Spanish explorers, including Álvar Núnez Cabeza de Vaca and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, were the first to visit the region in the 16th and 17th centuries. Americans, led by Stephen F. Austin, began to settle along the Brazos River in 1821 when Texas was controlled by Mexico. In 1836, following a brief war between the American settlers in Texas and the Mexican government, the Independent Republic of Texas was proclaimed and Sam Houston was appointed president. This war was famous for the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto.
The influence of Mexican culture and heritage lives on today in Corpus Christi, a city of almost 300,000 residents, predominantly Hispanic. The warm tropical climate brings thousands of tourists annually to visit Corpus Christi and the Gulf Coast resort area. The Port of Corpus Christi is the fifth largest in the United States and the engine that drives the South Texas economy. New to the port is the Texas Treasure Casino cruise ship, which docks at Harbor Island and often cruises to exotic international destinations.
There are several equally exciting local attractions in and around Corpus Christi, such as the Texas State Aquarium, the Museum of Science and History, the Centennial House and Fulton Mansion, and the U.S.S. Lexington Museum on the Bay. Downtown Corpus Christi is home to a unique entertainment district and the Downtown Seawall, an impressive waterfront wall and promenade. Music fans will enjoy the Selena Memorial, a statue honoring the Tejano singer Selena, who was one of the city's greatest stars before her tragic death.
Padre Island, the longest barrier island in the nation, neighbors Corpus Christi and is a premier vacation destination. Mustang Island is also a popular historic attraction. Its name was derived from Spanish explorers who brought wild horses, or "Mestenos," to the island in the 1800s. Other local points of interest are Port Aransas, the deep-sea fishing capital of Texas, Rockport/Fulton, the "Charm of the Texas Coast," and Kingsville, home of the famous King Ranch, one of the oldest working cattle ranches in the world.
Located in the center of the Texas coast on the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi is a tropical paradise famous for its premier resort appeal, low cost of living, warm Gulf waters, Hispanic culture and endless recreational opportunities. Corpus Christi is a hub for trips to the world-famous King Ranch and numerous destinations "South of the Border" in Mexico.