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State of Nevada

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for the Sierra Nevada mountain range, nevada meaning "snow-covered" in Spanish.

NICKNAME: The Silver State; the Sagebrush State; the Battle-born State.

CAPITAL: Carson City.

ENTERED UNION: 31 October 1864 (36th).

SONG: "Home Means Nevada."

MOTTO: All for Our Country.

FLAG: On a blue field, two sprays of sagebrush and a golden scroll in the upper left hand corner frame a silver star with the word "Nevada," below the star and above the sprays; the scroll, reading "Battle Born," recalls that Nevada was admitted to the Union during the Civil War.

OFFICIAL SEAL: A quartz mill, ore cart, and mine tunnel symbolize Nevada's mining industry. A plow, sickle, and sheaf of wheat represent its agricultural resources. In the background are a railroad, a telegraph line, and a sun rising over the snow-covered mountains. Encircling this scene are 36 stars and the state motto. The words "The Great Seal of the State of Nevada" surround the whole.

BIRD: Mountain bluebird.

FISH: Lahontan cutthroat trout.

FLOWER: Sagebrush.

TREE: Single-leaf piñon; Bristlecone pine.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Nevada Day, last Friday in October; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Family Day, Friday after Thanksgiving; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 4 AM PST = noon GMT.


Situated between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada in the western United States, Nevada ranks seventh in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Nevada is 110,561 sq mi (286,352 sq km), with land comprising 109,894 sq mi (284,624 sq km) and inland water covering 667 sq mi (1,728 sq km). Nevada extends 320 mi (515 km) e-w; the maximum n-s extension is 483 mi (777 km).

Nevada is bordered on the n by Oregon and Idaho; on the e by Utah and Arizona (with the line in the se formed by the Colorado River); and on the s and w by California (with part of the line passing through Lake Tahoe). The total boundary length of Nevada is 1,480 mi (2,382 km). The state's geographic center is in Lander County, 26 mi (42 km) se of Austin.


Almost all of Nevada belongs physiographically to the Great Basin, a plateau characterized by isolated mountain ranges separated by arid basins. These ranges generally trend north-south; most are short, up to 75 mi (121 km) long and 15 mi (24 km) wide, and rise to altitudes of 7,000-10,000 ft (2,100-3,000 m). Chief among them are the Schell Creek, Ruby, Toiyabe, and Carson (within the Sierra Nevada). Nevada's highest point is Boundary Peak, 13,140 ft (4,007 m), in the southwest. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 5,500 ft (1,678 m).

Nevada has a number of large lakes and several large saline marshes known as sinks. The largest lake is Pyramid, with an area of 188 sq mi (487 sq km), in the west. Nevada shares Lake Tahoe with California, and Lake Mead, created by Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, with Arizona. The streams of the Great Basin frequently disappear during dry spells; many of them flow into local lakes or sinks without reaching the sea. The state's longest river, the Humboldt, flows for 290 mi (467 km) through the northern half of the state into the Humboldt Sink. The Walker, Truckee, and Carson rivers drain the western part of Nevada. The canyon carved by the mighty Colorado, the river that forms the extreme southeastern boundary of the state, is the site of Nevada's lowest elevation, 479 ft (146 m).


Nevada's climate is sunny and dry, with wide variation in daily temperatures. The normal daily temperature at Reno is 50°f (10°c), ranging from 32°f (0°c) in January to 70°f (21°c) in July. The all-time high, 125°f (52°c), was set at Laughlin on 29 June 1994; the record low, 50°f (46°c), at San Jacinto on 8 January 1937.

Nevada is the driest state in the United States, with overall average annual precipitation of about 7.3 in (18 cm) at Reno. Snowfall is abundant in the mountains, however, reaching 60 in (152 cm) a year on the highest peaks.


Various species of pineamong them the single-leaf pinon, the state treedominate Nevada's woodlands. Creosote bush is common in southern Nevada, as are many kinds of sagebrush throughout the state. Wildflowers include shooting star and white and yellow violets. Eight plant species were listed as threatened or endangered in 2006. Endangered species that year were Amargosa niterwort and steamboat buckwheat.

Native mammals include the black bear, white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, Rocky Mountain elk, cottontail rabbit, and river otter. Grouse, partridge, pheasant, and quail are the leading game birds, and a diversity of trout, char, salmon, and whitefish thrive in Nevada waters. Rare and protected reptiles are the Gila monster and desert tortoise.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, an oasis ecosystem in the Mojave Desert, is home to at least 25 species of rare and endangered plants and animals. These include the Devil's Hole pupfish, which is found only in one single limestone cave, and the Ash Meadows naucorid, an insect found only by one spring. Six plant species are unique to the site.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service listed 25 Nevada animal species (vertebrates and invertebrates) as threatened or endangered in April 2006, including the desert tortoise, six species of dace, three species of pupfish, woundfin, and three species of chub.


Preservation of the state's clean air, scarce water resources, and no longer abundant wildlife are the major environmental challenges facing Nevada. The Department of Fish and Game sets quotas on the hunting of deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, and other game animals. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has broad responsibility for environmental protection, state lands, forests, and water and mineral resources. The Division of Environmental Protection within the department has primary responsibility for the control of air pollution, water pollution, waste management, and groundwater protection. In 2003, 409.1 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state; Nevada ranked second in the country (after Alaska) for the highest level of toxic chemicals released. In 2003, Nevada had 33 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database; only one, Carson River Mercury Site, was on the National Priorities List as of 2006. In 2005, the EPA spent over $400,000 through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $16.5 million for the safe drinking water state revolving fund and $6.4 million for the water pollution control revolving fund.

Although wetlands cover only about 1% of the mainly barren state, they are some of the most valuable lands in the state. Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, an oasis ecosystem in the Mojave Desert, was established in 1984 and designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 1986.


Nevada ranked 35th in the United States with an estimated total population of 2,414,807 in 2005, an increase of 20.8% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Nevada's population grew from 1,201,833 to 1,998,257, an increase of 66.3%, the decade's largest increase by far among the 50 states (followed by 40% for Arizona). It was also the fourth consecutive decade in which Nevada was the country's fastest-growing state and had a population growth rate over 50%. The population was projected to reach 3 million by 2015 and 3.8 million by 2025. In 2004, the median age of Nevada residents was 35.1. In the same year, nearly 25.9% of the populace was under the age of 18 while 11.2% was age 65 or older.

With a population density of 21.3 persons per sq mi in 2004 (up from 15.9 in 1998), Nevada remains one of the most sparsely populated states. Approximately 90% of Nevada residents live in cities, the largest of which, Las Vegas, had an estimated 534,847 residents in 2004. Henderson had an estimated population of 224,829, and Reno had 197,963. The Greater Las Vegas metropolitan area had an estimated 1,650,671 residents in 2004; the Reno metropolitan area had an estimated 384,491.


Some 135,477 black Americans made up about 6.8% of Nevada's population, up sharply from 79,000 in 1990, although the percentage at that time remained about the same. By 2004, however, the percentage of the state's population that was black was 7.5%. The American Indian population was 26,420 in 2000, down from 31,000 in 1990. In 1990, tribal landholdings totaled 1,138,462 acres (460,721 hectares). Major tribes are the Washo, Northern Paiute, Southern Paiute, and Shoshoni. In 2004, 1.4% of the population was American Indian.

Both the number and percentage of foreign-born residents rose sharply in the 1990s, from 104,828 persons (8.7%) in 1990 to 316,593 state residents (15.8%) in 2000the sixth-highest percentage of foreign born in the 50 states. In 2000, Hispanics and Latinos numbered 393,970 (19.7% of the state total), and 285,764 reported Mexican ancestry, up sharply from 72,281 in 1990. In 2004, 22.8% of the population was of Hispanic or Latino origin, 5.5% of the population was Asian, and 0.5% Pacific Islander. That year, 2.5% of the population reported origin of two or more races.


Midland and Northern English dialects are so intermixed in Nevada that no clear regional division appears; an example of this is the scattered use of both Midland dived (instead of dove) as the past tense of dive and the Northern /krik/ for creek. In 2000, 1,425,748 Nevadans76.9% of the resident population five years old or olderspoke only English at home, down from 86.8% in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other Pacific Island languages" includes Chamorro, Hawaiian, Ilocano, Indonesian, and Samoan.

