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Texas ( ) is the second-largest U.S. state in both area and population, and the largest state in the contiguous United States.The name had wide usage among native Americans, meaning "friends" or "allies". Located in the South Central United States, Texas is bordered by Mexicomarker to the south, New Mexicomarker to the west, Oklahomamarker to the north, Arkansasmarker to the northeast, and Louisianamarker to the east. Texas has an area of , and a growing population of 24.6 million residents. Houstonmarker is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States, while Dallas–Fort Worth and Houston are the 4th and 6th largest United States metropolitan areas.Other major cities include San Antoniomarker, El Pasomarker, and Austinmarker—the state capital. Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify Texas as an independent republic and as a reminder of the state's struggle for independence from Mexico. The "Lone Star" can be found on the Texas State Flag and on the Texas State Seal today.

Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes that resemble both the American Southeast and the Southwest. Although Texas is popularly associated with the Southwestern deserts, less than 10% of the land area is desert. Most of the population centers are located in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bendmarker. Due to its long history as a center of the American cattle industry, Texas is associated with the image of the cowboy.

The term "six flags over Texas" came from the several nations that had rule over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. Francemarker held a short-lived colony in Texas. Mexicomarker controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845 it joined the United States as the 28th state. The state's annexation set off a chain of events that caused the Mexican–American War in 1846. Texas declared its secession from the United States in early 1861, joining the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. After the war and its restoration to the Union, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.

In the early 1900s, oil discoveriesmarker initiated an economic boom in the state. Texas has since economically diversified. Today it has more Fortune 500 companies than any other U.S. state. With a growing base of industry, the state is a leader in many, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. It leads the nation in export revenue since 2002 and has the second-highest gross state product.


Pre-European era

Texas lies between two major cultural spheres of Pre-Columbian North America: the Southwestern and the Plains areas. Archaeologists have found that three major indigenous cultures lived in this territory, and reached their developmental peak before the first European contact. These were:

No culture was dominant in the present-day Texas region, and many peoples inhabited the area. Native American tribes that lived inside the boundaries of present-day Texas include the Alabama, Apache, Atakapan, Bidai, Caddo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Tonkawa, and Wichita. The name Texas derives from , a word in the Caddoan language of the Hasinai, which means "friends" or "allies".

Whether a Native American tribe was friendly or warlike was critical to the fates of European explorers and settlers in that land. Friendly tribes taught newcomers how to grow indigenous crops, prepare foods, and hunt wild game. Warlike tribes made life difficult and dangerous for Europeans through their attacks and resistance to the newcomers.


The first historical document related to Texas was a map of the Gulf Coast, created in 1519 by Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda. Nine years later, shipwrecked Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his cohort became the first European in Texas. European powers ignored Texas until accidentally settling there in 1685. Miscalculations by René Robert Cavelier de La Salle resulted in his establishing the colony of Fort Saint Louis at Matagorda Baymarker rather than along the Mississippi River. The colony lasted only four years before succumbing to harsh conditions and hostile natives.

In 1690 Spanish authorities, concerned that France posed competitive threat, constructed several missions in East Texas. After Native American resistance, the Spanish missionaries returned to Mexico. When France began settling Louisiana, mostly in the southern part of the state, in 1716 Spanish authorities responded by founding a new series of missions in East Texas. Two years later, they created San Antoniomarker as the first Spanish civilian settlement in Texas.

Hostile native tribes and distance from nearby Spanish colonies discouraged settlers from moving to Texas. It was one of New Spain's least populated provinces. In 1749, the Spanish peace treaty with the Lipan Apache angered many tribes, including the Comanche, Tonkawa, and Hasinai. The Comanche signed a treaty with Spain in 1785 and later helped to defeat the Lipan Apache and Karankawa tribes. With more numerous missions being established, priests led a peaceful conversion of most tribes. By the end of the 1700s only a few nomadic tribes had not converted to Christianity.

When the United States purchased Louisiana from France in 1801, American authorities insisted that the agreement also included Texas. The boundary between New Spain and the United States was finally set at the Sabine Rivermarker in 1819. Eager for new land, many United States settlers refused to recognize the agreement. Several filibuster raised armies to invade Texas. In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence included the Texas territory, which became part of Mexico. Due to its low population, Mexico made the area part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas.

Hoping that more settlers would reduce the near-constant Comanche raids, Mexican Texas liberalized its immigration policies to permit immigrants from outside Mexico and Spain. Under the Mexican immigration system, large swathes of land were allotted to empresarios, who recruited settlers from the United States, Europe, and the Mexican interior. The first grant, to Moses Austin, was passed to his son Stephen F. Austin after his death.

