Balanced Rock in Grapevine Hills, Big Bend National Park, Brewster, Texas, USA

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Still cherishing the memory that it was from 1836 to 1845 an independent nation in its own right, TEXAS stands proudly apart from the rest of the United States. While its 25 million residents are firmly bound together by a shared history and culture, the sheer size of Texas – 700 miles from east to west and more than 800 from top to bottom – gives it great geographical diversity.

The swampy, forested east is more like Louisiana than the pretty Hill Country or the agricultural plains of the northern Panhandle, while the tropical Gulf Coast has little in common with the mountainous deserts of the west. Changes in climate are dramatic: snow is common in the Panhandle, whereas the humidity of Houston is often unbearably thick.

There are 28 cities with a population of 100,000 or more, and each of the major places to visit are unique. Hispanic San Antonio, for example, with its Mexican population and rich history, has a laidback feel absent from commerce-driven Houston or Dallas, while trendy Austin revels in a lively music scene and an underground DIY ethos. One thing shared by the whole of Texas is state pride: Texas is a special place and its friendly residents know it.

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