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Australian Federation 1
Barbados ...
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British Guiana
Canada .............
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Ceylon ..............
Gold Coast .......
India ......
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Malay States
New Foundland.....
New Zealand.
Orange River Colony.
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1 Includes New South Wales, 2,896 miles; Victoria, 3,143 miles; Queensland, 2,800 miles; Western Australia, 1,850 miles; South Australia, 1,882 miles; and Tasmania, 594 miles. New Zealand, which is not included in the Australian Federation, is stated elsewhere.

2 Of this total the lines owned by private companies were: In Cape Colony, 401 miles; in Canada, 15,876 miles; in West Australia, 495 miles; in New Zealand, 167 miles; in Tasmania, 108 miles; in New South Wales, 84 miles; in South Australia, 13 miles; in Jamaica, 185 miles; in Barbados, 24 miles; and in British Guiana, 36 miles,


The invasion of the Tropics by railways is a marked characteristic of the closing decade of the nineteenth century and an additional evidence of the disposition of the temperate zones to extend their influence into the Tropics. Until within the last few years the tendency of all railway lines and systems was from east to west, following climatic lines. Most of the great railway lines in the United States stretched westward from the Atlantic until six distinct transcontinental lines had been formed. In South America the chief railway system has for its ambition the connection of the Atlantic with the Pacific. In Europe the intricate network of railways connects all of its various sections, but the crowning work of the century has been the construction in a single decade of the great east and west line connecting the European system with the Pacific across Siberia. With these great east and west railway lines completed, connecting the various sections of the temperate zone and binding them more surely together, has come as a natural sequence the extension of the railway system toward the Equator, penetrating the tropical regions upon which the temperate zone is becoming constantly more dependent for the raw materials required for manufacturing and food stuffs required for the daily life of its people. Sugar, coffee, cacao, tea, tropical fruits, nuts, and spices for food, tropical woods, hemp, jute, rubber, hides and skins, and certain classes of wool for manufacturing, tobacco, medical plants, and many other articles which enter into the daily life of man are chiefly obtained from the Tropics, and their use is increasing year by year, and in exchange the Tropics are taking more and more of the products of the field and factory in the temperate zone. As a consequence the railroad systems of the temperate zone are now feeling their way toward the Tropics. Within the last few years the great system of the United States has extended lines to Mexico and to the Tropics, and other lines have slowly moved northward from the temperate zone of South America toward the Tropics and will in time meet, and at last realize that long-delayed ambition of Hinton Rowan Helper-a Pan-American railway. In Africa the railway system of the northern section of the continent is moving steadily southward up the Nile, and that of the southern section is moving as persistently northward, and these two sections from the temperate zones promise at an early date to meet at the Equator and realize the ambition of Mr. Rhodes. The great Siberian railway is being constructed southward toward Pekin, from which another line is now under construction still farther south toward Hankow, from which other lines are projected to finally connect with that great system already in existence in tropical Asia—the Indian railway system aggregating 25,000 miles, and which in time will doubtless be connected with the systems of southern Europe and perhaps cross Arabia to the system of northern Africa. Railway construction developed chiefly in the temperate zones—the seat of man's greatest activityduring the first half century of its existence, but in the second half century will connect those two temperate zone systeins by numerous lines crossing the Tropics, and by lateral extensions from those lines will carry the raw materials and foodstuffs of the Tropics to the temperate zone and in their turn redistribute the products of those temperate zones among the people of the Tropics, and in so doing increase wealth, distribute comforts of life, and advance civilization and enlightenment.


The following are extracts from Les Chemins de fer aux Colonies et dans les pays neufs, a report of a special committee made to the International Colonial Institute in 1899:

"The question of railways is of fundamental interest with regard to the introduction of civilization in primitive countries and their exploitation from the point of view of general interests. * * *

"In all times the occupation, opening, and rational exploitation of a country have had as their chief characteristic feature the development of its means of communication. What holds true of the time of the Roman highways applies still more to the age of the railway, and just as during the heroic age the conquering nations assured their domination in distant countries by the creation of roads. just in the same manner the ultimate occupation of new countries at present is marked by the creation of railways.

“Beside the systems of navigable rivers, which constitute a natural means of communication and invaluable facilities of access, all highways of communication which permit transportation by means other than the back of man, animals of burden, or vehicles on ordinary wheels, constitute the first mechanism for the extension of civilization, the opening and clearing of virgin soil by the activity of the superior races for the local benefit of the native population.