Austin's settlers, the Old Three Hundred, made places along the Brazos River in 1822. Twenty-three other empresarios brought settlers to the state, the majority of whom were from the United States. The population of Texas grew rapidly. In 1825, Texas had a population of approximately 3,500, with most of Mexican descent. By 1834, Texas had grown to approximately 37,800 people, with only 7,800 of Mexican descent.

Many immigrants openly flouted Mexican law, especially the prohibition against slavery. Combined with United States' attempts to purchase Texas, Mexican authorities decided in 1830 to prohibit continued immigration from the United States. New laws also called for the enforcement of customs duties angering both native Mexican citizens (Tejanos) and recent immigrants.

The Anahuac Disturbances in 1832 were the first open revolt against Mexican rule and they coincided with a revolt in Mexico against the nation's president. Texians sided with the federalists against the current government and drove all Mexican soldiers out of East Texas. They took advantage of the lack of oversight to agitate for more political freedom. Texians met at the Convention of 1832 to discuss requesting independent statehood, among other issues. The following year, Texians reiterated their demands at the Convention of 1833.


Within Mexico, tensions continued between federalists and centralists. In early 1835, wary Texians formed Committees of Correspondence and Safety. The unrest erupted into armed conflict in late 1835 at the Battle of Gonzales. This launched the Texas Revolution, and over the next two months, the Texians successfully defeated all Mexican troops in the region. Texians elected delegates to the Consultation, which created a provisional government. The provisional government soon collapsed from infighting, and Texas was without clear governance for the first two months of 1836.

During this time of political turmoil, Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna personally led an army to end the revolt. The Mexican expedition was initially successful. General Jose de Urrea defeated all the Texian resistance along the coast culminating in the Goliad Massacre. Santa Anna's forces, after a thirteen-day siege, overwhelmed Texian defenders at the Battle of the Alamomarker. News of the defeats sparked panic amongst Texas settlers.The newly-elected Texian delegates to the Convention of 1836 quickly signed a Declaration of Independence on March 2, forming the Republic of Texas. After electing interim officers, the Convention disbanded. The new government joined the other settlers in Texas in the Runaway Scrape, fleeing from the approaching Mexican army. After several weeks of retreat, the Texian Army commanded by Sam Houston attacked and defeated Santa Anna's forces at the Battle of San Jacintomarker. Santa Anna was captured and forced to sign the Treaties of Velasco, ending the war.

While Texas had won their independence, political battles raged between two factions of the new Republic. The nationalist faction, led by Mirabeau B. Lamar, advocated the continued independence of Texas, the expulsion of the Native Americans, and the expansion of the Republic to the Pacific Ocean. Their opponents, led by Sam Houston, advocated the annexation of Texas to the United States and peaceful co-existence with Native Americans. The conflict between the factions was typified by an incident known as the Texas Archive War.

Mexico launched two small expeditions into Texas in 1842. The town of San Antonio was captured twice and Texans were defeated in battle in the Dawson Massacre. Despite these successes, Mexico did not keep an occupying force in Texas, and the republic survived. The republic's inability to defend itself added momentum to Texas's eventual annexation into the United States.


As early as 1837, the Republic made several attempts to negotiate annexation with the United States. Opposition within the republic from the nationalist faction, along with strong abolitionist opposition within the United States, slowed Texas's admission into the Union. Texas was finally annexed when the expansionist James K. Polk won the election of 1844. On December 29, 1845, Congress admitted Texas to the U.S. as a constituent state of the Union.

When Texas was annexed, Mexico broke diplomatic relations with the United States. While the United States claimed that Texas's border stretched to the Rio Grande, Mexico claimed it was the Nueces Rivermarker. While the former Republic of Texas could not enforce its border claims, the United States had the military strength and the political will to do so. President Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor south to the Rio Grande on January 13, 1846. A few months later Mexican troops routed an American cavalry patrol in the disputed area in the Thornton Affair starting the Mexican-American War. The first battles were fought in Texas: the Siege of Fort Texas, Battle of Palo Alto and Battle of Resaca de la Palma. After these decisive victories, the United States invaded Mexican territory ending the fighting in Texas.

After a series of United States victories, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the two year war. In return, for US $18,250,000, Mexico gave the U.S. undisputed control of Texas, ceded the Mexican Cession in 1848, most of which today is called the American Southwest, and Texas's borders were established at the Rio Grande.

