The Distant Countries: Notes on the Journey (California, Mauritius, Aden, Madagascar)


Louis Laurent Simonin (1830–86) was a French mining engineer, writer, and traveler, who in this book, published in 1867, chronicled his impressions of four widely different places: the U.S. state of California; the British-controlled island of Mauritius; Aden (Yemen); and Madagascar. Simonin explained that these places would be of interest to European readers and that all four had shown economic development and other progress in recent years. He was impressed by California’s diverse population, and remarked on the state’s achievements in communications and transportation. Turning to Mauritius and its neighboring sister island, Réunion, he described their picturesque scenery and traced the unique history and culture of Mauritius and its ethnic makeup, which included Arabs and Parsees. He stressed the importance of the island for it sugar industry, mineral and agricultural production, and military and commercial function in the Indian Ocean as a station for ships. Simonin characterized Aden as a “new Gibraltar,” brought closer to Europe by new steam-powered ships. Simonin was also favorably impressed by Madagascar, then just becoming an object of imperial rivalry between France and Britain.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Challamel aîné, Paris


Title in Original Language

Les pays lointains: notes de voyage (la Californie, Maurice, Aden, Madagascar)

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

viii, 350 pages ; 18 centimeters


  • Second edition.

Last updated: September 18, 2015