Sunday, April 15, 2012

British Colonies Circa 1885

British Colonies Circa 1885According to Alden's Atlas of the World

Under this bead are grouped all the Australian colonies belonging to Great Britain. They are seven in number, and geographically are comprised in the continent of Australia and the islands of Tasmania and New Zealand and part of New Guinea. Total area, 3,075,135 square miles. Population, 1883, 3,091,897.

Each colony has a Governor, appointed by the Crown, in whom is vested the executive power. The legislative power of each is vested in a Parliament of two houses.

Minerals abound in all the colonies. The most extensive coal mines are those of New South Wales, the product of which in 1884 was 2,521,457 tons; value, $6,009,705. Gold product of the colony, 1883, 122,256 ounces; value, $1,705,620. Coal product of New Zealand, 1883, 421,764 tons. Gold discovered 1857. Value of total exports to March, 1884, $203,535,370. In Queensland, tin, copper, lead and coal are mined. Value of tin raised, 1883, $2,940,060. Gold discovered 1858. Product, 1882, 230,090 oz.; value, $4,148,275. The chief mineral of South Australia is copper, but valuable iron ores also exist. Value of copper and copper ore, 1883, $1,876,625. Tasmania is rich in iron, tin and coal. Value of tin exported, 1883, $1,882,230. Amount of gold produced, 46,577 oz.; value, $882,210. In 1851 gold was discovered in Victoria. Total product to 1883, 52,214,150 oz.; value, $1,044,283,000. Principal minerals of Western Australia are copper, lead and coal.

Principal agricultural products of the colonies: Wheat product of New South Wales, 1884, 4,345,437 bushels; corn, 4,538,604 bushels; sugar, 35,220,640 lbs.; wine, 589,604 gallons. New Zealand—Wheat, 9,827,136 bushels; oats, 9,231,339 bushels. Leading grain crop of Queensland, corn. Yield of sugar, 1883, 73,534,000 lbs.; cotton, 70,020 lbs. South Australia—Wheat, 14,649,230 bushels; wine, 430,520 gallons. Principal products of Tasmania, grain, hops and fruit; value of green and preserved fruits exported 1883, $881,120. Wheat product of Victoria, 1884, 15,570,245 bushels; oats, 4,717,624 bushels; barley, 1,069,803 bushels; potatoes, 161,088 tons; hay, 433,143 tons.

The following table shows the number of farm animals in the colonies in 1884:
Colonies. Sheep. Cattle. Horses. Pigs.
New South Wales 34,000,000 1,646,753 326,964 189,050
New Zealand 14,056,266 698,637 161,736 200,083
Queensland 9,308,911 4,266,172 253,116 51,796
South Australia 6,677,067 319,620 184,360
Tasmania 1,831,069 130,525 26,840 55,774
Victoria 10,739,021 1,297,546 286,779 233,525
Western Australia 1,547,061 71,102 37,111
Value of total exports and imports of the colonies, 1883: New South Wales—Exports, $99,430,090; imports, $104,800,785. New Zealand—Exports, $35,479,995; imports, $39,870,190. Queensland—Exports, $26,383,040; imports, $31,166,755. South Australia—Exports, $24,417,305; imports, $31,550,275. Tasmania—Exports, $8,657,995; imports, $9,163,185. Victoria—Exports, $81,994,315; imports, $88,719,230. Western Australia—Exports, $2,235,050; imports, $2,584,230.

In 1883, New South Wales had 1,320 miles of railway, and 597 under construction; New Zealand, 1,486 miles; Queensland, 1,038 miles, and 454 under construction; South Australia, 990.75 miles, and 225 under construction; Tasmania, 167 miles, and 207 under construction; Victoria, 1,562 miles, and 130 under construction; Western Australia, 55 miles, and 68 under construction.


A British Colony in Central America. Area, 7,562 square miles. Population, 27,452. Coast low and swampy; land gradually rises; on the inland boundary are hills of from 800 to 1,000 feet high; mountains 4,000 feet high. Sixteen rivers descend from elevated lands. Climate hot and damp; temperature, 1878-79, 75°; rainfall 105.49 inches, unusually heavy.

Government in the hands of Lieutenant Governor, an executive and a Legislative Council. Capital, Belize; pop., 5,767. Soil fertile. Sugar cane is grown; fruits flourish; the staple products, however, are the natural woods of the colony. Annual export of mahogany, 3,000,000 feet; logwood, 15,000 tons; estimated value of fruit exports, $100,000. Total imports, 1883, $1,344,865; exports, $1,514,345. Large trade with neighboring republics.


