Sunday, February 5, 2012

Texas as a Country

If Texas were a country rather than merely a state (it was a country once, 1836-1845), it would fit between Nepal and Afghanistan. In the tabulation that follows, I show other comparative figures.


Population
GDP
(in $ billions)
Per capita income ($)
Land Area
(square miles)
Water as % of land area
Density (people per sq.m)
Nepal
26,840,935
35.813
1,270
56,827
2.80
199.3
Texas
25,674,681
597.041
37,706
268,581
2.50
98.1
Afghanistan
24,485,500
30.012
966
251,772
negl.
43.5

When we left Europe aboard the U.S.S. Muir as post-war migrants to America, the ship headed for New Orleans rather than, as usually, for New York. The reason was that our destination was to be Texas—not Missouri, where we actually ended up. The reason for the change? The man who was our “sponsor” died while we were on the Atlantic, and his son declined to honor that pledge; in effect it amounted to giving my father a job. We were able to find a new/old friend in Kansas City; she was also an emigrant; we’d known her in Europe. So we made the long trip by train to KC rather than some town in Texas the name of which is now lost.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened—how our lives might have been shaped—had we ended up Texans. Compared to its two “neighbors” in population size, Texas is the richest and in land area the largest. It is more densely settled than Afghanistan—indeed than the United States as a whole (87.4 persons/square mile)—and it does have a little water. The state’s motto is simply Friendship. In Missouri we had to remember our Latin to figure out the motto there: Salus populi suprema lex esto. Nicely ambiguous word that, salus. The founders certainly meant the welfare—of the people. But it could also be translated as salvation. Friendship, however, is what we feel for Texas. 

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