Chiapas, the southernmost state of the Mexican republic, bounded N. W. by Vera Cruz, N. by Tabasco, N. E. by Yucatan, E. and S. E. by Guatemala, S. W. by the Pacific ocean, and W. by Oajaca; area, about 17,000 sq. m.; pop. about 200,000, the greater part Indians and mestizos. It is traversed by the cordillera of the Sierra Ma-dre, and watered by several rivers, chief among which are the Chiapas or Tabasco, rising in the mountains of Cuchumatanes in Central America, and flowing X. W. through the state and N. E. through Tabasco to the gulf of Mexico; the Usumasinta, which also rises in Central America, and flows into the gulf of Mexico by three mouths; and the Teapa. These are navigable to an inconsiderable extent. The lake of Chiapas, or more correctly Tepancua-pan, in the southern part of the state, is 18 m. long and 3 m. wide, and abounds in crabs; and the Lago de los Istotes, in the same region, affords a plentiful supply of excellent fish, and is by some supposed to be the source of the Usumasinta. There are several other lakes of smaller dimensions.
The ounce, puma, wild cat, a species of deer, the flying squirrel, wild hog, porcupine, ant-eater, armadillo, two species of monkey, the otter, and the black bear are common in Chiapas. Among the insects may be mentioned the tarantula, centipede, scorpion, and a few others almost equally venomous. Among the birds are black and gray eagles, owls, peacocks, mocking-birds, woodpeckers, carpenter birds, and a great variety of small song birds. Timber suitable for all purposes is abundant; as are also annotto, fustic, logwood, dragon's blood, and other dyewoods. Cotton grows well, and tobacco, vanilla, pepper, ginger, aniseed, coffee, tea, and India rubber are produced. Jala]), sarsaparilla, colpachi (possessing properties analogous to those of quinine), and other medicinal products are found in large quantities. Indigo and cochineal are no longer produced. The manufactures are limited to the weaving of some very coarse cotton and woollen cloths, and to the distillation of aguardiente, or brandy, from bran, which spirit, being exempt from excise duties, is extensively consumed, especially by the indigenous inhabitants.
This state is remarkable for numerous ruins of ancient cities and monuments, those of Palenque being the most noteworthy. (See Palenque.) Two stones in the shape of a tongue, about a yard long and two thirds of a yard in width, one of which has an inscription, are still standing, and are objects of adoration to the Indians. There is hardly any commerce, and there is almost an entire lack of passable roads. Capital, San Cristoval.