Population 5 years and over 1,853,720 100.0
  Speak only English 1,425,748 76.9
  Speak a language other than English 427,972 23.1
Speak a language other than English 427,972 23.1
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 299,947 16.2
  Tagalog 29,476 1.6
  Chinese 11,787 0.6
  German 10,318 0.6
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 7,912 0.4
  Korean 6,634 0.4
  Italian 6,169 0.3
  Japanese 5,678 0.3
  Other Pacific Island languages 4,552 0.2
  Vietnamese 3,808 0.2
  Thai 3,615 0.2


In 2004, Nevada had 607,926 Roman Catholics, a significant increase from 331,844 members in 2000. The second-largest single denomination is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), which reported a statewide membership of 165,498 members in 298 congregations in 2006. There are two Mormon temples in the state, at Las Vegas (opened in 1989) and Reno (2000). Other major Protestant groups (with 2000 membership data) include Southern Baptists, 40,233 (with 1,373 newly baptized members reported in 2002); Assemblies of God, 22,699 (an increase of 220% from 1990); Evangelical Lutherans, 10,663; and United Methodists, 10,452. The Salvation Army, though still relatively small, experienced membership growth of 145% from 1990 to report a total of 1,239 adherents in 2000. Also in 2000, there were an estimated 77,100 Jews living in Nevada, representing an increase of 277% from 1990. Muslims numbered about 2,291 and there were about 1,124 adherents to the Baha'i faith. About 1.3 million people (about 65.7% of the population) did not claim any religious affiliation.


As of 2003, Nevada had 2,009 mi (3,234 km) of railroad trackage, all of which is Class I right-of-way. As of 2006, Amtrak provided passenger service to four stations across northern Nevada en route from Chicago to Oakland via its California Zephyr train.

In 2003, there were 33,977 mi (54,702 km) of public roads and streets in Nevada. In 2004, there were some 1.301 million registered vehicles in the state, of which about 633,000 were automobiles, around 622,000 were trucks of all types, and some 2,000 were buses. Licensed drivers in that same year numbered 1,548,097. The major highways, I-80 and I-15, link Salt Lake City with Reno and Las Vegas, respectively.

In 2005, Nevada had a total of 132 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 99 airports, 32 heliports, and 1 STOLport (Short Take-Off and Landing). The leading commercial air terminals are McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Reno-Tahoe International Airport. In 2004, McCarran International Airport had 19,943,025 enplanements, making it the sixth-busiest airport in the United States. Reno-Tahoe International in that same year had 2,478,179 enplanements.


The first inhabitants of what is now Nevada arrived about 12,000 years ago. They were fishermen, as well as hunters and food gatherers, for the glacial lakes of the ancient Great Basin were then only beginning to recede. Numerous sites of early human habitation have been found, the most famous being Pueblo Grande de Nevada (also known as Lost City). In modern times, four principal Indian groups have inhabited Nevada: Southern Paiute, Northern Paiute, Shoshoni, and Washo.

Probably the first white explorer to enter the state was the Spanish priest Francisco Garces, who apparently penetrated extreme southern Nevada in 1776. The year 1826 saw Peter Skene Ogden of the British Hudson's Bay Company enter the northeast in a prelude to his later exploration of the Humboldt River; the rival American trapper Jedediah Smith traversed the state in 182627. During 184344, John C. Frémont led the first of his several expeditions into Nevada.

Nevada's first permanent white settlement, Mormon Station (later Genoa), was founded in 1850 in what is now western Nevada, a region that became part of Utah Territory the same year. (The southeastern tip of Nevada was assigned to the Territory of New Mexico.) Soon other Mormon settlements were started there and in Las Vegas Valley. The Las Vegas mission failed, but the farming communities to the northwest succeeded, even though friction between Mormons and placer miners in that area caused political unrest. Most of the Mormons in western Nevada departed in 1857, when Salt Lake City was threatened by an invasion of federal troops.

A separate Nevada Territory was established in 1861; only three years later, on 31 October 1864, Nevada achieved statehood, although the present boundaries were not established until 18 January 1867. Two factors accelerated the creation of Nevada: the secession of the southern states, whose congressmen had been blocking the creation of new free states, and the discovery, in 1859, of the Comstock Lode, an immense concentration of silver and gold which attracted thousands of fortune seekers and established the region as a thriving mining center.

Nevada's development during the rest of the century was determined by the economic fortunes of the Comstock, whose affairs were dominated, first, by the Bank of California (in alliance with the Central Pacific Railroad) and then by the "Bonanza Firm" of John W. Mackay and his partners. The lode's rich ores were exhausted in the late 1870s and Nevada slipped into a 20-year depression. A number of efforts were made to revive the economy, one being an attempt to encourage mining by increasing the value of silver. To this end, Nevadans wholeheartedly supported the movement for free silver coinage during the 1890s and the Silver Party reigned supreme in state politics for most of the decade.

Nevada's economy revived following new discoveries of silver at Tonopah and gold at Goldfield early in the 20th century. A second great mining boom ensued, bolstered and extended by major copper discoveries in eastern Nevada. Progressive political ferment in this pre-World War I period added recall, referendum, and initiative amendments to the state constitution and brought about the adoption of women's suffrage (1914).

The 1920s was a time of subdued economic activity; mining fell off, and not even the celebrated divorce trade, centered in Reno, was able to compensate for its decline. Politically, the decade was conservative and Republican, with millionaire George Wingfield dominating state politics through a so-called bipartisan machine. Nevada went Democratic during the 1930s, when the hard times of the Depression were alleviated by federal public-works projects, most notably the construction of the Hoover (Boulder) Dam, and by state laws aiding the divorce business and legalizing gambling.

Gaming grew rapidly after World War II, becoming by the mid-1950s not only the mainstay of Nevada tourism but also the state's leading industry. Revelations during the 1950s and 1960s that organized crime had infiltrated the casino industry and that casino income was being used to finance narcotics and other rackets in major East Coast cities led to a state and federal crackdown and the imposition of new state controls.

From 1960 to 1980, Nevada was the fastest-growing of the 50 states, increasing its population by 70% in the 1960s and 64% in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s the state's population growth continued to outpace that of the nation, reaching 14% in the first half of the 1980s in contrast to the national average of 4%. Much of this growth was associated with expansion of the gambling industrycentered in the casinos of Las Vegas and Renoand of the military. In the 1980s, Nevada began to try to reduce its dependence on gambling by diversifying its economy. In an attempt to attract new businesses, particularly in the high-tech industry, the state promoted such features as its absence of state, corporate, or personal income taxes, inexpensive real estate, low wages, and its ready access by air or land to California.

In the first half of the 1990s, Nevada was once again the nation's fastest growing state, increasing its population by nearly 25%; by 2001 the state's population exceeded 2.1 million. Efforts to diversify the state's economy yielded results as its industrial base expanded. In the early 1990s, Nevada was the only state reporting an increase in manufacturing jobs. Meanwhile Las Vegas continued to prosper, expanding its offerings to attract new visitors. During the decade, several extravagant new hotel and casino complexes opened, many of them featuring amusement parks and other family-oriented entertainment. The booming Las Vegas economy helped push Nevada unemployment to an all-time low of 3.1% in December 1999, one-half a percentage point below the prior record of 3.6% set in 1962. Due in large measure to the 2001 US recession and its aftermath, however, Nevada faced a $704 million budget deficit in 2003, and the unemployment rate stood at 5.4% in July 2003, albeit below the national average of 6.2%. In September 2005, Nevada's unemployment rate had dropped to 4.2%, below the national average of 5.1%. In 2005, the state had a budget surplus, and decided to return a portion of it to taxpayers in the form of a one-time $300 million tax rebate. The 2005 state budget approved by Nevada's legislature was $5.9 billion. Nevada had the fastest growing state budget in the nation that year.

Nevadans' opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal site, first proposed by Congress in 1987, has been a continuing issue. In 2002, US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham recommended the Yucca Mountain site to President George W. Bush as a nuclear waste repository, which Bush approved. Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn vetoed the project, but the US Congress overrode his veto. President Bush signed Congress's joint resolution into law, and Yucca Mountain became the nation's nuclear waste repository site. Nevada filed major lawsuits against the US Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, President Bush, and Secretary Abraham, which were consolidated into four major cases and heard before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals on 14 January 2004. The judges dismissed most of Nevada's claims, but they did rule in favor of the state's complaint against radiation standards for the nuclear waste repository.


Nevada's 1864 constitution, as amended (132 times by January 2005), continues to govern the state. In 2002 voters gave final approval to an amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The state legislature consists of a Senate with 21 members, each elected to a four-year term, and a House of Representatives with 42 members, each serving two years. Legislative sessions are held in odd-numbered years only, beginning on the first Monday in February and lasting no more than 120 calendar days. Only the governor may call special sessions, which have no limit, but legislators are only paid for up to 20 calendar days during a special session. Legislators must be qualified voters, at least 21 years old, should have lived in the state for at least a year, and should have lived in the district for at least 30 days prior to the close of filing for declaration of candidacy. The legislative salary was $130 per diem during regular sessions in 2004, unchanged from 1999.

Executive officials elected statewide include the governor and lieutenant governor (who run separately), secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and comptroller, all of whom serve for four years. The governor is limited to a maximum of two consecutive terms. Candidates for governor must be at least 25 years old, a qualified voter, and must have been a citizen and resident of the state for at least two years prior to election. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $117,000, unchanged from 1999.

Bills approved by the legislature are sent to the governor, who has five days when the legislature is in session (or 10 days if adjourned) to sign or veto it. If the governor does not act within the required time period, the bill automatically becomes law. A two-thirds vote of the elected members of each house is required to override a gubernatorial veto.

