State of the United States of America
State of Florida
Flag of Florida State seal of Florida
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Sunshine State
Motto(s): In God We Trust[1]
State song(s): “Old Folks at Home (State Song), Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky) (State Anthem)
Map of the United States with Florida highlighted
Official language English[2]
Spoken languages Predominantly English and Spanish[3]
Demonym Floridian, Floridan
Capital Tallahassee
Largest city Jacksonville
Largest metro Greater Miami
Area Ranked 22nd
 • Total 65,755[4] sq mi
(170,304[4] km2)
 • Width 361 miles (582 km)
 • Length 447 miles (721 km)
 • % water 17.9
 • Latitude 24° 27′ N to 31° 00′ N
 • Longitude 80° 02′ W to 87° 38′ W
Population Ranked 3rd
 • Total 21,312,211 (2018 est.)[5][6]
 • Density 384.3/sq mi  (121.0/km2)
Ranked 8th
 • Median household income $51,176[7] (41st)
 • Highest point Britton Hill[8][9]
345 ft (105 m)
 • Mean 100 ft  (30 m)
 • Lowest point Atlantic Ocean[8]
Sea level
Before statehood Florida Territory
Admission to Union March 3, 1845 (27th)
Governor Rick Scott (R)
Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R)
Legislature Florida Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D)
Marco Rubio (R)
U.S. House delegation 15 Republicans
11 Democrats
1 Vacancy (list)
Time zones  
 • Peninsula and “Big Bend” region EST: UTC −5/−4
 • Panhandle west of the Apalachicola River CST: UTC −6/−5
ISO 3166 US-FL
Abbreviations FL, Fla.
Website myflorida.com
Florida state symbols
Flag of Florida.svg

The Flag of Florida
Seal of Florida.svg

The Seal of Florida
Living insignia
Amphibian Barking tree frog
Bird Northern mockingbird
Fish Florida largemouth bass, Atlantic sailfish
Flower Orange blossom
Insect Zebra longwing
Mammal Florida panther, manatee, bottlenose dolphin, Florida Cracker Horse[10]
Reptile American alligator, Loggerhead turtle, Gopher tortoise[10]
Tree Sabal palmetto
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Orange juice
Food Key lime pie, Orange
Gemstone Moonstone
Rock Agatized coral
Shell Horse conch
Soil Myakka
State route marker
Florida state route marker
State quarter
Florida quarter dollar coin

Released in 2004
Lists of United States state symbols

Florida (/ˈflɒrɪdə/ (About this soundlisten); Spanish for “land of flowers”) is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive (65,755 sq mi or 170,300 km2), the 3rd-most populous (21,312,211 inhabitants),[11][6] and the 8th-most densely populated (384.3/sq mi or 148.4/km2) of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida’s most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state’s capital.

Florida’s $1.0 trillion economy is the fourth largest in the United States.[12] If it were a country, Florida would be the 16th largest economy in the world, and the 58th most populous as of 2018[update].[13] In 2017, Florida’s per capita personal income was $47,684, ranking 26th in the nation.[14] The unemployment rate in September 2018 was 3.5% and ranked as the 18th in the United States.[15] Florida exports nearly $55 billion in goods made in the state, the 8th highest among all states.[16] The Miami Metropolitan Area is by far the largest urban economy in Florida and the 12th largest in the United States with a GDP of $344.9 billion as of 2017.[17] This is more than twice the number of the next metro area, the Tampa Bay Area, which has a GDP of $145.3 billion. Florida is home to 51 of the world’s billionaires with most of them residing in South Florida.[18]

The first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, who called it la Florida ([la floˈɾiða] “the land of flowers”) upon landing there in the Easter season, known in Spanish as Pascua Florida.[19] Florida was a challenge for the European colonial powers before it gained statehood in the United States in 1845. It was a principal location of the Seminole Wars against the Native Americans, and racial segregation after the American Civil War.

Today, Florida is distinctive for its large Cuban expatriate community and high population growth, as well as for its increasing environmental issues. The state’s economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture, and transportation, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also renowned for amusement parks, orange crops, winter vegetables, the Kennedy Space Center, and as a popular destination for retirees. Florida is the flattest state in the United States.[20]Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in the U.S. state of Florida.[21]

Florida’s close proximity to the ocean influences many aspects of Florida culture and daily life. Florida is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; African, European, indigenous, and Latino heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine. Florida has attracted many writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes. It is internationally known for golf, tennis, auto racing, and water sports. Several beaches in Florida have turquoise and emerald-colored coastal waters.[22]

About two-thirds of Florida occupies a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km), not including the contribution of the many barrier islands.[23] Florida has a total of 4,510 islands that are ten acres or larger in area.[24][25] This is the second-highest number of islands of any state of the United States; only Alaska has more.[24] It is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil. Florida has the lowest high point of any U.S. state. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south.[26] The American alligator, American crocodile, American flamingo, Roseate spoonbill, Florida panther, bottlenose dolphin, and manatee can be found in Everglades National Park in the southern part of the state. Along with Hawaii, Florida is one of only two states that has a tropical climate, and is the only continental state with either a tropical climate or a coral reef. The Florida Reef[27] is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States,[28] and the third-largest coral barrier reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef and Belize Barrier Reef).[29]


  • 1 History

    • 1.1 European arrival
    • 1.2 Joining the United States; Indian removal
    • 1.3 Slavery, war, and disenfranchisement
    • 1.4 20th and 21st century growth
  • 2 Geography

    • 2.1 Climate
    • 2.2 Fauna
    • 2.3 Flora
    • 2.4 Environmental issues
    • 2.5 Geology
    • 2.6 Regions
  • 3 Demographics

    • 3.1 Population
    • 3.2 Settlements
    • 3.3 Ancestry
    • 3.4 Languages
    • 3.5 Religion
  • 4 Governance

    • 4.1 Elections history

      • 4.1.1 Elections of 2000 to present
    • 4.2 Statutes
  • 5 Economy

    • 5.1 Personal income
    • 5.2 Real estate
    • 5.3 Tourism
    • 5.4 Agriculture and fishing
    • 5.5 Industry
    • 5.6 Mining
    • 5.7 Government
  • 6 Seaports
  • 7 Health
  • 8 Architecture
  • 9 Media
  • 10 Education

    • 10.1 Primary and secondary education
    • 10.2 Higher education
  • 11 Transportation

    • 11.1 Highways
    • 11.2 Airports
    • 11.3 Intercity rail
    • 11.4 Public transit
  • 12 Sports
  • 13 State symbols
  • 14 Sister states
  • 15 Notable people
  • 16 See also
  • 17 Notes
  • 18 References
  • 19 Bibliography
  • 20 External links


By the 16th century, the earliest time for which there is a historical record, major Native American groups included the Apalachee of the Florida Panhandle, the Timucua of northern and central Florida, the Ais of the central Atlantic coast, the Tocobaga of the Tampa Bay area, the Calusa of southwest Florida and the Tequesta of the southeastern coast.

European arrival

Map of Florida, likely based on the expeditions of Hernando de Soto (1539–1543)

Florida was the first region of the continental United States to be visited and settled by Europeans. The earliest known European explorers came with the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León. Ponce de León spotted and landed on the peninsula on April 2, 1513. He named the region Florida (“land of flowers”).[30] The story that he was searching for the Fountain of Youth is mythical and only appeared long after his death.[31]

In May 1539, Conquistador Hernando de Soto skirted the coast of Florida, searching for a deep harbor to land. He described seeing a thick wall of red mangroves spread mile after mile, some reaching as high as 70 feet (21 m), with intertwined and elevated roots making landing difficult.[32] The Spanish introduced Christianity, cattle, horses, sheep, the Castilian language, and more to Florida.[33] Spain established several settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success. In 1559, Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano established a settlement at present-day Pensacola, making it the first attempted settlement in Florida, but it was mostly abandoned by 1561.

The Castillo de San Marcos. Originally white with red corners, its design reflects the colors and shapes of the Cross of Burgundy and the subsequent Flag of Florida.

In 1565, the settlement of St. Augustine (San Agustín) was established under the leadership of admiral and governor Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, creating what would become one of the oldest, continuously-occupied European settlements in the continental U.S. and establishing the first generation of Floridanos and the Government of Florida.[34] Spain maintained strategic control over the region by converting the local tribes to Christianity. The marriage between Luisa de Abrego, a free black domestic servant from Seville, and Miguel Rodríguez, a white Segovian, occurred in 1565 in St. Augustine. It is the first recorded Christian marriage in the continental United States.[35]

Some Spanish married or had unions with Pensacola, Creek or African women, both slave and free, and their descendants created a mixed-race population of mestizos and mulattos. The Spanish encouraged slaves from the southern British colonies to come to Florida as a refuge, promising freedom in exchange for conversion to Catholicism. King Charles II of Spain issued a royal proclamation freeing all slaves who fled to Spanish Florida and accepted conversion and baptism. Most went to the area around St. Augustine, but escaped slaves also reached Pensacola. St. Augustine had mustered an all-black militia unit defending Spain as early as 1683.[36]

The geographical area of Florida diminished with the establishment of English settlements to the north and French claims to the west. The English attacked St. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times. Spain built the Castillo de San Marcos in 1672 and Fort Matanzas in 1742 to defend Florida’s capital city from attacks, and to maintain its strategic position in the defense of the Captaincy General of Cuba and the Spanish West Indies.

Grenadiers led by Bernardo de Gálvez at the Siege of Pensacola. Painting by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau, 2015.

Florida attracted numerous Africans and African Americans from adjacent British colonies who sought freedom from slavery. In 1738, Governor Manuel de Montiano established Fort Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose near St. Augustine, a fortified town for escaped slaves to whom Montiano granted citizenship and freedom in return for their service in the Florida militia, and which became the first free black settlement legally sanctioned in North America.[37][38]

In 1763, Spain traded Florida to the Kingdom of Great Britain for control of Havana, Cuba, which had been captured by the British during the Seven Years’ War. It was part of a large expansion of British territory following their victory in the Seven Years’ War. A large portion of the Floridano population left, taking along most of the remaining indigenous population to Cuba.[39] The British soon constructed the King’s Road connecting St. Augustine to Georgia. The road crossed the St. Johns River at a narrow point called Wacca Pilatka, or the British name “Cow Ford”, ostensibly reflecting the fact that cattle were brought across the river there.[40][41][42]

East Florida and West Florida in British period (1763–1783)

The British divided and consolidated the Florida provinces (Las Floridas) into East Florida and West Florida, a division the Spanish government kept after the brief British period.[43] The British government gave land grants to officers and soldiers who had fought in the French and Indian War in order to encourage settlement. In order to induce settlers to move to Florida, reports of its natural wealth were published in England. A large number of British settlers who were described as being “energetic and of good character” moved to Florida, mostly coming from South Carolina, Georgia and England. There was also a group of settlers who came from the colony of Bermuda. This would be the first permanent English-speaking population in what is now Duval County, Baker County, St. Johns County and Nassau County. The British built good public roads and introduced the cultivation of sugar cane, indigo and fruits as well as the export of lumber.[44][45]

As a result of these initiatives, northeastern Florida prospered economically in a way it never did under Spanish administration. Furthermore, the British governors were directed to call general assemblies as soon as possible in order to make laws for the Floridas, and in the meantime they were, with the advice of councils, to establish courts. This was the first introduction of the English-derived legal system which Florida still has today, including trial by jury, habeas corpus and county-based government.[44][45] Neither East Florida nor West Florida sent any representatives to Philadelphia to draft the Declaration of Independence. Florida remained a Loyalist stronghold for the duration of the American Revolution.[46]

Spain regained both East and West Florida after Britain’s defeat in the American Revolution and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles in 1783, and continued the provincial divisions until 1821.[47]

Joining the United States; Indian removal

A Cracker cowboy, 19th century

Defense of Florida’s northern border with the United States was minor during the second Spanish period. The region became a haven for escaped slaves and a base for Indian attacks against U.S. territories, and the U.S. pressed Spain for reform.

Americans of English descent and Americans of Scots-Irish descent began moving into northern Florida from the backwoods of Georgia and South Carolina. Though technically not allowed by the Spanish authorities and the Floridan government, they were never able to effectively police the border region and the backwoods settlers from the United States would continue to immigrate into Florida unchecked. These migrants, mixing with the already present British settlers who had remained in Florida since the British period, would be the progenitors of the population known as Florida Crackers.[48]

These American settlers established a permanent foothold in the area and ignored Spanish authorities. The British settlers who had remained also resented Spanish rule, leading to a rebellion in 1810 and the establishment for ninety days of the so-called Free and Independent Republic of West Florida on September 23. After meetings beginning in June, rebels overcame the garrison at Baton Rouge (now in Louisiana), and unfurled the flag of the new republic: a single white star on a blue field. This flag would later become known as the “Bonnie Blue Flag”.

In 1810, parts of West Florida were annexed by proclamation of President James Madison, who claimed the region as part of the Louisiana Purchase. These parts were incorporated into the newly formed Territory of Orleans. The U.S. annexed the Mobile District of West Florida to the Mississippi Territory in 1812. Spain continued to dispute the area, though the United States gradually increased the area it occupied. In 1812, a group of settlers from Georgia, with de facto support from the U.S. federal government, attempted to overthrow the Floridan government in the province of East Florida. The settlers hoped to convince Floridans to join their cause and proclaim independence from Spain, but the settlers lost their tenuous support from the federal government and abandoned their cause by 1813.[49]

Seminoles based in East Florida began raiding Georgia settlements, and offering havens for runaway slaves. The United States Army led increasingly frequent incursions into Spanish territory, including the 1817–1818 campaign against the Seminole Indians by Andrew Jackson that became known as the First Seminole War. The United States now effectively controlled East Florida. Control was necessary according to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams because Florida had become “a derelict open to the occupancy of every enemy, civilized or savage, of the United States, and serving no other earthly purpose than as a post of annoyance to them.”[50]

Florida had become a burden to Spain, which could not afford to send settlers or garrisons. Madrid therefore decided to cede the territory to the United States through the Adams–Onís Treaty, which took effect in 1821.[51] President James Monroe was authorized on March 3, 1821 to take possession of East Florida and West Florida for the United States and provide for initial governance.[52]Andrew Jackson, on behalf of the U.S. federal government, served as a military commissioner with the powers of governor of the newly acquired territory for a brief period.[53] On March 30, 1822, the U.S. Congress merged East Florida and part of West Florida into the Florida Territory.[54]

A contemporaneous depiction of the New River Massacre in 1836

By the early 1800s, Indian removal was a significant issue throughout the southeastern U.S. and also in Florida. In 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act and as settlement increased, pressure grew on the U.S. government to remove the Indians from Florida. Seminoles offered sanctuary to blacks, and these became known as the Black Seminoles, and clashes between whites and Indians grew with the influx of new settlers. In 1832, the Treaty of Payne’s Landing promised to the Seminoles lands west of the Mississippi River if they agreed to leave Florida. Many Seminole left at this time.

Some Seminoles remained, and the U.S. Army arrived in Florida, leading to the Second Seminole War (1835–1842). Following the war, approximately 3,000 Seminole and 800 Black Seminole were removed to Indian Territory. A few hundred Seminole remained in Florida in the Everglades.

On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state to join the United States of America.[55] The state was admitted as a slave state and ceased to be a sanctuary for runaway slaves. Initially its population grew slowly.

As European settlers continued to encroach on Seminole lands, and the United States intervened to move the remaining Seminoles to the West. The Third Seminole War (1855–58) resulted in the forced removal of most of the remaining Seminoles, although hundreds of Seminole Indians remained in the Everglades.[56]

Slavery, war, and disenfranchisement

The Battle of Olustee during the American Civil War, 1864

American settlers began to establish cotton plantations in north Florida, which required numerous laborers, which they supplied by buying slaves in the domestic market. By 1860, Florida had only 140,424 people, of whom 44% were enslaved. There were fewer than 1,000 free African Americans before the American Civil War.[57]

On January 10, 1861, nearly all delegates in the Florida Legislature approved an ordinance of secession,[58] declaring Florida to be “a sovereign and independent nation”—an apparent reassertion to the preamble in Florida’s Constitution of 1838, in which Florida agreed with Congress to be a “Free and Independent State.” Although not directly related to the issue of slavery, the ordinance declared Florida’s secession from the Union, allowing it to become one of the founding members of the Confederate States, a looser union of states.

The confederal union received little help from Florida; the 15,000 men it offered were generally sent elsewhere. The largest engagements in the state were the Battle of Olustee, on February 20, 1864, and the Battle of Natural Bridge, on March 6, 1865. Both were Confederate victories.[59] The war ended in 1865.

Following the American Civil War, Florida’s congressional representation was restored on June 25, 1868, albeit forcefully after Radical Reconstruction and the installation of unelected government officials under the final authority of federal military commanders. After the Reconstruction period ended in 1876, white Democrats regained power in the state legislature. In 1885, they created a new constitution, followed by statutes through 1889 that disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites.[60]

Until the mid-20th century, Florida was the least populous state in the southern United States. In 1900, its population was only 528,542, of whom nearly 44% were African American, the same proportion as before the Civil War.[61] The boll weevil devastated cotton crops.

Forty thousand blacks, roughly one-fifth of their 1900 population, left the state in the Great Migration. They left due to lynchings and racial violence, and for better opportunities.[62] Disfranchisement for most African Americans in the state persisted until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gained federal legislation in 1965 to enforce protection of their constitutional suffrage.

20th and 21st century growth

Key West Historic District

Miami’s Freedom Tower

Historically, Florida’s economy has been based primarily upon agricultural products such as cattle, sugar cane, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Economic prosperity in the 1920s stimulated tourism to Florida and related development of hotels and resort communities. Combined with its sudden elevation in profile was the Florida land boom of the 1920s, which brought a brief period of intense land development. Devastating hurricanes in 1926 and 1928, followed by the Great Depression, brought that period to a halt.
Florida’s economy did not fully recover until the military buildup for World War II.

In 1939, Florida was described as “still very largely an empty State.”[63] Subsequently, the growing availability of air conditioning, the climate, and a low cost of living made the state a haven. Migration from the Rust Belt and the Northeast sharply increased Florida’s population after 1945. In the 1960s, many refugees from Cuba fleeing Fidel Castro’s communist regime arrived in Miami at the Freedom Tower, where the federal government used the facility to process, document and provide medical and dental services for the newcomers. As a result, the Freedom Tower was also called the “Ellis Island of the South.” [64] In recent decades, more migrants have come for the jobs in a developing economy.

With a population of more than 18 million, according to the 2010 census, Florida is the most populous state in the southeastern United States and the third-most populous in the United States.[65]

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, a large population of Puerto Ricans began moving to Florida to escape the widespread destruction. Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans arrived in Florida after Maria dissipated, with nearly half of them arriving in Orlando and large populations also moving to Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.[66]


A topographic map of Florida

Southernmost point monument in Key West

Florida and its relation to Cuba and The Bahamas

Much of Florida is on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and the Straits of Florida. Spanning two time zones, it extends to the northwest into a panhandle, extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered on the north by Georgia and Alabama, and on the west, at the end of the panhandle, by Alabama. It is the only state that borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida also is the southernmost state in the 48 contiguous states, with Hawaii being the only state reaching farther south. Florida is west of The Bahamas and 90 miles (140 km) north of Cuba. Florida is one of the largest states east of the Mississippi River, and only Alaska and Michigan are larger in water area.
The water boundary is 3 nautical miles (3.5 mi; 5.6 km) offshore in the Atlantic Ocean[67] and 9 nautical miles (10 mi; 17 km) offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.[67]

At 345 feet (105 m) above mean sea level, Britton Hill is the highest point in Florida and the lowest highpoint of any U.S. state.[68] Much of the state south of Orlando lies at a lower elevation than northern Florida, and is fairly level. Much of the state is at or near sea level. However, some places such as Clearwater have promontories that rise 50 to 100 ft (15 to 30 m) above the water. Much of Central and North Florida, typically 25 mi (40 km) or more away from the coastline, have rolling hills with elevations ranging from 100 to 250 ft (30 to 76 m). The highest point in peninsular Florida (east and south of the Suwannee River), Sugarloaf Mountain, is a 312-foot (95 m) peak in Lake County.[69] On average, Florida is the flattest state in the United States.[70]


Köppen climate types of Florida[71]

The climate of Florida is tempered somewhat by the fact that no part of the state is distant from the ocean. North of Lake Okeechobee, the prevalent climate is humid subtropical (Köppen: Cfa), while areas south of the lake (including the Florida Keys) have a true tropical climate (Köppen: Aw).[72] Mean high temperatures for late July are primarily in the low 90s Fahrenheit (32–34 °C). Mean low temperatures for early to mid January range from the low 40s Fahrenheit (4–7 °C) in north Florida to above 60 °F (16 °C) from Miami on southward. With an average daily temperature of 70.7 °F (21.5 °C), it is the warmest state in the U.S.[73][74]

In the summer, high temperatures in the state seldom exceed 100 °F (38 °C). Several record cold maxima have been in the 30s °F (−1 to 4 °C) and record lows have been in the 10s (−12 to −7 °C). These temperatures normally extend at most a few days at a time in the northern and central parts of Florida. South Florida, however, rarely encounters below freezing temperatures.[75] The hottest temperature ever recorded in Florida was 109 °F (43 °C), which was set on June 29, 1931 in Monticello. The coldest temperature was −2 °F (−19 °C), on February 13, 1899, just 25 miles (40 km) away, in Tallahassee.[76][77]

Due to its subtropical and tropical climate, Florida rarely receives measurable snowfall.[78] However, on rare occasions, a combination of cold moisture and freezing temperatures can result in snowfall in the farthest northern regions like Jacksonville, Gainesville or Pensacola. Frost, which is more common than snow, sometimes occurs in the panhandle.[79] The USDA Plant hardiness zones for the state range from zone 8a (no colder than 10 °F or −12 °C) in the inland western panhandle to zone 11b (no colder than 45 °F or 7 °C) in the lower Florida Keys.[80]Fog also occurs all over the state or climate of Florida.[81]

Average high and low temperatures for various Florida cities
°F Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jacksonville[82] 65/42 68/45 74/50 79/55 86/63 90/70 92/73 91/73 87/69 80/61 74/51 67/44
Miami[83] 76/60 78/62 80/65 83/68 87/73 89/76 91/77 91/77 89/76 86/73 82/68 78/63
Orlando[84] 71/49 74/52 78/56 83/60 88/66 91/72 92/74 92/74 90/73 85/66 78/59 73/52
Pensacola[85] 61/43 64/46 70/51 76/58 84/66 89/72 90/74 90/74 87/70 80/60 70/50 63/45
Tallahassee[86] 64/39 68/42 74/47 80/52 87/62 91/70 92/72 92/72 89/68 82/57 73/48 66/41
Tampa[87] 70/51 73/54 77/58 81/62 88/69 90/74 90/75 91/76 89/74 85/67 78/60 72/54
°C Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jacksonville 18/6 20/7 23/10 26/13 30/17 32/21 33/23 33/23 31/21 27/16 23/11 19/7
Miami 24/16 26/17 27/18 28/20 31/23 32/24 33/25 33/25 32/24 30/23 28/20 26/17
Orlando 22/9 23/11 26/13 28/16 31/19 33/22 33/23 33/23 32/23 29/19 26/15 23/11
Pensacola 16/6 18/8 21/11 24/14 29/19 32/22 32/23 32/23 31/21 27/16 21/10 17/7
Tallahassee 18/4 20/6 23/8 27/11 31/17 33/21 33/22 33/22 32/20 28/14 23/9 19/5
Tampa 21/11 23/12 25/14 27/17 31/21 32/23 32/24 33/24 32/23 29/19 26/16 22/12

The Sabal palmetto is one of twelve palm tree species that are native to Florida and is the official state tree.

