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Texas is a state geographically located in the South Central United States and is also known as the Lone Star State. Austin is the state capital. Texas is the second largest U.S. state in both area and population, with an area of and a growing population of 23.9 million. Houston is the state's largest city. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is the largest metropolitan statistical area in Texas and the fourth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States.

Traveling east to west, the landscape of Texas gradually evolves from that of the Deep South into that of the desert Southwest, going from piney woods to semi-forests of oak and cross timbers, into rolling plains and prairie, then finally to desert in the Big Bend. These wide open spaces of the Texas prairie have lent currency to the phrase that "everything is bigger in Texas". Due to its long history as a center of the American cattle industry, Texas is associated throughout much of the world with the image of the cowboy.

Historically and culturally, Texas has close ties to the American South. However, having once been both a Spanish and Mexican possession, it can also be classified as a Southwestern state. While residents acknowledge these categories, many claim an independent "Texan" identity superseding regional labels.

Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. It was then part of Mexico until 1836 when it became the independent Republic of Texas. In 1845 it joined the United States as the 28th state. The state's annexation was one of a chain of events that led to the Mexican-American War in 1846 and the U.S. Civil War.

In the early 1900s, oil discoveries led to an economic boom in the state. Texas has since economically diversified. It has a growing base in high technology, biomedical research and higher education. The state's gross state product is the second-highest in the nation.


The state's name derives from táyshay, a word in the Caddoan language of the Hasinai, which means "allies" or "friends".

The word "Texas" has been incorporated into American English vernacular in many ways. Due to the state's large geographic size, the term "Texas-sized" is an expression for "big". The state's name is used in brands such as Texas Roadhouse and Texas Instruments. The abbreviated form of "Texas", "Tex", is used as a nickname for someone born and/or raised in the state, such as country music singer Tex Ritter. "Tex" is also a prefix for Texas-related words, including Tex-Mex or the restaurant chain Texadelphia.



Alonso Álvarez de Pineda made the first documented European sighting of Texas in 1519. On November 6, 1528, shipwrecked Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca became the first known European in Texas. In 1685 La Salle established the first European community in Texas, the French colony of Fort Saint Louis. The colony, located along Matagorda Bay, lasted only four years before succumbing to harsh conditions and hostile natives.

Due to the perceived French encroachment, Spain established its first presence in Texas in 1691 constructing of missions in East Texas. The missions failed quickly, and Spain did not resettle Texas until two decades had passed. Spain returned to East Texas in 1716, establishing missions and a presidio to maintain a buffer between New Spain and the territory of Louisiana. Two years later, the first European civilian settlement in Texas, San Antonio, was established.

Hostile native tribes and remoteness from New Spain discouraged settlers from moving to Texas and it remained one of New Spain's least populated provinces. San Antonio was a target for raids by the Lipan Apache. In 1749, the Spanish signed a peace treaty with the Apache, which resulted in raids by the enemies of the Apache, the Comanche, Tonkawa, and Hasinai tribes. The Comanche signed a treaty with Spain in 1785 and later assisted in defeating the Lipan Apache and Karankawa tribes. An increased number of missions in the province allowed for a peaceful conversion of other tribes, and by the end of the 1700s only a few nomadic tribes had not been "Christianized".

The Louisiana Purchase by the United States led to a border dispute over Texas. The dispute was resolved in 1819, with the signing of the Adams-Onís Treaty recognizing the Sabine River as Texas's eastern boundary.

In 1821, after the Mexican War of Independence, the territory became a part of the new country. Texas became the northern section of Coahuila y Tejas in 1824. Mexico ended the Spanish policy of allowing only full-blooded Spaniards to settle Texas. On January 3, 1823, after obtaining authorization by Governor Antonio María Martínez, Stephen F. Austin began a colony of 297 Anglo-American families known as the "Old Three Hundred" along the Brazos River. By 1830, the 30,000 Anglo settlers in Texas outnumbered Tejanos six to one.


The Convention of 1832 and the Convention of 1833 were responses to rising unrest at policies of the Mexican government. Delegates feared the end of duty-free imports from the United States and the threat of ending slavery. In 1835, Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico, created a unified constitution for Mexico which created a centralized government with power concentrated in the President, and turned states into provinces with governors appointed from Mexico City. States around Mexico rebelled against this imposition, including Chihuahua, Zacatecas and Yucatan. Of note was the Centralista forces' brutal suppression of dissidents in Zacatecas. Texans also resented policies such as the forcible disarmament of settlers, and the expulsion of immigrants and legal landowners originally from the United States.

