Geographical Regions of Texas
by
Frank Emsoff
4 – 13 – 99


Abstract:

The geographical or physical regions of Texas are divisions of three basic North American Regions. Texas divides into six regions: the Coastal Plains, Central Lowlands, Central Hills, Edwards Plateau, High Plains, and the Basin Range. This report will discuss these regions and their distinct characteristics.


Table of Contents

Introduction
Coastal Plains Region
Lower Rio Grande Valley
Coastal Lowlands
East Texas
Grand Prairie
South Texas Plain
Central Texas
Central Lowlands Region
Central Hills Region
Edwards Plateau Region
Agricultural Divisions of Central Texas
Canadian Brakes
Rolling Plains
Edwards Plateau
High Plains Basin and Range Region
High Plains
Basin and Range
Agricultural Divisions of the High Plains, and Basin and Plains Region
Northern High Plains
Southern High Plains
Mountains and Basins
Upper Rio Grande Valley
Conclusion
Works Cited


National Standards for Geography

The three National Standards for Geography that are discussed in this paper are Texas’s physical regions and the human systems that are related to these regions, the different characteristics of each region of Texas, and not only the different physical characteristics, but also the human characteristics in these different regions.


Introduction

The granddaddy of the continuous forty-eight states, Texas has 267,399 square miles, and stretches 773 miles from east to west and 860 miles from north to south. Each major geographical region contains sub-regions that are devoutly different in their physical characteristics. This report will discuss the six major physical regions of Texas and their widely different characteristics (http://www.Instar.com/mall/txtrails/regions.htm). Check the web site out at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us under the heading Nature to see a detailed map of the natural Regions of Texas.

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Coastal Plains Region

We will begin the review of the regions of Texas with the Coastal Plains. The Coastal Plains is the largest region in the state. The region is located in the east and southeastern parts of Texas, and covers 120,000 square miles. The Coastal Plains extends inward from the Gulf Coast from 150 to 350 miles, and has an elevation ranging from 800 to 1,000 feet above the sea level (1 p. 37). This region consists of lines to hills with low lands in between, also known as belt topography. Nine major rivers cross over the Coastal Plains Region. Along with many rivers, the Gulf supplies a major fishing industry. Shrimp is a very important industry for this region, and they are shipped to fine restaurants all across the United States.

The Coastal Plains consist of a number of natural resources. Petroleum and natural gas are located off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and along the Texas coast. There are two types of coal mined in the Coastal Plains: Bituminous coal, which has a high percentage of carbon, and Lignite coal, which contains less carbon (sometimes referred to as brown coal). Timber is another important resource produced mostly in the eastern part of the Coastal Plains and is a valuable component used in steel production.

The Coastal Plains region consists of three basic types of vegetation: the savannas, which consist of mostly grass, the prairies or plains, which consist of flat land and the presence of trees, and finally, the forests, that consist of many trees growing closely together. These basic vegetation regions divide the Coastal Plains into five agricultural areas.

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Lower Rio Grande Valley

The Lower Rio Grande Valley is located in the very southern tip of Texas. This region contains a good amount of alluvial soils, which are soils that are formed from the slowing at the mouth of the Rio Grande (1 p. 42). The Rio Grande in this part of Texas provides the irrigation for many farms. The mild winter temperatures in this area result from the low elevations and the southern location. The winter temperatures almost never drop below freezing, allowing the growing of crops such as citrus, cotton, and vegetables. This region is the only region in Texas where the winter temperatures are mild enough to support citrus crops.

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Coastal Lowlands

The Coastal Lowlands is located northeast of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and runs along the Gulf of Mexico. This region has a high rainfall average and a long average growing season. This climate supports crops such as rice, cotton, and grain sorghum. Rice is a very important crop in this region, and is exported to more than 100 foreign countries.

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East Texas

The East Texas region is located north of the Coastal Lowlands. The average growing season is approximately 245 days. This region also has a high rainfall, which gives rise to a very important lumbering industry, and a good supply of grasses for livestock grazing. Other important agricultural commodities include poultry, dairy, and cotton.

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Grand Prairie-Blackland Prairie

The Grand Prairie-Blackland Prairie is located west of the East Texas region. The growing season in this area averages 235 days out of a year. The important agricultural commodities in this region include cotton, grain sorghum, dairy farming, cattle, and poultry. This region is one of the state’s leading cotton producing areas (1 p. 45).

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South Texas Plain

The South Texas Plain is located southeast of the Grand Prairie area. The growing season of this area averages about 322 days per year. This area receives much less rainfall than the other regions in the Coastal Plains. Crops such as cotton, vegetables, and peanuts are produced where irrigation is present. Cattle production is the major agricultural commodity in the remaining areas of this region.

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Central Texas

There are three major regions in Central Texas: Central Lowlands, Central Hills, and Edwards Plateau. These regions stretch from the Oklahoma border to the Mexico border, and between the Coastal Plains and West Texas. Central Texas consists of three vegetations: savannas, forests, and prairies. These vegetations split Central Texas into the major regions above. Central Texas produces many important natural resources as well: These include coal, petroleum and natural gas, granite, graphite, gypsum, limestone, and marble.

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Central Lowlands Region

The Central Lowlands is located west of the Coastal Plain, east of the High Plains, and north of the Central Hills. This region has an elevation ranging from 894 to 1,983 feet above sea level (1 p. 57). The region contains narrow belts or lines of hills and wide valleys that run north to south.

