It’s hard to grasp the size of Texas until you’ve been driving across it for ten hours, stopped for gas twice, and you are yet to reach the middle. In fact, El Paso Texas is closer to Needles in California than it is to Dallas, and you’d have to cross the states of New Mexico and Arizona to get there; meanwhile, the journey from El Paso to Dallas would still leave you with a solid two-hour drive before reaching the eastern border of the Lone Star state. This is especially hard to grasp if you, like me, originate from the UK, where the longest stretch of "Motorway" is the M6 at 277 miles - coverable in 4 non-stop hours at a speed of 70mph. Here in the US, the 2460 mile Interstate 10 has 877 miles just in Texas! The Texas section alone is almost 50% longer than England and Scotland combined, and would take over 14 non-stop hours at the same speed. Not to mention, you're on the other side of the road... Suffice to say, Texas is really, really big.
Bordering Oklahoma to its north, Louisiana to its east, New Mexico to its west, and briefly partnering with Arkansas in its top-right corner, Texas represents 7.4% of the US’s total landmass, covering 268,581 square miles. That’s a staggering thought for a Brit. By comparison, the land and water mass of the United Kingdom, which comprises the four countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, totals a mere 93,628 square miles. That means you could fit the UK into Texas 2.5 times, and still have enough room to incorporate 17 Delawares. Texas’ largest county, Brewster, covers 6,208 square miles alone; that’s two Delawares and two Rhode Islands right there! It seems the reason “everything’s bigger in Texas” is, quite simply, because it can be.
All this space means more counties, so it’s no surprise that Texas tops the list in this regard with 254, a clear mile from the runner-up, Georgia, with 159. However, for all of its landmass, Texas is home to only two of the US’s 63 National Parks, and they are far from being the largest: Big Bend National Park places 14th in the Largest National Parks list, with Guadalupe Mountains National Park placing 42nd. In fairness, Alaska, the largest US state, takes 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th place, as well as 6th, 7th & 9th. And as Texas can fit into Alaska almost 2.5 times (mind-boggling), I guess 14th isn’t so bad. However, the surprising fact for me was discovering that Texas has only one natural lake, Caddo Lake, which it shares at its border with Louisiana (so I guess it really has only half of a lake?). Covering an average of 26,800 acres, Caddo Lake can expand up to 35,000 acres during the wet season. Mostly comprising swampland made up of canals and creeks, it is home to over 70 species of fish. But before you grab your rod and 6 cold ones, note this: there are also over 60 species of reptile in Caddo Lake, including the 160 lb, 2-foot long Alligator Snapping Turtle (with a bite force of 1000 lbs), and the 9-to-13-foot, 500-1000 lb American Alligator (with a bite force of 3000 lbs). It’s no wonder this lake is also home to a town named “Uncertain, Texas".
Known for being pretty flat, Texas' highest point resides in Guadalupe Peak, standing at only 8,751 feet. So it’s vast, it’s hot, and it’s flat. Yet somehow, Texas finds a way to put the “state” into “statement”. There are just so many impressive things about it: The dome of the Capitol Building in Austin, which opened on May 16, 1888, stands seven feet higher than that of the nation’s Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Their largest ranch, the aptly named “King Ranch”, is bigger than the State of Rhode Island. The first word ever spoken from the moon was “Houston”. There is a 41-mile stretch of tolled highway between Austin and San Antonio that allows a speed limit of 85mph. And for a brief period, Texas was even its own country; following offensive action by the Texas Revolution on October 9th, the first Declaration of Texas Independence was signed in Goliad On December 20, 1835 and it remained an independent nation until 1845. During that time, out of a total of approximately 200 countries in the world, Texas placed an impressive 39th.
In the years since, Texas has grown to contain three of the top 10 most populous cities in the United States, with Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio making the cut. It actually has four in the top 11, due to the more recent growth in Austin. Even so, Texas' population of 29m is spread across such vastness, that it averages to only 112 people per square mile. Compare that to my little corner of Europe, where we have 67m squeezed into a far smaller space, and the populous per square mile is 716. That means that if those 112 Texans stood equal distance apart in a mile-long line, they would be 47 feet apart, while in the UK they could hold a conversation without raising their voices, being separated by only 7 feet.