Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)
Chapter 13: The Biafar heathen, pp. 1-6 ff.
I1. Chapter 13 The Biafar heathen. The location and fertility of the land and the character and industry of its inhabitants. Nothing affords a more lively proof of the benignity or otherwise of a locality than the nature, good or bad, of its inhabitants. If this principle, revealed to us by philosophical truth, is correct, then the province of the Biafar heathen is in no respect inferior to the very best of localities.(a) It is almost completely flat, though a few hills can be found in certain parts. It is pleasant and refreshing throughout on account of the breezes which visit the parts nearest the sea. It has no lack of streams or of springs of excellent water, among them those of Biguba, a long-standing Portuguese settlement. Just how favorable and healthy the climate is here, can be gathered from the doctrine which I wish to present at this point, in order that it may provide a general rule for the assessment of localities in relation to their good or bad influences (on man). For this purpose the common theory of geographical zones must be accepted, the zones being five according to she careful analysis of geographers.(b) We shall be discussing the torrid zone - so called by reason of the continual sunshine which strikes it directly (i.e. at right angles) and turns it brown, heating it up more than any other zone. To learn its characteristics, the first logical step and specific inquiry is to see whether all torrid lands are inhabited. Of this there can be no doubt, for we can be certain that there is no land which is mace unhabitable by excessive heat or undue cold. This is shown by the fact thot across the equator, which is in the middle of the torrid zone, lie a good part of Africa and Peru and many islands, such as S.Tome, Sumatra, Borneo and some of the Moluccas, all of these being inhabited lands. Correspondingly one may take it as confirmed that around the poles - the areas we call the frigid zones, each stretching 23041JI', or over 412 leagues - the cold is not so excessive that it is impossible to live there. On the contrary, it is dated by Holau Magnus, one-time archbishop of Upsala, who should be trustworthy because he came from that land and because he had penetrated to 860, writing in his Historia which describes the peoples of the North, that men live in the middle of the northern frigid (a) The lands inhabited by the Biafares belong to the patrimony of the Bijago people. (b) How to tell a site is truly healthy. And which one is. See the discussion in this chapter, notabiliter ex.sententia geographorum [especially the views of geographers].
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