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309 PERSIA-THE COUNTRY.

Rivers, the breadth is not more than seventy miles. The whole length of the Indus valley

is about eight hundred miles, and the average breadth below the Punjab is, approximately,

fifty miles. The upper division of the country is mountainous towards the north, and abuts

against Kashmeer and Thibet. Sloping southward it sinks into a plain whose natural

resources are unsurpassed. The area of the Punjab is about fifty thousand square miles.

The valley of the Indus proper is almost as fertile as that of the Nile. Like that river,

the Indus is the father of the land. He divides his channel, giving off here an artn and

there a branch for the perpetual nourishment of the hungry soil. All the way down from the

twenty-eighth parallel to the sea these diverging channels are found at intervals,

sometimes rejoining the parent tide and sometimes diffusing themselves completely in the

districts which they water. As we descend to the sea we find on the right the ranges of

Suliman and Hala, between which and the river lies the important plain of Gandava, with an

area of seven thousand square miles-one of the richest tracts in the world. From this

point southward the valley narrows for a hundred miles, and thence to the sea expands into

the Delta of the Indus, a district of an area of more than one thousand square miles, rich

as Egypt, but breeding malaria and subject to inundations. This is the rice field of

India.

Passing westward from the mouth of the Indus along the coast to the Persian Gulf the

traveler enters the long, narrow strip of shore land, once the native seat of the

Ichthyophagi, or Fish Eaters. The region is bounded on the north by the Great Plateau of

.Iran, and on the south by the Indian Ocean. Its length from east to west is about five

hundred and fifty miles, but its greatest breadth scarcely exceeds twenty miles. It slopes

seaward, has a surface of scorched sand, and most of the streams run dry in summer. The

winter rains, however, blown up heavily from the Indian Ocean, completely saturate the

soil, and in some parts there is good pasturage and some fair crops of grain.

The next district requiring notice is that which is formed by the eastern outspreading and

descent of the Elburz mountains. This high chain divides into a number of parallel ranges

of no great height, between which flow such streams as the Ettrek and the Gurgan; and the

valleys thus formed, with their general trend to the East, were among the most delightful

within the limits of the Persian Empire. Another district less attractive was that lying

east of Sogdiana and Pactria, the modern Chinese Tartary. It was one of the native seats

of the Scythians, and contributed to the Persian army a quota of fearless half-savages.

The country in the north and west was comparatively well-watered and fertile, but the

remainder was an arid waste. Such were the Eastern provinces of the Empire of Cyrus and

Darius.

The North-western districts of that Empire were still more important. West of the Caspian

Sea lies the great table-land of Armenia. This is indeed a continuation westward of the

Great Plateau of Iran: they touch at the corners, and would be continuous but for the

interposition of the Caspian. The western portion of the great elevation embraces not only

Armenia proper, but also a part of Modern Persia and most of Asia Minor.

The mountain ranges traversing this' vast region extend from east to west, with transverse

spurs running north and south. The most important chain is the Taurus, which really

supports the plateau on the south-west, and traverses a large part of Asia Minor. The

peaks of this range in the western portion rise to the height of ten thousand feet, and

further east the elevation is still greater, reaching the line of perpetual snow. On the

opposite or northern side of the plateau the mountains are not so high. These extend from

the Mysian Olympus to the neighborhood of Kars. Between this northern range and the Taurus

several parallel chains of slight elevation occur, and this country of high ridges and

mountain spurs is Armenia -one of the most beautiful and valuable parts of the Persian

Empire. From these mountain slopes and hill sides was taken