Chihuahua. I. A N. state of Mexico, bounded N. by New Mexico and Texas, E. by Coahuila, S. by Durango, and W. by Sinaloa and Sonora, between lat. 26° 30' and 31° 45' N., and lon. 103° 50' and 108° 40' W.; area, 105,295 sq. m.; pop. 180,000. A prolongation of the Sierra Madre covers the western portion of the state, the mountains being in some parts little short of 180 m. in breadth. The mountain passes and fastnesses are frequented by savage Indians. The plains maintain an average elevation of from 4,000 to 5,000 ft., while the mountain systems by which they are traversed rarely rise to a greater altitude than 1,000 ft. above them, until by a gradual slope upward the Sierra Madre is reached, some of the peaks of which attain 8,000 ft. The Rio Grande del Norte serves as the dividing line with the United States. The Conchos and the Verde are the other important rivers. The soil, especially in the northern districts, is in general stony and unfavorable to vegetation. But the valleys are very fertile, and support large herds of cattle; and the region bordering the eastern slope of the Sierre Madre is well watered, and is reputed to possess the richest soil in the state.
The vine is cultivated with some success; cotton is raised, though to no considerable extent; and the chief resources of the people are their cattle, sheep, horses, and mules, all of which they export in large numbers. Gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead and other minerals abound, especially silver, for which the Chihuahua mines have been celebrated for centuries. The most productive silver mines were those of Batopilas, Jesus Maria, and El Parral, in the Sierra Madre, and those of Sta. Eulalia, in the plain a few miles distant from Chihuahua city. The region adjacent to the boundary line with the state of Sonora is interesting as the site of extensive ruins. (See Casas Grandes.) Wild animals abound, including black and grisly bears, the buffalo, the elk and other deer, the puma, ounce, and wild boar. The state is infested by tarantulas and scorpions, and there are four species of serpents. II. A city, capital of the state, and of a district of the same name, situated at the base of the Sierra Madre, in a beautiful plain, 800 m.
N. W. of Mexico, in lat. 28° 35' N, Ion. 105° 30' W.; pop. about 12,000. The most noteworthy public edifices are the magnificent cathedral, situated in the Plaza Mayor, constructed of hewn stone, at a cost of $800,000; the mint; the prison, formerly a convent of the Jesuits; and the handsome aqueduct by which the city is supplied with water. In the Plazuela de San Felipe is a monument commemorative of the execution on the same spot of the first heroes of Mexican independence; and there are two hospitals, a house of correction, a military and several other schools. Chihuahua was founded in 1691, and erected into a town in 1718, when it is said to have had over 70,000 inhabitants.