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Cold climates are found at the highest elevations, reaching up to the Cofre de Perote and the Pico de Orizaba. There is a small semi arid region around the city of Perote and the west of the Huasteca area. This is due to a rain shadow caused by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and the Sierra Madre Oriental , which do not permit the flow of moist Gulf air to this region. It is a center of plant endemism and has two separate endemic bird areas.
It is also the northernmost occurrence of subhumid tropical forest in Mexico, although little of this remains, mostly on steep slopes. This tropical forest is situated in the northeastern coastal plain and extends into southern Tamaulipas state, on the east side of the Sierra Madre Oriental.
The soils here are volcanic and shallow, but with rich organic matter. Species that predominate include Mayan breadnut Brosimum alicastrum , sapodilla Manilkara zapota , rosadillo Celtis monoica , Bursera simaruba , Dendropanax arboreus , and Sideroxylon capiri.
This ecoregion extends into the central part of the state, with vegetation changing to include mahogany Swietenia macrophylla , sapodilla Manilkara zapota , Bernoullia flammea , and Astronium graveolens. There is an especially diverse array of endemic insects like the conspicuous Arsenura armida. As well as insects, the state is known for its many arachnids, and features over 25 species of tarantula Theraphosidae , of which many are endemic.
Some of these include green-cheeked amazon Amazona viridigenalis , Tamaulipas crow Corvus imparatus , Altamira yellowthroat Geothlypis flavovelata and crimson-collared grosbeak Rhodothraupis celaeno. Despite much of the deterioration of the forest areas, it is still an important stopover for migratory birds as well. Many endangered mammal species can be found here including two endemic rodents Peromyscus ochraventer , Neotoma angustapalata , the jaguar Panthera onca , ocelot Leopardus pardalis , jaguarundi Herpailurus yaguarondi and coati Nasua narica.
This region is also the northernmost extent of the primate Alouatta palliata, or mantled howler. Much of the logging is due to commercial timber, search for tropical hardwoods and the clearing of land for local farmers, especially for cattle grazing. Despite some efforts at conservation and reclamation, exploitation continues to put pressure on remaining wild areas.
The state has 31 environmentally protected areas in 21 different municipalities. Forest types range from evergreen tropical rainforest to pine. Some, such as Costus dirzoi , Daphnopsis megacarpa , Eugenia sotoesparzae , Inga sinacae , Miconia ibarrae , Mormodes tuxtlensis and Thelypteris rachyflexuosa , are native only to this area.
Wildlife includes 102 mammal species, 49 amphibian, 109 reptilian, 561 bird species and more. Species in danger of extinction include the jaguar, spider monkey and anteater. There are seventeen reefs in total, some of which jut above the surface to form small islands. In the pre-Columbian period, the modern-day state of Veracruz was inhabited primarily by four indigenous cultures. The Huastecs and Otomis occupied the north, while the Totonacs resided in the north-center.
The Olmecs , one of the oldest cultures in the Americas, became dominant in the southern part of Veracruz.
The Olmecs lived in the Coatzacoalcos River.