Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S., while San Antonio is the second most populous in the state and seventh largest in the U.S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second most populous state capital in the U.S., and El Paso. Texas is nicknamed "The Lone Star State" to signify its former status 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 Texan state seal. The origin of Texas's name is from the word "Tejas," which means "friends" in the Caddo language.
Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes that resemble both the U.S. Southern and Southwestern regions. Although Texas is popularly associated with the U.S. southwestern deserts, less than 10% of Texas' 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 Bend.
The term "six flags over Texas" refers to several nations that have ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845, Texas joined the union as the 28th state. The state's annexation set off a chain of events that led to the Mexican–American War in 1846. A slave state before the American Civil War, Texas declared its secession from the U.S. in early 1861, and officially joined the Confederate States of America on March 2 of the same year. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.
Historically four major industries shaped the Texas economy prior to World War II: cattle and bison, cotton, timber, and oil. Before and after the U.S. Civil War the cattle industry, which Texas came to dominate, was a major economic driver for the state, thus creating the traditional image of the Texas cowboy. In the later 19th century cotton and lumber grew to be major industries as the cattle industry became less lucrative. It was ultimately, though, the discovery of major petroleum deposits that initiated an economic boom which became the driving force behind the economy for much of the 20th century. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2015, it is second on the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with 54. With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the nation in state export revenue since 2002, and has the second-highest gross state product. If it were a country, Texas would be the 10th largest economy in the world.
The name Texas, based on the Caddo word tejas meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in East Texas.
During Spanish colonial rule, the area was officially known as the Nuevo Reino de Filipinas: La Provincia de Texas (English: New Kingdom of the Philippines: The Province of Texas).
Texas is the second largest U.S. state, after Alaska, with an area of 268,820 square miles (696,200 km2). Though 10% larger than France and almost twice as large as Germany or Japan, it ranks only 27th worldwide amongst country subdivisions by size. If it were an independent 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 Grande forms a natural border with the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the south. The Red River forms a natural border with Oklahoma and Arkansas to the north. The Sabine River forms a natural border with Louisiana to the east. The Texas Panhandle 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 Paso 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 from southeast to west, into the following: Gulf Coastal Plains, Interior Lowlands, Great Plains, 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 piney woods. The Interior Lowlands region consists of gently rolling to hilly forested land and is part of a larger pine-hardwood forest.
The Great Plains region in central Texas is located in spans through the state's panhandle and Llano Estacado to the state's hill country near Austin. This region is dominated by prairie and steppe. "Far West Texas" or the "Trans-Pecos" region is the state's Basin and Range Province. The most varied 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, with the Rio Grande as the largest. Other major rivers include the Pecos, the Brazos, Colorado, and Red River. While Texas has few natural lakes, Texans have built over 100 artificial reservoirs.
The size and unique history of Texas make its regional affiliation debatable; it can be fairly considered a Southern or a Southwestern state, or both. 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. Notable extremes range from East Texas which is often considered an extension of the Deep South, to Far West Texas which is generally acknowledged to be part of the interior Southwest.
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: Llano uplift, Van Horn, 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 subperiod to form Pangea. This is the buried crest of the Appalachian Mountains–Ouachita Mountains zone of Pennsylvanian continental collision. This orogenic crest is today buried beneath the Dallas–Waco—Austin–San Antonio trend.
The late Paleozoic mountains collapsed as rifting in the Jurassic period 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 9 to 12 miles (14 to 19 km) 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 Bend area. A blanket of Miocene sediments known as the Ogallala formation 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.
A wide range of animals and insects live in Texas. It is the home to 65 species of mammals, 213 species of reptiles and amphibians, and the greatest diversity of bird life in the United States—590 native species in all. At least 12 species have been introduced and now reproduce freely in Texas.
Texas plays host to several species of wasps. Texas is one of the regions that has the highest abundance of Polistes exclamans. Additionally, Texas has provided an important ground for the study of Polistes annularis.
During the spring Texas wildflowers such as the state flower, the bluebonnet, line highways throughout Texas. During the Johnson Administration the first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, worked to draw attention to Texas wildflowers.
The large size of Texas and its location at the intersection of multiple climate zones gives the state highly 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 8.7 inches (220 mm) of annual rainfall, while parts of southeast Texas average as much as 64 inches (1,600 mm) per year. Dallas in the North Central region averages a more moderate 37 inches (940 mm) per year.