Constitutional amendments may be submitted to the voters for ratification if the proposed amendments have received majority votes in each house in two successive sessions or under an initiative procedure calling for petitions signed by 10% of those who voted in the last general election. Legislative amendments need a majority vote; initiative amendments require majorities in two consecutive elections. Voters must be US citizens, at least 18 years old, continuous state and county residents for at least 30 days and precinct residents for at least 10 days prior to election day. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent by the court.


Since World War II neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have dominated state politics, which are basically conservative. As of 2004, there were 1,094,000 registered voters. In the 2000 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 49% of the vote to Democrat Al Gore's 46%. In 2004, Bush garnered 50.5% to Democratic challenger John Kerry's 47.9%. Republican Kenny Guinn, first elected governor in 1998, was reelected in 2002. Democrat Harry Reid was elected US Senator in 1986; he was reelected in 1992, 1998, and 2004. Republican Senator John Ensign was elected in 2000. Following the 2004 elections, Nevada sent one Democrat and two Republicans to the US House of Representatives.

Nevada Presidential Vote by Major Political Parties, 19842004
*Won US presidential election.
**IND. candidate Ross Perot received 132,580 votes in 1992 and 43,986 votes in 1996.
1948 3 *Truman (D) 31,290 29,357
1952 3 *Eisenhower (R) 31,688 50,502
1956 3 *Eisenhower (R) 40,640 56,049
1960 3 *Kennedy (D) 54,880 52,387
1964 3 *Johnson (D) 79,339 56,094
1968 3 *Nixon (R) 60,598 73,188
1972 3 *Nixon (R) 66,016 115,750
1976 3 Ford (R) 92,479 101,273
1980 3 *Reagan (R) 66,666 155,017
1984 4 *Reagan (R) 91,655 188,770
1988 3 *Bush (R) 132,738 206,040
1992** 4 *Clinton (D) 189,148 175,828
1996** 4 *Clinton (D) 203,974 199,244
2000 4 *Bush, G.W.(R) 279,978 301,575
2004 5 *Bush, G.W.(R) 397,190 418,690

As of mid-2005, there were 12 Republicans and 9 Democrats in the state Senate, and 16 Republicans and 26 Democrats in the state House. The state had five electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.


As of 2005, Nevada was subdivided into 17 counties and 19 municipal governments, most of them county seats. The state had 17 public school districts and 158 special districts that year. The county is the primary form of local government. Elected county officials include commissioners, public administrator, district attorney, and sheriff. Most municipalities use the mayor-council system of government.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 74,642 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Nevada operates under the authority of the governor; the adjutant general is appointed to oversee the state's homeland security activities.

The Commission on Ethics oversees financial disclosure by state officials. The Department of Education and the Nevada System of Higher Education are the main state educational agencies. The Department of Health and Human Services has divisions covering public health, rehabilitation, mental health and developmental disabilities, welfare, youth services, and programs for the elderly. Regulatory functions are exercised by the Business and Industry Department (insurance, banking, consumer affairs, real estate), the Public Utilities Commission, the Gaming Control Board, and other state agencies. Other organizations include the Division of Minerals, the Commission on Tourism, the Division of Wildlife, and the Department of Information Technology.


Nevada's Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and six other justices. There are 51 district court judges organized into nine judicial districts. All judges are elected by nonpartisan ballot to six-year terms.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 11,365 prisoners were held in Nevada's state and federal prisons, an increase from 10,543 of 7.8% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 878 inmates were female, down from 880 or 0.2% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Nevada had an incarceration rate of 474 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nevada in 2004 had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 615.9 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 14,379 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 98,215 reported incidents or 4,206.6 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Nevada has a death penalty, of which lethal injection is the sole method of execution. For the period 1976 through 5 May 2006, the state has executed 12 people, including one execution carried out in 2006, prior to 5 May. As of 1 January 2006, Nevada had 83 inmates on death row.

In 2003, Nevada spent $63,105,669 on homeland security, an average of $30 per state resident.


In 2004, there were 9,251 active-duty military personnel and 2,089 civilian personnel stationed in Nevada. The largest installations are the Hawthorne Army Depot near Reno and the Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas. The state has been the site of both ballistic missile and atomic weapons testing. In 2004, Nevada firms received about $439 million in federal defense contracts and defense payroll outlays were more than $1.1 billion.

As of 2003, 243,716 military veterans were living in the state, including 27,496 of World War II; 26,015 of the Korean conflict; 75,775 from the Vietnam era; and 36,607 in the Gulf War. For the fiscal year 2004, total Veterans Affairs expenditures in Nevada amounted to more than $642 million.

As of 31 October 2004, the Nevada Highway Patrol employed 367 full-time sworn officers.


In 1870, about half of Nevada's population consisted of foreign immigrants, among them Chinese, Italians, Swiss, British, Irish, Germans, and French Canadians. Though their origins were diverse, their numbers were fewno more than 21,000 in all. Not until the 1940s did migrants come in large volume. Between 1940 and 1980, Nevada gained a total of 507,000 residents through migration, equal to 63% of the 1980 population; there was an additional net gain from migration of 233,000 during the 1980s, accounting for 75% of the net population increase. Between 1990 and 1998, Nevada had net gains of 397,000 in domestic migration and 45,000 in international migration. In 1998, the state admitted 6,106 foreign immigrants, of whom 2,881 were from Mexico. Between 1990 and 1998, the state's overall population grew 45.4%, making it the fastest growing state in the nation. In the period 200005, net international migration was 66,098 and net internal migration was 270,945, for a net gain of 337,043 people.


Nevada takes part in the Colorado River Compact, the Tahoe Regional Planning Authority, and the California-Nevada Interstate Compact, under which the two states administer water rights involving Lake Tahoe and the Carson, Truckee, and Walker rivers. Other river compacts influence use of the Upper Niobrara river and the boundary between Arizona and Nevada on the Colorado River. The state also is a signatory to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, and the Western Interstate Energy Compact. Federal grants in fiscal year 2005 totaled $1.652 billion, an estimated $1.714 billion in fiscal year 2006, and an estimated $1.759 billion in fiscal year 2007.


Nevada is disadvantaged by a lack of water and a shortage of arable land, but blessed with a wealth of mineral resourcesgold, silver, copper, and other metals. Mining remains important, though overshadowed since World War II by tourism and gambling, which generate more than 50% of the state's income. Legalized gaming alone produces nearly half of Nevada's tax revenues. Throughout the 1990s, employment growth averaged 5.2% annually. The state economy roared into the 21st century, posting annual growth rates of 7.7% in 1998, 9% in 1999, and 8.6% in 2000. The national recession and slowdown in 2001 caused the pace of job growth to fall to 2.4% and the overall growth rate to fall to 4.9%, but these remain well above national averages. Job growth in Nevada has been centered on growth in services, the retail trade, government and the construction sector.

Nevada's gross state product (GSP) in 2004 was $100.317 billion, of which the lodging and food service industries accounted for the largest share at $14.196 billion or 14.1% of GSP, followed by the real estate sector at $12.722 billion (12.6% of GSP) and the construction industry at $10.313 billion (10.2% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 177,282 small businesses in Nevada. Of the 51,424 businesses that had employees, an estimated total of 49,209 or 95.7% were small companies. An estimated 10,483 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, up 7.5% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 9,012, up 0.8% from 2003. There were 257 business bankruptcies in 2004, down 19.9% from the previous year. In 2005, the state's personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 931 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Nevada as the third-highest in the nation.


In 2005 Nevada had a gross state product (GSP) of $111 billion which accounted for 0.9% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 31 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Nevada had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $33,787. This ranked 18th in the United States and was 102% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 3.6%. Nevada had a total personal income (TPI) of $78,822,134,000, which ranked 32nd in the United States and reflected an increase of 10.1% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 8.3%. Earnings of persons employed in Nevada increased from $55,064,306,000 in 2003 to $61,541,717,000 in 2004, an increase of 11.8%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 200204 in 2004 dollars was $46,984 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 10.2% of the population was below the poverty line as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Nevada numbered 1,264,900, with approximately 52,300 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 4.1%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 1,279,200. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Nevada was 10.7% in December 1982. The historical low was 3.6% in January 2006. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 11.5% of the labor force was employed in construction; 3.8% in manufacturing; 17.6% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 5.2% in financial activities; 12.2% in professional and business services; 6.8% in education and health services; 26.2% in leisure and hospitality services; and 11.5% in government.

The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2005, a total of 145,000 of Nevada's 1,051,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 13.8% of those so employed, up from 12.5% in 2004 and above the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 158,000 workers (15.1%) in Nevada were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation. Nevada is one of 22 states with a right-to-work law.

As of 1 March 2006, Nevada had a state-mandated minimum wage rate of $5.15 per hour. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 44% of the employed civilian labor force.