On March 2, 1836, the Convention of 1836 signed a Declaration of Independence. On April 21, 1836, the Texans—led by General Sam Houston—won their independence at the Battle of San Jacinto. Santa Anna's capture led to the Treaties of Velasco. Mexico repudiated the treaties and vowed to reconquer Texas. Later in 1836, the Texans adopted a constitution that formally legalized slavery. The Republic of Texas included the area of the present state of Texas, and additional unoccupied territory to the west and northwest.

Most Texans wanted their Republic to be annexed into the United States. Events such as the Dawson Massacre and two recaptures of Béxar in Texas of 1842 added momentum to the desire for statehood. However, strong abolitionist opposition to adding a slave state blocked Texas's admission until pro-annexation James K. Polk won the election of 1844. On December 29, 1845, Texas was admitted to the U.S. as a constituent state of the Union. The Mexican–American War followed, with decisive victories by the U.S. Texas's boundaries were set at their present form after the Compromise of 1850. Land which later became half of present day New Mexico, a third of Colorado, and small portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, was ceded for the federal government's assumption of $10 million of the old republic's debt. Post-war Texas grew rapidly as migrants poured into the cotton lands of the state.

Civil War and Reconstruction

The state was accepted as a charter member of the Confederate States of America on March 1, 1861. During the American Civil War, Texas was a "supply state" for the Confederate forces due to its distance from the front lines, contributing men, especially cavalry. Texan regiments fought in every major battle throughout the war. In mid-1863 the Union capture of the Mississippi River cut Texas supply lines to the eastern parts of the Confederacy. The last battle of the Civil War was fought in Texas at Palmito Ranch on May 13, 1865.

Texas descended into anarchy two months between the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia and the assumption of authority by Union General Gordon Granger. Violence also marked the early months of Reconstruction. Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865 in Galveston by General Gordon Granger, over 2-1/2 years after the original announcement. President Johnson, on August 20, 1866, declared that civilian government had been restored to Texas. Despite not meeting reconstruction requirements, on March 30, 1870 Congress readmitted Texas into the Union. Social volatility continued as the state struggled with agricultural depression and labor issues.

Modern era

The first major oil well in Texas was Spindletop, south of Beaumont, on January 10, 1901. Other fields were later discovered nearby in East Texas, West Texas, and under the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting “Oil Boom” permanently transformed the economy of Texas. Oil production eventually averaged three million barrels of oil per day at its peak in 1972.

The economy, significantly improved since the civil war, was dealt a double blow by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Migrants abandoned the worst hit sections of Texas during the Dust Bowl years. Especially from this period on, blacks left Texas in the Great Migration to get work in the Northern United States or California and to escape the oppression of segregation. With increased immigration from other sources, although the numbers of African Americans increased, their proportion of population decreased from 20.4 percent in 1900 to 12.4 percent in 1960.

From 1950 through the 1960s, Texas modernized and expanded its system of higher education. Under the leadership of Governor John B. Connally, the state created a long-range plan for higher education, a different distribution of resources, and a central state apparatus designed to manage state institutions more efficiently. These changes helped Texas universities receive federal research funds during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.


Texas is located at the southernmost part of the Great Plains, which ends in the south against the folded Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico. It is in the south-central part of the United States of America. The state has been categorized as part of the U.S. South and also part of the U.S. Southwest.

The Rio Grande, Red River and Sabine River are natural state borders, Oklahoma on the north, Louisiana and Arkansas on the east, & the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the south. In the west and north, its borders with New Mexico and Oklahoma are not based on natural features of terrain. The state's Texas Panhandle has an eastern border with Oklahoma at 100° W, a northern border with Oklahoma at 36°30' N and a western border with New Mexico at 103° W. The state's western tip is in El Paso at the 32nd parallel north and the Rio Grande.

Because of its size and unique history, the regional affiliation of Texas is debatable. Depending on the source, it can be fairly considered either or both a Southern or Southwestern state. The vast geographic, economic, and cultural diversity within the state itself prohibits easy categorization of the whole state into a recognized region of the United States. The East, Central, and North Texas, regions have a stronger association with the American South than with the Southwest. Others, such as far West Texas and South Texas share more similarities with the latter. The upper Texas Panhandle is similar to the Midwestern United States and the South Plains parts of West Texas, is a blend of South and Southwest.

Texas can be divided into five human geographical regions: North, East, Central, South, and West. Texas Almanac divides Texas into four physical geographical regions: Gulf Coastal Plains, Interior Lowlands, Great Plains, and The Basin and Range Province.


