Texas is a huge state that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico in the southeast to the panhandle in the northwest. With coastline on the Gulf, some may wonder if Texas should be considered an East Coast or West Coast state. The quick answer is that Texas lies firmly within the South Central United States, along the Gulf Coast.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at Texas’ location relative to the continental coasts, its history and settlement, economy, culture and climate to show why it fits solidly as a Gulf state in the South Central region.
Texas’ Geographic Location
When it comes to Texas’ geographic location, there is often confusion about whether it is on the West Coast or the East Coast. To clarify this, let’s take a closer look at the state’s coastline and its position within the United States.
Texas shares no coastline with the Atlantic Ocean
Contrary to what some may believe, Texas does not have a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The state is not located on the East Coast. Its eastern border is actually formed by the Gulf of Mexico, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean.
However, Texas does not share a direct coastline with the Atlantic like states such as Florida or South Carolina do.
The panhandle reaches far west but not to the Pacific Coast
Texas’ panhandle region, located in the northern part of the state, reaches quite far west. However, it does not extend all the way to the Pacific Coast. This is a common misconception, as some people mistakenly assume that because the panhandle stretches far west, Texas must be on the West Coast.
In reality, the Pacific Coast is several states away from Texas.
Its Gulf Coast location puts it firmly in the South Central region
What truly defines Texas’ geographic location is its position along the Gulf Coast. The state’s southern border is formed by the Gulf of Mexico, which separates it from Mexico. This Gulf Coast location places Texas firmly in the South Central region of the United States.
So, while Texas may not be on the West Coast or the East Coast, it is undeniably a significant part of the Southern region of the country.
For further information and to explore more about Texas’ geography, you can visit the official website of the Texas General Land Office at https://www.glo.texas.gov/.
A Look at Texas History and Westward Expansion
When discussing the geographical location of Texas, it is important to understand the historical context of the state. Texas has a rich history that includes a significant role in westward expansion in the United States.
Spanish settlement focused on the Gulf Coast region
In the early 16th century, Spanish explorers arrived in the area now known as Texas. Their settlement efforts primarily focused on the Gulf Coast region, including areas near present-day Houston and Corpus Christi.
Spanish influence in the region continued for several centuries, even after Texas gained independence.
For more information on Spanish settlement in Texas, you can visit Texas State Historical Association.
The Republic of Texas emerged as its own nation
In 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico and became the Republic of Texas. This period marked a significant chapter in Texas history, as the state existed as a separate nation for nearly a decade.
The Republic of Texas encompassed a large portion of present-day Texas, including areas along the Gulf Coast and parts of what is now the western United States.
If you want to delve deeper into the history of the Republic of Texas, The Handbook of Texas Online provides extensive information.
Westward expansion opened the plains and panhandle
Following the annexation of Texas into the United States in 1845, westward expansion accelerated. This expansion opened up vast areas of the plains and panhandle regions of Texas. Settlements and towns began to emerge in areas such as Amarillo and Lubbock, shaping the landscape and culture of these regions.
For a detailed look at the history of westward expansion in Texas, Encyclopedia Britannica offers comprehensive information.
Economy and Industry
When it comes to the economy and industry, Texas is a powerhouse. The state’s diverse and robust economy plays a significant role in the nation’s overall economic growth. Texas is known for its thriving industries, including oil and gas production, shipping ports, and agriculture.
Oil and gas production dominates
Texas is famously known for its oil and gas production, which has been a driving force behind the state’s economy for decades. The state is home to the Permian Basin, one of the largest oil fields in the world.
With advanced drilling technologies and abundant reserves, Texas has become a leader in oil and gas production, contributing significantly to both the state and national energy supply. The oil and gas industry in Texas provides employment opportunities and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.
Major shipping ports line the Gulf Coast
While Texas may not be located on the West Coast or the East Coast, it does have a significant presence along the Gulf Coast. The state is home to several major shipping ports, including the Port of Houston, which is one of the largest ports in the United States.
These ports serve as crucial gateways for international trade, facilitating the movement of goods and commodities between Texas, the United States, and the rest of the world. The shipping industry in Texas plays a vital role in supporting economic growth and job creation.
