Texas State Facts, Symbols and History
Texas is a state in the southeastern United States. It ranks 2nd in terms of territory after Alaska (695,622 km) and 2nd after California in terms of population – 26,674,681 people (data for 2011). Texas is one of the centers of American agriculture, cattle breeding, education, oil and gas and chemical industries, and financial institutions. The state capital is Austin. Largest cities: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and El Paso Administrative division – counties (254). The people of Texas are called Texans. See cities and towns in Texas.
The name of the state comes from the Spanish word “tejas”, which in turn was a variant of the Indian word – “taysha” (in the language of the Caddo tribes) – meaning “friend”, “ally”.
Texas borders the states of New Mexico (to the west), Oklahoma (to the north), Louisiana and Arkansas (to the east). The southwestern border of Texas runs along the Rio Grande, which separates the United States and Mexico. In the southeast, Texas is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico.
- AbbreviationFinder: Demonstrates how the two-letter acronym of TX stands for Texas and a list of frequently used abbreviations related to the state of Texas.
The eastern and southern parts of Texas are located on the Mexican Lowland (Gulf Coast); rising in the west, it passes into the Eduarde plateau (up to 835 m) and Llano Estacado (up to 1200 m). In the extreme west, the spurs of the Rocky Mountains begin (up to 2665 m high).
The largest rivers of Texas: Red River, Trinity, Brazos, Colorado and Rio Grande; many small rivers in the central and western parts often dry up.
Most of Texas (center and north) is plains covered with shrubs, increasingly thinning to the west, where the steppes and deserts begin. In the east and southeast, savannahs and oak-pine forests have been preserved (areas of the extreme southeast, on the border with Louisiana, are significantly swampy).
Climatically, Texas represents two zones: in the south (along the coast), the climate is subtropical, hot; in the central and northern parts the climate is continental with hot summers and cool winters (average temperature in January is from 1 to 15°С, in July from 25 to 30°С). Precipitation decreases in the direction from east to west from 1000-1300 mm to 200-300 mm per year. Texas is characterized by frequent tornadoes in the central part and occasional tropical cyclones along the coast, leading to serious damage.
Texas is rich in diversity of fauna and flora. The most numerous animals are coyotes, deer, armadillos. Texas has several national reserves.
In Texas, 7 main geographical regions are usually distinguished: 1) Northern Plains (“Panhandle Plains”) – 2) Central Hill Country (“Hill Country”) – 3) Western Region of the “Big Bend” (“Big Bend”) – 4) Central Eastern Prairies and Lakes – 5) Gulf Coast – 6) South Texas Plains – 7) Eastern Pinewoods “). In turn, these geographical areas are often subdivided into regional categories.
According to data for 2000, there are 22 agglomerations and 2 metropolitan areas in Texas (Dallas – Fort Worth – Arlington and Houston – Galveston – Brazoria). Eight federal highways pass through the state – 10, 20, 27, 30, 35, 37, 40, 47, connecting Texas with New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Spanish colonization of Texas
Before the settlement by the Spaniards and European settlers, the modern territory of Texas was the habitat of various Indian tribes: Apache, Atapakan, Bidai, Caddo, Comanche, Cherokee, Kiowa, Tonkawa, Wichita and Karankawa. In the 1870s Apaches left Texas, they were the last Indians who occupied a significant territory of the state. Three native tribes of Texas are currently recognized by the US government: the Alabama and Kushat tribe, the Kickapoo tribe, and the Isleta del sur Pueblo tribe.
In 1519, Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, a Spanish navigator, sailed along the Texas coast and mapped the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. The first European to set foot on the land of Texas (November 6, 1528) was shipwrecked conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. He spent six years in Texas establishing trade links with the local tribes. The first settlement was founded by the Spanish in the Isleta region near present-day El Paso in 1682. Meanwhile, the east of modern Texas began to be developed by the French, who were expanding their colony of Louisiana. On February 18, 1685, Frenchman Rene-Robert Cavalier founded Fort Saint Louis in Matagorda Bay, a French outpost in Texas. In 1690, Alonso de León crossed the Rio Grande and established the Catholic Mission of San Francisco de los Texas in eastern Texas. The mission was located in the area of the old road to San Antonio, the oldest transportation artery in the territory of the modern United States. By the end of the 18th century, the entire territory of modern Texas, together with Mexico, was part of the Spanish colony “New Spain”.