Texas is the southernmost part of the Great Plains, which ends in the south against the folded Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico. The continental crust here is a stable Mesoproterozoic craton which changes across a broad continental margin and transitional crust into true oceanic crust of the Gulf of Mexico. The oldest rocks in Texas date from the Mesoproterozoic and are about 1,600 million years old. These Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks underlie most of the state, and are exposed in three places: Llano uplift, Van Horn, and the Franklin Mountains, near El Paso. This is overlain by mostly sedimentary rocks. The oldest sediments were deposited on the flanks of a rifted continental margin, or passive margin that developed during Cambrian time. This margin existed until Laurasia and Gondwana collided in the Pennsylvanian era to form Pangea. This is the buried crest of the Appalachian MountainsOuachita Mountains zone of Pennsylvanian continental collision. This orogenic crest is today buried beneath the DallasWacoAustinSan Antonio trend. During this time E. Texas was a region of high mountains and shallow seas covered W. Texas.

The late Paleozoic mountains collapsed as rifting in the Jurassic era began to open the Gulf of Mexico. Pangea began to break up in the Triassic but seafloor spreading to form the Gulf of Mexico occurred only in the mid and late Jurassic. The shoreline shifted again to the eastern margin of the state and the Gulf of Mexico passive margin began to form. Today there are to of sediments buried beneath the Texas continental shelf and a large proportion of remaining US oil reserves are to be found here. At the start of its formation, the incipient Gulf of Mexico basin was restricted and seawater often evaporated completely to form thick evaporite deposits of Jurassic age. These salt deposits formed what are known as salt dome diapirs, and can be found in East Texas, along the Gulf coast.

East Texas outcrops consist of Cretaceous and Paleogene sediments with contain important deposits of Eocenelignite. Oil is found in the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian sediments in the north, Permian sediments in the west, Cretaceous sediments in the east, and along the Gulf coast and out on the Texas continental shelf. Oligocene volcanic rocks are found in far west Texas, in the Big Bend area. A blanket of Miocene sediments known as the Ogallala formation in the western high plains region is an important aquifer. Texas has no volcanoes and few earthquakes, being situated far from an active plate tectonic boundary.


The large size of Texas and its location at the intersection of multiple climate zones gives the state very variable weather. Climatologists divide Texas into three main zones: the humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) of the eastern half of Texas, the temperate semi-arid (Köppen BSk) steppe climate of the northwestern part, including the Panhandle, and the subtropical steppe climate (nearly an arid desert climate, Köppen BSh) of the southern parts of West Texas, particularly around El Paso.

The Panhandle of the state is colder in winter than North Texas, while the Gulf Coast has mild winters. Texas has wide variations in precipitation patterns. El Paso, on the western end of the state, averages as little as of annual rainfall while Houston, on the southeast Texas averages as much as per year. Dallas in the North Central region averages a more moderate per year. Snowfall often falls in the winter months in the north. Maximum temperatures in the summer months average from the 80s °F (26 °C) in the mountains of West Texas and on Galveston Island to around in the Rio Grande Valley. Night time summer temperatures range from the upper 50s °F (14 °C) in the West Texas mountains to in Galveston.

Thunderstorms are very common in Texas, especially the eastern and northern portion of the state. Texas is part of the Tornado Alley section of the country. The state experiences the most tornadoes in the Union, an average of 139 a year. These strike most frequently in North Texas and the Panhandle. Tornadoes in Texas generally occur in the months of April, May, and June.

Some of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Texas. A hurricane in 1875 killed approximately 400 people in Indianola, followed by another hurricane in 1886 that destroyed the town, which was at the time the most important port city in the state. This allowed Galveston to take over as the chief port city, but it was subsequently devastated by a hurricane in 1900 that killed approximately 8,000 people (possibly as many as 12,000), making it the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Other devastating Texas hurricanes include the 1915 Galveston Hurricane, Hurricane Audrey in 1957, which killed over 600 people, Hurricane Carla in 1961, Hurricane Beulah in 1967, Hurricane Alicia in 1983, Hurricane Rita in 2005, and Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Texas emits the most greenhouse gases in the US. The state's annual carbon dioxide emissions are nearly 1.5 trillion pounds (680 billion kg). Texas would be the world's seventh-largest producer of greenhouse gases if it were an independent nation. The primary factors in Texas's greenhouse gas emissions is the state's large number of coal power plants and the state's refining and manufacturing industries which provides the bulk of the United States's petroleum products.


As of 2006, the state has an estimated population of 23,507,783, an increase of 2.5% from the prior year and 12.7% since the year 2000. The natural increase since the last census was 1,389,275 people, immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 801,576 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 451,910 people. As of 2004, the state had 3.5 million foreign-born residents (15.6 percent of the state population), of which an estimated 1.2 million are illegal immigrants. More than one-third of the foreign-born population in Texas and 5.4 percent of the total state population comes from unauthorized immigration. Texas from 2000–2006 had the fastest growing illegal immigration rate in the nation. Texas also is one of the receiving states of black college graduates in the New Great Migration - the return of African Americans to the South.

