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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/637

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MEXICO AND ITS ANTIQUITIES.

and Monterey; one traversing the States of Jalisco and Sinaloa, and subsiding in Northern Sonora; and a central ridge extending through the States of Durango and Chihuahua, and forming the water-shed of the northern table-land. This range decreases in elevation going north-ward. Four peaks—Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl, Orizaba, and the Nevada de Toluca—rise above 15,000 feet, and three others the Cofre de Perote, Ajusco, and the volcano of Colima—above 11,000 feet.

PSM V24 D637 Indian hut in the tiera caliente.jpg
Fig. 1.—Indian Hut in the Tierra Caliente.

The country is divided into three zones: the tierra caliente, or hot land, bordering the coast of either sea for from forty to seventy miles inland; the tierra templada, or temperate land; and the tierra fria, or cold land. About one half the surface of the country lies in the latter zone, while the remainder of the republic is almost equally divided between the temperate and hot regions. The country consists for the most part of a plateau, having an average height of about 6,000 feet above the level of the sea, which extends from the frontier of the United States to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and is about 350 miles wide in the latitude of the capital. But few of the rivers are navigable, and the longest of them, the Rio de Santiago, is only 542 miles long. The numerous lakes on the plateau are mostly shallow lagoons, the mere remains of large basins of water that formerly existed, and without outlet, and therefore filled with salt water. After the lagoon of Terminos, on the coast of the Gulf of Campeachy, which is really an arm of the sea, the largest lakes are the Lake of Chapala, in the State of Jalisco, and Lakes Patzcuaro and Cuitzco. The country enjoys a variety of climates, of which those of the temperate and cold regions are tolerably uniform. The rainy season generally occurs in