The Compromise of 1850 set Texas's boundaries at their present form. Texas ceded its claims to land which later became half of present day New Mexicomarker, a third of Coloradomarker, and small portions of Kansasmarker, Oklahomamarker, and Wyomingmarker to the federal government, in return for the 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

Texas was at war again after the election of 1860. Abraham Lincoln's election triggered South Carolina's declaration of secession from the Union. A State Convention considering secession opened in Austin on January 28, 1861. On February 1, by a vote of 166–8, the Convention adopted an Ordinance of Secession from the United States. Texas voters approved this Ordinance on February 23, 1861. Texas joined the Confederate States of America, ratifying the permanent C.S. Constitution on March 23, 1861. Not all Texans favored secession initially, although many of the same would later support the Southern cause. Texas's most notable unionist was the state Governor, Sam Houston. Not wanting to aggravate the situation further, Houston refused two offers from President Lincoln for Union troops to keep him in office. After refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, Houston was deposed as governor.

While far from the major battlefields of the American Civil War, Texas contributed large numbers of men and equipment to the rest of the Confederacy. Though few battles were fought in Texas, Union troops briefly occupied the state's primary port, Galveston. Texas's border with Mexico was known as the "backdoor of the Confederacy" because trade occurred at the border, bypassing the Union blockade. The Confederacy repulsed all Union attempts to shut down this route, but Texas's role as a supply state was marginalized in mid-1863 after the Union capture of the Mississippi River. The final battle of the Civil War was fought near Brownsville Texas at Palmito Ranchmarker.

Texas descended into near anarchy for two months between the surrendermarker of the Army of Northern Virginia and the assumption of authority by Union General Gordon Granger. Violence marked the early months of Reconstruction. Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston by General Gordon Granger, over two and a half years after the original announcement. President Johnson, in 1866, declared the civilian government restored in Texas. Despite not meeting reconstruction requirements, Congress readmitted Texas into the Unionmarker in 1870. Social volatility continued as the state struggled with agricultural depression and labor issues.

Modern era

On January 10, 1901, the first major oil well in Texas, Spindletopmarker, was found south of Beaumontmarker. Other fields were later discovered nearby in East Texasmarker, West Texas, and under the Gulf of Mexicomarker. The resulting "Oil Boom" transformed Texas. Oil production eventually averaged three million barrels per day at its peak in 1972.

The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl dealt a double blow to the state's economy, which had significantly improved since the Civil War. 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 Californiamarker and to escape the oppression of segregation. = 2008-04-27

On November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated president John F. Kennedy. Texas Governor John B. Connally was also critically injured in the incident but survived. On Air Force One at Dallas's Love Field Airportmarker, Kennedy's vice president, the Texan Lyndon Baines Johnson, was sworn in as the 36th president.

Texas modernized and expanded its system of higher education through the 1960s. Under the leadership of Governor Connally, the state created a comprehensive 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.


Texas is the second largest U.S. state, behind Alaska, with an area of . It is 10% larger than France and almost twice as large as Germany or Japan, though it ranks only 27th worldwide amongst country subdivisions by size. If it were a country, Texas would be the 40th largest behind Chile and Zambia.

Texas is in the south-central part of the United States of America. Three of its borders are defined by rivers. The Rio Grandemarker river forms a natural border with the Mexican states of Chihuahuamarker, Coahuilamarker, Nuevo Leónmarker, and Tamaulipasmarker to the south. The Red Rivermarker forms a natural border with Oklahoma and Arkansas to the north. The Sabine Rivermarker forms a natural border with Louisiana to the east. The Texas Panhandlemarker 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. El Pasomarker lies on the state's western tip at 32° N and the Rio Grande.

With 10 climatic regions, 14 soil regions, and 11 distinct ecological regions, regional classification becomes problematic with differences in soils, topography, geology, rainfall, and plant and animal communities. One classification system divides Texas, in order southeast to west, into the following: Gulf Coastal Plainsmarker, Interior Lowlands, Great Plainsmarker, and Basin and Range Province. The Gulf Coastal Plains region wraps around the Gulf of Mexico on the southeast section of the state. Vegetation in this region consists of thick pineywoods. The Interior Lowlands region consists of gently rolling to hilly forested land is part of a larger pine-hardwood forest. The Great Plains region in central Texas is located in spans through the state's panhandle to the state's hill country near Austin. This region is dominated by prairie and steppe. In the state's extreme west, is the state's Basin and Range Province. The most complex of the regions, this area includes Sand Hills, the Stockton Plateau, desert valleys, wooded mountain slopes and desert grasslands.

Texas has 3,700 named streams and 15 major rivers. The largest of these rivers is Rio Grande. While Texas does not have any large natural lakes, Texans have built over 100 artificial reservoirs.

Texas's size and unique history makes its regional affiliation 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.


