The Canadian or Laurentian Shield, the largest natural region of North America at 1.1 million square mile (3 million square kilometer), is located north of the St. Lawrence Lowland and east of the Interior Plains.
The ancient Fertile Crescent region includes present-day Israel, Lebanon, and parts of Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and southeastern Turkey. It is believed that human civilization first developed in this area.
THE FERTILE CRESCENT, an area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was called Mesopotamia by the ancient Greeks. This meant "the land between the rivers.” The Fertile Crescent extends from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf and gets its name from its shape. James Breasted, an archeologist from the University of Chicago, first called it the Fertile Crescent.
This region includes present-day , , and parts of , , , and southeastern . It is believed that civilization first developed in this area, giving rise to the nickname "The Cradle of Civilization.” Scientists think that agriculture began in this fertile valley around 8000 Before Common Era Here, tribes of nomads, who had formerly been hunters and herders, settled. Barley and wild wheat were abundant. Besides the rivers and the fertile land, the area had 4 of the 5 most important species of domestic animals: cows, goats, sheep, and pigs. The other species, the horse, lived nearby.
People began to move down from the mountains to the grassy uplands and plains in Mesopotamia. By 7000 Before Common Era, farmers were planting wheat and barley and raising domesticated cattle and pigs. The climate of the Fertile Crescent encouraged the evolution of many new species of plants.
Primitive villages stretched across the strip from Assyria to the Euphrates River by 6000 Before Common Era People were learning to cooperate, and social organization grew out of this effort. They learned to irrigate their crops in the drier parts of the Fertile Crescent. By 5000 Before Common Era, cities were being constructed in the southern part of the valley. The civilizations of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, and Persia developed in the Fertile Crescent.
The Sumerians arrived in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley in about 3500 Before Common Era They came from Central Asia and settled in southern Mesopotamia. They took charge of the land and resources there and developed a complex civilization. The region became known as Sumer. Here, city-states developed, each ruled by a king. The king was in charge of construction of buildings and temples, maintaining irrigation systems, overseeing justice, and making trade and defense policies. At first, these kings were elected, but later their positions became hereditary. Because of the number of citystates, there was often tension and conflict among them. Conflicts were often over rights to water or land. Sometimes 1 city-state tried to conquer another.
The Sumerians invented the first known system of writing. Called cuneiform, it used a triangular-tipped stylus to make wedge-shaped marks in soft clay. The Sumerians also developed the arts of bleaching and dying fabrics and engraving. They developed surveying equipment and built dams and canals. The Sumerian number system influenced our astronomy and our method of timekeeping, with 60 minutes in an hour and 60 seconds in a minute.
In 2000 Before Common Era, the Babylonians took control of the Fertile Crescent. One of their contributions was Hammurabi’s famous code of laws. They had well-developed literature, religion, history, and science. Their number system was more advanced than the 1 we use today. From the Babylonians, we received modern astronomy and algebra. King Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, 1 of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Babylonian Empire lasted until 538 Before Common Era, when the last of the Babylonian rulers surrendered to Cyrus the Great of Persia.
Cyrus was succeeded by his son, Cambyses, who expanded the Persian Empire to include Egypt. After his suicide, Darius I came to power. He instituted a public works program, a postal system, road construction, and a system of minting coins. He also set up a system of weights and measures and built the palace at Persepolis, the royal center of his empire. It was located in southwestern Iran.
The Assyrian Empire is hard to pinpoint. The Assyrians, a race of brutal warriors, lived in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent. The first Assyrian Empire lasted only about 50 years before it was assimilated into the Babylonian Empire in 1760 Before Common Era The Assyrians came to power again in the 14th century and managed to extend their borders. From 1070 to 950 Before Common Era, little is known about the history of Assyria, but from 950 to 609, when Assyria was overthrown, its history is well-documented.
The biggest contributions of the Assyrians were in the form of techniques of war and specialized equipment used to carry on war. Also, we still use Assyrian words today for many plants and minerals. Contributions by these early civilizations and others have influenced not only the Fertile Crescent area, but the entire world.
Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America.
Colombia is a country located in northwestern South America. Named for Christopher Columbus, it is the only South American country to have coastline on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Map Page 1131
Area 137,845 square mile (357,021 square kilometer)
Highest Point 9,721 foot (2,963 meter)
Lowest Point -11 foot (-3.54 meter)
GDP per capita $26,000
Primary Natural Resources iron ore, coal, potash, timber, lignite.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany reflects the country’s merging of old and new into a unified and powerful state.
THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC of Germany is 1 of the largest countries and has the largest population in Europe after Russia. Germany borders the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg to the west; France to the southwest, Switzerland and Austria to the south; the Czech Republic to the southeast; Poland to the east; and the Baltic Sea, Denmark, and the North Sea to the north. Germany is a federal republic that reunited with the former German Democratic Republic in 1990. The legislature is a bicameral parliament consisting of the Bundestag, based on popular representation, and the Bundesrat, which represents Germany’s 16 states, or Lander. The president serves as head of state, while the chancellor serves as the head of government. The major cities of Germany are Berlin, Bonn, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Munich, and Dresden.
Germany is divided into 3 regions: the northern lowlands, the central highlands, and the southern alpine region. The northern lowlands extend from east to west from the Baltic to the North Sea and southward to Wittenberg. The northern lowlands are mostly flat plains with marshes and lakes. The land is fertile and has been used for grazing and agriculture. The central highlands are mountainous and forested. The Harz Mountains straddle the center of Germany and once formed the border between East and West Germany, while the Erzebirge Mountains form the boundary with the Czech Republic. To the west is the Ruhr Valley, which contains Germany’s mineral wealth and is the center of its coal and steel industries. In the center of Germany lies the Thuringian Forest. To the south are the Bavarian Alps, which form the border with Austria. The Black Forest lies in southwestern Germany in Bavaria.
Rivers play a significant role in the economic life of Germany. The Rhine, which carries more traffic than any other European river, flows northward from Switzerland, straddles between France and Germany, and empties to the North Sea. The Elbe River begins in the Czech Republic, flows through Hamburg, and empties in the North Sea. The Weser River begins in central Germany, flows through Bremen and Bremerhaven before emptying into the North Sea. The Oder and Neisse rivers form the boundary with Poland before emptying into the Baltic Sea. A network of canals called the Mittelland Canal connects the Elbe, Weser, and the Ems.
The climate in Germany is generally temperate, averaging 48 degrees F (9 degrees C). In January the average temperature ranges from 21 to 34 degrees F (-6 to 1 degree C), and in July the average temperature ranges from 61 to 68 degrees F (16 to 20 degrees C). Winters and summers are wet, cool, and cloudy. The south receives the most precipitation with a yearly average of about 78 inch (198 centimeter), mostly in the form of snow. The central uplands receive an average annual rainfall of 59 inch (150 centimeter), while the northern lowlands receive 28 inch (71 centimeter).
The Roman historian Tacitus identified over 60 German tribes. Over the centuries, the Roman Empire kept watch over the Germanic tribes along its borders along the Rhine and the Danube. In 9 Before Common Era, the Roman Empire met its worst military defeat at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest when 3 legions under Publius Varus were annihilated by an alliance of tribes under their leader Hermann. The disaster at Teutoburg Forest cost Rome its provinces east of the Rhine and ended its expansion. The weakness of Rome in the third and fourth centuries allowed the Germanic tribes to encroach into Roman territory in the west. In 476, Romulus Agustulus, the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was deposed by the German chieftain Odoacer. By the early Middle Ages, Italy and Western Europe were divided into Germanic kingdoms. The Roman Catholic Church, however became a civilizing influence upon the Germanic conquerors.
The history of medieval Germany is 1 of failed attempts to create a unified state. The Franks were the first German power that sought to dominate Central Europe. In 768, Charlemagne assumed leadership of the Franks and expanded his domains from the Danish peninsula to the north to the Adriatic Sea in the south and from Brittany in the west to the Elbe in the east. On Christmas Day in 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Romans. Under Charlemagne, this new empire had the beginnings of a central government but fell under the dissension of his heirs. In 843 under the Treaty of Verdun, Charlemagne’s empire was divided among his 3 grandsons. Charles the Bald inherited the Kingdom of the Franks, which became France. Lothair inherited the imperial title and received a region from the North Sea, which ran through the Rhine River and into Rome. Louis received Francia orientalis, which became Germany.
