East of the belt are level or gently rolling prairies, and along the Gulf Coast is a low, marshy tract.
In 1907 active preliminary work was begun on the Louisiana section of a great interstate inland waterway projected by the national government between the Mississippi and Rio Grande rivers, almost parallel to the Gulf Coast and running through the rice and truck-farm districts from the Teche to the Mermenton river (92 m.).
Many of those that fringe the Gulf coast are sand-keys, or parts of a new coast formation.
The principal cities of Mexico, other than the capitals above mentioned, are as follows, the populations being those of 1900 except when otherwise stated: Acapulco (pop. 4932), a famous port on the Pacific coast in Guerrero, which was wrecked by the earthquake of 1909; Carmen, or Laguna de Terminos (about 6000), a thriving commercial town and port on the Gulf coast in Campeche; Celaya (2 5,5 6 5), a railway centre and manufacturing town of Guanajuato; Ciudad Guzman, or Zapotlan (about 17,500), an interesting old town of Jalisco; Cholula (about 9000), an ancient native town of Puebla, widely known for its great pyramid; Comitan (9316), the commercial centre of Chiapas; Cordoba (7974 in 1895), a picturesque Spanish town in the sierras of Vera Cruz; Cuautla (6269), the centre of a rich sugar-producing district of Morelos; Guaymas (8648), a flourishing port of Sonora on the Gulf of California; Leon (62,623), the largest city in Guanajuato and distinguished for its commercial activity, manufactures and wealth; Linares (20,690), the second city of Nuevo Leon in size and importance; Matamoros (8347), a prominent commercial centre and river port of Tamaulipas; Mazatlan (17,852), the foremost Mexican port on the Pacific coast; Orizaba (32,894), a city of Vera Cruz famous for its delightful climate and picturesque surroundings; Parral (14,748), a well-known mining centre of southern Chihuahua; San Cristobal (about 16,00o), once capital of Chiapas and rich in historical associations; Tampico (16,313), a Gulf port and railway terminus of Tamaulipas; Tehuantepec (10,386), the largest town on the Tehuantepec railway in Oaxaca; Vera Cruz (29,164), the oldest and best known Gulf port of Mexico.
Nearly all the Gulf coast rivers, however, are obstructed by bars owing to the quantity of silt brought down from the sierras and the prevailing winds and currents on the coast.
The rivers of the Pacific coast have no navigable channels worth mentioning, but many on the Gulf coast are navigable for considerable distances.
It was also called Venezuela (little Venice) because of an Indian village on the gulf coast built on piles over the shallow water; this name was afterwards bestowed upon the province of which Coro was the capital.
A southern portion of this zone, comprising a narrow strip along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida and up the Atlantic coast to South Carolina, is semi-tropical, and is the northernmost habitation of several small mammals, the alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), the ground dove, white-tailed kite, Florida screech owl and Chapman s night-hawk.