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Fifty Principal Nations of the World

(Actual Size: 6-7/8" x 11-1/8" - shown approx. 1/2 scale)
CLICK on any map to see the corresponding card as it was originally issued.

Belgium, Venezuela, Persia, Italy

(facing page)


       THE Kingdom of Belgium formed itself into an independent State in 1830, having previously been a part of the Netherlands, and, according to the Constitution of 1831 is "a Constitutional, representative and hereditary monarchy." The legislative power is vested in the King, the Chamber of Representatives, and the Senate, the members of both Houses being chosen by the people.
       Belgium has an area of 11,370 square miles, and is the most densely populated State of Europe. The population is 5,520,000. On the whole a flat country, it is along the coast little raised above the high water level, and has to be protected against the inroads of the sea by artificial dykes, where the natural barriers, consisting of sand hills, are either awanting or inadequate.
       The climate is chilly and humid, there being an average some 150 rainy days in the year. The soil consists of either sand or clay, and is not naturally fertile, but indomitable energy and skill have brought seven-eighths of the whole surface under cultivation, and forced from it twice as much corn as is required by the vast population of the whole country.
       Belgium abounds in coal fields and iron mines, and at Seraing near Liege, there is one of the largest iron works of Europe. Among the manufactures for which it is chiefly celebrated are Brussels carpets, fine lace and thread, and the rare lawn and damask fabrics of Bruges. The ordinary domestic animals of Europe are reared everywhere in perfection, and to Flanders belongs a famous breed of large horses, of which great numbers are exported to foreign countries.


      THE Republic of VENEZUELA was formed in 1830 by secession from the other members of the free State founded by Simon Bolivar within the limits of the Spanish colony of New Granada. Venezuela was discovered by Columbus in 1498, and in 1499 Vespucci and Ojida seeing in Lake Maracaybo, the Indian village of Cora, which was built upon piles, called it Venezuela or Little Venice, an appellation subsequently extended to the whole country.
      The charter of fundamental laws is designed on the model of the Constitution of the United States of America, but with considerably more independence secured to provincial and local governments.
      Venezuela is divided into eight large States, each subdivided into sections or districts, besides the Federal District, two national settlements and eight territories.
      Area, 439,000 square miles. Population according to the census of 1881, 2,075,245, one-fifth of which was engaged in agriculture.
      The surface of Venezuela is naturally divided into three distinct zones: the agricultural, the pastoral, and the forest zone. In the first are grown sugar-cane; coffee, which is the chief export; cocoa, cereals, etc.; the second affords runs for cattle, horses and mules, which are now reared in great numbers and are largely exported; and in the third, tropical products, such as cauotchouc, tonca beans, copaiba, vanilla, sarsaparilla, growing wild, are worked by the inhabitants.
      Venezuela is rich in metals and other minerals, while sulphur, coal, asphalt, lead, koolin and tin are also found.
      Caracas, the capital, has a mild climate, but is liable to earthquakes. Some 12,000 persons were killed here by an earthquake, March 26th, 1812.


      PERSIA occupies the western and largest half of the basin-like Iranian plateau between the valleys of the Indus and and the Tigris. Its average height above the sea is 4,000 feet, varying from 8,000 in some of the outer valleys to 500 in the most depressed portions of the centre.
      Persia is an absolute monarchy. All the laws are based on the precepts of the Koran, and though the power of the Shah is absolute, it is only in so far as it is not opposed to the accepted doctrines of the Modammedan religion. The Shah is regarded as vicegerent of the Prophet, and it is as such that he claims implicit obedience. Under him the executive government is carried on by a ministry, divided into several departments.
      According to the latest estimates the country contains an area of 636,000 square miles, a vast portion of which is an absolute desert. According to estimates made in 1881, the population then numbered 7,650,000.
      No country has greater diversity of climate than Persia, and the soil varies as much as the climate. Almost all the cultivation depends on artificial irrigation, either by canals, or by the system of wells connected with the underground channels. Agriculture is in a very depressed state, and the rudest implements are still in use. The exports principally consist of dried fruits, opium, cotton and wool, silk, carpets, pearls, turquoises and rice.
      Teheran is the capital, and contains the great fortified palace of the Shah. The Persian is one of the most melodious of languages, peculiarly fitted for poetry.


      ITALY is the mid-most of the three great peninsulas in the south of Europe, and in outline is strikingly like a long, high-heeled boot.
The Government is a limited monarchy--the executive power belonging exclusively to the Sovereign, and is exercised by him through responsible ministers; while the legislative authority rests conjointly in the King and Parliament, the latter consisting of two Chambers, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
      The area is 114,410 square miles, the population 28,459,000. The capital is Rome. The climate is singularly fine, in spite of the winter severity in the North and almost tropical heat in the South. Of the total area, 86.9 per cent. is productive, but agriculture is generally in a primitive condition. The chief crops are wheat, maize, rye, barley, oats and rice. The vine flourishes everywhere. The fruits exported are oranges, citrons, lemons, dates and melons. The other chief exports are silk, olive oil, wine, hemp, sulphur, chemical products, almonds, marble and other stones, and iron ore.
      Italy has possessions in Africa, and exercises a protectorate over Abyssinia and other territories.
      The most notable feature in the geology of Italy is its volcanic system. Vesuvius (the only active volcano in Europe and the most famous in history) rises a solitary peak from the Campanian plain, which stretches along the N.E. shore of the lovely Bay of Naples.
      According to Italian statistics, 151,609 Italians emigrated to the U.S. and Canada during the six years 1884 to 1889.