Texas, constituent state of the United States of America. It became the 28th state of the Union in 1845. Texas occupies the south-central segment of the country and is the largest state in area except for Alaska. The state extends nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from north to south and about the same distance from east to west.
Water delineates many of its borders. The wriggling course of the Red River makes up the eastern two-thirds of Texas’s boundary with Oklahoma to the north, while the remainder of the northern boundary is the Panhandle, which juts northward, forming a counterpart in the western part of that state. The Sabine River forms most of the boundary with Louisiana to the east, where by land it is bounded by Arkansas as well. The crescent-shaped coastline of the Gulf of Mexico lies to the southeast, and the Rio Grande carves a shallow channel that separates Texas from Mexico to the southwest. The state of New Mexico lies to the west. Austin, in the south-central part of the state, is the capital.
The vastness and diversity of Texas are evident in nearly all aspects of its physical features, economy, history, and cultural life. The territory of Texas was part of the Spanish Empire for more than a century. It was then part of the new country of Mexico from 1821 to 1836, when it gained its independence, and had a short-lived existence as a republic before joining the Union. The image of Texas was that of a raw and lawless frontier when it relinquished its independence to become a state. Although Texans still identify strongly with their cowboy heritage, the state’s image of Texas changed dramatically over the course of the 20th century; present-day Texas is known for its great agricultural wealth, major oil and natural gas production, industry and finance, huge urban centres that foster a cosmopolitan cultural life, and seemingly unending stretches of high prairie and ranges devoted to cattle and cotton.