Texas, the largest state in the southwestern region of the United States and the second-largest state in the nation; bordered by Oklahoma and the Red River to the north, Arkansas, Louisiana, and the Sabine River to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, the Rio Grande (with Mexico opposite) to the south and southwest, and New Mexico to the west.
Land and climate
Texas has five main land regions. The Gulf Coastal Plains in the east and the southern horn cover a low-lying area with timberland in the northeast and fertile farmland in the south. West of that timberland is the Prairie Plains, a hilly, forested region. In the Rolling Plains region, another hilly area, elevations rise from east to west. The Great Plains, stretching southward from the northern Panhandle, is a high, level, grassland. In Texas's extreme southwest is the Basin and Range Region, a high, dry area that includes high spurs of the Rocky Mountain range. The Rio Grande, which forms the entire border between Texas and Mexico, is one of the largest in the nation. Other major rivers include the Pecos, Brazos, Red, Canadian, Colorado, Nueces, and Trinity. Forests cover about 14% of the state. Texas's climate ranges from temperate in the Panhandle region to subtropical in the Rio Grande delta. Principal cities are Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
Texas's economy depends heavily on its oil and natural gas resources, among the richest in the world. Other mineral resources include sulfur, helium, coal, clay, salt, asphalt, limestone, gypsum, and sand and gravel. Service industries and manufacturing are also important to the economy. Chief manufactured goods are nonelectrical machinery, chemicals, processed foods, oil and coal products, electrical equipment, fabricated metal products, transportation equipment, and apparel. A leading agricultural state, Texas produces beef cattle, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, wheat, vegetables, and citrus and other fruits.
Texas's present constitution was adopted in 1876. The governor serves a 4-year term. The state legislature consists of 31 senators serving 4-year terms and 150 representatives serving 2-year terms. In the U.S. Congress, Texas is represented by 2 senators and 30 representatives.
Several Native American peoples were living in Texas when Spanish gold-seekers, the first Europeans in the area, arrived in the early 1500s. In 1685, the French explorer La Salle arrived and claimed the area, which France sold to the United States as part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. In 1821, Texas became part of the newly independent Empire of Mexico. But U.S. settlement in the area continued to grow; the Texas Revolution—a rebellion of U.S. settlers against Mexico—began in 1835. In 1836, after the famous battle at the Alamo, the independent Republic of Texas was formed. It became the 28th state in 1845. The Mexican War (1846–48) ended all Mexican claims to Texas. In 1861, Texas seceded from the Union and fought on the Confederate side during the Civil War; it was readmitted to the Union in 1870. Texas played a major role in the expansion of the western frontier during the late 1800s. The 1901 discovery of oil near Beaumont spurred rapid industrial growth, as did World War II. During the 1960s and 1970s, growth was centered in the U.S. space program and the oil and oil-related industries. Falling oil prices during the mid-1980s dealt Texas a heavy blow; it has been working to diversify and attract new industries.