Racial group and ethnic origins

As of the 2006 US Census estimates, the racial and ethnic distribution in Texas are as follows:

Much of the population of east, central, and north Texas have a white Protestant heritage, primarily descended from ancestors from Great Britain and Ireland. Much of central and southeast-central Texas is inhabited by German descendants. African Americans, who historically made up one-third of the state population during the 19th century, are concentrated in the parts of East Texas where the cotton plantation culture was most prominent before the American Civil War, as well as in Dallas and Houston. Because of a strong labor market, from 1995–2000, Texas is one of three states in the South that are receiving the high numbers of black college graduates in a New Great Migration. Recently, the Asian population in Texas has grown—primarily in Houston and Dallas.

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. German settlements formed in frontier Texas, particularly in Fredericksburg and New Braunfels. Lavaca County is predominantly Czech.

Over one-third of Texas residents are of Hispanic origin; many are recently arrived, while some Tejanos have ancestors with multigenerational ties to the 18th century in Texas. Hispanics dominate south, south-central, and west Texas, and are a significant proportion of residents in the San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas metropolitan areas. Immigrants, primarily from far southern Mexico and Central America, contribute heavily to the state's growth. The influx of immigration is partially responsible for the state's having a relatively young population compared to the rest of the United States.

American Indian tribes who once lived inside the boundaries of present-day Texas include Apache, Atakapan, Bidai, Caddo, Comanche, Cherokee, Kiowa, Tonkawa, Wichita, Hueco and the Karankawa of Galveston. Currently, there are three federally recognized Native American tribes that reside in Texas: the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe, and the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo.


Texas is a part of the socially conservative Evangelical Protestant Bible Belt, and has the highest percentage of people with a religious affiliation in the United States. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas is home to three major evangelical seminaries and several megachurches, including Fellowship Church, Potter's House and Prestonwood Baptist Church. Houston is home to the largest "church" in the nation, Lakewood Church. Lubbock, Texas has the most churches per capita in the nation.

In 2000, the religious demographics of Texas were:

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 4,368,969; the Southern Baptist Convention with 3,519,459; and the United Methodist Church with 1,022,342. Also, there are approximately 400,000 Muslims in Texas.

Cities and towns

As of 2000, six incorporated places in Texas had populations greater than 500,000, of which two are global cities: Houston and Dallas. Texas has a total of 25 metropolitan areas, with four having populations over 1 million and two over 5 million. Texas has three cities with populations exceeding 1 million: Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. This is the most cities of this size within one state. These three are also among the 10 largest cities of the United States. Austin, Fort Worth, and El Paso are also among the top 25 largest U.S. cities. The Texas Urban Triangle is a region defined by three interstate highways I-35 to the west (Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio), I-45 to the east (Dallas to Houston), and I-10 to the south (San Antonio to Houston). The region contains most of the state's largest cities and metropolitan areas, as well as nearly 75 percent of Texas's total population.


Colonias are rural, unincorporated settlements which often lack basic infrastructure and which are marked by poverty. As of 2007, Texas has the largest concentration of people, approximately 400,000, living in colonias in the U.S. There are at least 2300 Texas colonias, located primarily along the state's border with Mexico.

Government and politics

The Texas Constitution, adopted in 1876, like many state constitutions, explicitly provides separation of powers. The state's Bill of Rights has provisions unique to Texas and is considerably longer than its federal counterpart.

State government

Texas has a plural executive branch system which limits the power of the Governor. Except for the Secretary of State, all executive officers are elected independently making them directly answerable to the public, not the Governor. Past executive branches have been split between parties. When Republican President George W. Bush served as Texas's governor, the state's Lieutenant Governor, Bob Bullock, was a Democrat. The executive branch positions consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Land Commissioner, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, the three-member Texas Railroad Commission, the State Board of Education, and the Secretary of State.

The bicameral Texas Legislature consists of the House of Representatives, with 150 members, and a Senate, with 31 members. The Speaker of the House leads the House, and the Lieutenant Governor leads the Senate. The Legislature meets in regular session biennially, but the Governor can call for special sessions as often as desired. The state's fiscal year is from the previous calendar year's September 1 through the current year August 31. Thus, FY 2008 is from September 1, 2007 through August 31, 2008.

Judicial system

The judicial system of Texas is one of the most complex in the United States, with many layers and overlapping jurisdictions. Texas has two courts of last resort: the Texas Supreme Court, for civil cases, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Except for some municipal benches, partisan elections select judges at all levels of the judiciary; the Governor fills vacancies by appointment.

Texas leads the nation in executions, 400, from 1982 to 2007. Only capital murder is eligible for the death penalty.

