Bibliographic data

Burrows, Emid M.: The Southern Continents. Vol. 2. Secondary Geography For Malaysians. Kuala Lumpur: Far Eastern Publishers Ltd., 1967, 5–6.

"The Southern Continents"

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The Southern Continents

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Africa, Australia, South America and Antarctica are the continents of the Southern Hemisphere. In this book we shall discuss only the first three. In contrast to the continents of the Northern Hemisphere, much of the three Southern Continents lie within equatorial zones. The equator crosses central Africa and the northern quarter of South America. A large portion of northern Australia lies north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Thus the geography of these continents is very largely a study of tropical and semi-tropical lands.

The Southern Continents are the "underpopulated" lands of the world. With a land area of approximately 23 million square miles, they have a population of only 390 million - less people than China or India. This does not mean that there are no heavy densities of population; the Nile Valley has 1,900 people per square mile of agricul-

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tural land; but it does mean that there are large areas of desert, mountain and rainforest which are very lightly peopled.

These continents are the "new" lands of the world. Some of them have been occupied by people in only recent periods of time. The Maori has been in New Zealand only in the last 1,500 years. The Aborigine has lived in Australia for perhaps only 5,000 years. The South American Indian has inhabited his continent for less than 8,000 years. Africa is an exception, for this is an ancient homeland of man. Africa, South America and Australia are new also in the sense that they have, in recent times only, been discovered and explored by Europeans from the Northern Hemisphere. Five hundred years ago European man was unaware of the existence of Australia, South America or Africa south of the equator.

The Southern Continents are the former

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colonial lands of the European nations. Discovery and exploration brought with it claims to ownership. Three hundred years ago Spain and Portugal divided South America between them. One hundred years ago in the scramble for Africa, Great Britain and other nations of Europe claimed large areas as colonies. Australia and New Zealand were for a long time part of the British Empire. The European, in his invasion of the Southern Continents, introduced new plants, new crops, new animals and new peoples. Today, the Southern Continents consist largely of independent countries. In the case of Africa these countries have emerged only very recently. Since the Second World War, Africa has "given birth" to 32 independent nations.

Although the countries of the Southern Continents have large mineral deposits, they are not industrial nations. This is a contrast of the industrial lands of the Northern Hemisphere. Instead they produce the food and raw materials which are needed by the densely populated continents of the north. In return they receive heavy industrial goods which they do not manufacture themselves.

Because they spread over such vast areas, the Southern Continents have a wide range of living conditions or environments. In the Southern Continents man dwells in oases, tropical forests, highlands, grassy plains, sub-antarctic forests, grasslands, and water-

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less deserts. In comparison with the continents of the Northern Hemisphere, Africa, Australia and South America are continents which possess untapped natural resources. For example, the tropical rainforest areas have unlimited timber, which has not to any extent been used by man. Large areas of savanna grasslands are only lightly grazed and sparsely populated.

The Southern Continents are developing lands where new ideas and new methods of farming and living are getting rid of illiteracy, poverty and disease.

The Southern Continents are important grain producers and grazing grounds for much of the world's sheep and cattle. Australia and Argentina provide the world with one quarter of its wheat exports. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina contain two thirds of the world's sheep and the Southern Continents produce more than one half of the world's beef.

The Southern Continents face many problems in development. Internal trade links and water supplies are often poor. Large numbers of people lack the technical skills required by modern industry; land is frequently held in large estates and cannot be used intensively by small farmers, and traditional ideas still hold sway. Yet the Southern Continents are growing up politically and are learning to play an important role in world affairs.

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