Coconut palms on the beaches of Key Biscayne in Miami show South Florida’s tropical climate.

Florida’s nickname is the “Sunshine State”, but severe weather is a common occurrence in the state. Central Florida is known as the lightning capital of the United States, as it experiences more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the country.[88] Florida has one of the highest average precipitation levels of any state,[89] in large part because afternoon thunderstorms are common in much of the state from late spring until early autumn.[90] A narrow eastern part of the state including Orlando and Jacksonville receives between 2,400 and 2,800 hours of sunshine annually. The rest of the state, including Miami, receives between 2,800 and 3,200 hours annually.[91]

Florida leads the United States in tornadoes per area (when including waterspouts),[92] but they do not typically reach the intensity of those in the Midwest and Great Plains. Hail often accompanies the most severe thunderstorms.[93]

Hurricanes pose a severe threat each year during June 1 to November 30 hurricane season, particularly from August to October. Florida is the most hurricane-prone state, with subtropical or tropical water on a lengthy coastline. Of the category 4 or higher storms that have struck the United States, 83% have either hit Florida or Texas.[94]

From 1851 to 2006, Florida was struck by 114 hurricanes, 37 of them major—category 3 and above.[94] It is rare for a hurricane season to pass without any impact in the state by at least a tropical storm.[95]

In 1992, Florida was the site of what was then the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $25 billion in damages when it struck during August; it held that distinction until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina surpassed it, and it has since been surpassed by six other hurricanes. Andrew is currently the second costliest hurricane in Florida’s history.[96]


An alligator in the Florida Everglades

American flamingos in South Florida

West Indian Manatee

Florida is host to many types of wildlife including:

Marine mammals: bottlenose dolphin, short-finned pilot whale, North Atlantic right whale, West Indian manatee

Mammals: Florida panther, northern river otter, mink, eastern cottontail rabbit, marsh rabbit, raccoon, striped skunk, squirrel, white-tailed deer, Key deer, bobcats, red fox, gray fox, coyote, wild boar, Florida black bear, nine-banded armadillos, Virginia opossum

Reptiles: eastern diamondback and pygmy rattlesnakes, gopher tortoise, green and leatherback sea turtles,[97] and eastern indigo snake. In 2012, there were about one million American alligators and 1,500 crocodiles.[98]
Birds: peregrine falcon,[99]bald eagle, American flamingo,[100]northern caracara, snail kite, osprey, white and brown pelicans, sea gulls, whooping and sandhill cranes, roseate spoonbill, American white ibis, Florida scrub jay (state endemic), and others. One subspecies of wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, namely subspecies osceola, is found only in Florida.[101] The state is a wintering location for many species of eastern North American birds.

As a result of climate change, there have been small numbers of several new species normally native to cooler areas to the north: snowy owls, snow buntings, harlequin ducks, and razorbills. These have been seen in the northern part of the state.[102]

Invertebrates: carpenter ants, termites, American cockroach, Africanized bees, the Miami blue butterfly, and the grizzled mantis.

Florida also has more than 500 nonnative animal species and 1,000 nonnative insects found throughout the state.[103] Some exotic species living in Florida include the Burmese python, green iguana, veiled chameleon, Argentine black and white tegu, peacock bass, mayan cichlid, lionfish, White-nosed coati, rhesus macaque, vervet monkey, Cuban tree frog, cane toad, Indian peafowl, monk parakeet, tui parakeet, and many more. Some of these nonnative species do not pose a threat to any native species, but some do threaten the native species of Florida by living in the state and eating them.[104]


There are about 3,000 different types of wildflowers in Florida.[105] This is the third-most diverse state in the union, behind California and Texas, both larger states.[106] In Florida, wild populations of coconut palms extend up the East Coast from Key West to Jupiter Inlet, and up the West Coast from Marco Island to Sarasota. Many of the smallest coral islands in the Florida Keys are known to have abundant coconut palms sprouting from coconuts that have drifted or been deposited by ocean currents. Coconut palms are cultivated north of south Florida to roughly Cocoa Beach on the East Coast and the St/Petersburg on the West Coast.[107]

On the east coast of the state, mangroves have normally dominated the coast from Cocoa Beach southward; salt marshes from St. Augustine northward. From St. Augustine south to Cocoa Beach, the coast fluctuates between the two, depending on the annual weather conditions.[102] All three mangrove species flower in the spring and early summer. Propagules fall from late summer through early autumn.[citation needed] Florida mangrove plant communities covered an estimated 430,000 to 540,000 acres (1,700 to 2,200 km2) in Florida in 1981. Ninety percent of the Florida mangroves are in southern Florida, in Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.

Environmental issues

An American alligator and an invasive Burmese python in Everglades National Park

Florida is a low per capita energy user.[108] It is estimated that approximately 4% of energy in the state is generated through renewable resources.[109] Florida’s energy production is 6% of the nation’s total energy output, while total production of pollutants is lower, with figures of 6% for nitrogen oxide, 5% for carbon dioxide, and 4% for sulfur dioxide.[109] Wildfires in Florida occur at all times of the year.[110]

All potable water resources have been controlled by the state government through five regional water authorities since 1972.[111]

Red tide has been an issue on the southwest coast of Florida, as well as other areas. While there has been a great deal of conjecture over the cause of the toxic algae bloom, there is no evidence that it is being caused by pollution or that there has been an increase in the duration or frequency of red tides.[112] Red tide is now killing off wildlife or Tropical fish and coral reefs putting all in danger.[113]

The Florida panther is close to extinction. A record 23 were killed in 2009, mainly by automobile collisions, leaving about 100 individuals in the wild. The Center for Biological Diversity and others have therefore called for a special protected area for the panther to be established.[114]Manatees are also dying at a rate higher than their reproduction.[115]American flamingos are rare to see in Florida due to being hunted in the 1900s, where it was to a point considered completely extirpated. Now the flamingos are reproducing slowly in the process of making it’s comeback to South Florida since it’s adamantly considered native to the state and also are now being protected.[116][117]

Much of Florida has an elevation of less than 12 feet (3.7 m), including many populated areas. Therefore, it is susceptible to rising sea levels associated with global warming.[118]
The Atlantic beaches that are vital to the state’s economy are being washed out to sea due to rising sea levels caused by climate change. The Miami beach area, close to the continental shelf, is running out of accessible offshore sand reserves.[119] Elevated temperatures can damage coral reefs, causing coral bleaching. The first recorded bleaching incident on the Florida Reef was in 1973. Incidents of bleaching have become more frequent in recent decades, in correlation with a rise in sea surface temperatures. White band disease has also adversely affected corals on the Florida Reef.[120]


The Florida Keys seen from a satellite – many of the Keys are made of limestone.[121]

The Florida peninsula is a porous plateau of karst limestone sitting atop bedrock known as the Florida Platform.
The largest deposits of potash in the United States are found in Florida.[122] The largest deposits of rock phosphate in the country are found in Florida.[122] Most of this is in Bone Valley.[123]

Econlockhatchee River from the Florida Trail bridge

Extended systems of underwater caves, sinkholes and springs are found throughout the state and supply most of the water used by residents.[124] The limestone is topped with sandy soils deposited as ancient beaches over millions of years as global sea levels rose and fell. During the last glacial period, lower sea levels and a drier climate revealed a much wider peninsula, largely savanna.[125] While there are sinkholes in much of the state, modern sinkholes have tended to be in West-Central Florida.[126][127] Everglades National Park covers 1,509,000 acres (6,110 km2), throughout Dade, Monroe, and Collier counties in Florida.[citation needed] The Everglades, an enormously wide, slow-flowing river encompasses the southern tip of the peninsula. Sinkhole damage claims on property in the state exceeded a total of $2 billion from 2006 through 2010.[128]Winter Park Sinkhole, in central Florida, appeared May 8, 1981. It was approximately 350 feet (107 m) wide and 75 feet (23 m) deep. It was notable as one of the largest recent sinkholes to form in the United States. It is now known as Lake Rose.[129] The Econlockhatchee River (Econ River for short) is an 87.7-kilometer-long (54.5 mi)[130] north-flowing blackwater tributary of the St. Johns River, the longest river in the U.S. state of Florida. The Econ River flows through Osceola, Orange, and Seminole counties in Central Florida, just east of the Orlando Metropolitan Area (east of State Road 417). It is a designated Outstanding Florida Waters.[131]

Earthquakes are rare because Florida is not located near any tectonic plate boundaries.[132]


All of the 67 counties in Florida

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Florida’s population density

Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 34,730
1840 54,477 56.9%
1850 87,445 60.5%
1860 140,424 60.6%
1870 187,748 33.7%
1880 269,493 43.5%
1890 391,422 45.2%
1900 528,542 35.0%
1910 752,619 42.4%
1920 968,470 28.7%
1930 1,468,211 51.6%
1940 1,897,414 29.2%
1950 2,771,305 46.1%
1960 4,951,560 78.7%
1970 6,789,443 37.1%
1980 9,746,324 43.6%
1990 12,937,926 32.7%
2000 15,982,378 23.5%
2010 18,801,310 17.6%
Est. 2018 21,312,211 13.4%
Sources: 1910–2010[133]
2016 Estimate[134]

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Florida was 20,271,272 on July 1, 2015, a 7.82% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[134] The population of Florida in the 2010 census was 18,801,310.[135] Florida was the seventh fastest-growing state in the U.S. in the 12-month period ending July 1, 2012.[136] In 2010, the center of population of Florida was located between Fort Meade and Frostproof. The center of population has moved less than 5 miles (8 km) to the east and approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) to the north between 1980 and 2010 and has been located in Polk County since the 1960 census.[137]
The population exceeded 19.7 million by December 2014, surpassing the population of the state of New York for the first time.[138][139] The Florida population was 20,984,400 residents or people according to the US Census Bureau’s 2017 Population Estimates Program.[140]

Florida contains the highest percentage of people over 65 (17%).[141] There were 186,102 military retirees living in the state in 2008.[142]
About two-thirds of the population was born in another state, the second highest in the U.S.[143]

In 2010, undocumented immigrants constituted an estimated 5.7% of the population. This was the sixth highest percentage of any U.S. state.[144][145] There were an estimated 675,000 illegal immigrants in the state in 2010.[146]

A 2013 Gallup poll indicated that 47% of the residents agreed that Florida was the best state to live in. Results in other states ranged from a low of 18% to a high of 77%.[147]


The largest metropolitan area in the state as well as the entire southeastern United States is the Miami metropolitan area, with about 6.06 million people. The Tampa Bay Area, with over 3.02 million people, is the second largest; the Orlando metropolitan area, with over 2.44 million people, is the third; and the Jacksonville metropolitan area, with over 1.47 million people, is fourth.[148]

Florida has 22 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 43 of Florida’s 67 counties are in a MSA.

The legal name in Florida for a city, town or village is “municipality”. In Florida there is no legal difference between towns, villages and cities.[149]

In 2012, 75% of the population lived within 10 miles (16 km) of the coastline.[150]

Rank Metropolitan Area Population[152] Counties
1 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 6,158,824 Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach
2 Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater 3,091,399 Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando
3 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford 2,509,831 Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake
4 Jacksonville 1,504,980 Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau, Baker
5 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton 804,690 Sarasota, Manatee
6 Cape Coral-Fort Myers 739,224 Lee
7 Lakeland-Winter Haven 686,483 Polk
8 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach 649,202 Volusia, Flagler
9 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville 589,162 Brevard
10 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent 487,784 Escambia, Santa Rosa
Rank Combined Statistical Areas Population Counties
1 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Port St. Lucie 6,723,472 Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, Okeechobee
2 Orlando-Deltona-Daytona Beach 3,202,927 Orange, Volusia, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Sumter, Flagler
3 Jacksonville-St. Mary’s-Palatka 1,603,497 Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau, Putnam, Camden, Baker
4 Cape Coral-Fort Myers-Naples 1,087,472 Lee, Collier
5 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton 1,002,722 Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto
6 Tallahassee-Bainbridge 406,449 Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla, Decatur, Jefferson
7 Gainesville-Lake City 350,007 Alachua, Columbia, Gilchrist


Predominant ancestry in Florida in 2010

Florida racial breakdown
Racial composition 1970[153] 1990[153] 2000[154] 2010[155] 2017[156]
Black or African American alone 15.3% 13.6% 14.6% 16.0% 16.8%
Asian alone 0.2% 1.2% 1.7% 2.4% 2.9%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 6.6% 12.2% 16.8% 22.5% 24.9%
Native American alone 0.1% 0.3% 0.3% 0.4% 0.5%
Two or more races  –  – 2.3% 2.5% 2.1%
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 77.9% 73.2% 65.4% 57.9% 54.9%
White alone 84.2% 83.1% 78.0% 75.0% 77.6%

Hispanic and Latinos of any race made up 22.5% of the population in 2010.[157] As of 2011, 57% of Florida’s population younger than age 1 were minorities (meaning that they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white).[158]

In 2010, 6.9% of the population (1,269,765) considered themselves to be of only American ancestry (regardless of race or ethnicity).[159][160] Many of these were of English or Scotch-Irish descent; however, their families have lived in the state for so long, that they choose to identify as having “American” ancestry or do not know their ancestry.[161][162][163][164][165][166] In the 1980 United States census, the largest ancestry group reported in Florida was English with 2,232,514 Floridians claiming that they were of English or mostly English American ancestry.[167] Some of their ancestry went back to the original thirteen colonies.

As of 2010, those of (non-Hispanic white) European ancestry accounted for 57.9% of Florida’s population. Out of the 57.9%, the largest groups were 12.0% German (2,212,391), 10.7% Irish (1,979,058), 8.8% English (1,629,832), 6.6% Italian (1,215,242), 2.8% Polish (511,229), and 2.7% French (504,641).[159][160]White Americans of all European backgrounds are present in all areas of the state. In 1970, non-Hispanic whites were nearly 80% of Florida’s population.[168] Those of English and Irish ancestry are present in large numbers in all the urban/suburban areas across the state. Some native white Floridians, especially those who have descended from long-time Florida families, may refer to themselves as “Florida crackers”; others see the term as a derogatory one. Like whites in most other states of the southern U.S., they descend mainly from English and Scots-Irish settlers, as well as some other British American settlers.[169]

Cuban men playing dominoes in Miami’s Little Havana. In 2010, Cubans made up 34.4% of Miami’s population and 6.5% of Florida’s.[170][171]

As of 2010, those of Hispanic or Latino ancestry accounted for 22.5% (4,223,806) of Florida’s population. Out of the 22.5%, the largest groups were 6.5% (1,213,438) Cuban, 4.5% (847,550) Puerto Rican, 3.3% (629,718) Mexican, and 1.6% (300,414) Colombian.[171] Florida’s Hispanic population includes large communities of Cuban Americans in Miami and Tampa, Puerto Ricans in Orlando and Tampa, and Mexican/Central American migrant workers. The Hispanic community continues to grow more affluent and mobile. As of 2011, 57.0% of Florida’s children under the age of 1 belonged to minority groups.[172] Florida has a large and diverse Hispanic population, with Cubans and Puerto Ricans being the largest groups in the state. Nearly 80% of Cuban Americans live in Florida, especially South Florida where there is a long-standing and affluent Cuban community.[173] Florida has the second largest Puerto Rican population after New York, as well as the fastest-growing in the nation.[174] Puerto Ricans are more widespread throughout the state, though the heaviest concentrations are in the Orlando area of Central Florida.[175]

As of 2010, those of African ancestry accounted for 16.0% of Florida’s population, which includes African Americans. Out of the 16.0%, 4.0% (741,879) were West Indian or Afro-Caribbean American.[159][160][171] During the early 1900s, black people made up nearly half of the state’s population.[176] In response to segregation, disfranchisement and agricultural depression, many African Americans migrated from Florida to northern cities in the Great Migration, in waves from 1910 to 1940, and again starting in the later 1940s. They moved for jobs, better education for their children and the chance to vote and participate in society. By 1960, the proportion of African Americans in the state had declined to 18%.[177] Conversely, large numbers of northern whites moved to the state.[178] Today, large concentrations of black residents can be found in northern and central Florida. Aside from blacks descended from African slaves brought to the southern U.S., there are also large numbers of blacks of West Indian, recent African, and Afro-Latino immigrant origins, especially in the Miami/South Florida area.[179]

In 2016, Florida had the highest percentage of West Indians in the United States at 4.5%, with 2.3% (483,874) from Haitian ancestry, 1.5% (303,527) Jamaican, and 0.2% (31,966) Bahamian, with the other West Indian groups making up the rest.[180]

As of 2010, those of Asian ancestry accounted for 2.4% of Florida’s population.[159][160]


In 1988, English was affirmed as the state’s official language in the Florida Constitution. Spanish is also widely spoken, especially as immigration has continued from Latin America.[181] Twenty percent of the population speak Spanish as their first language. Twenty-seven percent of Florida’s population reports speaking a mother language other than English, and more than 200 first languages other than English are spoken at home in the state.[182][183]

The most common languages spoken in Florida as a first language in 2010 are:[182]

  • 73% — English
  • 20% — Spanish
  • 2% — Haitian Creole
  • Other languages comprise less than 1% spoken by the state’s population


Religion in Florida (2014)[184]
Other Christian
Other faith

Florida is mostly Christian, although there is a large irreligious and relatively significant Jewish community. Protestants account for almost half of the population, but the Catholic Church is the largest single denomination in the state mainly due to its large Hispanic population and other groups like Haitians. Protestants are very diverse, although Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals and nondenominational Protestants are the largest groups. There is also a sizable Jewish community in South Florida. This is the largest Jewish population in the southern U.S. and the third-largest in the U.S. behind those of New York and California.[185]

In 2010, the three largest denominations in Florida were the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the United Methodist Church.[186]

The Pew Research Center survey in 2014 gave the following religious makeup of Florida:[187]


Old and New Florida State Capitol, Tallahassee, East view

The basic structure, duties, function, and operations of the government of the state of Florida are defined and established by the Florida Constitution, which establishes the basic law of the state and guarantees various rights and freedoms of the people. The state government consists of three separate branches: judicial, executive, and legislative. The legislature enacts bills, which, if signed by the governor, become law.

The Florida Legislature comprises the Florida Senate, which has 40 members, and the Florida House of Representatives, which has 120 members. The current Governor of Florida is Rick Scott.
The Florida Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and six Justices.

Florida has 67 counties. Some reference materials may show only 66 because Duval County is consolidated with the City of Jacksonville. There are 379 cities in Florida (out of 411) that report regularly to the Florida Department of Revenue, but there are other incorporated municipalities that do not. The state government’s primary source of revenue is sales tax. Florida does not impose a personal income tax. The primary revenue source for cities and counties is property tax; unpaid taxes are subject to tax sales, which are held (at the county level) in May and (due to the extensive use of online bidding sites) are highly popular.

There were 800 federal corruption convictions from 1988 to 2007, more than any other state.[188]

Elections history

Registered Voters as of 2018 in Florida
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 4,815,369 37.28%
Republican 4,556,401 35.27%
Minor Parties 72,166 .56%
No Party Affiliation 3,474,166 26.89%
Total 12,918,102 100%

From 1952 to 1964, most voters were registered Democrats, but the state voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every election except for 1964. The following year, Congress passed and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, providing for oversight of state practices and enforcement of constitutional voting rights for African Americans and other minorities in order to prevent the discrimination and disenfranchisement that had excluded most of them for decades from the political process.

