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There are not sufficient cereals produced in the colony to supply the wants of the population. Last year the colony imported as follows:
In some portions of the northern part of the colony farming is almost at a complete standstill, no rains having fallen in some sections for between two and three years.
The remarkable development of ostrich farming, a subject on which I have rendered previous reports to the Department, may be more readily comprehended by a glance at the following table of exports of feathers, from 1872 to 1882, inclusive:
Another industry which has made considerable strides of late years is the production of Angora hair. During the five years from 1873-277, the total export of this commodity was 5,706,555 pounds, valued at $2,513,795.43; whilst in the succeeding five years, up to the end of 1882, the quantity exported reached 14,159,528 pounds, of the value of $4,678,589.80. The amount exported last year, however, fell off by 369,471 pounds, to the value of $46,387.47, as compared with the preceding year, 1881.
Until quite recently the amount of diamonds exported has been a matter of simple conjecture; but last year a parliamentary act was passed rendering compulsory the registration of diamonds found and exported. This was made necessary by the large amount of stealing and illicit diamond dealing carried on in and around the four mines of
Griqualand West. The government has recently prepared certain returns giving the estimated value of diamonds exported through postoffice at Kimberley. The returns date from 1876 to 1882, and exhibit the following result:
It should be observed that the foregoing figures refer only to shipments lawfully made; but beyond question immense quantities, particularly of the larger gems, find their way through illicit channels to extra-colonial markets, notwithstanding the vigilance and restrictive measures used by the companies to prevent illicit traffic. Of late years, as the mines have increased in depth, the shale, or rotten reef, surrounding the diamondiferous deposit has proved a very great obstacle in the working of these valuable mines. Attention has accordingly been directed to improved methods of extracting the valuable "blue ground," or diamondiferous soil. It is of course impossible to foresee the result of these efforts, but experienced diggers are sanguine that the output will be increased and the expenses lessened.
In the Cape Colony proper the existence of gold, in paying quantities is so far problematical. Within the last few months some little excitement has been created by the reported discovery of auriferous reefs in the neighborhood of Worcester, 106 miles from Cape Town. Companies have been formed for the purpose of testing the value of such reefs; but hitherto their efforts have been confined principally to prospecting. There is a good deal of interest now felt in gold discoveries in the Transvaal, in which state the existence of gold is no longer questioned; and with the aid of the new mining machinery lately imported there it is evident that we shall ere long know more of the precious deposits in that section of South Africa. Hitherto, with the exception of a few "pockets," which have yielded fortunes to their lucky discoverers, no field has been hit upon in the Transvaal which would justify a "rush."
It should also be borne in mind that this country-though not alone in this respect-is the home of a large number of adventurers and speculators; and the modes which they sometimes adopt to enhance the value of lands to which they may have acquired possession are not always such as would bear close investigation.
This mineral was discovered some years since in Great Namaqualand, the northwestern extremity of the colony, where large mining works are carried on, and upwards of 120 miles of horse railway have been constructed to facilitate the exportation of copper ore, of which a steady export has been carried on for several years, the amount increasing in value from $712,300 in 1870 to $1,917,557 in 1882.
It has long been known that on the Stormberg water-shed coal existed, but it is only within the last few years that endeavors have been made to utilize this source of national prosperity. Companies have been
formed for the purpose of working the mines at places where coal deposits have been discovered, and strong efforts have been made to induce the government to adopt the use of colonial coal entirely upon its railways. From the report of a select committee on "colonial agriculture and industries," presented to the house of assembly during the late session of parliament, it would appear that the coal hitherto discovered, though highly carboniferous, suffers from an interlamination of sandy matter, which reduces its value by one-half, compared with the best Welsh coal. One system of colonial railways has, however, been worked with this coal for weeks in succession, and the expense has not exceeded that of imported coal. At present the coal mines are simply worked with tunnels from the hillsides; but experienced geologists have expressed the opinion that the deeper the workings are carried the more the quality of coal will improve. Lead, plumbago, cobalt, asbestos, manganese, and many other minerals are known to exist in various portions of the colony. But the material advantages which these natural sources of wealth should yield will be kept in abeyance until more capital and greater enterprise are brought to bear upon their development.
RAILWAYS AND TELEGRAPHS.
In the year 1876 an act was passed by the colonial parliament authorizing the construction of nearly 1,000 miles of railway. It has been only within the last year or two that these railways have been completed; and in 1881 another act was passed authorizing the extension of three of the main trunk lines, two of which are to converge on the diamond fields, and one intended to join a few miles from Orange River. The border system, starting from East London, is designed to tap the trade of the Orange Free State and Basutoland. The western system, including the suburban lines, has a length of nearly 500 miles open to traffic; the midland system, with its outlet at Port Elizabeth, has about 450 miles already open; and the eastern system at the time of writing shows a length of 166 miles. After the whole of the lines at present authorized are completed, the colony will possess nearly 1,500 miles of railway, thus having, as was lately announced by a government cabi net officer, the longest stretch of railway track, in comparison with its public debt, of any British colony. Before the end of the current year some 200 miles more of line will be opened, and the whole of the lines authorized will probably be completed by the end of 1884.
