OAXACA, or OAJACA (officially OAXACA DE JtrAREz), a southern state of Mexico, lying partly on the southern slope of the great Mexican plateau and covering the southern and larger part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, bounded N. by Puebla, N.E. and E. by Vera Cruz, S.E. by Chiapas, S. by the Pacific and W. by Guerrero. Pop. (1900) 948,633, a large majority of whom are Indians. The state has an area of 35,382 sq. m. broken by mountain ranges into numerous broad fertile valleys, chiefly lying in the tierra templada region. The isthmus districts, however, have lower elevations and are distinctly tropical. The coast line is 329 m. long; behind it is a narrow strip of lowlands lying within the tierras calientes. In places this strip nearly disappears, the sierras rising almost immediately from the seashore. The culminating points within the state are Zempoaltepetl (11,145 ft-) about 50 m. E. by N. of the city of Oaxaca in a knot of sierras, San Felipe del Agua (10,253 ft-) standing on the eastern margin of the beautiful Oaxaca Valley, and the Cerro del Leone, south-west of Tehuantepec, the highest summit in the Sierra Madre del Sur. Tributaries of the Mescala drain the western quarter of the state, among which is the Atoyac or headstream of the Mescala, which rises in Tlaxcala, and flows across the state of Puebla. The streams flowing northward to the Gulf coast are the Coatzacoalcos and Papaloapam with its tributary, the San Juan, all flowing across the state of Vera Cruz. The Papaloapam is navigable up to the town of Tuxtepec, in the state of Oaxaca. The largest of the Pacific coast streams is the Tehuantepec, which with its many tributaries has an aggregate length of 182 m. The Rio Verde has its source farther inland and drains the Oaxaca Valley, but its tributaries are small and less numerous. The only ports on the coast open to foreign trade are Salina Cruz and Puerto Angel the first, the Pacific terminus of the Tehuantepec railway, with a spacious artificial harbour, and the second a deep but narrow natural harbour, the projected coast terminus of the Mexican Southern railway. The greater part of the state has a sub-tropical climate, with high sun temperatures, moderate rainfall and mild, healthful conditions. The less healthful regions include the isthmus districts, the coastal zone on the Pacific and the low country on the border of Vera Cruz. Agriculture is the principal occupation of the people; the chief products are Indian corn, wheat, coffee, sugar, rubber, cotton, cacao, tobacco, indigo and a great variety of tropical fruits. Among the manufactured products are cotton, woollen and " pita " fibre fabrics, sugar, rum, mescal, beer, furniture, pottery, soap, candles, leather, matches, chocolate, flour and cigarettes. Two important railway lines traverse the state the Tehuantepec (trans-isthmus) line between the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos (Puerto Mexico), and the Mexican Southern line (narrow-gauge) from Puebla to Oaxaca, with branches to San Geronimo on the Tehuantepec line with, the Guatemalan frontier as its destination, and toward Puerto Angel on the coast. Two of the most progressive Indian races of Mexico, the Zapotecas and Mixtecas, descendants, it is believed, of the prehistoric races who built the remarkable cities where the ruins of Mitla and Monte Alban (see CENTRAL AMERICA:
Antiquities) now stand, still form the greater part of the population.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)