The Gulf Coast section of the Coastal Plain is dominated by a belt of seaport cities, almost all of which are large oil and natural-gas centers.
Houston, with a population of 2,144,491 in 2006, is the dominant city on the coast. It is a shipping point for goods produced throughout the Southwest and has the central administrative offices of many oil, gas, and pipeline companies. Beaumont, with 109,856 people, and Port Arthur, with 55,745, are twin seaport cities in southeastern Texas. Galveston, with 57,523 people, and Texas City, with 44,274, are seaports on Galveston Bay south of Houston. Galveston is located on an island, and its long beaches on the Gulf side of the island make it a popular summer resort. Texas City leans more toward manufacturing. Corpus Christi, with 285,267 people, is the major city in the southern part of the Gulf Coast section.
The Black Prairies, stretching down the northwestern edge of the Coastal Plain, originally constituted Texas’s richest cotton-farming country. The farm population has declined there, but the cities have grown. Dallas, with 1,232,940 people in 2006, for example, has been at the center of one of the fastest-growing regions of the country. Just west of Dallas, between Dallas and Fort Worth, is Arlington, with a population of 367,197. Arlington is an industrial center and home of the Texas Rangers professional baseball team. San Antonio, with 1,296,682 people in 2006, was first settled by Spaniards. It became the capital of their Texas territory during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Later its growth was spurred by the development of the surrounding rich Black Prairies farming area. Austin has a population of 709,893 and is the capital city of Texas. Waco, with 121,496 people, is a transportation and distribution center.
Fort Worth, with 653,320 people in 2006, is the major metropolitan center of the Central Lowland. Although Fort Worth and Dallas are only 50 km (30 mi) apart, Dallas tends to face east in its business interests and Fort Worth is more concerned with the farmlands, ranchlands, and oil fields to the west. Wichita Falls, with 99,354 people, is another large city in the Central Lowland. Its rapid growth has been spurred by the discovery of large petroleum deposits nearby.
The Basin and Range province is largely unpopulated. Great expanses of land are too mountainous and dry to support human habitation. Some scenic parts of this country are held in state and national parks, yet there are also important ranchlands there. El Paso, with 609,415 people in 2006, is the major city in the Basin and Range province.
The eastern Texas section of the Coastal Plain, or that portion of the Coastal Plain lying inland from the Gulf Coast and east of the Black Prairies, was one of the first parts of the state to be settled by farmers from states to the east. It was a cotton-growing region, and after the abolition of slavery many of the cotton lands were farmed by black and white tenant farmers, operating largely as sharecroppers. In 1930, in some of the counties of eastern Texas, as many as 60 percent of the farmers were tenants. It is in this part of Texas that the farm population has declined the most. Farm tenancy has also dropped sharply. Some counties have lost as much as half their population since the 1930s. The southern Texas section of the Coastal Plain is much more thinly populated than the Gulf Coast section.
There are no seaports, except at the mouth of the Río Grande, and not many large towns. Generally this land is ranching country. There are only two sizable concentrations of population, the city of Laredo and a cluster of cities near the mouth of the Río Grande. Laredo, with a 2006 population of 215,484, is located on the Mexican border. Through the city is funneled a great deal of traffic and trade between Mexico and the United States. Brownsville, with 172,437 people, is the largest of a belt of cities that dominates the Río Grande Valley from the Gulf Coast to a point 100 km (60 mi) inland. The High Plains section of the Great Plains extends over most of the Texas Panhandle. The population has increased considerably as ranching has given way to crop farming.
More important, several towns and cities have grown very rapidly as agricultural or petroleum and natural gas centers. Amarillo, with 185,525 people in 2006, has been replaced by Lubbock, with 212,169 people, as the largest city of the High Plains. Lubbock has grown rapidly with the development of irrigated cotton farming in the surrounding area. The Edwards Plateau, the rough southern part of the Texas Great Plains, is thinly populated. Some people in the rugged Hill Country support themselves through tourism. San Angelo, with 88,300 people, is the only city of substantial size on the plateau. "Texas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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