After centuries of conflict between competing dynasties, the imperial crown passed to the Habsburg family in 1438, where it remained for the rest of the Holy Roman Empire’s existence. The Habsburg rulers of Germany used the Holy Roman Empire, as purely a means to strengthen their family’s domains in Austria, rather than to create a unified German state. The Habsburgs reached the apex of their power and prestige when Charles V inherited both the imperial crown, and the crown of Spain, which included its holdings in the Netherlands, Naples, and the Americas. At the same time, Charles V reaped the whirlwind of the Protestant Reformation, as Martin Luther defied the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in 1517. Germany’s hopes of unification were dashed in 1555 through the Peace of Augsburg, which left each German ruler to decide the religion of his particular state. Germany and all of Europe became embroiled in religious warfare, culminating in the Thirty Years’ War. The war ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, which confirmed the Peace of Augsburg, ensuring the sovereignty of the 300 states of the Holy Roman Empire.
Out of the numerous German principalities arose Prussia, which rivaled with Austria for supremacy. Prussia grew from the traditional electorate of Brandenberg in northeastern Germany with holdings along the Baltic coast. Since the 17th century, the electors of Brandenburg-Prussia strengthened their armies into a well-trained fighting force led by its aristocratic class, known as the Junkers. The Prussian army distinguished itself in wars against Poland and Sweden. In 1701, Frederick, the elector of Brandenburg, as proof of his state’s rise in fortunes, declared himself the King of Prussia.
In 1740, Frederick II (later, the Great) took advantage of the death of Charles VI and the succession of his daughter, Maria Theresa, by invading the Austrian province of Silesia, inaugurating the War of the Austrian Succession. By the Treaty of Aachen in 1748, Frederick retained Silesia. Maria Theresa launched another war, the Seven Years’, to regain Silesia, only to end in defeat. Victory in these 2 wars assured Prussia of a place among the great powers of Europe. Prussia enhanced its prestige further by taking part in the Polish Partitions between 1772 and 1795.
The French Revolution and the resulting Napoleonic Wars were a turning point in the history of Germany. Prussia and Austria joined Britain and Russia in fighting Napoleon’s forces from mastering all Europe and the revolutionary ideas he took with him. The rise of Napoleon fundamentally altered the arrangement of the German states. Accepting political reality, Francis II put an end to the Holy Roman Empire and declared himself emperor of Austria. Prussia suffered major defeats at the Battle of Jena in 1807 and lost significant territories in the west and its Polish holdings in the east. In 1813, the German states united against Napoleon and defeated him at the Battle of the Nations, paving the way for his downfall.
The Congress of Vienna in 1815 attempted to restore some of the balance of power that was disrupted by the French Revolution and Napoleon. Even though the Holy Roman Empire was never restored, the German states were reorganized into the German Confederation under Austrian leadership as a result of the diplomacy of Klaus von Metternich. Prussia regained some of its eastern territories and acquired the Rhineland. Prussia again asserted its claim leadership through the creation of the Zollverein, or customs union, which eliminated trade barriers among the German states. Conservative reaction was evident in the Carlsbad Decrees passed in 1819, which forbade student associations and dissent. Legitimacy was the order of the day.
The influence of the French Revolution continued to persist, however. Nationalist movements arose among intellectuals who wished to unite Germany based on language and culture. Liberals wanted a government based on limited government, popular sovereignty, political rights, and freedom and equality for all individuals. In 1848, revolution once more spread throughout Europe. In Frankfurt, a group of intellectuals formed an assembly to envision a unified state that carried those ideals and, with the failure of the Frankfurt Assembly, was Germany’s last chance to create a unified democratic state.
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, has become a symbol of the 1990 reunification of East and West Germany.
What the Frankfurt Assembly could not accomplish through resolutions (the unification of Germany) was made possible through political maneuvering and skillful diplomacy. In 1858, Otto von Bismarck rose as chancellor of Prussia. Between 1864 and 1871, his sole purpose was the strengthening of securing Prussian supremacy within the Confederation. At the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War, Bismarck declared an end to the German Confederation and expelled Austria from leadership among the German states. Bismarck consolidated Prussian influence by creating the North German Confederation in 1867, which was a federal entity of northern German states under the leadership of the king of Prussia. The Franco-Prussian War in 1870 resulted from Bismarck’s machinations to incite France into declaring war against Prussia, bringing the southern German states into his fold. By 1871, Prussia had defeated France, and King William I of Prussia was declared Emperor of Germany, with Bismarck as his chancellor.
