Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Texas, the ‘Lone Star State', is the second-largest state in the USA. Claimed by Spain, then France and Mexico, the state finally gained its independence in 1836. Texas borders Mexico along the Rio Grande and embraces vast mountain ranges and canyons to the west, lakes and pine forests to the east, and broad plains to the north. To the south are Gulf of Mexico beaches and low-lying alluvial plains. Rolling hill country and clear natural springs are at its heart.Its great wealth stems from its vast oil reserves. Houston is both the centre of the US oil industry, the space headquarters of the USA, and a thriving international port, being connected to the Gulf of Mexico by the 80km (50-mile) Houston Shipping Channel.Originally a trading post, Dallas is now an important centre for commerce and fashion. A sophisticated city with its glittering high-rise skyline, elegant stores, fine restaurants and a rich cultural life, it still possesses the much-renowned Texan hospitality and southwestern charm.Much more ‘western' in spirit, Fort Worth started as a military outpost and then became a cow town where cattlemen brought their herds to be shipped. Much of the Old West is preserved in Fort Worth today and it continues to be a centre for the cattle industry.