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 falls south of San Antonio or on the coast in rare circumstances only. Of note is the 2004 Christmas Eve snowstorm, when 6 inches (150 mm) of snow fell as far south as Kingsville, 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 Island to around 100 °F (38 °C) in the Rio Grande Valley, but most areas of Texas see consistent summer high temperatures in the 90 °F (32 °C) range.
Night-time summer temperatures range from the upper 50s °F (14 °C) in the West Texas mountains to 80 °F (27 °C) in Galveston.
The table below consists of averages for August (generally the warmest month) and January (generally the coldest) in selected cities in various regions of the state. El Paso and Amarillo are exceptions with July and December respectively being the warmest and coldest months respectively, but with August and January only being narrowly different.
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 about 400 people in Indianola, followed by another hurricane in 1886 that destroyed the town. These events allowed Galveston to take over as the chief port city. The 1900 Galveston hurricane subsequently devastated that city, killing about 8,000 people or possibly as many as 12,000. This makes 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, Hurricane Ike in 2008, and Hurricane Harvey in 2017. 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. In 2010, there were 2,553 "emission events" which poured 44.6 million pounds of contaminants into the Texas sky.
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, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Tonkawa, and Wichita. The name Texas derives from táyshaʔ, 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 Europeans in what is now Texas. Cabeza de Vaca reported that in 1528, when the Spanish landed in the area, "half the natives died from a disease of the bowels and blamed us." Cabeza de Vaca also made observations about the way of life of the Ignaces Natives of Texas: "They went about with a firebrand, setting fire to the plains and timber so as to drive off the mosquitos, and also to get lizards and similar things which they eat, to come out of the soil. In the same manner they kill deer, encircling them with fires, and they do it also to deprive the animals of pasture, compelling them to go for food where the Indians want."
Francisco Vázquez de Coronado describes his 1541 encounter with "Two kinds of people travel around these plains with the cows; one is called Querechos and the others Teyas; they are very well built, and painted, and are enemies of each other. They have no other settlement or location than comes from traveling around with the cows. They kill all of these they wish, and tan the hides, with which they clothe themselves and make their tents, and they eat the flesh, sometimes even raw, and they also even drink the blood when thirsty. The tents they make are like field tents, and they set them up over some poles they have made for this purpose, which come together and are tied at the top, and when they go from one place to another they carry them on some dogs they have, of which they have many, and they load them with the tents and poles and other things, for the country is so level, as I said, that they can make use of these, because they carry the poles dragging along on the ground. The sun is what they worship most."
European powers ignored the area 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 Bay 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 Antonio as the first Spanish civilian settlement in the area.
Hostile native tribes and distance from nearby Spanish colonies discouraged settlers from moving to the area. 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 18th century only a few nomadic tribes had not converted to Christianity.
When the United States purchased Louisiana from France in 1803, American authorities insisted that the agreement also included Texas. The boundary between New Spain and the United States was finally set at the Sabine River in 1819, at what is now the border between Texas and Louisiana. Eager for new land, many United States settlers refused to recognize the agreement. Several filibusters raised armies to invade the area west of the Sabine River. 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 about 3,500 people, with most of Mexican descent. By 1834, the population had grown to about 37,800 people, with only 7,800 of Mexican descent. Most of these early settlers who arrived with Austin and soon after were persons less than fortunate in life, as Texas was devoid of the comforts found elsewhere in Mexico and the United States during that time period. Early Texas settler David B. Edwards described his fellow Texans as being "banished from the pleasures of life."
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 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 López de Santa Anna personally led an army to end the revolt. The Mexican expedition was initially successful. General José 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 Alamo. 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 Jacinto. Santa Anna was captured and forced to sign the Treaties of Velasco, ending the war.
While Texas had won its 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.
The population of the new state was quite small at first and there was a strong mix between the English-speaking American settlers that dominated in the eastern/northeastern portions of the state and the Spanish-speaking former Mexicans that dominated in the southern and western portions of the state. Statehood brought many new settlers. Because of the long Spanish presence in Mexico and various failed colonization efforts by the Spanish and Mexicans in northern Mexico, there were large herds of Longhorn cattle that roamed the state. Hardy by nature but also suitable for slaughtering and consumption, they represented an economic opportunity that many entrepreneurs seized upon, thus creating the cowboy culture for which Texas is famous. While in the early days of the republic cattle and bison were slaughtered for their hides, soon a beef industry was established with cattle being shipped all over the U.S. and the Caribbean (within a few decades, beef had become a staple of the American diet).
