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they seem to have been considered as a new country by Bettencourt, an officer in the service of Charles the Sixth of France, who, in 1402, arrived amongst them: the nam tives however could give no account of their origin; on the contrary, they had no idea that any other country existed.
These islands are twelve in number, of which the most remarkable is Teneriffe, so called from two native words, expressing a white mountain : and in fact this island presents a very lofty conical mountain called the Peak, crowned with perpetual snow, with a crater in the summit, from whence, in former times, have issued torrents of liquid matter and showers of ashes; and even at this day hot sul phureous vapours are continually emitted. These islands produce wheat and barley; but the famous Canary wine is chiefly drawn from Teneriffe and Palma, which also yield Sugar. The chief town of these isles is Palma, in the island of Canaria, but Teneriffe is the most populous island.
Madeira.—This is the principal island of a cluster, situated in W. long. 16', and between 32° and 330 of N. lat. about 300 miles from the nearest point of Africa. This island was named Madeira by the Portugueze, from the abundance of timber on it; but the want of timber is now a great defect. The island is in length about 54 miles, and in breadth about 20. The chief town is Funchal, with an open road for ships on the south side: the whole inhabitants are reckoned about 64,000. The interior of the country consists of ranges of lofty mountains, visible 50 miles off at sea. The grand production of Madeira is wine, of which the richest sort is called Malmsey, by a corruption of Malvasia, the naine of the place in the island of Crete whence the vines were originally drawn. The vines are commonly supported on lattices made of reeds to prevent the grapes from resting on the ground, and to this precaution much of the excellency of the wine is ascribed. The chief trade of Madeira is with the Englislı, who an
nually export from ten to twelve thousand pipes of wine ; the remainder of the vintage, seven or eight thousand pipes, being consumed in the country.
This grand division of the earth extends from the unknown regions in the vicinity of the North Poles, in latitude 70° to the outer extremity of Terra del Fuego in S. lat. 55o. 58', a distance from N. to S. of 126", or 7,560 geographic miles,
The discovery of this quarter of the globe is due to the celebrated Christopher Colon, Colombo, or, according to the Latin mode of expression, Columbus, believed to have been a native of the territory of Ferrara in Italy, but employed in the service of Genoa, from which circumstance he is usually called a Genoese.
According to the general opinion of geographers, Asia was extended eastward much beyond its true limits; so that the distance round to the western shores of Europe and Africa, was believed to be much less than it is in reality. This consideration, united with a number of detached observations, seeming to indicate the existence of land, within the reach of no long navigation to the westward of the old world, led Columbo to suppose, that by steering his course in that direction across the Atlantic ocean, he might open up a short and speedy conveyance to India and the other quarters of the cast, from which vast treasures had for
ages been brought over land to Europe. He submitted ineffectually bis ideas and projects to the Genoese, to France, to England, to Portugal, at last Spain entering into his views, furnished him with a few ships, with which, sailing on the 3d of August 1492, and holding a course in general westerly
he on the 12th of the following October discovered Guanahani, or Cat island, one of the Bahama groupe in N. lat. 24° Long before this expedition, however, some of the northern parts of America were known to adventurers from Norway, who in the end of the tenth, and beginning of the eleventh centuries, seem to have visited the coasts of Greenland and Labrador, or Newfoundland.
In the year 1499, a Spanish officer, who had accompanied Colombo in his second voyage to America, was entrusted with a similar expedition, carrying with him Americo Vespucci, of Florence, a man of eminent nautical skill, who on his return to Europe, published an account of his discoveries, and to him, by a strange caprice, has been granted the privilege of conferring his name on the newly found vast western continent.
America is divided into two grand portions, the north and the south, connected together by a long irregular isthmus, in the narrowest place, not above 30 miles in breadth. The extent of North America from N. to S. between lat. 10° aud 70° is about 3,600 geographic miles, but that from the most westerly point on the narrow strait, separating it from Asia to the eastward, is somewhat greater.
From the variety of position in latitude, the climate of N. America comprehends every modification of temperature: in general, however, it has been observed, that the heat of summer, and the cold of winter, are much more intense than those of corresponding latitudes in the old continent. The sudden and violent transitions from the one extreme of temperature to the other, are another singularity of the American climate. The north west winds, passing over wide tracts of desert, lake, and forest, always produce the greatest cold.
As far as this part of the continent has been examined, there are no mountains to be compared in elevation with even those of Europe. The most remarkable chain, called