From the 1930s through much of the 1960s, Florida was essentially a one-party state dominated by white conservative Democrats, who together with other Democrats of the “Solid South”, exercised considerable control in Congress. They have gained slightly less federal money from national programs than they have paid in taxes.[189] Since the 1970s, conservative white voters in the state have largely shifted from the Democratic to the Republican Party. Though the majority of registered voters in Florida are Democrats.[190] It continued to support Republican presidential candidates through 2004, except in 1976 and 1996, when the Democratic nominee was from “the South”.

In the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Barack Obama carried the state as a northern Democrat, attracting high voter turnout, especially among the young, Independents, and minority voters, of whom Hispanics comprise an increasingly large proportion. 2008 marked the first time since 1944, when Franklin D. Roosevelt carried the state for the fourth time, that Florida was carried by a Northern Democrat for president.

The first post-Reconstruction era Republican elected to Congress from Florida was William C. Cramer in 1954 from Pinellas County on the Gulf Coast,[191] where demographic changes were underway. In this period, African Americans were still disenfranchised by the state’s constitution and discriminatory practices; in the 19th century, they had made up most of the Republican Party. Cramer built a different Republican Party in Florida, attracting local white conservatives and transplants from northern and midwestern states. In 1966, Claude R. Kirk, Jr. was elected as the first post-Reconstruction Republican governor, in an upset election.[192] In 1968, Edward J. Gurney, also a white conservative, was elected as the state’s first post-reconstruction Republican US Senator.[193] In 1970, Democrats took the governorship and the open US Senate seat, and maintained dominance for years.

Since the mid-20th century, Florida has been considered a bellwether, voting for 15 successful presidential candidates since 1952. During such period, it has voted for a losing candidate only twice.[194]

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2016 49.02% 4,615,910 47.81% 4,501,455
2012 49.13% 4,163,447 50.01% 4,237,756
2008 48.22% 4,045,624 51.03% 4,282,074
2004 52.10% 3,964,522 47.09% 3,583,544
2000 48.85% 2,912,790 48.84% 2,912,253
1996 42.32% 2,244,536 48.02% 2,546,870
1992 40.89% 2,173,310 39.00% 2,072,698
1988 60.87% 2,618,885 38.51% 1,656,701
1984 65.32% 2,730,350 34.66% 1,448,816
1980 55.52% 2,046,951 38.50% 1,419,475
1976 46.64% 1,469,531 51.93% 1,636,000
1972 71.91% 1,857,759 27.80% 718,117
1968 40.53% 886,804 30.93% 676,794
1964 48.85% 905,941 51.15% 948,540
1960 51.51% 795,476 48.49% 748,700

In 1998, Democratic voters dominated areas of the state with a high percentage of racial minorities and transplanted white liberals from the northeastern United States, known colloquially as “snowbirds”.[195]South Florida and the Miami metropolitan area are dominated by both racial minorities and white liberals. Because of this, the area has consistently voted as one of the most Democratic areas of the state. The Daytona Beach area is similar demographically and the city of Orlando has a large Hispanic population, which has often favored Democrats. Republicans, made up mostly of white conservatives, have dominated throughout much of the rest of Florida, particularly in the more rural and suburban areas. This is characteristic of its voter base throughout the Deep South.[195]

The fast-growing I-4 corridor area, which runs through Central Florida and connects the cities of Daytona Beach, Orlando, and Tampa/St. Petersburg, has had a fairly even breakdown of Republican and Democratic voters. The area is often seen as a merging point of the conservative northern portion of the state and the liberal southern portion, making it the biggest swing area in the state. Since the late 20th century, the voting results in this area, containing 40% of Florida voters, has often determined who will win the state of Florida in presidential elections.[196]

The Democratic Party has maintained an edge in voter registration, both statewide and in 40 of the 67 counties, including Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, the state’s three most populous.[197]

Elections of 2000 to present

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election

In 2000, George W. Bush won the U.S. Presidential election by a margin of 271–266 in the Electoral College.[198] Of the 271 electoral votes for Bush, 25 were cast by electors from Florida.[199] The Florida results were contested and a recount was ordered by the court, with the results settled in a court decision.

Reapportionment following the 2010 United States Census gave the state two more seats in the House of Representatives.[200] The legislature’s redistricting, announced in 2012, was quickly challenged in court, on the grounds that it had unfairly benefited Republican interests. In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court ruled on appeal that the congressional districts had to be redrawn because of the legislature’s violation of the Fair District Amendments to the state constitution passed in 2010; it accepted a new map in early December 2015.

The political make-up of congressional and legislative districts has enabled Republicans to control the governorship and most statewide elective offices, and 17 of the state’s 27 seats in the 2012 House of Representatives.[201] Florida has been listed as a swing state in Presidential elections since 1952, voting for the losing candidate only twice in that period of time.[202]

In the closely contested 2000 election, the state played a pivotal role.[198][199][203][204][205][206] Out of more than 5.8 million votes for the two main contenders Bush and Al Gore, around 500 votes separated the two candidates for the all-decisive Florida electoral votes that landed Bush the election win. Florida’s felony disenfranchisement law is more severe than most European nations or other American states. A 2002 study in the American Sociological Review concluded that “if the state’s 827,000 disenfranchised felons had voted at the same rate as other Floridians, Democratic candidate Al Gore would have won Florida—and the presidency—by more than 80,000 votes.”[207]

In 2008, delegates of both the Republican Florida primary election and Democratic Florida primary election were stripped of half of their votes when the conventions met in August due to violation of both parties’ national rules.

In the 2010 elections, Republicans solidified their dominance statewide, by winning the governor’s mansion, and maintaining firm majorities in both houses of the state legislature. They won four previously Democratic-held seats to create a 19–6 Republican-majority delegation representing Florida in the federal House of Representatives.

In 2010, more than 63% of state voters approved the initiated Amendments 5 and 6 to the state constitution, to ensure more fairness in districting. These have become known as the Fair District Amendments. As a result of the 2010 United States Census, Florida gained two House of Representative seats in 2012.[200] The legislature issued revised congressional districts in 2012, which were immediately challenged in court by supporters of the above amendments.

The court ruled in 2014, after lengthy testimony, that at least two districts had to be redrawn because of gerrymandering. After this was appealed, in July 2015 the Florida Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers had followed an illegal and unconstitutional process overly influenced by party operatives, and ruled that at least eight districts had to be redrawn. On December 2, 2015, a 5–2 majority of the Court accepted a new map of congressional districts, some of which was drawn by challengers. Their ruling affirmed the map previously approved by Leon County Judge Terry Lewis, who had overseen the original trial. It particularly makes changes in South Florida. There are likely to be additional challenges to the map and districts.[208]

According to The Sentencing Project, the effect of Florida’s felony disenfranchisement law is such that in 2014, “[m]ore than one in ten Floridians – and nearly one in four African-American Floridians – are [were] shut out of the polls because of felony convictions”, although they had completed sentences and parole/probation requirements.[209]


Florida Supreme Court Building

In 1972, the state made personal injury protection auto insurance mandatory for drivers, becoming the second in the nation to enact a no-fault insurance law.[210] The ease of receiving payments under this law is seen as precipitating a major increase in insurance fraud.[211] Auto insurance fraud was the highest in the nation in 2011, estimated at close to $1 billion.[212] Fraud is particularly centered in the Miami-Dade metropolitan and Tampa areas.[213][214][215]

Capital punishment is applied in Florida.[216] In 1995, the legislature modified Chapter 921 to provide that felons should serve at least 85% of their sentence.[217][218] Florida approved its lottery by amending the constitution in 1984. It approved slot machines in Broward and Miami-Dade County in 2004. It has disapproved casinos (outside of sovereign Seminole and Miccosukee tribal areas) three times: 1978, 1986, and 1994.[219] If a person committing a predicate felony directly contributed to the death of the victim then the person will be charged with murder in the first degree – felony murder which is a capital felony. The only two sentences available for that statute are life in prison and the death penalty.[220][221] If a person commits a predicate felony, but was not the direct contributor to the death of the victim then the person will be charged with murder in the second degree – felony murder which is a felony of the first degree. The maximum prison term is life.[222][221]


Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia from the Kennedy Space Center

Map of Florida showing average income by county

The Brickell Financial District in Miami contains the largest concentration of international banks in the United States.[223][224]

Florida’s economy ranks among the largest in the world. As of Q2 2018, the gross state product (GSP) is about $1.0 trillion[225], the fourth largest economy in the United States.[226] Florida is responsible for 5.0 percent of the United States’ approximate $20.4 trillion gross domestic product (GDP). As of 2018[update], Florida’s nominal GDP is larger than all but 16 countries.[227] In terms of Purchasing Power Parity, it is larger than all but 24 countries.[228] In the twentieth century, tourism, industry, construction, international banking, biomedical and life sciences, healthcare research, simulation training, aerospace and defense, and commercial space travel have contributed to the state’s economic development.[229]

The five largest sectors of employment in Florida are trade, transportation, and utilities; government; professional and business services; education and health services; and leisure and hospitality.[230] In output, the five largest sectors are Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing, followed by professional and business services; Government and government enterprises; Educational services, health care, and social assistance; and retail trade.[231]

In 2017, Florida became the United States’ eighth largest exporter of trade goods. Florida’s top countries for export are Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Germany, and Colombia.[232] In 2017, Florida became the United States’ tenth largest importer of trade goods. Florida imported US$75.4 billion worth of goods from around the globe in 2017. The value of Florida’s imports equals 3.2% of United States’ overall imported products for 2017. Florida’s top countries for imports are China, Mexico, Canada, Germany, and France.[233]

The Miami Metropolitan Area has the highest GDP of all the metro areas in Florida with $344.9 billion in 2017.[17] This is more than twice the number of the next metro area, the Tampa Bay Area, which has a GDP of $145.3 billion. The economy of Florida is driven almost entirely by its nineteen metropolitan areas. In 2004, they had a combined total of 95.7% of the state’s domestic product.[234]

Per capita GDP in 2017 was $39,842, ranking fortieth in the nation.[235]Per capita income varies widely by geographic region and profession. North Florida and the rural counties of the Florida Panhandle are the most impoverished in the state. Florida has a poverty rate of 14.0%, the seventeenth lowest of any state in the country. Many coastal cities include some of the wealthiest per-capita areas in the United States.

In 2018, there were more than 427,824 millionaires in the state, the fourth highest state in the nation.[236]

For 2018–19, the approved state budget is $88.7 billion, a 4.4% increase over the current 2017-18 budget of $84.9 billion. Chief Executive Magazine named Florida the third “Best State for Business” in 2011.[237]

Personal income

In 2017, Florida’s per capita personal income was $47,684, ranking 26th in the nation.[14] The state’s unemployment rate in September 2018 was 3.5% and ranked as the 18th lowest in the United States.[15] Florida is one of seven states that do not impose a personal income tax.

In 2017, Florida had a personal income of $1,000,624,065(in thousands of dollars). This personal income ranked 4th in the United States.[14]

Florida’s constitution establishes a state minimum wage that is adjusted for inflation annually. As of January 1, 2017, Florida’s minimum wage was $5.08 for tipped positions, and $8.10 for non-tipped positions, which was higher than the federal rate of $7.25.[238]

Florida has 2 cities in the top 25 cities in the U.S. with the highest average credit card debt, Miami and Tampa.[239]

The poverty rate in Florida is 14% in 2018. This is down from a peak of 17.1% in 2012.[240]

Real estate

In the early 20th century, land speculators discovered Florida, and businessmen such as Henry Plant and Henry Flagler developed railroad systems, which led people to move in, drawn by the weather and local economies. From then on, tourism boomed, fueling a cycle of development that overwhelmed a great deal of farmland.[241]

At the end of the third quarter of 2008, Florida had the highest mortgage delinquency rate in the U.S., with 7.8% of mortgages delinquent at least 60 days.[242] A 2009 list of national housing markets that were hard hit in the real estate crash included a disproportionate number in Florida.[243] The early 21st-century building boom left Florida with 300,000 vacant homes in 2009, according to state figures.[244] In 2009, the US Census Bureau estimated that Floridians spent an average 49.1% of personal income on housing-related costs, the third highest percentage in the U.S.[245]

In the third quarter of 2009, there were 278,189 delinquent loans, 80,327 foreclosures.[246] Sales of existing homes in February 2010 was 11,890, up 21% from the same month in 2009. Only two metropolitan areas showed a decrease in homes sold: Panama City and Brevard County. The average sales price for an existing house was $131,000, 7% decrease from the prior year.[247][dubious ]


Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida near Orlando

PortMiami is the world’s largest cruise ship port.

Universal Studios Florida entrance in Universal Orlando Resort

.mw-parser-output .templatequote{overflow:hidden;margin:1em 0;padding:0 40px}.mw-parser-output .templatequote .templatequotecite{line-height:1.5em;text-align:left;padding-left:1.6em;margin-top:0}

If you can’t find something to do in Florida, you’re just boring…

— Guy Fieri, celebrity chef, 2017[248]

Tourism makes up one of the largest sectors of the state economy, with nearly 1.4 million people employed in the tourism industry in 2016 (a record for the state, surpassing the 1.2 million employment from 2015).[249][250] In 2015, Florida broke the 100-million visitor mark for the first time in state history by hosting a record 105 million visitors[250][251] and broke that record in 2016 with 112.8 million tourists; Florida has set tourism records for six consecutive years.[249]

Many beach towns are popular tourist destinations, particularly during winter and spring break, although activist David Hogg has called for a statewide boycott in 2018 unless state legislators pass substantive gun reform.[252] Twenty-three million tourists visited Florida beaches in 2000, spending $22 billion.[253] The public has a right to beach access under the public trust doctrine, but some areas have access effectively blocked by private owners for a long distance.[254]

Amusement parks, especially in the Greater Orlando area, make up a significant portion of tourism. The Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited vacation resort in the world with over 50 million annual visitors, consisting of four theme parks, 27 themed resort hotels, 9 non–Disney hotels, two water parks, four golf courses and other recreational venues.[255] Other major theme parks in the area include Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa.[256] Today, Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an average annual attendance of over 52 million.[257]

Agriculture and fishing

Florida oranges

Agriculture is the second largest industry in the state.[258] Citrus fruit, especially oranges, are a major part of the economy, and Florida produces the majority of citrus fruit grown in the United States. In 2006, 67% of all citrus, 74% of oranges, 58% of tangerines, and 54% of grapefruit were grown in Florida. About 95% of commercial orange production in the state is destined for processing (mostly as orange juice, the official state beverage).[259]

Citrus canker continues to be an issue of concern. From 1997 to 2013, the growing of citrus trees has declined 25%, from 600,000 acres (240,000 ha) to 450,000 acres (180,000 ha). Citrus greening disease is incurable. A study states that it has caused the loss of $4.5 billion between 2006 and 2012. As of 2014, it was the major agricultural concern.[260]

Other products include sugarcane, strawberries, tomatoes and celery.[261] The state is the largest producer of sweet corn and green beans for the U.S.[262]

The Everglades Agricultural Area is a major center for agriculture. The environmental impact of agriculture, especially water pollution, is a major issue in Florida today.[263]

In 2009, fishing was a $6 billion industry, employing 60,000 jobs for sports and commercial purposes.[264]

The state has a near monopoly on saw palmetto berries, an alternative medicine used to treat prostate and urinary disorders.[265]


Florida is the leading state for sales of powerboats. Boats sales totaled $1.96 billion in 2013.[266]


Phosphate mining, concentrated in the Bone Valley, is the state’s third-largest industry. The state produces about 75% of the phosphate required by farmers in the United States and 25% of the world supply, with about 95% used for agriculture (90% for fertilizer and 5% for livestock feed supplements) and 5% used for other products.[267]

After the watershed events of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the state of Florida began investing in economic development through the Office of Trade, Tourism, and Economic Development. Governor Jeb Bush realized that watershed events such as Andrew negatively impacted Florida’s backbone industry of tourism severely. The office was directed to target Medical/Bio-Sciences among others. Three years later, The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) announced it had chosen Florida for its newest expansion. In 2003, TSRI announced plans to establish a major science center in Palm Beach, a 364,000 square feet (33,800 m2) facility on 100 acres (40 ha), which TSRI planned to occupy in 2006.[268]


One of the Cape Canaveral launch sites during the launch of SpaceX CRS-13 in 2017

Since the development of the federal NASA Merritt Island launch sites on Cape Canaveral (most notably Kennedy Space Center) in 1962, Florida has developed a sizable aerospace industry.

Another major economic engine in Florida is the United States military. There are 24 military bases in the state, housing three Unified Combatant Commands; United States Central Command in Tampa, United States Southern Command in Doral, and United States Special Operations Command in Tampa. Some 109,390 U.S. military personnel stationed in Florida,[269] contributing, directly and indirectly, $52 billion a year to the state’s economy.[270]

In 2009, there were 89,706 federal workers employed within the state.[271] Tens of thousands more employees work for contractors who have federal contracts, including those with the military.

In 2012, government of all levels was a top employer in all counties in the state, because this classification includes public school teachers and other school staff. School boards employ nearly 1 of every 30 workers in the state. The federal military was the top employer in three counties.[272]


Port Tampa Bay is the largest port in Florida.

Florida has many seaports that serve container ships, tank ships, and cruise lines. Major ports in Florida include Port Tampa Bay in Tampa, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Port of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, PortMiami in Miami, Port Canaveral in Brevard County, Port Manatee in Manatee County, and Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach. The world’s top three busiest cruise ports are found in Florida with PortMiami as the busiest and Port Canaveral and Port Everglades as the second and third busiest.[273] Port Tampa Bay meanwhile is the largest in the state, having the most tonnage. As of 2013, Port Tampa Bay ranks 16th in the United States by tonnage in domestic trade, 32nd in foreign trade, and 22nd in total trade. It is the largest, most diversified port in Florida, has an economic impact of more than $15.1 billion, and supports over 80,000 jobs.[274][275]


The Miami Civic Center has the second-largest concentration of medical and research facilities in the United States.[276]

There were 2.7 million Medicaid patients in Florida in 2009. The governor has proposed adding $2.6 billion to care for the expected 300,000 additional patients in 2011.[277] The cost of caring for 2.3 million clients in 2010 was $18.8 billion.[278] This is nearly 30% of Florida’s budget.[279] Medicaid paid for 60% of all births in Florida in 2009. The state has a program for those not covered by Medicaid.

In 2013, Florida refused to participate in providing coverage for the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act, popularly called Obamacare. The Florida legislature also refused to accept additional Federal funding for Medicaid, although this would have helped its constituents at no cost to the state. As a result, Florida is second only to Texas in the percentage of its citizens without health insurance.[280]


Miami Art Deco District, built during the 1920s–1930s

Florida has the largest collection of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne buildings in both the United States and the entire world, most of which are located in the Miami metropolitan area, especially Miami Beach’s Art Deco District, constructed as the city was becoming a resort destination.[281] A unique architectural design found only in Florida is the post-World War II Miami Modern, which can be seen in areas such as Miami’s MiMo Historic District.[282]

Being of early importance as a regional center of banking and finance, the architecture of Jacksonville displays a wide variety of styles and design principles. Many of state’s earliest skyscrapers were constructed in Jacksonville, dating as far back as 1902,[283] and last holding a state height record from 1974 to 1981.[284] The city is endowed with one of the largest collections of Prairie School buildings outside of the Midwest.[285] Jacksonville is also noteworthy for its collection of Mid-Century modern architecture.[286]

Some sections of the state feature architectural styles including Spanish revival, Florida vernacular, and Mediterranean Revival.[287][288] A notable collection of these styles can be found in St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the United States.[289]



Florida State University

University of Florida

Primary and secondary education

With an educational system made up of public school districts and independent private institutions, Florida had 2,833,115 students enrolled in 4,269 public primary, secondary, and vocational schools in Florida’s 67 regular or 7 special school districts as of 2018[update].[290]Miami-Dade County is the largest of Florida’s 67 regular districts with over 350 thousand students and Jefferson is the smallest with less than one thousand students. Florida spent $8,920 for each student in 2016, and was 43rd in the nation in expenditures per student.[291]

Florida’s primary and secondary school systems are administered by the Florida Department of Education. School districts are organized within county boundaries. Each school district has an elected Board of Education that sets policy, budget, goals, and approves expenditures. Management is the responsibility of a Superintendent of schools.

The Florida Department of Education is required by law to train educators in teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).[292]

Higher education

The State University System of Florida was founded in 1905, and is governed by the Florida Board of Governors. During the 2010 academic year, 312,216 students attended one of these twelve universities. The Florida College System comprises 28 public community and state colleges. In 2011–12, enrollment consisted of more than 875,000 students.[293] As of 2017, the University of Central Florida, with over 64,000 students, is the largest university by enrollment in the United States.[294]

Florida’s first private university, Stetson University, was founded in 1883. The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida is an association of 28 private, educational institutions in the state.[295] This Association reported that their member institutions served over 121,000 students in the fall of 2006.[296]

In 2016, Florida charged the second lowest tuition in the nation for four years, $26,000 for in-state students, to $86,000 for out-of-state students. This compares with an average of $34,800 nationally for in-state students.[297]


Florida’s Turnpike

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay is a part of Florida’s interstate system.


