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Central Europe

Nature volume 68, pages 196197 (02 July 1903) | Download Citation



PROF. PARTSCH'S geography of Central Europe forms a volume of the series “Regions of the World,”edited by Mr. H. J. Mackinder. Written in German, it has been well translated by Miss Clementina Black, and has also undergone a little condensation, probably to its advantage. On the east and part of the south, the region has fairly definite physical boundaries, in other directions they are more often political; but practically Central Europe includes the two great empires of Germany and Austro-Hungary, with Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands on the one hand, Montenegro, Servia, Bulgaria and Roumania on the other. But in the main there is a general correspondence between the political and the physical boundaries of the region, for Central Europe, geographically speaking, as Prof. Partseh remarks, is a three-fold belt of Alps, of inferior chains and of northern lowlands, and wherever one of these elements dies out Central Europe comes to an end. This is the best natural definition, though we should have preferred the term central highlands to “inferior chains,”and a little clearer insistence on the fact that the great mountain chains of Europe— the Alps, Pyrenees and Carpathians—are comparatively modern physical upstarts, the highlands being much more ancient regions, which, like some old families, have come down in the world. Still, Prof. Partsch makes it clear, in a chapter which certainly would not stand any more compression, that the development of Central Europe was a long and complicated story. His remarks on traces in the Alps of valley systems older than the present, illustrated by some rough but sufficient diagrams after Prof. Heim, will be very suggestive to students, though full justice can hardly be done to the subject within the limits of this volume, because mountain making in this region was a complicated and intricate process, involving many speculative elements. He does well also in calling attention to the aggressive habit of some rivers; the more active one cutting back through the old water parting and capturing the other's tributaries. The Maloya Pass affords, of course, a typical example of this process, but it has probably occurred on an even greater scale under the shadow of Monte Rosa, where the depths of the Upper Val Anzasca have replaced summits which once connected the former peak with the ranges about the head of the Saaser Visp.

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