Modern India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 495 pages of information about Modern India.

More than half of the population are converted Hindus, descendants of the original occupants of the place, who were overcome by the Duke of Albuquerque in 1510, and after seventy or eighty years of fighting were converted by the celebrated and saintly Jesuit missionary, St. Francis Xavier.  He lived and preached and died in Goa, and was buried in the Church of the Good Jesus, which was erected by him during the golden age of Portugal—­for at one time that little kingdom exercised a military, political, ecclesiastical and commercial influence throughout the world quite as great, comparatively speaking, as that of Great Britain to-day.  Goa was then the most important city in the East, for its wealth and commerce rivaled that of Genoa or Venice.  It was as large as Paris or London, and the viceroy lived in a palace as fine as that occupied by the king.  But very little evidence of its former magnificence remains.  Its grandeur was soon exhausted when the Dutch and the East India Company came into competition with the Portuguese.  The Latin race has never been tenacious either in politics or commerce.  Like the Spaniards, the Portuguese have no staying power, and after a struggle lasting seventy years, all of the wide Portuguese possessions in the East fell into the hands of the Dutch and the British, and nothing is now left but Goa, with its ruins and reminiscences and the beautiful shrine of marble and jasper, which the Grand Duke of Tuscany erected in honor of the first great missionary to the East.

IV

THE EMPIRE OF INDIA

India is a great triangle, 1,900 miles across its greatest length and an equal distance across its greatest breadth.  It extends from a region of perpetual snow in the Himalayas, almost to the equator.  The superficial area is 1,766,642 square miles, and you can understand better what that means when I tell you that the United States has an area of 2,970,230 square miles, without counting Alaska or Hawaii.  India is about as large as that portion of the United States lying east of a line drawn southward along the western boundary of the Dakotas, Kansas and Texas.

The population of India in 1901 was 294,361,056 or about one-fifth of the human race, and it comprises more than 100 distinct nations and peoples in every grade of civilization from absolute savages to the most complete and complex commercial and social organizations.  It has every variety of climate from the tropical humidity along the southern coast to the frigid cold of the mountains; peaks of ice, reefs of coral, impenetrable jungles and bleak, treeless plains.  One portion of its territory records the greatest rainfall of any spot on earth; another, of several hundred thousand square miles, is seldom watered with a drop of rain and is entirely dependent for moisture upon the melting snows of the mountains.  Twelve thousands different kinds of animals are enumerated in its fauna, 28,000

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Modern India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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