Government: Bicameral legislature
28th State to enter the Union: Dec. 29, 1845
Present Constitution adopted: 1876
State motto: Friendship
Origin of name: Texas, or Tejas, was the Spanish pronunciation of a Caddo Indian word meaning "friends" or "allies."
Nickname: Texas is called the Lone Star State because of the design of the state flag: a broad vertical blue stripe at left centered by a single white star, and at right, horizontal bars of white (top) and red.
Population 2015 (U.S. Census estimate) 27,469,114
Population 2010 (U.S Census) 25,145,561
Population 2000 (U.S. Census) 20,851,820
Population 1990 (U.S. Census) 16,986,510
Population increase 2000–2010 20.6%
Population density (2010): 96.3 per square mile
Voting-age population (2016): 19,307,355
Statewide ethnicity*: Anglo, 43.5%; Black, 12.5%; Hispanic, 38.6%; Asian, 4.5%; Other, 2.9%.
Cities and Counties 2015
Number of counties: 254
Number of incorporated cities: 1,217
Number of cities of 100,000 population or more: 38
Number of cities of 50,000 population or more: 70
Number of cities of 10,000 population or more: 252
Ten largest cities (2015)
|1. Houston (in Harris County)||2,275,810|
|2. San Antonio (in Bexar County)||1,438,439|
|3. Dallas (in Dallas County)||1,295,117|
|4. Austin (in Travis County)||905,777|
|5. Fort Worth (in Tarrant County)||816,942|
|6. El Paso (in El Paso County)||676,664|
|7. Arlington (in Tarrant County)||383,379|
|8. Corpus Christi (in Nueces County)||323,978|
|9. Plano (in Collin County)||278,537|
|10. Laredo (in Webb County)||257,156|
*Race/Ethnicity: Percentage estimates for 2014 from the U.S. Bureau of the Census. "Anglo" refers to non-Hispanic whites. "Asian" refers to persons having origins in the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent. "Other" includes those of American Indian origin, Pacific Islanders and those who identify with two or more races. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as "American Indian" and "White." People who identify their origin as Hispanic may be of any race. Thus, the totals may add up to more than 100 percent.
The Natural Environment
Area (total): 268,596 sq. miles
Land area: 261,232 sq. miles
Water area: 7,365 sq. miles
Geographic center: About 15 miles northeast of Brady in northern McCulloch County.
Highest point: Guadalupe Peak (8,749 ft.) in Culberson County in far West Texas.
Lowest point: Gulf of Mexico (sea level).
Maps, both historic and current, are available from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at The University of Texas at Austin.
Manufactures: Chemicals and allied products, petroleum and coal products, food and kindred products, transportation equipment.
Farm products: Cattle, cotton, vegetables, fruits, nursery and greenhouse, dairy products.
Minerals: Petroleum, natural gas, natural gas liquids.
From the Almanac
Where in Texas Are We?
Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos changed its name in 2003 to Texas State University–San Marcos.
The college is in Central Texas, not Southwest Texas, argued the late, longtime president of the institution, Jerome Supple, during the consideration of the name change.
In fact, how the regions within the state are perceived changes. Although many today would agree with Dr. Supple, in the 1880s the popular view was that Southwest Texas included San Marcos, and sometimes El Paso, as well.
In 1902, The Dallas Morning News reported on the effects of the boil weevil in “Southwest Texas.” Included under that category were counties from Wilson, southeast of San Antonio, to Lee, east of Austin, even Brewster County, as well as Hays County, home of San Marcos.
“Geographers define regions in three different basic ways,” says the National Geographics Xpeditions website. These are:
“Formal — characterized by common properties, such as economy or climate.” [Examples; citrus-growing areas of southern Texas or the areas of desert climate.]
“Functional — organized around a focal point with surrounding areas linked by communication systems or economic association.” [Example; the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.]
“Perceptual — a construct that reflects human feelings and attitudes about areas and is therefore defined by people’s shared subjective images of those areas. It tends to reflect the element of people’s mental maps.”
These perceptual regions of the state can be defined in many ways, including directional, and here we present some maps showing various interpretions of the regions within Texas.
Terry G. Jordan, in his study published in Texas, A Geography, polled 4,000 college students in 1977 for their self-descriptions of their home regions. Part of the results are shown in his preceptual map.
Dr. Jordan pointed out that regions with environmental terms as a rule are the oldest. “Cross Timbers, for example, was in use at least by 1840.” But many environmental terms are now nearly or completely forgotten. Redlands, for example, was a belt centered on San Augustine County in East Texas.
These environmental terms don’t necessarily describe the real physical characteristics of the region. The Lower Rio Grande Valley is not a valley but a delta, and the Permian Basin in not a topographic basin, but, rather, the term refers to the geological formation underneath.
Some regions have political terms, such as Texoma (Texhoma), which combines the names of Texas and Oklahoma. Free State is a 19th century term for Van Zandt County that has various explanations for its origin.
Also included in Dr. Jordan’s study were promotional names which appeared after World War II, such as Big Country around Abilene and the Metroplex of Dallas-Fort Worth.
Over time the area considered within the Hill Country has expanded, perhaps because of its attraction to travelers. The Almanac in the past defined the Hill Country as “an area of hills and spring-fed streams along the edge of the Balcones Escarpment in the southeast portion of the Edwards Plateau.” Possibly related to the appealing sound of Hill Country, the term Texas Forest Country now has been coined to refer to the Piney Woods of East Texas.
As the National Geographic points out, these definitions are always changing:
“Some regions, especially formal regions, tend to be stable in spatial definition, but may undergo change in character. Others, especially functional regions, my retain certain basic characteristics, but may undergo spatial redefinition over time.
“Yet other regions, particularly perceptual regions, are likely to vary over time in both spatial extent and character.”
And not everyone will agree on the names. As Dr. Jordan found in 1977:
“Unlikely as it may seem, the majority of home county students at East Texas State University [now Texas A&M–Commerce], in Hunt County, did not place their county in East Texas, nor were those at West Texas State [now West Texas A&M] or Southwest Texas State universities swayed by the names of their institutions. Only North Texas State [now University of North Texas] students voted in a predictable manner and even there the majority was rather small.”
— written by Robert Plocheck for the Texas Almanac 2010–2011.