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Gijon

GIJON, a seaport of northern Spain, in the province of Oviedo; on the Bay of Biscay, and at the terminus of railways from Aviles, Oviedo and Langreo. Pop. (1900) 47,544. The older parts of Gijon, which are partly enclosed by ancient walls, occupy the upper slopes of a peninsular headland, Santa Catalina Point; while its more modern suburbs extend along the shore to Cape Torres, on the west, and Cape San Lorenzo, on the east. These suburbs contain the town-hall, theatre, markets, and a bull-ring with seats for 12,000 spectators. Few of the buildings of Gijon are noteworthy for any architectural merit, except perhaps the 15th-century parish church of San Pedro, which has a triple row of aisles on each side, the palace of the marquesses of Revillajigedo (or Revilla Gigedo), and the Asturian Institute or Jovellanos Institute. The last named has a very fine collection of drawings by Spanish and other artists, a good library and classes for instruction in seamanship, mathematics and languages. It was founded in 1797 by the poet and statesman Caspar Melchor dt Jovellanos (1744-1811). Jovellanos, a native of Gijon, is buried in San Pedro.

The Bay of Gijon is the most important roadstead on the Spanish coast between Ferrol and Santander. Its first quay was constructed by means of a grant from Charles V. in 1552- 1554; and its arsenal, added in the reign of Philip II. (1556- 1598), was used in 1588 as a repairing station for the surviving ships of the Invincible Armada. A new quay was built in 1766-1768, and extended in 1859; the harbour was further improved in 1864, and after 1892, when the Musel harbour of refuge was created at the extremity of the bay. It was, however, the establishment of railway communication in 1884 which brought the town its modern prosperity, by rendering it the chief port of shipment for the products of Langreo and other mining centres in Oviedo. A rapid commercial development followed. Besides large tobacco, glass and porcelain factories, Gijon possesses iron foundries and petroleum refineries; while its minor industries include fisheries, and the manufacture of preserved foods, soap, chocolate, candles and liqueurs. In 1903 the harbour accommodated 2189 vessels of 358,375 tons. In the same year the imports, consisting chiefly of machinery, iron, wood and food-stuffs, were valued at 660,889; while the exports, comprising zinc, copper, iron and other minerals, with fish, nuts and farm produce, were valued at 100,941.

Gijon is usually identified with the Gigia of the Romans, which, however, occupied the site of the adjoining suburb of Cima de Villa. Early in the 8th century Gijon was captured and strengthened by the Moors, who used the stones of the Roman city for their fortifications, but were expelled by King Pelayo (720-737). In 844 Gijon successfully resisted a Norman raid; in 1395 it was burned down; but thenceforward it gradually rose to commercial importance.

GiLAN (GHILAN, GUILAN), one of the three small but important Caspian provinces of Persia, lying along the south-western shore of the Caspian Sea between 48 50' and 50 30' E. with a breadth varying from 15 to 50 m. It has an area of about 5000 sq. m. and a population of about 250,000. It is separated from Russia by the little river Astara, which flows into the Caspian, and bounded W. by Azerbaijan, S. by Kazvin and E. by Mazandaran. The greater portion of the province is a lowland region extending inland from the sea to the base of the mountains of the Elburz range and, though the Sefld Rud (White river), which is called Kizil Uzain in its upper course and has its principal sources in the hills of Persian Kurdistan, is the only river of any size, the province is abundantly watered by many streams and an exceptionally great rainfall (in some years 50 in.).

The vegetation is very much like that of southern Europe, but in consequence of the great humidity and the mild climate almost tropically luxuriant, and the forests from the shore of the sea up to an altitude of nearly 5000 ft. on the mountain slopes facing the sea are as dense as an Indian jungle. The prevailing types of trees are the oak, maple, hornbeam, beech, ash and elm. The box tree comes to rare perfection, but in consequence of indiscriminate cutting for export during many years, is now becoming scarce. Of fruit trees the apple, pear, plum, cherry, medlar, pomegranate, fig, quince, as well as two kinds of vine, grow wild; oranges, sweet and bitter, and other Aurantiaceae thrive well in gardens and plantations. The fauna also is well represented, but tigers which once were frequently seen are now very scarce; panther, hyena, jackal, wild boar, deer (Genius moral) are common; pheasant, woodcock, ducks, teal, geese and various waterfowl abound; the fisheries are very productive and are leased to a Russian firm. The ordinary cattle of the province is the small humped kind, Bos indicus, and forms an article of export to Russia, the humps, smoked, being much in demand as a delicacy. Rice of a kind not much appreciated in Persia, but much esteemed in Gilan and Russia, is largely cultivated and a quantity valued at about 120,000 was exported to Russia during 1904-1905. Tea plantations, with seeds and plants from Assam, Ceylon and the Himalayas, were started in the early part of 1900 on the slopes of the hills south of Resht at an altitude of about 1000 ft. The results were excellent and very good tea was produced in 1904 and 1905, but the Persian government gave no support and the enterprise was neglected. The olive thrives well at Rudbar and Manjil in the Sefid Rfid valley and the oil extracted from it by a Provencal for some years until 1896, when he was murdered, was of very good quality and found a ready market at Baku. Since then the oil has been, as before, only used for the manufacture of soap. Tobacco from Turkish seed, cultivated since 1875, grows well, and a considerable quantity of it is exported. The most valuable produce of the province is silk. In 1866 it was valued at 743,000 and about two-thirds of it was exported. The silkworm disease appeared in 1864 and the crops decreased in consequence until 1893 when the value of the silk exported was no more than 6500. Since then there has been a steady improvement, and in 1905-1906 the value of the produce was estimated at 300,000 and that of the quantity exported at 200,000. The eggs of the silk-worms, formerly obtained from Japan, are now imported principally from Brusa by Greeks under French protection and from France.

There is only one good road in the province, that from Enzeli to Kazvin by way of Resht; in other parts communication is by narrow and frequently impassable lanes through the thick forest, or by intricate pathways through the dense undergrowth.

The province is divided into the following administrative districts: Resht (with the capital and its immediate neighbourhood), Fumen (with Tulam and Mesula, where are iron mines), Gesker, Talish (with Shandarman, Kerganrud, Asalim, GilDulab, Talish-Dulab), Enzeli (the port of Resht), Sheft, Manjil (with Rahmetabad and Amarlu), Lahijan (with Langarud, Rudsar and Ranehkuh), Dilman and Lashtnisha. The revenue derived from taxes and customs is about 80,000. The crown lands have been much neglected and the revenue from them amounts to hardly 3000 per annum. The value of the exports and imports from and into Gilan, much of them in transit, is close upon 2,000,000.

Gilan was an independent khanate until 1567 when Khan Ahmed, the last of the Kargia dynasty, which had reigned 205 years, was deposed by Tahmasp I., the second Safawid shah of Persia (1524-1576). It was occupied by a Russian force in the early part of 1723; and Tahmasp III., the tenth Safawid shah (1722-1731), then without a throne and his country occupied by the Afghans, ceded it, together with Mazandaran and Astarabad, to Peter the Great by a treaty of the 12th of September of the same year. Russian troops remained in Gilan until 1734, when they were compelled to evacuate it.

The derivation of the name Gilan from the modern Persian word gU meaning mud (hence " land of mud ") is incorrect. It probably means " land of the Gil," an ancient tribe which classical writers mention as the Gelae. (A. H.-S.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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