TOEFL TOEFL Reading

TOEFL – READING – 2

The Northwest Coast, a complex pattern of  islands, coastal plains, foothills, and mountain ranges, extends from California north to Alaska,  encompassing all the territory west of the Cascade  and Coast Ranges.  Its climate is one of even,  moderate temperatures (except in the mountains)  and relatively heavy rainfall.  This combination of mild  temperatures and abundant rainfall produces a lush,  dense forest vegetation of conifers, deciduous trees,  mosses, and ferns.

To its Native American inhabitants of the 1400’s,  the long, slender coastal region presented both a  favorable and a forbidding environment.  The sea and  the rivers held many resources, but to exploit them  required the development of super craft to navigate  waters that were often stormy and rough.  The forests  were rich with game and many edible plant foods, but  the vegetation of much of the area was so dense that  land travel was extremely difficult, and large parts of  the heavily forested foothills and rugged mountains  were unsuitable for human settlements.  Villages  instead were located along the rivers, on the  shores of bays and low-lying offshore islands, and  occasionally even at sheltered locations fronting on the  open ocean.

It is estimated that the Northwest Coast of the  1400’s had a population of about 130,000 and thus  was one of the most heavily populated areas of  North America north of Mexico.  The people had  no agriculture but, over thousands of years, had  developed techniques and equipment to exploit their  environment, basing their economy on fishing in  streams and coastal waters that teemed with salmon,  halibut, and other varieties of fish; gathering abalone,  mussels, clams, and other shellfish from the rocky  coastline; hunting land and sea mammals; and  collecting wild plant foods.  By the end of the century,  they reached a high cultural level usually found only  among agricultural people, enjoying a stability that  allowed the development of a complex social and  ceremonial life, an elaborate technology, and one of  the world’s great art styles.

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