After Texas's annexation, 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 River. 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 of the war 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. U.S. Senator James Pearce of Maryland drafted the final proposal where Texas ceded its claims to land which later became half of present-day New Mexico, a third of Colorado, and small portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming 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.
They also brought or purchased enslaved African Americans, whose numbers tripled in the state from 1850 to 1860, from 58,000 to 182,566.
Texas was at war again after the election of 1860. At this time, blacks comprised 30 percent of the state's population, and they were overwhelmingly enslaved. When Abraham Lincoln was elected, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Five other Lower South states quickly followed. 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 newly created Confederate States of America on March 4, 1861 ratifying the permanent C.S. Constitution on March 23.
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, 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. 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 Ranch with a Confederate victory.
Texas descended into anarchy for two months between the surrender 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, almost 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 resumed allowing elected Texas representatives into the federal government in 1870. Social volatility continued as the state struggled with agricultural depression and labor issues.
Like most of the South, the Texas economy was devastated by the War. However, since the state had not been as dependent on slaves as other parts of the South it was able to recover more quickly. The culture in Texas during the later 19th century exhibited many facets of a frontier territory. The state became notorious as a haven for people from other parts of the country who wanted to escape debt, criminal prosecution, or other problems. Indeed, "Gone to Texas" was a common expression for those fleeing the law in other states. Nevertheless, the state also attracted many businessmen and other settlers with more legitimate interests as well.
The cattle industry continued to thrive though it gradually became less profitable. Cotton and lumber became major industries creating new economic booms in various regions of the state. Railroad networks grew rapidly as did the port at Galveston as commerce between Texas and the rest of the U.S. (and the rest of the world) expanded. As with some other states before, the lumber industry quickly decimated the forests of Texas such that by the early 20th century the major of the forest population in Texas was gone (later conservation efforts restored some of it but never to the level it once was).
In 1900, Texas suffered the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history during the Galveston hurricane. On January 10, 1901, the first major oil well in Texas, Spindletop, was found south of Beaumont. Other fields were later discovered nearby in East Texas, West Texas, and under the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting "oil boom" transformed Texas. Oil production eventually averaged three million barrels per day at its peak in 1972.
In 1901, the Democratic-dominated state legislature passed a bill requiring payment of a poll tax for voting, which effectively disenfranchised most blacks, and many poor whites and Latinos. In addition, the legislature established white primaries, ensuring that minorities were excluded from the formal political process. The number of voters dropped dramatically, and the Democrats crushed competition from the Republican and Populist parties. The Socialist Party became the second largest party in Texas after 1912, coinciding with a large socialist upsurge in the United States during fierce battles in the labor movement and the popularity of national heroes like Eugene V. Debs. The Socialists' popularity soon waned after their vilification by the United States government for their opposition to US involvement in World War I.
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 California and to escape the oppression of segregation. In 1940, Texas was 74 percent Anglo, 14.4 percent black, and 11.5 percent Hispanic.
World War II had a dramatic impact on Texas, as federal money poured in to build military bases, munitions factories, POW detention camps and Army hospitals; 750,000 young men left for service; the cities exploded with new industry; the colleges took on new roles; and hundreds of thousands of poor farmers left the fields for much better paying war jobs, never to return to agriculture. Texas manufactured 3.1 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking eleventh among the 48 states.
Texas modernized and expanded its system of higher education through the 1960s. The state created a comprehensive plan for higher education, funded in large part by oil revenues, and a central state apparatus designed to manage state institutions more efficiently. These changes helped Texas universities receive federal research funds.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
Beginning around the mid-20th century, Texas began to transform from a rural and agricultural state to one that was urban and industrialized. The state's population grew quickly during this period, with large levels of migration from outside the state. As a part of the Sun Belt Texas experienced strong economic growth, particularly during the 1970s and early 1980s. Texas's economy diversified, lessening its reliance on the petroleum industry. By 1990, Hispanics overtook blacks to become the largest minority group in the state.
During the late 20th century, the Republican Party replaced the Democratic Party as the dominant party in the state, as the latter became more politically liberal and as demographic changes favored the former.
