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The central and western portions of the island are the most
fertile, while the principal mineral deposits are in the mountains of
the eastern end. In Matanzas and other central provinces, the
well-drained, gently sloping plains, diversified by low, forest-clad
hills, are especially adapted to sugar culture, and the country under
normal conditions presents the appearance of vast fields of cane. The
western portion of the island is also mountainous, but the elevations
are not great, and in the valleys and along the fertile slopes of this
district is produced the greater part of the tobacco for which the
island is famous.


FERTILITY OF SOIL AND ITS PRODUCTS.

The soil of the whole island seems well-nigh inexhaustible. Except in
tobacco culture, fertilizers are never used. In the sugar districts are
found old canefields that have produced annual crops for a hundred years
without perceptible impoverishment of the soil. Besides sugar and
tobacco, the island yields Indian corn, rice, manioc (the plant from
which tapioca is prepared), oranges, bananas, pineapples, mangoes,
guava, and all other tropical fruits, with many of those belonging to
the temperate zone. Raw sugar, molasses, and tobacco are the chief
products, and, with fruits, nuts, and unmanufactured woods, form the
bulk of exports, though coffee culture, formerly active, is now being
revived, and its fine quality indicates that it must in time become one
of the most important products of the island.

As a sugar country, Cuba takes first rank in the world. Mr. Gallon, the
English Consul, in his report to his government in 1897 upon this Cuban
crop, declared: "Of the other cane-sugar countries of the world, Java is
the only one which comes within 50 per cent. of the amount of sugar
produced annually in Cuba in normal times, and Java and the Hawaiian
Islands are the only ones which are so generally advanced in the process
of manufacture." Our own Consul, Hyatt, in his report of February, 1897,
expresses the belief that Cuba is equal to supplying the entire demands
of the whole western hemisphere with sugar--a market for 4,000,000 tons
or more, and requiring a crop four times as large as the island has ever
yet produced. Those who regard this statement as extravagant should
remember that Cuba, although founded and settled more than fifty years
before the United States, has nearly 14,000,000 acres of uncleared
primeval forest-land, and is capable of easily supporting a population
more than ten times that of the present. In fact, the Island of Java,
not so rich as Cuba, and of very nearly the same area, with less
tillable land, has over 22,000,000 inhabitants as against
Cuba's--perhaps at this time--not more than 1,200,000 souls.


MINERAL AND TIMBER RESOURCES.

The mineral resources of Cuba are second in importance to its
agricultural products. Gold and silver are not believed to exist in
paying quantities, but its most valuable mineral, copper, seems to be
almost inexhaustible. The iron and manganese mines, in the vicinity of
Santiago, are of great importance, the ores being rated among the finest
in the world. Deposits of asphalt and mineral oils are also found.

The third resource of Cuba in importance is its forest product. Its
millions of acres of unbroken woodlands are rich in valuable hard woods,
suitable for the finest cabinet-work and ship-building, and also furnish
many excellent dye woods. Mahogany, cedar, rosewood, and ebony abound.
The palm, of which there are thirty-odd species found in the island, is
one of the most characteristic and valuable of Cuban trees.


CITIES AND COMMERCE.

The commerce of Cuba has been great in the past, but Spanish laws made
it expensive and oppressive to the Cubans. Its location and resources,
with wise government, assure to the island an enormous trade in the
future. There are already four cities of marked importance to the
commercial world: Havana with a population of 250,000, Santiago with
71,000, Matanzas with 29,000, and Cienfuegos with 30,000, are all
seaport cities with excellent harbors, and all do a large exporting
business. Add to these Cardenas with 25,000, Trinidad with 18,000,
Manzanillo with 10,000, and Guantanamo and Baracoa, each with 7,000
inhabitants, we have an array of ten cities such as few strictly farming
countries of like size possess. Aside from cigar and cigarette making,
there is little manufacturing in Cuba; but fruit canneries, sugar
refineries, and various manufacturing industries for the consumption of
native products will rapidly follow in the steps of good government.
Hence, in the field of manufacturing this island offers excellent
inducements to capital.


SEASONS AND CLIMATE.

