the state

Texas General Information

Texas

 

Abbreviation: TX

Population: 26,448,193

Land Area: 261,797
(sq. mi.)

 

Texas is the second most populous (after California) and the second-largest of the 50 states (after Alaska) in the United States of America, and the largest state in the 48 contiguous United States. Geographically located in the South Central part of the country, Texas shares an international border with the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the south and borders the U.S. states of 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 over 26.4 million residents (July 2013) [8]

Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States, while San Antonio is the second largest in the state and seventh largest in the United States. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest United States metropolitan areas, respectively. Other major cities include El Paso and Austin—the state capital. Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify Texas as a former independent republic and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texas state seal today.[9] The origin of the state name, Texas, is from the word, “Tejas”, which means ‘friends’ in the Caddo language.[10]

Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes that resemble both the American South and Southwest.[11] Although Texas is popularly associated with the Southwestern deserts, less than 10 percent of the land area is desert.[12] Most of the population centers are located in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bend.

The term “six flags over Texas“, as can be seen in the Grand Prairie-based large national and international amusement park operator Six Flags, came from the several nations that had ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony in Texas. Mexico controlled 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 set off a chain of events that caused the Mexican–American War in 1846. A slave state, Texas declared its secession from the United States in early 1861, joining the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. After the war and its restoration to the Union, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.

One Texas industry that thrived after the Civil War was cattle. Due to its long history as a center of the industry, Texas is associated with the image of the cowboy. The state’s economic fortunes changed in the early 20th century, when oil discoveries initiated an economic boom in the state. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2010 it shares the top of the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with California at 57.[13] With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the nation in export revenue since 2002 and has the second-highest gross state product.

South Dakota General Information

South Dakota

 

Abbreviation: SD

Population: 844,877

Land Area: 75,885
(sq. mi.)

South Dakota Listeni/ˌsθ dəˈktə/ is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes. South Dakota is the 17th most extensive, but the 5th least populous and the 5th least densely populated of the 50 United States. Once the southern portion of the Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota. Pierre is the state capital and Sioux Falls, with a population of about 159,000, is South Dakota’s largest city.

South Dakota is bordered by the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. The state is bisected by the Missouri River, dividing South Dakota into two geographically and socially distinct halfs, known to residents as “East River” and “West River“.[7] Eastern South Dakota is home to most of the state’s population, and fertile soil in this area is used to grow a variety of crops. West of the Missouri, ranching is the predominant agricultural activity, and the economy is more dependent on tourism and defense spending. The Black Hills, a group of low pine-covered mountains, are located in the southwest part of the state. The Black Hills are sacred to the Sioux. Mount Rushmore, a major tourist destination, is located there. Other attractions in the southwest include Badlands and Wind Cave national parks, Custer State Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and historic Deadwood. South Dakota experiences a temperate continental climate, with four distinct seasons and precipitation ranging from moderate in the east to semi-arid in the west. The ecology of the state features species typical of a North American grassland biome.

Humans have inhabited the area for several millennia, with the Sioux becoming dominant by the early 19th century. In the late 19th century, European-American settlement intensified after a gold rush in the Black Hills and the construction of railroads from the east. Encroaching miners and settlers caused conflict that triggered a number of Indian wars, ending with the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. Key events in the 20th century included the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, increased federal spending during the 1940s and 50s for agriculture and defense, and an industrialization of agriculture which has much reduced family farming.

While several Democratic senators have represented South Dakota for multiple terms at the federal level, the state government is largely dominated by the Republican Party, whose nominees have carried South Dakota in each of the most recent 12 presidential elections. Historically dominated by an agricultural economy and a rural lifestyle, South Dakota has recently sought to diversify its economy in areas, including biomedical research and alternative energy fuels, to attract and retain residents. South Dakota’s history and rural character still strongly influence the culture of the state.

 

Alabama General Information

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Abbreviation: AL

Population: 4,833,722

Land Area: 50,744
(sq. mi.)

Alabama (Listeni/ˌæləˈbæmə/) is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th-most extensive and the 23rd-most populous of the 50 United States. At 1,300 miles (2,100 km), Alabama has one of the longest navigable inland waterways in the nation.[6]

From the American Civil War until World War II, Alabama, like many Southern states, suffered economic hardship, in part because of continued dependence on agriculture. Despite the growth of major industries and urban centers, White rural interests dominated the state legislature until the 1960s, while urban interests and African Americans were under-represented.[7]

Following World War II, Alabama experienced growth as the economy of the state transitioned from one primarily based on agriculture to one with diversified interests. The establishment or expansion of multiple United States Armed Forces installations added to the state economy and helped bridge the gap between an agricultural and industrial economy during the mid-20th century. The state economy in the 21st century is dependent on management, automotive, finance, manufacturing, aerospace, mineral extraction, healthcare, education, retail, and technology.[8]

Alabama is unofficially nicknamed the Yellowhammer State, after the state bird. Alabama is also known as the “Heart of Dixie“. The state tree is the Longleaf Pine, and the state flower is the Camellia. The capital of Alabama is Montgomery. The largest city by population is Birmingham.[9] The largest city by total land area is Huntsville. The oldest city is Mobile, founded by French colonists.[10]