south. The Kirghises are divided into three hordes, called the Little, the Middle and the Great Horde. The Kirghises of the Little Horde occupy the most westerly position, and wander over the plains east of the river Ural, and between the Caspian and the sea of Aral. They bring their locks in summer to the Steppes between the Ural and the Volga. The Middle Horde live farther to the east, in vast plains to the north of the Aral. These two hordes subsist entirely on their tiecks. The Kirghises of the Great Horde are established in the country east of the Aral, on the banks of the Sibon and its tributaries. Some of thom are pastoral, but the greater number, inhabiting fertile, mild and well watere countries, devote themselves to agriculture. The Little and Middle Hordes acknowledge themselves subjects of the emperor of Russia. The Russians, however, do not exact from them even the smallest tribute; on the contrary they pay regular pensions to all the principal chiefs, to prevent them from plundering on the Russian frontier. This, however, has not proved sufficient, and Russia has been obliged to construct