The railways, which of all means of transportation are the most simple to construct, the most powerful, quickest, and, in the long run, the most economical, are therefore likely to play the most important part during the near future.

"They bring into close contact the most distant territories with the colonizing country, create the means of easy and rapid access, assure through the fact of great mobility an effective policing of the different regions, permit commerce to spring up everywhere, to receive from Europe the commodities which the native may wish to have, and to send in return to the markets of the civilized world the natural products of the colony which constitute the equivalent of the goods received.

“These are the factors which abolish the former isolation of barbarous regions, and it is through them that our civilization, the product of the activity and labor of the higher races during centuries, modified to meet the special conditions, is able to penetrate, and that even the most primitive peoples are enabled to pass from the period of infancy to that of the mature and manly age, and that almost without transition.

“The facts have universally confirmed the principle that civilization follows the locomotive. This statement, moreover, seems to be so well established and universally recognized that it would be tiresome to dwell on it any longer.

“From the hour of the first occupation of the colony care should be taken to furnish it with railways which might give access successively and in proper order to all its regions or at least principal centers.

“A study of the railway question, therefore, is of ever-increasing interest to all those who devote themselves to the study of colonial matters at large. * * *








"The answers received to inquiries sent out by the committee with regard to the question of interest guarantee do not show any agreement of opinion on this point.

“In the case of certain railways-for example, that of the Usambara and the independent State of Congo-the State has refrained from offering a guarantee to private capital engaged in this matter. This is accounted for by the unsatisfactory financial condition of the young colonies, whose entire resources were hardly sufficient to meet the expenditures of the administration and occupation of the territories in question.

“In these cases, when the interference of the State directly interested can not have a pecuniary character, it should at least by way of compensation accord all the advantages within its power-higher railway tariffs, freedom from taxation during a certain period, facility in the hiring of the necessary labor force, the utilization of the forests, quarries, and waterfalls encountered, etc.; furthermore, the grant in fee simple of lands, mines, quarries, etc., in proportion with the risks incurred by the companies. All these things have been perfectly understood by the German Government and that of the Congo with regard to railways constructed under their jurisdiction. Other railways have been able to obtain an official guarantee on their capital, ranging between 31 and 4 per cent. The same holds true with respect to most of the railways in India, Algeria, and other countries.

“In the case of these railways no land grants were given, the guarantee of the home Government being deemed sufficient to cover the comparatively lesser risks in these countries with a relatively more advanced economic culture, in which, moreover, vacant lands owned by the State are, as a general rule, wanting.

“Finally, certain railway companies have been able to obtain very high interest guarantees. Among them the more important are the railways in the southwestern part of Brazil, which have a minimum interest guarantee of 6 per cent, and the railway from St. Paul of Loanda to Ambaca, in the Portuguese province of Angola.

“Such guarantees seem to be excessively high, but it should be remembered that they are agreed to only by such governments which are in financial difficulties such as might interfere with the discharge of the obligations assumed by them. The high interest exacted by the companies from them constitutes thus a sort of insurance premium. In such cases the railway companies, as a rule, are not satisfied even with this guarantee, which, moreover, is rarely effective; they obtain, besides, concessions of vacant lands. This has been the case of the railways just mentioned.

"Certain other anomalous examples might be quoted-such, for example, as the railway between Dakar and St. Louis, in the Senegal. to which the French Government guaranteed 6 per cent of interest and advanced in cash about two-thirds of the capital, which was to be repaid out of the net proceeds of the railway. * * *


"The replies received by the committee on the question of the labor force state that by reason of the abundant supply of labor found in the respective places, and the habits of manual work prevailing among the native populations, no particular difficulties were encountered with regard to this matter.

“The only characteristic exception constitutes the railway in the Congo, the administration of which gives an account of the difficulties encountered and formulates its opinion about this matter, based on the experience gained.

“Without dwelling on normal conditions, which are generally of little interest, we shall consider, first of all, the case of the most primitive peoples, for it is the latter who require special attention, owing to the fact that the conditions under which they might be utilized present difficulties particularly peculiar of the new colonies.