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.
Texas has a plural executive branch system limiting the power of the governor, which is a weak executive compared to some other states. Except for the Secretary of State, voters elect executive officers independently; thus candidates are directly answerable to the public, not the governor. This election system has led to some executive branches split between parties and reduced the ability of the governor to carry out a program. 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 for just over 100 days, but the governor can call for special sessions as often as desired (notably, the Legislature cannot call itself into session). The state's fiscal year spans from the previous calendar year's September 1 to the current year's August 31. Thus, the FY 2015 dates from September 1, 2014 through August 31, 2015.
The judiciary 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 Court, for civil cases, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Except for some municipal benches, partisan elections select judges at all levels of the judiciary; the governor fills vacancies by appointment. Texas is notable for its use of capital punishment, having led the country in executions since capital punishment was reinstated in the Gregg v. Georgia case (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 integral to several important events of Texas history and some of the best-known criminal cases in the history of the Old West.
The Texas constitution defines the responsibilities of county governments, which serve as agents of the state. What are called commissioners court and court judges are elected to serve as the administrative arm. Most cities in the state, those over 5,000 in population, have home-rule governments. The vast majority of these have charters for council-manager forms of government, by which voters elect council members, who hire a professional city manager as operating officer.
In the 1870s, white Democrats wrested power back in the state legislature from the biracial coalition at the end of Reconstruction. In the early 20th century, the legislature passed bills to impose poll taxes, followed by white primaries; these measures effectively disfranchised most blacks, poor whites and Mexican Americans. In the 1890s, 100,000 blacks voted in the state; by 1906, only 5,000 could vote. As a result, the Democratic Party dominated Texas politics from the turn of the century, imposing racial segregation and white supremacy. It held power until after passage in the mid-1960s of national civil rights legislation enforcing constitutional rights of all citizens.
Although Texas was essentially a one-party state during this time and the Democratic primary was viewed as "the real election," the Democratic Party had conservative and liberal factions, which became more pronounced after the New Deal. Additionally, several factions of the party briefly split during the 1930s and 1940s.
The state's conservative white voters began to support Republican presidential candidates by the mid-20th century. After this period, they supported Republicans for local and state offices as well, and most whites became Republican Party members. The party also attracted some minorities, but many have continued to vote for Democratic candidates. The shift to the Republican Party is much-attributed to the fact that the Democratic Party became increasingly liberal during the 20th century, and thus increasingly out-of-touch with the average Texas voter. As Texas was always a conservative state, voters switched to the GOP, which now more closely reflected their beliefs. Commentators have also attributed the shift to Republican political consultant Karl Rove, who managed numerous political campaigns in Texas in the 1980s and 1990s. Other stated reasons included court-ordered redistricting and the demographic shift in relation to the Sun Belt that favored the Republican Party and conservatism.
The 2003 Texas redistricting of Congressional districts led by 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 to prevent the legislature from acting, but was unsuccessful. The state had already redistricted following the 2000 census. Despite these efforts, the legislature passed a map heavily in favor of Republicans, based on 2000 data and ignoring the estimated nearly one million new residents in the state since that date. Career attorneys and analysts at the Department of Justice objected to the plan as diluting the votes of African American and Hispanic voters, but political appointees overrode them and approved it. Legal challenges to the redistricting reached the national Supreme Court in the case League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006), but the court ruled in favor of the state (and Republicans).
In the 2014 Texas elections, the Tea Party movement made large gains, with numerous Tea Party favorites being elected into office, including Dan Patrick as lieutenant governor, Ken Paxton as attorney general, in addition to numerous other candidates including conservative Republican Greg Abbott as governor.
Texas voters lean toward fiscal conservatism, while enjoying the benefits of huge federal investment in the state in military and other facilities achieved by the power of the Solid South in the 20th century. They also tend to have socially conservative values.
Since 1980, most Texas voters have supported Republican presidential candidates. In 2000 and 2004, Republican George W. Bush won Texas with 60.1 percent 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 percent of the vote. Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio consistently lean Democratic in both local and statewide elections.
Residents of counties along the Rio Grande closer to the Mexico-United States border, where there are many Latino residents, generally vote for Democratic Party candidates, while most other rural and suburban areas of Texas have shifted to voting for Republican Party candidates.