Agricultural income in 2005 totaled $478 million (45th in the United States), of which $172 million was from crops and $306 million from livestock and animal products. Chief crops in 2004 included 960,000 bushels of wheat, 1.48 million tons of hay, and 2,881,000 hundredweight of potatoes. Nevada's barley crop in 2004 was 210,000 bushels, down from 2,700,000 in 1983. Virtually all of the state's cropland requires irrigation.


In 2005, Nevada ranches and farms had 500,000 cattle and calves, valued at $450 million. In 2003, the state produced 2.5 million lb (1.1 million kg) of sheep and lambs which brought in around $4 million in gross income. In 2004, the shorn wool production was an estimated 510,000 lb (231,800 kg) of wool. Nevada's total milk yield in 2003 was 485 million lb (220 million kg) from 26,000 milk cows.


There is no commercial fishing industry in Nevada. The state has four fish culture facilities that produce about 430,000 lb of trout annually. The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery also distributes cutthroat trout within the state. In 2004, Nevada issued 124,408 sport fishing licenses.


Nevada in 2004 had 9,767,000 acres (3,953,000 hectares) of forest-land. In 2005, four national forests had 5,841,209 acres (2,363,937 hectares) in the National Forest System. Less than 2% of all forested land in Nevada was classified as commercial timberland.


According to preliminary data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the estimated value of nonfuel mineral production by Nevada in 2003 was over $2.9 billion, an increase from 2002 of about 1%. The USGS data ranked Nevada as second among the 50 states by the total value of its nonfuel mineral production, accounting for over 7.5% of total US output.

According to the preliminary data for 2003, gold, construction sand and gravel, crushed stone and silver were the state's top nonfuel minerals. These commodities accounted for 83%, 6%, 1.5%, and 1.5%, respectively, of all nonfuel mineral production in the state. In that same year, Nevada provided 81% of the gold mined in the United States and 24% of the silver, making the state first in gold and second in silver production. Nevada in 2003 was also the only state to produce magnesite and lithium carbonate minerals. In addition, Nevada ranked first in the production of barite, brucite, and diatomite, third in gypsum, fifth in perlite, sixth in gemstones, and seventh in lime.

Preliminary data for 2003 showed gold production at 216,000 kg, with a value of $2.440 billion, with silver output at 292,000 kg and a value of $43.700 million. Construction sand and gravel output totaled 38 million metric tons for a value of $173 million, while crushed stone output stood at 8.7 million metric tons with a value of $46.1 million, according to the USGS data for 2003.

In 2003, Nevada was also a producer of fuller's earth and industrial sand and gravel.


As of 2003, Nevada had 19 electrical power service providers, of which eight were publicly owned and eight were cooperatives. Of the remainder, two were investor owned and one was federally operated. As of that same year there were 1,019,075 retail customers. Of that total, 964,923 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 29,792 customers, while publicly owned providers had 24,358 customers. There were only two federal customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 7.508 million kW, with total production that same year at 33.194 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 74.2% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 17.085 billion kWh (51.5%), came from coal-fired plants, with natural gas fueled plants in second place at 13.252 billion kWh (39.9%) and hydroelectric plants in third at 1.756 billion kWh (5.3%). Other renewable power sources accounted for 3.2% of all power generated, with plants using other types of gases and petroleum fired plants at 0.1% each.

Because Nevada produces more electricity than it consumes, the remainder is exported, principally to California. Hoover Dam, anchored in the bedrock of Black Canyon east of Las Vegas, is the state's largest hydroelectric installation, with an installed capacity of 1,039,000 kW in 2003. The first six of the dam's eight turbines came onstream during 193638, while the other two were added in 1944 and 1961.

As of 2004, Nevada had proven crude oil reserves of less than 1% of all proven US reserves, while output that same year averaged 1,000 barrels per day. Including federal offshore domains, the state that year ranked 27th (26th excluding federal offshore) in production among the 31 producing states. In 2004 Nevada had 57 producing oil wells and accounted for under 1% of all US production. In 2005, the state's single refinery had a combined crude oil distillation capacity of 1,707 barrels per day.

In 2004, Nevada had four producing natural gas and gas condensate wells. In 2003 (the latest year for which data was available), marketed gas production (all gas produced excluding gas used for repressuring, vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed) totaled 6 million cu ft (170,400 cu m). There was no data available on the state's proven reserves of natural gas.


Industry in Nevada is limited but diversified, producing communications equipment, pet food, chemicals, and sprinkler systems, among other products.

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Nevada's manufacturing sector covered some 13 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $9.551 billion. Of that total, miscellaneous manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $1.680 billion. It was followed by food manufacturing at $1.172 billion, nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing at $1.045 billion, and fabricated metal product manufacturing at $846.723 million.

In 2004, a total of 43,967 people in Nevada were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 28,876 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the miscellaneous manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 8,147, with 3,546 actual production workers. It was followed by fabricated metal product manufacturing at 5,368 employees (3,894 actual production workers); nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing at 3,820 employees (3,215 actual production workers); food manufacturing at 3,428 employees (2,272 actual production workers); and computer and electronic product manufacturing with 3,426 employees (1,477 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Nevada's manufacturing sector paid $1.849 billion in wages. Of that amount, the miscellaneous manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $466.410 million. It was followed by fabricated metal product manufacturing at $201.834 million; computer and electronic product manufacturing at $171.943 million; and nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing at $166.519 million.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Nevada's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $16.5 billion from 2,612 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 1,658 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 850 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 104 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $8.4 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $5.8 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $2.2 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Nevada was listed as having 7,214 retail establishments with sales of $26.9 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were clothing and clothing accessories stores (1,195); miscellaneous store retailers (1,062); food and beverage stores (769), motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (681), and gasoline stations (671). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers accounted for the largest share of retail sales, at $6.6 billion, followed by general merchandise stores, at $3.8 billion; food and beverage stores, at $3.6 billion; and nonstore retailers, at $3.4 billion. A total of 112,339 people were employed by the retail sector in Nevada that year.

Exporters located in Nevada exported $3.9 billion in merchandise during 2005.


The state of Nevada has two entities dedicated to consumer protection: the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) at the Office of the Attorney General, and the Nevada Consumer Affairs Division.

The BCP was created in 1997 by the Nevada Legislature to protect consumers from deceptive or fraudulent sales practices and represent consumers' interests in government. The BCP has the authority to file lawsuits on behalf of the public and the state of Nevada. It operates consumer education and awareness programs, reviews consumer complaints and can act as an advocate for consumers over utilities related issues before the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, as well as federal utility regulatory agencies and courts. The BCP can also pursue civil and criminal enforcement of the state's antitrust law. It is also authorized to file civil actions under federal antitrust laws.

The Nevada Consumer Affairs Division regulates deceptive trade practices through its investigatory powers and through its authority to require the registration and bonding of buying clubs, charitable solicitors, credit repair organizations, dance and martial arts studios, health clubs, magazine sales, recovery rooms, sports betting information services, telemarketers, travel agents and tour operators/brokers, and weight loss clinics.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office can initiate civil and criminal proceedings; represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies; administer consumer protection and education programs; and exercise broad subpoena powers. However, the Attorney General's Office has only limited power to handle formal consumer complaints due to the state having a separate consumer affairs department (the Consumer Affairs Division). In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's Office can act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own; initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts; initiate criminal proceedings; and represent counties, cities and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.

Offices of the Bureau of Consumer Protection are located in Las Vegas. The state's Consumer Affairs Division has offices in Las Vegas and Reno.


As of June 2005, Nevada had 38 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 12 state-chartered and 17 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Las Vegas-Paradise market area accounted for the largest portion of the state's financial institutions and deposits in 2004, with 42 institutions and $33.605 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 7.2% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $4.562 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 92.8% or $58.650 billion in assets held.

In 2004, the median net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) stood at 4.85%, up from 4.77% in 2003. As of fourth quarter 2005, the rate stood at 5.40%. Regulation of Nevada's state-chartered banks and financial institutions is the responsibility of the Division of Financial Institutions.


Nevadans held 639,000 individual life insurance policies in 2004 with a total value of over $83 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was about $121 billion. The average coverage amount is $130,600 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $422.5 million.

As of 2003, there were nine property and casualty and three life and health insurance companies domiciled in the state. Direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled $3.8 billion in 2004. That year, there were 15,525 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $3 billion.

In 2004, 57% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 4% held individual policies, and 18% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 19% of residents were uninsured. Nevada ties with four other states as having the fourth-highest percentage of uninsured residents in the nation. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 13% for single coverage and 24% for family coverage. The state offers an 18-month health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 1.4 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $15,000 per individual and $30,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $10,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $913.05.


There are no securities exchanges in Nevada. In 2005, there were 1,350 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 1,210 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 116 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 22 NASDAQ companies, 11 NYSE listings, and 3 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state had two Fortune 500 companies; Harrah's Entertainment ranked first in the state and 309th in the nation with revenues of over $4.4 billion, followed by MGM Mirage at 334th in the nation and $6.4 billion in revenues.