At the beginning of the 19th century, east Texas began to be settled by immigrants from the United States. Moses Austin purchased 800 km; On January 3, 1823, on the Brazos River, Stephen Austin formed a colony of 300 American families (now known as the “Old Three Hundred”). In 1821, New Spain, which included Texas, achieved independence from Spain, and thus Texas became part of the new state of Mexico.
By the mid 1830s. dictatorship and lawlessness in Mexico led to the fact that the state was on the verge of collapse: the territories of Texas and Yucatan expressed – according to constitutional law – a desire to secede. In 1835, Mexican President General Antonio López de Santa Anna proposed a new constitution that would abolish slavery, which had been the norm among American settlers. In addition, he stepped up pressure on the Americans, demanding disarmament and forced expulsion of illegal immigrants from the US border states and the return of their lands. This policy of the Mexican government caused discontent among the inhabitants of Texas, and served as a pretext for the war for independence.
On October 2, 1835, the Texans clashed with a detachment of Mexican cavalry near the city of Gonzales, which led to the outbreak of hostilities. On October 28, 1835, at the Battle of Concepción, 90 Texans defeated 450 Mexicans. On March 2, 1836, a convention of independence from Mexico was signed at the Assembly of Representatives of American Settlers. In response, Mexican troops were sent in the battle for the Alamo fortress in San Antonio, almost completely destroying the small Texan garrison after a thirteen-day siege. Following this, on March 27, 1836, on the orders of López de Santa Anna, the Mexicans executed James Fannin and about 400 Texans at Goliad. These defeats, in turn, inspired the Texans to create an army,
On May 14, 1836, Texas officials and General Santa Anna signed a treaty of independence in the city of Velasco. However, the Mexican government did not ratify this treaty, leaving the issue of Mexican independence open (though the western part of present-day Texas continued to have an unclear legal status). At the end of 1836, a constitution was adopted (affirming the right to slavery) and Texas was proclaimed a republic. Sam Houston became the first president. After repeatedly moving the capital, Houston was chosen as the center of power in 1837. The Republic of Texas has received international recognition. At the same time, Mexican raids on Texas continued. (March 5, 1842, a detachment of Mexicans numbering more than 500 people, led by Rafael Vasquez, invaded Texas for the first time since the revolution; having reached San Antonio, they retreated back to the Rio Grande; On September 11, 1842, a 1,500-strong army of Mexico, led by Adrian Wall, captured part of San Antonio, but later retreated, capturing prisoners). The clashes continued for almost 10 years and depended on whether the position of the Mexican government was strengthening or weakening. The United States did not officially intervene in this struggle, although thousands of volunteers in the United States were recruited to help the Texans. Armed conflicts between Mexico and the Republic of Texas made it possible to stop not so much the accession of the latter to the United States under the treaty of December 29, 1845 (Texas became the 28th state), but the victory of the United States in the American-Mexican War of 1846-1848, which completely suppressed resistance and claims Mexico. When Texas seceded from Mexico,
Texas is the first and still the only internationally recognized independent state directly admitted to the United States as an equal member of the union. The state of Vermont, which declared itself the Republic of Vermont in 1777 and joined the US in 1791, had de facto autonomy but lacked international recognition; The United States annexed the self-proclaimed Republic of California and the Kingdom of Hawaii, but included them as states in the state only some time later.
Upon joining the United States, the territory of Texas included all the lands of the modern state of Texas, as well as uninhabited northern areas, which, under an agreement dated September 9, 1850, were transferred to the US government as payment of Texas’ external debt ($10 million). These federal territories were subsequently divided among the future states of New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming.
