Why does Wells begin his novel with a description of the history and geography in "The Country of the Blind?"
i know its to emphasise how long ago the book was written and to set the scene. Is there anything else?
In this way Wells gains credibility to his quite "tall" folk tale. The reader asks himself if such a place really existed after all and entertains the possibility that this far-fetched story might have indeed happened. This conjecture is reinforced by allusion to a series of violent volcanic eruptions, which really did occur along the Andes mountain chain (see reference).
In another way, the exotisim and isolation of the site create a fairy-tale "otherworldness," adding to the interest of the tale. There is a "Once upon a time..." tone of magic and wonder, luring the reader into the main story line.
Note that Wells presents his tale as a story within a story, givng at first the reasons for the isolation of the blind community, then explaining how, many years later, the protagonist Nunez ends up among such a people.