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 forms 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: Llanomarker uplift, Van Hornmarker, and the Franklin Mountains, near El Paso. Sedimentary rocks overlay most of these ancient 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 MountainsmarkerOuachita Mountainsmarker zone of Pennsylvanian continental collision. This orogenic crest is today buried beneath the Dallas–Wacomarker—Austin–San Antonio trend.

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 to of sediments are buried beneath the Texas continental shelf and a large proportion of remaining US oil reserves are located 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 salt dome diapirs, and are found in East Texas along the Gulf coast.

East Texas outcrops consist of Cretaceous and Paleogene sediments which contain important deposits of Eocene lignite. The Mississippian and Pennsylvanian sediments in the north; Permian sediments in the west; and Cretaceous sediments in the east, along the Gulf coast and out on the Texas continental shelf contain oil. Oligocene volcanic rocks are found in far west Texas in the Big Bendmarker area. A blanket of Miocene sediments known as the Ogallala formationmarker in the western high plains region is an important aquifer. Located far from an active plate tectonic boundary, Texas has no volcanoes and few earthquakes.


The large size of Texas and its location at the intersection of multiple climate zones gives the state very variable weather. The Panhandle of the state has colder winters 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.

Generally, snow falls multiple times each winter in the Panhandle and mountainous areas of West Texas, once or twice a year in North Texas, and once every few years in Central and East Texas. Snow rarely falls south of San Antonio or on the coast except in rare circumstances. Of note is the 2004 Christmas Eve Snowstorm was the first recorded White Christmas in Houston where 6 inches of snow fell as far south as Kingsvillemarker, where the average high temperature in December is 65° F.

Maximum temperatures in the summer months average from the 80s °F (26 °C) in the mountains of West Texas and on Galveston Islandmarker to around in the Rio Grande Valley, but most areas of Texas see consistent summer high temperatures in the range.

Night time summer temperatures range from the upper 50s °F (14 °C) in the West Texas mountains to in Galveston.

Thunderstorms strike Texas often, especially the eastern and northern portions of the state. Tornado Alley covers the northern section of Texas. The state experiences the most tornadoes in the United States, 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 Indianolamarker, followed by another hurricane in 1886 that destroyed the town. At the time Indianola was the most important port city in the state and these events allowed Galvestonmarker to take over as the chief port city. The Galveston hurricane of 1900marker subsequently devastated that city killing 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. Tropical storms have also caused their share of damage: Allison in 1989 and again during 2001, and Claudette in 1979 among them.

Texas emits the most greenhouse gases in the U.S. The state emits nearly 1.5 trillion pounds (680 billion kg) of carbon dioxide annually. As an independent nation, Texas would rank as the world's seventh-largest producer of greenhouse gases. Causes of the state's vast greenhouse gas emissions include the state's large number of coal power plants and the state's refining and manufacturing industries.


Texas Population Density Map
As of 2008, the state has an estimated population of 24,236,974, an increase of 2.0% from the prior year and 16.1% since the year 2000. The state's rate of natural increase (births - deaths) 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. Texas from 2000–2006 had the fastest growing illegal immigration rate in the nation.

Texas's population density is 34.8 persons/km2 which is slightly higher than the average population density of the US as a whole, at 31 persons/km2. In contrast, while Texas and France are similarly sized geographically, the European country has a population density of 110 persons/km2.

Two-thirds of all Texans live in a major metropolitan area such as Houston. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area is the largest in Texas. While Houston is legally the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States, the Dallas-Fort Worth conglomerate is much bigger than Houston and all surrounding suburban areas.

Racial group and ethnic origins

As of the 2006 US Census estimates, the racial distributions in Texas are as follows:

Grouped by ethnicity, the population was:

German descendants inhabit much of central and southeast-central Texas. Over one-third of Texas residents are of Hispanic origin; while many have recently arrived, some Tejanos have ancestors with multigenerational ties to 18th century Texas. In addition to the descendants of the state's former slave population, many African American college graduates have come to the state for work recently in the New Great Migration. Recently, the Asian population in Texas has grown—primarily in Houston and Dallas. Other communities with a significantly growing Asian American population is in Austin, Corpus Christi, and the Sharyland area next McAllen, Texasmarker. Currently, three federally recognized Native American tribes reside in Texas: the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe, and the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo.


Roman Catholic 28%
Baptist 21%
No religion 11%
Methodist 8%
Christian - Others 7%
Lutheran 3%
Pentecostal 3%
Presbyterian 2%
Episcopalian 1%
Islam 1%
Non-denominational 2%
Mormon 2%
Jehovah's Witnesses 1%
Assemblies of God 1%
Church of God 1%
Other 2%
Lakewood Church interior
Texas has the highest percentage of people with a religious affiliation in the United States. 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.

