Rio Grande Valley

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For the town, see Panhandle, Texas.
Rio Grande Valley
Region
Country  US
State  Texas
Population 1,305,782 (2012)
Timezone Central (UTC-6)
Area code 956
Map of the Rio Grande Valley
Website: Handbook of Texas: Rio Grande Valley
This article is about the Lower Rio Grande Valley. For the New Mexico wine region along the Middle Rio Grande Valley, see Middle Rio Grande Valley AVA.

The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) or the Lower Rio Grande Valley (when referring to the eight county region), informally called The Valley, is an area located in the southernmost tip of South Texas. It lies along the northern bank of the Rio Grande, which separates Mexico from the United States.

The Rio Grande Valley is not a valley, but a floodplain containing many oxbow lakes or resacas formed from pinched-off meanders in earlier courses of the Rio Grande. Early 20th-century land developers, attempting to capitalize on unclaimed land, utilized the name "Magic Valley" to attract settlers and appeal to investors. The Rio Grande Valley is also called El Valle, the Spanish translation of "the valley", by those who live there.[1] The residents of the Rio Grande Valley occasionally refer to the area as "El Mágico Valle del Río Grande" ("The Magical Valley of the Rio Grande"), and also simply by the initials R.G.V.

The main region is made up of four counties: Starr County, Hidalgo County, Willacy County, and Cameron County. As of January 1, 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of the Rio Grande Valley at 1,305,782.[2] According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008, 86 percent of Cameron County, 90 percent of Hidalgo County, 97 percent of Starr County, and 86 percent of Willacy County are Hispanic.[3]

The largest city is Brownsville (Cameron County), followed by McAllen (Hidalgo County). Other major cities include Harlingen, Edinburg, Mission, Rio Grande City and Pharr.[4]

Tourism[edit]

The Valley encompasses several landmarks that attract tourists, and is primarily known for South Padre Island. Popular destinations include Port Isabel Lighthouse, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. The Valley is a popular waypoint for tourists seeking to visit Mexico. Popular destinations across the border include: Matamoros, Nuevo Progreso, Río Bravo, and Reynosa, all located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The Valley also attracts large numbers of tourists from the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Distrito Federal, and Tamaulipas.

Notable people[edit]

A list of notable people who were born, lived, or died in the Rio Grande Valley includes:

Places of historical interest[edit]

The First Lift Station in Mission, Texas once provided water for irrigating the crops of the early Rio Grande Valley.

Economy[edit]

The Valley is historically reliant on agribusiness and tourism. Cotton, grapefruit, sorghum, maize, and sugarcane are its leading crops, and the region is the center of citrus production and the most important area of vegetable production in the State of Texas. Over the last several decades, the emergence of maquiladoras (factories or fabrication plants) has caused a surge of industrial development along the border, while international bridges have allowed Mexican nationals to shop, sell, and do business in the border cities along the Rio Grande. The geographic inclusion of South Padre Island also drives tourism, particularly during the Spring Break season, during which South Padre Island becomes reminiscent of New Orleans during Mardi Gras.[citation needed] During the winter months, many retirees arrive to enjoy the warm weather, access to pharmaceuticals and health care in Mexican border crossings such as Nuevo Progresso. There is a substantial health-care industry with major hospitals and many clinics and private practices in Brownsville, Harlingen, and McAllen.

Box of Oranges, from the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas (postcard, c. 1912-1924)

Texas is the third largest producer of citrus fruit in United States, the majority of which is grown in the Rio Grande Valley. Grapefruit make up over 70% of the Valley citrus crop, which also includes orange, watermelon, tangerine, tangelo and Meyer lemon production each Winter.[6]

There are six semi-professional sports teams that play in the Rio Grande Valley: the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings (baseball), the Edinburg Roadrunners (baseball), the Rio Grande Valley Flash (indoor soccer), the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (basketball), the Rio Grande Valley Bravos (soccer), and the RGV Sol (indoor football).

Education[edit]

Colleges and universities located in the Rio Grande Valley include:

Texas Southmost College

In 2015, UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American will merge to become The University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley. The new university will include a medical school.

Hospitals[edit]

  • Cornerstone Regional Hospital, Edinburg, Texas
  • Edinburg Children's Hospital, Edinburg, Texas
  • Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, Edinburg, Texas
  • Harlingen Medical Center, Harlingen, Texas
  • McAllen Heart Hospital, McAllen, Texas
  • McAllen Medical Center, McAllen, Texas
  • Rio Grande Regional Hospital, McAllen, Texas
  • Rio Grande State Hospital, Harlingen, Texas
  • Solara Hospital, Harlingen, Texas
  • VA Health Care Center at Harlingen. Harlingen, Texas
  • Valley Baptist Medical Center, Harlingen, Texas
  • Valley Baptist Medical Center, Brownsville, Texas
  • Valley Regional Medical Center, Brownsville, Texas
  • Knapp Medical Center, Weslaco, Texas
  • Mission Regional Medical Center, Mission, Texas

Media[edit]

Magazines[edit]

Newspapers[edit]

Local Blogs[edit]

Television[edit]

Radio[edit]

References[edit]

http://wintertexaninfo.com The Winter Texan Connection

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°13′N 98°07′W / 26.22°N 98.12°W / 26.22; -98.12