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T E X A S
A giant among states, vast Texas was once a sovereign nation. During
300 years of rule by Spain, it had sprawled like a sleeping giant, its
riches undeveloped and its colonization limited to a few missions,
supported by presidios (military posts). When Mexico became an
independent country in 1821, Texas became a Mexican state and new
settlers from the United States were welcomed. The large influx of
Anglo-American colonists and African American slaves led to skirmishes
with Mexican troops.
After a successful war of independence against Mexico, the Texans raised
the Lone Star flag over their own republic in 1836. This government was
officially recognized by the United States and by several European
countries. Then in 1845 Texas accepted annexation by the United States
and was admitted to the Union as the 28th state.
Texas is second only to Alaska in area. It covers more territory than
the total area of five Midwestern states--Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
Wisconsin, and Michigan. There are 254 counties in Texas. Its largest
county, Brewster, is about as big as Connecticut and Rhode Island
combined. Its smallest, Rockwall, is only 147 square miles (381 square
kilometers) in area. For a time Texas had a peak mileage of more than
17,000 miles (27,358 kilometers) of main-track railroad, but the total
has been declining ever since the 1930s.
Cotton, first raised on the Blackland Prairies, has long been the most
important crop of Texas. Much of it is now grown on the Great Plains, an
achievement made possible by the discovery of a sandy, water-laden
subsoil beneath the area's dry surface. On the Rio Grande irrigation has
given rise to a great fruit-growing belt, while along the Nueces River
vegetable crops are harvested in an 11-month growing season. Texas leads
the nation in beef production, an industry that began to flourish in
1866, when cowboys first drove wild longhorns north to market. Today
scientifically bred cattle are raised on the plains.
"Black gold," or crude oil, was found in Texas in the 19th century, but
it was the discovery of the gigantic east Texas oil field in 1930 that
revolutionized the agrarian state. Although much of the wealth of modern
Texas stems from its widespread petroleum-bearing formations, industry
has become increasingly diversified since the end of World War II.
The name Texas comes from a Caddo Indian word meaning "friends" or
"allies." The Spanish explorers pronounced the word tejas and gave this
name to the area. The nickname Lone Star State comes from the single
star in the Texas flag, which was officially adopted by the Republic of
Texas in 1839. The Texas and Hawaii flags are the only state emblems
that originally flew over recognized independent countries.
Survey of the Lone Star State
Texas lies in the south-central region of the United States. Its
southwestern and southern boundary is formed by the Rio Grande. Across
the river are the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leуn, and
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