Life on the Mississippi HTML version

Life on the Mississippi - Mark Twain
on the
the Lake basin and of 300,000 square miles in Texas and
New Mexico, which in many aspects form a part of it, this
basin contains about 1,250,000 square miles. In extent it is
the second great valley of the world, being exceeded only by
that of the Amazon. The valley of the frozen Obi approaches
it in extent; that of La Plata comes next in space, and prob-
ably in habitable capacity, having about eight-ninths of its
area; then comes that of the Yenisei, with about seven-ninths;
the Lena, Amoor, Hoang-ho, Yang-tse-kiang, and Nile, five-
ninths; the Ganges, less than one-half; the Indus, less than
one-third; the Euphrates, one-fifth; the Rhine, one-fifteenth.
It exceeds in extent the whole of Europe, exclusive of Rus-
sia, Norway, and Sweden. It would contain Autria four times,
Germany or Spain five times, France six times, the British Is-
lands or Italy ten times. Conceptions formed from the river-
basins of Western Europe are rudely shocked when we con-
sider the extent of the valley of the Mississippi; nor are those
formed from the sterile basins of the great rivers of Siberia,
the lofty plateaus of Central Asia, or the mighty sweep of
the swampy Amazon more adequate. Latitude, elevation, and
rainfall all combine to render every part of the Mississippi
Mark Twain
[pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens]
BUT THE BASIN OF THE M ISSISSIPPI is the body of the nation. All
the other parts are but members, important in themselves,
yet more important in their relations to this. Exclusive of