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Central Hills Region

The Central Hills is located south of the Central Lowlands, west of the Coastal Plains, north of the Edwards Plateau, and east of the High Plains. The land varies throughout this region. Some of the hills may be considered mountains, and other areas are lower. Elevation of the flatter area of this region from 1,000 to 2,400 feet above sea level (1 p. 58). This region is also known as the Hill Country.

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Edwards Plateau Region

The Edwards Plateau is located south of the Central Hills, west of the Coastal Plains, and east of the Basin and Range region. This region also carries over south into Mexico. The elevations range between 2,000 and 3,000 feet above sea level (1 p. 58). The Edwards Plateau is, for the most part, flat, with exception to some areas that are lower due to erosion by the Llano, San Saba, and Padernales rivers.

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Agricultural Divisions of Central Texas

The difference between latitude, elevation, climate, and rainfall in the Central Lowlands, Central Hills, and the Edwards Plateau produce a variety of growing conditions (1 p. 60). These divisions divide these regions again into the Canadian Brakes, Rolling Plains, West Cross Timbers, and the Edwards Plateau.

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Canadian Brakes

The Canadian Brakes is a small cattle-raising area in the extreme northern part of the Central Lowland region (1 p. 60). This region is located by the Canadian River, and consists of very sandy soil. Farming is difficult in this region due to the breaks in the land; therefore, this region is set aside for cattle production.

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Rolling Plains

The mixed agricultural region occupies most of the Central Lowland and Central Hills regions. The agricultural commodities produced in this area are dairy cattle, beef cattle, wheat, peanuts, and oats. Oats are generally produced for livestock feed. The Rolling Plains are an important contributor of both oats and wheat, not only to their region, but also to the whole state.

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Edwards Plateau

The Edwards Plateau is located through the majority of the Edwards Plateau region. Agriculture is limited through this area due to the elevation and drier climate. Most of the agriculture in this area consists of cattle, sheep, and goat production. Texas produces nearly half of the world’s mohair and about 97 percent of the mohair produced in the United States each year (1 p. 62).

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High Plains And Basin And Range Region

The western and northwestern parts of Texas are occupied by two major regions: the High Plains and the Basin and Range region. They are bordered by Mexico, the three regions of Central Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma (1 p. 71). This large northwestern area of Texas produces many valuable natural resources such as petroleum and natural gas, raw materials for cement, copper, fluorspar, helium, marble, mercury, salt, sulphur, and talc.

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High Plains Region

The High Plains region is located in the very northwest portion of Texas. Most of this region is very flat. The early Texas travelers called this region the Llano Estacado, meaning staked plain, because the land was so flat they would drive stakes periodically to keep from getting lost. The elevation of the High Plains region ranges from a low of 2,500 to a high of 4, 000 feet above sea level (1 p. 71). In the High Plains are two popular regions. One is the break in plains often known as the Cap Rock. The other is the Permian Basin, a famous Texas oil-producing area.
 

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Basin And Range Region

The Basin and Range region is located in the western most portion of Texas. This area occupies the highest and most rugged parts of Texas (1 p. 72). This region’s elevation ranges from a low of 3,500 to a high of 8,000 feet above sea level (1 p. 72-73). At 8,000 feet is the highest peak in Texas, Guadeloupe Peak.

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Agricultural Divisions of The High Plains And The Basin And Range Region

Three major natural vegetation areas such as the plains grassland, mesquite savanna, and the desert shrub savanna divide these two regions further into the Northern High Plains, Southern High Plains, Mountains and Basins, and Upper Rio Grande Valley.

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Northern High Plains

As the name says, the Northern High Plains is located in the northern portion of the High Plains regions. The growing season is too short for cotton; however, wheat is the most important crop of this region. In addition to wheat farming, farmers of the Northern High Plains raise grain sorghum, vegetables, and cattle. In the winter, many of the wheat fields serve as grazing for cattle (1 p. 74)

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Southern High Plains

The Southern High Plains is located in the southern portion of the High Plains region. Most of the area is relatively flat, and the major crops are cotton and grain sorghum, which are irrigated by the Ogallalla Aquifer. The Ogallalla Aquifer and the irrigation from it enables the Southern High Plains to be one of the riches areas in the state. In addition to cotton and grain sorghum farming, vegetables, peanuts, and cattle are other agricultural commodities produced in this region (1 p. 75-76).

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Mountains and Basins

This region makes up the majority of the Basin and Range region. The land varies greatly along with the weather. Cotton is grown where water is available. Cattle are produced in areas were it is suitable for their production. Sheep are produced in the remaining areas where water and grazing are too limiting for cattle production.

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Upper Rio Grande Valley

The Upper Rio Grande Valley consists of a narrow strip of irrigated land that runs southeast from the westernmost point of Texas for about 75 miles (1 p. 76). The most important agricultural crops grown in this region are cotton and alfalfa. Along with these crops, dairy production is a major commodity in this area. The provide milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
 

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Conclusion

I hope that this report has broadened your knowledge of the geographical regions and characteristics of each region, the different regions within the major regions and their different characteristics. Texas, with its many geographical regions, elevations, and climates, is a valuable agricultural asset not only to the United States, but also to the world.

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Works Cited


    Anderson, N. Adrian and Ralph A. Wooster, Texas and Texans. Glencoe Publishing Company. Dallas TX., 1987. P. 25-83.
     

    "National Regions of Texas." http://www.1nstar.com/mall/txtrails/regions.htm (4-27-99)
     

    www.tpwd.state.tx.us "Nature" (4-27-99)

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Created  4-27-99

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