The budget is prepared biennially by the Budget Division of the Department of Administration and submitted by the governor to the legislature, which has unlimited power to change it.

Fiscal year 2006 general funds were estimated at $3.0 billion for resources and $2.9 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Nevada were $2.3 billion.

In the fiscal year 2007 federal budget, Nevada was slated to receive $51.7 million in State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds to help the state provide health coverage to low-income, uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid. This funding is a 23% increase over fiscal year 2006. Nevada was also to receive $12.9 million in federal funds for the HOME Investment Partnership Program to help Nevada fund a wide range of

NevadaState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols:zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 10,136,127 4,344.68
  General revenue General revenue 3,136.84
    Intergovernmental revenue 1,625,188 696.61
    Taxes 4,738,877 2,031.24
      General sales 2,264,749 970.75
      Selective sales 1,559,853 668.60
      License taxes 623,400 267.21
      Individual income tax - -
      Corporate income tax - -
      Other taxes 290,875 124.68
    Current charges 605,144 259.38
    Miscellaneous general revenue 349,046 149.61
  Utility revenue 143,048 61.32
  Liquor store revenue - -
  Insurance trust revenue 2,674,824 1,146.52
Total expenditure 8,686,071 3,723.13
  Intergovernmental expenditure 2,948,274 1,263.73
  Direct expenditure 5,737,797 2,459.41
    Current operation 3,756,367 1,610.10
    Capital outlay 744,452 319.10
    Insurance benefits and repayments 985,326 422.34
    Assistance and subsidies 107,240 45.97
    Interest on debt 144,412 61.90
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 1,230,195 527.30
Total expenditure 8,686,071 3,723.13
  General expenditure 7,555,705 3,238.62
    Intergovernmental expenditure 2,948,274 1,263.73
    Direct expenditure 4,607,431 1,974.90
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 3,011,529 1,290.84
    Public welfare 1,292,137 553.85
    Hospitals 145,759 62.48
    Health 210,948 90.42
    Highways 893,516 382.99
    Police protection 62,023 26.59
    Correction 234,116 100.35
    Natural resources 118,250 50.69
    Parks and recreation 19,240 8.25
    Government administration 201,243 86.26
    Interest on general debt 140,358 60.16
    Other and unallocable 1,226,586 525.75
  Utility expenditure 145,040 62.17
  Liquor store expenditure - -
  Insurance trust expenditure 985,326 422.34
Debt at end of fiscal year 3,607,292 1,546.20
Cash and security holdings 21,351,168 9,151.81

activities that build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership, or provide direct rental assistance to low-income people. This funding is a 12% increase over fiscal year 2006. Another $55 million in federal funds was allocated to replace the air traffic control tower at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.


In 2005, Nevada collected $5,010 million in tax revenues or $2,075 per capita, which placed it 28th among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 3.0% of the total, sales taxes 45.0%, selective sales taxes 33.6%, and other taxes 18.4%.

As of 1 January 2006, Nevada had no state income tax, a distinction it shared with Wyoming, Washington, Alaska, Florida, Texas, and South Dakota.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $2,147,294,000 or $920 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 30th highest nationally. Local governments collected $2,014,826,000 of the total and the state government $132,468,000.

Nevada taxes retail sales at a rate of 6.5%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 1%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 7.5%. Food purchased for consumption off-premises is tax exempt. The tax on cigarettes is 80 cents per pack, which ranks 25th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nevada taxes gasoline at 24.805 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Nevada citizens received $0.73 in federal spending.


Federal projects have played an especially large role in Nevada's development. During the depression of the 1930s, Hoover (Boulder) Dam was constructed to provide needed jobs, water, and hydroelectric power for the state. Other public worksDavis Dam (Lake Mohave) and the Southern Nevada Water Projectserve similar purposes. The fact that some 87% of Nevada land is owned by the US government further increases the federal impact on the economy. Gaming supplies a large proportion of state revenues.

The Nevada Commission on Economic Development (NCED) offers a number of incentives to encourage the growth of primary businesses in Nevada and to promote economic diversification. There is no corporate or personal income tax and other state taxes are low. The Department of Business and Industry issues tax-exempt industrial development bonds which provide low-interest financing of new construction or improvement of manufacturing facilities and other projects. The State Development Corporation, a private financial corporation certified by the US Small Business Administration, offers long-term loans for expanding or new businesses. Rural small businesses can obtain loans from the Rural Nevada Development Corporation and the Nevada Revolving Loan Fund Program. Almost 30% of foreign-based companies in Nevada are Japanese.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 5.3 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 15 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 32.2 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 75.8% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 68% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three; this was the lowest immunization rate in the country.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 8 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were: heart disease, 203.4; cancer, 181.1; cerebrovascular diseases, 44.9; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 54; and diabetes, 15.8. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 3.5 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 13.1 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 54.8% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 23.2% of state residents were smokers.

In 2003, Nevada had 24 community hospitals with about 4,300 beds. There were about 213,000 patient admissions that year and 2.3 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 3,000 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,608. Also in 2003, there were about 44 certified nursing facilities in the state with 5,197 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 82.9%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 64.5% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Nevada had 196 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 579 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 1,123 dentists in the state.

About 11% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid programs in 2003; 12% were enrolled in Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 19% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $1.6 million.


In 2004, about 66,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $245. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 121,707 persons (54,877 households); the average monthly benefit was about $88.26 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $128.9 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reautho-rized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. In 2004, the state TANF program had 21,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $54 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 340,680 Nevada residents. This number included 230,990 retired workers, 26,440 widows and widowers, 43,030 disabled workers, 15,120 spouses, and 25,100 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 14.5% of the total state population and 91% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $962; widows and widowers, $939; disabled workers, $960; and spouses, $473. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $471 per month; children of deceased workers, $671; and children of disabled workers, $271. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments in December 2004 went to 32,129 Nevada residents, averaging $396 a month.


In 2004, there were an estimated 976,446 housing units, of which 871,915 were occupied; 61.2% were owner-occupied. About 54.6% of all units were single-family, detached dwellings; 18.6% were in buildings containing three to nine units. Over 1,700 units were listed in a category of boats, RVs, vans, etc. Utility gas and electricity were the most common heating energy sources. It was estimated that 41,658 units lacked telephone service, 3.041 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 3,683 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.64 members.

In 2004, 44,600 new privately owned units were authorized for construction. The median home value was $202,937. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,274. Renters paid a median of $787 per month. In 2006, the state received over $2.7 million in community development block grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


In 2004, 86.3% of Nevada residents age 25 and older were high school graduates; 24.5% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher.

The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Nevada's public schools stood at 369,000. Of these, 271,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 99,000 attended high school. Approximately 50.8% of the students were white, 10.7% were black, 30.2% were Hispanic, 6.7% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1.7% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 385,000 in fall 2003 and expected to be 474,000 by fall 2014, an increase of 28.4% during the period 200214. In fall 2003 there were 18,219 students enrolled in 111 private schools. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $3.2 billion or $6,399 per student, the sixth-lowest among the 50 states. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005, eighth graders in Nevada scored 270 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 95,671 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 30.1% of total post-secondary enrollment. Nearly all students enroll in the University of Nevada system, which has campuses in Las Vegas and Reno. In 2005 Nevada had 15 degree-granting institutions, including Sierra Nevada College.


The Nevada Arts Council (NAC), a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, consists of a 10-memeber staff and a 9-member board appointed by the governor. In 2005, the NAC and other Nevada arts organizations received six grants totaling $673,300 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The state also provided significant funding to the Arts Council. The Nevada Humanities Council sponsors annual programs that include a Chautauqua in Reno, Boulder City and Lake Tahoe, and the Vegas Valley Book Festival. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $532,792 to four state programs.

Major exhibits are mounted by the Las Vegas Art Museum, formally the Las Vegas Art League, and the Sierra Arts Foundation in Reno. Upon becoming the Las Vegas Art Museum in 1974, it became the first fine-arts museum in southern Nevada. The Nevada Opera, Reno Chamber Orchestra, and the Nevada Festival Ballet are all based in Reno. The Las Vegas Philharmonic was founded in 1998 and as of 2005 had become the third-largest arts organizations in the state. The Western Folklife Center in Elko, founded in 1980, promotes public awareness of the American West culture and traditions. Every year, the Western Folklife Center presents a National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in the last week of January.


In 2001, Nevada had 23 public library systems, with a total of 87 libraries, of which 67 were branches. The system, that same year, had a combined book and serial publication stock of 4,382,000 volumes, and a total circulation of 10,206,000. The system also had 209,000 audio and 148,000 video items, 27,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and four bookmobiles. The University of Nevada had 956,282 books in its Reno campus library system and 861,362 at Las Vegas. The Nevada State Library in Carson City had 76,445. In fiscal year 2001, operating income for the state's public library system amounted to $62,888,000 and included $782,000 in federal grants and $520,000 in state grants.

