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The geographical and historical dictionary of America and the West Indies [volume 1]




shoal of rock, Vfliich runs into the sea at the entrance of the river Maranan, in the same province.

CUMAIPI, a small river of the country of Las Amazonas, or part of Guayana possessed by the Portuguese. It runs c. under the equinoctial line, and enl^ers tlie Marailon, at its mouth or entrance into the sea.

CUMANA, a province and government of S. America, called also Nueva Andalucia ; though, properly sj)eaking, the latter is only a part of Cuinana, which contains in it also other provinces. It extends 76 geographical leagues from e. to w. from the point of Piedra, the oriental extremity of Tierra Firme, on the coast of Paria, and great mouth of Drago, as far as the mouth of the river Unare, the deep ravines of which form, as it Avere, limits to the w. between this province and that of Venezuela; the waters of the aforesaid river running for a great distance towards the serrama or settlement of Pariguan ; from wliich point the line of division is undecided as far as the river Orinoco, 20 leagues to the s. From the w. to s. it is 270 leagues, namely, from the sea-coast to the great river or country of Las Amazonas, the territory of which is divided by the renowned river Orinoco. On the e. it is terminated by the sea, which surrounds the coast of Paria, the gulf Triste, the mouths of the Orinoco, the river Esquivo and Cayenne ; on the s. no. it is bounded by the Nuevo Reyno de Granada, which extends its limits as far as the river Orinoco, being divided by this river from Guayana. It is a continued serTanitty running along the whole coast from e. to w. being nine or 10 leagues wide ; and although it is not without some llanos or extensive plains, these are but little known, and are entirely impassable, owing to the swamps and lakes caused by the inundations of the rivers which flow down from the sierra. The sierra, in that part which looks to the n. is barren, and in the vicinities of the coast the soil is impregnated with nitre, and is unfruitful. The temperature is healthy but cold, especially at night. The most common productions of this province are maize, which serves as bread, supplying the want of wheat, ^uca root, of which another kind of bread is made, cosabe, plantains, and other fruits and pulse peculiar to America ; also cacao, although with great scarcity, and only in the n. part ; and sugar-canes, which are only cultivated in a sufficient degree to supply the sugar consumed here. It has some cattle ; and although there are means of breeding and feeding many herds, the natives choose rather to supply themselves from


the neighbouring province of Barcelona, notwithstanding the difficulty of bringing them hither over sucli rugged and almost impassable roads. Tlie whole of the coast yields an immense abundance of fish, also of shell fish of various kinds, and of the most delicate flavour. Of these the consumjitiou is very great, and a great proportion of them are salted, and carried to the inland parts ; and to the province of Venezuela alone upwards of 6000 quintals yearly. It has several convenient and secure ports and bays, and indeed the whole coast is covered with them, as the sea is here remarkably calm, and peculiarly so in the celebrated gulf of Cariaco, as also in the gulfs of the lake of Obispo, Juanantar, and Gurintar. It has many very abundant saline grounds, so much so, that the whole coast may be looked upon as forming one ; since in any part of it as many might be established as were necessary ; and this without mentioning that celebrated one of Araya, and those of the gulf Triste, between the settlements of Iraca and Soro, and the Sal Negra, (Black Salt), used only by the Indians. In this province there are only three rivers of consideration, that of Cariaco, of Cumana, and of Guarapiche : the others which flow down from the serrama are of little note, and incorporate themselves with the former before they arrive in the valley. Its jurisdiction contains six settlements belonging to the Spaniards, seven belonging to the Indians, 13 to the missions supported by the Aragonese Capuchin fathers, and 16 belonging to the regular clergy. [From the river Unare to'the city of Cumana, the soil is very fertile. From the Araya to the distance of between 20 and 25 leagues, more to the e. the coast is dry, sandy, and unfruitful. The soil is an inexhaustible mine both of marine and mineral salt. That which is near the Orinoco is fit only for grazing, and this is the use to which it is put. It is here that all the pens of the province are kept. All the rest of this country is admirably fertile. The prairies, the valleys, the hills, proclaim by their verdure and by the description of the produce, that nature has deposited here the most active principles of vegetable life. The most precious trees, the mahogany, the Brazil and Campechy woods, grow even up to the coast of Paria ; and there are found here many rare and agreeable birds. In the interior of the government of Cumana are mountains, some of Avhich are very high : the highest is the Tumeriquiri, which is 936 fathoms above the surface of the sea. The cavern of Guacharo, so famous among the Indians, is in this mountain. It is immense, and serves as an habitation for thousands of night birds, 1 4 B 2

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