I. A N. state of Mexico, bounded N. by Chihuahua, E. by Coahuila, S. E. by Zacatecas, S. by Jalisco, and W. by Sinaloa; area, 42,643 sq. m.; pop. in 1868, 185,077. The surface in the W. portion is broken by the Sierra Madre; in the E. are many large plains, with very fertile soil; the N. W. portion is a dreary waste, inhabited by savages. The principal rivers are the Rio de las Palmas, the Nazas, the Mezquital, and the Zunal, all rising in the Sierra Madre. The climate is cold on the mountains, hot on the W. slopes, and temperate in the remainder of the state. Agriculture is neglected, because of the frequent incursions of Indians from the north, by which the herds that once constituted the riches of the inhabitants have been almost entirely destroyed. On western slopes and in sheltered valleys the sugar cane and other tropical plants and fruits are produced; flax and potatoes grow wild in the Sierra Madre; and large quantities of cotton are raised in the valleys. Wheat and other cereals and vegetables of the temperate zone yield large crops in the central districts.
Gold is abundant near Santa Maria del Oro, where large quantities of it were once extracted; near the capital are an iron mountain and inexhaustible mines; copper and lead are plentiful; and argentiferous beds are numerous in the Sierra Madre. There are some schools and colleges; and the government is making efforts for the general diffusion of education. Under the Spaniards the state was called New Biscay. II. A city, capital of the state, near the foot of the S. E. slope of the Sierra Madre, in lat. 24° 4' N., Ion. 104° 20' W., 480 m. N. N. W. of Mexico; pop. in 1868, 12,449. The city, which is nearly 7,000 ft. above the sea, was founded about 1560 by Alonso Pacheco as a military station, and soon after was made an episcopal see. Its original name was Guadiana, and it is now sometimes called Victoria. The streets are regular, but the houses are generally poor. The only buildings worthy of note are the government house, the cathedral, ten parish churches, and a spacious hospital. There are three small prisons, a penitentiary, a state prison, a coliseum, an arena for bull fights, and a cock pit whose main building presents a sumptuous appearance. There are public gardens, three public squares, and nine public baths.
Thermal springs supply water, which runs in open streams through the streets. The inhabitants are remarkable for cleanliness. The climate is temperate, and the thermometer seldom rises above 78° F. There are manufactures of cotton and woollen goods, leather, iron, glass, and tobacco. The mint from 1811' to 1845 coined $27,962,668. There is an institute in which jurisprudence, languages, and the sciences are taught, a seminary, and several minor schools.