MEXICO, a republic of North Ameri ea; bounded on the N. by the United States; on the E. by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea; on the S. and S. E. by Guatemala and British Honduras; and on the W. and S. W. by the Pacific Ocean; area, 767,005 square miles; pop. about 16,000,000.
Topography.—For the most part Mex ico consists of an immense tableland. The prevailing formations are meta morphic, but partly overlaid by igneous rocks of every geologic epoch, rich In metalliferous ores. In the highest ranges granites and other igneous rocks prevail, with deposits of sulphur and pumice, and other recent volcanic dis charges. In the N. chalk and sandstones become prevalent. The most important range is the Sierra Madre (over 10,000 feet); parallel wth this run the sierras of the E. coast and of Lower California. The surface of the country is also much broken up by short cross-ridges and de tached peaks, the principal being the Cordillera de Anahuac culminating in Ne vado de Toluca (19,454 feet), the highest point on the North American continent, and Popocatepetl (17,523). The Pica de Orizaba, E. of Popocatepetl, is 18,205 feet high. On the Atlantic side the plateau descends abruptly to the nar row strip (about 60 miles) of gently sloping coast land; toward the Pacific, where the coast lands vary in width from 40 to 70 miles, the descent is more grad ual. Of the present lakes the only one of great size is Chapala, which is traversed by the Rio Grande de Santi ago; but considerable bodies of water in depressions in the uplands dur ing the heavy rains. The rivers of Mex ico are of little use for navigation. S. of the Rio Grande del Norte, on the Texan frontier, they are mostly impetuous mountain torrents, or flow through rocky gorges, sometimes 1,000 feet deep. Only in the narrow strips between the plateau and the coast are they available as chan nels of trade.
Climate.—In the plateau region the climate is almost that of perpetual spring, and the atmosphere is remark ably free from moisture, but so scarce is rain that plateau agriculture is largely dependent on irrigation. An immense
desert tract extends from Chihuahua to Zacatecas. On the coast lands water is abundant, but the climate is so unhealth ful that few white men can labor there.
Agriculture.—The total production of cotton in 1918 was 79,293 tons. Corn produced amounted to 1,128,570,535 kilograms. One of the most valuable products of Mexico is henequen, or sisal fiber. This is produced chiefly in Yuca tan and this is the only important product of that province. It furnishes a large part of the material for binder twine throughout the world. The ex ports of this commodity amount to about 150,000 tons annually, with a value of $50,000,000.
Mineralogy.—The country is rich in minerals, many of which have been worked from an early date. Silver, espe cially, has been an important industry ever since the conquest. Gold is also produced. Copper is largely mined in some sections, being found in a pure state in Chiapas and Guanajuato, and elsewhere associated with gold. Other important minerals are iron, including enormous masses of meteoric iron ore. The mountain, Cerro de Mercado, a mile from Durango, is a solid mass of mag netic iron ore. Other mineral products are lead, sulphur, zinc, quicksilver, plati num, cinnabar, asphalt, petroleum, salt, marble, alabaster, gypsum and rock-salt.
Mineral Production.—Figures are in complete for the production of metals in recent years. In 1918 the value of pro duction was approximately as follows: Silver, 65,654,751 pesos; copper, 66,096, 344 pesos; lead, 23,800,639 pesos; zinc, 9,036,233 pesos; gold, 3,244,781 pesos, and antimony, 2,407,147 pesos. Oil pro duction has been the chief feature of the mineral production of Mexico for several years. The production of petroleum in 1918 amounted to 63,820,836 barrels, with an approximate production in 1919 of 80,000,000. Several rich deposits of pe troleum were found during 1919.