An island of the West Indies; formally ceded to Great Britain, in 1670, by the treaty of Madrid; most valuable possession of the British Crown in the West Indies. Area, including the Turks and Caicos Islands, annexed in 1873, 4,362 square miles. Population, 585,536. Surface mountainous. There is a great variety of climate. Temperature in lowlands, 95° at night, 85° in the day; in highlands, 40° to 50°. Produces most of the tropical staples; the rosewood, mahogany and ebony of the island are well known.

Latest reports give 121,457 acres under crops; 120,264 in guinea grass, and 318,549 in pasture. Principal exports: coffee, 9,572,714 lbs.; ginger, 908,603 lbs.; pimento, 6,195,109 lbs.; 29,000 hhds. of sugar; 18,115 puncheons of rum, and 35,157 tons of logwood. Value of fruit exported in same year, $197,255. Total value of imports, 1889, $6,609,810; exports, $7,745,290.

Governor is assisted by a Privy Council and Legislative Council. Kingston, the chief city and port, is the capital; pop., 38,566.

Miles of railway, 25; 60 miles in process of construction. Telegraph stations and post offices in every town and village.


A territory in northeast part of South America. First settled by the Dutch, 1580. Acquired by the British in 1803; formally ceded in 1814. Estimated area, 76,000 square miles. Population, 248,110. Crossed by two great mountain systems. Contains many rivers; largest, Essequibo, 600 miles long, noted for magnificent cataracts. Thermometer rises to 90° in warm weather; falls to 75° in winter season; mean annual average at Georgetown, 81°. Rainfall per year, about 72 inches.

Vegetation is luxuriant. Large sections are covered with valuable forests, which furnish exhaustless supplies of timber, largely used for shipbuilding. Number sugar plantations, 120; coffee estates, 12. Sugar forms 92 per cent. of exports; latest reports give 111,156 hhds. Rum exported, 32,531 puncheons; rum issued for home consumption, 330,392 gals. Export of molasses, 17,084 casks; timber export, 464,436 cubic feet. Total imports, 1882, $10,498,160; exports, $16,043,155.

Government administered by a Governor appointed by British Crown, and a Court of Policy.
Georgetown the capital; pop., 36,562. Number of schools sanctioned by Board of Education, 177; Church of England, 81.

Previous to 1856, Natal formed part of Cape Colony; in that year it was erected into a separate colony under Great Britain. The government is administered by a Governor, an Executive Council, and a Legislative Council. Estimated area, 21,150 square miles. Pop., 1881, 416,210; white, 28,463; native, 329,253; coolies, 20,196. Principal town, Durban; pop., 16,630. Capital, Pietermaritzburg; pop., 14,231.

Value of imports, 1883, $8,755,535; exports, $4,158,735. Principal exports: hides, $255,040; ostrich feathers, $72,530; unrefined sugar, $610,420; wool, $2,595,805. Principal imports are manufactured goods and flour. In 1883, 328 vessels, of 232,097 tons, entered, and 326, of 231,892 tons, cleared, the ports. There are 105 miles of railway built, and 120 under construction.


A colony in South Africa, originally founded by the Dutch, in 1652. Since 1806 controlled by Great Britain. Climate generally dry and salubrious. At Cape of Good Hope, mean annual temperature is placed at about 62°. Average rainfall per year, 24 inches. Total area of Cape Colony, 229,815 square miles. Estimated population, 1,027,168. Capital, Cape Town; pop., 33,239.

The government is administered by a Governor, an Executive and a Legislative Council and House of Assembly. Colonists are employed in agricultural and pastoral pursuits. Ostrich breeding is successfully carried on. Sheep farms often comprise from 8,000 to 15,000 acres and upward. Total cultivated area in 1875, 580,000 acres. Vines occupied 18,000 acres, yielding 4,484,665 gallons of wine. The colony had, in 1875, 1,111,713 head of cattle, 10,976,663 sheep, and 3,065,202 goats. The principal exports from the colony in 1883 were: wool, valued at $8,015,700; ostrich feathers, $4,656,900; grease wool, $1,948,025; hides and skins, $2,180,250; copper ore, $2,270,565; Angora hair, $1,359,020; diamonds, $13,712,350. Total exports in 1883 valued at $22,044,490; total imports, $32,351,955.

