They say everything's bigger in Texas, from the wide-open sky to the big-city skyscrapers to the flavor of the brisket at the local barbecue joint ... and yes, the 10-gallon hats out on the range and the mile-high hair on the pageant stage certainly add to the state's over-sized reputation. Even those just passing through on their way to somewhere else can experience just how big Texas is as they attempt to reach a neighboring state, which can easily take the better part of a day or more.
Yet Texas is about so much more than its size; even among the melting pot that is the U.S., Texas has an unusual culture and a history like no other. From its winding path through colonialism to statehood to its role as host to major events that shaped not only the state itself but the nation. Today, this land of cattle, cowhands and country music has grown into a world way beyond what you may have seen on "Lonesome Dove" or "Walker, Texas Ranger." It's a state where some of America's biggest cities for business, finance and tech sit side by side with its largest ranches; where cosmopolitan and rural living co-exist, and arts, music and professional sports thrive (and yes, there's more than just rodeos!) So mount up and take our quiz to see how much you really know about the history, geography and people of this great state!
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Big Tex is a Texas-sized landmark serving as a symbol of the state. Where can you go to take in this 55-foot-tall icon?
A 55-foot-tall cowboy sporting size 70 boots, Big Tex has stood watch over the State Fair of Texas at Dallas Fair Park every year since 1952. Though this iconic figure burned down during the final weekend of the 2012 fair, it was quickly rebuilt in time for the 2013 season.
Texas is the 28th state, but can you guess what year it was officially granted state status?
Texas became the 28th U.S. state on March 4, 1845 ... just in time to shun the Union and join the Confederacy at the dawn of the Civil War. The pressure to leave the Union forced Gov. Sam Houston from office after he refused to swear allegiance to the Confederates.
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You've probably heard of many of the major cities in Texas, but can you guess which of these has the biggest population, with 2.3 million residents?
Topping out at over 2 million people, Houston is the largest city in the state in terms of population. It's followed by San Antonio, with 1.5 million, then Dallas, Austin and Ft. Worth/
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True Texans know that this San Antonio-based chain is THE place for burgers. Can you name the burger restaurant founded in Texas?
If you can recognize a Whataburger sack from just a glimpse of its orange and white stripes, you just be a Texan at heart. Founded in Corpus Christi in 1950, this chain now includes more than 800 restaurants, with at least 650 in Texas alone. McWho?
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It's not the biggest city in Texas, but it's been the capital since 1839. Name this city.
The southernmost capital city in the U.S., Austin is named for Stephen F. Austin, a settler who helped to colonize Texas in the 1820s. Originally called Waterloo, it has served as the Texas capital since 1839, and sits right in the heart of Texas Hill Country.
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Which river serves as a natural border between Texas and Mexico?
Running 1,900 miles from Colorado all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, the Rio Grande forms part of the border between Texas and Mexico. The cities of El Paso, Laredo and Brownsville are all situated along this mighty river.
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Identify the popular U.S. theme park chain whose name is rooted in Texas history, and which began in the city of Arlington.
Founded near Arlington in 1961, Six Flags is a chain of U.S. theme parks with over two dozen locations throughout the country. Its name comes from the fact that six flags have flown over the state, including the flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the independent Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the U.S. flag.
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OK, y'all; which of these is a nickname for Texas?
Prior to winning independence from Mexico, Texas was a province bearing a pair of stars on its flag. Once the state separated from Mexico, it dropped one of those stars from the flag, earning it the nickname The Lone Star State.
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The TV show "Friday Night Lights" was inspired by a deeply-held Texas tradition. Know what it is?
Texans take their high school football seriously, and some school stadiums are bigger than those found in colleges in other states. A 1990 non-fiction book following the Permian Panthers of Odessa as they fought for the state championship was transformed into the hit TV series "Friday Night Lights" in 2004.
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Even people who've never been to Texas know to "Remember the Alamo," but do you know what exactly the Alamo is?
Located in San Antonio, Texas, the Alamo is a mission founded by the Spanish in 1718. During the Texas Revolution, it was the site of a historic battle when a tiny group of Texans held off a huge number of Mexican soldiers for months before they were finally defeated. It was a major turning point in the Revolution, and a significant source of inspiration for those seeking independence.
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You've probably heard the phrase "Don't Mess with Texas," but do you know what cause inspired this slogan?
"Don't Mess with Texas" came about in 1985 as part of an anti-littering campaign developed by the Texas Department of Transportation. It was aimed at young males, who were statistically more likely than other groups to throw trash on the side of the road, and has since spread far beyond its original purpose to became a rallying cry for the spirit of Texans.
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The name Texas comes from the word "taysha" used in the native Caddo language. What does it mean?
