The first Spanish conquistadors in the region known as Texas arrived in 1519. Between 1519 to 1848, all or parts of Texas were claimed by five countries: FranceSpainMexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America.

The first European to see Texas was Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, who led an expedition for the governor of Jamaica, Francisco de Garay, in 1520. While searching for a passage between the Gulf of Mexico and Asia, Álvarez de Pineda created the first map of the northern Gulf Coast. Between 1528 and 1535, four survivors of the Narváez expedition, including Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and Estevanico, spent six and a half years in Texas as slaves and traders among various native groups. Cabeza de Vaca was the first European to explore the interior of Texas.

The first European base was established in 1680, along the upper Rio Grande river, near modern El Paso with the exiled Spaniards and Native Americans from the Isleta Pueblo during the Pueblo Revolt, known as Popé’s Rebellion.  Several Roman Catholic missions were established in East Texas; they were abandoned in 1691. Twenty years later, concerned with the continued French presence in neighboring Louisiana, Spanish authorities again tried to colonize Texas. Over the next 110 years, Spain established numerous villages, presidios, and missions in the province. When Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821Mexican Texas was part of the new nation.

Santa Anna’s invasion of the territory after putting down the rebellion in Zacatecas provoked the conflict of 1836. The Texian forces fought and won the Texas Revolution in 1835–1836. Texas declared itself an independent nation, the Republic of Texas. In 1845, Texas joined the United States, becoming the 28th state, when the United States annexed it. Only after the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, did Mexico recognize Texan independence.