As of the general elections of 2014, a large majority of the members of Texas's U.S. House delegation are Republican, along with both U.S. Senators. In the 114th United States Congress, of the 36 Congressional districts in Texas, 25 are held by Republicans and 11 by Democrats. Texas's Senators are John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Since 1994, Texans have not elected a Democrat to a statewide office. The state's Democratic voters are made up primarily by liberal and minority groups in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Beaumont, and El Paso, as well as minority voters in East Texas and South Texas.
Texas has 254 counties— the most nationwide. Each county runs on Commissioners' Court system consisting of four elected commissioners (one from each of four precincts in the county, roughly divided according to population) and a county judge elected at large from the entire county. 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 and to some smaller incorporated 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.
Texas also permits the creation of "special districts", which provide limited services. The most common is the school district, but can also include hospital districts, community college districts, and utility districts (one utility district located near Austin was the plaintiff in a landmark Supreme Court case involving the Voting Rights Act).
Municipal, school district, and special district elections are nonpartisan, though the party affiliation of a candidate may be well-known. County and state elections are partisan.
Texas has a reputation of very harsh criminal punishment for criminal offenses. It is one of the 32 states that practice capital punishment, and since the US Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976, 40% of all US executions have taken place in Texas. As of 2008, Texas had the 4th highest incarceration rate in the US. Texas also has strong self defense laws, allowing citizens to use lethal force to defend themselves, their families, or their property.
As of 2014, Texas had a gross state product (GSP) of $1.648 trillion, the second highest in the U.S. Its GSP is greater than the GDPs of Australia and South Korea, which are the world's 12th- and 13th-largest economies, respectively. Texas' economy is the fourth-largest of any country subdivision globally, behind England (as part of the UK), California, and Tokyo Prefecture. Its Per Capita personal income in 2009 was $36,484, ranking 29th in the nation.
Texas's large population, abundance of natural resources, thriving cities and leading centers of higher education have contributed 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 urban sprawl and its associated symptoms.
As of April 2013, the state's unemployment rate is 6.4 percent.
In 2010, 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. Texas has the joint-highest number of Fortune 500 company headquarters in the United States, along with California.
In 2010, there were 346,000 millionaires in Texas, constituting the second-largest population of millionaires in the nation.
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 8.4 percent of resident incomes. Texas is one of seven states that lack a state income tax.
Instead, the state collects revenue from property taxes (though these are collected at the county, city, and school district level; Texas has a state constitutional prohibition against a state property tax) and sales taxes. The state sales tax rate is 6.25 percent, but local taxing jurisdictions (cities, counties, special purpose districts, and transit authorities) may also impose sales and use tax up to 2 percent for a total maximum combined rate of 8.25 percent.
Texas is a "tax donor state"; in 2005, for every dollar Texans paid to the federal government in federal income taxes, the state got back about $0.94 in benefits. To attract business, Texas has incentive programs worth $19 billion per year (2012); more than any other US state.
Texas has the most farms and the highest acreage in the United States. The state is ranked #1 for revenue generated from total livestock and livestock products. It is ranked #2 for total agricultural revenue, behind California. At $7.4 billion or 56.7 percent of Texas' annual agricultural cash receipts, beef cattle production represents the largest single segment of Texas agriculture. This is followed by cotton at $1.9 billion (14.6 percent), greenhouse/nursery at $1.5 billion (11.4 percent), broilers at $1.3 billion (10 percent), and dairy products at $947 million (7.3 percent).
Texas leads the nation in the production of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, wool, mohair and hay. The state also leads the nation in production of cotton which is the number one crop grown in the state in terms of value. 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.
Texas throughout the 21st century has been hammered by drought. This has cost the state billions of dollars in livestock and crops.
Ever since the discovery of oil at Spindletop, energy has been a dominant force politically and economically within the state. If Texas were its own country it would be the sixth largest oil producer in the world.
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 5 billion barrels (790,000,000 m3), which makes up about one-fourth of the known U.S. reserves. The state's refineries can process 4.6 million barrels (730,000 m3) of oil a day. The Baytown Refinery 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: Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, Marathon Oil, Tesoro, and Valero, Western Refining.
According to the Energy Information Administration, Texans consume, on average, the fifth most energy (of all types) in the nation per capita and as a whole, following behind Wyoming, Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Iowa.