Florida’s highway system contains 1,495 mi (2,406 km) of interstate highway, and 10,601 mi (17,061 km) of non-interstate highway, such as state highways and U.S. Highways. Florida’s interstates, state highways, and U.S. Highways are maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation.[298]

In 2011, there were about 9,000 retail gas stations in the state. Floridians consumed 21 million gallons of gasoline daily in 2011, ranking it third in national use behind California and Texas.[299]
Motorists have the 45th lowest rate of car insurance in the U.S. 24% are uninsured.[300]

Drivers between 15 and 19 years of age averaged 364 car crashes a year per ten thousand licensed Florida drivers in 2010. Drivers 70 and older averaged 95 per 10,000 during the same time frame. A spokesperson for the non-profit Insurance Institute said that “Older drivers are more of a threat to themselves.”[301]

Before the construction of routes under the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, Florida began construction of a long cross-state toll road, Florida’s Turnpike. The first section, from Fort Pierce south to the Golden Glades Interchange was completed in 1957. After a second section north through Orlando to Wildwood (near present-day The Villages), and a southward extension around Miami to Homestead, it was finished in 1974.

Florida’s primary interstate routes include:

  • I‑4, which spans 133 miles, bisects the state, connecting Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando, and Daytona Beach, connecting with I-75 in Tampa and I-95 in Daytona Beach.
  • I-10, which spans 362 miles in Florida, traverses the panhandle, connecting Pensacola, Tallahassee, Lake City, and Jacksonville, with interchanges with I-75 in Lake City and I-95 in Jacksonville. It is the southernmost interstate in the United States terminating in Santa Monica with a total length of 2460 miles.
  • I-75, which spans 470 miles in Florida, enters the state near Lake City (45 miles (72 km) west of Jacksonville) and continues southward through Gainesville, Ocala, Tampa’s eastern suburbs, Bradenton, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples, where it crosses the “Alligator Alley” as a toll road to Fort Lauderdale before turning southward and terminating in Hialeah/Miami Lakes having interchanges with I-10 in Lake City and I-4 in Tampa. It is the second longest north south interstate with a total length of 1786 miles and terminates at the Canadian border at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
  • I-95, which spans 382 miles in Florida, enters the state near Jacksonville and continues along the Atlantic Coast through Daytona Beach, the Melbourne/Titusville, Palm Bay, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie, Stuart, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, before terminating in Downtown Miami, with interchanges with I-10 in Jacksonville and I-4 in Daytona Beach. There are four auxiliary routes associated with the interstate. It is the longest north south interstate with a total length of 1924 miles and terminates at the Canadian border northeast of Houlton, Maine.


Orlando International Airport is the busiest airport in the state with 44.6 million total passengers traveled in 2017.[302]

Florida has 131 public airports.[303] Florida’s seven large hub and medium hub airports, as classified by the FAA, are the following:

City served Code Airport name FAA
Miami MIA Miami International Airport Large Hub 17,017,654
Orlando MCO Orlando International Airport Large Hub 17,017,491
Fort Lauderdale FLL Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood Int’l Airport Large Hub 10,829,810
Tampa TPA Tampa International Airport Large Hub 8,137,222
Fort Myers RSW Southwest Florida International Airport Medium Hub 3,714,157
West Palm Beach PBI Palm Beach International Airport Medium Hub 2,958,416
Jacksonville JAX Jacksonville International Airport Medium Hub 2,755,719

Intercity rail

Brightline train at Fort Lauderdale station

  • Brightline is a diesel–electric higher-speed rail system being developed by All Aboard Florida, a wholly owned subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries (FECI).[304] Currently service is only from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. The first phase is planned to connect Miami to West Palm Beach through express intercity service, with a stop at Fort Lauderdale. The complete project is intended to connect Miami and South Florida to Orlando, which requires a new line westward from the coast. It partially opened for passenger service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach on January 13, 2018, as the only privately owned and operated passenger railroad in the United States.[305] With a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h), Brightline will eventually be tied with Amtrak’s Northeast Regional and the MARC’s Penn Line commuter rail as the second fastest passenger train in North America, after Amtrak’s Acela Express.
  • Florida is also served by Amtrak, operating numerous lines throughout, connecting the state’s largest cities to points north in the United States and Canada. The busiest Amtrak train stations in Florida in 2011 were: Sanford (259,944), Orlando (179,142), Tampa Union Station (140,785), Miami (94,556), and Jacksonville (74,733).[306]Sanford, in Greater Orlando, is the southern terminus of the Auto Train, which originates at Lorton, Virginia, south of Washington, D.C. Until 2005, Orlando was also the eastern terminus of the Sunset Limited, which travels across the southern United States via New Orleans, Houston, and San Antonio to its western terminus of Los Angeles. Florida is served by two additional Amtrak trains (the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor), which operate between New York City and Miami. Miami Central Station, the city’s rapid transit, commuter rail, intercity rail, and bus hub, is under construction.

Public transit

The Miami Metrorail is the state’s only rapid transit system. About 15% of Miamians use public transit daily.

  • Miami: Miami’s public transportation is served by Miami-Dade Transit that runs Metrorail, a heavy rail rapid transit system, Metromover, a people mover train system in Downtown Miami, and Metrobus, Miami’s bus system. Metrorail runs throughout Miami-Dade County and has two lines and 23 stations connecting to Downtown Miami’s Metromover and Tri-Rail. Metromover has three lines and 21 stations throughout Downtown Miami. Outside of Miami-Dade County, public transit in the Miami metropolitan area is served by Broward County Transit and Palm Tran; intercounty commuter rail service is provided by Tri-Rail, with 18 stations including the region’s three international airports.[307]
  • Orlando: Orlando is served by the SunRail commuter train, which runs on a 32 miles (51 km) (61 miles (98 km) when complete) line including four stops in downtown. Lynx bus serves the greater Orlando area in Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties.[308]
  • Tampa: Tampa and its surrounding area use the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority system (“HART”). In addition, downtown Tampa has continuous trolley services in the form of a heritage trolley powered by Tampa Electric Company. Pinellas County and St. Petersburg provide similar services through the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority or “PSTA”. The beaches of Pinellas County also have a continuous trolley bus. Downtown St. Petersburg has a trolley system.[309][310]
  • Jacksonville: Jacksonville is served by the Jacksonville Skyway, an automated people mover monorail connecting the Florida State College downtown campus, the Northbank central business district, Convention Center, and Southbank locations. The system includes 8 stops connected by two lines. JTA bus has 180 vehicles with 56 lines.[311]
Largest public transit systems in Florida (2012)
Rank City Weekday
% of
on transit
Modes of transit
1 Miami 367,000[312] 2,554,776 14.4% Tri-Rail, Metrorail, Metromover & Metrobus
2 Fort Lauderdale 147,718[313] 1,748,066 8.5% Tri-Rail (commuter rail) & BCT bus
3 Orlando 97,000[314] 2,134,411 4.4% Lynx bus & Sunrail
4 Gainesville 50,500[314] 125,326 40.3% RTS bus
5 Tampa 50,400[314] 1,229,226 4.1% HART bus & TECO Line Streetcar
6 West Palm Beach 45,100[315] 1,320,134 3.4% Tri-Rail (commuter rail) & Palm Tran (bus)
7 St. Petersburg 42,500[316] 916,542 4.6% PSTA bus
8 Jacksonville 41,500[314] 821,784 5.0% JTA bus & Skyway (people mover)
9 Tallahassee 22,400[314] 181,376 12.4% StarMetro bus


El Clásico being played at the Hard Rock Stadium in 2017

American Airlines Arena in Miami

Marlins Park in Little Havana

An aerial shot of the BB&T Center in Sunrise

Daytona International Speedway is home to various auto racing events.

Florida has three NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NBA teams, two NHL teams, and one MLS team. Florida gained its first permanent major-league professional sports team in 1966 when the American Football League added the Miami Dolphins. The state of Florida has given professional sports franchises some subsidies in the form of tax breaks since 1991.[317]

About half of all Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in the state, with teams informally organized into the “Grapefruit League”. Throughout MLB history, other teams have held spring training in Florida.

NASCAR (headquartered in Daytona Beach) begins all three of its major auto racing series in Florida at Daytona International Speedway in February, featuring the Daytona 500, and ends all three Series in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Daytona also has the Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR race weekend around Independence Day in July. The 24 Hours of Daytona is one of the world’s most prestigious endurance auto races. The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Grand Prix of Miami have held IndyCar races as well.

Florida is a major golf hub. The PGA of America is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, the PGA Tour is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, and the LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach. The Players Championship, WGC-Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Honda Classic and Valspar Championship are PGA Tour rounds.

Florida has teams in all of the major league sports — National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, and Major League Socce Florida’s most recent major-league team, Orlando City, began play in MLS in 2015.[318]

The Miami Masters is an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier tennis event, whereas the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships is an ATP World Tour 250 event.

Minor league baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and indoor football teams are based in Florida. Three of the Arena Football League’s teams are in Florida.[319]Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the largest football stadium in Florida, the 12th largest stadium in American college football, and the 18th largest stadium in the world, as measured by its official seating capacity of 88,548 – though, it has often held over 90,000 for Florida’s home football games.

Florida’s universities have a number of collegiate sport programs, especially the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the Florida Gators of the Southeastern Conference.[320]

Florida major league professional sports teams
Team League Venue Location Championships
Miami Dolphins National Football League Hard Rock Stadium Miami Gardens 2 (1972, 1973)
Miami Heat National Basketball Association American Airlines Arena Miami 3 (2006, 2012, 2013)
Miami Marlins Major League Baseball Marlins Park Miami 2 (1997, 2003)
Florida Panthers National Hockey League BB&T Center Sunrise 0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League Raymond James Stadium Tampa 1 (2003)
Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball Tropicana Field St. Petersburg 0
Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League Amalie Arena Tampa 1 (2004)
Orlando Magic National Basketball Association Amway Center Orlando 0
Orlando City SC Major League Soccer Orlando City Stadium Orlando 0
Jacksonville Jaguars National Football League EverBank Field Jacksonville 0

State symbols

In God We Trust motto on Florida license plate

State quarter for Florida

Orange blossom is the state flower

Coconut palms like in Islamorada flourish in the Florida Keys.

The majority of the symbols were chosen after 1950; only the two oldest symbols—the state flower (chosen in 1909), and the state bird (chosen in 1927), and the state nickname (chosen in 1970)—are not listed in the 2010 Florida Statutes.[321]

  • Amphibian: Barking tree frog
  • Animal: Florida panther
  • Anthem: “Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)”
  • Beverage: Orange juice
  • Bird: Northern mockingbird
  • Bird: American flamingo
  • Festival: “Calle Ocho-Open House 8”
  • Fish
    (fresh water)
    : Florida largemouth bass
  • Fish
    (salt water)
    : Atlantic sailfish
  • Flower: Orange blossom
  • Fruit: Orange
  • Gem: Moonstone
  • Horse: Florida Cracker Horse
  • Insect: Zebra longwing
  • Mammal
    (salt water)
    : Common bottlenose dolphin
  • Mammal
    : Florida manatee
  • Motto: “In God We Trust”
  • Nickname: The Sunshine State
  • Palm Tree: Coconut palm
  • Pie: Key lime pie
  • Play: Cross and Sword
  • Reptile: American alligator
  • Reptile
    (salt water)
    : Loggerhead sea turtle
  • Rodeo: Silver Spurs Rodeo
  • Shell: Horse conch
  • Soil: Myakka soil
  • Song: “Old Folks at Home”
  • State day/week: Pascua Florida
  • Stone: Agatized coral
  • Tortoise: Gopher tortoise
  • Tree: Sabal palmetto
  • Wildflower: Tickseed

Sister states

Sister jurisdiction Country Year[322]
Languedoc-Roussillon  France 1989
Taiwan Province Taiwan, R.O.C. 1992
Wakayama Prefecture  Japan 1995
Western Cape  South Africa 1995
Nueva Esparta  Venezuela 1999
Kyonggi  South Korea 2000

Notable people

See also

  • Index of Florida-related articles
  • Outline of Florida – organized list of topics about Florida



  1. ^ “State Motto”. Florida Department of State. Retrieved September 14, 2018..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
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  9. ^ Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  10. ^ ab “SB 230 – State Symbols/Fla. Cracker Horse/Loggerhead Turtle [RPCC]”. Florida House of Representatives. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
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  15. ^ ab “Unemployment Rates for States”. Bls.gov.
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  17. ^ ab “Gross Domestic Product by Metropolitan Area, 2017” (PDF). Bea.gov. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
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  21. ^ “Welcome to the Lake Okeechobee”.
  22. ^ “The Ultimate Guide to Florida’s East Coast Beaches”. Visitflorida.com.
  23. ^ “The Top Ten: States with Longest Coastlines”. InfoPlease.
  24. ^ ab Bernie McGovern, Florida Almanac (2007-08 ed.).
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  28. ^ The biggest coral reef in the continental U.S. is dissolving into the ocean. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
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  298. ^ “Transportation Data and Analytics Office”. Florida Department of Transportation. September 4, 2018. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
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  316. ^ PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION RIDERSHIP REPORT – Fourth Quarter 2011 (access date: April 20, 2016)
  317. ^ Peltier, Michael (November 5, 2011). “Lawmaker’s bill would fine teams that black out games”. Florida Today. Melbourne, Florida. pp. 4B. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013.
  318. ^ “Major League Soccer names Orlando City SC as 21st franchise, set for 2015 debut”, MLSsoccer.com, November 19, 2013.
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  • Viviana Díaz Balsera and Rachel A. May (eds.), La Florida: Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2014.
  • Michael Gannon (ed.), The History of Florida. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2013.

External links

  • State website
  • Florida at Curlie
  • Florida State Guide, from the Library of Congress
  • Florida Memory Project Over 300,000 photographs and documents from the State Library & Archives of Florida
  • Online collection of the Spanish Land Grants
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Florida
  • Florida Rivers and Watersheds – Florida DEP
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • Economic and farm demographics fact sheet from the USDA
  • Energy & Environmental Data For Florida
  • Heliconius charitonia, zebra longwing Florida state butterfly, on the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site
  • TerraFly Property Value and Aerial Imagery Spatio-temporal animation Real Estate Trends in Florida
  • List of searchable databases produced by Florida state agencies hosted by the American Library Association Government Documents Roundtable

Preceded by
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on March 3, 1845 (27th)
Succeeded by

Coordinates: 28°06′N 81°36′W / 28.1°N 81.6°W / 28.1; -81.6


State of Texas
Flag of Texas State seal of Texas
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Lone Star State
Motto(s): Friendship
State song(s): “Texas, Our Texas
Map of the United States with Texas highlighted
Official language No official language
(see Languages spoken in Texas)
Spoken languages Predominantly English;
Spanish is spoken by a sizable minority[1]
Demonym Texan
Texian (archaic)
Tejano (usually only used for Hispanics)
Capital Austin
Largest city Houston
Largest metro Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex
Area Ranked 2nd
 • Total 268,581[2] sq mi
(696,241 km2)
 • Width 773[3] miles (1,244 km)
 • Length 790 miles (1,270 km)
 • % water 2.5
 • Latitude 25° 50′ N to 36° 30′ N
 • Longitude 93° 31′ W to 106° 39′ W
Population Ranked 2nd
 • Total 28,304,596 (2017 est.)[4]
 • Density 108/sq mi  (40.6/km2)
Ranked 26th
 • Median household income $56,473[5] (26th)
 • Highest point Guadalupe Peak[6][7][8]
8,751 ft (2667.4 m)
 • Mean 1,700 ft  (520 m)
 • Lowest point Gulf of Mexico[7]
Sea level
Before statehood Republic of Texas
Admission to Union December 29, 1845 (28th)
Governor Greg Abbott (R)
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R)
Legislature Texas Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R)
Ted Cruz (R)
U.S. House delegation 25 Republicans
11 Democrats (list)
Time zones  
 • most of state Central: UTC −6/−5
 • El Paso, Hudspeth, and northwestern Culberson counties Mountain: UTC −7/−6
ISO 3166 US-TX
Abbreviations TX, Tex.
Website texas.gov
Texas state symbols
Flag of Texas.svg

The Flag of Texas
Seal of Texas.svg

The Seal of Texas
Living insignia
Bird Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Fish Guadalupe bass (Micropterus treculii)
Flower Bluebonnet (Lupinus spp., namely Texas bluebonnet, L. texensis)
Insect Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Mammal Texas longhorn, nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)
Reptile Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum)
Tree Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
Inanimate insignia
Food Chili
Instrument Guitar
Shell Lightning whelk (Busycon perversum pulleyi)
Ship USS Texas
Slogan The Friendly State
Soil Houston Black
Sport Rodeo
Other Molecule: Buckyball (For more, see article)
State route marker
Texas state route marker
State quarter
Texas quarter dollar coin

Released in 2004
Lists of United States state symbols

Texas (/ˈtɛksəs/, locally /ˈtɛksɪz/;[9]Spanish: Texas or Tejas [ˈtexas]) is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S., while San Antonio is the second-most populous in the state and seventh largest in the U.S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second-most populous state capital in the U.S., and El Paso. Texas is nicknamed “The Lone Star State” to signify its former status as an independent republic, and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texan state seal.[10] The origin of Texas’s name is from the word taysha, which means “friends” in the Caddo language.[11]

Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes common to both the U.S. Southern and Southwestern regions.[12] Although Texas is popularly associated with the U.S. southwestern deserts, less than 10% of Texas’s land area is desert.[13] Most of the population centers are in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bend.

The term “six flags over Texas”[note 1] refers to several nations that have ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845,[14] Texas joined the union as the 28th state. The state’s annexation set off a chain of events that led to the Mexican–American War in 1846. A slave state before the American Civil War, Texas declared its secession from the U.S. in early 1861, and officially joined the Confederate States of America on March 2 of the same year. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.

Historically four major industries shaped the Texas economy prior to World War II: cattle and bison, cotton, timber, and oil.[15] Before and after the U.S. Civil War the cattle industry, which Texas came to dominate, was a major economic driver for the state, thus creating the traditional image of the Texas cowboy. In the later 19th century cotton and lumber grew to be major industries as the cattle industry became less lucrative. It was ultimately, though, the discovery of major petroleum deposits (Spindletop in particular) that initiated an economic boom which became the driving force behind the economy for much of the 20th century. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2015, it is second on the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with 54.[16] With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the U.S. in state export revenue since 2002, and has the second-highest gross state product. If Texas were a sovereign state, it would be the 10th largest economy in the world.


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Geography

    • 2.1 Geology
    • 2.2 Wildlife
  • 3 Climate

    • 3.1 Storms
    • 3.2 Greenhouse gases
  • 4 History

    • 4.1 Pre-European era
    • 4.2 Colonization
    • 4.3 Republic
    • 4.4 Statehood
    • 4.5 Civil War and Reconstruction (1860–1900)
    • 4.6 Earlier 20th century
    • 4.7 Economic and political change (1950–present)
  • 5 Government and politics

    • 5.1 State government
    • 5.2 Politics

      • 5.2.1 Political history
      • 5.2.2 Texas politics today
    • 5.3 Administrative divisions
    • 5.4 Criminal law
  • 6 Economy

    • 6.1 Taxation
    • 6.2 Agriculture and mining
    • 6.3 Energy
    • 6.4 Technology
    • 6.5 Commerce
  • 7 Demographics

    • 7.1 Ethnicity
    • 7.2 Cities and towns
    • 7.3 Languages
    • 7.4 Religion
  • 8 Culture

    • 8.1 Texas self-perception
    • 8.2 Arts
  • 9 Education

    • 9.1 Higher education
  • 10 Healthcare

    • 10.1 Behavior and environmental health

      • 10.1.1 Obesity

        • Consequences of obesity
        • Obesity treatment
        • Obesity prevention
        • Obesity policy
    • 10.2 Alcohol Use

      • 10.2.1 Legislative Responses
    • 10.3 Infant health

      • 10.3.1 Rates of infant mortality
      • 10.3.2 Common complications

        • Preterm birth
        • Low birth weight
        • Prenatal care
      • 10.3.3 Vaccinations
    • 10.4 Medical research
  • 11 Transportation

    • 11.1 Highways
    • 11.2 Airports
    • 11.3 Ports
    • 11.4 Railroads
  • 12 Sports
  • 13 See also
  • 14 Notes
  • 15 References
  • 16 Bibliography
  • 17 External links


The name Texas, based on the Caddo word táyshaʼ (/t’ajʃaʔ/) “friend”, was applied, in the spelling Tejas or Texas,[17] by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves, specifically the Hasinai Confederacy,[18] the final -s representing the Spanish plural.[19]
The Mission San Francisco de los Tejas was completed near the Hasinai village of Nabedaches in May 1690, in what is now Houston County, East Texas.[20]

During Spanish colonial rule, in the 18th century, the area was known as
Nuevo Reino de Filipinas “New Kingdom of the Philippines”, or as provincia de los Tejas “province of the Tejas“,[21] later also provincia de Texas (or de Tejas), “province of Texas”.[22][23]
It was incorporated as provincia de Texas into the Mexican Empire in 1821, and declared a republic in 1836.
The Royal Spanish Academy recognizes both spellings, Tejas and Texas, as Spanish-language forms of the name of the US State of Texas.[24]

The English pronunciation with /ks/ is unetymological, and based in the value of the letter x in historical Spanish orthography. Alternative etymologies of the name advanced in the late 19th century connected the Spanish teja “rooftile”, the plural tejas being used to designate indigenous Pueblo settlements.[25] A 1760s map by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin shows a village named Teijas on Trinity River, close to the site of modern Crockett.[25]


Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Texas Hill Country

Texas is the second-largest U.S. state, after Alaska, with an area of 268,820 square miles (696,200 km2). Though 10% larger than France and almost twice as large as Germany or Japan, it ranks only 27th worldwide amongst country subdivisions by size. If it were an independent country, Texas would be the 40th largest behind Chile and Zambia.

