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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

South east of Ghilan we find Teheran on a high plateau


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XVIII

Persia's industrial, mineral and agricultural resources--Climate of various districts--Ghilan's trade--Teheran and the surrounding country--Khorassan and Sistan--The Caspian provinces--Mazanderan, Astrabad and Azerbaijan--Russian activity and concessions in Azerbaijan--Hamadan--The Malayer and Borujird districts--The nomads of Kurdistan--Naphtha--The tribes of Pusht-i-kuh--The pastoral people of Luristan--Arabistan--Farsistan--Laristan--Shiraz wines--Persian Beluchistan.

The geographical situation of Persia, its extent, the altitude of its plateau above the sea level, its vast deserts and its mountain ranges, give the country a good selection of climates, temperatures and vegetation. We have regions of intense tropical heat and of almost arctic cold, we have temperate regions, we have healthy regions, and regions where everybody is fever-stricken. Regions with moist air, plenty of water, and big marshes, and dreary waterless deserts.

Necessarily such natural conditions are bound to give a great variety of resources which show themselves in various guises. A quick survey of the agricultural, industrial and mineral resources of the principal provinces of Persia according to up-to-date information may not be out of place, and will help the reader to appreciate the journey through some of

the districts mentioned.

We have already been through Ghilan with its almost temperate climate in the lowlands, but damp in the northern portion, where fever is rampant, but where, at the same time, luxuriant vegetation with thick forests, grass in abundance, paddy fields for the extensive cultivation of rice, olive-groves, vineyards, cotton, wheat, tobacco, sugar-cane, fruit and all kinds of vegetables nourish; while the production of silk for export on a large and fast-increasing scale--it might be increased enormously if more modern methods were adopted--and wool and cotton fabrics, mostly for the Persian market, are manufactured. It exports, mostly to Russia, great quantities of dried fruit, wool, cotton, and tobacco (made into cigarettes), salt fish, caviare and oil.

South-east of Ghilan we find Teheran on a high plateau, its situation giving it a delightful and healthy climate, but very scanty agricultural resources owing to lack of water. In and near the capital city there are good gardens, grown at considerable expense and trouble, but very little other vegetation. We have seen in previous chapters what the industries of the capital, both native and foreign, are, and what they amount to; there is also a manufacture of glazed tiles, quite artistic, but not to be compared in beauty of design, colour and gloss with the ancient ones. Teheran is dependent on the neighbouring provinces and Europe for nearly everything.

This is not, however, the case with Isfahan, the ancient capital, in the province of which cotton, wheat, Indian corn, tobacco and opium are grown in fair quantities, the last-named for export. Mules and horses are reared, and there are several flourishing industries, such as carpet-making, metal work, leather tanneries, gold and silver work, and silk and wool fabrics.

To the east we have Khorassan and Sistan, a great wheat-growing country with some good pastures, and also producing opium, sugar-cane, dates and cotton. In summer the northerly winds sweeping over the desert are unbearable, and the winter is intensely cold. In the northern part of Khorassan snow falls during the coldest months, but in Sistan the winter is temperate. Life is extremely cheap for natives in Sistan, which is a favourite resort for camel men and their beasts, both from Afghanistan and Beluchistan. Northern Khorassan is the great centre of turquoise mining; copper and coal are also found there, but its local trade, now that the export of grain is forbidden, is mostly in opium, worked leather, wool and excellent horses, which can be purchased for very little money. Camels, both loading and riding (or fast-going camels) are also reared here in the southern portion of the province, the northern part being too cold for them in winter.


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