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What Should I Know About Texas?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Texas is one of the fifty states that make up the United States of America and one of the four states that make up the Southwest, along with Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. It is bordered to the north by Oklahoma, to the east by Arkansas and Louisiana, to the southeast and south by the Gulf of Mexico and Tamaulipas, Mexico, and on the southwest and west by Coahuila and Chihuahua, Mexico and New Mexico. Austin is the capital. Other important cities include Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and El Paso.

This state is the second largest of the 50 states, with an area of 268,580.82 square miles (695,621.13 sq km), and also ranks second in population with 25,674,681 people, as of 2011 census. It is twenty-ninth among states in population density. The proper name for a resident of this state is a Texan.

At the time that European explorers began to arrive, there were hundreds of Native American groups in the area. It is estimated that thirty major epidemics of European-based diseases killed 95 percent of these people. Texas was settled from the south by Spanish and Mexicans, and by colonists from the north and east, resulting in a very diverse population.

When the United States made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the land west to the Rio Grande was included in the claim. When Mexico became independent, the government approved that grant of Stephen F. Austin for the settlement his father had begun under Spanish rule. A coup by General Antonio López de Santa Anna changed the atmosphere, with Austin being imprisoned. Texas formed a provisional government in 1835, declaring independence in 1836. The Republic of Texas became independent after the Battle of San Jacinto. It became the 28th state to enter the union on 29 December 1845.

The state motto is “Friendship.” The state seal features a single, five-pointed star with olive and live oak branches, with the words “The State of Texas.” On the state flag, which is the same as the national flag of the Republic of Texas flown in 1839, there is a vertical blue stripe with a single, white, five-pointed star, and to the right a white stripe above and a red stripe below, dividing the area in half. The nickname, the “Lone Star State,” references this star, and the flag is referred to as “The Lone Star Flag.”

This state has an unusually large collection of food symbols. The state bread is pan de campo, the state dish is chili, the state fruit is Texas red grapefruit, the state health nut is the pecan, and the state native pepper is chiltepin. The state features two representative pastries, sopapilla and strudel, while the state pepper is jalapeño, the state snack is tortilla chips and salsa, the state vegetable is the sweet onion, and the state may be the only one with an official state cooking implement — the cast iron Dutch oven.

Other state emblems include the following:

  • State Flower: Bluebonnet
  • State Mammal — Large: Longhorn
  • State Mammal — Small: Armadillo
  • State Bird: Mockingbird
  • State Reptile: Eastern Box Turtle
  • State Amphibian: Texas Cave Salamander
  • State Tree: Pecan
  • State Gem: Texas Blue Topaz
  • State Dog Breed: Blue Lacy
  • State Fiber/Fabric: Cotton
  • State Footwear: Cowboy Boot
  • State Insect: Monarch Butterfly
  • State Musical Instrument: Guitar
WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseGeek, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Feb 28, 2014

Here's another fascinating thing about Texas -- the documents allowing Texas into the United States contain a provision that allows the state to divide into up to five different entities. Of course, the U.S. Constitution already allows for such divisions (Virginia and West Virginia, for example), but that right was made explicit in the case of Texas.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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