Fourth in the series of special atlases designed for "Everyman's Library" the present volume deals with the countries of Asia, whose history and geography, and whose possibilities, great and grave, are alike reflected in the maps and charts that follow. When Queen Elizabeth granted to certain merchants of London a charter that gave them a roving commission to trade in the East Indies, she could not foresee the immense developments that were to rise from that adventurous commerce between east and west. The successive maps of India with their frontier changes mark the gradual advance of an old world toward the new one knit by powerful mutual ties to the Isle of Britain; and recently we have seen what it is to be hoped will open a greater era for those regions, marked by a return to the old capital of Delhi, and a resuming of ancient rites which first gained their symbolism in those lands.
But Asia, as Japan has taught us and as China will undoubtedly teach us again, has her own destiny to bear out, apart from our European interests and politics; and it is in that aspect we need to study her on the lines laid down and made clear and positive in this volume. It is not the military records, the charts of mutinies and battle-fields, interesting as they are, which are alone important; but those showing the conditions, physical and climatic, of the country; the dispersion of the tongues, the sites of the old religions, the wealth and tillage of the earth with its fruits, grain and minerals, its rice fields and tea plantations; the prevalence of rain, sun and trade-winds; and the course of the sea-roads that affect its human and industrial life.