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Texas joined the United States of America as its 28th member state in 1845. It has the postal abbreviation TX.

The state name derives from a word in a Caddoan language of the Hasinai, tejas, meaning friends or allies; Spanish explorers mistakenly applied the word to the people and their location.

Major state designations and symbols include:

1 Location
2 History

3 Government and politics

4 Geography

5 Economy
6 Demographics

7 Important cities and towns
8 Education

9 Professional sports teams
10 Miscellaneous information
11 See also
12 References

13 External links


Other state designations

The pledge to the Texas Flag is:

Honor the Texas Flag
I pledge allegiance to thee
Texas, one, and indivisible

With an area of 690,000 km2, Texas forms the second-largest US state in size after Alaska and the largest state in the contiguous 48 states. It has historically had a "larger than life" reputation, especially in cowboy films.


Texas borders New Mexico on the west, Oklahoma on the north (across the Red River), and Louisiana (across the Sabine River) and Arkansas on the east. To the southwest, across the Rio Grande, Texas borders the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. To the southeast of Texas lies the Gulf of Mexico.

Texas lies in the south-central part of the United States of America. Depending on whom you talk to (and which part of Texas they come from), Texas forms part of the US South or part of the US Southwest. Texas shares some cultural elements with both regions, with more similarities with the South, especially Arkansas and Louisiana, in East Texas, and more similarities with the Southwest, especially Mexico and New Mexico, in West Texas and South Texas.


Native American inhabitants of present-day Texas include Apache, Atakapan , Bidai , Caddo, Comanche, Karankawa, Kiowa, Tonkawa , and Wichita.

On November 6, 1528 shipwrecked Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca became the first known European to set foot on Texas.

Texas can claim that 'Six Flags' have flown over its soil: the Fleur-de-lis of France, and the national flags of Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America and the Confederate States of America.

Prior to 1821, Texas was part of the Spanish colony of New Spain; see Spanish Texas for details.

After Mexican independence in 1821, Texas became a part of Mexico. See Mexican Texas.

Also see Texas Revolution.

The Republic of Texas (1836–1845)

In 1845, Texas became the first and, to date, only internationally recognized independent state directly admitted to the United States as a constituent state of the union. (Vermont, which declared itself an independent republic in 1777, and joined the union in 1791, operated autonomously of the United States during that period, but was not internationally recognized. The self-proclaimed California Republic and the internationally-recognized Republic (or Kingdom) of Hawaii were both annexed by the United States, but were not immediately admited as states. The territory included in the California Republic operated under military rule from 1848 until California's admission to the union in 1850. Hawaii was annexed in 1898, but was organized into a territory in 1900 and remained such until its admission in 1959.)

The Republic of Texas included all the area now included in the state of Texas, although its self-proclaimed western and northwestern borders extended as far west as Santa Fe and as far northwest as present-day Wyoming, respectively.

Important dates

Government and politics

Law and government

Austin is the capital of Texas. The state Capitol resembles the federal Capitol Building in Washington, DC, but is faced in pink granite and is topped by a statue of the "Goddess of Liberty" holding aloft a five-point Texas star. Like several other southern state capitols, it faces south instead of north. The capitol building is taller than the U.S. national capitol, but less massive.

Republican Rick Perry has served as Governor of Texas since December 2000 when the office was vacated by President-elect George W. Bush; two Republicans represent Texas in the U.S. Senate: Kay Bailey Hutchison (since 1993) and John Cornyn (since 2002)

The current Texas constitution, adopted in 1876, is the second longest in the nation. As with many state constitutions, it explicitly provides for the separation of powers and incorporates its bill of rights directly into the text of the constitution (as Article I). The bill of rights is considerably lengthier and more detailed than the federal Bill of Rights, and includes some provisions unique to Texas.

The executive branch consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Land Commissioner, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, the three-member Railroad Commission, the State Board of Education, and the Secretary of State. Except for the Secretary of States—who is appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate—each of these officials is elected. There are also a large number of state agencies and numerous boards and commissions. Partly because of the large number of elected officials, the Governor's powers are quite limited in comparison to other state governors or the U.S. President. In popular lore and belief the Lieutenant Governor, who heads the Senate and appoints its committees, has more power than the Governor. The Governor commands the state militia and can veto bills passed by the Legislature and call special sessions of the Legislature. He or she also appoints members of various executive boards and fills judicial vacancies between elections.

The Legislature of Texas, like the legislature of every other state except Nebraska, is bicameral (that is, has two chambers). The House of Representatives has 150 members, while the Senate has 31. The speaker of the house (currently Tom Craddick R-Midland) leads the House, and the Lieutenant Governor (currently Republican David Dewhurst) leads the State Senate. The Legislature meets in regular session only once every two years.

The judicial system of Texas has a reputation as one of the most complex in the United States—if not in the world—with many layers and many overlapping jurisdictions. Texas has two courts of last resort: the Texas Supreme Court—which hears civil cases—and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Except in the case of some municipal benches, partisan elections choose all of the judges at all levels of the judiciary; the Governor fills vacancies by appointment.

Texas has a total of 254 counties, each run by a county commissioners' court headed by an elected "county judge".


Main article: Politics of Texas

Texas politics are currently dominated by the Republican Party, which has strong majorities in the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. Every executive branch official elected statewide is Republican, as is every member of Texas' two courts of last resort; no Democrat has won a statewide election since 1994. The majority of the state's delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives is Republican, as are both U.S. Senators.

