1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chiapas

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CHIAPAS, a Pacific coast state of southern Mexico on the Guatemalan frontier, bounded by the states of Tabasco on the N. and Vera Cruz and Oaxaca on the W. Pop. (1895) 318,730; (1900) 360,799, a large proportion of which are Indians; area, 27,222 sq.m. largely forested. The Sierra Madre crosses the southern part of the state parallel with the coast, separating the low, humid, forested districts on the frontier of Tabasco from the hot, drier, coastal plain on the Pacific. The mountain region includes a plateau of great fertility and temperate climate, which is one of the best parts of Mexico and contains the larger part of the population of the state. But isolation and lack of transportation facilities have retarded its development. The extension of the Pan-American railway across the state, from San Geronimo, on the Tehuantepec National line, to the Guatemalan frontier, is calculated to improve the industrial and social conditions of the people. The principal industries are agriculture, which is very backward, stock-raising, timber-cutting, fruit-farming and salt-making. Coffee-planting is a new industry on the Pacific slope of the Sierra Madre at elevations of 2000 to 4000 ft., and has met with considerable success. Rubber plantations have also been laid out, principally by American companies, the Castilloa elastica doing well. The exports include cattle, hides, coffee, rubber, fruit and salt. The mineral resources include gold, silver, copper and petroleum, but no mines were in operation in 1906. The capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez (pop. 9395 in 1900), is on the plateau, 3½ m. from the Rio Sabinas, and 138 m. N.E. of the Pacific port of Tonala. The former capital, San Cristobal (pop. about 5000 in 1895), about 40 m. E. of Tuxtla, is an interesting old town and the seat of the bishopric of Chiapas, founded in 1525 and made famous through its associations with Las Casas. Tapachula (pop. in 1895, 6775), the capital of the department of Soconusco, 18 m. from the Guatemalan frontier, is a rising commercial town of the new coffee district. It is 24 m. inland from the small port of San Benito, is 559 ft. above sea-level, and has a healthy climate. Other prominent towns with their populations in 1895, are Comitan, or Comitlan (9316), on the Rio Grijalva about 40 m. S.E. of San Cristobal, and chiefly distinguished for its fine church and convent dedicated to San Domingo; Pichucalco (8549), Tenejapa (7036), San Antonio (6715), Cintalape (6455), La Concordia (6291), San Carlos (5977), and Ococingo (5667).