15 Fascinating Facts About Texas

Did you know that Texas is the second largest state in the US and larger than any European country?

Officially known as “The Lone Star State,” Texas became the 28th state to join the United States on December 29, 1845.

As of 2019, it has a population of 28,995,881, making it the second most populous state.

Texas shares borders with Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

With a total land and water area of 268,596 square miles (695,662 square kilometers), it is the second largest state.

The capital of Texas is Austin, located in the southeastern part of the state.

Now, let’s take a look at 15 interesting facts about Texas that you probably didn’t know.

Texas has been inhabited for over 12,000 years.

The most widely accepted theory on how North America was populated suggests that the first settlers, known as Paleo-Indians, arrived between 15,000-13,000 BC.

They migrated from modern-day Russia, traveling through the Bering Strait and eventually arrived in Alaska.

The Paleo-Indians were nomadic hunters and gatherers who gradually spread throughout the Americas, searching for better hunting grounds.

Some of the oldest evidence of human activity in Texas dates back at least 12,000 years.

The only remnants of these early nomads are broken stone spear tips and other primitive tools.

When Europeans first arrived, there were at least six cultural groups in Texas.

We refer to them as “cultural groups” because, in some cases, a group such as the Apachean tribes was not a unified nation but several tribes who shared a background, culture, history, language, and customs.

They were scattered throughout modern-day Texas, with the Puebloan tribes to the southwest, Apachean tribes to the north, Comanche tribes closer to Texas’ Panhandle region, Caddoan tribes by the northeastern border of modern-day Texas along the Red River, and various Atakapa tribes along the coast.

Over the early centuries of European settlement in North America, different tribes came and went.

Ultimately, any tribes that did not assimilate into European culture were pushed away to reservations.

Today, the only officially recognized tribes in Texas include the Kickapoo, the Alabama-Coushatta, and the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo.

The first Europeans to reach Texas were from Spain.

The first Spanish explorers to catch a glimpse of modern-day Texas were the conquistador and cartographer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, who sailed along the Gulf of Mexico and created the first European maps of Texas’ coastline in 1520.

Spain claimed the region as part of their colony – New Spain.

It is unclear whether Pineda made landfall or simply anchored offshore.

In 1528, eighty survivors of a failed Spanish expedition found themselves stranded on the shores of Texas.

Only four survived, including the famous Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who explored much of modern-day Texas before making his way to the west coast of Mexico, where Spain had some settlements.

De Vaca was unable to map the regions he explored due to the absence of mapping tools. The first Europeans to settle in Texas were actually French, who unintentionally established a colony near the Mississippi River in 1684. The region was left relatively untouched by Spain for 160 years as they focused on colonizing Mexico. American citizens began illegally immigrating to Texas in the 19th century, despite Mexico’s attempts to prohibit their entry. Texas was a sovereign state for ten years before being annexed by the US government in 1845. The Lone Star State went to war twice in the 19th century, including during the Texas Revolution to own their own slaves and as part of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Lastly, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

On November 22, 1963, the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated while riding in a convertible limousine during a planned procession through the city of Dallas to gain support for the Democratic Party. The motorcade was passing by Dealey Plaza when three gunshots were fired, hitting both Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally. Although Governor Connally survived, Kennedy was declared dead at the nearest hospital about 30 minutes later. The assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was caught 70 minutes later and was a former US Marine. Oswald, himself, was assassinated two days later while being transferred to another jail.

The Name Texas Comes from a Native American Word

During the 17th century, the region that is now Texas was controlled by Spain, and several Catholic missions were founded in the area. The missionaries came into contact with the Caddo tribes, who taught them the word “táyshaʼ,” which means “friend.” The Spanish then referred to the Caddo people as “táyshaʼ,” but spelled it as “Tejas” or “Texas.” Over time, various names were applied to the region, including New Philippines and the Province of Tejas. Eventually, the region became the Republic of Texas and, later, the state of Texas. The state’s name still contains the word “friend,” which is a fitting name for such a friendly state.

7-Eleven Started as an Ice Storage Company in Texas

In 1927, not every household could afford electric refrigeration, so many relied on companies that sold large blocks of ice to keep food fresh. Several companies merged in Dallas to form the Southland Ice Company, which primarily sold ice but soon began to sell various food items. The company then shifted its focus to general retail goods and rebranded itself as Tote’m stores, featuring a Native American totem pole in each store. After the Great Depression and a brush with bankruptcy, the store shifted its focus towards convenient food and drinks and changed its name to 7-Eleven in 1946 to reflect its new business hours from 7 am to 11 pm.

Texas Mexican Food is Different from Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex originated in Texas, but it is an Americanization of Mexican food from when Texas became a state and was adapted to the American palate. As a result, Tex-Mex often has an overuse of cheese sauce and an oversimplified taste, which leads to it being scorned. Authentic Tex-Mex, or Texan Mexican, is different from Tex-Mex and is not as well-known.

Texan Mexican cuisine closely resembles the food found in Mexico’s northern regions and dates back to long before Europeans arrived. If you want to taste the authentic flavors of Texas, visit a local taqueria instead of a fast-food chain like Taco Bell.

Texas is home to the largest bat colony in the world, located in Bracken Cave just outside San Antonio. The Mexican free-tailed bats that reside there are the most common in North America and the official state bat of Texas. During the summer, it’s estimated that up to 20 million bats roost in the cave.

Texas is the second-largest state in the US and bigger than any European country except for France, Germany, and Spain. However, it could fit into Russia around 25 times. Despite its size, Texas has a stronger economy than many countries, including Australia, Spain, and Norway.

Before becoming a state, Texas was the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1845. During this time, it had embassies in London and Paris to gain European support for its independence. Although those embassies no longer exist, a plaque still stands in London where the embassy once was.

While many people associate Texas with the Wild West and cowboys, it’s an under-appreciated state with a rich history and culture, including its unique cuisine and natural wonders like the Bracken Cave bat colony.

The Region’s Remarkable History

The remarkable thing about this area is its rich history, which dates back to the earliest inhabitants and extends to present-day Texans.

FAQ

1. What is the largest city in Texas?

The largest city in Texas is Houston, with a population of over 2 million people. It is also the fourth largest city in the United States. Houston is known for its oil and gas industry, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and its diverse cultural attractions, including the Museum District and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

2. What is the state flower of Texas?

The state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet, which is a type of wildflower that blooms in the spring. It is a symbol of Texas pride and is often featured in artwork and photographs. The bluebonnet is also the official flower of the University of Texas at Austin.

3. What is the state bird of Texas?

The state bird of Texas is the northern mockingbird. This bird is known for its ability to mimic the songs of other birds and even sounds from its environment, such as car alarms and sirens. The mockingbird is also a symbol of Texas pride and is featured on the state quarter.

4. What is the Alamo?

The Alamo is a historic mission in San Antonio, Texas that played a significant role in the Texas Revolution. In 1836, a group of Texan soldiers, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, defended the Alamo against a much larger Mexican army. Although they were ultimately defeated, the Texans’ bravery and sacrifice inspired others to continue the fight for Texas independence. Today, the Alamo is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Texas history and pride.

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