The new German Empire was a federal structure that was created by the consent of the princes, rather than the German people. Voting and representation were based on a formula that favored the upper classes. The federal structure overwhelmingly represented Prussia, the largest state in the empire. Between 1871 and 1878 Bismarck launched an unsuccessful campaign against the Catholic Church in Germany, called the Kulturkampf, by expelling Catholic religious orders and imposing a secular educational system. Keeping an eye against revolutionary movements, Bismarck established the beginnings of a welfare state by creating workers’ compensation laws and a pension system for retired workers. After unification, German economic productivity rose, outstripping that of its neighbors. In foreign policy, Bismarck sought to assure other European powers that Germany had no territorial or colonial ambitions and sought to live peacefully.
When Emperor William II ascended to the throne, he sought to take Germany on a different course. After dismissing Bismarck, ending his decades of service as chancellor, Germany embarked upon an aggressive foreign policy. Through Weltpolitik, or geopolitics, Germany began acquiring colonies and enlarging its navy, which caused great concern for Britain. Bismarck’s successors caused Germany to become diplomatically isolated in Europe. By unwisely giving full support to Austria in its dispute with Serbia in 1914, World War I erupted, whose devastating results were unforeseen. After 4 years of trench warfare and the deprivations imposed by the British blockade, Germany erupted into revolution. William II abdicated and fled to Holland in 1918.
The Weimar Republic replaced the monarchy in 1918 and sued for an armistice. The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, imposed harsh penalties for Germany. The treaty stripped Germany of territory as well as its colonies, imposed occupation in the Rhineland, abolished its navy, imposed restrictions on its army, and imposed enormous reparations, which severely devalued its currency. The German people viewed the Weimar Republic as complicit in Germany’s degradation. In the early 1920s, Germany was caught in the struggles between the communists and radical right-wing forces in their battles for control. Economic stability returned in 1925 but was shattered in 1929 with the coming of the Great Depression, bring Germany to a dark chapter in its history.
In 1933, after unsuccessful attempts by succeeding governments to solve Germany’s economic woes, 37 percent of the voters elected the National Socialist Party into the Reichstag. Adolf Hitler, a former German corporal and rising star of the Nazis, was invited to become chancellor of Germany by conservatives who sought to take advantage of his growing popularity. Hitler began consolidating his grip on the German government through taking on emergency powers after the Reichstag fire, which was blamed on the Communists. The Enabling Act gave the Nazis full power and eliminated all political opposition. Hitler then turned on the Jews, whom he blamed for Germany’s ills, by eliminating them from government positions. The Nuremberg Laws passed in 1934 removed Jews from German economic and social spheres.
In 1936, Hitler began the territorial aggrandizement of Germany by reoccupying the Rhineland. In 1938, the Anschluss of Austria was achieved, uniting the 2 German-speaking countries. Hitler succeeded in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia without Allied opposition. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, setting off World War II. In less than 2 years, Germany conquered most of Europe. While simultaneously prosecuting a war against the Allies, Hitler and the Nazis carried forward the Final Solution and attempted to eradicate all European Jews by constructing concentration camps throughout Europe. By the end of the war, the Nazis had murdered 6 million Jews, including Poles, Gypsies, and other minorities. World War II ended with Germany’s defeat and occupation by the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.
In 1949, 2 German states arose. The Federal Republic of Germany was composed of American, British, and French sectors in the west, and the German Democratic Republic consisted of the Soviet sector in the east. The city of Berlin remained occupied by the 4 Allied countries until 1994. West Germany was a capitalist democratic state whose economy recovered in the immediate postwar years. Bonn served as the capital of West Germany until a decision could be reached regarding reunification.
East Germany, with its capital in East Berlin, was a bulwark of communism that had shut its borders with the West by the 1960s. Berlin remained the source of Cold War tensions between the Soviet Union and the West. By the 1970s, West Germany began the policy of Ostpolitik, which opened relations with East Germany and Eastern Europe. In 1989, with reforms in the Soviet Union and growing popular discontent, the Iron Curtain came down with the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the opening of borders. By 1990, east and west were reunified within the Federal Republic of Germany. Since then, the costs of reunification have been enormous in bringing eastern Germany to Western standards, engendering discontent. In 1999, Germany moved its capital from Bonn to Berlin and joined eleven other countries in the European Union in adopting the euro as the unified currency.