Unlike the rest of the nation, most of Texas is on its own alternating current power grid, the Texas Interconnection. Texas has a deregulated electric service. Texas leads the nation in total net electricity production, generating 437,236 MWh in 2014, 89% more MWh than Florida, which ranked second. As an independent nation, Texas would rank as the world's eleventh-largest producer of electricity, after South Korea, and ahead of the United Kingdom.
The state is a leader in renewable energy commercialization; it produces the most wind power in the nation. In 2014, 10.6% of the electricity consumed in Texas came from wind turbines. The Roscoe Wind Farm in Roscoe, Texas, is one of the world's largest wind farms with a 781.5 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 Instruments, Perot Systems, Rackspace and AT&T.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (NASA JSC) located in Southeast Houston, sits as the crown jewel of Texas's aeronautics industry. Fort Worth 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, Kimberly-Clark, Blockbuster, J. C. Penney, Whole Foods Market, and Tenet Healthcare. Nationally, the Dallas–Fort Worth area, home to the second shopping mall in the United States, has the most shopping malls per capita of any American metropolitan area.
Mexico, the state's largest trading partner, imports a third of the state's exports because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA has encouraged the formation of controversial maquiladoras on the Texas/Mexico border.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Texas was 27,469,114 on July 1, 2015, a 9.24 percent increase since the 2010 United States Census.
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. Texas from 2000 to 2006 had the fastest growing illegal immigration rate in the nation. In 2010, illegal immigrants constituted an estimated 6.0 percent of the population. This was the fifth highest percentage of any state in the country. In 2015, the population of illegal immigrants living in Texas was around 800,000.
Texas' Rio Grande Valley has seen significant migration from across the U.S.-Mexico border. During the 2014 crisis, many Central Americans, including unaccompanied minors traveling alone from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, reached the state, overwhelming Border Patrol resources for a time. Many sought asylum in the United States.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimated that 1.68 million illegal immigrants lived in Texas. While the number of illegals living in the U.S. has declined since 2009, in Texas there was no change in population between 2009 and 2014.
Texas's population density is 90.5 people per square mile which is slightly higher than the average population density of the U.S. as a whole, at 80.6 people per square mile. In contrast, while Texas and France are similarly sized geographically, the European country has a population density of 301.8 people per square mile.
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 the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is larger than that of Houston.
As of the 2015 Texas Population Estimate Program, the population of the state was 27,469,114 non-Hispanic whites 11,505,371 (41.9%); Black Americans 3,171,043 (11.5%); other races 1,793,580 (6.5%); and Hispanics and Latinos (of any race) 10,999,120 (40.0%).
According to the 2010 United States census, the racial composition of Texas was the following:
In addition, 37.6 percent of the population are Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
As of 2011, 69.8% of the population of Texas younger than age 1 were minorities (meaning that they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white).
German, Irish, and English Americans are the three largest European ancestry groups in Texas. German Americans make up 11.3 percent of the population, and number over 2.7 million members. Irish Americans make up 8.2 percent of the population, and number over 1.9 million members. There are roughly 600,000 French Americans and 472,000 Italian Americans residing in Texas; these two ethnic groups make up 2.5 percent and 2.0 percent of the population respectively. In the 1980 United States Census the largest ancestry group reported in Texas was English with 3,083,323 Texans citing that they were of English or mostly English ancestry making them 27 percent of the state at the time. Their ancestry primarily goes back to the original thirteen colonies and thus many of them today identify as "American" in ancestry, though they are of predominately British stock. There are nearly 200,000 Czech-Americans living in Texas, the largest number of any state.
African Americans are the largest racial minority in Texas. Their proportion of population has declined since the early 20th century, after many left the state in the Great Migration. Blacks of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic origin make up 11.5 percent of the population; blacks of non-Hispanic origin form 11.3 percent of the populace. African Americans of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic origin number at roughly 2.7 million individuals.
Native Americans are a smaller minority in the state. Native Americans make up 0.5 percent of Texas' population, and number over 118,000 individuals. Native Americans of non-Hispanic origin make up 0.3 percent of the population, and number over 75,000 individuals. Cherokee made up 0.1 percent of the population, and numbered over 19,400 members. In contrast, only 583 identified as Chippewa.
