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Las Vegas, Nevada

North America

Nevada is a state located in the western United States. The population as of July 2004 was estimated to be 2,334,771, up nearly 17% from the 2000 census figure of 1,998,257. Nevada is the fastest growing state in the country. Between 2000 and 2003, Nevada's population increased 12.2%, while the USA's population increased 3.3%. Between 1990 and 2000, Nevada's population increased 66.3%, while the USA's population increased 13.1%.

Nevada's nickname is "The Silver State", and the state's motto is "All for Our Country". "Home Means Nevada" by Bertha Rafetto is the state song. The phrase "Battle Born" is on the state flag; "The Battle Born State" is the official state slogan, as Nevada was admitted into the union during the American Civil War. Despite the name's derivation from the Spanish word nevada meaning "snowy", the local pronunciation of the state's name is not "Ne-vah-da"; the middle syllable has a short a sound as in cat or hat. (Residents often regard the pronunciation as a test of whether visitors such as presidential candidates, have informed themselves about the state.) In 2005, the state issued a new series of license plates that list the name of the state as Nevada to help with the pronunciation problem. Several United States Navy ships have been named USS Nevada in honor of the state.
Background Information
In 14.08.1850, the U.S. Congress established the Utah territory which included the present day states of Utah, Idaho and Nevada. 1859 saw the discovery of the Comstock Lode, a rich outcropping of gold and silver, and Virginia City sprang up. This discovery brought a flood of miners, prospectors, merchants and others hoping to strike it rich.

On March 2, 1861, Nevada separated from the Utah territory and adopted its current name, shortened from Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "snowy range"). On October 31, 1864, just eight days prior to the presidential election, Nevada became the 36th state in the union. Statehood was rushed through despite Nevada's tiny population to help ensure Abraham Lincoln's reelection and post-Civil War Republican dominance in congress. As Nevada's mining-based economy tied it to the more industrialized Union, it was viewed as politically reliable (as opposed to the more agrarian and Confederate-sympathizing California). Nevada achieved its current boundaries on May 5, 1866 when it absorbed the portion of Pah-Ute County in the Arizona Territory west of the Colorado River. The transfer was prompted by the discovery of gold in the area, and it was thought that Nevada would be better able to oversee the expected population boom. This area includes most of what is now Clark County, Nevada.

Negotiations are currently underway for Nevada to annex Wendover, Utah, which would be merged with West Wendover, Nevada. This deal will require the permission of both the Nevada and Utah legislatures and the U.S. Congress.

Mining shaped Nevada's economy for many years. In the late 1800's, the Comstock Lode played out, and Nevada went into a tailspin. There was even talk of stripping away statehood, the only time in American history such an action was discussed in Congress. However, the rich silver strike at Tonopah in 1900 helped save the state. This was soon followed by strikes in Goldfield and Rhyolite in the following years. These strikes lasted well into the 1910s and made Nevada a dominant player in mining once again. Mines still control a good percentage of Nevada's economy. Gold from the Carlin Trend in Northern Nevada is the second richest in the world. Other minerals, such as copper, molybdenum, and lithium, are also mined.

Despite Nevada being the third oldest western state, it is referred to as the "Permanent Colony" as over 87% of the land is owned by the Federal Government. The primary reason for this is that homesteads were not permitted in large enough sizes to be viable in the arid conditions that prevail throughout Nevada. Instead, early settlers would homestead land surrounding a water source, and then graze livestock on the adjacent public land, which is useless for agriculture without access to water (this pattern of ranching still prevails). The deficiencies in the Homestead Act as applied to Nevada were probably due to a lack of understanding of the Nevada environment, although some firebrands (so-called "Sagebrush Rebels") maintain that it was due to pressure from mining interests to keep land out of the hands of common folk.

Gambling was common in the early Nevada mining towns, but was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nation-wide anti-gaming crusade. Due to a sharp decline in mining output in the 1920s and the decline of the agricultural sector during the Great Depression, Nevada re-legalized gambling in 1931. At the time, the leading proponents of gambling expected that it would be a short term fix until the state's economic base widened to include less cyclical industries. However, re-outlawing gambling has never been seriously considered since.
Nevada is in the southwestern desert.

Las Vegas and the state of Nevada are located in Southwestern United States east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. The entire state lies in the rain-shadow desert formed by the mountain range and receives very little rainfall.

The climate is extremely hot and dry. Most of the state only receives an average of four inches (10 cm) of rainfall per year, with more than 250 days of sunshine. Summers are quite hot with temperatures frequently exceeding 100 degrees F (40 C). In the winter months, daytime temperatures are usually a quite comfortable 60 - 70 deg. (15 - 20 C) with chilly nights. Early spring and late autumn are the best times to visit as the days are quite warm and the nights very pleasant. Las Vegas is a great oasis.

Las Vegas is located at the southern tip of Nevada in a broad flat basin surrounded by barren mountains. The city itself forms a huge oasis in this desert valley. Palm trees line the streets, green grass and flowering shrubs surround the homes. This illusion is maintained by the millions of gallons of water imported from nearby Lake Mead and the massive amounts of electricity provided by Boulder Dam.

The land in Nevada is rugged, forbidding and sparsely populated yet strangely beautiful. Most of it looks like the "Old West" as seen in many cowboy movies. The entire state lies in a unique geological formation called the "Basin and Range" area. It it is characterized by hundreds of small parallel mountain ranges interspersed with countless desert valleys. The infrequent rainstorms in the mountains cause violent erosion that carves deep canyons and disgorges sediment into the dry valleys. At times, the mineral-laden water forms broad shallow lakes that dry up in the intense heat leaving gleaming white salt flats.

Less than 1.5 cm. of rain in any month.
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Ponderosa Ranch, Nevada
Map of Nevada