Agriculture focuses on cattle ranching
As for agriculture, Texas is well-known for its vast cattle ranches and livestock production. The state has a long history of cattle ranching, and it continues to be a significant part of the agricultural industry. Texas ranks at the top in terms of beef production in the United States.
The favorable climate, wide-open spaces, and ample grazing land make it an ideal location for raising cattle. The beef industry in Texas not only supplies domestic markets but also exports to countries around the world, contributing to both the state and national economy.
Cultural Influences and Lifestyle
Diverse blend of Southern, Western and Mexican cultures
Texas is a state that boasts a unique blend of cultural influences from various regions. Its proximity to the Southern states, its Western heritage, and its historical ties to Mexico have all contributed to the diverse cultural landscape of the state.
The fusion of these different influences has created a rich tapestry of traditions, customs, and beliefs that can be seen in the everyday life of Texans. From the southern drawl in their accents to the Tex-Mex cuisine they enjoy, the cultural influences in Texas are unmistakable.
Music and food reflect its regional roots
Music and food are two aspects of Texan culture that strongly reflect its regional roots. Texas is known for its vibrant music scene, with genres such as country, blues, and rock having deep roots in the state.
From Willie Nelson to Beyoncé, Texas has been the birthplace of many influential musicians. Similarly, Texan cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors from Southern, Western, and Mexican cooking traditions.
Barbecue, Tex-Mex, and Southern comfort food are staples of the Texan culinary landscape, showcasing the diverse influences that shape the state’s gastronomy.
Major metropolitan hubs in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio
Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio are three major metropolitan hubs in Texas that epitomize the state’s unique lifestyle. Houston, with its diverse population and thriving arts scene, is often referred to as the cultural capital of Texas.
Dallas, on the other hand, is known for its bustling business district and vibrant nightlife. San Antonio, with its rich history and iconic landmarks such as the Alamo, offers a blend of cultural heritage and modern amenities.
These cities showcase the diverse and dynamic lifestyle that Texas has to offer.
Texas, being a large state, experiences a diverse range of climates across its different regions. The climate in Texas can be broadly categorized into three main types: humid subtropical climate, semi-arid climate, and arid climate.
Mostly humid subtropical climate across eastern half
The eastern half of Texas, including cities like Houston and Galveston, is characterized by a mostly humid subtropical climate. This means that the region experiences hot and humid summers, while winters are relatively mild.
Rainfall is abundant throughout the year, with frequent thunderstorms during the summer months.
Semi-arid and arid plains in the west
As you move towards the western parts of Texas, you’ll encounter semi-arid and arid plains. Cities like El Paso and Midland fall under this category. The climate in these areas is characterized by hot summers and mild winters.
Rainfall is significantly lower compared to the eastern half of the state, making these regions more prone to droughts.
Prone to Gulf hurricane strikes in the southeast
The southeastern part of Texas, particularly the Gulf Coast region, is susceptible to hurricane strikes. This area includes cities like Corpus Christi and Galveston. Due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Texas is vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes that form in the warm waters of the Gulf.
These hurricanes can bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and storm surges, posing a significant threat to coastal communities.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Texas has experienced some of the most devastating hurricanes in history, including Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The impact of these hurricanes can be felt not only in terms of property damage but also in terms of loss of life and displacement of communities.
It’s important to note that while Texas is not technically located on either the West Coast or the East Coast, its climate is influenced by various factors, including its geographical position and proximity to bodies of water.
In reviewing Texas’ geography, history, economy, culture and climate, it becomes clear the state fits solidly in the South Central region along the Gulf Coast. While the panhandle reaches far to the west, Texas’ identity grew from Spanish settlement and the establishment of the Republic of Texas within the Gulf Coastal Plain. Its economy relies on oil, shipping and ranching rooted in the southeast. With a unique blend of Southern, Western and Mexican influences, Texas culture reflects its crossroads location in the South Central United States. Its proximity to the Gulf leaves it vulnerable to hurricanes, while semi-arid plains stretch across the panhandle and west. So while its size and diversity may lead some to associate Texas with either coast, its identity is firmly tied to the Gulf as part of the South Central region.