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Padre Island is the largest of the Texas barrier islands and is the world's longest barrier island. It is part of the U.S. state of Texas. The island is located along Texas' southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico and is noted for its white sandy beaches at the south end. Meaning father in Spanish, it was named after Father José Nicolás Ballí (c.1770-1829), who owned the island and served as a missionary priest and collector of finances for all the churches in the Rio Grande Valley. He also founded the first mission in present-day Cameron County.
Padre Island is the second-largest island by area in the contiguous United States, after Long Island in New York on the Atlantic Coast. It is about 113 miles (182 km) long and 1.8 miles (3 km) wide, stretching from the city of Corpus Christi, in the north, to the resort community of South Padre Island in the south. The island is oriented north-south, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on the east, and Laguna Madre on the west. The island's northern end connects to Mustang Island by roadway. The southern end of the island is separated from Brazos Island by the Brazos Santiago Pass.
The town of South Padre Island is located on its southern end, but the island as a whole is sparsely populated. The central part of the island is preserved in a natural wild state as Padre Island National Seashore. Since 1964, the island has been divided by the artificial Port Mansfield Channel. The terms "North Padre Island" and "South Padre Island" are often used to refer to the separated portions of the island. Padre Island is included within the jurisdictions of Cameron, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, and Willacy counties in Texas.