Known as the "buckle" of the Bible Belt, East Texas is socially conservative. Dallas-Fort Worth, home to three major evangelical seminaries and a host of monasteries as well as the landmark University of Dallas, a Catholic school of Theology and seminary. Lakewood Churchmarker in Houston, although not considered a "church" in the traditional sense of the word, boasts the largest attendance in the nation averaging more than 43,000 weekly. Lubbockmarker, according to local lore, has the most churches per capita in the nation.

Adherents of many non-Christian religions reside predominantly in the urban centers of Texas. Approximately 400,000 Muslims live in Texas while the Jewish population stands at approximately 128,000. Approximately 146,000 adherents of non Abrahamic religions such as Hinduism and Sikhism live in Texas.

Cities and towns

The state has the most cities with populations exceeding 1,000,000: Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. These three rank among the 10 most populous cities of the United States. As of 2000, six Texas cities had populations greater than 500,000. Austin, Fort Worth, and El Paso are among the 25 largest U.S. cities. Texas has four metropolitan areas with populations greater than 1,000,000: Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin-Round Rock. The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metropolitan areas number about 6.3 million and 5.7 million residents, respectively. Three interstate highways I-35 to the west (Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio, with Austin in between), I-45 to the east (Dallas to Houston), and I-10 to the south (San Antonio to Houston) define the Texas Urban Trianglemarker region. The 60,000 square mile region contains most of the state's largest cities and metropolitan areas as well as 17 million people, nearly 75 percent of Texas's total population. Dallas and Houston have been recognized as beta world cities.

In contrast to the cities, unincorporated rural settlements known as colonias often lack basic infrastructure and are marked by poverty. As of 2007, Texas had at least 2,294 colonias, located primarily along the state's border with Mexico. Texas has the largest concentration of people, approximately 400,000, living in colonias.

Government and politics

The current Texas Constitution was adopted in 1876. Like many states, it explicitly provides for a separation of powers. The state's Bill of Rights is much larger than its federal counterpart, and has provisions unique to Texas.

State government

Texas has a plural executive branch system limiting the power of the Governor. Except for the Secretary of State, voters elect executive officers independently making candidates directly answerable to the public, not the Governor. This election system has led to some executive branches split between parties. When Republican President George W. Bush served as Texas's governor, the state had a Democratic Lieutenant Governor, Bob Bullock. The executive branch positions consist 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, 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 spans from the previous calendar year's September 1 to the current year's August 31. Thus, the FY 2008 dates from September 1, 2007 through August 31, 2008.

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 Courtmarker, for civil cases, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appealsmarker. 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 – 442 as of October 2009 (see Capital punishment in Texas).

The Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption. They have acted as riot police and as detectives, protected the Texas governor, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a paramilitary force both for the republic and the state. The Texas Rangers were unofficially created by Stephen F. Austin in 1823 and formally constituted in 1835. The Rangers were part of several important events of Texas history and some of the best-known criminal cases in the history of the Old West.


Lyndon B.
Johnson, Texan and 36th president of the United States
As in other "Solid South" states, whites resented the Republican Party after the American Civil War, and the Democratic Party dominated Texas politics from the end of Reconstruction until the late 20th century. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he reportedly said "We have lost the South for a generation".

The Texas political atmosphere leans towards fiscal and social conservatism. Since 1980, most Texas voters have supported Republican presidential candidates. In 2000 and 2004, Republican George W. Bush won Texas with 60.1% of the vote, partly due to his "favorite son" status as a former Governor of the state. John McCain won the state in 2008, but with a smaller margin of victory compared to Bush at 55% of the vote. Austin consistently leans Democratic in both local and statewide elections. Houstonmarker, San Antoniomarker and Dallasmarker remain approximately split. Counties along the Rio Grande generally vote for conservative Democrats, while most rural and suburban areas of Texas vote Republican.

The 2003 Texas redistricting of congressional districts led by the Republican Tom Delay, was called by the New York Times "an extreme case of partisan gerrymandering". A group of Democratic legislators, the "Texas Eleven", fled the state in a quorum-busting effort. Despite these efforts, the legislature passed a map heavily in favor of Republicans. Protests of the redistricting reached the national Supreme court in the case League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, but the ruling went in the Republicans' favor.

As of the general elections of 2008, a large majority of the members of Texas's U.S. House delegation are Republican, along with both U.S. Senators. In the 111th United States Congress, of the 32 congressional districts in Texas, 20 are held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats. Texas's Senators are Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn. Since 1994, Texans have not elected a Democrat to a statewide office. The state's Democratic presence comes primarily from some minority groups and urban voters, particularly in El Paso, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston.

