A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 05 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 641 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels.

SECTION I.

Geographical View of the Kingdom of Chili.

The kingdom of Chili in South America, is situated on the coast of the Pacific Ocean or Great South Sea, between 24 deg. and 45 deg. of south latitude, and between 68 deg. 40’ and 74 deg. 20’ of west longitude from Greenwich; but as its direction is oblique from N.N.E. to S.S.W. between the Andes on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west, the middle of its northern extremity is in 70 deg., and of its southern termination in about 73 deg. of W. longitude.  Its extreme length therefore is 1260 geographical, or 1450 statute miles; but its breadth varies considerably, as the Andes approach or recede from the sea.  In the more northern parts, between the latitudes of 24 deg. and 32 deg.  S. the average breadth is about two degrees, or nearly 140 English miles.  Its greatest breadth in lat. 37 deg.  S. is about 220 miles; whence it grows again narrower, and the continental part of the country, opposite to the Archipelago of Chiloe, varies from about 50 to 100 miles.  These measures are all assumed as between the main ridge of the Andes and the sea; but in many places these mountains extend from 60 to 100 miles farther towards the east, and, being inhabited by natives of the same race with the indigenous Chilese, or confederated with them, that transalpine region may be likewise considered as belonging to Chili.

Chili is bounded on the north by Peru, whence its lower or plain country, between the Andes and the Pacific, is divided by the extensive and arid desert of Atacama.  On the east it is separated by the lofty chain of the southern Andes, from the countries of Tucuman, Cujo, and Patagonia, on the waters which run towards the Southern Atlantic.  Through these lofty and almost impracticable mountains, there are eight or nine roads which lead from Chili towards the east, into the vast plains which depend upon the viceroyalty of La Plata, all of which are exceedingly difficult and even dangerous.  The most frequented of these roads is that which leads from the province of Aconcagua in Chili to Cujo, running along the deep ravines of the rivers Chillan and Mendoza, bordered on one side by deep precipices overhanging these rivers, and on the other by lofty and almost perpendicular mountains.  Both of these rivers derive their origin from the Alpine vallies of the Andes, the former running westwards to the Pacific; while the latter takes a much longer course towards the Southern Atlantic.  This road requires at least eight days journey to get across the mountain range, and is so narrow and incommodious, that travellers are obliged in many places to quit their mules and proceed on foot, and every year some loaded mules are precipitated from this road into the rivers below.  In some places the road passes over agreeable plains among the mountains, and in these the travellers halt for rest and refreshment.  In these vallies, when the Incas conquered the northern provinces of Chili, before the coming of the Spaniards, they caused some tambos or stone houses to be constructed for the accommodation of their officers.  Some of these are ruined but others remain entire, and the Spaniards have built some more for the convenience of travellers.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 05 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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