Known for their role in Texas law enforcement history, the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety continue to provide special law enforcement services to the state. Texas Game Wardens—law enforcement officers employed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department—are given the same level of authority as standard law enforcement officers.


Like in other "Solid South" states, whites resented the Republican Party after the American Civil War. After regaining power near the end of Reconstruction, the Democratic Party held a monolithic political presence in Texas until the late 20th century. After the 1960s, Conservative Democrats in Texas began to endorse Republican presidential candidates. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he reportedly said "We have lost the South for a generation". Scholars attribute the change to the success of Nixon's Southern Strategy. In 1978, Texas Republicans elected their first post-reconstruction governor and in 2003 they gained control of the state legislature.

Today, Republicans control most of Texas's U.S. House of Representatives delegation, and both U.S. Senators. Of the 32 congressional districts in Texas, 19 seats are held by Republicans and 13 by Democrats. Texas Republicans in the U.S. Senate are Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn. Since 1994, Texans have not elected a Democrat to a statewide office. The state's Democratic presence is primarily minority groups and urban voters, particularly in Austin. Democrats and independents still hold positions in city governments.

The Texas political atmosphere leans towards fiscal and social conservatism. Since 1980, most of Texas voters have supported Republican Presidential candidates. In 2000 and 2004, Republican George W. Bush won Texas with 60.1% of the vote. He was a "favorite son" as a recent Governor of the state. Austin consistently leans Democratic in both local and statewide elections. Houston is among the few urban areas that consistently vote Republican, but its metropolitan areas are very divided politically. Dallas remains approximately split. Counties along the Rio Grande often vote Democratic.

Administrative divisions

Texas has 32 congressional districts, the second-most after California. There are 254 counties—the most nationwide. Each county is run by a Commissioners' Court consisting of four elected commissioners and a county judge. County government is similar to a "weak" mayor-council system; the county judge has no veto authority, but votes along with the other commissioners. County elections are partisan.

Texas does not allow consolidated city-county governments, nor does it have metropolitan governments. Cities and counties are permitted to enter "interlocal agreements" to share services. Further, counties are not granted home rule status; their powers are strictly defined by state law. The state does not have townships— areas within a county are either incorporated or unincorporated. Incorporated areas are part of a municipality. The county provides limited services to unincorporated areas. Municipalities are classified as either "general law" or "home rule". A municipality may elect home rule status once it exceeds 5,000 population with voter approval. Municipal elections in Texas are nonpartisan.


Texas's large population, its abundance of natural resources, and diverse population and geography has led the state to have a large and highly diverse economy. Since the discovery of oil, the state's economy reflected the state of the petroleum industry. In recent times, urban centers of the state have diversified employing two-thirds of the population in 2005. Growth in the state's economy has led to problems associated with urban sprawl.

In the fourth quarter of 2006, Texas had a gross state product of $1.09 trillion, the second highest in the U.S. Gross state product per capita as of 2005 was $42,975. The state is home to the most Fortune 500 company headquarters in the United States.

In 2004, the Site Selection magazine ranked Texas as the most business friendly state in the nation. A big reason for this ranking is the state's three billion dollar, Texas Enterprise Fund. Texas's growth can be attributed to the availability of jobs, the low cost of housing, the lack of a personal state income tax, high quality of education, low taxation and limited regulation of business, a central geographic location, a limited government, favorable weather, and abundant natural resources.

Agriculture and mining

Texas is a productive agricultural state with the most farms both in number and acreage in the United States. Texas leads the nation livestock production. Cattle the state's most valuable agricultural product, but the state also leads nationally in production of sheep and goat products. Texas is king of cotton leading the nation in cotton production, its leading crop and second-most-valuable farm product. The state also is a large producer of cereal crops and produce. Texas also has a large commercial fishing industry. With mineral resources, Texas leads in creating cement, crushed stone, lime, salt, sand and gravel.


According to the Energy Information Administration, Texans consume the most energy in the nation both in per capita and as a whole. Since 2002, Texas deregulated its electric service.

The Railroad Commission of Texas, contrary to its name, regulates the state's oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline safety, safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry, and surface coal and uranium mining. Until the 1970s, the commission had enormous control the price of petroleum because of its ability to regulate Texas's oil reserves. The founders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) used the Texas agency as one of their models for petroleum price control.

The state has known petroleum deposits of about , which makes up approximately one-fourth of the known U.S. reserves. Texas refineries can process of oil a day. As wells are depleted in the eastern portions of the state, drilling in state has moved westward. Several petroleum companies are based in Texas such as: Conoco-Phillips, Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, Valero, and Marathon Oil.

Texas is a leader in natural gas production producing one-fourth of the nation's supply.