Administrative divisions

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

Although Texas permits cities and counties to enter "interlocal agreements" to share services, the state does not allow consolidated city-county governments, nor does it have metropolitan governments. 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 either "general law" cities or "home rule". A municipality may elect home rule status once it exceeds 5,000 population with voter approval. Municipal elections are nonpartisan as are elections for school boards and community college districts.


Texas had a gross state product (GSP) of $1.09 trillion, the second highest in the U.S. Its GSP is comparable to the GDP of India or Canada which are ranked 12th and 11th worldwide. Texas's economy is the third largest in the world of country subdivisions behind California and Tokyo Prefecturemarker. Its Per Capita personal income in 2007 was $37,083, ranking 22nd in the nation. Texas's large population, abundance of natural resources, and diverse population and geography have led to a large and diverse economy. Since oil was discovered, the state's economy has reflected the state of the petroleum industry. In recent times, urban centers of the state have increased in size, containing two-thirds of the population in 2005. The state's economic growth has led to excessive urban sprawl and its associated symptoms.

Texas has a "low taxes, low services" reputation. According to the Tax Foundation, Texans' state and local tax burdens rank among the lowest in the nation, 7th lowest nationally; state and local taxes cost $3,580 per capita, or 8.7% of resident incomes. Texas is one of six states that lack a state income tax. Instead, the state collects revenue from a state sales tax, which is charged at the rate of 6.25%. Texas is a "tax donor state"; in 2005, for every dollar Texans paid to the federal government in federal income taxes, the state received approximately $0.94 in benefits.

In 2004, Site Selection Magazine ranked Texas as the most business friendly state in the nation in part because of the state's three-billion-dollar Texas Enterprise Fund. The state holds the most Fortune 500 company headquarters in the United States.

Agriculture and mining

Texas has the most farms and the highest acreage in the United States. Texas leads the nation livestock production. Cattle is the state's most valuable agricultural product, and the state leads nationally in production of sheep and goat products. Texas leads the nation in production of cotton. The state grows significant amounts of cereal crops and produce. Texas has a large commercial fishing industry. With mineral resources, Texas leads in creating cement, crushed stone, lime, salt, sand and gravel.


An oil well
Ever since the discovery of oil at Spindletopmarker, energy has been a dominant force politically and economically within the state. According to the Energy Information Administration, Texans consume the most energy in the nation per capita and as a whole. Unlike the rest of the nation, most of Texas is on its own alternating current power grid, the Texas Interconnection. Despite the California electricity crisis, Texas still has a deregulated 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 controlled 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.

Texas has known petroleum deposits of about , which makes up approximately one-fourth of the known U.S. reserves. The state's refineries can process of oil a day. The Baytown Refinerymarker in the Houston area is the largest refinery in America. Texas also leads in natural gas production, producing one-fourth of the nation's supply. Several petroleum companies are based in Texas such as: Conoco-Phillips, Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, Valero, and Marathon Oil.

The state is a leader in renewable energy sources; it produces the most wind power in the nation. The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Centermarker in Taylormarker and Nolan Countymarker, Texas, is the world's largest wind farm as of November 2008 with a 735.5 megawatt (MW) capacity. The Energy Information Administration states that the state's large agriculture and forestry industries could give Texas an enormous amount biomass for use in biofuels. The state also has the highest solar power potential for development in the nation.


With large universities systems coupled with initiatives like the Texas Enterprise Fund 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". Texas has the headquarters of many high technology companies, such as Dell, Inc., Texas Instrumentsmarker, Perot Systems, AT&T and Electronic Data Systems (EDS).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administrationmarker's Lyndon B.marker Johnson Space Centermarker (NASA JSC) located in Southeast Houston, sits as the crown jewel of Texas's aeronautics industry. Fort Worthmarker hosts both Lockheed Martin's Aeronautics division and Bell Helicopter Textron. Lockheed builds the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the largest Western fighter program, and its successor, the F-35 Lightning II in Fort Worth.


Texas's affluence stimulates a strong commercial sector consisting of retail, wholesale, banking and insurance, and construction industries. Examples of Fortune 500 companies 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 mallmarker in the United States, has the most shopping malls per capita of any American metropolitan area.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) contributes to Mexico, the state's largest trading partner, importing a third of the state's exports. NAFTA has encouraged the formation of controversial maquiladoras on the Texas/Mexico border.


Texans have historically had difficulties traversing Texas due to the state's large size and rough terrain. Texas has compensated by building both America's largest highway and railway systems in terms of mileage, as well as the largest number of airports. The regulatory authority, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintains the state's immense highway system, regulates aviation, and public transportation systems.Located in centrally in North America, the state is an important transportation hub. From the Dallas/Fort Worth area, trucks can reach 93% of the nation's population within 48 hours, and 37% within 24 hours. Texas has 33 foreign trade zones (FTZ), the most in the nation. In 2004, a combined total of $298 billion of goods passed though Texas FTZs.