Asian Americans are a sizable minority group in Texas. Americans of Asian descent form 3.8 percent of the population, with those of non-Hispanic descent making up 3.7 percent of the populace. They total more than 808,000 individuals. Non-Hispanic Asians number over 795,000. Just over 200,000 Indian Americans make Texas their home. Texas is also home to over 187,000 Vietnamese and 136,000 Chinese. In addition to 92,000 Filipinos and 62,000 Koreans, there are 18,000 Japanese Americans living in the state. Lastly, over 111,000 people are of other Asian ancestry groups, such as Cambodian, Thai, and Hmong. Sugar Land, a city within the Houston metropolitan area, and Plano, located within the Dallas metropolitan area, both have high concentrations of ethnic Chinese and Korean residents. The Houston and Dallas areas, and to a lesser extent, the Austin metropolitan area, all contain substantial Vietnamese communities.
Americans with origins from the Pacific are the smallest minority in Texas. According to the survey, only 18,000 Texans are Pacific Islanders; 16,400 are of non-Hispanic descent. There are roughly 5,400 Native Hawaiians, 5,300 Guamanians, and 6,400 people from other groups. Samoan Americans were scant; only 2,920 people were from this group. The city of Euless, a suburb of Fort Worth, contains a sizable population of Tongan Americans, at nearly 900 people, over one percent of the city's population. Killeen has a sufficient population of Samoans and Guamanian, and people of Pacific Islander descent surpass one percent of the city's population.
Multiracial individuals are also a visible minority in Texas. People identifying as multiracial form 1.9 percent of the population, and number over 448,000 people. Almost 80,000 Texans claim African and European heritage, and make up 0.3 percent of the population. People of European and Native American heritage number over 108,800 (close to the number of Native Americans), and make up 0.5 percent of the population. People of European and Asian heritage number over 57,600, and form just 0.2 percent of the population. People of African and Native American heritage were even smaller in number (15,300), and make up just 0.1 percent of the total population.
Hispanics and Latinos are the second largest group in Texas after non-Hispanic European Americans. Over 8.5 million people claim Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. This group forms over 37 percent of Texas' population. People of Mexican descent alone number over 7.9 million, and make up 31.6 percent of the population. The vast majority of the Hispanic/Latino population in the state is of Mexican descent, the next two largest groups are Salvadorans and Puerto Ricans. There are over 222,000 Salvadorans and over 130,000 Puerto Ricans in Texas. Other groups with large numbers in Texas include Hondurans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans and Cubans, among others. The Hispanics in Texas are more likely than in some other states (such as California) to identify as white; according to the 2010 U.S. Census, Texas is home to 6,304,207 White Hispanics and 2,594,206 Hispanics of "some other race" (usually mestizo).
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 multi-generational 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, Texas. Three federally recognized Native American tribes reside in Texas: the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe, and the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo.
In 2010, 49 percent of all births were Hispanics; 35 percent were non-Hispanic whites; 11.5 percent were non-Hispanic blacks, and 4.3 percent were Asians/Pacific Islanders. Based on Census Bureau data released on February 2011, for the first time in recent history, Texas' white population is below 50 percent (45 percent) and Hispanics grew to 38 percent. Between 2000 and 2010, the total population growth by 20.6 percent, but Hispanics growth by 65 percent, whereas non-Hispanic whites only grew by 4.2 percent. Texas has the fifth highest rate of teenage births in the nation and a plurality of these are to Hispanics.
The state has three cities with populations exceeding one million: Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. These three rank among the 10 most populous cities of the United States. As of 2010, six Texas cities had populations greater than 600,000 people. Austin, Fort Worth, and El Paso are among the 20 largest U.S. cities. Texas has four metropolitan areas with populations greater than a million: Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington, Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown, San Antonio–New Braunfels, and Austin–Round Rock–San Marcos. 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 Triangle region. The region of 60,000 square miles (160,000 km2) 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. Houston and Dallas have been recognized as beta world cities. These cities are spread out amongst the state. Texas has 254 counties, which is more than any other state by 95 (Georgia).
In contrast to the cities, unincorporated rural settlements known as colonias often lack basic infrastructure and are marked by poverty. The office of the Texas Attorney General stated, in 2011, that Texas had about 2,294 colonias and estimates that about 500,000 lived in the colonias. Hidalgo County, as of 2011, has the largest number of colonias. Texas has the largest number of people of all states, living in colonias.