The state is also a leader in renewable energy sources producing the most wind power nationwide.


With large universities systems coupled with initiatives like TEF and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, a wide array of different high tech industries have developed in Texas. The Austin area is nicknamed the "Silicon Hills" and the north Dallas area the "Silicon Prairie". High tech companies such as Dell, Inc., Texas Instruments, Perot Systems, AT&T, and Electronic Data Systems (EDS) are headquartered in Texas. As for emerging technologies, in 2008, FierceBiotech ranked Texas as one of the top five biotechnology states.

The crown jewel of Texas's aeronautics industry is the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, the center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), located in Southeast Houston. Both Lockheed Martin's Aeronautics division and Bell Helicopter Textron are located in Fort Worth, Texas. The F-16 Fighting Falcon, the largest Western fighter program is produced in Fort Worth, and its successor, the F-35 Lightning II will also be produced in Fort Worth.


Texas's affluence has led to a strong commercial sector consisting of retail, wholesale, banking and insurance, and construction industries. Examples of Fortune 500 companies that are not based on Texas traditional industries are: AT&T, Men's Warehouse, Landry's Restaurants, Kimberly-Clark, Blockbuster, Whole Foods Market, and Tenet Healthcare. Nationally, the Dallas–Fort Worth area, home to the second shopping center in the United States, Highland Park Village, has the most shopping centers per capita than any metropolitan area.

In 2006, for the fifth year in a row, Texas led the nation in export revenues. Texas exports for 2006 totaled $150.8 billion, which is $22.1 billion more than 2005 and represents a 17.2 percent increase. A large contributor to this trend is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The state's largest trading partner is Mexico, which accounts for a third the state's exports. NAFTA has led to the formation of controversial maquiladoras on the Texas/Mexico border.

Texas's central location within the North American continent has made it an important transportation hub. From the Dallas/Fort Worth area, 93 percent of the nation's population can be reached by truck within 48 hours, and 37 percent within 24. The state is also in the center of the continent's four major economic centers: New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Toronto. Texas has the most foreign trade zones (FTZ), in the nation, 33. In 2004 a combined total of $298 billion of goods passed though Texas FTZ's.


Transportation in Texas has been difficult historically because of the state's large size and rough terrain. Texas has compensated by building both the America's largest highway and railway systems in terms of mileage as well as the largest number of airports in the nation. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is the state's regulatory authority, whose stated mission is to "work cooperatively to provide safe, effective and efficient movement of people and goods." Though the public face of the agency is generally associated with maintenance of the state's immense highway system, the agency is also responsible for aviation. in the state and overseeing public transportation systems


Texas freeways have been heavily traveled since the 1948 opening of the Gulf Freeway in Houston. As of 2005, there were of public highway in Texas (up from in 1984). Tollways are common in Texas primarily due to lack of funds from traditional revenue sources. There are approximately 17 current toll roads in the state with additional roads proposed. In the western part of the state, both I-10 and I-20 have a speed limit of , the highest in the nation.

The Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC), also known has the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) freeway, is a transportation network in the planning and early construction stages. The network, as planned, would be composed of a network of supercorridors up to wide to carry parallel lines of tollways, rails, and utility lines.


Texas has the most airports of any state in the nation. Largest of these is Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), the second largest in the United States, and fourth largest in the world. In traffic, DFW is the busiest in the state, fourth busiest in the United States, and sixth busiest in the world. The airport serves 135 domestic destinations and 40 international. DFW is the largest and main hub of the AMR Corporations American / American Eagle, the world's largest airline in total passengers-miles transported and passenger fleet size.

Texas's second-largest air facility is Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Houston is the headquarters of Continental Airlines and is the airline's largest hub. IAH offers service to the most Mexican destinations of any U.S. airport. IAH ranks third among U.S. airports with scheduled non-stop domestic and international service.

Southwest Airlines, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, began its operations at Dallas Love Field. It is the largest airline in the United States by number of passengers carried domestically per year and the largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried. The airline's growth from its original hub is limited by the Wright Amendment of 1979.


Over 1,000 seaports dot Texas's coast with over of channels. Ports employ nearly one-million people and handle an average of 317 million metric tons. Texas ports are connected with the rest of the US Atlantic seaboard in the Gulf section of the Intracoastal Waterway. Until the deadliest hurricane in US history of 1900, the state's primary port was Galveston.

With completion of the Houston Ship Channel in 1919, the Port of Houston replaced Galveston and today is the busiest port in the United States in foreign tonnage, second in overall tonnage, and tenth worldwide in tonnage. The Houston Ship Channel is currently wide by deep by long.


