Zacatecas is one of the 31 constituent states of Mexico. It is bounded to the north by Durango and Coahuila, to the east by San Luis Potosí, to the south by Aguascalientes and Jalisco, and to the west by Jalisco and Durango. The state shares its name with its capital and chief center of population, the city of Zacatecas, Zacatecas. The state of Zacatecas had an estimated 1,375,000 inhabitants in 2003. (In 1900 it had 462,190 people.)
Zacatecas is located in the great central plateau of Mexico, with an average elevation of about 7700 feet. The state is somewhat mountainous, being traversed in the west by lateral ranges of the Sierra Madre Occidental, and by numerous isolated ranges in other parts – Mazapil, Norillos, Guadalupe and others. There are no large rivers, only the small head-streams of the Aguanaval in the north, and of the Guazamota, Bolanos and Juchipila in the west, the last three being tributaries of the Rio Grande de Santiago.
The agricultural products are cereals, sugar and maguey, the first being dependent on the rainfall, often failing altogether, the second on irrigation in the lower valleys, and the latter doing best in a dry climate on a calcareous soil with water not far beneath the surface. There is also a considerable production of peaches, apricots and grapes, the last being made into wine. A few cattle are raised, and considerable attention is given to the rearing of sheep, goats and swine. A natural product is guayule, a shrub from which rubber is extracted.
The chief industry of Zacatecas, however, is mining for silver, gold, mercury, copper, iron, zinc, lead, bismuth, antimony and salt. Its mineral wealth was discovered soon after the conquest, and some of its mines are among the most famous of Mexico, dating from 1546. One of the most productive of its silver mines, the Alvarado, has records which show a production of nearly $800,000,000 in silver between 1548 and 1867.
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