I-10 and I-45 interchange in Houston

Texans have heavily traveled their freeways since the 1948 opening of the Gulf Freeway in Houston. As of 2005, of public highway crisscrossed Texas (up from in 1984). To fund recent growth in the state highways, Texas has 17 toll roads (see list) with several additional tollways proposed. In west Texas, both I-10 and I-20 have speed limits of , the highest in the nation. Every mile of federal and state highway in Texas is paved.


Texas has the most airports of any state in the nation. Largest of these is Dallas-Fort Worth International Airportmarker (DFW), the second largest in the United States, and fourth in the world. In traffic, DFW is the busiest in the state, fourth in the United States, and sixth worldwide. AMR Corporation's American / American Eagle, the world's largest airline in total passengers-miles transported and passenger fleet size, uses DFW as its largest and main hub. Southwest Airlinesmarker, also headquartered in Dallas, began its operations at Dallas Love Fieldmarker. It ranks as 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.

Texas's second-largest air facility is Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airportmarker (IAH). It serves as Houston based Continental Airlines's largest hub. IAH offers service to the most Mexican destinations of any U.S. airport.


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 connect with the rest of the U.S. Atlantic seaboard with the Gulf section of the Intracoastal Waterway. The Port of Houston today is the busiest port in the United States in foreign tonnage, second in overall tonnage, and tenth worldwide in tonnage. The Houston Ship Channelmarker currently spans wide by deep by long.


Part of the state's tradition originates from cattle drives in which wrangler herded livestock to railroad in Kansas. The first railroad to operate in Texas was the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway, opening in August 1853..The first railroad to enter Texas from the north, completed in 1872, was the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. Since 1911, Texas has led the nation in railroad length. Texas railway mileage peaked in 1932 at , but declined to by 2000. While the Railroad Commission of Texas originally regulated state railroads, in 2005 the state reassigned these duties to TxDOT.

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

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


Historically, Texas culture comes from a blend of Southwestern (Mexican), Southern (Dixie), and Western (frontier) influences. A popular food item, the breakfast burrito, draws from all three influences, having 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, 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 Theatremarker. Known for the vibrancy of its visual and performing arts, the Houston Theatre District—a 17-block area in the heart of Downtown Houston—ranks second in the country in the number of theater seats in a concentrated downtown area, with 12,948 seats for live performances and 1,480 movie seats.

Founded in 1892, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, also called "The Modern", is Texas's oldest art museum. Fort Worth also has the Kimbell Art Museummarker, the Amon Carter Museummarker, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Famemarker, the Will Rogers Memorial Centermarker, and the Bass Performance Hallmarker downtown. The Arts Districtmarker of Downtown Dallas has arts venues such as the Dallas Museum of Artmarker, the Morton H.marker Meyerson Symphony Centermarker, the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera Housemarker, the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Artmarker, and the Nasher Sculpture Centermarker.

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 comes 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.

Austin, the The Live Music Capital of the World, boasts "more live music venues per capita than such music hotbeds as Nashville, Memphis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas or New York City." The city's music revolves around the nightclubs on 6th Street; events like the film, music, and multimedia festival South by Southwest; the longest-running concert music program on American television, Austin City Limits; and the Austin City Limits Music Festivalmarker held in Zilker Parkmarker.

Since 1980, San Antonio has evolved into the "The Tejano Music Capital Of The World." 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 can cheer for a plethora of professional sports teams. Within the "Big Four" professional leagues, Texas has two NFL teams (the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans), two Major League Baseball teams (the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros), three NBA teams (the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Dallas Mavericks), and one National Hockey League team (the Dallas Stars). The Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex is one of only thirteen American cities that hosts sports teams from all the "Big Four" professional leagues. Outside of the "Big Four" leagues, Texas also has one WNBA team (the San Antonio Silver Stars) and two Major League Soccer teams (the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas).

Collegiate athletics have deep significance in Texas culture. The state has ten Division I-FBS schools, the most in the nation. The four largest programs in the state, the Baylor Bearsmarker, Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, and Texas Tech Red Raiders, belong to the Big 12 Conference. According to a survey of Division I-A coaches the rivalry between the University of Oklahomamarker and the University of Texas, the Red River Shootout, ranks the third best in the nation. A fierce rivalry, the Lone Star Showdown, also exists between the state's two largest universities, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas.

