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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.

Page 1


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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