Texas is in the south central part of the United States of America. Three of its borders are defined by rivers. The Rio Grande forms a natural border with the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the south. The Red River forms a natural border with Oklahoma and Arkansas to the north. The Sabine River forms a natural border with Louisiana to the east. The Texas Panhandle has an eastern border with Oklahoma at 100° W, a northern border with Oklahoma at 36°30′ N and a western border with New Mexico at 103° W. El Paso lies on the state’s western tip at 32° N and the Rio Grande.[26]

With 10 climatic regions, 14 soil regions and 11 distinct ecological regions, regional classification becomes problematic with differences in soils, topography, geology, rainfall, and plant and animal communities.[27] One classification system divides Texas, in order from southeast to west, into the following: Gulf Coastal Plains, Interior Lowlands, Great Plains, and Basin and Range Province.

The Gulf Coastal Plains region wraps around the Gulf of Mexico on the southeast section of the state. Vegetation in this region consists of thick piney woods. The Interior Lowlands region consists of gently rolling to hilly forested land and is part of a larger pine-hardwood forest.

Lake Alan Henry

Steinhagen Reservoir

The Great Plains region in central Texas is in spans through the state’s panhandle and Llano Estacado to the state’s hill country near Austin. This region is dominated by prairie and steppe. “Far West Texas” or the “Trans-Pecos” region is the state’s Basin and Range Province. The most varied of the regions, this area includes Sand Hills, the Stockton Plateau, desert valleys, wooded mountain slopes and desert grasslands.

Texas has 3,700 named streams and 15 major rivers,[28][29] with the Rio Grande as the largest. Other major rivers include the Pecos, the Brazos, Colorado, and Red River. While Texas has few natural lakes, Texans have built over 100 artificial reservoirs.[30]

The size and unique history of Texas make its regional affiliation debatable; it can be fairly considered a Southern or a Southwestern state, or both. The vast geographic, economic, and cultural diversity within the state itself prohibits easy categorization of the whole state into a recognized region of the United States. Notable extremes range from East Texas which is often considered an extension of the Deep South, to Far West Texas which is generally acknowledged to be part of the interior Southwest.[31]


Palo Duro Canyon

Franklin Mountains State Park

Big Bend National Park

Texas is the southernmost part of the Great Plains, which ends in the south against the folded Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico. The continental crust forms a stable Mesoproterozoic craton which changes across a broad continental margin and transitional crust into true oceanic crust of the Gulf of Mexico. The oldest rocks in Texas date from the Mesoproterozoic and are about 1,600 million years old.

These Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks underlie most of the state, and are exposed in three places: Llano uplift, Van Horn, and the Franklin Mountains, near El Paso. Sedimentary rocks overlay most of these ancient rocks. The oldest sediments were deposited on the flanks of a rifted continental margin, or passive margin that developed during Cambrian time.

This margin existed until Laurasia and Gondwana collided in the Pennsylvanian subperiod to form Pangea. This is the buried crest of the Appalachian Mountains–Ouachita Mountains zone of Pennsylvanian continental collision. This orogenic crest is today buried beneath the Dallas–Waco—Austin–San Antonio trend.

The late Paleozoic mountains collapsed as rifting in the Jurassic period began to open the Gulf of Mexico. Pangea began to break up in the Triassic, but seafloor spreading to form the Gulf of Mexico occurred only in the mid and late Jurassic. The shoreline shifted again to the eastern margin of the state and the Gulf of Mexico passive margin began to form. Today 9 to 12 miles (14 to 19 km) of sediments are buried beneath the Texas continental shelf and a large proportion of remaining US oil reserves are here. At the start of its formation, the incipient Gulf of Mexico basin was restricted and seawater often evaporated completely to form thick evaporite deposits of Jurassic age. These salt deposits formed salt dome diapirs, and are found in East Texas along the Gulf coast.[32]

East Texas outcrops consist of Cretaceous and Paleogene sediments which contain important deposits of Eocene lignite. The Mississippian and Pennsylvanian sediments in the north; Permian sediments in the west; and Cretaceous sediments in the east, along the Gulf coast and out on the Texas continental shelf contain oil. Oligocene volcanic rocks are found in far west Texas in the Big Bend area. A blanket of Miocene sediments known as the Ogallala formation in the western high plains region is an important aquifer.[33] Located far from an active plate tectonic boundary, Texas has no volcanoes and few earthquakes.[34]


A wide range of animals and insects live in Texas. It is the home to 65 species of mammals, 213 species of reptiles and amphibians, and the greatest diversity of bird life in the United States—590 native species in all.[35] At least 12 species have been introduced and now reproduce freely in Texas.[36]

Texas plays host to several species of wasps. Texas is one of the regions that has the highest abundance of Polistes exclamans.[37] Additionally, Texas has provided an important ground for the study of Polistes annularis.

During the spring Texas wildflowers such as the state flower, the bluebonnet, line highways throughout Texas. During the Johnson Administration the first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, worked to draw attention to Texas wildflowers.


Köppen climate types in Texas

The large size of Texas and its location at the intersection of multiple climate zones gives the state highly variable weather. The Panhandle of the state has colder winters than North Texas, while the Gulf Coast has mild winters. Texas has wide variations in precipitation patterns. El Paso, on the western end of the state, averages 8.7 inches (220 mm) of annual rainfall,[38] while parts of southeast Texas average as much as 64 inches (1,600 mm) per year.[39] Dallas in the North Central region averages a more moderate 37 inches (940 mm) per year.

Snow falls multiple times each winter in the Panhandle and mountainous areas of West Texas, once or twice a year in North Texas, and once every few years in Central and East Texas. Snow falls south of San Antonio or on the coast in rare circumstances only. Of note is the 2004 Christmas Eve snowstorm, when 6 inches (150 mm) of snow fell as far south as Kingsville, where the average high temperature in December is 65 °F.[40]

Maximum temperatures in the summer months average from the 80s °F (26 °C) in the mountains of West Texas and on Galveston Island to around 100 °F (38 °C) in the Rio Grande Valley, but most areas of Texas see consistent summer high temperatures in the 90 °F (32 °C) range.

Night-time summer temperatures range from the upper 50s °F (14 °C) in the West Texas mountains[41] to 80 °F (27 °C) in Galveston.[42]

The table below consists of averages for August (generally the warmest month) and January (generally the coldest) in selected cities in various regions of the state. El Paso and Amarillo are exceptions with July and December respectively being the warmest and coldest months respectively, but with August and January only being narrowly different.

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected cities in Texas[43]
Location August (°F) August (°C) January (°F) January (°C)
Houston 94/75 34/24 63/54 17/12
San Antonio 96/74 35/23 63/40 17/5
Dallas 96/77 36/25 57/37 16/3
Austin 97/74 36/23 61/45 16/5
El Paso 92/67 33/21 57/32 14/0
Laredo 100/77 37/25 67/46 19/7
Amarillo 89/64 32/18 50/23 10/–4
Brownsville 94/76 34/24 70/51 21/11


Thunderstorms strike Texas often, especially the eastern and northern portions of the state. Tornado Alley covers the northern section of Texas. The state experiences the most tornadoes in the United States, an average of 139 a year. These strike most frequently in North Texas and the Panhandle.[44] Tornadoes in Texas generally occur in the months of April, May, and June.[45]

Some of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Texas. A hurricane in 1875 killed about 400 people in Indianola, followed by another hurricane in 1886 that destroyed the town. These events allowed Galveston to take over as the chief port city. The 1900 Galveston hurricane subsequently devastated that city, killing about 8,000 people or possibly as many as 12,000. This makes it the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.[46] In 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Rockport as a Category 4 Hurricane, causing significant damage there. The storm stalled over land for a very long time, allowing it to drop unprecedented amounts of rain over the Greater Houston area and surrounding counties. The result was widespread and catastrophic flooding that inundated hundreds of thousands of homes. Harvey ultimately became the costliest hurricane worldwide, causing an estimated $198.6 billion in damage, surpassing the cost of Hurricane Katrina.[47]

Other devastating Texas hurricanes include the 1915 Galveston hurricane, Hurricane Audrey in 1957 which killed over 600 people, Hurricane Carla in 1961, Hurricane Beulah in 1967, Hurricane Alicia in 1983, Hurricane Rita in 2005, and Hurricane Ike in 2008. Tropical storms have also caused their share of damage: Allison in 1989 and again during 2001, and Claudette in 1979 among them.

Greenhouse gases

Texas emits the most greenhouse gases in the U.S.[48][49][50] The state emits nearly 1.5 trillion pounds (680 billion kg) of carbon dioxide annually. As an independent nation, Texas would rank as the world’s seventh-largest producer of greenhouse gases.[49] Causes of the state’s vast greenhouse gas emissions include the state’s large number of coal power plants and the state’s refining and manufacturing industries.[49] In 2010, there were 2,553 “emission events” which poured 44.6 million pounds of contaminants into the Texas sky.[51]


Pre-European era

Texas lies between two major cultural spheres of Pre-Columbian North America: the Southwestern and the Plains areas. Archaeologists have found that three major indigenous cultures lived in this territory, and reached their developmental peak before the first European contact. These were:[52]

  • the Pueblo from the upper Rio Grande region, centered west of Texas;
  • the Mississippian culture, also known as Mound Builders, which extended along the Mississippi River Valley east of Texas; and
  • the civilizations of Mesoamerica, centered south of Texas. Influence of Teotihuacan in northern Mexico peaked around AD 500 and declined over the 8th to 10th centuries.

When Europeans arrived in the Texas region, there were several races of Native peoples divided into many smaller tribes. They were Caddoan, Atakapan, Athabaskan, Coahuiltecan & Uto-Aztecan. The Uto-Aztecan Puebloan peoples lived neared the Rio Grande in the western portion of the state, the Athabaskan-speaking Apache tribes lived throughout the interior, the Caddoans controlled much of the Red River region & the Atakapans were mostly centered along the Gulf Coast. At least one tribe of Coahuiltecans, the Aranama, lived in southern Texas. This entire culture group, primarily centered in northeastern Mexico, is now extinct. It is difficult to say who lived in the northwestern region of the state originally. By the time the region came to be explored, it belonged to the fairly well-known Comanche, another Uto-Aztecan people who had transitioned into a powerful horse culture, but it is believed that they came later and did not live there during the 16th century. It may have been claimed by several different peoples, including Uto-Aztecans, Athabaskans, or even Dhegihan Siouans.

No culture was dominant in the present-day Texas region, and many peoples inhabited the area.[52] Native American tribes that lived inside the boundaries of present-day Texas include the Alabama, Apache, Atakapan, Bidai, Caddo, Aranama, Comanche, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Tonkawa, and Wichita.[53][54] The name Texas derives from táyshaʔ, a word in the Caddoan language of the Hasinai, which means “friends” or “allies”.[2][55][56][57][58]

The region was primarily controlled by the Spanish for the first couple centuries of contact, until the Texas Revolution. They were not particularly kind to their native populations—even less so with the Caddoans, who were not trusted as their culture was split between the Spanish & the French. When the Spanish briefly managed to conquer the Louisiana colony, they decided to switch tactics and attempt being exceedingly friendly to the Indians, which they continued even after the French took back the colony. After the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the United States inherited this odd circumstance. The Caddoans preferred the company of Americans & almost the entire population of them migrated into the states of Louisiana & Arkansas. The Spanish felt jilted after having spent so much time & effort and began trying to lure the Caddo back, even promising them more land. Seemingly without actually knowing how they came by it, the United States (who had begun convincing tribes to self-segregate from whites by selling everything and moving west ever since they gained the Louisiana Purchase) faced an overflow of native peoples in Missouri & Arkansas & were able to negotiate with the Caddoans to allow several displaced peoples to settle on unused lands in eastern Texas. They included the Muscogee, Houma Choctaw, Lenape & Mingo Seneca, among others, who all came to view the Caddoans as saviors, making those peoples highly influential.[59][60]

Whether a Native American tribe was friendly or warlike was critical to the fates of European explorers and settlers in that land.[61] Friendly tribes taught newcomers how to grow indigenous crops, prepare foods, and hunt wild game. Warlike tribes made life difficult and dangerous for Europeans through their attacks and resistance to the newcomers.[62]

During the Texas Revolution, the U.S. became heavily involved. Prior treaties with the Spanish forbade either side from militarizing its native population in any potential conflict between the two nations. At that time, several sudden outbreaks of violence between Caddoans & Texans started to spread. The Caddoans were always clueless when questioned, The Texan & American authorities in the region could never find hard evidence linking them to it & often it was so far flung from Caddoan lands, it barely made any sense. It seems most likely that these were false-flag attacks meant to start a cascading effect to force the natives under Caddoan influence into armed conflict without breaking any treaties—preferably on the side of the Spanish. While no proof was found as to who the culprit was, those in charge of Texas at the time attempted multiple times to publicly blame and punish the Caddoans for the incidents with the U.S. government trying to keep them in check. Furthermore, the Caddoans never turned to violence because of it, excepting cases of self-defense.[59]

By the 1830s, the U.S. had drafted the Indian Removal Act, which was used to facilitate the Trail of Tears. Fearing retribution of other native peoples, Indian Agents all over the eastern U.S. began desperately trying to convince all their native peoples to uproot and move west. This included the Caddoans of Louisiana & Arkansas. Following the Texas Revolution, the Texans chose to make peace with their Native peoples, but did not honor former land claims or agreements. This began the movement of Native populations north into what would become Indian Territory—modern day Oklahoma.[59]


Flags of the six nations that have had sovereignty over some or all of the current territory of Texas

The first historical document related to Texas was a map of the Gulf Coast, created in 1519 by Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda.[63] Nine years later, shipwrecked Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his cohort became the first Europeans in what is now Texas.[64][65] Cabeza de Vaca reported that in 1528, when the Spanish landed in the area, “half the natives died from a disease of the bowels and blamed us.”[66] Cabeza de Vaca also made observations about the way of life of the Ignaces Natives of Texas:

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They went about with a firebrand, setting fire to the plains and timber so as to drive off the mosquitos, and also to get lizards and similar things which they eat, to come out of the soil. In the same manner they kill deer, encircling them with fires, and they do it also to deprive the animals of pasture, compelling them to go for food where the Indians want.[67]

Francisco Vázquez de Coronado describes his 1541 encounter with:

Two kinds of people travel around these plains with the cows; one is called Querechos and the others Teyas; they are very well built, and painted, and are enemies of each other. They have no other settlement or location than comes from traveling around with the cows. They kill all of these they wish, and tan the hides, with which they clothe themselves and make their tents, and they eat the flesh, sometimes even raw, and they also even drink the blood when thirsty. The tents they make are like field tents, and they set them up over some poles they have made for this purpose, which come together and are tied at the top, and when they go from one place to another they carry them on some dogs they have, of which they have many, and they load them with the tents and poles and other things, for the country is so level, as I said, that they can make use of these, because they carry the poles dragging along on the ground. The sun is what they worship most.[68]

European powers ignored the area until accidentally settling there in 1685. Miscalculations by René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle resulted in his establishing the colony of Fort Saint Louis at Matagorda Bay rather than along the Mississippi River.[69] The colony lasted only four years before succumbing to harsh conditions and hostile natives.[70]

A 1718 map of Texas by Guillaume de L’Isle. Approximate state area highlighted, northern areas indefinite.

In 1690 Spanish authorities, concerned that France posed competitive threat, constructed several missions in East Texas.[71] After Native American resistance, the Spanish missionaries returned to Mexico.[72] When France began settling Louisiana, mostly in the southern part of the state, in 1716 Spanish authorities responded by founding a new series of missions in East Texas.[73] Two years later, they created San Antonio as the first Spanish civilian settlement in the area.[74]

Nicolas de La Fora’s 1771 map of the northern frontier of New Spain clearly shows the Provincia de los Tejas.[75]

Hostile native tribes and distance from nearby Spanish colonies discouraged settlers from moving to the area. It was one of New Spain’s least populated provinces.[76] In 1749, the Spanish peace treaty with the Lipan Apache[77] angered many tribes, including the Comanche, Tonkawa, and Hasinai.[78] The Comanche signed a treaty with Spain in 1785[79] and later helped to defeat the Lipan Apache and Karankawa tribes.[80] With more numerous missions being established, priests led a peaceful conversion of most tribes. By the end of the 18th century only a few nomadic tribes had not converted to Christianity.[81]

Stephen F. Austin was the first American empresario given permission to operate a colony within Mexican Texas.

Mexico in 1824. Coahuila y Tejas is the northeastern-most state.

When the United States purchased Louisiana from France in 1803, American authorities insisted the agreement also included Texas. The boundary between New Spain and the United States was finally set at the Sabine River in 1819, at what is now the border between Texas and Louisiana.[82] Eager for new land, many United States settlers refused to recognize the agreement. Several filibusters raised armies to invade the area west of the Sabine River.[83] In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence included the Texas territory, which became part of Mexico.[84] Due to its low population, Mexico made the area part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas.[85]

Hoping more settlers would reduce the near-constant Comanche raids, Mexican Texas liberalized its immigration policies to permit immigrants from outside Mexico and Spain.[86] Under the Mexican immigration system, large swathes of land were allotted to empresarios, who recruited settlers from the United States, Europe, and the Mexican interior. The first grant, to Moses Austin, was passed to his son Stephen F. Austin after his death.

Austin’s settlers, the Old Three Hundred, made places along the Brazos River in 1822.[87] Twenty-three other empresarios brought settlers to the state, the majority of whom were from the United States.[88] The population of Texas grew rapidly. In 1825, Texas had about 3,500 people, with most of Mexican descent.[89] By 1834, the population had grown to about 37,800 people, with only 7,800 of Mexican descent.[90] Most of these early settlers who arrived with Austin and soon after were persons less than fortunate in life, as Texas was devoid of the comforts found elsewhere in Mexico and the United States during that time. Early Texas settler David B. Edwards described his fellow Texans as being “banished from the pleasures of life”.[91]

Many immigrants openly flouted Mexican law, especially the prohibition against slavery. Combined with United States’ attempts to purchase Texas, Mexican authorities decided in 1830 to prohibit continued immigration from the United States.[92] New laws also called for the enforcement of customs duties angering both native Mexican citizens (Tejanos) and recent immigrants.[93]

The Anahuac Disturbances in 1832 were the first open revolt against Mexican rule and they coincided with a revolt in Mexico against the nation’s president.[94]Texians sided with the federalists against the current government and drove all Mexican soldiers out of East Texas.[95] They took advantage of the lack of oversight to agitate for more political freedom. Texians met at the Convention of 1832 to discuss requesting independent statehood, among other issues.[96] The following year, Texians reiterated their demands at the Convention of 1833.[97]


Within Mexico, tensions continued between federalists and centralists. In early 1835, wary Texians formed Committees of Correspondence and Safety.[98] The unrest erupted into armed conflict in late 1835 at the Battle of Gonzales.[99] This launched the Texas Revolution, and over the next two months, the Texians defeated all Mexican troops in the region.[100] Texians elected delegates to the Consultation, which created a provisional government.[101] The provisional government soon collapsed from infighting, and Texas was without clear governance for the first two months of 1836.[102]

William Henry Huddle: Surrender of Santa Anna (1886; Texas State Capitol, Austin)

During this time of political turmoil, Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna personally led an army to end the revolt.[103] The Mexican expedition was initially successful. General José de Urrea defeated all the Texian resistance along the coast culminating in the Goliad massacre.[104] Santa Anna’s forces, after a thirteen-day siege, overwhelmed Texian defenders at the Battle of the Alamo. News of the defeats sparked panic among Texas settlers.[105]

The present-day outlines of the U.S. states superimposed on the boundaries of the 1836–1845 Republic of Texas

The newly elected Texian delegates to the Convention of 1836 quickly signed a Declaration of Independence on March 2, forming the Republic of Texas. After electing interim officers, the Convention disbanded.[106] The new government joined the other settlers in Texas in the Runaway Scrape, fleeing from the approaching Mexican army.[105] After several weeks of retreat, the Texian Army commanded by Sam Houston attacked and defeated Santa Anna’s forces at the Battle of San Jacinto.[107] Santa Anna was captured and forced to sign the Treaties of Velasco, ending the war.[108]

While Texas had won its independence, political battles raged between two factions of the new Republic. The nationalist faction, led by Mirabeau B. Lamar, advocated the continued independence of Texas, the expulsion of the Native Americans, and the expansion of the Republic to the Pacific Ocean. Their opponents, led by Sam Houston, advocated the annexation of Texas to the United States and peaceful co-existence with Native Americans. The conflict between the factions was typified by an incident known as the Texas Archive War.[109]

Mexico launched two small expeditions into Texas in 1842. The town of San Antonio was captured twice and Texans were defeated in battle in the Dawson massacre. Despite these successes, Mexico did not keep an occupying force in Texas, and the republic survived.[110] The republic’s inability to defend itself added momentum to Texas’s eventual annexation into the United States.


