Most of the rivers of Texas flow in a southeasterly direction into the Gulf of Mexico. From the state's eastern border to its western border, the largest of these rivers are the Sabine, Neches, Trinity, Brazos, Colorado (of Texas), Guadalupe, SanAntonio, Nueces, and Rio Grande with its chief branch, the Pecos. The northern edge of the state lies in the Mississippi River basin. Within this section are the Canadian River, which flows across the Panhandle, and the Red River, on the Texas-Oklahoma border.
Texas has three main types of climate. A narrow strip along the coast has a marine climate tempered by winds from the Gulf of Mexico. Here temperatures are fairly uniform, with pleasant summers and mild winters. The Gulf coast area, from Brownsville northward, can experience severe ocean-borne storms, including destructive hurricanes. The mountain climate of western Texas brings dry, clear days with dramatic dips in temperature at nightfall. The rest of the state has a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. Quick temperature changes are common in this area. The warmest part of the state is the lower Rio Grande valley, which has an average annual temperature of 74° F (23° C). The coldest is the northwest Panhandle, with a 54° F (12° C) average.
Average annual precipitation (rain and melted snow) varies from 58 inches (147 centimeters) in the extreme eastern part of the state to less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) near El Paso. In most parts of the state, the greatest amount of rainfall occurs between April and July and is especially heavy during May. Snowfall is generally limited to the northern plains area, where it averages about 15 inches (38 centimeters) annually.
Texas has a rich supply of natural resources. The eastern part of the state is a productive farming region with fertile soil and ample rainfall. Where western Texas can be irrigated, it has huge grazing areas and valuable cropland. Almost 10 percent of the state is forested. The largest amount of timber is in eastern Texas, where the forest area extends over 43 counties. The chief commercial trees are several varieties of pine and oak, elm, hickory, magnolia, sweet gum, black gum, and tupelo.
The mineral resources, led by petroleum, are the most valuable in the nation. The major commercial advantages of the state are its excellent ports for trade with Central and South America. The Gulf coast yields valuable catches of shrimp.
The chief conservation problem is the maintenance of an adequate water supply, particularly in western Texas and in the large urban and industrial centers. Since 1930 many dams have been built to provide flood control, power, and irrigation. Today about one fourth of the reservoirs they formed have a storage capacity of more than 100,000 acre-feet each. The largest is Toledo Bend, on the Sabine River. Next in size are Amistad, on the Rio Grande, and Sam Rayburn, on the Angelina. Other large projects include Lake Texoma, formed by Denison Dam, on the Red River and Falcon Reservoir, on the Rio Grande. Amistad and Falcon benefit both the United States and Mexico.
The Texas Water Commission administers water rights and control. There are also many separate river authorities and water districts. Timber conservation is directed by the Texas Forest Service, a division of Texas A&M University. Wildlife is protected by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The federal Department of the Interior maintains 11 national wildlife refuges, including the Aransas refuge, along the coast.
People of Texas
The early Native American residents of Texas were the Caddo in the southeast, the Tonkawa in the southwest, and the Atakapa and Karankawa along the coast. Later the Comanche moved into central and western Texas from the north. Fierce Plains Indians, the Comanche were not brought under outside control until about 1875. This action opened the Panhandle and the western plains to settlement.
During the early days of Spanish rule, Texas attracted few new settlers other than missionaries. By 1806 the population was no more than 7,000. After the establishment of a colony of Anglo-Americans by Stephen Fuller Austin in 1821, similar settlers came in increasing numbers. Many came from the South, bringing slaves with them. Later, newcomers arrived from the East and Midwest. Today most of the migration into Texas comes from Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Of the Texas-born people living in other states, the largest number are in California.
Texas has more than 3 million people of Hispanic origin, most of whom are concentrated along the Rio Grande and in southern Texas . The state also has more than 2 million African Americans, chiefly in the south and east. Almost 6 percent of the people are foreign born--mainly emigrants from Mexico. The population also includes about 50,000 Native Americans and about 39,000 people of Chinese and Japanese descent.
Texas has 16 cities with a population of more than 100,000. The largest is Houston, a financial and industrial center. The city is connected to Galveston Bay by the 52-mile (84-kilometer) Houston Ship Channel, along which is one of the world's greatest concentrations of industry. With the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) nearby the area is also a focus of the space industry. Dallas, the second largest city, is a fashion, insurance, and finance center . Third in size is the historic city of San Antonio, home of the famous mission turned military post--the Alamo--and the chief trade center of southern Texas. Nearby are four bases of the United States Air Force--Brooks, Kelly, Lackland, and Randolph.
Located on the Rio Grande, El Paso serves as a busy gateway to Mexico and is the chief trade center of western Texas. West of Dallas is Fort Worth, a noted livestock and grain market. Austin, the sixth largest city, is the state capital; located in the south-central part of Texas, it grew according to plans laid out in 1839. The next largest city in the state is Corpus Christi, a year-round resort and deepwater port located on the Gulf of.
Lubbock, the commercial hub of a rich cotton-growing area in the Great Plains, and Amarillo are the chief cities of the Panhandle.