There are some 29 museums and historic sites. Notable are the Nevada State Museum in Carson City and Las Vegas; the museum of the Nevada Historical Society and the Fleischmann Planetarium, University of Nevada, in Reno; and the Museum of Natural History, University of Nevada, at Las Vegas.


In 2004, 92.2% of Nevada's occupied housing units had telephones. In addition, by June of that same year there were 1,319,684 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 61.3% of Nevada households had a computer and 55.2% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 402,030 high-speed lines in Nevada, 360,627 residential and 41,403 for business. In 2005, broadcast facilities comprised 27 major radio stations (7 AM, 20 FM) and 12 network television stations. In 2000, at least two large cable television systems served the Las Vegas and Reno areas. A total of 72,183 Internet domain names were registered in the state in that same year.


In 2005, the state had four morning newspapers, four evening papers, and four Sunday papers. The leading newspaper was the Las Vegas Review-Journal, with a daily circulation of 159,507 and a Sunday circulation of 218,624. The Reno Gazette-Journal, with a daily circulation of 66,409 and Sunday circulation of 82,745, is the most influential newspaper in the northern half of the state. The regional interest Nevada magazine is published six times a year.


In 2006, there were over 900 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 626 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. Notable national organizations with headquarters in Nevada include the Western History Association, the American Chess Association, the American Gem Society, the Gaming Standards Association, and the North American Boxing Federation.

Local arts and history are represented in part by the Central Nevada Historical Society, the Lake Tahoe Arts Council, the Sierra Contra Dance Society, the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History, and the Nevada Opera Association.


Tourism remained Nevada's most important industry, employing over 228,000 people. In 2005, approximately 51.1 million travelers visited the state. About 25 million people visited state and national parks. A majority of all tourists flock to "Vegas" for gambling and for the top-flight entertainers who perform there. In 2005, there were 180,000 hotel rooms of which 133,186 were in Las Vegas. The gaming industry had total revenues of $11.6 billion in 2005. Las Vegas is one the most used cities for conventions. The Nevada Commission on Tourism has branch offices in Japan, the United Kingdom, and Seoul, Korea.

Nevada attractions include Pyramid Lake, Lake Tahoe, Lake Mead, and Lehman Caves National Monument. In Las Vegas, there is the Atomic Testing Museum, the Fremont Street Experience (outdoor sound and light show), the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum at the Venetian Hotel, and Red Rock scenic adventure tours. The city of Laughlin has Colorado River tours. For motors-ports enthusiasts, there are 14 raceways in Nevada. Hoover Dam, built on the Nevada-Arizona border, is a marvel of engineering; visitors can view films and take tours to view the construction. There are 21 state parks and recreation areas, and the Great Basin National Park. Lake Mead National Recreation Area attracts 43% of all park visitors (totaling over 24 million people in 1999). Grand Canyon National Park is the second most popular parks destination, with 18% of all parks visitors.


There are no major professional sports teams in Nevada. Las Vegas has a minor league baseball team, the 51s, in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The Las Vegas Wranglers are a minor league hockey team that play in the West Division of the ECHL. Las Vegas and Reno have hosted many professional boxing title bouts. Golfing and rodeo are also popular.

The basketball team at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas emerged as a national powerhouse in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Runnin' Rebels won the national championship in 1990.

Other annual sporting events include the Open at Reno-Tahoe in Reno in August, the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas in October, the Nationals Finals Rodeo staged in Las Vegas each December, and the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.


Nevadans who have held important federal offices include Raymond T. Baker (18771935) and Eva B. Adams (190891), both directors of the US Mint, and Charles B. Henderson (b.California, 18731954), head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Prominent US senators have been James W. Nye (b.New York, 181576), also the only governor of Nevada Territory; William M. Stewart (b.New York, 18271909), author of the final form of the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution, father of federal mining legislation, and a leader of the free-silver-coinage movement in the 1890s; and Francis G. Newlands (b.Mississippi, 18481917), author of the federal Reclamation Act of 1902.

Probably the most significant state historical figure is George Wingfield (b.Arkansas, 18761959), a mining millionaire who exerted great influence over Nevada's economic and political life in the early 20th century. Among the nationally recognized personalities associated with Nevada is Howard R. Hughes (b.Texas, 190576), an aviation entrepreneur who became a casino and hotel owner and wealthy recluse in his later years.

Leading creative and performing artists have included operatic singer Emma Nevada (Emma Wixon, 18621940); painter Robert Caples (190879); and, among writers, Dan DeQuille (William Wright, b.Ohio, 182998); Lucius Beebe (b.Massachusetts, 190266); and Walter Van Tilburg Clark (b.Maine, 190971).


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Peck, Donna. Nevada: Off the Beaten Path. Old Saybrook, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press, 1999.

Preston, Thomas. Intermountain West: Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. Vol. 2 of The Double Eagle Guide to 1,000 Great Western Recreation Destinations. 2nd ed. Billings, Mont.: Discovery Publications, 2003.

US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau. Nevada, 2000. Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics: 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2003.

Zanjani, Sally Springmeyer. Devils Will Reign: How Nevada Began. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2006.

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NEVADA was the fastest growing state in the United States during the last half of the twentieth century. Its population increased from a mere 160,000 in 1950 to just over 2,000,000 in 2001. It was the thirty-sixth state to be admitted to the Union, its official statehood proclaimed on 31 October 1864, with Carson City designated as its capital.

Early History and Exploration

The area that became Nevada was first inhabited between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, and small stone dart points, called Clovis points, have been found among rock shelters and caves, indicating that early peoples gathered and hunted their food. Around 300 b.c., the culture of the Anasazis appeared; the Anasazis dominated the area for more than a thousand years, living in caves and houses made with adobe and rock and eventually developing a more agriculturally based culture. Migrating tribes replaced the Anasazis, and by the time Europeans first entered the area it was dominated by three Native American tribes—the Paiutes, the Shoshones, and the Washoes. Spanish explorers ventured into areas of Nevada in the late eighteenth century but never established settlements in the mostly arid environment. In 1821, Mexico laid claim to the territory after a successful revolt against Spain, and in 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago ceded the land to the United States.

Much of the Nevada territory had by that time been explored, primarily by Peter Skene Ogden of Canada and the Hudson's Bay Company and Jedediah Smith of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. Smith, on his way over-land to California, entered Nevada in the late summer of 1826 (near present-day Bunkerville). In 1827, he traveled east and north from California, across the Sierras and into the central part of Nevada, the first white man to cross the territory. Ogden made three important expeditions, in 1828, 1829, and 1830, discovering the Humboldt River (he called it the Unknown River) and tracing its path from its source to its sink, where the river empties into marshy flats and evaporates.

In 1843 and 1844, John C. Frémont explored the area from the northwestern corner of the state south to Pyramid Lake and then southwest across the Sierras to California, calling it the Great Basin. His publicized expeditions and mappings of the territory helped establish settlements and routes for westward-bound settlers and miners, especially after the discovery of gold in California in 1849.

Statehood and Economic Boom

In 1850, the federal government created the Utah Territory, which included almost all of what is now Nevada. Much of it was Mormon-dominated territory after 1851, but the discovery of gold in the late 1850s drew non-Mormons into western Nevada, including a flood of miners from California who came upon hearing the news of the Comstock Lode silver strike, the richest deposit of silver in American history. After the Comstock, small towns sprang up and Virginia City became an important crossroads, trading post, and mining camp.

The importance of the Comstock silver helped gain approval from the federal government for the creation of the Territory of Nevada in 1861. In 1863, a constitutional convention was held in Carson City and a state constitution was drafted. A bitter battle between those who favored small mining interests and the political power of the large San Francisco mining companies ensued, and ratification of the newly drawn state constitution was hotly contested. Although the majority of residents favored statehood, in early 1864 voters rejected the constitution, effectively ending their chances for admission into the Union. However, the U.S. Congress and President Abraham Lincoln, waging the Civil War (1861–1865) and in need of additional support for the Thirteenth Amendment, strongly desired Nevada's admission into the Union. A second constitution was ratified in March of 1864 and, in spite of not meeting the population requirements for statehood, by October, Nevada was a new state. Its entry into the Union during the Civil War earned it the nickname "The Battle Born State."

The early years of statehood were dominated by economic issues of the mining industry, specifically the silver industry. In 1873, the federal government discontinued the minting of silver coins and the Comstock declined. The 1880s and 1890s were marked by economic depression and a consequent population decrease, but a revival of the mining industry, spurred by silver and copper ore discoveries in southwestern and eastern Nevada, brought in new investment capital, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad caused another boom.