Vast majority of the population members of Dutch Reformed church, the Episcopalian ranking next in number. Cape Colony has 1 university and 5 colleges; education not compulsory; 71 per cent. of children who have attained school age are in school.

Army in 1883 consisted of 1,614 officers and men. By a law of 1878, every able-bodied colonist between 18 and 50 years is liable to military service beyond, as well as within, colonial limits. In 1884 the total length of government railway was 1,213 miles; telegraph, 4,031 miles.


An empire of Asia, divided into British territory and feudatory states, acknowledging sovereignty of Great Britain. Richest and most populous dependency of the English Crown. Area, 1,383,504 square miles. Population, 253,906,449.

Government is entrusted to Secretary of State for India; he is aided by a Council of 15 members. Executive authority vested in Governor General, appointed by the British Crown, and a Council of 7 members. Salary of Governor General, $125,000 per year.

Population dense. The density varies from 441 per square mile to 43; the average for all India being 184. Agriculture backward. Means of transportation poor but improving. Eight famines have visited India, and decimated the population of various Provinces. Soil is productive; rice, corn, millet, barley and wheat are grown; cotton, indigo, opium and sugar cane are largely exported.

Large quantities of bullion are imported for the manufacture of ornaments. In 1884, imports of gold, $27,347,280; silver, $37,042,530. Leading imports, 1883-84: cotton manufactures, $125,584,245; metals, $25,909,250; machinery, $8,955,740. Chief exports: raw cotton, $71,806,605; opium, $56,472,300; seeds, $50,450,990; wheat, $44,399,155; rice, $41,816,400. Total imports, 1884, $318,007,480; exports, $445,006,975.

Capital, Calcutta; population, 871,504; 60 towns of over 50,000 inhabitants. Over 19 dialects and languages spoken in the empire.

Number vessels entered Indian ports, 1884, 5,812; cleared, 5,850; number steamships entered by Suez Canal, 1,091; number vessels engaged in interportal trade, 103,503. Miles of railway, 1854, 21; in 1885 there were 10,832; unfinished, 1,823. Miles of telegraph, 21,740; messages, 1,799,179.
Education progressing. Schools, 109,212; scholars, 2,790,783; universities, 3; governmental schools, 15,845; commission of investigation appointed in 1883.

European and native army, 190,476 men. Native states have an army of 349,835 men; 4,237 guns.

A colony of Great Britain, formerly a part of China. It consists of the Island of Hong Kong, ceded to Great Britain in 1841, and the opposite peninsula of Kow-loon, ceded to Great Britain, 1861. The government is administered by a Governor, aided by an Executive Council. There is also a Legislative Council. The chief city is Victoria. In 1883 the government sustained 87 schools, with 5,597 pupils. The total population of Hong Kong is 160,420, of whom but 7,990 are white persons.

Hong Kong forms the centre of trade for many different kinds of goods. Its commerce is virtually a part of that of China, and is chiefly carried on with Great Britain, the United States and Germany. Of the exports and imports only mercantile estimates are known; these place the former at about $10,000,000, and the latter at $20,000,000. The tea and silk trade of China is largely in the hands of Hong Kong firms. In 1882, 28,668 vessels, of 4,976,233 tons, entered the ports of Hong Kong.


As a result of the late war with Great Britain, Burma was on Jan. 1, 1886, declared a part of the British Empire. The government is now administered by the Governor General of India, though the country is not yet incorporated with the Indian Empire. The late government was a despotism, dependent on the will of the King. The area is 190,500 square miles. Population estimated to be about 3,000,000. Capital, Mandalay; population, 70,000. Bhamo, on the Chinese frontier, is an important town. Education is in the hands of the priests, but is very general. Buddhism is the prevailing religion.

The country is not so fertile as British Burma; but wheat, corn, rice, pulse, indigo, cotton, tobacco, and a large variety of fruits are grown. The forests produce valuable timber trees in great variety. Minerals abound, but are not generally worked. Petroleum, however, is quite largely produced. Burma possessing no seacoast, the foreign trade is inconsiderable.

 Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

1 comment:

  1. The great lengths of railway laid in Australia in the 19th century were undermined by the fact that the different colonies did not trust each other and so each, for their own reasons, chose a different size track. This, as you can imagine, created incredible problems with creating a national grid following federation. It held back the advancement of railway right up to the present day. In a country as large as Australia this was a tragedy