VERA CRUZ. or VILLA NuzvA DE LA VERA CRUZ (the New City of the Real Cross), an important city on the e. coast of Mexico, about 200 in. e. of the city of Mexico, with a pop. of about 15,000, composed of a motley collection from many nations. The city is built in a semicircle facing the sea, and is regularly laid out; the streets, which are wider than is usual in tropical countries, running e. and w. from the harbor, with other's crossing them at right angles. The town is well defended by a strong wall and other substantial works, as also by the castle of St. Juan de Ulloa, which stands upon an island of the same uamo, about half a mile from the shore. The principal buildings are the cathedral, and about 15 other churches, generally built in the Moorish style, only 6 of which are in use; several monasteries; the court-house and prison, which stand on one side of the great square in the center of the city. The houses and public buildings are generally built of rubble masonry, formed of small stones, interspersed with red tiles, the whole being afterward covered with good durable piaster, and colored with a variety of tints; and, as most of the houses are in the old Spanish style, with open arcades, bal conies, galleries, etc., the city presents a very picturesque aspect. There are a few good hospitals. The drainage of the city flows down open channels in the center of the streets, which are almost on a level with the sea. This, combined with the wretched
water which the inhabitants are compelled to use, the marshy and utterly barren nature of the surrounding country, and the pestilential nature of the climate generally, easily accounts for the frightful ravages of yellow and other fevers. Yellow fever is most prevalent from May till November. Although it is the chief port for all Mexico, Vera Cruz has no harbor, but only an open roadstead between the town and the castle. The anchorage is exceedingly bad, and when the n. gales, or nortes (terrible hurricanes, bear -ing along with them clouds of sand from the sand-hills behind the town), prevail, many vessels are wrecked on the adjoining shore. A railway between this city and Mexico was ,bed in in 1864, and completed in 1869; tramways for covered cars have also been laid down through the principal street to the railway station, a distance of 21 miles.
The chief exports are the precious metals, cochineal, sugar, flour, indigo, provisions, sarsaparilla, leather, vanilla, jalap, soap, logwood, and pimento; and the imports, cot ton, woolen, linen, and silk goods, brandy, iron, steel, wax, quicksilver, paper, hard ware and cutlery, earthenware, etc. The exports from Vera Cruz have a value of above £3,000,000 annually; the value of the imports is considerably less.—OLD VERA CRUZ, a village to the n., was the first Spanish settlement on the coast.