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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

So much for Bandar Abbas and Lingah


The

establishment of Customs under Belgian officials in 1900 caused some trouble at first, and may have been responsible for a portion of the falling-off in trade, but it is now agreed by everybody that the system is carried on in a fair and honest manner, preferable to the extortionate fashion employed by the former speculators who farmed out the Customs.

I rather doubt whether Russia's aim is even directed towards Lingah, to the south-west of Bandar Abbas, as has been supposed by others. Although this port would afford a deeper and better anchorage and a breakwater, it has the same difficulties of approach by land from Russia as Bandar Abbas--in fact, greater ones, being further south.

Lingah is a more prosperous port than Bandar Abbas, its exports being roughly two-thirds larger than those of Bandar Abbas, and its imports one-third in excess. In value the export and import of pearls form the chief item, next come wheat and cotton. Very little tea is disembarked at Lingah, but dates and firearms were landed in considerable quantities, especially in 1897. Coffee and tobacco were more in demand here than at Bandar Abbas, and metals were largely imported. White sea-shells found their way in huge quantities to Beluchistan, where the women use them for decorating their persons. Bangles and necklaces are made with them, and neck-bands for the camels, horses and mules, as well as ornamentations on the saddle bags. With

these two exceptions the imports and exports of Lingah are made up of larger quantities of articles similar to those brought to and from Bandar Abbas.

CHAPTER XXXIV

Mahommerah--Where Russia's aims are directed--Advantages of Mahommerah--The navigation of the Karun River--Traffic--Rates on the Ahwaz-Isfahan track--The Government's attitude--Wheat--Russian influence--Backhtiari Chiefs--Up and down river trade--Gum--Cotton goods--Sugar--Caravan route--Steamers--Disadvantages of a policy of drift--Russian enterprise.

So much for Bandar Abbas and Lingah. I will not touch on Bushire, too well known to English people, but Mahommerah may have a special interest to us, and also to Russia. It is rather curious to note that it has never struck the British politician nor the newspaper writer that Russia's aims, based usually on sound and practical knowledge, might be focussed on this port, which occupies the most favourable position in the Persian Gulf for Russia's purposes. Even strategically it is certainly as good as Bandar Abbas, while commercially its advantages over the latter port are a thousandfold greater.

These advantages are a navigable river, through fertile country, instead of an almost impassable, waterless desert, and a distance as the crow flies from Russian territory to Mahommerah one-third shorter than from Bandar Abbas. A railway through the most populated and richest part of Persia could easily be constructed to Ahwaz. The climate is healthy though warm.

Another most curious fact which seems almost incredible is that the British Government, through ignorance or otherwise, by a policy of drift may probably be the cause of helping Russia to reap the benefit of British enterprise on the Karun River, in the development of which a considerable amount of British capital has already been sunk. The importance, political and commercial, of continuing the navigation of the Karun River until it does become a financial success--which it is bound to be as soon as the country all round it is fully developed--is too obvious for me to write at length upon it, but it cannot be expected that a private company should bear the burden and loss entirely for the good of the mother country without any assistance from the home Government.


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