Spanish conquistadors picked up the word taysha from native people speaking the Caddo language. While the word actually means friends or allies, these Spanish explorers assumed it was the name for the area, and it's why the state is now called Texas. It's also why the state uses a simple motto ..."Friendship."
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Yes, America's Independence Day of July 4th is a big deal, but do you know the date when Texas gained its independence from Mexico?
It was March 2, 1836, when Texas finally won its freedom from Mexico and adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence. It was signed by dozens of delegates belonging to the state's provisional government, which was known as the Consultation.
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Alaska is the biggest state in the U.S., but do you know where Texas ranks in terms of total square miles compared to all the states?
Believe it or not, Texas was the largest state in the Union for almost a century ... until Alaska became the 49th state in 1959 and stole the title, knocking Texas to second place. While Texas is massive at 268,000 square miles, Alaska is more than two times the size of the Lone Star State.
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Can you guess which of these larger-than-life figures died in the battle at the Alamo?
His name looms large in Texas legend, but Davy Crockett was actually a congressman from TN who fought and died in the battle at the Alamo in 1836. The infamous Clyde Barrow and partner in crime Bonnie Parker were also Texas natives, though they died in a hail of bullets in Louisiana in 1934, and probably never spent any time at the Alamo.
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Fields of this Texas state flower provide perfect spring backdrops for selfies. Know what it's called?
So-named because its petals form a shape like the bonnets worn by pioneer women, the bluebonnet has been the official state flower of Texas since 1901. Thanks to a beautification campaign by Lady Bird Johnson, these flowers are plentiful along Texas highways.
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It's hard for outsiders to grasp the true size of Texas. Can you guess how long it takes to cross the state by car from east to west?
No matter which major east-west highway you take, it takes roughly 11 hours to span the 800-plus miles separating Louisiana from New Mexico. The northern route along I-10 passes through San Antonio, Houston and El Paso, while the northern I-20 route takes drivers past Odessa, Abilene, Dallas and Tyler.
Guess which of these beloved carbonated soft drinks traces its roots to Waco, Texas.
Dr. Pepper was invented in the 1880s by a Waco pharmacist named Charles Alderton. While Coke and Pepsi may fly off the shelves faster than other soft drinks, Dr. Pepper does have one edge over these drinks; it came out earlier than both Coke, invented in 1886, and Pepsi, which was introduced in 1893.
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There's no shortage of pro sports teams in Texas, but do you know which of these cities is not home to an NFL, MLB or NBA team?
It may have an impressive number of tech firms and music venues, but one thing Austin lacks is a pro baseball, basketball or football team. Statewide, the NFL is represented by the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, while the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers represent the MLB. The state also has three NBA teams, including the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.
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Choose the Texas city that draws in visitors to stroll along its famous River Walk, a winding area of riverside shops, restaurants and galleries.
Major flooding in the 1920s led the government of San Antonio to redesign the area around the San Antonio River. Today this area is known as the River Walk, and is a major attraction for locals and visitors, who dine at waterside cafes, enjoy live music, browse shops and tour missions and galleries.
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Yes, they have the Cowboys, but what business was the city of Dallas originally built upon?
Ft. Worth was established in 1849, serving as a trade hub for local cattle ranchers. The completion of the Texas and Pacific Railway in the 1870s made Ft. Worth the center of the U.S. cattle business, and the historic city stockyards have since been transformed into a shopping and entertainment complex.
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An oil strike at Spindletop made Texas into an oil hub in 1901. Where did this historic discovery take place?
The city of Beaumont in Southeast Texas was the site of a major oil discovery in 1901. The historic event transformed Texas into one of the biggest players in the American oil industry and was a major factor in the growth of Houston, located just to the west of Beaumont.
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What is the name of the island near Houston that was nearly wiped off the map by a 1900 hurricane?
Incorporated in 1839, Galveston was a major port city throughout the second half of the 19th century. A 1900 hurricane that struck the island not only put an end to the city's financial success but also killed as many as 12,000 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the U.S.
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Texans love BBQ so much they'll wait all day for it, but which of these is true about barbecue served Texas-style?
Like many parts of the south, Texas has a distinctive style of barbecue. It typically involves brisket rubbed with only salt and pepper, then cooked low and slow for smokiness. Smoked sausage is another Texas specialty, and restaurants rise and fall on its quality.
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Do you know which of these makes the Texas State Capitol building in Austin stand out from other state capitol buildings?
Built in the Italian Revival style, the Texas State Capitol is made from local red granite, giving it a very unusual pink hue. This 1880s building also stands out because of its size ... it's the largest capitol building of any state in the country, and is even larger than the U.S. Capitol building in D.C.