Like other Southern states, Texas historically was a one-party state of the Democratic Party. The Democrats controlled a majority in the Texas House and in the state's Congressional delegation until the 2002 and 2004 elections, respectively.


Texas has five major topographic regions:

  1. The Coastal Plain, from the Gulf of Mexico inland to about San Antonio and just southeast of Austin
  2. The Hill Country and Edwards Plateau, a hilly rocky area in central Texas bordered on the east by the Balcones Fault zone and Blackland Prairie.
  3. The Great Plains region extends into northern Texas, including the Llano Estacado and the Panhandle high plains
  4. The North Central Plains
  5. The Trans Pecos Desert.

Articles on Texas regions:

For the 254 counties of Texas, see: List of Texas counties

Interstate highways

United States highways

North-south routes East-west routes


Cotton harvesting in Texas.
Cotton harvesting in Texas.

Texas remained largely rural until World War II, with cattle ranching, oil, and agriculture as its main industries. In 1926 San Antonio had the largest population of any city in Texas with over 120,000 people.

After World War II, Texas became increasingly industralized. Its economy (circa 2000) relies largely on information technology, oil and natural gas, energy exploration and energy trading, agriculture, and manufacturing. Two major economic centers exist: the Houston Metropolitan Area, centered in Houston, and Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, centered on those two cities. Houston stands at the center of the petrochemical and NASA/space trades while Dallas functions as the center of the agricultural and information technology labor market in Texas. Other major cities include San Antonio, Austin, Brownsville, Lubbock, Amarillo, McAllen, Tyler, Odessa and Midland. Other important cities include Killeen, home to the largest military Base in the US,El Paso, Eagle Pass, and Laredo; these have particular significance due to their location on the border with Mexico, making them important trade points.

The state passed New York in the 1990s to become the second-largest U.S. state in population (after California). In 2001 Texas had a gross state product of $764 billion. Texas's growth is often attributed to the availability of jobs, the low cost of living, the lack of a state income tax, low taxation of business, limited government (the state legislature of Texas meets only once every two years) and favorable climate.


The people of Texas, historically often known as Texians, are now generally referred to as Texans.

As of 2003, the state had a population of 22,118,509, nearly one-third of them Latinos, some of whom have recently immigrated from Mexico, Central America, and South America. Others, known as Tejanos, have ancestors who have lived in Texas since before Texan independence, or at least for several generations.

Other population groups in Texas also exhibit great diversity. Frontier Texas saw settlements of Germans, particularly in Fredericksburg and New Braunfels. After the European revolutions of 1848, German, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Czech and French immigration grew, and continued until World War I. The influence of the diverse immigrants from Europe survives in the names of towns, styles of architecture, genres of music, and varieties of cuisine.

In recent years the Asian population in Texas has grown, especially in Houston and in Dallas. People from mainland China, Vietnam, India, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Pakistan and other countries have settled in Texas.

Texas will be before 2010 the fourth minority-majority state in the nation (after Hawaii, New Mexico and California). Moreover, according to the Texas state Data center, Latinos will become a majority by 2030.

Racial makeup of Texas:

2000 2003
White Non-Hispanic 52.4% 50.6%
Hispanic 32% 34.2%
Black 11.5% 11.5%
Asian 2.7%
American Indian 0.6%
Mixed/Other 2.5% 3.7%

2000 demographic data comes from the United States Census [1]. 2003 demographic data comes from estimates by the Demographer of the State of Texas[2]. The State Demographer does not currently have estimates on Asian and American Indian demographics for the state; these are included under 'Mixed/Other' for 2003. The 2003 estimates are necessarily not as accurate as the 2000 census.

The most prominent ancestry groups in Texas include Mexican (24.3%), African American (11.5%), German (9.9%), American (7.2%), and Irish (7.2%).

Census data reports 7.8% of Texas's population as under 5, 28.2% under 18, and 9.9% over 64 years. Females made up 50.4% of the population.


The religious affiliations of the citizens of Texas are:

  • Protestant – 66%
  • Roman Catholic – 23%
  • Other Christian – 1%
  • Other Religions – 1%
  • Non-Religious – 6%

The three largest Protestant denominations in Texas are: Baptist (32% of the total state population), Methodist (9%), Pentecostal (3%).

Important cities and towns

Main Article: List of cities in Texas
List of cities by population (2000)
List of metropolitan areas by population (2000)
As of the 2000 Census Texas had 22 Metropolitan Statistical Areas or MSAs and 2 Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas or CMSAs; for a total of 24 metropolitan areas.


Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams

The Houston Oilers, formerly based in Texas, moved to Memphis and later to Nashville, Tennessee, and became the Tennessee Titans. Houston also formerly had the Arena Football League team Houston Thunderbears, and the Minor League Soccer team Houston Hotshots .

Through 2004, El Paso had a minor-league baseball team in the Texas League, the El Paso Diablos, but the club moved to Springfield, Missouri after that season and became known as the Springfield Cardinals.

Miscellaneous information

  • Famous for their role in the history of Texas law enforcement, the Texas Rangers continue today to provide special law enforcement services to the state.

See also


Further reading

  • Imperial Texas: An Interpretive Essay in Cultural Geography, D. W. Meinig, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 1969, hardback, 145 pages.
  • Great River, The Rio Grande in North American History, Paul Horgan, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, reprint, 1977, in one hardback volume, ISBN 0-03-029305-7

External links

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