The Twentieth Century

Nevada politics in the twentieth century were dominated by land-use issues. In the early part of the century, federal irrigation projects helped stimulate agriculture, expand farmland, and encourage cattle and sheep ranching. Hoover Dam and the creation of Lake Mead in the 1930s was welcomed for the economic stimulus provided, but other federal projects have been greeted with less enthusiasm. In the 1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission conducted aboveground nuclear tests at Frenchman Flat and Yucca Flat—events that met with little protest at the time but that nonetheless chafe many Nevadans in retrospect. During the 1970s, Nevadans led other western states in an attempt to regain control of the land from the federal Bureau of Land Management. In 1979, the state legislature passed a law requiring the return of 49 million acres of federally owned land to the State of Nevada. The movement, dubbed the "Sagebrush Rebellion," caused a brief controversy and ultimately lost in the federal courts, and the issue remains a sore point for many Nevadans. In 1987, the Department of Energy named Yucca Mountain as its primary high-level nuclear waste depository, a decision the State of Nevada continued to fight at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Economic changes also took place throughout the twentieth century. The 1930s saw a transformation in the Nevada economy. In 1931 gambling was legalized throughout the state, with the exception of Boulder City, where housing had been built for government employees working on Hoover Dam. Earlier in the state's history, as with much of the United States, gambling had been legal. In the early 1900s, however, gambling prohibition swept the country, and in 1910 gambling was outlawed in Nevada. In spite of severe restrictions, illegal gambling still thrived in many parts of the state, especially in Las Vegas. During the Great Depression the need for state revenues and economic stimulus led Nevadans to approve the return of legalized gambling, and Nevada passed some of the most liberal gambling laws in the country.

World War II (1939–1945) brought military air bases to Las Vegas and Reno, and federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, which managed more than 85 percent of Nevada's land, brought public employees and some measure of prosperity to the more urban regions of the state. But it was the tourism industry that was shaping Nevada's economic future. During the 1940s, as other states cracked down on legalized gambling, Nevada's embrace of the gaming industry drew developers and tourists and boosted the state's economy, but it also drew organized crime. Criminal elements from the east coast and from nearby Los Angeles were instrumental in the development of some of the more famous casinos, including The Flamingo, opened in 1946 by New York mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel.

After World War II, the gaming and entertainment industries were expanded, especially in Reno, Las Vegas, and on the California border at Lake Tahoe. T he tourism industry benefited from low tax rates, and legal gambling and top entertainers brought in visitors as well as new residents. Although organized crime played a significant role in the early development of Nevada's urban centers, especially in Las Vegas, the federal government pressured the state to strengthen license regulations and by the 1960s the stigma of gangster-owned casinos was on the wane.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Las Vegas and the surrounding area in Clark County grew tremendously and soon became the home of a quarter of the state's residents. Several large hotels and casinos opened and became internationally famous, including The Dunes (1955), The Tropicana (1957), and The Stardust (1958). The 1960s saw the boom continue with the openings of The Aladdin (1963), Caesar's Palace (1966), and Circus Circus (1968). The glamour and legal legitimacy of casinos and hotel resorts began to draw corporate development from beyond the gambling industry, and by 1970 Las Vegas was more associated with billionaire Howard Hughes than with gangsters such as Bugsy Siegel.

Although Nevada's population continued to increase during the 1980s, a sluggish economy meant a decline in casino and resort development. In 1988, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting state income tax. The 1990s saw a burst of development in the Reno-Sparks area and, more dramatically, in Las Vegas and Clark County. Las Vegas reshaped itself as a destination for families, not just gamblers, and many of the old casinos from the 1950s and 1960s were closed and demolished. They were replaced by bigger, more upscale hotels and theme casinos such as The Mirage (opened in 1989), The Luxor (1993), The Monte Carlo (1996), New York-New York (1997), and Paris, Las Vegas (1999). In 1996 The Stratosphere casino was opened in Las Vegas, inside the tallest building west of the Mississippi.

Although much of Nevada is open land, the population is predominantly urban. The state's total area is about 110,000 miles, but because much of the eastern side is federal land designated for military use or grazing and mining territory, the population centers are on the western side, near the California border to the south and west and the Arizona border to the south and east. The city of Las Vegas at the time of the 2000 census had a population of nearly 500,000, but the metropolitan area, including part of northern Arizona, had a total population of over 1.5 million. The Reno-Sparks metropolitan area had a population of 339,486 in 2000.

More than 75 percent of the state's population were born outside Nevada. The 2000 census reported that more than 75 percent of the population identified themselves as white, 6.8 percent as African American, and 4.5 percent as Asian. Those who identified themselves as being of Hispanic ancestry increased from just over 10 percent to more than 19 percent.

Although the service industry, through casinos and resorts, employs most Nevada residents, there is some manufacturing (gaming machines, aerospace equipment, and products related to irrigation and seismic monitoring) and a significant number of employees of the federal government, especially the military. U.S. military installations in Nevada include Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, the Naval Air Station in Fallon, and the Army and Air National Guard Base in Carson City. Perhaps Nevada's most famous military base is the so-called secret or underground base known as "Area 51," located north of Las Vegas near Groom Lake. Self-proclaimed "ufologists" have perpetuated a rumor for decades that Area 51 is the location of nefarious U.S. government schemes that include secret spy planes and an alleged craft from outer space, said to have crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.

The state flag, modified in 1991 from the original design approved in 1929, features a cobalt blue background behind a five-pointed silver star that sits forming a wreath between two sprays of sagebrush. Across the top of the wreath it reads "Battle Born" in black letters, with the state name in gold letters below the stars and above the sagebrush. Besides the Battle Born moniker, Nevada is also called "The Silver State" and "The Sagebrush State" (sagebrush is the state flower), and the state motto, of undetermined origin, is "All for Our Country."

Although it consists mostly of mountainous and desert terrain with altitudes between 1,000 and more than 13,000 feet (the state's highest point, Boundary Peak, is 13,145 feet), Nevada also has rivers and lakes. These include the Humboldt, Colorado, and Truckee Rivers and Pyramid Lake (the state's largest natural lake) and Lake Mead (the state's largest artificial lake, backed up by Hoover Dam on the Colorado River), and 5 million acres of designated national forestland.


Elliott, Russell R. History of Nevada. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973.

Farquhar, Francis Peloubet. History of the Sierra Nevada. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965.

Laxalt, Robert. Nevada. New York: Coward-McCann, 1970.

Smith, Grant H. The History of the Comstock Lode, 1850–1997. Reno: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, 1998.

The Official State of Nevada Web Site. Home page at


See alsoHoover Dam ; Las Vegas .

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Nevada (nəvăd´ə, –vä–), far western state of the United States. It is bordered by Utah (E), Arizona (SE), California (SW, W), and Oregon and Idaho (N).

Facts and Figures

Area, 110,540 sq mi (286,299 sq km). Pop. (2000) 2,700,551, a 35.1% increase since the 2000 census. Capital, Carson City. Largest city, Las Vegas. Statehood, Oct. 31, 1864 (36th state). Highest pt., Boundary Peak, 13,143 ft (4,009 m); lowest pt., Colorado River, 470 ft (143 m). Nickname, Silver State. Motto, All for Our Country. State bird, mountain bluebird. State flower, sagebrush. State tree, single-leaf piñon. Abbr. Nev.; NV


Most of Nevada lies within the Great Basin of the Basin and Range region of North America. The rivers in the southeast belong to the Colorado River system, while those of the extreme north drain into the Snake. Like the Humboldt, most Nevada rivers go nowhere, ending instead in desolate alkali sinks—except where they have been diverted for irrigation and reclamation, as by the Humboldt project, the Newlands project, and the Truckee River storage project.

The alkali sinks and arid stretches clothed with sagebrush and creosote bush typify Nevada's landscape. Its mountain chains generally run north and south, further segmenting the state. On the California border stand the lofty Sierra Nevada [snowy range]. In the driest state in the nation, days and nights are generally clear. The mean elevation is c.5,500 ft (1,676 m). In the north and west winters reach extreme cold, while in parts of the south the summers approach ovenlike heat.

Carson City is the capital; Las Vegas is the largest city, and Reno the second largest. Outside the cities, visitors are attracted to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, with its facilities for fishing, swimming, and boating; Lake Tahoe and Death Valley National Park, both on the California line; Great Basin National Park; Basin and Range and Lehman Caves national monuments; and restored mining ghost towns like Virginia City.


Many of the high plateau areas are excellent for grazing, and cattle and sheep raising are important industries. Because of the prevailing dryness and the steep slopes, agriculture is not highly developed, but is devoted mainly to growing hay and other feed for cattle; however, potatoes, onions, and some other crops are also cultivated.

Nevada's riches do not grow from its land; rather, almost incredible wealth lies below its surface. Although copper mining is now much less dominant than before, Nevada is the nation's leading producer of gold, silver, and mercury. Petroleum, diatomite, and other minerals are also extracted. The state's manufactures include gaming machines and products, aerospace equipment, lawn and garden irrigation devices, and seismic monitoring equipment. Warehousing and trucking are also significant Nevada industries.