As early as 1837, the Republic made several attempts to negotiate annexation with the United States.[111] Opposition within the republic from the nationalist faction, along with strong abolitionist opposition within the United States, slowed Texas’s admission into the Union. Texas was finally annexed when the expansionist James K. Polk won the election of 1844.[112] On December 29, 1845, Congress admitted Texas to the U.S. as a constituent state of the Union.[113]

The population of the new state was quite small at first and there was a strong mix between the English-speaking American settlers that dominated in the state’s eastern/northeastern portions and the Spanish-speaking former Mexicans that dominated in the state’s southern and western portions. Statehood brought many new settlers. Because of the long Spanish presence in Mexico and various failed colonization efforts by the Spanish and Mexicans in northern Mexico, there were large herds of Longhorn cattle that roamed the state. Hardy by nature but also suitable for slaughtering and consumption, they represented an economic opportunity many entrepreneurs seized upon, thus creating the cowboy culture for which Texas is famous. While in the early days of the republic cattle and bison were slaughtered for their hides, soon a beef industry was established with cattle being shipped all over the U.S. and the Caribbean (within a few decades, beef had become a staple of the American diet).

After Texas’s annexation, Mexico broke diplomatic relations with the United States. While the United States claimed Texas’s border stretched to the Rio Grande, Mexico claimed it was the Nueces River. While the former Republic of Texas could not enforce its border claims, the United States had the military strength and the political will to do so. President Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor south to the Rio Grande on January 13, 1846. A few months later Mexican troops routed an American cavalry patrol in the disputed area in the Thornton Affair starting the Mexican–American War. The first battles of the war were fought in Texas: the Siege of Fort Texas, Battle of Palo Alto and Battle of Resaca de la Palma. After these decisive victories, the United States invaded Mexican territory ending the fighting in Texas.[114]

Proposals of 1850 for Texas northwestern boundary

After a series of United States victories, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the two-year war. In return, for US$18,250,000, Mexico gave the U.S. undisputed control of Texas, ceded the Mexican Cession in 1848, most of which today is called the American Southwest, and Texas’s borders were established at the Rio Grande.[114]

The Compromise of 1850 set Texas’s boundaries at their present form. U.S. Senator James Pearce of Maryland drafted the final proposal[26] where Texas ceded its claims to land which later became half of present-day New Mexico, a third of Colorado, and small portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming to the federal government, in return for the assumption of $10 million of the old republic’s debt.[26] Post-war Texas grew rapidly as migrants poured into the cotton lands of the state.[115]

They also brought or purchased enslaved African Americans, whose numbers tripled in the state from 1850 to 1860, from 58,000 to 182,566.[116]

Civil War and Reconstruction (1860–1900)

Civil war monument in Galveston, Texas

Texas was at war again after the election of 1860. At this time, blacks comprised 30 percent of the state’s population, and they were overwhelmingly enslaved.[117] When Abraham Lincoln was elected, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Five other Lower South states quickly followed. A State Convention considering secession opened in Austin on January 28, 1861. On February 1, by a vote of 166–8, the Convention adopted an Ordinance of Secession from the United States. Texas voters approved this Ordinance on February 23, 1861. Texas joined the newly created Confederate States of America on March 4, 1861 ratifying the permanent C.S. Constitution on March 23.[2][118]

Not all Texans favored secession initially, although many of the same would later support the Southern cause. Texas’s most notable Unionist was the state Governor, Sam Houston. Not wanting to aggravate the situation, Houston refused two offers from President Lincoln for Union troops to keep him in office. After refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, Houston was deposed as governor.[119]

While far from the major battlefields of the American Civil War, Texas contributed large numbers of men and equipment to the rest of the Confederacy.[120] Union troops briefly occupied the state’s primary port, Galveston. Texas’s border with Mexico was known as the “backdoor of the Confederacy” because trade occurred at the border, bypassing the Union blockade.[121] The Confederacy repulsed all Union attempts to shut down this route,[120] but Texas’s role as a supply state was marginalized in mid-1863 after the Union capture of the Mississippi River. The final battle of the Civil War was fought near Brownsville, Texas at Palmito Ranch[122] with a Confederate victory.

Texas descended into anarchy for two months between the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia and the assumption of authority by Union General Gordon Granger. Violence marked the early months of Reconstruction.[120]Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston by General Gordon Granger, almost two and a half years after the original announcement.[123][124] President Johnson, in 1866, declared the civilian government restored in Texas.[125] Despite not meeting reconstruction requirements, Congress resumed allowing elected Texas representatives into the federal government in 1870. Social volatility continued as the state struggled with agricultural depression and labor issues.[126]

Like most of the South, the Texas economy was devastated by the War. However, since the state had not been as dependent on slaves as other parts of the South it was able to recover more quickly. The culture in Texas during the later 19th century exhibited many facets of a frontier territory. The state became notorious as a haven for people from other parts of the country who wanted to escape debt, criminal prosecution, or other problems. Indeed, “Gone to Texas” was a common expression for those fleeing the law in other states. Nevertheless, the state also attracted many businessmen and other settlers with more legitimate interests as well.

The cattle industry continued to thrive though it gradually became less profitable. Cotton and lumber became major industries creating new economic booms in various regions of the state. Railroad networks grew rapidly as did the port at Galveston as commerce between Texas and the rest of the U.S. (and the rest of the world) expanded. As with some other states before, the lumber industry quickly decimated the forests of Texas such that by the early 20th century the majority of the forest population in Texas was gone (later conservation efforts restored some of it, but never to the level it once was).

Earlier 20th century

Spindletop, the first major oil gusher

In 1900, Texas suffered the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history during the Galveston hurricane.[46] On January 10, 1901, the first major oil well in Texas, Spindletop, was found south of Beaumont. Other fields were later discovered nearby in East Texas, West Texas, and under the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting “oil boom” transformed Texas.[127] Oil production eventually averaged three million barrels per day at its peak in 1972.[128]

In 1901, the Democratic-dominated state legislature passed a bill requiring payment of a poll tax for voting, which effectively disenfranchised most blacks, and many poor whites and Latinos. In addition, the legislature established white primaries, ensuring minorities were excluded from the formal political process. The number of voters dropped dramatically, and the Democrats crushed competition from the Republican and Populist parties.[129][130] The Socialist Party became the second-largest party in Texas after 1912,[131] coinciding with a large socialist upsurge in the United States during fierce battles in the labor movement and the popularity of national heroes like Eugene V. Debs. The Socialists’ popularity soon waned after their vilification by the United States government for their opposition to US involvement in World War I.

The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl dealt a double blow to the state’s economy, which had significantly improved since the Civil War. Migrants abandoned the worst hit sections of Texas during the Dust Bowl years. Especially from this period on, blacks left Texas in the Great Migration to get work in the Northern United States or California and to escape the oppression of segregation.[117] In 1940, Texas was 74 percent Anglo, 14.4 percent black, and 11.5 percent Hispanic.[132]

World War II had a dramatic impact on Texas, as federal money poured in to build military bases, munitions factories, POW detention camps and Army hospitals; 750,000 young men left for service; the cities exploded with new industry; the colleges took on new roles; and hundreds of thousands of poor farmers left the fields for much better paying war jobs, never to return to agriculture.[133][134] Texas manufactured 3.1 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking eleventh among the 48 states.[135]

Texas modernized and expanded its system of higher education through the 1960s. The state created a comprehensive plan for higher education, funded in large part by oil revenues, and a central state apparatus designed to manage state institutions more efficiently. These changes helped Texas universities receive federal research funds.[136]

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.[137]

Economic and political change (1950–present)

Beginning around the mid-20th century, Texas began to transform from a rural and agricultural state to one urban and industrialized.[138] The state’s population grew quickly during this period, with large levels of migration from outside the state.[138] As a part of the Sun Belt Texas experienced strong economic growth, particularly during the 1970s and early 1980s.[138] Texas’s economy diversified, lessening its reliance on the petroleum industry.[138] By 1990, Hispanics overtook blacks to become the largest minority group in the state.[138]

During the late 20th century, the Republican Party replaced the Democratic Party as the dominant party in the state, as the latter became more politically liberal and as demographic changes favored the former.[138]

Government and politics

The current Texas Constitution was adopted in 1876. Like many states, it explicitly provides for a separation of powers. The state’s Bill of Rights is much larger than its federal counterpart, and has provisions unique to Texas.[139]

State government

The Texas State Capitol at night

Texas has a plural executive branch system limiting the power of the governor, which is a weak executive compared to some other states. Except for the Secretary of State, voters elect executive officers independently; thus candidates are directly answerable to the public, not the governor.[140] This election system has led to some executive branches split between parties and reduced the ability of the governor to carry out a program. When Republican President George W. Bush served as Texas’s governor, the state had a Democratic lieutenant governor, Bob Bullock. The executive branch positions consist of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Land Commissioner, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, the three-member Texas Railroad Commission, the State Board of Education, and the Secretary of State.[140]

The bicameral Texas Legislature consists of the House of Representatives, with 150 members, and a Senate, with 31 members. The Speaker of the House leads the House, and the lieutenant governor, the Senate.[141] The Legislature meets in regular session biennially for just over 100 days, but the governor can call for special sessions as often as desired (notably, the Legislature cannot call itself into session).[142] The state’s fiscal year spans from the previous calendar year’s September 1 to the current year’s August 31. Thus, the FY 2015 dates from September 1, 2014 through August 31, 2015.

The judiciary of Texas is one of the most complex in the United States, with many layers and overlapping jurisdictions. Texas has two courts of last resort: the Texas Supreme Court, for civil cases, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Except for some municipal benches, partisan elections select judges at all levels of the judiciary; the governor fills vacancies by appointment.[143] Texas is notable for its use of capital punishment, having led the country in executions since capital punishment was reinstated in the Gregg v. Georgia case (see Capital punishment in Texas).

The Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption. They have acted as riot police and as detectives, protected the Texas governor, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a paramilitary force both for the republic and the state. The Texas Rangers were unofficially created by Stephen F. Austin in 1823 and formally constituted in 1835. The Rangers were integral to several important events of Texas history and some of the best-known criminal cases in the history of the Old West.[144]

The Texas constitution defines the responsibilities of county governments, which serve as agents of the state. What are called commissioners court and court judges are elected to serve as the administrative arm. Most cities in the state, those over 5,000 in population, have home-rule governments. The vast majority of these have charters for council-manager forms of government, by which voters elect council members, who hire a professional city manager as operating officer.


Texas Presidential elections results[145]
Year Republican Democratic
2016 52.23% 4,685,047 43.24% 3,877,868
2012 57.15% 4,569,843 41.37% 3,308,124
2008 55.39% 4,479,328 43.63% 3,528,633
2004 61.09% 4,526,917 38.30% 2,832,704
2000 59.30% 3,799,639 38.11% 2,433,746
1996 48.80% 2,736,166 43.81% 2,459,683
1992 40.61% 2,496,071 37.11% 2,281,815
1988 56.01% 3,036,829 43.41% 2,352,748
1984 63.58% 3,433,428 36.18% 1,949,276
1980 55.30% 2,510,705 41.51% 1,881,148

Political history

Lyndon B. Johnson, Texan and 36th president of the United States

In the 1870s, white Democrats wrested power back in the state legislature from the biracial coalition at the end of Reconstruction. In the early 20th century, the legislature passed bills to impose poll taxes, followed by white primaries; these measures effectively disfranchised most blacks, poor whites and Mexican Americans.[129][130] In the 1890s, 100,000 blacks voted in the state; by 1906, only 5,000 could vote.[146] As a result, the Democratic Party dominated Texas politics from the turn of the century, imposing racial segregation and white supremacy. It held power until after passage in the mid-1960s of national civil rights legislation enforcing constitutional rights of all citizens.

Although Texas was essentially a one-party state during this time and the Democratic primary was viewed as “the real election,” the Democratic Party had conservative and liberal factions, which became more pronounced after the New Deal.[147] Additionally, several factions of the party briefly split during the 1930s and 1940s.[147]

The state’s conservative white voters began to support Republican presidential candidates by the mid-20th century. After this period, they supported Republicans for local and state offices as well, and most whites became Republican Party members.[148] The party also attracted some minorities, but many have continued to vote for Democratic candidates. The shift to the Republican Party is much-attributed to the fact the Democratic Party became increasingly liberal during the 20th century, and thus increasingly out-of-touch with the average Texas voter.[149] As Texas was always a conservative state, voters switched to the GOP, which now more closely reflected their beliefs.[149][150] Commentators have also attributed the shift to Republican political consultant Karl Rove, who managed numerous political campaigns in Texas in the 1980s and 1990s.[150] Other stated reasons included court-ordered redistricting and the demographic shift in relation to the Sun Belt that favored the Republican Party and conservatism.[138]

The 2003 Texas redistricting of Congressional districts led by Republican Tom DeLay, was called by The New York Times “an extreme case of partisan gerrymandering”.[151] A group of Democratic legislators, the “Texas Eleven”, fled the state in a quorum-busting effort to prevent the legislature from acting, but was unsuccessful.[152] The state had already redistricted following the 2000 census. Despite these efforts, the legislature passed a map heavily in favor of Republicans, based on 2000 data and ignoring the estimated nearly one million new residents in the state since that date. Career attorneys and analysts at the Department of Justice objected to the plan as diluting the votes of African American and Hispanic voters, but political appointees overrode them and approved it.[151] Legal challenges to the redistricting reached the national Supreme Court in the case League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006), but the court ruled in favor of the state (and Republicans).[153]

In the 2014 Texas elections, the Tea Party movement made large gains, with numerous Tea Party favorites being elected into office, including Dan Patrick as lieutenant governor,[154][155]Ken Paxton as attorney general,[154][156] in addition to numerous other candidates[156] including conservative Republican Greg Abbott as governor.[157]

Texas politics today

Texas voters lean toward fiscal conservatism, while enjoying the benefits of huge federal investment in the state in military and other facilities achieved by the power of the Solid South in the 20th century. They also tend to have socially conservative values.[158][159]

Since 1980, most Texas voters have supported Republican presidential candidates. In 2000 and 2004, Republican George W. Bush won Texas with respectively 59.3 and 60.1 percent of the vote, partly due to his “favorite son” status as a former governor of the state. John McCain won the state in 2008, but with a smaller margin of victory compared to Bush at 55 percent of the vote. Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio consistently lean Democratic in both local and statewide elections.

Residents of counties along the Rio Grande closer to the Mexico-United States border, where there are many Latino residents, generally vote for Democratic Party candidates, while most other rural and suburban areas of Texas have shifted to voting for Republican Party candidates.[160][161]

As of the general elections of 2014, a large majority of the members of Texas’s U.S. House delegation are Republican, along with both U.S. Senators. In the 114th United States Congress, of the 36 Congressional districts in Texas, 24 are held by Republicans and 11 by Democrats. One seat is vacant. Texas’s Senators are John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Since 1994, Texans have not elected a Democrat to a statewide office. The state’s Democratic voters are made up primarily by liberal and minority groups in Austin, Beaumont, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio as well as minority voters in East and South Texas.

United States presidential election in Texas, 2016[162]
Party Candidate Running mate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Republican Donald Trump Mike Pence 4,685,047 52.23% 36
Democratic Hillary Clinton Tim Kaine 3,877,868 43.24% 0
Libertarian Gary Johnson William Weld 283,492 3.16% 0
Green Jill Stein Ajamu Baraka 71,558 0.80% 0
Write-in Various candidates Various candidates 51,261 0.57% 0
Republican John Kasich[a] Carly Fiorina[a] 0 0.0% 1
Libertarian Ron Paul[a] Mike Pence 0 0.0% 1
Totals 8,969,226 100.00% 38
Voter turnout (voting age population)

Administrative divisions

Texas has 254 counties— the most nationwide. Each county runs on Commissioners’ Court system consisting of four elected commissioners (one from each of four precincts in the county, roughly divided according to population) and a county judge elected at large from the entire county. County government runs similar to a “weak” mayor-council system; the county judge has no veto authority, but votes along with the other commissioners.

Although Texas permits cities and counties to enter “interlocal agreements” to share services, the state does not allow consolidated city-county governments, nor does it have metropolitan governments. Counties are not granted home rule status; their powers are strictly defined by state law. The state does not have townships— areas within a county are either incorporated or unincorporated. Incorporated areas are part of a municipality. The county provides limited services to unincorporated areas and to some smaller incorporated areas. Municipalities are classified either “general law” cities or “home rule”.[163] A municipality may elect home rule status once it exceeds 5,000 population with voter approval.

Texas also permits the creation of “special districts”, which provide limited services. The most common is the school district, but can also include hospital districts, community college districts, and utility districts (one utility district near Austin was the plaintiff in a landmark Supreme Court case involving the Voting Rights Act).

Municipal, school district, and special district elections are nonpartisan,[164] though the party affiliation of a candidate may be well-known. County and state elections are partisan.

Criminal law

Texas has a reputation of very harsh criminal punishment for criminal offenses. It is one of the 32 states that practice capital punishment, and since the US Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976, 40% of all US executions have taken place in Texas.[165] As of 2008, Texas had the 4th highest incarceration rate in the US.[166] Texas also has strong self defense laws, allowing citizens to use lethal force to defend themselves, their families, or their property.[167]


Astronaut training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston

As of 2017, Texas had a gross state product (GSP) of $1.696 trillion, the second highest in the U.S.[168] Its GSP is greater than the GDPs of Canada, South Korea, Russia and Australia, which are the world’s 10th-, 11th-, 12th- and 13th-largest economies, respectively[169]. Texas’s economy is the fourth-largest of any country subdivision globally, behind England (as part of the UK), California, and Japan’s Kantō region. Its per capita personal income in 2009 was $36,484, ranking 29th in the nation.[170]

A geomap depicting the income, by county, in Texas as of 2014

Texas’s large population, abundance of natural resources, thriving cities and leading centers of higher education have contributed to a large and diverse economy. Since oil was discovered, the state’s economy has reflected the state of the petroleum industry. In recent times, urban centers of the state have increased in size, containing two-thirds of the population in 2005. The state’s economic growth has led to urban sprawl and its associated symptoms.[170]

As of April 2013, the state’s unemployment rate is 6.4 percent.[171]

In 2010, Site Selection Magazine ranked Texas as the most business-friendly state in the nation, in part because of the state’s three-billion-dollar Texas Enterprise Fund.[172] Texas has the joint-highest number of Fortune 500 company headquarters in the United States, along with California.[173][174]

In 2010, there were 346,000 millionaires in Texas, constituting the second-largest population of millionaires in the nation.[175][176]


Texas has a “low taxes, low services” reputation.[158] According to the Tax Foundation, Texans’ state and local tax burdens rank among the lowest in the nation, 7th lowest nationally; state and local taxes cost $3,580 per capita, or 8.4 percent of resident incomes.[177] Texas is one of seven states that lack a state income tax.[177][178]

Instead, the state collects revenue from property taxes (though these are collected at the county, city, and school district level; Texas has a state constitutional prohibition against a state property tax) and sales taxes. The state sales tax rate is 6.25 percent,[177][179] but local taxing jurisdictions (cities, counties, special purpose districts, and transit authorities) may also impose sales and use tax up to 2 percent for a total maximum combined rate of 8.25 percent.[180]

Texas is a “tax donor state”; in 2005, for every dollar Texans paid to the federal government in federal income taxes, the state got back about $0.94 in benefits.[177] To attract business, Texas has incentive programs worth $19 billion per year (2012); more than any other US state.[181][182]

Agriculture and mining

Cotton modules after being harvested in West Texas

An oil well

Brazos Wind Farm in the plains of West Texas

Electronic Data Systems headquarters in Plano

Texas has the most farms and the highest acreage in the United States. The state is ranked No. 1 for revenue generated from total livestock and livestock products. It is ranked No. 2 for total agricultural revenue, behind California.[183] At $7.4 billion or 56.7 percent of Texas’s annual agricultural cash receipts, beef cattle production represents the largest single segment of Texas agriculture. This is followed by cotton at $1.9 billion (14.6 percent), greenhouse/nursery at $1.5 billion (11.4 percent), broilers at $1.3 billion (10 percent), and dairy products at $947 million (7.3 percent).[184]

Texas leads the nation in the production of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, wool, mohair and hay.[184] The state also leads the nation in production of cotton[183][185] which is the number one crop grown in the state in terms of value.[186] The state grows significant amounts of cereal crops and produce.[183] Texas has a large commercial fishing industry. With mineral resources, Texas leads in creating cement, crushed stone, lime, salt, sand and gravel.[183]

Texas throughout the 21st century has been hammered by drought. This has cost the state billions of dollars in livestock and crops.[187]


Ever since the discovery of oil at Spindletop, energy has been a dominant force politically and economically within the state.[188] If Texas were its own country it would be the sixth largest oil producer in the world.[189]

The Railroad Commission of Texas, contrary to its name, regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline safety, safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry, and surface coal and uranium mining. Until the 1970s, the commission controlled the price of petroleum because of its ability to regulate Texas’s oil reserves. The founders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) used the Texas agency as one of their models for petroleum price control.[190]

Texas has known petroleum deposits of about 5 billion barrels (790,000,000 m3), which makes up about one-fourth of the known U.S. reserves.[191] The state’s refineries can process 4.6 million barrels (730,000 m3) of oil a day.[191] The Port Arthur Refinery in Southeast Texas is the largest refinery in the U.S.[191] Texas also leads in natural gas production, producing one-fourth of the nation’s supply.[191] Several petroleum companies are based in Texas such as: Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Marathon Oil, Tesoro, and Valero, Western Refining.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Texans consume, on average, the fifth most energy (of all types) in the nation per capita and as a whole, following behind Wyoming, Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Iowa.[191]

Unlike the rest of the nation, most of Texas is on its own alternating current power grid, the Texas Interconnection. Texas has a deregulated electric service. Texas leads the nation in total net electricity production, generating 437,236 MWh in 2014, 89% more MWh than Florida, which ranked second.[192][193] As an independent nation, Texas would rank as the world’s eleventh-largest producer of electricity, after South Korea, and ahead of the United Kingdom.