Commendable energy has been shown of recent years in the extension of telegraphic communication throughout the whole country. The following statistics will illustrate the strides which have been made in this respect during the last four or five years:
Gross revenue, including value of government messages, 1882
Number of miles of line opened on December 31, 1882.
Number of miles of wire..
Number of offices opened
Although the fishes which inhabit the waters that wash the South African coast are various in species and inexhaustible in numbers, little effort is made to utilize this source of wealth for the general benefit of the country. It is true that in the coast districts sufficient fish are taken to supply a cheap food to the inhabitants of the immediate neighborhood; but the attempts made at curing the fish are of the most primitive kind, and the only exports of this commodity from the seaports, worth naming, are to Mauritius. Some years since whale fisheries were carried on to some extent on the southern and southeastern coasts of the colony; but latterly whales have ceased to a great extent to frequent these waters, and the amount of sperm oil now taken is trifling. South African rivers, as a rule, are singularly destitute of fish useful for table or sporting purposes.
While extensive forests exist, particularly along the coast belt, it is only latterly that any efforts have been made to utilize the varied species of valuable woods for the advancement of the general prosperity of the colony. The reckless destruction of the forests has in some sections denuded the country of wood, thereby causing a diminution of rainfall, and resulting in periodical droughts. This has particularly been the case in the neighborhood of the diamond fields, where the enormous cost of carriage has prohibited the use of imported, or to any extent of colonial coal. Every stick of timber for a hundred miles round has been cut down to feed the extensive steam machinery employed in the mines. Recently, however, the government has secured the services of an experienced continental forester, Le Comte de Vasselôt de Régné, as superintendent of the various forests in the colony. His time will be devoted to (1) general management of forests, (2) methods of working, (3) conservation, (4) replanting, (5) preservation from fire, (6) utilization of timber. There is little doubt but that, if the superintendent and his assistants if allowed to carry out in its entirety the system which they have inaugurated, the forests of ornamental, useful, and valuable woods now existing will be preserved from destruction, and eventually become an important source of wealth to the colony. The celebrated Knysna forest, on the south coast of this colony, has become famous for the variety and quality of its timber. It lies between the sea and a range of lofty mountains, called the Outeniqua, is chiefly the property of the crown, and yields from fifteen to twenty varieties of valuable timber. Many kinds of this wood are particularly fine in grain and color, suitable to the manufacture of handsome furniture. In this great forest wilderness are found the elephant, lion, tiger, and all the smaller varieties of wild beasts of the continent.
UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Cape Town, October, 1883.
JAS. W. SILER,
Report by Vice-Consul Whitney on the commerce and trade of Tamatave for the year 1882.
Five United States vessels, of an aggregate tonnage of 2,779 tons, entered this port during the year (three came from the United States direct, one came via Réunion, and one via Aden), and all brought United States goods. One German vessel, from the United States direct, bringing United States goods to the amount of about $37,950, also entered this port.
The amount of the imports from the United States by the five vessels was $306,738.60. The exports from this port to the United States, as per invoices certified at this consulate, amounted to $310,179.78. Of this amount $163,206.24 was exported by a French firm via Marseilles, and $5,059.11 by a German house via Hamburg; and the produce may have been sold in a European market, as the French and Germans have their invoices certified at this consulate, with the idea of sending their exports to the United States only in the event of that market being the better one on the arrival of the produce in Europe.
The imports, as in previous years, consisted largely of domestic sheetings, though there was an increase of general merchandise, the value of which was $3,987.61, against $1,542.10 for the year ending June 30, 1881. Seven United States vessels, of an aggregate tonnage of 3,548 tons, entered the port of Majunga during the year, bringing United States goods to the value of $95,044. The exports from that port to the United States amounted to $242,332.91.
The Andakabé agency only received its outfit in July last, consequently no returns have as yet been received from it, and I do not know if any American vessels were at that port during the year.
The total number of arrivals of merchantmen of all classes and nationalities at this port was 206, and of departures, 201; of these, 46 were steamers; aggregate tonnage of arrivals, 37,291; of departures, 35,091; by nationality: 5 Americans (sail); aggregate tonnage, 2,779; British, 15 steamers and 88 sail, making 103; aggregate tonnage,7, 684; French, 31 steamers and 48 sail, making 79; aggregate tonnage, 3,056; Norwegian, 1 sail; tonnage, 301; and Hova, or Malagasy, 4 sail; tonnage, 3,000; 85 of these vessels were small coasters, under British and French flags, of an aggregate tonnage of 1,309, trading between this port and other points of trade on this coast.
It must be borne in mind that this statement is not of the number of different vessels, but that of the number of arrivals and departures, the coasting vessels having made several trips each, and one steamer in the French mail service between the islands of Réunion, Nossi-bé, and Mayotte has called bi-monthly.
Nine men-of-war (two British and seven French) have entered the port during the year. R. M. WHITNEY, Vice-Consul.
UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Tamatave, October 9, 1882.