National Geographic : 1907 Aug
MEXICO-THE T excel in mining and do well in dealing with live stock. In recent years the total commerce of Mexico, comprising imports and exports, has amounted to about 180 millions (gold), and it has had a steady growth to about six times its amount 20 years ago. The exports have an approximate value of 1oo millions (gold), or about 4 times the amount 20 years ago. The approximate value of exports to the United States is 65 millions (gold). About 60 per cent of the exports are mineral products. Henequen and other fibers are over 18 per cent (over 18 mil lion dollars, gold); coffee, 5 per cent; cattle and other live stock, 32 per cent; hides, 32 per cent; wood and dye woods, I' per cent; cocoa, I' per cent; rubber and tobacco, I per cent each; chicle and vanilla, 12 per cent. AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES I have not given any special attention to agricultural conditions in Mexico, but many facts are available which indicate plainly that the products of vegetable growth will eventually be the source of greatest income and prosperity, for they will be everlasting. A large percentage of the population are agriculturists, and while a considerable acreage is culti vated, it is a small proportion of the area of the Republic. Further expansion of the industry will depend in large meas ure on colonists and irrigation. Present production is greatest in the lowlands, where there is a constant high tempera ture and abundant rainfall. In this re gion grow a great variety of tropical plants which are the source of large income to the Republic. The fiber plants, which flourish in the lowlands, rank highest in value, notably the henequen fiber, a variety of hemp, which has been exported from Yucatan to a value of 300 million dollars in the last 25 years. It is reported that the exports of this ma terial from the port of Progresso in 1906 had a declared value of 26 million dollars (Mexican) ; a large part of it comes to the United States. Cotton is an important Mexican prod- TREASURE HOUSE 517 uct, but the amount raised has not been sufficient for home consumption. The yearly crop is valued at nearly IO mil lion dollars (Mexican), and about 2 mil lion dollars' worth additional is imported from the United States. The extent of the industry is indicated by the fact that more capital is invested in cotton mills than in any other single manufacture in the country. The principal production is in Coahuila and Durango, but the plant is raised in other states also. It is certain that the cultivation could be greatly increased, for extensive areas are either suited to cotton at present or could be made available by irrigation. Corn and wheat are important crops in the higher regions, between altitudes of 6,000 and 9,000 feet, and while their gross value is over 125 million dollars they do not fully supply the local de mand. It is believed that a very large area is suitable for the growth of cereals, especially with the aid of irriga tion, so that eventually they will be im portant items of export. Coffee production, which at present has a value of about 3 million dollars, is likely to increase very greatly, for many areas are suited to the growth of the plant and Mexican coffee is rapidly gain ing favor in the market. The same state ments may be made regarding tobacco and cocoa. The sugar product is valued at 25 million dollars a year, not counting the rum which is distilled. Undoubt edly sugar-beets will thrive in portions of Mexico and can be made an important resource. Rubber has long been one of the minor products of the lowlands of Mexico, and many new plantations have been started in the past few years. As about Io years are required for the development of the trees, the new projects have not added greatly to the output. It is stated that about 50 companies have set out 25 mil lion trees. These are planted about 650 to the acre. In the past two years a large amount of rubber has been produced from a shrub known as guayule. The value of this product in 1906 was nearly one million dollars in gold.