1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Michoacán
MICHOACÁN, or Michoacán de Ocampo, a state of Mexico touching on the Pacific, bounded N. by Jalisco and Guanajuato, E. by Mexico and Guerrero, S. by Guerrero and the Pacific, and W. by the Pacific, Colima, and Jalisco. Pop. (1900), 935,808, chiefly Indians and mestizos. Area, 22,874 sq. m. Its territory is divided into two nearly equal parts by the eastern branch of the Sierra Madre Occidental, the northern part belonging to the great central plateau region, and the southern to an extremely broken region formed by the diverging branches of the Sierra Madre, with their wooded terraces and slopes and highly fertile valleys. The general slope of the southern part is southward to the river Balsas, or Mescala, which forms its boundary-line with Guerrero. The narrow coastal zone on the Pacino is only 101 m. long and has no ports or towns of importance, the slopes of the Sierra Madre del Pacifico being precipitous and heavily wooded and the coast belt sandy, hot and malarial. The Lerma, on the northern frontier, and the Balsas on the southern, are the only rivers of importance of the state, their tributaries within its boundaries being small and swift-flowing. There are several large and beautiful lakes in the state, the best known of which are Patzcuaro and Cuitzéo. Lake Chapala lies on the northern boundary. Michoacán lies within the most active volcanic region of Mexico: Jorullo (4262 ft.) is near its southern line, and Colima (12,750 ft.) is northwest of it in the state of Jalisco. Earthquake shocks are numerous, and Colima was in violent eruption in 1908-1909. The highest summit in the state is Tancitaro (12,660 ft.). The climate is for the most part temperate and healthy, but it is hot and unhealthy on the coast. Michoacán is essentially a mining region, producing gold, silver, lead and cinnabar, and having rich deposits of copper, coal, petroleum and sulphur. The natural products include fine cabinet and construction woods, rubber, fruit, palm oil and fibres. The soil of the valleys is highly fertile, and produces cereals in the higher regions, and sugar-cane, tobacco, coffee and tropical fruits in the lower. Though the plateau region was settled soon after the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico, there are large districts on the southern and Pacific slopes that still belong almost exclusively to the Indians. Besides Morelia, the capital and largest city, the principal towns of the state are: La Piedad (pop. 15,123), an important commercial town on the Lerma river and on the Mexican Central railway, 112 m. N.N.W. of Morelia; Zamora (10,373), 75 m. W.N.W. of Morelia; Uruapan (9808), on the Mexican National, 55 m. S.W. of Morelia in a mountainous district celebrated for the fine quality of its coffee; Puruandiro (7782), a commercial and manufacturing town 40 m. N.W. of Morelia; Patzcuaro (7621), on Patzcuaro lake, with a station on the Mexican National, 7550 ft. above sea level; Sahuayo (7408), 103 m. W. by N. of Morelia near Lake Chapala; Zitacuaro (6052), 60 m. S.E. of Morelia on a branch of the Mexican National, which also passes through the mining town of Angangueo (9115) in the same district; and Tacambaro (5070), 46 m. S.S.W. of Morelia in a fertile valley of the Rio de las Balsas basin.