Though initially joining with the United States in solidarity after the attacks in New York and near Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, Germany opposed the American and British invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Germany has the third largest economy in the world after the United States and Japan. Throughout the postwar period West Germany has instituted a generous welfare state that shares its wealth with its citizens. However, the costs of reunification and the rise of its aging population have put pressure on the German government to cut back on its benefits.
DINO E. BUENVIAJE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, RIVERSIDE
IN THE 15th and 16th centuries, English trading ships were already sailing to Japan via Africa, India, and China, but there was no English sovereignty in these places. The term empire then designated the association between England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.
THE MOST POPULOUS state in the United States, California also has the richest and most urbanized citizenry. It is the third largest state, famous for its climate, unique industries, agriculture, geographic variety, and lifestyles.
Bordeaux is the eighth-largest city in France, and the capital of the historic southwestern province of Aquitaine.
Part of Alaska, the Aleutian Islands are America’s northwest frontier, populated by native Aleuts.
KNOWN AS THE Catherine Archipelago until 1900, the Aleutian Islands comprise some 150 islands in 4 groups, which are, in order of proximity to the mainland: the Fox, Andreanof, Rat, and Near Islands. The name probably derives from the Chukchi word aliat, meaning "island.” Geographically, the islands separate the Bering Sea from the Pacific Ocean. They extend in an arc about 1,600 mile (2,560 kilometer) into the Bering Sea off the west coast of Alaska, to which they belong politically. Their total area is 6,821 square mile (17,666 square kilometer) and the total population is approximately 12,050.
Geologically, the islands comprise limited sedimentary and metamorphic rocks but are mainly volcanic in origin and are located at the junction between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. They are characterized by volcanic peaks representing a continuation of the Aleutian range of mainland Alaska. Some volcanic peaks remain active, including Makushin on Unalaska and Shishaldin on Unimak, which are the largest islands in the Fox group.
Climatically, the Aleutians are oceanic, with annual temperatures ranging on average from 30 degrees F (–1 degrees C) in January to 52 degrees F (11 degrees C ) in August. There is a 135-day growing season between May and September and annual rainfall is 80 inch (2.03 meter) with rain occurring all year with abundant fog. The natural vegetation is a mixture of Asian and American species comprising dwarf shrubs with grass-, sedge-, and herb-rich meadows in the lowlands and mosses, lichens, and alpine herbs in the uplands. Most of the islands are within the Aleutian Biosphere Reserve and Wildlife Refuge, which contains a unique mixture of marine birds and mammals.
The islands were colonized at least 6,000 years ago by hunter-gatherers migrating east from Asia when sea levels were considerably lower than today. The native people, the Ungangans, encountered by European explorers in the 1700s were named Aleuts. In 1741, the first European arrivals were Vitus Bering, a Danish seafarer in Russian employ, and Alexei Chirikov; they captained separate ships and each discovered different islands. Bering was shipwrecked and died on what is now called Bering Island in the adjacent Russianowned Komandorski Islands.
Thereafter, Siberian fur trappers established bases as Russia extended its influence in , leading to the exploitation of the Aleuts for labor and the large seal and otter populations for furs. That ended with the transfer of Alaska to the United States in 1867. Further development came with the discovery of gold in Nome in 1900 and the establishment of Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, as a shipping port.
During World War II, the Aleutian Islands featured in hostilities between the United States and Japan. A naval base was constructed at Dutch Harbor in 1942, and following its bombing, the Japanese occupied several islands but were routed in 1943 by U.S. forces from bases on other islands. Underground nuclear tests were carried out on Amchitka (Rat group) in the 1960s and early warning radar systems, pointing toward Soviet Russia, were constructed during the height of the Cold War.
Today, sheep and reindeer herding are part of the economy, with some production of market garden commodities. Hunter-gatherer traditions involving hunting and fishing equipment, including basketry, are maintained by modern-day Aleuts. Fishing and hunting of seal are overseen by the federal government and only Aleuts are allowed to undertake such activities.
UNIVERSITY OF READING, UNITED KINGDOM
Anguilla is 1 of the smallest and least developed islands in the Caribbean Sea. It was administered as a British colony along with Saint Kitts and Nevis until 1971.
The Appalachian Mountains are the oldest range in North America, extending from Canada to the southern United States.
