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Stretching 1,244 km (773 mi) from east to west and 1,289 km (801 mi) from north to south, Texas, the Lone Star State, occupies almost 7.5 percent of the total U.S. land area--a region as large as all of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, andnois combi- ned. By 1994 Texas had grown to become the second most populous U.S. state, moving ahead of New York and following California. It derives its name from the Spanish and Indian words tejas and tec- has, meaning "friends" or "allies." Texas shows the influence of both the Indians and the Spa- nish, French, and other European explorers and missionaries. In 1820, Moses and Stephen F. Austin started the Anglo-American colo- nization that culminated in the organization of a provisional go- vern ment at San Felipe on Nov. 3, 1835, and in independence from Mexico on Mar. 2, 1836. After almost ten years as an independent republic, Texas became a U.S. state on Dec. 29, 1845. The modern economic development of Texas started in January 1901 with the eruption of an oil well drilled at Spindletop, near Beaumont. The rapid discovery of oil in other parts of the state led to a boom that has never really stopped. The economy of Tex as has become highly diversified, and its population has more than qu- intupled during the 20th century.
LAND AND RESOURCES
Topography and Soils Four major physiographic subdivisions of North America are found in Texas: the Gulf Coastal Plain in the east and southeast, the North Central Plains running north to southeastward in the cen- ter of the state, the Great High Plains in the northwest, and t he Trans-Pecos Mountains to the extreme west and southwest. The topog- raphy of Texas rises gradually from east to west, reaching its hig- hest point in Guadalupe Peak (2,667 m/8,749 ft) in the Trans-Pecos. The Gulf Coastal Plain, extending about 80 to 100 km (50 to 60 mi) inland from the Gulf of Mexico, from sea level to an altitu- de of about 150 m (500 ft), has a rolling to hilly surface. Its western part consists of a fertile belt of land of irregular wid th known as the Blackland Prairie. Inland from the Coastal Plain, the North Central Plains of Texas are the southern extension of the GREAT PLAINS, and they re- ach southwestward across the entire state to the Rio Grande river. The plains' southern portion is known as the Edwards Plateau. T he border of the North Central Plains on the west is the Staked Plain, or Llano Estacado in Spanish. It consists of a flat-topped table- land with an elevation of about 1,200 m (4,000 ft). Lying between Mexico and New Mexico, the barren Trans-Pecos region in southwes- tern Texas alternates between rolling hills in the Pecos River val- ley and the isolated high ridges of the Guadalupe and Davis mounta- ins. Texas is divided into 14 land resource areas that have simi- lar or related soils, vegetation, topography, and climate. The so- ils vary greatly in depth from one region to another and show dif- ferent physical properties; all need fertilizing, however, and so me need irrigating to make them productive.
Rivers and Lakes Texas has two sources of water: aquifers, found under more than half the state, and streams with their reservoirs. Water from the former has traditionally been an essential source of municipal supplies; because of falling water tables, however, cities mo re and more must now depend on surface reservoirs. The state's 3,700 streams have a combined length of approxi- mately 130,000 km (80,000 mi). Among the major rivers are the RIO GRANDE, which drops about 3,650 m (12,000 ft) from source to mouth and constitutes the border with Mexico; the RED RIVER, which p art- ly separates Texas from Oklahoma and Arkansas; the COLORADO RIVER of Texas (965 km/600 mi), which is the longest river entirely wit- hin the state; and the Sabine, which forms the southern half of the boundary between Texas and Louisiana. Other rivers i nclude the PE- COS and the Devils, both tributaries of the Rio Grande; the Nueces; and the Guadalupe. Texas has relatively few natural lakes but hundreds of arti- ficial ones. These were developed to provide hydroelectricity, to store water, or to irrigate farmland. Among the largest are Lake Texoma (partly in Oklahoma) on the Red River, the Falcon and Ami stad reservoirs on the Rio Grande, Sam Rayburn Reservoir on the An- gelina River in eastern Texas, Lake Texarkana on the Sulphur River, Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Sabine, Lake Travis on the Colorado, and Lake Livingston on the Trinity River north of Hous ton.
Climate The climates of Texas range from the hot subhumid found in the Rio Grande valley to the cold semiarid of the northern part of the Panhandle, and from the warm humid in the east to the arid of the Trans-Pecos. Rainfall varies from 1,400 mm (55 in) in the east to less than 250 mm (10 in) in the west. The average number of days with some precipitation ranges from 44 in El Paso to 110 in Hous- ton. Drought can be a serious problem, especially in the Great High Plains, where an average of seven droughts occur in a 10-year peri- od. Temperatures, too, vary greatly, ranging from 49 degrees C (120 degrees F) to - 31 degrees C ( - 23 degrees F). Each year about 100 tornadoes occur, most frequently in the Red River valley.
