Located in south central United States, the Lone Star state of Texas is the second largest state in the country, after Alaska. Due to its irregular shape, the state shares borders with New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, and is separated from Mexico by the Rio Grande River in the south. The capital of Texas is Austin, with Houston being the largest city and Dallas the biggest metropolitan area.
Resting at the southernmost part of the Great Plains region, Texas is perhaps best known for its image of ‘cowboy country’ due to the expanses of barren plains and prairie and the desert of Big Bend. However, because of the immense size of the state, Texas defies being categorized as having any one predominant geographical feature, possessing areas of rolling hills, pine woodlands and deciduous semi-forests as much as windswept cattle plains, with an equally diverse range of climates from an arid desert climate in the southwest around El Paso to the humid sub-tropical weather of the east.
Travelers might want to avoid this part of America from April to July, as violent thunderstorms are commonplace. Texas is well known as a tornado magnet and is subject to the most tornados of any state in the US; sometimes as many as 140 annually. Owning to its large oil refining and manufacturing industries, Texas is also the world’s seventh largest producer of greenhouse gases. The quality of the air in many parts of the state does not meet federal standards.
Due perhaps to the amount of toxic chemicals in the Texan air, the state boasts a number of unusual attractions. The Cathedral of Junk in Austin is a backyard monument constructed of CDs, TVs and everything in between, containing over 60 tons of discarded brick-a-brack intertwined with years of sub-tropical vegetation. In San Antonio, the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum hosts a collection of stuffed, freak animals, antler art and other oddities like a giant, woolly mammoth’s head made of steel wool and a cathedral built from 50,000 match sticks.
Regardless of the bizarreness of some of the state’s highlights, 20 million tourists visit Texas every year, so it can’t be all that bad.