“In principle, and aside from any philanthropic preoccupation, which, however, in the present state of civilization can by no means be disregarded, there is perfect unanimity that in the interest of the railways to be constructed the employment of labor should be on a free and voluntary basis, and that the force so employed should be used under conditions similar to those prevailing in the countries of old civilization.

"Exception should be made in the matter of utilizing convict labor-as, for instance, in the case of the construction of the TransSiberian Railway, those in Java, and certain others in Algeria. These altogether exceptional conditions, however, do not modify the principle just stated.

The same principle applies to the employment of military labor, which, as a matter of fact, should be regarded as voluntary labor, merely grouped in military bodies. * * *

“As far, then, as the question of labor is concerned, all replies agree that this labor should be the result of agreements freely made.

“It is, however, indispensable, more than anywhere else (compare the cases of Java and Congo), that the chiefs watch most carefully, and that the workmen be well treated, and paid in an equitable manner. The chiefs should, furthermore, pay attention to the modes of nourishment and even recreation of the workmen. * * *

“There is no doubt whatever that the system of small contracts, as practiced in Java, as well as measures which by a system of bounties enable the workmen to share in the economies which might be effected, are highly commendable.

“We might add, in closing, that whenever works are to be executed in an unhealthy climate the labor force should be recruited as much as possible on the spot or from regions subject to the same climatic conditions. The administration of the French railways in the Soudan expresses this principle quite well, as follows: ‘Experience has condemned as an ineffectual and even barbarous means the employment in the terrible Soudanese climate of laborers foreign to the country, such as the Chinese, the Moroccans, or Italians.'

“The same experience was had by the Congo Railway, which had tried to make use of Italians and Chinese, and even negroes from the West Indies, whose forefathers, indeed, had originally come from the very Congo region.”


“The attitude of the central Government toward our colonies," says M. de Lanessan, “has been extremely unfavorable in this field as well as in the one just discussed. The narrow tutelage in which our home Government holds the colonies, the obligation which it puts on them to submit to it all projects of more important works, and the impossibility on the part of the colony of procuring for itself the financial resources required by such works seem to have banished from the minds of the colonial governments even the idea of undertaking them, and instead to have pushed them on the narrow path on which they find themselves. Their only preoccupation seems to be to improve the condition of the administrative personnel, to increase their salaries, to improve their dwellings, and to increase their number within the limits permitted by the budgetary resources.

“The chambers of commerce and the municipal councils might be expected to show some influence, but they are composed chiefly of small traders, grocers, clothing merchants, and dress goods dealers, wine dealers, etc.; that is, people who have to make their living from the officials, and are therefore interested to see the number and salaries of their clients increased.

“Notwithstanding this vicious organization, the colonial government, as well as the colonists themselves, would probably very willingly undertake the work of public improvements if only the colonies enjoyed any sort of independence. The Government would be prompted to undertake such works, for these vast undertakings would increase its financial resources, and the colonists themselves would work in unison with the Government in order to improve the conditions of their existence through greater facility of transportation, traveling, communication, and transportation of things useful and agreeable to life. The budget would soon come to be regarded not as a simple means of maintenance for the class of officials, but as a source of future enjoyment and benefit to be derived from the construction of means of communication, highroads, railways, canals, harbors, etc. Notwithstanding the sort of stupor into which the inhabitants of Cochin-China seem to have fallen, I doubt whether they would not take pleasure in visiting the splendid sites of Anam and Tonkin and enjoying the cool winters of the latter if they were transported to these places rapidly and conveniently in good railway cars. If no desires are expressed on their part for the construction of railroads, the reason is simply that they know too well that between their request and its realization so many difficulties will arise and so much time will elapse that no one of those who made the request will be in the colony at the time when his request would be heeded. Life in the tropical climates is very hard; the number of those who stand it for a number of years is rare; many disappear at the end of five, ten, or fifteen years, either because death carries them off or because sickness compels them to leave the colony or because the attainment of wealth brings them back to the mother country. These people plant but few fruit trees, but consume whatever falls to their lot; they do not think of railways because they do not believe in the possibility of ever making use of them. This would not be so if the extreme centralization to which the colonies are subject were not to make the execution of all public works an unsolvable problem.

