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Texas ( /ˈtɛksəs/ (help·info)) is the second largest U.S. state in both area and population, and the largest state in the contiguous United States. Located in the South Central United States, Texas is bordered by Mexico to the south, New Mexico to the west, Oklahoma to the north, Arkansas to the northeast, and Louisiana to the east. Texas has an area of 268,820 square miles (696,200 km2), and a growing population of 24.6 million residents. Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States, while Dallas–Fort Worth is the largest metropolitan area in the state and the fourth-largest in the nation. Other major cities include San Antonio, El Paso, and Austin—the state capital. Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State, for historical reasons.
Texas contains diverse landscapes, resembling in places both the Deep South and the Southwest. Traveling from east to west, one can observe piney woods and semi-forests of oak and cross timbers, rolling plains and prairie, rugged hills, and finally the desert of the Big Bend. The phrase "everything is bigger in Texas" derives in part from the state's geographic sprawl and the wide open spaces of its desert and prairie regions. Due to its long history as a center of the American cattle industry, Texas is associated throughout much of the world with the image of the cowboy.
Historically and culturally, Texas is usually considered part of the American South. However, with its Spanish and Mexican roots, and the topography and Southwestern vegetation generally west of a Fort Worth to Corpus Christi line, it can also be classified as part of the American Southwest. While residents acknowledge these categories, many claim an independent "Texan" identity superseding regional labels.
The term "six flags over Texas" comes from the multiple countries that have claimed the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short lived colony in Texas. Mexico owned the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845 it joined the United States as the 28th state. The state's annexation helped set off a chain of events that caused the Mexican–American War in 1846. Texas seceded from the United States in early 1861, joining the Confederate States of America on March 2, 1861.
In the early 1900s, oil discoveries initiated an economic boom in the state. Texas has since economically diversified. It has a growing base in high technology, biomedical research and higher education. Its gross state product is the second-highest in the nation.