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Can you pick the largest college in the state in terms of enrollment? Hint ... it's also one of the top five largest colleges in the country.
Opened in 1971, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas became Texas A&M in the 1960s. With more than 62,000 students, this College Station school is the largest in the stats, dwarfing even second-place institution University of Texas at Austin, which has just over 50,000 students.
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Sorry, but no self-respecting Texan would add this ingredient to a bowl of chili.
It doesn't matter how your grandpa made it ...Texans don't put beans in chili, period. Most people in the Lone State State will also skip over a bowl of chili containing chunks of tomatoes, preferring to stick to simple beef, chili pepper and tomato paste combos.
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Which of these is Austin's 6th Street most known for?
Since the '70s, 6th Street in downtown Austin has been a live music mecca. The countless bars and clubs in the area are mostly housed in old Victorian buildings, and the late night vibe has earned the area the nickname "Dirty Sixth."
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Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, but which European nation first visited Texas in 1519?
Spanish explorer Alonso Alvarez de Pineda was one of the first Europeans to venture into the land now known as Texas in 1519. While the French also made some half-hearted claims to the land in the 1680s, it was the Spanish who spent the 1700s establishing missions all over the area.
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Hey country fans ... which Texas town is home to Waylon and Willie and the boys?
The tiny southern Texas town of Luckenbach got a major boost in 1977 thanks to a Waylon Jennings song named in its honor. Jennings himself never made it to Luckenbach until 1996, when he played at a concert hosted by pal Willie Nelson.
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Juneteenth started in Texas. What event does this holiday celebrate?
While Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, slaves in Texas weren't officially freed until June 19, 1865. Today, this date is commemorated with Juneteeth festivities, which got their start in Texas but have since spread throughout the U.S.
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Think you know which city draws in half a million visitors each year with its City Limits music festival?
Austin calls itself "The Live Music Capital of the World," and nowhere is this musical heritage more evident than at the annual City Limits music festival. Inspired by a PBS musical performance show filmed in the city since the '70s, the festival takes place over three weekends each autumn, and has been welcoming music fans since 1992.
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The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a sad day in Texas history. Which city served as the backdrop to this tragedy?
Thirty-fifth President John F. Kennedy was traveling in an open-topped motorcade through Dealey Plaza in Dallas when he was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Though not as well known, then-Texas Gov. John Connally was also badly injured in the shooting. While Connally recovered, he never stopped arguing that more than one shooter had to have been involved in the attack that nearly took his life.
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Like all states, Texas has its own flag. Which of these colors is NOT found on the flag of the Lone Star State?
The flag of Texas shares the same color scheme as the American flag. Adopted in 1845, it has a single blue star and two large bars, one red and one white.
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Apollo 13 called out to Texas for help when a problem popped up out in space. What city did they reach out to?
The NASA Johnson Space Center has served as Mission Control for many space flights, including Apollo 11, which landed the first men on the moon in July 1969. You may also remember that astronauts aboard Apollo 13 stated, "Houston, we've had a problem" during their flight, letting Mission Control in Houston know that things had gone awry.
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California is the most populous U.S. state, with 40 million residents. Do you know how many people call Texas home?
Texas is not only the second largest state in terms of area, but also ranks second in population thanks to its 29 million residents. This is significantly more than Florida, which ranks third with 21 million.
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No young man in Texas would forget to get his date one of these the day before the big homecoming dance.
Forget about those delicate wrist corsages; Young men in Texas pin mums to their dates, which the gals wear on the day before homecoming. These aren't just plain old flowers though ... they are often decorated or arranged to form elaborate creations, and may include things like photos and stuffed animals to create a real spectacle.
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Yeah, Texas is huge, but it actually only borders four other states. Which of these states is not part of that group?
While Texas shares a very large chunk of its border with Mexico and the Gulf, it borders only a few U.S. states. They include New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Named for a major Texas city, which classic TV series captivated viewers as they waited to find out who shot J.R.?
The classic series "Dallas" let viewers follow the story of a rich Texas family named Ewing. A 1980 cliffhanger had everyone buzzing, with more than 80 million people tuning in to find out who shot J.R. ... spoiler alert ... it was Kristin. Sorry, but the secret has been out for 40 years or so.
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Want a Pepsi or Coca-Cola with that meal? If you're in Texas, you'll need to ask for this.
Each region of the U.S. has its own word for those bubbly carbonated soft drinks we crave. In the northeast and southwest, they're sodas, while they're always known as pop in the Midwest. Down in Texas, and much of the south, you'll want to ask for a Coke. Just be prepared, because the next question from your server will probably be, "What kind?"
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