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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.

Looking generally at the physiography of Roumania, however, it will be seen that whilst it covers an extent of country considerably in excess of some of the small but prosperous independent States of Europe, it has great advantages which they do not possess.  Less rugged and mountainous than Switzerland, and not so uniformly flat as Holland, its scenery partakes of the character of both these countries.  Guarded on the north and west by the Carpathian range, and commanding the whole length of the Danube in the south, its political position (to which further reference will be made presently) renders it safer than Belgium, or perhaps even than Denmark.  Its soil is capable of producing, either spontaneously or with a slight expenditure of labour, every requirement of the human race, whether of necessity or of luxury.  The grape, the peach, the tobacco plant thrive in the open air.  Its extensive forests contain most descriptions of timber, whilst very fine salt and petroleum amongst its mineral treasures are already worked, and there is little doubt from the researches of chemists and metallurgists that coal, iron, sulphur, copper, and even the precious metals are safely stored beneath the surface.  All these valuable natural productions may be readily conveyed down the slopes of its mountains or across the plains, by short and easy routes by land and water, to the larger watercourse which places it in communication with the outer world; and as to the obstacles offered by the ‘Iron Gates’ to the navigation of the upper Danube, these are soon likely to disappear in an age when dynamite effects such vast revolutions in the industrial history of nations.  Add to these facts that Roumania offers a rich field for the fisherman, that its alpine districts are beautiful and easy of access, and that its antiquities cannot fail to attract the attention of archaeologists; and we see already from this brief and very superficial geographical survey that it encloses within its boundaries the promise of a brilliant future.  And now let us turn from the natural capacities of the country to the works and ways of man.

CHAPTER III.

THE NAVIGATION OF THE DANUBE.

The Danube—­Its importance to Roumania—­To Great Britain—­Statistics of British and foreign vessels trading there—­Nature of the freight—­Cereals—­Our imports thence compared with those from other states—­Importance of Roumania as a maize-grower—­Effect of the Russo-Turkish war on Danubian trade—­The Danubian Commission—­Its history—­Austria and Roumania—­The Callimaki-Catargi despatches—­Alleged pretensions and designs of Austria—­Necessity for the neutrality of the Danube—­Pending negotiations.

There is perhaps no question of greater real moment to the newly erected kingdom than the free navigation of the Danube; for whether its possessions are limited on the southern boundary by that river, or whether

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