Part of the state's cowboy legends are based on cattle drives where livestock was herded from Texas to railroads in Kansas. The first railroad in Texas completed in 1872, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, diminished the need for these drives. The desire for the benefits of railroads was so strong that Dallasites paid $5,000 for the Houston and Central Texas Railroad to shift its route through its location, rather than Corsicana as planned. Since 1911, Texas has led the nation in railroad length. Construction of railroads created a radial system of major cities, unlike states in which river transportation most influenced the cities. Texas railway mileage peaked in 1932 at , but declned to by 2000. The state's oldest regulatory agency, the Railroad Commission of Texas, originally regulated the railroads, but in 2005, the state transferred to these duties to TxDOT.

Light rail systems have been implemented in both Dallas and Houston. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) operates the first light rail system in the Southwest United States. The commuter rail service, the Trinity Railway Express (TRE), links Fort Worth and Dallas, provided by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (the T) and DART. The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) operates lines in the Houston area.

Intercity passenger rail service in Texas is limited in terms of both network and frequency. Just three scheduled Amtrak routes serve the state: the daily Texas Eagle ; the tri-weekly Sunset Limited , with stops in Texas; and the daily Heartland Flyer .


Texas historically has had a culture that has been a blend of Southwestern (Mexican), Southern (Dixie), and Western (frontier) influences. A popular food item drawing from all three is the breakfast taco, made with a soft flour tortilla wrapped around bacon and scrambled eggs or other hot, cooked fillings. Adding to Texas's traditional culture, established in the 18th and 19th centuries, later immigration has made Texas a melting pot of cultures from around the world.


Houston is one of only five American cities with permanent professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines: the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Ballet, and The Alley Theatre. Known for the vibrancy of its visual and performing arts, the Houston Theatre District—a 17-block area in the heart of Downtown Houston—is ranked second in the country in the number of theatre seats in a concentrated downtown area, with 12,948 seats for live performances and 1,480 movie seats.

Fort Worth is an epicenter of the North Texas region's art scene. Founded in 1892, The Modern is the oldest art museum in Texas. The city is also home to the Kimbell Art Museum, the Amon Carter Museum, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the Will Rogers Memorial Center, and the Bass Performance Hall downtown.

The Arts District of Downtown Dallas has arts venues such as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.

The Deep Ellum district within Dallas became popular during the 1920s and 1930s as the prime jazz and blues hotspot in the Southern United States. The name Deep Ellum is derived from local people pronouncing "Deep Elm" as "Deep Ellum". Artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, and Bessie Smith played in early Deep Ellum clubs. Today, the district is home to hundreds of artists who live in lofts and operate in studios throughout the district alongside bars, pubs, and concert venues. One major art infusion has resulted from the city's lax stance on graffiti: several public ways, including tunnels, sides of buildings, sidewalks, and streets, are covered in graffiti murals.

Austin, the The Live Music Capital of the World, boasts the most venues per capita citywise. The city's music revolves around the nightclubs on 6th Street and an annual film, music, and multimedia festival known as South by Southwest. The longest-running concert music program on American television, Austin City Limits and its similarly named music festival are located at the University of Texas at Austin at Zilker Park.

Over the past couple of decades, San Antonio has evolved into the "Nashville of Tejano music." The Tejano Music Awards have provided a forum to create greater awareness and appreciation for Tejano music and culture.


While American football has long been considered “king” in the state, Texans today enjoy a wide variety of sports. Texans have a plethora of professional sports teams to cheer for. Texas is home to two NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans; two Major League Baseball teams, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros; three NBA teams: the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Dallas Mavericks; two WNBA teams: the Houston Comets and the San Antonio Silver Stars; one National Hockey League team, the Dallas Stars. Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area is one of only thirteen American cities that have sports teams from the "Big Four" professional leagues. Other professional teams include the Arena Football League, and Major League Soccer, and the Mexican 1st Division.

Collegiate athletics have deep significance in Texas culture. The state has the most Division I-FBS schools in America, ten. The four largest programs are part of the Big 12 Conference: the Baylor Bears, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, and Texas Tech Red Raiders. According to a survey of Division I-A coaches, the rivalry between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas, the Red River Shootout, is ranked the third best collegiate rivalry in the nation. The rivalry between the two largest universities in the state, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas, is called the Lone Star Showdown.

Texas is an American Football recruiting hotbed for college teams nationwide. In 2006, 170 players in the NFL were from Texas high schools. The University Interscholastic League (UIL) organizes most primary and secondary school competitions. Events organized by UIL include athletics as well as the arts and academic subjects such as mathematics.

From 1905–1915, people in Dallas and Fort Worth turned out by the thousands for horse racing, which was usually tied to the state fair schedule. Dallas established a Jockey Club early on. The Fort Worth Driving Club (for owners of Standardbred trotters and pacers) had 101 members when it opened in 1905. Trotters raced at a park in Fort Worth, but both cities attracted thousands of people for each style of racing.