The state is a leader in renewable energy commercialization; it produces the most wind power in the nation.[191][194] In 2014, 10.6% of the electricity consumed in Texas came from wind turbines.[195] The Roscoe Wind Farm in Roscoe, Texas, is one of the world’s largest wind farms with a 781.5 megawatt (MW) capacity.[196] The Energy Information Administration states the state’s large agriculture and forestry industries could give Texas an enormous amount biomass for use in biofuels. The state also has the highest solar power potential for development in the nation.[191]


With large universities systems coupled with initiatives like the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, a wide array of different high tech industries have developed in Texas. The Austin area is nicknamed the “Silicon Hills” and the north Dallas area the “Silicon Prairie”. Texas has the headquarters of many high technology companies, such as Dell, Inc., Texas Instruments, Perot Systems, Rackspace and AT&T.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (NASA JSC) in Southeast Houston, sits as the crown jewel of Texas’s aeronautics industry. Fort Worth hosts both Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics division and Bell Helicopter Textron.[197][198] Lockheed builds the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the largest Western fighter program, and its successor, the F-35 Lightning II in Fort Worth.[199]


Texas’s affluence stimulates a strong commercial sector consisting of retail, wholesale, banking and insurance, and construction industries. Examples of Fortune 500 companies not based on Texas traditional industries are AT&T, Kimberly-Clark, Blockbuster, J. C. Penney, Whole Foods Market, and Tenet Healthcare.[200]
Nationally, the Dallas–Fort Worth area, home to the second shopping mall in the United States, has the most shopping malls per capita of any American metropolitan area.[201]

Mexico, the state’s largest trading partner, imports a third of the state’s exports because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA has encouraged the formation of controversial maquiladoras on the Texas–Mexico border.[202]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 212,592
1860 604,215 184.2%
1870 818,579 35.5%
1880 1,591,749 94.5%
1890 2,235,527 40.4%
1900 3,048,710 36.4%
1910 3,896,542 27.8%
1920 4,663,228 19.7%
1930 5,824,715 24.9%
1940 6,414,824 10.1%
1950 7,711,194 20.2%
1960 9,579,677 24.2%
1970 11,196,730 16.9%
1980 14,229,191 27.1%
1990 16,986,510 19.4%
2000 20,851,820 22.8%
2010 25,145,561 20.6%
Est. 2017 28,304,596 12.6%
1910 – 2010 census[203]
2016 Estimate[204]

Texas population density map

The United States Census Bureau estimates the population of Texas was 27,469,114 on July 1, 2015, a 9.24 percent increase since the 2010 United States Census.[204]

As of 2004, the state had 3.5 million foreign-born residents (15.6 percent of the state population), of which an estimated 1.2 million are illegal immigrants. Texas from 2000 to 2006 had the fastest growing illegal immigration rate in the nation.[205] In 2010, illegal immigrants constituted an estimated 6.0 percent of the population. This was the fifth highest percentage of any state in the country.[206][207] In 2015, the population of illegal immigrants living in Texas was around 800,000.[208]

Texas’s Rio Grande Valley has seen significant migration from across the U.S.–Mexico border. During the 2014 crisis, many Central Americans, including unaccompanied minors traveling alone from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, reached the state, overwhelming Border Patrol resources for a time. Many sought asylum in the United States.[209][210]

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimated 1.68 million illegal immigrants lived in Texas.[211] While the number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. has declined since 2009, in Texas there was no change in population between 2009 and 2014.[212]

Texas’s population density is 90.5 people per square mile (34.9/km2) which is slightly higher than the average population density of the U.S. as a whole, at 80.6 people per square mile (31.1/km2). In contrast, while Texas and France are similarly sized geographically, the European country has a population density of 301.8 people per square mile (116.5/km2).

Two-thirds of all Texans live in a major metropolitan area such as Houston. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area is the largest in Texas. While Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is larger than Houston.


As of the 2015 Texas Population Estimate Program, the population of the state was 27,469,114; non-Hispanic whites 11,505,371 (41.9%); Black Americans 3,171,043 (11.5%); other races 1,793,580 (6.5%); and Hispanics and Latinos (of any race) 10,999,120 (40.0%).[213]

According to the 2010 United States census, the racial composition of Texas was the following:[214]

  • White American 70.4 percent (Non-Hispanic whites 45.3 percent)
  • Black or African American: 11.8 percent
  • American Indian: 0.7 percent
  • Asian: 3.8 percent (1.0 percent Indian, 0.8 percent Vietnamese, 0.6 percent Chinese, 0.4 percent Filipino, 0.3 percent Korean, 0.1 percent Japanese, 0.6 percent other Asian)
  • Pacific Islander: 0.1 percent
  • Some other race: 10.5 percent
  • Two or more races: 2.7 percent

In addition, 37.6 percent of the population are Hispanic or Latino (of any race) (31.6 percent Mexican, 0.9 percent Salvadoran, 0.5 percent Puerto Rican, 0.4 percent Honduran, 0.3 percent Guatemalan 0.3 percent Spaniard, 0.2 percent Colombian, 0.2 percent Cuban)[215]

As of 2011, 69.8% of the population of Texas younger than age 1 were minorities (meaning they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white).[216]

Texas racial breakdown of population
Racial composition 1970[217] 1990[217] 2000[218] 2010[219]
White 86.8% 75.2% 71.0% 70.4%
Black 12.5% 11.9% 11.5% 11.9%
Asian 0.2% 1.9% 2.7% 3.8%
Native 0.2% 0.4% 0.6% 0.7%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1% 0.1%
Other race 0.4% 10.6% 11.7% 10.5%
Two or more races 2.5% 2.7%

War on the plains. Comanche (right) trying to lance Osage warrior. Painting by George Catlin, 1834

German, Irish, and English Americans are the three largest European ancestry groups in Texas. German Americans make up 11.3 percent of the population, and number over 2.7 million members. Irish Americans make up 8.2 percent of the population, and number over 1.9 million members. There are roughly 600,000 French Americans and 472,000 Italian Americans residing in Texas; these two ethnic groups make up 2.5 percent and 2.0 percent of the population respectively. In the 1980 United States Census the largest ancestry group reported in Texas was English with 3,083,323 Texans citing they were of English or mostly English ancestry making them 27 percent of the state at the time.[220] Their ancestry primarily goes back to the original thirteen colonies (the census of 1790 gives 48% of the population of English ancestry; together 12% Scots and Scots-Irish; 4.5% Irish South 90% were Protestant and 3% Welsh = 67.5% British; 13% were German, Swiss, Dutch and French Huguenots; 19% African-American, Colin Bonwick, The American Revolution, 1991, p. 254) and thus many of them today identify as “American” in ancestry, though they are of predominantly British stock.[221][222] There are nearly 200,000 Czech-Americans living in Texas, the largest number of any state.[223]

African Americans are the largest racial minority in Texas. Their proportion of population has declined since the early 20th century, after many left the state in the Great Migration. Blacks of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic origin make up 11.5 percent of the population; blacks of non-Hispanic origin form 11.3 percent of the populace. African Americans of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic origin number at roughly 2.7 million individuals.

Native Americans are a smaller minority in the state. Native Americans make up 0.5 percent of Texas’s population, and number over 118,000 individuals. Native Americans of non-Hispanic origin make up 0.3 percent of the population, and number over 75,000 individuals. Cherokee made up 0.1 percent of the population, and numbered over 19,400 members. In contrast, only 583 identified as Chippewa.

El Paso, founded by Spanish settlers in 1659

Asian Americans are a sizable minority group in Texas. Americans of Asian descent form 3.8 percent of the population, with those of non-Hispanic descent making up 3.7 percent of the populace. They total more than 808,000 individuals. Non-Hispanic Asians number over 795,000. Just over 200,000 Indian Americans make Texas their home. Texas is also home to over 187,000 Vietnamese and 136,000 Chinese. In addition to 92,000 Filipinos and 62,000 Koreans, there are 18,000 Japanese Americans living in the state. Lastly, over 111,000 people are of other Asian ancestry groups, such as Cambodian, Thai, and Hmong. Sugar Land, a city within the Houston metropolitan area, and Plano, within the Dallas metropolitan area, both have high concentrations of ethnic Chinese and Korean residents. The Houston and Dallas areas, and to a lesser extent, the Austin metropolitan area, all contain substantial Vietnamese communities.

Americans with origins from the Pacific are the smallest minority in Texas. According to the survey, only 18,000 Texans are Pacific Islanders; 16,400 are of non-Hispanic descent. There are roughly 5,400 Native Hawaiians, 5,300 Guamanians, and 6,400 people from other groups. Samoan Americans were scant; only 2,920 people were from this group. The city of Euless, a suburb of Fort Worth, contains a sizable population of Tongan Americans, at nearly 900 people, over one percent of the city’s population. Killeen has a sufficient population of Samoans and Guamanian, and people of Pacific Islander descent surpass one percent of the city’s population.

Multiracial individuals are also a visible minority in Texas. People identifying as multiracial form 1.9 percent of the population, and number over 448,000 people. Almost 80,000 Texans claim African and European heritage, and make up 0.3 percent of the population. People of European and American Indian ancestry number over 108,800 (close to the number of Native Americans), and make up 0.5 percent of the population. People of European and Asian ancestry number over 57,600, and form just 0.2 percent of the population. People of African and Native American ancestry were even smaller in number (15,300), and make up just 0.1 percent of the total population.

German trek on its way to New Braunfels

Hispanics and Latinos are the second-largest group in Texas after non-Hispanic European Americans. Over 8.5 million people claim Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. This group forms over 37 percent of Texas’s population. People of Mexican descent alone number over 7.9 million, and make up 31.6 percent of the population. The vast majority of the Hispanic/Latino population in the state is of Mexican descent, the next two largest groups are Salvadorans and Puerto Ricans. There are over 222,000 Salvadorans and over 130,000 Puerto Ricans in Texas. Other groups with large numbers in Texas include Hondurans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans and Cubans, among others.[224][225] The Hispanics in Texas are more likely than in some other states (such as California) to identify as white; according to the 2010 U.S. Census, Texas is home to 6,304,207 White Hispanics and 2,594,206 Hispanics of “some other race” (usually mestizo).

Welcome to Praha, Texas, “Czech Capital of Texas”.

German descendants inhabit much of central and southeast-central Texas. Over one-third of Texas residents are of Hispanic origin; while many have recently arrived, some Tejanos have ancestors with multi-generational ties to 18th century Texas. In addition to the descendants of the state’s former slave population, many African American college graduates have come to the state for work recently in the New Great Migration.[226] Recently, the Asian population in Texas has grown—primarily in Houston and Dallas. Other communities with a significantly growing Asian American population is in Austin, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and the Sharyland area next McAllen, Texas. Three federally recognized Native American tribes reside in Texas: the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe, and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.[54]

In 2010, 49 percent of all births were Hispanics; 35 percent were non-Hispanic whites; 11.5 percent were non-Hispanic blacks, and 4.3 percent were Asians/Pacific Islanders.[227] Based on Census Bureau data released on February 2011, for the first time in recent history, Texas’s white population is below 50 percent (45 percent) and Hispanics grew to 38 percent. Between 2000 and 2010, the total population growth by 20.6 percent, but Hispanics growth by 65 percent, whereas non-Hispanic whites only grew by 4.2 percent.[228] Texas has the fifth highest rate of teenage births in the nation and a plurality of these are to Hispanics.[229]

Cities and towns

Largest city in Texas by year[230]
Year(s) City
1850–1870 San Antonio[231]
1870–1890 Galveston[232]
1890–1900 Dallas[230]
1900–1930 San Antonio[231]
1930–present Houston[233]

The state has three cities with populations exceeding one million: Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas.[234] These three rank among the 10 most populous cities of the United States. As of 2010, six Texas cities had populations greater than 600,000 people. Austin, Fort Worth, and El Paso are among the 20 largest U.S. cities. Texas has four metropolitan areas with populations greater than a million: Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington, Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown, San Antonio–New Braunfels, and Austin–Round Rock–San Marcos. The Dallas–Fort Worth and Houston metropolitan areas number about 6.3 million and 5.7 million residents, respectively.

Three interstate highways—I-35 to the west (Dallas–Fort Worth to San Antonio, with Austin in between), I-45 to the east (Dallas to Houston), and I-10 to the south (San Antonio to Houston) define the Texas Urban Triangle region. The region of 60,000 square miles (160,000 km2) contains most of the state’s largest cities and metropolitan areas as well as 17 million people, nearly 75 percent of Texas’s total population.[235] Houston and Dallas have been recognized as beta world cities.[236] These cities are spread out amongst the state. Texas has 254 counties, which is more than any other state by 95 (Georgia).[237]

In contrast to the cities, unincorporated rural settlements known as colonias often lack basic infrastructure and are marked by poverty.[238] The office of the Texas Attorney General stated, in 2011, that Texas had about 2,294 colonias and estimates about 500,000 lived in the colonias. Hidalgo County, as of 2011, has the largest number of colonias.[239] Texas has the largest number of people of all states, living in colonias.[238]


The most common accent or dialect spoken by natives throughout Texas is sometimes referred to as Texan English, which itself is a sub-variety of a broader category of American English known as Southern American English.[241][242]Creole language is spoken in East Texas.[243] In some areas of the state—particularly in the large cities – Western American English and General American English, have been on the increase. Chicano English—due to a growing Hispanic population—is widespread in South Texas, while African-American English is especially notable in historically minority areas of urban Texas.

Top 10 Non-English languages spoken in Texas
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010)[244]
Spanish 29.21%
Vietnamese 0.75%
Chinese (including Mandarin and Cantonese) 0.56%
German 0.33%
Tagalog 0.29%
French 0.25%
Korean and Urdu (tied) 0.24%
Hindi 0.23%
Arabic 0.21%
Niger-Congo languages of West Africa (Ibo, Kru, and Yoruba) 0.15%

As of 2010, 65.8% (14,740,304) of Texas residents age 5 and older spoke only English at home, while 29.2% (6,543,702) spoke Spanish, 0.75 percent (168,886) Vietnamese, and Chinese (which includes Cantonese and Mandarin) was spoken by 0.56% (122,921) of the population over the age of five.[244]

Other languages spoken include German (including Texas German) by 0.33% (73,137,) Tagalog with 0.29% (73,137) speakers, and French (including Cajun French) was spoken by 0.25% (55,773) of Texans.[244] Reportedly, Cherokee is the most widely spoken Native American language in Texas.[245]

In total, 34.2% (7,660,406) of Texas’s population aged five and older spoke a language at home other than English.[244]


Religious affiliation in Texas (2014)[246]
Affiliation % of Texas population
Christian 77 77


Protestant 50 50


Evangelical Protestant 31 31


Mainline Protestant 13 13


Black church 6 6


Catholic 23 23


Mormon 1 1


Jehovah’s Witnesses 1 1


Eastern Orthodox 0.5 0.5


Other Christian 1 1


Unaffiliated 18 18


Nothing in particular 13 13


Agnostic 3 3


Atheist 2 2


Non-Christian faiths 4 4


Jewish 1 1


Muslim 1 1


Buddhist 1 1


Hindu 0.5 0.5


Other Non-Christian faiths 0.5 0.5


Don’t know/refused answer 0.5 0.5


Total 100 100


The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church (4,673,500); the Southern Baptist Convention (3,721,318); the United Methodist Church with (1,035,168); and Islam (421,972).[247]

Known as the buckle of the Bible Belt, East Texas is socially conservative.[248] The Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex is home to three major evangelical seminaries and a host of Bible schools. Lakewood Church in Houston, boasts the largest attendance in the nation averaging more than 43,000 weekly.[249]

Adherents of many other religions reside predominantly in the urban centers of Texas. In 1990, the Islamic population was about 140,000 with more recent figures putting the current number of Muslims between 350,000 and 400,000.[250] The Jewish population is around 128,000.[251] Around 146,000 adherents of religions such as Hinduism and Sikhism live in Texas.[252] It is the fifth-largest Muslim-populated state in the country.[253]


The Alamo is one of the most recognized symbols of Texas.

Historically, Texas culture comes from a blend of Southern (Dixie), Western (frontier), and Southwestern (Mexican/Anglo fusion) influences, varying in degrees of such from one intrastate region to another. Texas is placed in the Southern United States by the United States Census Bureau.[254] A popular food item, the breakfast burrito, draws from all three, having a soft flour tortilla wrapped around bacon and scrambled eggs or other hot, cooked fillings. Adding to Texas’s traditional culture, established in the 18th and 19th centuries, immigration has made Texas a melting pot of cultures from around the world.

Texas has made a strong mark on national and international pop culture. The entire state is strongly associated with the image of the cowboy shown in westerns and in country western music. The state’s numerous oil tycoons are also a popular pop culture topic as seen in the hit TV series Dallas.

The internationally known slogan “Don’t Mess with Texas” began as an anti-littering advertisement. Since the campaign’s inception in 1986, the phrase has become “an identity statement, a declaration of Texas swagger”.[255]

Texas self-perception

“Texas-sized” is an expression that can be used in two ways: to describe something that is about the size of the U.S. state of Texas,[256][257] or to describe something (usually but not always originating from Texas) that is large compared to other objects of its type.[258][259][260] Texas was the largest U.S. state, until Alaska became a state in 1959. The phrase “everything is bigger in Texas” has been in regular use since at least 1950;[261] and was used as early as 1913.[262]


Big Tex presided over every Texas State Fair since 1952 until it was destroyed by fire in 2012

Houston is one of only five American cities with permanent professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines: the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Ballet, and The Alley Theatre.[263] Known for the vibrancy of its visual and performing arts, the Houston Theater District—a 17-block area in the heart of Downtown Houston— ranks second in the country in the number of theater seats in a concentrated downtown area, with 12,948 seats for live performances and 1,480 movie seats.[263]

Founded in 1892, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, also called “The Modern”, is Texas’s oldest art museum. Fort Worth also has the Kimbell Art Museum, the Amon Carter Museum, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the Will Rogers Memorial Center, and the Bass Performance Hall downtown. The Arts District of Downtown Dallas has arts venues such as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.[264]

The Deep Ellum district within Dallas became popular during the 1920s and 1930s as the prime jazz and blues hotspot in the Southern United States. The name Deep Ellum comes from local people pronouncing “Deep Elm” as “Deep Ellum”.[265] Artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, and Bessie Smith played in early Deep Ellum clubs.[266]

Austin, The Live Music Capital of the World, boasts “more live music venues per capita than such music hotbeds as Nashville, Memphis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas or New York City”.[267] The city’s music revolves around the nightclubs on 6th Street; events like the film, music, and multimedia festival South by Southwest; the longest-running concert music program on American television, Austin City Limits; and the Austin City Limits Music Festival held in Zilker Park.[268]

Since 1980, San Antonio has evolved into “The Tejano Music Capital Of The World”.[269] The Tejano Music Awards have provided a forum to create greater awareness and appreciation for Tejano music and culture.[270]


The second president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, is the Father of Texas Education. During his term, the state set aside three leagues of land in each county for equipping public schools. An additional 50 leagues of land set aside for the support of two universities would later become the basis of the state’s Permanent University Fund.[271] Lamar’s actions set the foundation for a Texas-wide public school system.[272]
Between 2006 and 2007, Texas spent $7,275 per pupil ranking it below the national average of $9,389. The pupil/teacher ratio was 14.9, below the national average of 15.3. Texas paid instructors $41,744, below the national average of $46,593. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) administers the state’s public school systems. Texas has over 1,000 school districts; all districts except the Stafford Municipal School District are independent from municipal government and many cross city boundaries.[273] School districts have the power to tax their residents and to assert eminent domain over privately owned property. Due to court-mandated equitable school financing for school districts, the state has a controversial tax redistribution system called the “Robin Hood plan”. This plan transfers property tax revenue from wealthy school districts to poor ones.[274] The TEA has no authority over private or home school activities.[275]

Students in Texas take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in primary and secondary school. STAAR assess students’ attainment of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies skills required under Texas education standards and the No Child Left Behind Act. The test replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test in the 2011–2012 school year.[276]

Although unusual in the West, school corporal punishment is not uncommon in more conservative areas of the state, with 28,569 public school students[277]paddled at least one time, according to government data for the 2011–2012 school year.[278] The rate of school corporal punishment in Texas is surpassed only by Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.[278]

Higher education

The University of Texas at Austin

The state’s two most widely recognized flagship universities are The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, ranked as the 52nd[279] and 69th[280] best universities in the nation according to the 2014 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges”, respectively. Some observers[281] also include the University of Houston and Texas Tech University as tier one flagships alongside UT Austin and A&M.[282][283] The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) ranks the state’s public universities into three distinct tiers:[284]

  • National Research Universities (Tier 1)[285]
    • The University of Texas at Austin
    • Texas A&M University
    • Texas Tech University
    • University of Houston
  • Emerging Research Universities (Tier 2)[284]
    • The University of Texas at Arlington
    • The University of Texas at Dallas
    • The University of Texas at El Paso
    • The University of Texas at San Antonio
    • The University of North Texas
    • Texas State University
  • Comprehensive Universities (Tier 3)[284]
    • All other public universities (25 in total)

Texas’s controversial alternative affirmative action plan, Texas House Bill 588, guarantees Texas students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class automatic admission to state-funded universities. The bill encourages demographic diversity while avoiding problems stemming from the Hopwood v. Texas (1996) case.