Despite the fact that all residents and veterans of the battles in Texas were given allotments and other benefits, there was not much influx of immigrants. Special agencies were created to recruit immigrants from Europe: there were German, French, Swedish and Dutch agencies. The most active immigration came from Germany (this is evidenced by the names of many cities – Fredericksburg, Aldorf, New Braunfels, etc.). After the European revolutions of 1848, Poles, Swedes, Norwegians, Czechs and French joined the German settlers. Immigration grew until the Second World War.
During the Civil War, Texas was part of the Confederacy (February 23, 1861, in a referendum, the people of Texas voted to secede from the United States by 46,129 votes to 14,697 – a 76% majority). However, state president Sam Houston refused to take the Confederate oath, and the Convention assembled a new state government. It was in Texas – on May 12, 1865 – that the last battle of the Civil War took place (the Texans did not yet know that the Confederate troops led by General Lee surrendered on April 9 in Virginia). In 1870, the US Congress re-incorporated Texas into the country. In 1876, the modern Texas constitution was adopted.
At the beginning of the 20th century, significant oil reserves were discovered in Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, which reshaped the state’s economy (prior to World War II, farm cattle breeding and agriculture prevailed in Texas). In 1910 – 1920s. the Texas border area was attacked by Mexican bandits who took advantage of the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution. During the years of the Great Depression, the state also experienced a sharp decline in the quality of life; to this were added numerous dust storms in the 30s, caused by drought and improper land cultivation. All this led to a significant outflow of the population from Texas in those years.
After World War II, Texas became one of the centers of scientific technology, education and industry. Houston is home to the NASA administration and the Center for Manned Spacecraft. Lyndon Johnson with Mission Control. In the 1960s Texas began to phase out the segregation system, a process that took more than a decade.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The crime still has no clear explanation. His post was taken by Vice President Lyndon Johnson, a former Texas senator.
Since Texas joined the US as an independent state, this state is the only one that has the right to hold a popular referendum on independence. Also, the Texas flag is the only one that has the right to be on flagpoles at the same level as the federal one.
The Governor of Texas is Republican Rick Perry. He took up this post in December 2000, after former Governor George W. Bush was elected President of the United States.
The current Texas constitution, adopted in 1876, is the second largest of any state. Like many other state constitutions, it clearly separates the branches of government and includes a set of rights in the main text (First Article). The Texas legal code is longer and more detailed than the US legal code, and it also includes some Texan idiosyncrasies.
The executive branch of government consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Inspector of Public Relations, Commissioner of Land, Supreme Attorney, Commissioner of Agriculture, a three-member railroad commission, representatives of public education, and the Secretary of State.
With the exception of the Secretary of State (who is appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate), all other positions are elected. Also in the state, state boards and commissions play a significant role. Due in part to a large bureaucracy, the governor’s power is limited compared to other state governors and the president of the United States. More power is concentrated in the hands of the lieutenant governor, who leads the state senate and creates Senate committees and groups. The governor controls the state police force and has the power to veto laws passed by the legislatures. He also appoints the members of the executive and judicial colleges.
The supreme legislature of Texas, as well as any other state with the exception of Nebraska, is bicameral. There are 150 people in the House of Representatives, 31 in the Senate. The head of the lower house of parliament is the speaker, and the head of the senate is the lieutenant-governor. The House of Representatives meets in regular session only once every two years.
The Texas judiciary has a reputation for being one of the most complex in the world, due to the multiple levels of courts and the nuances of overlapping jurisdictions. Texas has two highest courts: the Texas Superior Court – which hears private cases – and the Texas Criminal Court. With the exception of some municipalities, judges at all levels are elected by local vote, after which the position is approved by the governor.
Texas has 254 counties governed by authorized assemblies. At the head of such a meeting is a district judge, elected by the people of the county.