“Under existing legislation no public work of any importance can be undertaken in the colony unless previously approved by the committee of public works, having its seat at Paris. The decree of November 22, 1895, which reorganized this committee provides that it is to give its opinion on matters concerning the public works in the colonies, and particularly the projects of construction and concessions of railways, improvements of the seashore and river banks, navigation and naval constructions, mines and civil engineering.' In order that no work of this kind might escape these formalities, the decree provides that 'subcommittees instituted by ministerial orders may be empowered to pass, in place of the committee, opinions on matters of minor importance.' 1 “As regards the financial means, they are subject to the approval of the minister of the colony if they are part of the ordinary annual budget. If a loan becomes necessary, a special act must be passed.


The importance of intercommunication as a contributing factor to the development of colonies has led all successful colonial managers to encourage, and in many cases directly aid, in the construction of telegraph and telephone lines, as well as railways. As a result the colonies of the world have to-day 180,000 miles of telegraph and about 50,000 miles of telephone, against but 20,000 miles of telegraph in 1875. While of course a large share of these telegraph and telephone lines are in the self-governing and English-speaking colonies of Canada, Australia, and South Africa, an examination of the table which follows will show that in India alone there are over 50,000 miles of telegraph, that French Algeria has more than 7,000 miles, Tunis over 2,000 miles, French Cochin-China nearly 3,000 miles, and the Dutch colony of Java nearly 7,000 miles of telegraph alone, while the telephone is rapidly coming into use in all the colonies, since it forms a much more convenient method of communication in communities in which skilled operators for telegraph lines are more difficult to obtain.

The table which follows shows the telegraph lines in existence in the world's colonies in 1875, 1886, and 1899, thus affording an opportunity to study the growth of these factors of development, while another table shows the telephone lines in operation in the British colonies, except India, for which no accurate data are at present available.

No. 9- 13

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Still another method of intercommunication to which colonial managers give great attention is the postal system. In Java-the great island colony of Netherlands, for instance—the number of pieces of mail carried by the postal system of the island was, in 1898, over 17,000,000. In the French colony of Tunis, the number of letters sent through the post-offices in 1898 was over 15,000,000. In India, where the authorities assert with pride that a letter can be sent for a less sum than in any other part of the world, the total number of pieces of mail passing through the post-offices in 1899 was 489,000,000.

In addition to the establishment of postal facilities wherever practicable, careful attention is given, especially in the English and French colonies, to the establishment of frequent mail and steamship communications between the colony and the home country, and 'the establishment and maintenance of transportation lines between the home country and the colonies is encouraged by liberal subsidies.

The table which follows shows the number of pieces of mail handled in a few of the more important British colonies in 1899, and illustrates the importance attached to, and careful encouragement of, intercommunication, both among the people within the colony and between the people of the colony and those of the mother country.

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Intercommunication among the people of the colony and between them and the mother country is, it will be seen from the above, looked upon by all successful colonizing powers as an extremely important factor in the material, mental, and moral development of the colonies and their inhabitants. By way of detailed illustration of the attention given to the development of methods of communication, the following statement of the condition of facilities for communication in each of the colonies of the world is presented. The statements are from official or semiofficial publications wherever possible, and contain the latest and most reliable data on roads, railways, telegraph, telephone, and postal service, steamship communication, etc., for each of the more important colonies of the world.

South Australia.—There are 7,569 miles of roads defined in settled districts, the greater portion of the cost of which has beer defrayed from the general revenue, no special toll or rate having been levied. The aggregate number of miles macadamized is 3,678. In addition to the main lines, perhaps as many more miles of district or by roads have been constructed and kept in repair by local municipalities out of rates and grants in aid.

The railways, exclusive of a private line between Adelaide and Glenelg, are all constructed and worked by the Government The mileage open for traffic in the colony is 1,736, and 146 miles in the Northern Territory. Up to June 30, 1900, the total cost of the railways reached £13,070,087. The receipts in 1899 were £1,166,987 and the expenditures £657,841. Working expenses, 56.37 per cent. Net revenue on cost 3.91 per cent. There is daily railway communication between Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.

At the close of the year 1899 there were 269 stations and 5,738 miles of telegraph lines open throughout the colony. There are 361 miles of telephone line open, 9 light exchanges, 1,314 connections, and 3,296 miles of telephone wire. The number of messages sent in 1898 was 1,237,005, of which 147,249 were international.

