The state of Texas is the second-largest in the United States in both population and area. After gaining independence from Mexico in 1836, Texas gained statehood in 1845. It is home to some of the largest cities in the United States, including Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
Houston is the largest city in Texas, and the fourth -largest in the United States, with an estimated population in the city itself of 2.1 million people, with 5.54 million people living in the Houston metro area (as of July 2006). Home to 18 Fortune 500 companies, Houston's economic base is built around energy, technology, aerospace, medicine, and manufacturing.
The city also has plenty of tourist attractions. It's biggest tourist draw is the Johnson Space Center, where America's astronauts are trained, and where NASA's Mission Control runs America's manned space missions, including the International Space Station. It also his attractions such as the Houston Zoo, and the George Ranch Historical Park, which is the oldest working ranch in the country. Sports fans can get their fix from Major League Baseball's Astros, the NFL Texans, the NBA Rockets, the Dynamo (MLS), or minor-league hockey with the AHL's Aeros.
The second-largest city in Texas, San Antonio has more than 1.35 million residents. Its major industries are services, manufacturing, and government. The San Antonio area is home to four U.S. military bases: Brooks Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base and Fort Sam Houston (an Army base).
The Alamo, the scene of the famous battle of the Texas Revolution, is located in San Antonio, and is the city's top tourist attraction. The River Walk is an area of the city along the San Antonio River where tourists can walk along the river and visit shops, bars, and restaurants. Animal lovers can visit Sea World San Antonio, and sports fans can catch a Spurs game or play a round of golf on one of the city's many courses.
With an estimated population of over 1.2 million people, Dallas is Texas' third-largest city, and the eighth largest in the United States. Dallas' largest industries are trade, transportation, and utilities; professional and business services; and government.
Major tourist attractions in Dallas include Six Flags Over Texas/Hurricane Harbor, the Dallas World Aquarium, the Dallas Zoo, and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which features an exhibit on President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. The city is also home to major league franchises in the NFL (Cowboys), NHL (Stars), NBA (Mavericks), and the MLS (FC Dallas), while MLB's Texas Rangers play in nearby Arlington. Dallas is also home to one of college football's oldest bowl games, the Cotton Bowl.
The capital of Texas, Austin was founded in the mid-1800s. The city is the fourth largest city in Texas with more than 700,000 residents. Being the state capital, government is a major player in the local economy. The University of Texas calls Austin home, making it a major college town.
Austin also has a thriving music scene. Every year, it hosts the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival, an event that gathers 1800 bands in a celebration of music, film, and interactive exhibits. It's also home to the Austin City Limits, the longest-running music program on American television. While Austin doesn't have a major league team in any sport, the University of Texas Longhorns allow Austinites to get their sports fix.
Texas' fifth largest city is Fort Worth, with more than 650,000 residents. As a stop on the Chisholm Trail, it became a major player in the cattle trade in the 1800s, leading to the construction of the Fort Worth Stockyards. While part of the Stockyards has become an entertainment district with stores, restaurants, and bars, they still have a daily cattle drive, as well as the Fort Worth Stock Show, and rodeos, honoring their Western roots.
Texas Christian University is based in Fort Worth, and TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium is the home of the Armed Forces Bowl, as well as Horned Frog football. Racing fans can catch their favorite NASCAR and IndyCar drivers at Texas Motor Speedway, and the PGA Tour has the Bank of America Colonial Golf Tournament every year.