Pacific coast settlement

20 02 2008

Chile, Scott 371, 1968, 39mm x 27mm
Map stamp, ChileThis stamp, which shows a portion of Chiloé Province in Chile with a sailing ship and more modern coastal vessel, commemorates the anniversaries of the founding of five towns in the 16th century. The map portion of the design shows mainly the outlines of the strait north of the province, indicating the position of just two of the five towns, and it would be somewhat hard to tell land from sea if it were not for the placement of the the ocean vessels. Wikipedia shows it to be an archipelago in the South Pacific.

Although it is not lauded in this stamp, one of the useful facts about this province is that it may be the original home of the domestic potato consumed around the world (though experts seem to disagree somewhat). It was mentioned in Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, who described the inhabitants thus:

The inhabitants, like those of Tierra del Fuego, move about chiefly on the beach or in boats. Although with plenty to eat, the people are very poor: there is no demand for labour, and consequently the lower orders cannot scrape together money sufficient to purchase even the smallest luxuries. There is also a great deficiency of a circulating medium. I have seen a man bringing on his back a bag of charcoal, with which to buy some trifle, and another carrying a plank to exchange for a bottle of wine. Hence every tradesman must also be a merchant, and again sell the goods which he takes in exchange.

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