Tasmania.-All the principal towns are united by telegraph. There are 2,000 miles of telegraph (with 3,252 miles of wire) open in the colony. This excludes 428 miles of cable belonging to the Tasmanian Cable Company. The total cost of telegraph construction up to December 31, 1899, was £287,000, the receipts in 1899 being £31,244. There are also 815 miles of telephone, which yield an annual rental of £4,285.

There is a duplicate electric cable between Tasmania and Victoria, whence land lines extend to Port Darwin, and thence to England via Java. The number of messages sent was 380,687, of which 129,729 were cable.

Steamers run between Melbourne and Launceston twice and sometimes three times a week. Direct mail steamer from Hobart to Sydney every week. Direct mail steamer between Hobart and Melbourne and Hobart and New Zealand twice a month. There are also steamers trading between Launceston and the northwest ports of Tasmania and Melbourne every week; the mail steamer from Melbourne to Colombo and London every week—time thirty-two days via Brindisi; the mail steamer from Sydney to San Francisco and thence to London via New York every four weeks—time about forty days; the mail steamer via Vancouver once a month; the mail steamer via Brisbane, Batavia, Aden, and Brindisi every four weeks-passage from Tasmania about fifty-five days. Direct communication is also afforded by the means of the Shaw, Saville Company and New Zealand Shipping Company, one vessel of each company calling at Hobart every month.

The main road from the port of Hobart to Launceston is 123 miles long, passes through the center of the colony, and is maintained in fair order by the government. All the other main roads are under the control of main road boards and are constructed and maintained by the government. The cross and by roads are under the care of local trustees, and are maintained partly by rates and partly by contribution from the treasury. In 1899 the maintenance of main roads cost £5,028, of cross and by roads £23,025, in all £28,053.

There are now 5474 miles of railway in the colony constructed mainly on the 3-foot 6-inch gauge. Of these 5474 miles, 4393 belong to government, and cost £3,604,222, and 109 miles to private companies, and cost £683,149. The total cost of railway construction up to December 31, 1899, was £4,287,371, the gross receipts in 1899 being £258,548, and the working expenses £187,530, showing a return of 1.65 per cent on the capital.

Victoria.- Melbourne, the metropolis of Victoria, is distant from Sydney by sea 650 English miles and by land 577 miles; from Adelaide by sea 560 miles and by land 483 miles. It is now connected with Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide by railway. Steam postal communication with England via Ceylon and Suez is maintained weekly by the steamers of the Peninsular and Oriental, alternating with those of the Orient Company. Mails are also carried by the lines of steamers belonging to the Pacific, British India, and Messageries Maritimes (French) companies.

The post-offices in Victoria number about 1,593. The postal and telegraph revenue is not accurately known, but was estimated to have been £555,630 in 1898–99, and the expenditure was £499,686.

There are 3,143 miles of railway completed in Victoria and in full operation. The total cost of construction of lines opened up to June 30, 1899, was £38,974,410. Revenue for 1898–99 was £2,873,729, and the expenditure £1,797,726.

There are 6,747 miles of telegraph lines open (including railway telegraphs), and about 15,125 miles of wire; also about 13,794 miles of telephone wire. The number of telegrams transmitted during 1899 was 1,889,488, of which about 75,500 on Government business were transmitted free.

Western Australia.—The colony possesses at present four lines of Government railways in all-1,355 miles of railway open for traffic.

Another railway, the Midland (277 miles), constructed on the land-grant system, affords communication between Midland Junction and Walkaway and connects the two Government systems of railways..

There are also several lines constructed by private timber companies in the south of the colony, in extent about 217 miles.

The receipts of the Government railways for the year ended June, 1900, were £1,259,512, and the working expenses £861,470. The total cost of construction was £6,427,370.

Of electric telegraph in 1899 there were 8,749 miles of wire. The number of telegrams forwarded and received during 1899 was 1,136,153, and the revenue received £78,937. (Worked by post-office department. There is telegraphic communication with Europe via South Australia, and also a direct cable from Jaya to Roebuck Bay,

The Bahamas.There are no railways or telegraphs in the colony, and but few good roads, except in New Providence. There is regular fortnightly mail communication with New York and Cuba, and frequent vessels to and from Cuba and Key West.

Barbados.--A railway from Bridgetown to the parish of St. Andrew (24 miles as surveyed) was commenced in 1880 and completed September 10, 1882. The total cost of construction was £195,284. The receipts for the year 1897 were £5,503, exclusive of Government

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