Looking at a map of Texas can reveal many fascinating things about this US state.
The state of Texas is located in the South Central region of the United States. Texas borders with many U.S. and Mexican states. To the east, it borders the U.S. state of Louisiana; to the northeast, it borders the U.S. states of Arkansas; to the north, it borders the U.S. state of New Mexico; to the west, it borders with the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. The Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast of Texas.
How Big Is Texas?
Texas is famous for being big. But, just how big is Texas? Let us put it in context. Texas is the second largest state of the Union, only after Alaska.
Texas has a total area of 268,596.46 square miles (695,662 square kilometers).
It also ranks second in population, although this time behind California, with a total estimated population of 28,304,596 people as of 2017. But because of its side, it only ranks 26th in terms of density of population: 108/square mile (40.6/square kilometer).
Texas is twice as large as several countries, including Japan or Germany. And it is about 10 percent larger than France.
If Texas were a sovereign nation, it would rank 40th largest in the world behind the South American nation of Chile and the African country of Zambia.
So, yes, Texas is indeed big!
Cities in Texas
Austin is the state capital, but the state’s largest city is Houston. The largest metropolitan area is the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The second most populated city in the state is San Antonio.
Other notable large cities are Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, and San Antonio-New Braunfels.
Isn’t All Texas A Desert?
Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about Texas is about its landscape being dry. Only about 10 percent of the land area in Texas is desert. The rest of the state land is covered by grasslands, forests, mountains (the Big Bend) and the coastline. This makes Texas one of the least deserted parts of the U.S. southwest.
Texas, with her superior natural advantages, must become a point of attraction, and the policy of establishing with her the earliest relations of friendship and commerce will not escape the eye of statesmen. – Sam Houston
If you look at historical maps of Texas, you will see how the borders of this U.S. state have changed throughout the years. It is now time to talk about the “six flags over Texas”.
Why do we use that term and what does it refer to? The territory occupied by the U.S. state of Texas these days have been ruled by six different nations over its history. The first European state to lay claim over Texas was Spain. France also had a colony there briefly in the 17th century. Then when Mexico (formerly known as New Spain) gained independence from Spain, it controlled Texas until 1836. Then, Texas became an independent republic until it joined the United States in 1845. Texas seceded from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America in 1861 until the end of the civil war when it continued to be part of the nation as did the rest of slave states in the South that had seceded. So, the “six flags over Texas” represent the following countries Spain, France, Mexico, Texas (Republic of), the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America.
All those changes in sovereignty have affected Texas’ borders so comparing historical maps from different periods can be hugely illuminating.
Rivers = Borders
It is not unusual for countries, states, or provinces to have at least some of their borders defined by rivers. And the U.S. state of Texas is no exception to that.
Looking at the map of Texas, we will notice that three of its borders are defined by as many rivers. The Rio Grande runs between Texas and the Mexican states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas, which are all south of Texas. The Sabine River is the natural border between Texas and Louisiana to the east. The Red River runs between Texas and Arkansas and Oklahoma, both to the north.
We could consider the Gulf of Mexico as the “fourth natural border” of Texas.
The Texas map can also give us some clues about the climate in Texas. In fact, Texas encompasses as many as 10 different climatic regions:
These regions made from very different weather conditions at specific times of years. For example, the Gulf Coast area has mild winters, while the panhandle part of the state has colder winters than even North Texas.
There is also a lot of variation in rainfall. For example, it rains a lot more in some parts of southeast Texas than in the North Central region (e.g., Dallas). And it rains even less in places like El Paso, located in the western end of Texas.
Snowfall is a lot more common in the mountains in the West or in the Panhandle area of Texas. But, it is rare anywhere south of the city of San Antonio or on the Gulf coast.
The climate and rainfall are just one of the elements that factor in the regional division within Texas. Other elements that are included are topography, soils, animal communities, plants, and geology. Because of the sheer variety in all those elements, coming up with “natural” regions in Texas can be problematic. But, perhaps, the most widely accepted regional division is the following: the Gulf Coastal Plains in the southeast, then, going West, the Interior Lowlands, the Great Plains, the Basin, and, finally in the western end of the state, the Range Province. The most visible difference between all those regions can be observed in the vegetation: from pine woods to prairie, deserts, etc.
The Lone Star state has a lot to explore, at looking at its different maps carefully is a great place to start.