The State of Texas

Texas is the second largest state in the country by size and by population. It is second in size to Alaska, and second in population to California. The one thing that the residents of Texas are known for it is the pride that they have in their state. Texas has earned the nickname of the "Lone Star State" because of the single star that is depicted on the state flag.

The land that would eventually become Texas was the home to over a dozen Native American tribes. One of the more dominant tribes, the Caddo, used the word "taysha" (translated to mean "friend") to describe the land and its inhabitants. When the settlers first came into contact with the native tribes of Texas, the Caddo were the first tribe to be encountered. Over the years, the pronunciation of the word "taysha" evolved into Texas.

The earliest documents for the European settlement of Texas come from the Spanish explorer Alonso Alvarez de Pineda in 1519 who drew a map of the Texas Gulf Coast as he encountered it for the first time. Despite the contact made by de Pineda, the Spanish ignored Texas and did not establish settlements in the territory. But a visit from a lost French explorer would change all of that.

In 1685, French explorer Rene Robert Cavelier de La Salle mistakenly went to Matagorda Bay in Texas when he actually meant to explore the Mississippi River. He established a fort on the shores of the bay that was overrun by natives and disease within four years. But the Spanish had heard about La Salle's fort and feared that the French may be moving into the Texas area, which was very close to the Spanish settlements in Mexico.

The Spanish made a series of attempts to colonize Texas by placing missions at various locations, but the natives ran the Europeans out of the area each and every time. In 1749, the Spanish signed a series of treaties with local tribes that eventually resulted in tribal warfare. The Spanish sided with the victorious Comanche tribe and eventually wound up converting most of the natives in the state to Christianity. That was the breakthrough that allowed Europeans to begin to settle Texas.

Texas became a Republic in the early 1800's and remained that way for several decades. In 1837, the Republic of Texas requested to be annexed by the United States and be turned into a state. Initial resistance was voiced by the residents of the area that did not want to be part of the United States. The Texas slave laws proved to be a stumbling point for the United States. But by 1845, the two sides were able to come to an agreement and Texas officially became a state.

The capital city of Texas is Austin and the population, as of the 2012 census estimate, is 26,059,203. The physical size of Texas is 268,581 square miles. The highest elevation point in the state is a hill known as Guadalupe Peak, which is 8,751 feet above sea level. The lowest point would be sea level at the Gulf of Mexico.

Some of the landmarks that Texas is known for include the Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Alamo Mission in San Antonio and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. There have been many two presidents born in Texas; Lyndon Johnson and Dwight D. Eisenhower. President George W. Bush and his father President George H.W. Bush call Texas their home.

Texas is a big place that covers many different kinds of climate zones. The northern parts of the state are known to see snowfall during the winters, while the Gulf Coast areas have what is considered to be a tropical climate. Texas manages to avoid some of the devastating hurricanes that come through the Gulf Coast area, although is has sustained damage and loss of life due to storms in the past.

The economy of Texas is the second largest in the country (second to California), but it is an economy on the scale of countries such as India and Canada. The state enjoys an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent, which is two percentage points below the national average. Texas has 346,000 millionaires, which is the second most in the country.