Texas A&M University

Thirty-six (36) separate and distinct public universities exist in Texas, of which 32 belong to one of the six state university systems.[286][287] Discovery of minerals on Permanent University Fund land, particularly oil, has helped fund the rapid growth of the state’s two largest university systems: the University of Texas System and the Texas A&M System. The four other university systems: the University of Houston System, the University of North Texas System, the Texas State System, and the Texas Tech System are not funded by the Permanent University Fund.

University of Houston

The Carnegie Foundation classifies three of Texas’s universities as Tier One research institutions: The University of Texas at Austin, the Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston. The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are flagship universities of the state of Texas. Both were established by the Texas Constitution and hold stakes in the Permanent University Fund. The state has been putting effort to expand the number of flagship universities by elevating some of its seven institutions designated as “emerging research universities”. The two expected to emerge first are the University of Houston and Texas Tech University, likely in that order according to discussions on the House floor of the 82nd Texas Legislature.[288]

Rice University

The state is home to various private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges to a nationally recognized top-tier research university. Rice University in Houston is one of the leading teaching and research universities of the United States and is ranked the nation’s 17th-best overall university by U.S. News & World Report.[289]Trinity University, a private, primarily undergraduate liberal arts university in San Antonio, has ranked first among universities granting primarily bachelor’s and select master’s degrees in the Western United States for 20 consecutive years by U.S. News.[290] Private universities include Austin College, Baylor University, University of Mary Hardin–Baylor, and Southwestern University.[291][292][293]

Universities in Texas host three presidential libraries: George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum at The University of Texas at Austin, and the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University.


Behavior and environmental health


Obesity has quickly become a major health issue in Texas.[294] In 2017, 33.6% of Texas adults were obese as compared to 29.9% of U.S. adults.[295][296] In 2000 21.7% of adults were obese and in 1990 only 10.7% of adults were obese.[297] In 2016, 33% of 10-17 year olds in Texas were obese.[297] When separated out by gender, 34.6% of Texas females and 32.8% of Texas males were obese. [298]When separated out by race, 31% of White adults, 41.7% of Black adults, and 37.8% of Hispanic adults were obese in Texas in 2016.[299]Research shows that an increase in household income is correlated with a decrease in obesity rates.[300] There are educational achievement patterns as well – 39% of the Texas population with less than a high school education was obese while only 23% of college graduates were obese.[301] Living in a rural area in Texas is also correlated with higher obesity rates.[300]

Consequences of obesity

Obesity causes several chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes.[302] The three leading causes of death in Texas – heart disease, stroke, and cancer – are all linked to obesity.[302] Additionally, obesity can cause type 2 diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and hypertension.[302] In 2010, Texas saw 1,261,654 cases of heart disease and is predicted to see 5,688,482 cases in 2030.[303] In 2010, Texas saw 1,962,059 cases of diabetes and is predicted to see 2,851,697 cases in 2030.[303] In 2010, Texas saw 4,300,252 cases of hypertension and is predicted to see 5,689,509 cases in 2030.[303] In 2010, Texas saw 328,379 cases of obesity-related cancer and is predicted to see 810,806 cases in 2030.

Obesity also has substantial impacts on the economy in Texas. Obesity costs Texas businesses $9.5 billion annually.[304] 41% of this is due to obesity-related healthcare costs, 17% is due to absenteeism, and 37% is due to presenteeism.[304]

Obesity treatment

Effective treatment for obesity is known to be expensive and difficult. For childhood obesity, programs tend to focus on creating lifestyle changes including a healthier diet and more exercise.[305] Studies show that obesity treatment for children should aim more at changing the behavior of the family as a whole, especially the parents.[306] Weight loss programs for children in Texas have had limited success in reducing weight. Only 20% of children finish the program and many of them are likely to gain the weight back later on.[307] For adults, surgery is an effective long-term treatment but it comes with several risks and complications.[308]

Obesity prevention

Environmental factors play a large role in obesity rates.[309] Studies have shown that people who live in the same socioeconomic contexts in Texas, regardless of race, tend to have similar rates of obesity.[310] Generally speaking, encouraging healthy habits, raising awareness, and educating people about portion sizes and nutritious requirements can help prevent obesity.[311] Childhood prevention is key – a child who was overweight at 12 years of age has a 75% chance of being overweight as an adult.[311]

Obesity policy

In 2003, the Texas School Nutrition Policy Launch set nutrition standards with the intentions of discouraging obesity.[312] This policy lowered the availability of foods of minimal nutritional value in schools, limited portion sizes, limited trans fats, and limited fried foods.[312] Texas has also required early childhood education programs to encourage breastfeeding, provide drinking water access, and provide daily physical activity.[312] The state also has a fund specifically for financing healthy food.[312] In 2013, the Obesity Prevention Program was created after merging the Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Prevention (NPAOP) and Worksite Wellness Programs.[313] This program supports healthy eating, physical activity, and policies that promote healthier lifestyles.

Alcohol Use

The most commonly abused substance in Texas is alcohol. [314] The rate of binge drinking in males in Texas is comparable to that of males in the United States. In 2017, 22.4% of adult males in Texas reported binge drinking, as compared to 22.1% of males in the United States.[315] Less than 12% of females adults in Texas reported binge drinking. [316]Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can lead to a variety of health issues including liver damage, heart problems, cancer, and depression. [317] Further, 61% of high school students in Texas have tried alcohol and 17% of Texas high school students had their first drink before the age of 13. [318]

Notwithstanding the concentration of elite medical centers in the state, The Commonwealth Fund ranks the Texas healthcare system the third worst in the nation.[319] Texas ranks close to last in access to healthcare, quality of care, avoidable hospital spending, and equity among various groups.[319] Causes of the state’s poor rankings include politics, a high poverty rate, and the highest rate of illegal immigration in the nation.[205] In May 2006, Texas initiated the program “code red” in response to the report the state had 25.1 percent of the population without health insurance, the largest proportion in the nation.[320]Research shows that adolescents who see alcohol use in advertisements, television shows, and movies are more likely to start drinking alcohol at a younger age. Drinking at a young age is correlated with long-term alcohol abuse. [321]

Legislative Responses

The Texas Ignition Interlock Law went into effect during September 2015. This law requires judges to order ignition interlocks for all drunk-drivers with a Blood Alcohol Level of 0.15% or greater. [322] Since the passing of this law, the drunk driving related death rate in Texas has decreased by 8.5%. [323]

The Trust for America’s Health ranked Texas 15th highest in adult obesity, with 27.2 percent of the state’s population measured as obese.[324] The 2008 Men’s Health obesity survey ranked four Texas cities among the top 25 fattest cities in America; Houston ranked 6th, Dallas 7th, El Paso 8th, and Arlington 14th.[325] Texas had only one city, Austin, ranked 21st, in the top 25 among the “fittest cities” in America.[325] The same survey has evaluated the state’s obesity initiatives favorably with a “B+”.[325] The state is ranked forty-second in the percentage of residents who engage in regular exercise.[326]

Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and the rate by which Texas women died from pregnancy related complications doubled from 2010 to 2014, to 23.8 per 100,000. A rate unmatched in any other U.S. state or economically developed country.[327]

Infant health

Texas has the seventh highest birth rate in the United States, with nearly 400,000 babies born each year. [328][329] Over half of all Texas births are paid by Medicaid, totaling over $2.2 billion per year in birth and delivery-related services for mothers and infants.[330]

Rates of infant mortality

For decades the infant mortality rate in Texas was higher than the nationwide rate but that gap has slowly closed. In 2017, the infant mortality rate in Texas was identical to the nationwide rate: 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. [331] This rate is not identical across the state of Texas and studies have found significant disparities between zip codes.[332] For example, the 76164 zip code has an infant mortality rate of 12.3 deaths per 1,000 live births while the neighboring 76107 zip code has a rate of 1.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.[333] Additionally, Black families in Texas are disproportionately burdened by these rates. In 2015, the infant mortality rate for Black babies in Texas was 10.9 deaths per 1,000 births. [334] These disparities can be explained by factors such as socioeconomic status, air pollution, and access to health care. [333]

Common complications

Studies have found that infant mortality is usually caused by birth defects, pre-term birth, low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and pregnancy complications.[335] The average amount spent in the first year of life for a preterm birth with major complications (excluding extreme prematurity) is $19,059, and $4,019 for a preterm birth without major complications compared to $410 for an uncomplicated, term birth. [336]

Preterm birth

A birth is considered preterm when it takes place more than 3 weeks before the estimated due date.[337] Preterm birth rates in Texas are consistently higher than the nationwide rate. In 2016, 10.4% of live births in Texas were preterm.[338] The rate for Black mothers specifically was elevated – 13.6%.[339] Numerous factors have been associated with premature birth, including lack of prenatal care,  race, obesity, smoking, and even air pollution.[340]

Low birth weight

A low birth weight is less than 2500 grams.[341] The rate of low birth weight in Texas has always been higher than the nationwide rate. In 2016, 8.4% of live births in Texas had a low birth weight.[341] The rate for Black mothers specifically was 13.5%.[341] Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are 3 times more likely to have a low birth weight and 5 times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.[342] As for long-term complications, low birth weight babies are at a higher risk for cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, and developmental delay.[343]

Prenatal care

Prenatal care is the best way to prevent preterm births and low birth weight babies.[344]  Unfortunately, in 2016 only 65% of pregnant women in Texas had access to prenatal care in their first trimester.[345] Women being unaware of their pregnancies, economic hardship due to inability to work during pregnancy, lack of knowledge or access to health services, and difficulty finding transportation are contributing factors to this alarmingly low rate.[346] Texas has also seen significant disparities in who receives prenatal care – 75% of White women and only 55% of Black women received prenatal care during their first trimester.[345] Although women covered by Medicaid are supposed to automatically transition into the Healthy Texas Women program for postpartum coverage, this transition does not always take place.[347]


The recommended 4:3:1:3:3:1:4 vaccination schedule for children ages 19-35 months is designed to protect infants and children early in life when they are the most vulnerable.[348] This schedule is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. [349] It protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio virus, measles, mumps, rubella, Hib, hepatitis B, varicella, and pneumonia.[349] In 2017, 67.8% of children age 35 months in Texas completed their recommended vaccination schedule.[350] The highest individual vaccine rate was for the polio virus: 93.1% of children age 35 months in Texas received this vaccine.[350] The lowest individual vaccine rate was for hepatitis A: 62.6% of children age 35 months in Texas received this vaccine. [350] Some children are under-vaccinated due to issues with accessing preventative care, vaccine delivery, or intentional refusal to complete the series.[351] Studies have shown that White married parents with higher socioeconomic status are the most likely to delay or refuse vaccines. [352] The state has started to address this issue by implementing ImmTrac, a vaccination record system that is available at no cost at all.[353]

Medical research

Texas has many research medical centers. The state has nine medical schools,[354] three dental schools,[355] and two optometry schools.[356] Texas has two Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories: one at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston,[357] and the other at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio—the first privately owned BSL-4 lab in the United States.[358]

The Texas Medical Center in Houston, holds the world’s largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions, with 47 member institutions.[359] Texas Medical Center performs the most heart transplants in the world.[360] The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is a highly regarded academic institution that centers around cancer patient care, research, education and prevention.[361]

San Antonio’s South Texas Medical Center facilities rank sixth in clinical medicine research impact in the United States.[362] The University of Texas Health Science Center is another highly ranked research and educational institution in San Antonio.[363][364]

Both the American Heart Association and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center call Dallas home. The Southwestern Medical Center ranks “among the top academic medical centers in the world”.[365] The institution’s medical school employs the most medical school Nobel laureates in the world.[365][366]


The High Five Interchange in Dallas is a five level interchange.

Texans have historically had difficulties traversing Texas due to the state’s large size and rough terrain. Texas has compensated by building both America’s largest highway and railway systems in length. The regulatory authority, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintains the state’s immense highway system, regulates aviation,[367] and public transportation systems.[368]

Located centrally in North America, the state is an important transportation hub. From the Dallas/Fort Worth area, trucks can reach 93 percent of the nation’s population within 48 hours, and 37 percent within 24 hours.[369] Texas has 33 foreign trade zones (FTZ), the most in the nation.[370] In 2004, a combined total of $298 billion of goods passed through Texas FTZs.[370]


“Welcome to Texas” road sign

The first Texas freeway was the Gulf Freeway opened in 1948 in Houston.[371] As of 2005, 79,535 miles (127,999 km) of public highway crisscrossed Texas (up from 71,000 miles (114,263 km) in 1984).[372] To fund recent growth in the state highways, Texas has 17 toll roads (see list) with several additional tollways proposed.[373] In central Texas, the southern section of the State Highway 130 toll road has a speed limit of 85 miles per hour (137 km/h), the highest in the nation.[374] All federal and state highways in Texas are paved.


Texas has 730 airports, second-most of any state in the nation. Largest in Texas by size and passengers served, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is the second-largest by area in the United States, and fourth in the world with 18,076 acres (73.15 km2).[375] In traffic, DFW is the busiest in the state, the fourth busiest in the United States,[376] and sixth worldwide.[377]American Airlines Group’s American / American Eagle, the world’s largest airline in total passengers-miles transported and passenger fleet size,[378] uses DFW as its largest and main hub. It ranks as the largest airline in the United States by number of passengers carried domestically per year and the largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried.[379]Southwest Airlines, headquartered in Dallas, has its operations at Dallas Love Field.[380]

Texas’s second-largest air facility is Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). It served as the largest hub for the former Continental Airlines, which was based in Houston; it serves as the largest hub for United Airlines, the world’s third-largest airline, by passenger-miles flown.[381][382] IAH offers service to the most Mexican destinations of any U.S. airport.[383][384] The next five largest airports in the state all serve over 3 million passengers annually; they include Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, William P. Hobby Airport, San Antonio International Airport, Dallas Love Field and El Paso International Airport. The smallest airport in the state to be designated an international airport is Del Rio International Airport.


Around 1,150 seaports dot Texas’s coast with over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of channels.[385] Ports employ nearly one-million people and handle an average of 317 million metric tons.[386] Texas ports connect with the rest of the U.S. Atlantic seaboard with the Gulf section of the Intracoastal Waterway.[385] The Port of Houston today is the busiest port in the United States in foreign tonnage, second in overall tonnage, and tenth worldwide in tonnage.[387] The Houston Ship Channel spans 530 feet (160 m) wide by 45 feet (14 m) deep by 50 miles (80 km) long.[388]


Part of the state’s tradition of cowboys is derived from the massive cattle drives which its ranchers organized in the nineteenth century to drive livestock to railroads and markets in Kansas, for shipment to the East. Towns along the way, such as Baxter Springs, the first cow town in Kansas, developed to handle the seasonal workers and tens of thousands of head of cattle being driven.

The first railroad to operate in Texas was the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway, opening in August 1853.[389] The first railroad to enter Texas from the north, completed in 1872, was the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad.[390] With increasing railroad access, the ranchers did not have to take their livestock up to the Midwest, and shipped beef out from Texas. This caused a decline in the economies of the cow towns.

Since 1911, Texas has led the nation in length of railroad miles within the state. Texas railway length peaked in 1932 at 17,078 miles (27,484 km), but declined to 14,006 miles (22,540 km) by 2000. While the Railroad Commission of Texas originally regulated state railroads, in 2005 the state reassigned these duties to TxDOT.[391]

Both Dallas and Houston feature light rail systems. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) built the first light rail system in the Southwest United States, completed in 1996.[392]
The Trinity Railway Express (TRE) commuter rail service, which connects Fort Worth and Dallas, is provided by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (the T) and DART.[393] In the Austin area, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates a commuter rail service known as Capital MetroRail to the northwestern suburbs. The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) operates light rail lines in the Houston area.

Amtrak provides Texas with limited intercity passenger rail service. Three scheduled routes serve the state: the daily Texas Eagle (Chicago–San Antonio); the tri-weekly Sunset Limited (New Orleans–Los Angeles), with stops in Texas; and the daily Heartland Flyer (Fort Worth–Oklahoma City).


While American football has long been considered “king” in the state, Texans enjoy a wide variety of sports.[394]

Texans can cheer for a plethora of professional sports teams. Within the “Big Four” professional leagues, Texas has two NFL teams (the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans), two Major League Baseball teams (the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers), three NBA teams (the San Antonio Spurs, the Houston Rockets, and the Dallas Mavericks), and one National Hockey League team (the Dallas Stars). The Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex is one of only twelve American metropolitan areas that hosts sports teams from all the “Big Four” professional leagues. Outside of the “Big Four” leagues, Texas also has a WNBA team, (the Dallas Wings) and two Major League Soccer teams (the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas).

Collegiate athletics have deep significance in Texas culture, especially football. The state has twelve Division I-FBS schools, the most in the nation. Four of the state’s universities, the Baylor Bears, Texas Longhorns, TCU Horned Frogs, and Texas Tech Red Raiders, compete in the Big 12 Conference. The Texas A&M Aggies left the Big 12 and joined the Southeastern Conference in 2012, which led the Big 12 to invite TCU to join; TCU was previously in the Mountain West Conference. The Houston Cougars and the SMU Mustangs compete in the American Athletic Conference. The Texas State Bobcats and the UT Arlington Mavericks compete in the Sun Belt Conference. Four of the state’s schools claim at least one national championship in football: the Texas Longhorns, the Texas A&M Aggies, the TCU Horned Frogs, and the SMU Mustangs.

According to a survey of Division I-A coaches the rivalry between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin, the Red River Shootout, ranks the third best in the nation.[395] The TCU Horned Frogs and SMU Mustangs also share a rivalry and compete annually in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. A fierce rivalry, the Lone Star Showdown, also exists between the state’s two largest universities, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin. The athletics portion of the Lone Star Showdown rivalry has been put on hold after the Texas A&M Aggies joined the Southeastern Conference.

The University Interscholastic League (UIL) organizes most primary and secondary school competitions. Events organized by UIL include contests in athletics (the most popular being high school football) as well as artistic and academic subjects.[396]

Texans also enjoy the rodeo. The world’s first rodeo was hosted in Pecos, Texas.[397] The annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the world. It begins with trail rides that begin from several points throughout the state that convene at Reliant Park.[398] The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth is the oldest continuously running rodeo incorporating many of the state’s most historic traditions into its annual events. Dallas hosts the State Fair of Texas each year at Fair Park.[399]

Texas Motor Speedway hosts annual NASCAR Cup Series and IndyCar Series auto races since 1997. Since 2012, Austin’s Circuit of the Americas plays host to a round of the Formula 1 World Championship[400] —the first at a permanent road circuit in the United States since the 1980 Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International—, as well as Grand Prix motorcycle racing, FIA World Endurance Championship and United SportsCar Championship races.

See also

  • Index of Texas-related articles
  • Outline of Texas – organized list of topics about Texas


  1. ^ For example, as used by the large Grand Prairie–based national and international amusement park operator Six Flags
  1. ^ abc Did not run and was not a candidate, but received one electoral vote by a faithless elector.


  1. ^ Texas—Languages. MLA. Retrieved April 15, 2010..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
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  8. ^ Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
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  • Chipman, Donald E. (1992). Spanish Texas, 1519–1821. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-77659-3.
  • Davis, William C. (2006). Lone Star Rising. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-1-58544-532-5. originally published 2004 by New York: Free Press Lone Star Rising at Google Books
  • Edmondson, J. R. (2000). Alamo Story: From Early History to Current Conflicts. Republic of Texas Press. ISBN 978-1-55622-678-6.
  • Fehrenbach, T. R. (2000) [1968]. Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans. Open Road Media. ISBN 978-1-4976-0970-9.
  • Hardin, Stephen L. (1994). Texian Iliad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution, 1835-1836. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-79252-4.
  • Lack, Paul D. (1992). The Texas Revolutionary Experience: A Political and Social History 1835–1836. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-0-89096-497-2.
  • Manchaca, Martha (2001). Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans. The Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-75253-5.
  • Todish, Timothy J.; Todish, Terry; Spring, Ted (1998). Alamo Sourcebook, 1836: A Comprehensive Guide to the Battle of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution. Austin, Texas: Eakin Press. ISBN 978-1-57168-152-2.
  • Report of President’s Commission on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. (1992). The Warren Commission Report. Warren Commission Hearings. IV. National Archives. ISBN 978-0-312-08257-4.
  • Weber, David J. (1992). The Spanish Frontier in North America. Yale Western Americana Series. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-05198-8.
  • Weddle, Robert S. (1995). Changing Tides: Twilight and Dawn in the Spanish Sea, 1763–1803. Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students Number 58. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-0-89096-661-7.
  • Winders, Richard Bruce (2004). Sacrificed at the Alamo: Tragedy and Triumph in the Texas Revolution. Military History of Texas Series: Number Three. Abilene, TX: State House Press. ISBN 978-1-880510-80-3.

External links

  • Texas at Curlie
  • The Texas State History Museum
  • The Handbook of Texas Online—Published by the Texas State Historical Association
  • Texas Register, hosted by the University of North Texas Libraries
  • South and West Texas: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
  • Texas Heritage Society[permanent dead link]
  • Geographic data related to Texas at OpenStreetMap
  • View historical photographs at the University of Houston Digital Library.
  • Oklahoma Digital Maps: Digital Collections of Oklahoma and Indian Territory

State government

  • The State of Texas
  • Texas State Databases—Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Texas state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.
  • Texas Politics. An online textbook from the College of Liberal Arts, The University of Texas.

U.S. Government

  • Energy Profile for Texas- Economic, environmental, and energy data
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Texas
  • Texas State Facts from USDA
  • South and West Texas, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary

Preceded by
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on December 29, 1845 (28th)
Succeeded by

Coordinates: 31°N 100°W / 31°N 100°W / 31; -100