North America, the northern continent of the western hemisphere, forms a large part of the New World. It is directly opposite the great mass of the Old World. Next to Asia and Africa, it is the largest of the continents, with an area of 9,300,000 square miles, with a total length of 5,000 and a breadth of 3,000 miles. It extends from the Arctics to the tropics, hence has a varied climate. Hudson Strait is bridged with ice for ten months of the year, Greenland and Alaska are the home of the earth's greatest glaciers of never-melting ice, while Southern California, Florida, the West Indies and Mexico are "lands of perpetual summer, where flowers never cease to bloom."

The surface of the continent consists of a primary highland in the west, a secondary highland in the east and a great central plain. The primary highlands include the western two-thirds of the continent; the Rocky Mountains are the apex or comb of this elevation, and form the principal watershed of the continent.

The Rocky Mountains are magnificently grand, wild and broken. The lowest pass across them is one and one-half miles above the sea. The first view of them from a distance is a faint outline against the sky. This outline gradually becomes more distinct until it appears like a vast irregular wall supporting the heavens; nearer still, the wall takes the form of a ruined fortress battered and torn by artillery. This outer wall passed, we enter mountain valleys bounded on all sides by snow-crowned peaks which glitter and glisten in the sunshine. Cliffs rise in places like walls made of bright red-colored, brick-shaped rocks of immense size piled one above another. Then come deep chasms of sandy pools. A feeling of loneliness and littleness creeps over the traveler - everything is so grand and imposing - as he looks and marvels in silence at the mountains rolled up in all shapes around, amid a solitude that is gloriously sublime. The Great Basin of the Rockies is formed by the sides of the ranges sloping together. This region is a desert which has no outlet, its streams generally being lost in the sand. Death Valley, within the Great Basin, is so called from the number of persons who have perished there from thirst. Colorado Plateau, drained by the Colorado River, has many deep canons, the grand canon of the Colorado being the most celebrated. The entire region is like some fabled land of old. Many of the peaks on the ranges are nearly three miles above the level of the sea. Along the 40th parallel are twenty-five peaks of more than two miles in height. Mt. St. Elias with 19,500 feet, and Mt. McKinley 20,460, both in Alaska, are the highest peaks in North America.

The Secondary Highlands occupy the eastern side of the continent, and are formed by the Laurentide Mountains in Labrador, and the Blue Ridge, Alleghany, and Cumberland ranges of mountains. The Alleghany and Cumberland ranges are noted for their rich mines of coal and iron. The highest point of the secondary highlands is less than 7,000 feet, and its height averages about 2,000 feet.

The Great Central Plain, which lies between the eastern and western highlands just described, comprises nearly all the low-lands of North America, and is one of the largest valleys in the world. It is drained by the Mississippi River. This plain is the greatest agricultural region of the world, and it is also rich in minerals.

The navigable rivers of North America surpass, in number and importance, those of any other continent. The Mississippi is the principal liver, which, with its chief tributary, the Missouri, admits of the longest continuous navigation of any river of the earth. Of this and the other rivers of North America, the following table is appended :

River.

Length.

Area of Basin

Mississippi with Missouri ............

.4,500

982,400

Mackenzie.......................................

2,800

580,000

St. Lawrence.................................

2,384

480,000

Rio Grande......................................

1,800

240,000

Saskatchewan................................

1,515

478,000

Columbia........................................

1,020

298,000

Colorado.........................................

1,000

257,000

Yukon.............................................

2,000

200,000

North American Lakes are the most important of the earth. The five Great Lakes are estimated to contain one-half of all the fresh water in the world ; and they are so connected by rivers and canals as to form an immense system of commerce, of incalculable service to the United States and Canada. Lake Superior is as large as all the New England States. Lake Erie is shallow and much disturbed by storms. Great Salt Lake has the densest (most buoyant) water known, except the Dead Sea. It has four considerable streams running into it, but no outlet. Following is a 798 table of the principal lakes of North America:

Lake.

Area.

Elevation.

Depth in Feet

Lake Superior ................

31,500

602

688

Lake Michigan ..............

23,150

579

600

Lake Huron....................

23,100

578

600

Lake Erie...........................

7,800

573

84

Lake Ontario...................

6,900

247

500

Great Salt Lake ..............

2,000

4,200

Lake Winnipeg ..............

9,000

628

The vegetable life of North America is as varied as its climate. In the extreme north, where the cold is intense and there is little moisture, vegetation is scant and stunted. There is here a treeless zone called the "barrens." Further south is a broad belt of pine and fir forests, extending across the continent. The Central Belt contains the agricultural lands of the continent. The Mississippi Valley has been called the "Garden of the World." The Southern Belt is the region of palms, tropical fruits, dye-woods, sugar-cane, and live-oak. Cotton is king in one section, corn, wheat, and other grains in another.

Animal life is also at its best in North America. The wealth of moisture and abundance of vegetation encourages herb-iverous life, and flesh-eating animals do not predominate as in the Old World. Animals of the Arctic belt, - beaver, walrus, seal, and whale; of the central belt, bear, deer, panther, wolf, elk, goose, duck, bison; and of the southern belt, monkeys, alligators, parrots, lizards, and other tropical animals and birds of rich plumage. The puma, the American lion, replaces on this continent the lion and tiger of Asia, and the turkey and some other birds are peculiar to America.

The people of North America are a mixt-ure made up of the best blood of Caucasian nations, the English, Scotch, Irish and German type predominating in the United States and Canada, except in the Province of Quebec, where the French stock prevails. In Mexico, as in Central America, the West Indies and South America, Spanish blood, pure and mixed with the negro, predominates. The Indians were the aborigines of the New World, but, while certain historians claim there are as many still living in the United States and Canada as were here when Columbus came, it is their nature to retire before civilization, and to the casual observer they have comparatively-passed from the land. Unlike the negro, they have not been inclined to mix with the white man. The Spaniards tried to enslave them in the West Indies and South America, but in such cases the Indian suffered extermination rather than submit, and the negro was imported to supply his place. The presence of the millions of blacks in America is wholly due to the wicked system of slavery which introduced him, and to his tractable and docile nature, which submitted to what the red man would not endure.

The typical American of the future will doubtless arise from the amalgamation of the good and the bad of the nationalities and races mentioned above.