Texas politics is currently dominated by the Republican Party, which has a majority of seats in the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. Every elected chief executive is a Republican, as is every elected member of both superior courts. Democrats have not won elections in Texas since 1994. The overwhelming majority of congressmen elected in Texas are Republicans, and both senators are also Republicans. In the history of the country, 3 US presidents were politicians from Texas: Lyndon Johnson (Democrat), George W. Bush (Republican) and George W. Bush (Republican).
Prior to World War II, Texas’ economy was dominated by agriculture. After the Second World War, the state began to rapidly industrialize. Its economy (as of 2000) is based mainly on information technology, oil and gas, electricity generation and export, agriculture and manufacturing. Two main economic centers: the cities of Houston and Dallas – Fort Worth, in addition to them, San Antonio and El Paso play a significant economic role. Houston specializes in petrochemicals and space technology (NASA is based here), while Dallas is the center of information technology and the agricultural industry.
In the Gulf Coast zone, fishing, the oil industry, and the tourism business are developed. In the central and western parts there are livestock farms and agricultural holdings (corn, cotton). The northwestern part of the state is divided among many small private oil companies. Gambling is prohibited in Texas.
In 2001, Texas’ gross domestic product was $764 billion. The growth of the state’s economy is fueled by the presence of a wide range of jobs, low cost of living, high standard of living, no state tax, preferential business taxation and little government intervention in business. Another important aspect is the favorable climate.
Texas is home to two of the country’s leading universities – the University of Texas at Austin (it includes 9 academic universities) and the Agricultural and Technical University of Texas at College Station, the rivalry between which has been going on since their founding in the 19th century. There are also many high-level medical institutes in Texas.
The culture of Texas has absorbed many ethnic and external regional traditions, thanks to the ongoing immigration from other states and countries, while many of the cultural institutions of Texas (sports, music, architecture, cuisine, etc.) were generated by the border position of the state (proximity to Mexico).
In the 1990s Texas overtook New York, which had previously been in second place in terms of population (traditionally, California was in the first place). A 2005 estimate put the state’s population at 22.8 million. As of 2004, 3.5 million (15.6%) people born outside the United States live in Texas (of which approximately 1.2 million are illegal immigrants). Census data shows that Texas has 7.8% of children under 5, 28.2% under 18, and 9.9% over 64. Women make up 50.4% of the population.
Races in Texas
The traditional majority are the descendants of Anglo-Saxons and Germans, as well as Mexicans (whose numbers continue to increase every year). In recent years, the number of immigrants of Asian roots has been growing, especially in cities such as Houston and Dallas. Immigrants come to Texas from China, Vietnam, India, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Pakistan and other countries.
The most represented ethnic groups in Texas are Mexicans (24.3%), Blacks (11.5%), Germans (9.9%), Anglo-Saxons (7.2%) and Irish (7.2%). Paradoxically, such a large state as Texas has only 3 Indian reservations that are extremely insignificant in territory, which was the result of the Texas policy of the 19th century: even among the leaders of the Republic of Texas there was an opinion that the Indians should be exterminated as a barbarian race that was not amenable to civilization (then it was popular the notion that “whites and reds will never get along”). The Indians themselves also gave occasions – until the mid-1860s. they made attacks on whites – however, as a rule, after violations of obligations by the white settlers themselves. By the end of the 1870s. all the major tribes emigrated from Texas.
Religion in Texas
According to data on religion among residents of Texas, 66% are Protestants, 23% are Catholics, 1% are Christians of other denominations, and 1% are representatives of non-Christian religions. 6% of the population are atheists. Of the Protestant churches, the largest are Baptists (32% of the population), Methodists (9%) and Pentecostals (3%).
Six flags flew over Texas at different times: French Fleur-de-lis, Spanish, Mexican, the flag of the Republic of Texas, the flag of the Confederate States of America and, finally, the United States.
The Texas Capitol, located in Austin, repeats the appearance of the Washington one, but is lined with pink granite and decorated with a statue of the Goddess of Liberty holding the Texas star in her hands.
Like the governor’s buildings of some other southern states, the Texas Capitol faces south rather than north. The building of the Texas Capitol is taller than the Washington one, and slightly less massive.