Texas—home to over 27.8 million people. The capital is in Austin, the nickname is the Lone Star State, and the state plus its people have much to offer.
Texas entered the Union on December 29, 1845 as the 28th State. It is the second largest state in the United States in terms of area and population. It is located in the South Central part of the country, and it shares borders with New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, as well as Mexico.
- Area: 268,596 sq mi
- Population: (2016, U.S. Census estimate) 27,862,596
- Capital: Austin
- Nickname: Lone Star State
- State motto: Friendship
- State bird: mockingbird
- State flower: bluebonnet
- State tree: pecan
Texas' shape is unique, easily recognizable, and doesn’t correspond to standard geometric shapes. No square or rhomboid shape designations here, we’re Texas y’all. Within the state, there are 254 counties ranging in area from Rockwall County’s 148.7 sq. mi (close the area of Detroit) to Brewster County’s 6192.3 sq. mi (slightly larger than Connecticut). The three most populous cities are Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas.
Nothing brings the vastness of Texas home like traversing the state by vehicle from east to west, or north to south, (or vice-versa) as it can take over ~800 miles either way. There are many attractions for visitors and residents alike, from the traditional, to the bizarre. Amusement parks, space centers, wineries, historical sites, museums, tubing, botanical gardens, sports arenas, caverns, zoos, state parks, beaches, bats, and state fairs, are just a few of the “must do’s”. Check out The Daytripper for a great way to explore the state (and plan your next road trip) from the comfort of your couch.
In a state as expansive as Texas, and one with a fascinating geological history, and it’s no wonder the state’s natural environments range from deserts and mountains in the west to piney woods in the east, with gulf coastal plains in the south and great plains in the north. And of course, the Edward’s Plateau in the south central area.
But what do non-Texans think? Oil. Cattle. Cowboys. Usually these are some of the images that come to mind when non-Texans are asked to describe Texas. And with good reason as historically, oil and gas were a major force in Texas’ economy, along with the cattle industry. While times are changing, in the U. S., Texas ranks #1 in crude oil and natural gas production, as well as total carbon dioxide emissions. Perhaps surprisingly, Texas also ranks #1 in wind energy production.
Texas has other natural resources outside of oil and natural gas such as clay, gypsum, limestone, salt, and sulfur, to name a few. In agriculture, cotton, corn, grain sorghum and wheat are some of the major crops produced. From a manufacturing standpoint, Texas churns out semiconductors and electronic components, communications equipment, motor vehicle parts, aerospace parts, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, plastics, paints, and more.
While manufacturing, oil, and gas companies are some of the major employers, a few of Texas’ universities also make the list—Texas A&M, The University of Texas at Austin, as well as MD Anderson Cancer Center. While most folks have probably heard of A&M and UT Austin (and their historic, epic, and let’s face it, fun, rivalry), there are many other public and private colleges/universities in Texas, both four-year, two-year, and technical institutions.