The University Interscholastic League (UIL) organizes most primary and secondary school competitions. Events organized by UIL include contests in athletics (the most popular being high school football) as well as artistic and academic subjects.

Texans also enjoy the rodeo. The world's first rodeo was hosted in Pecos, Texasmarker. The annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the world. It begins with trail rides that originate from several points throughout the state that convene at Reliant Parkmarker. The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth is the oldest continuously running rodeo incorporating many of the state's most historic traditions into its annual events. Dallas hosts the State Fair of Texas each year at Fair Parkmarker.


The Commonwealth Fund ranks the Texas healthcare system the third worst in the nation. Texas ranks 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 the highest rate of illegal immigration in the nation. In May 2006, Texas initiated the program "code red" in response to the report that the state had 25.1% of the population without health insurance, the largest proportion in the nation. Texas also has controversial non-economic damages caps for 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 15th highest in adult obesity, with 27.2% of the state's population measured as obese. 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 Arlingtonmarker 14th. Texas had only one city, Austin, ranked 21st, in the top 25 among the "fittest cities" in America. The same survey has evaluated the state's obesity initiatives favorably with a "B+".

Medical research

Aerial of Texas Medical Center in Houston
Many elite research medical centers are located in Texas. The state has nine 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 Branchmarker (UTMB) in Galveston, and the other at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Researchmarker in San Antonio—the first privately owned BSL-4 lab in the United States.

The Texas Medical Centermarker in Houston, holds the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions, with 47 member institutions. Texas Medical Center performs the most heart transplants in the world. The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is a highly regarded academic institution that centers around cancer patient care, research, education and prevention.

San Antonio's South Texas Medical Center facilities rank sixth in clinical medicine research impact in the United States. The University of Texas Health Science Center is another highly ranked research and educational institution in San Antonio.

Both the American Heart Association and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center call Dallas home. The Southwestern Medical Center ranks "among the top academic medical centers in the world". The institution's medical schoolmarker employs the most medical school Nobel laureates in the world.


The second president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, is the Father of Texas Education. During his term, the state set aside three leagues of land in each county for equipping public schools. An additional 50 leagues of land set aside for the support of two universities would later become the basis of the state's Permanent University Fund. Lamar's actions set the foundation for a Texas-wide public school system. Texas ranked 26 in the American Legislative Exchange Council's Report Card on American Education. 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. Texas paid instructors $38,130, below the national average. The state provided 89.22% of the funding for education, the federal government 10.8%.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) administers the state's public school systems. 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. Due to court-mandated equitable school financing for school districts, the state has a controversial tax redistribution system called the"Robin Hood plan". This plan transfers property tax revenue from wealthy school districts to poor ones. The TEA has no authority over private or home school activities.

Students in Texas take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) in primary and secondary school. TAKS assess students' attainment of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies skills required under Texas education standards and the No Child Left Behind Act. 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

Texas's controversial alternative affirmative action plan, Texas House Bill 588, guarantees Texas students who graduated in the percent of their high school class automatic admission to state-funded universities. The bill encourages diversity while avoiding problems stemming from the Hopwood v. Texas (1996) case.

Texas has six state university systems and four independent public universities. Discovery of minerals on Permanent University Fund land, particularly oil, has helped fund the rapid growth the state's largest university systems: University of Texas and Texas A&Mmarker. The PUF principal in fall 2005 was approximately $15 billion, second in size only to Harvard Universitymarker's endowment. The other four university systems are the , University of North Texas, , and .

The University of Texas at Austinmarker and Texas A&M Universitymarker are flagship universities of the state of Texas. Both were established by the Texas Constitution and hold stakes in the Permanent University Fund. The state is trying to expand the number of flagship universities by elevating some of its seven emerging research universities. The University of Houstonmarker, Texas Tech Universitymarker, and The University of Texas at Dallasmarker are generally considered in the upper echelon from which the next tier one research flagship university will emerge.

Texas has many private institutions ranging from liberal arts colleges to a nationally recognized tier one research university. in Houston is one of the leading teaching and research universities of the United States and ranked the nation's 17th-best overall university by U.S. News & World Report. While Texas did not form public universities until its statehood, the former republic chartered two private universities: and . Other private institutions include Texas Christian Universitymarker, , and Trinity Universitymarker.

Universities in Texas currently host two presidential libraries: George Bush Presidential Librarymarker at Texas A&M University and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museummarker at The University of Texas at Austin. An agreement has been reached to create a third; the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University.

See also


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  • originally published 2004 by New York: Free Press

External links

State Government
  • The State of Texas
  • Texas State Databases - Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Texas state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.
  • Texas Politics. An online textbook from the College of Liberal Arts, The University of Texas.
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