The Geography of Texas

Texas is situated in the southern half of the United States. The area of 268,571 squared miles is roughly twice the size of Germany and the only other state larger than Texas is Alaska. It is bordered to the south by Mexico and the separation is marked by the River Grande which acts as the boundary for 1255 miles from its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico to appoint upstream close to El Paso. The boundary line with Mexico is 1896 miles in total.

To the north the Red River acts as a boundary between Texas and both Oklahoma and Arkansas. To the East the Sabine River acts as a border with Louisiana, with the Gulf of Mexico being located in the far south-east of the state. The State is so large that it has two-time zones with 1 hour’s difference from east to west. There are 10 different climatic regions, and the regions of the State can vary very differently in terms of topography, soils, vegetation and land use.

The Gulf Coastal plains wrap themselves around the coastline with the Gulf of Mexico in the south east of the State. The region has tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests and western

The Coastal Plains

gulf coastal grasslands. The area also has wetlands, salt marshes and mangrove swamps.

The interior lowlands are gently rolling hills that are dominated by pinewood forests. The further west the drier this region becomes, and the forests are then secondary to the prairies and brush lands. The areas in the past has been used for extensive cattle ranching and the soils are also strong enough for arable use.

The Great plains dominate much of the interior of Texas and they vary between the high plains and the low plains. The high plain is a vast area covered with alluvial material and this has created the grasslands of the region. The low plains are separated from the high plains by the Caprock Escarpment and where rivers are present the change in altitude has resulted in huge canyons such as Palo Duro Canyon and Blanco Canyon being formed. This escarpment is a feature on the landscape through several counties.

The Northern plains are dominated by wheat farming, while the Southern Plains has cotton production as its main agricultural output. Both of these areas provide the State with great income from their vast outputs of agricultural produce. The Basin and Range province is found in West Texas and this is the only part of the State that can be regarded as mountainous. Close to the New Mexico border are the Guadalupe Ranges and within them is Guadalupe Peak which at 8,749 feet is the highest point in Texas.

The Guadalupe Peak

A short distance to the east of El Paso is the Diablo basin. The region is drained by a number of rivers that flow into inland salt lakes. These lakes are often dry during arid periods and the salt in the past has been commercially extracted. The Davis Mountains receive more rainfall than the other mountains in Texas which produces denser vegetation than the other mountainous areas. This extra rainfall produces the San Solomon Springs at the northern base of the mountains.

Texas is such a huge expanse that it is no surprise that it contains such a wide range of landscapes. It is this variety that has enabled Texans to successfully farm the land, and along with exploiting the minerals available has provided the State with a steady source of income.