The Appalachian Mountains of eastern North America comprise a north to south-tending range that extends for 1,600 mile (2,500 kilometer) from the Gaspé Peninsula in Atlantic Maritime Canada to northern Alabama in the United States. Uplifted by the collision of continents ancestral to North America and Africa 270 million years ago, the Appalachian Mountains are the oldest mountain range in North America.
The Appalachian Mountains consist of a range of landforms from 4 physiographic provinces. The New England Province consists of rolling coastal lowlands and rugged interior highlands—like the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Maine and the Green Mountains of Vermont—of northern New England and Canada. The Ridge and Valley Province consists of long linear ridges separated by valleys with trellis drainage patterns. The valleys are rich in limestone that dissolves to produce sinkholes and underground caverns, producing karst topography. The Ridge and Valley Province extends from New York to Alabama. The Blue Ridge Mountain Province extends from south-central Pennsylvania to northern Georgia and is a rugged region of high relief with terrain that ranges from narrow ridges with steep slopes to broad mountains. The Appalachian Plateau (known as the Allegheny Plateau in the north and the Cumberland Plateau in the south) is a well-dissected plateau landscape with deeply eroded, dendritic drainage patterns. The Appalachian Plateau extends from New York to Kentucky. The northern Appalachian region from Canada to portions of northern Pennsylvania and New Jersey was glaciated until 4,000 years Before Common Era
Elevation tends to increase from north to south in the Appalachian Mountains. In the north, the plateaus and low rounded mountains of the Gaspé Peninsula (the Shickshock Range) may exceed 4,000 foot (1,200 meter) in elevation. Seven peaks in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range exceed 5,000 foot (1,500 meter). Mount Washington, at 6,288 foot (1,886 meter), is the second-highest Appalachian peak. Elevation decreases somewhat in the central Appalachians, where ridges and peaks—like the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania and Virginia— generally average 3,000 foot (900 meter). Elevations over 5,000 foot (1,500 meter) begin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia, like Mt. Rogers at 5,729 foot (1,718 meter) and Pine Mountain at 1,658 m (5,526 ft) and eventually exceed 5,526 foot (1,800 m ) in the Great Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The highest peak in the Appalachians (and the eastern United States) is Mt. Mitchell in the Black Mountains of North Carolina at 6,684 foot (2,037 meter).
The climate of the Appalachian Mountains varies with latitude and elevation. Average annual temperature for Canada’s Gaspé Peninsula is approximately 38 degrees F (3 degrees C). Annual precipitation averages 35 inch (89 centimeter) in inland areas but may exceed 58 inch (147 centimeter) along the coast. In the central and southern Appalachians, average annual temperatures may range from 50 to 64 degrees F (10 to 18 degrees C), respectively. Average annual precipitation ranges from 35 inch (89 centimeter) in valleys of the central Appalachians to over 78 inch (198 centimeter) in the high peaks of the southern Appalachians, the highest precipitation in the eastern United States.
The biological diversity of the Appalachian Mountains is rich and diverse, a product of varied climate, topography, and glacial history. In the Gaspé Peninsula and the high peaks of the Presidential Range, the summits are treeless and the vegetation is alpine, dominated by low-stature perennial herbs, shrubs, and graminoids and numerous lichens and mosses. Boreal species such as caribou occur in Canada’s Shickshock Range and historically occurred in northern New England. Northern Appalachian forests include spruce-fir forests dominated by balsam-fir and red spruce and northern hardwood forests dominated by sugar maple, American beech, and yellow birch. Oak forests, dominated by northern red oak and white oak, become more common in the central Appalachians, particularly on drier slopes. The species-rich mixed mesophytic forest, with over 158 tree species, reaches its greatest development in the southern Appalachians. The southern Appalachians are also the world’s center of diversity for the lungless salamanders, harboring 54 species. Many boreal species, like the northern flying squirrel and red spruce, also occur at high elevations in the southern Appalachians, relict survivors of the glaciation that drove them southward.
The Appalachian Mountains are rich in natural resources, particularly minerals and forest products. Coal, both anthracite and bituminous, is abundant in the Appalachians, particularly in the Appalachian Plateau, where oil and gas production is also centered. Limestone is quarried in the karst landscapes of the Ridge and Valley.
CHARLES E. WILLIAMS
CLARION UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
The Himalayan mountain range, separating India and China, has the highest peaks in the world.
