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Miscellaneous intelligence relating to the trade, navigation, manufactures, popu
lation, and general progress within the United States consular district of Venezuelan Guayana.
TRADE AND NAVIGATION.
The trade of Bolivar depends on the interior provinces for the consumption of imports and supply of exportable articles. Except in time of internal commotion, the imports amount to from $715,000 to $100,001,000, and consist of the manufactures and productions of the United States, England, Germany, and France.
The exports in time of peace average annually about $715,000, and consist of cattle hides, coffee, cocoa, indigo, live cattle and horses, with small quantities of Tonquin beans, gum copal, tobacco, balsam copaiba, and sarsaparilla, which are shipped for New York, Hanseatic towns, and adjacent colonies.
Formerly large shipments of cotton and tobacco were made to Germany, of which vestiges are to be met with in every part of the province, but the frequent revolutions that occur in this country have ruined the planting of cotton and seriously affected every other branch of cultivation. With each change of government the duties on imports are increased, and are at present about 60 per cent. The port charges, including pilotage and light dues, are about $1 92 per ton.
The bar of the river Orinoco has 20 feet water, with a safe clay bottom. The river has an annual rise and fall of from 50 to 60 feet. It is at the highest in August and lowest in March, but no vessel drawing above 15 feet of water can come here between the end of November and the beginning of May, on account of the shallow sand-banks at Yaya, Maneo, and Panapana.
To the westward of Bolivar the navigable rivers that fall into the Orinoco are the Rio Negro, Gesarico, Apura, Aranca, Portuguese, Casanase, and Meta. The three latter communicate with New Granada, and the Rio Negro with Brazil. The whole are navigated by flat-bottomed vessels and by steamers of light draught of water. At the anchorage opposite this city there are four fathoms of water when the river is at the lowest.
The navigation of the Orinoco and its tributaries is at all times dangerous, and requires good pilots. Between the months of November and May the voyages from the mouths of the Orinoco to this city seldom exceed four days, but between May and November the voyages are often from twenty to thirty days, owing to the strength of the current and the prevalent westwardly winds during the summer.
The population of the province of Guayana, by the last census, is 30,000 persons, of which 8,000 belong to the city of Bolivar. The population is widely scattered over the province in a few small villages.
DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY.
This province contains 20,000 square leagues of wavy. land, with a range of divided hills that run east and west towards the Andes. Two-thirds of the territory consists of pasture lands, and are one-third of virgin forests. The soil everywhere is well adapted to cotton and tobacco, but especially for breeding cattle.
The agriculture of this province consists of coffee, tobacco, sugar-cane in small scattered patches, rice, Indian corn, plantains, yams and yucca, beans and peas, but the climate is too hot for producing wheat, oats, barley, or potatoes. The cultivation of the articles of which the country is capable has nearly ceased, on account of the civil war which has been raging with atrocious violence for the last three years.
There is abundance of wood in the province fit for furniture of all kinds, and for house and ship building, but the whole is almost useless for the want of capital and laborers. There are also inexhaustible forests of caoutchouc trees and innumerable medicinal plants of every description unheeded.
The value of the mineral wealth distributed over the whole province is yet to be discovered. In the canton of Upata, copper, lead, silver, and gold have been found, but only the latter has been attended to, and one company has already commenced operations with a steam engine and machinery for crushing quartz, which is
very rich. The quartz district has been traced for nine miles, but the extent of ground where hundreds of men are digging is unknown. In these fields gold is obtained in pieces from six grains to six pounds in size, and from three inches to sixteen feet below the surface. Gold is also found eighty miles to the south of Bolivar, and quicksilver is found at Cascura, but, unfortunately, there are no bridges nor any regular roads in the province to facilitate intercourse with the interior, except by bridle paths ; nor have the government the means of providing bridges or roads, the construction of which must fall on individual enterprise sooner or later to make the discoveries available or valuable.
This branch, like every other in this quarter, is in its infancy, and not likely to improve while the country remains in the hands of the natives, who are now vitiated to continued revolutions. The articles manufactured are tallow, candles, very common soap, coarse brown sugar, and rum, all for local consumption; and for exportation, grass hammocks, Rio Negro grass cables, and Dr. Siegrot's bitters.
Venezuela has no metallic currency of its own; consequently the moneys of all nations are in circulation, but principally that of the United States, England, and France. On American money there is a profit on its importation of 7} per cent., on English 8 per cent., and on French 10 per cent., which, if again exported, will bear a proportionate loss, with the addition of 2 per cent. duty.
Exchange is 1.34 to the dollar.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.
The weights are English, and so is the liquid measure by the imperial gallon, but the cloth and land measure is by the Spanish vara of 33 English inches. The league is 6,666 varas.
R. A. EDES, Consul.
Tabular statement showing the quantity and value of exports from the port of
Maracaibo for the year ended December 31, 1862.
Coffee Cocoa Hides Goatskins Deerskins Rum Starch Horns Wool Corn Tobacco Cocoanut oil Divi-divi.. Ship timber. Brazil wood Lignumvitse Fustic Palm-leafs Palm hats Bitters... Balsam copaiba Sarsaparilla Vanilla Old coffee Con Horn tips Feathers. Sole-leather Banana fruit
. Ibs.. tons.. tons..
14,421 141, 811
21 7,506 35, 498 128, 986
240 67,819 25, 600 2,50 3,553 1,288 6, 800
$1,751, 532 25
59,570 25 131,917 50 17,279 60
1, 259 50 29, 150 00 1,920 66 1,056 16 1, 249 50 4,204 00 25, 672 40 1,972 84 9,058 17 4, 125 00 4,090 55
400 00 74,050 60
1,550 00 88, 490 00
8, 675 00
lbs.. lbs.. .lbs.. lbs.. lbs.. lbs.. lbs.. .ps..
Statement showing the number of vessels of all nations cleared at the port of
Maracaibo from January 1 to December 31, 1862.
Statement showing the number of vessels of all nations entered at the port of
Maracaibo from January 1 to December 31, 1862.
Puerto Cabello-ROBERT L. Hill, Acting Vice-Consul. Comparative tabular statement showing the description and quantities of the
exports from Puerto Cabello during the year ended June 30, 1863, together with the names of the countries where shipped.
JANUARY 23, 1863. In accordance with instructions from your department, I have the honor to submit herewith the annual report of this consulate, together with the enclosed carefully-prepared and accurate tables of statistics, showing the condition of trade and commerce between the United States and this empire for the year ended December 31, 1862, contrasted with former reports from this office, especially with those ending December, 1860 and 1861.
The exhibit is anything but favorable, and points unerringly to the unhappy state of affairs now distracting our once prosperous country.
Having but recently forwarded my quarterly report, ending the same date as this, the condition of trade for the past year has been such as to require of me but a very brief notice.
There arrived here in 1862 145 American vessels, the average number for the previous year being about 270, showing a falling off of nearly one-half during the past year, while at least one-half of those left this port in ballast, shippers not being willing to freight American vessels. This is the more worthy of notice from the fact that heretofore American vessels have been sought for, in preference to other flags, for their fast-sailing qualities.
I'he non-employment of American vessels can be readily accounted for: first, by the action of British capitalists and underwriters refusing to insure in American bottoms; but principally in the destruction of so many of our vessels by the privateers of the so-called southern confederacy. The exportation of coffee froin this port for the past year
shows a difference of 638,726 bags less, as compared with the exportation of the same article in 1860, viz : 1860.-Europe..
1,072, 617 Elsewhere.
56, 888 United States.
2, 121, 306
H. Ex. Doc. 41-39