A State Of Mexico, bounded N. W. by San Luis Potosi N. by Tamaulipas, E. by the gulf of Mexico, Tabasco, and Chiapas, S. W. by Oajaca, and W. by Puebla and Hidalgo; area, 27,433 sq. m.; pop. in 1873, 459,262. Capital, Jalapa. It is traversed by the Sierra Madre, and is generally mountainous, excepting the sandy coast region, about 30 m. wide. The highest peak is Orizaba or Citlaltepetl (Star mountain), 17,176 ft. high, on the border of Puebla. The Cofre de Perote, near Jalapa, is 14,309 ft. high, and San Martin or Tuxtla 9,708 ft. All of these are volcanoes, and Orizaba is perpetually snow-capped. The principal rivers are the Panuco, Alvarado, and Coatzacoalcos, the mouths of all of which are obstructed by sand bars. There are several large lagoons on the coast, of which Tamiagua is about 60 m. long and 20 in. broad. Alvarado, the largest in the south, is divided into smaller lagoons by many islands. The climate is hot (80° to 85°) and insalubrious on the coast, where yellow fever prevails from May to November; but in Jalapa, Cordoba, Orizaba, and other elevated places, it is agreeable and healthful. The soil of the interior is very fertile, and produces, according to elevation, a vegetation ranging from tropical almost to arctic.
Sugar is cultivated in all of the 18 cantons, coffee in 15, tobacco in 14, cacao in 11, and vanilla in 5. Cotton also is extensively cultivated, as well as the cereals and fruits. The coffee is very fine, and the tobacco is said to equal the Cuban. Cattle are raised in great numbers. Among the mineral products are gold, copper, lead, and iron. The total value of manufactures in 1873 was $2,374,400, the principal products being woollen and cotton cloths. In 1875 there were 528 public schools in the state, with an aggregate attendance of 19,702, 18 colleges or grammar schools, 6 schools attached to state prisons, and a military school. Vera Cruz is divided into 18 cantons: Acayucan, Chicontepec, Coatepec, Cordoba, Cosamaloapan, Huatusco, Jalapa, Jalacingo, Minatitlan, Mizantla, Orizaba, Papantla, Tampico, Tantoyuca, Tuxpan, Tuxtla, Vera Cruz, and Zonzolica.
A City, of the preceding state, in a marshy plain on the shore of the gulf of Mexico, lat. 19° 11' 56" N, lon. 96° 8' 36" W., 190 m. E. S. E. of the city of Mexico; pop. about 10,000. It is built in a semicircle fronting the sea, and is enclosed by a wall 6 ft. high and 3 ft. thick, and defended by two redoubts on shore and the castle of San Juan de Ulua or Ulloa, which stands on an island of the same name about half a mile from the shore. The streets are regular and wide, and form 66 squares, and some of those running E. and W. have a stream in the middle. The houses are strongly built of coral limestone, in the old Spanish style, enclosing a square court with covered galleries. Most of the windows are furnished with iron gratings, and window glass is not common. Among the principal buildings are the municipal palace, built in 1609, custom house, provincial treasury, commandant general's office, and the old convent of San Francisco, the tower of which was fitted as a lighthouse in 1872. In the same building is the public library, founded in 1870. There are also several churches, a theatre, bull ring, exchange, casino, three hospitals, and an artillery school. The city is lighted with gas, is supplied with water from the river Jamapa, and has a horse railway.
The harbor is merely an open roadstead between the city and the castle, and is very insecure. A new mole was finished in 1875, but it is unapproachable during northers by any but small boats. On one of the bastions of San Juan de Ulua is a lighthouse, and on another a watch tower. There are also a chapel and a cemetery on the island. Besides this island there are in the roadstead a small island called Verde, and the Sacrificios and Blanquilla isles. Vera Cruz is the most important port of the republic; its exports amount annually to about $25,000,000, and its imports to $26,000,000. Of the latter, about $2,000,000 are from the United States. During the year ending June 30, 1874, 3.449 vessels entered the port, of which 2,278 were engaged in the coasting trade. The chief exports are coffee, vanilla beans, hides, tobacco, cochineal, caoutchouc, jalap, fustic, and indigo. Smuggling is common, and the official commercial returns seldom amount to more than half the real value of the trade. Vera Cruz is connected by railway with Mexico, with Medellin, and with Jalapa and Boca del Potrero, and by steamers with New York, New Orleans, the West Indies, and Europe. - The city of Villa Rica de Vera Cruz was founded by Cortes in 1519, a short distance N. of the present site; but it was abandoned in a few years for a position near the mouth of the Antigua, which was called Antigua Vera Cruz. About 1590 it was again removed to the present site and named Nueva Vera Cruz. Philip III. conferred on it the title and privileges of a city in 1615. The castle of San Juan de Ulua, which was the last foothold of the Spaniards in Mexico, was surrendered by them to the patriots in 1825. In 1838 Vera Cruz was bombarded and taken by the French, and in 1847 by the Americans under Gen. Scott. It surrendered to the allied British, French, and Spanish squadron in December, 1861, and was restored to Mexico in 1867.