Vegetation and Animal Life The dense pine forests of eastern Texas contrast with the de- serts of the western part of the state, and the grassy plains of the north contrast with the semiarid brushes of southern Texas. Eastern Texas vegetation is characterized by dense pine forests a nd a variety of hardwoods, including oak, hickory, ash, and magno- lia. The central region is dominated by oak, elm, and pecan, as well as, on the Edwards Plateau, by cedar and mesquite. Shrubs of the grasslands of the lower altitudes of the west include a cacia, mesquite, and mimosa; the Trans-Pecos Mountains have pine, fir, and spruce. The Rio Grande valley is mostly covered by brush, mesquite, cedar, post oak, and in places a dense growth of prickly pear. In the southwest are found cactus, agave, and yu cca. Texas is the temporary home every year for many migratory birds. Aransas Wildlife Refuge, for example, on the Gulf above Cor- pus Christi, provides the winter quarters for the almost extinct whooping crane. The state's indigenous animals include the mule a nd white-tailed deer, black bear, mountain lion, antelope, and big- horn, but the American bison, or buffalo, is found only in zoos and on a few ranches. Among the smaller mammals are the muskrat, racco- on, opossum, jackrabbit, fox, mink, coyote, and armadi llo.
Resources Minerals represent a very significant part of the state's na- tural wealth. The known petroleum deposits of Texas--about 8 billi- on barrels--make up approximately one-third of the known U.S. supp- ly. The Texas Panhandle is one of the world's great natural-ga s reservoirs. Mineral fuels generally account for over 90 percent of the value of all minerals produced in the state, although Texas is also a leading producer of natural graphite, magnesium, sulfur, and cement and has considerable reserves of lignite (l ow-grade coal). Uranium was discovered in 1954 in the Coastal Plain, and additional deposits have been found in various other parts of the state. The state's great variety of soils must also be considered as a resour- ce.
PEOPLE Although surpassed in population only by California, Texas is still considerably less crowded than the nation as a whole; the hu- ge area of Texas means that the state's population density is less than that of the nation as a whole. Yet the state's populat ion has increased significantly in recent decades, more than doubling bet- ween 1940 and 1980 and increasing by 19.4 percent in the decade from 1980 to 1990 (well above the 1980-90 national average of 9.8 percent). The increases have resulted in part throu gh in-migrati- on, although there was also some out-migration during the 1980s. Texas' two extensive metropolitan areas are the DALLAS-FORT WORTH and the HOUSTON-Galveston-Brazoria consolidated metropolitan sta- tistical areas. Together they constitute about 45 percent of the state's population. In addition there are 23 metropolitan statisti- cal areas (mainly single-city metropolitan regions) that together with the consolidated areas account for more than 80 percent of the population. Racially, Texas is made up of whites, who constitute about 75 percent of the population; blacks, about 12 percent; and other nonwhites, about 13 percent. Hispanics account for 25.5 percent of the population. European settlers during the 19th and early 20 th centuries included Germans, Swedes, and Czechs.
Counties and Cities Texas has 254 counties ranging in population from 107 (Loving County, 1990) to 2,818,199 (Harris, 1990), and in size from Rock- wall's 386 sq km (149 sq mi) to Brewster's 16,035 sq km (6,191 sq mi), nearly equal to the combined areas of Connecticut and Rho de Island. Major cities include the capital, AUSTIN; the state's lar- gest city, Houston; and Dallas and Fort Worth, only about 50 km (30 mi) apart. SAN ANTONIO is a fast- growing shipping center for oil and agricultural products; other important commercia l centers are ABILENE, AMARILLO, BEAUMONT, BROWNSVILLE, CORPUS CHRISTI, EL PASO, GALVESTON, LAREDO, LUBBOCK, MIDLAND, PORT ARTHUR, WACO, and WICHITA FALLS.
Education In 1839, Texas president Mirabeau B. LAMAR set aside land in each county for public schools and for a state university. Today the enrollment in Texas public schools exceeds 3 million, and hig- her education in the state includes about 100 public institutio ns (see TEXAS, STATE UNIVERSITIES OF). Additional thousands of elemen- tary and secondary students attend private schools, and Texas has several dozen private institutions of higher education (including BAYLOR, RICE, and Southern Methodist universities).
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