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Extending back from the Gulf Coast for from thirty to fifty miles, an outcrop of underlying clays gives a flat, almost treeless tract running along the whole length of the coast and known as the Coast Prairie.
The first of these, nearest the coast, is called the Coastal Plain, consisting of Coast Prairies, a Tertiary area, and Black Prairies.
Black waxy calcareous clay soil, for the most part underlaid by prolific and widespread water-bearing formations, makes this region the great cotton and corn producing section, while oats, wheat, alfalfa, and sorghum are also extensively grown.
Wherever the climate becomes arid cattle raising increases as an industry.
The name, Texas, is probably derived from Tejas, the name of a friendly tribe of Indians met within the territory by the early Spanish explorers. Irrigation, however, in this south-western region makes the cultivation of sugar-cane and sorghum as well as cotton of some profit.
The state is bounded on the north by Oklahoma, on the west by New Mexico and Mexico, on the south by Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico, and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Favourable underground conditions make this Coast Prairie the location of important oil-fields.
In the east there are numerous small streams flowing south and east into the Gulf of Mexico, in the Trans-Pecos region there are practically no streams at all that reach the sea.
In the arid regions the drainage channels flow only for a short time after rainfall.
The annual rainfall on these mountains is as low as ten to fifteen inches, but irrigation of the valley lands is practised by means of impounded storm-water, and alfalfa and kafir-corn are commonly grown.
The eastern and northern part, where the rainfall reaches from forty to fifty inches annually, are suitable for rice culture, which is localized there; in the central portion along the coast where the rainfall is less, sugar-cane, fruit, and "truck" are extensively cultivated, while in the southwest, with a rainfall of only 20 to 28 inches annually, cotton culture and "cattle raising on the range" are the chief industries.
Different climatic conditions with respect to rainfall vary the products of different parts of this region.
The third natural province of Texas is the Plateau Province, having three great divisions: the Llano Estacado, Staked or Palisaded Plains, which extend beyond the limits of the state, and the Edward's and Stockton Plateau.
The Llano Estacado, a plateau 2500 to 4000 feet in elevation, derives its name from being itself an extensive uplifted mesa, surrounded, except on the Edward's Plateau side, by "breaks", cliffs, or walls, which, as palisades, have to be climbed before the plateau is attained.