Like all tropical countries, Cuba has but two seasons, the wet and the
dry. The former extends from May to October, June, July, and August
being the most rainy months. The dry season lasts from November to May.
This fact must go far toward making the island more and more popular as
a winter health resort. The interior of the island is mountainous, and
always pleasantly cool at night, while on the highlands the heat in the
day is less oppressive than in New York and Pennsylvania during the
hottest summer weather; consequently, when once yellow fever, which now
ravages the coasts of the island on account of its defective sanitation,
is extirpated, as it doubtless will be under the new order of things,
Cuba will become the seat of many winter homes for wealthy residents of
the United States. Even in the summer, the temperature seldom rises
above 90, while the average for the year is 77. At no place, except in
the extreme mountainous altitude, is it ever cold enough for frost.

[Illustration: A VOLANTE, THE TYPICAL CUBAN CONVEYANCE.]


THE EVACUATION OF HAVANA.

The complete transfer of authority in the island of Cuba from Spain to
the United States took place on Sunday, January 1, 1899. At noon on that
day Captain-General Castellanos and staff met the representatives of the
United States in the hall of his palace, and with due formality and
marked Spanish courtesy, in the name of the King and Queen Regent of
Spain, delivered possession of Cuba to General Wade, head of the
American Evacuation Committee, and he in turn transferred the same to
General Brooke, who had been appointed by President McKinley as Military
Governor of the Division of Cuba. No unpleasant incident marred the
occasion. General Castellanos spoke with evident yet becoming emotion on
so important an occasion. Three Cuban generals were present, who, at
General Castellanos' request, were presented to him, and the Spaniard
said, with marked grace and evident sincerity, "I am sorry, gentlemen,
that we are enemies, being of the same blood;" to which one of the Cuban
patriots courteously responded, with commendable charity, "We fought
only for Cuba, and now that she is free we are no longer enemies."

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE PUBLIC GROUNDS, HAVANA, CUBA.]

The formal transfer had scarcely taken place within the palace hall when
the flag of Spain was lowered from Morro Castle, Cabanas Fortress, and
all the public buildings, and the stars and stripes instantly arose in
its place on the flagpoles of these old and historic buildings. As its
graceful folds floated gently out upon the breeze, the crowds from the
streets cheered, the band played the most appropriate of all airs, while
voices in many places in the throng, catching up the tune, sang the
inspiring words of the "Star-Spangled Banner."


OUR NEW POSSESSIONS (CONTINUED).

BEAUTIFUL PORTO RICO.

It was in November of the year 1493, on his second voyage to the New
World, that Columbus landed upon a strange island in quest of water for
his ships. He found it in abundance, and called the place
_Aquadilla_--the watering place. As he had done at Cuba the year before,
the great discoverer held pleasant conferences with the natives, and
with due ceremony took possession of the island for his benefactors and
sovereigns--Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. From that day until it was
ceded to the United States in 1898, as a result of the Spanish-American
War, Porto Rico remained one of the most attractive and valuable of
Spain's West Indian possessions.

[Illustration: A MARKET GIRL, PORTO RICO.]

The simple and friendly natives gladly welcomed their Spanish invaders,
who, with the same promptness which was manifested in Cuba, proceeded to
enslave and exterminate them. In 1510, Ponce de Leon founded the first
settlement on the site of the present village of Puerto Viejo. The next
year the noted invader founded San Juan, the present capital of the
island. One of the most interesting sights of this old city to-day is
the Casa Blanca, built at that period as the palatial residence of Ponce
de Leon. It was there, perhaps, after he had finished his conquest of
the island, that this famous old Spaniard listened to the wonderful
story of the natives, who served him as slaves, concerning the
mysterious country over the sea which had hidden in its forests a
fountain wherein an old man might plunge and be restored to all the
vigor of youth. It was there and thus, perhaps, while sitting at leisure
in his palace, that de Leon planned the voyage in search of that
"fountain of youth" which resulted in the discovery and exploration of
Florida.

[Illustration: SAN JUAN, PORTO RICO.

This city, the capital of Porto Rico, was founded by Ponce de Leon in
1511. It is a fine specimen of an old walled town, having portcullis,
gates, walls and battlements which cost millions of dollars. It is built
on a long, narrow island, connected with the mainland by a bridge. Its
population in 1899, estimated at 31,000.]


ANCIENT INHABITANTS.

As to the number of natives in Porto Rico when the Spaniards came old
chroniclers differ. Some say there were 500,000, others 300,000. It is
all surmise. Probably the latter figure is an over-estimate, for Cuba,
more than ten times as large, was not thought to contain more than half
a million inhabitants at most. A detailed account of their manners and
customs was written by one of the early Spaniards, and part of it is
translated by the British Consul, Mr.



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