THE HIMALAYAN mountain region, located between India and Tibet, has the world’s highest peaks. It stretches from the Indus River in the west to the Brahamaputra in the east and has a length of 1,500 mile (2,414 kilometer) and a width from 100 to 150 mile (161 to 241 kilometer). Northwest of the Indus, the region of mountain ranges that extends to a junction with the Hindu Kush, south of the Pamir range, is known as Trans-Himalaya. Thus, the Himalayas represent the southern face of the great central elevated region—the plateau of Tibet—the northern face of which is buttressed by the Kunlun.
The physiography of the Himalayan mountain system can be classified into 3 parallel longitudinal zones:
The Great Himalayas. The main ranges, which lie in the north, rise above the snow line and have an average elevation of 20,000 foot (6,096 meter) above sea level. They include the highest peaks of Everest (29,035 foot or 8,850 meter), K2 (Godwin Austen) (28,251 foot or 8,611 meter) and Kangchenjunga (28,168 foot or 8,586 meter).
The Lesser Himalayas. The middle ranges, which are closely related to and lie south of the Great Himalayas, form an intricate mountain system with an average height of 12,000 to 15,000 foot (3,657 m to 4572 meter) above sea level.
The Outer Himalayas. These comprise the Siwalik and other ranges, which lie between the Lesser Himalayas and the plains and have an average height of 3,000 to 4,000 foot (914 to 1,219 meter) above sea level.
The above classification is a useful generalization but does not represent the peculiar and complex features of the Himalayan system. These include:
The Great Northern Watershed. On the north and northwest of Kashmir is the great water divide, which separates the Indus drainage area from that of the Yarkand and other rivers of Chinese Turkistan (Sinkiang). It is not the great Himalayas but the Muztagh range which, with the Karakoram mountains, trends southward, forming a continuous mountain barrier and the true water divide west of the Tibetan plateau.
Eastern Tibet. The Tibetan plateau, or Chang, breaks up at about the meridian of latitude 92 degrees E, to the east of which the affluent of the Tsangpo (the Dihang and subsequently the Brahamaputra) drain from wild, rugged mountain slopes. In this region are the sources of all major rivers of China and Myanmar (Burma).
It is now proved that Mount Everest, which appears from the Tibetan plateau as a single dominating peak, has no rival among Himalayan altitudes and is definitely the world’s highest mountain. Everest was climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. In Asia, there are 94 peaks exceeding 24,000 foot (7315 meter); all but 2 are in the Himalayas or Karakoram.
Much of the Himalayan area is still very imperfectly known geologically. The general structure resembles that of the Alps, with huge overfolds and nappes; all the main horizons from Precambrian to recent appear to be represented. A very large number of rock groups have been distinguished, described, and given local names. It is certain that during Mesozoic times, the Himalayan area was occupied by the great geosyncline, which coincided with the Tethys Sea or ocean basin. The sediments laid down in the Tibetan section of this great basin constitute the Tibetan zone, in which fossiliferous beds of Paleozoic and Mesozoic ages differ entirely in facies from those farther south. The second or Himalayan zone, which comprises the Great and Lesser Himalayas, is composed chiefly of metamorphic rocks and sediments that are generally unfossiliferous. It is believed that the elevation of this central axis took place mainly in Eocene-Oligocene times and that during this phase the important nummulitic limestones were deposited in a series of basins, notably in Ladakh. The main orogeny would seem to have resulted from the northward movement of the ancient block that is now seen in peninsular India and that underlies the Indo-Gangetic plain. Continued movement in Miocene times folded the nummulitic limestones; the final phase of the mountain building came in post- Pliocene times and has scarcely yet ceased—as the Assam earthquake bears witness—and folded intensely the Pliocene Siwalik sediments of the southern flank of the Outer Himalayas.
The uplift of the Himalayas was a gradual process protracted over a very long period and had a very marked effect upon the scenery, the topography, and the river system. The last is not consequent upon the structure, but the principle rivers were of an age anterior to the tertiary earth movements and the drainage is spoken of as antecedent. During the slow process of uplift, folding, and faulting, the rivers were able to keep, for the most part, to their original courses, although their erosive power was increased because of increased gradients.
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY, INDIA
FROM ITS SOURCE on a savanna plateau just south of Lake Tanganyika, the Congo River flows some 2,880 mile (4,630 kilometer) through equatorial africa before eventually emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.