Texans also enjoy going to the rodeo. The annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the world. The event begins with trail rides that originate from several points throughout the state, of which convene at Reliant Park. The World’s first rodeo was held in Pecos, Texas on July 4, 1883. The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth, Texas has a cowboy, a Mexican and many traditional rodeos. The State Fair of Texas is held in Dallas, Texas each year at Fair Park.

Other popular sports in Texas include golf, fishing, and auto racing.


The Commonwealth Fund ranks the Texas healthcare system the third worst in the nation. It also ranks Texas close to last in access to healthcare, quality of care, avoidable hospital spending, and equity among various groups. Causes of the state's poor rankings include: politics, a high poverty rate, and illegal immigration, Texas having the highest rate in the nation. In May 2006, Texas initiated the program "code red" in response to the report that the state had 25.1 percent of the population without health insurance, the largest proportion in the nation. Texas also has controversial non-economic damages caps medical malpractice lawsuits set at $250,000, in an attempt to "curb rising malpractice premiums, and control escalating healthcare costs".

The Trust for America's Health ranked Texas 12th highest adult obesity rate, 24.6 percent, nationwide, and the 4th highest in the percentage of overweight high school students, 13.9 percent. The 2008 Men's Health obesity survey ranked four Texas cities among the top 25 fattest cities in America; Houston ranked 6th, Dallas 7th, El Paso 8th, and Arlington 14th. Austin was the only Texan city in the top 25 among the "fittest cities" in America and ranked 21st. The same survey has evaluated the state's obesity initiatives favorably with a "B+".

Medical research

Texas is home to elite research medical centers. The state has eight medical schools, three dental schools, and one optometry school. Texas has two Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories: one at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, and the other at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio—the first privately owned BSL-4 lab in the United States.

The Texas Medical Center, in Houston, is the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions, with 45 member institutions in the Texas Medical Center. More heart transplants are performed at Texas Medical Center than anywhere else in the world. San Antonio's South Texas Medical Center facilities rank sixth in clinical medicine research impact in the United States with the University of Texas Health Science Center being another highly ranked research and educational institution.

Dallas is home to the American Heart Association and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, "among the top academic medical centers in the world". The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at the center employs the most medical school Nobel laureates in the world. The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is one of the world’s highly regarded academic institutions devoted to cancer patient care, research, education and prevention.


The American Legislative Exchange Council ranked Texas 26 among the 50 states for education in 2007. Texas students ranked higher than average in mathematics, but lower in reading. Between 2005–2006, Texas spent $7,584 per pupil ranking it below the national average of $9,295. The pupil/teacher ratio was 15.0 slightly below average. Instructors were paid $38,130, below the national average. 10.8% of the educational funding in Texas came from the federal government, 89.22% from state funding.

The state's public school systems are administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Texas has over 1,000 school districts—all districts except the Stafford Municipal School District are independent from municipal government and many cross city boundaries. School districts have the power to tax their residents and to assert eminent domain over privately owned property. The "Robin Hood plan" is a controversial tax redistribution system that provides court-mandated equitable school financing for school districts. Property tax revenue from property-wealthy school districts is distributed to those in property-poor districts, in an effort to equalize the public school financing for children throughout Texas. The TEA has no authority over private school operations; private schools may or may not be accredited, and achievement tests are not required for private school graduating seniors. Neither TEA nor the local school district has authority to regulate home school activities.

The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is a standardized test used in Texas primary and secondary schools to assess students' attainment of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies skills required under Texas education standards. Though created before the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, it complies with the law. In spring 2007, Texas legislators replaced the TAKS for freshmen in the 2011–2012 school year and onward with End of Course exams for core high school classes.

Colleges and universities

There are 181 colleges and universities, and dozens of other institutions engaged in the research and development of Texas within five different university systems.. The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, University of Houston and the University of North Texas are Texas's four largest comprehensive doctoral degree granting institutions with a combined enrollment of over 145,000. Texas's controversial alternative affirmative action plan, Texas House Bill 588, guarantees Texas students who graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class automatic admission to state-funded universities. The bill was created to encourage diversity while avoiding problems stemming from the Hopwood v. Texas (1996) case. As for private universities, Rice University—one of the country’s leading teaching and research universities—ranked the 17th-best university overall in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Southern Methodist University, located in Dallas, was recently ranked the 13th-best university in the nation by the Center for College Affordability & Productivity. Additionally, Baylor University, in Waco, and Southwestern University, near Austin, are two of the longest established universities and were chartered by the Republic of Texas.

See also


Further reading

External links

State Government

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