Nevada's economy, however, is overwhelmingly based on tourism, especially the gambling (legalized in 1931) and resort industries centered in Las Vegas and, to a lesser extent, Reno and Lake Tahoe. Gambling taxes are a primary source of state revenue. The service sector employs about half of Nevada's workers. Liberal divorce laws made Reno "the divorce capital of the world" for many years, but similar laws enacted in other states ended this distinction. Much of Nevada (almost 80% of whose land is federally owned) is given over to military and related use. Nellis Air Force Base and the Nevada Test Site have been the scene of much nuclear and aircraft testing; Yucca Mountain is slated to be the primary depository for U.S. nuclear wastes.

Government and Higher Education

Nevada's constitution was adopted in 1864. The legislature is composed of 21 senators and 42 assembly members. The governor is elected for a four-year term; Bob Miller, a Democrat in office since 1989, was succeeded by Republican Kenny Guinn, elected in 1998 and reelected in 2002. Republicans Jim Gibbons (2006) and Brian Sandoval (2010, 2014) were subsequently elected governor. The state elects two U.S. senators and four representatives and has six electoral votes. Nevada's leading institution of higher education is the Univ. of Nevada, at Reno and at Las Vegas.


Early Exploration

In the 1770s several Spanish explorers came near the area of present-day Nevada but it was not until half a century later that fur traders venturing into the Rocky Mts. publicized the region. Jedediah S. Smith came across S Nevada on his way to California in 1827. The following year Peter Skene Ogden, a Hudson's Bay Company man trading out of the Oregon country, entered NE Nevada. Joseph Walker in 1833–34 followed the Humboldt R. and crossed the Sierra Nevada to California.

Later many wagon trains crossed Nevada on the way to California, especially during and after the gold rush of 1849. Travelers going to California over the Old Spanish Trail also crossed S Nevada, and Las Vegas became a station on the route. Guided by Kit Carson, John C. Frémont had explored much of the state between 1843 and 1845, and his reports gave the federal government its first comprehensive information on the area, which the United States acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War. These accounts may have aided Brigham Young when he was shepherding the Mormons west to build a new home in the mountains and valleys of Utah.

The Lure of Minerals

When in 1850 the federal government set up the Utah Territory, almost all of Nevada was included except the southern tip, which was then part of New Mexico. Non-Mormons had been averse to settling in Mormon-dominated territory, but after gold was found in 1859 non-Mormons did come into the area. A rush from California began and multiplied manyfold as news of the Comstock Lode silver strike spread. Most of the newcomers preferred to consider themselves as still being within California, and a political question was added to the general upheaval. Meanwhile, miners came helter-skelter, raising camps that grew overnight into such booming and raucous places as Virginia City.

Partly to impose order on the lawless, wide-open mining towns, Congress made Nevada into a territory in 1861 as migrant prospectors and settlers poured in. The territory was then enlarged by increasing its eastern boundary by one degree of longitude in 1862. It was rushed into statehood in 1864, with Carson City as its capital. President Lincoln (in order to get more votes to pass the Thirteenth Amendment) had signed the proclamation even though the territory did not actually meet the population requirement for statehood.

In 1866 Nevada acquired its present-day boundaries when the southern tip was added and more eastern land was gained from Utah. Communications with the East, which had been briefly maintained by the Pony Express, were firmly established by the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The state continued to be dependent on its precious ores, and its fate was affected by new strikes such as the "big bonanza" (1873), which enriched the silver kings, J. W. Mackay and J. G. Fair, and the discoveries of silver deposits at Tonopah (1900), of copper at Ely, and of gold at Goldfield (1902).

Resting on such an undiversified base, the economy was seriously shaken by mining depressions and by fluctuations in the market prices of the minerals. Naturally the political leaders of Nevada were vociferous in favor of the free coinage of silver. From the 1870s to the 1890s the people of Nevada were strong supporters of the "cheap money" advocates and were thus linked with the discontented farmers of the Midwest in favoring the Bland-Allison Act and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act (although both were considered insufficient measures). They enthusiastically endorsed the silver program of William Jennings Bryan and the Democrats in 1896, and even after its resounding defeat they continued to clamor for government purchase and coinage of silver.

The Federal Government and Population Growth

In the 20th cent. the federal government has played a major role in Nevada's development. Some federal works, like the Newlands Irrigation Project (1907)—the nation's first federal irrigation project—and the Hoover Dam (completed in 1936), have been generally welcomed. Others have aroused opposition. The Atomic Energy Commission began conducting nuclear tests in Nevada at Frenchman Flat and Yucca Flat in the 1950s. In 1987 the Department of Energy chose Yucca Mountain for the storage of high-level nuclear wastes; the state has continued to fight that decision. Federal activities in general gave impetus to the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, which demanded that the U.S. government give Nevada lands "back" to Nevadans.

Nevada's population, sparse since the time when the Paiute and other tribes eked out a meager living from the land and animals, increased by more than 1200% between 1950 and 2000. One of the fastest-growing U.S. states (and many years the fastest-growing), Nevada is increasingly home to retirees and to workers in new, especially technological, industries.


See R. R. Elliott, History of Nevada (1973); R. G. Lillard, Desert Challenge: An Interpretation of Nevada (1942, repr. 1979); H. H. Bancroft, History of Nevada, 1540–1888 (1982); H. S. Carlson, Nevada Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary (1985); R. R. Elliott and W. D. Rowley, History of Nevada (1987); D. Thomson, In Nevada (1999).

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Carson City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375

Henderson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 387

Las Vegas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397

Reno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 409

The State in Brief

Nickname: Silver State Motto: All for our country

Flower: Sagebrush Bird: Mountain bluebird

Area: 110,560 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 7th)

Elevation: 479 feet to 13,140 feet above sea level

Climate: Semi arid, with temperatures that vary with altitude as well as season; extremely cold winters in the north and west, ovenlike summer heat in parts of the south

Admitted to Union: October 31, 1864

Capital: Carson City

Head Official: Governor Kenny Guinn (R) (until 2007)


1980: 800,493

1990: 1,201,833

2000: 1,998,257

2004 estimate: 2,334,771

Percent change, 19902000: 66.3%

U.S. rank in 2004: 35th

Percent of residents born in state: 21.3% (2000)

Density: 18.2 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 97,752

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 1,501,886

Black or African American: 135,477

American Indian and Alaska Native: 26,420

Asian: 90,266

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 8,426

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 393,970

Other: 159,354

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 145,817

Population 5 to 19 years old: 415,684

Percent of population 65 years and over: 11.0%

Median age: 35.0 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 33,585

Total number of deaths (2003): 17,759 (infant deaths, 203)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 2,654


Major industries: Services; finance, insurance, and real estate; trade; government

Unemployment rate: 3.9% (February 2005)

Per capita income: $31,487 (2003; U.S. rank: 19th)

Median household income: $46,118 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 10.5% (1999)

Income tax rate: None

Sales tax rate: 5.0% to 9.0%

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Nevada State in w USA; the capital is Carson City. The USA acquired the region in 1848 at the end of the Mexican War. When gold and silver were found in 1859, settlers flocked to Nevada. Much of the state lies in the Great Basin, but the Sierra Nevada rise steeply from its w edge. Nevada's dry climate and steep slopes have hindered the development of an agricultural economy. Hay and lucerne (alfalfa) are the chief crops; sheep and cattle grazing is important. Most of Nevada's economic wealth comes from its mineral deposits, which include copper, lead, silver, gold, zinc and tungsten. Industries: chemicals, timber, electrical machinery, glass products. It is a tourist area and, in cities such as Las Vegas and Reno, gambling provides an important source of state revenue. Area: 286,297sq km (110,539sq mi). Pop. (2000) 1,998,257.

Statehood :

October 31, 1864

Nickname :

The Silver State

State bird :

Mountain bluebird

State flower :


State tree :

Pine nut

State motto :

All for our country

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Nevada was one of the last areas of the United States to be explored because with it's vast, dry deserts it was not thought to be worth anything. However, when gold and silver were discovered in the rich earth miners flocked to the area, cities were built, and the state flourished.

Explorers moving westward didn't reach Nevada until 1826 when Nevada was still a part of Mexico. Until then the land was largely ignored by Mexico and Spain, the owners before Mexico. In 1846 the United States went to war with Mexico to take over Nevada and other southwestern land. The United States won the Mexican War in 1848. The first town in Nevada, Genoa, was built up in 1851 around a trading post that was developed as a stop over for gold miners on their way to California.

The first detailed reports about Nevada came from John Frémont, who, with his famous guide, Kit Carson, explored Nevada from 18431844. Carson City, the state capital, and the Carson River are named for Kit Carson.

In 1859 miners flocked to Nevada after gold and silver were discovered there. Virginia City was developed near what was to become one of the biggest silver mines in the world, the Comstock Lode. The town had a reputation of lawlessness as bandits robbed stagecoaches, and gamblers tried to win miners' silver and gold. The state's development throughout the rest of the century was dependent on the Comstock Lode. When the silver and gold dwindled in the mine in the 1870s a 20-year depression hit the state. An effort to revive the economy called for encouraging mining by increasing the value of silver. Nevadans supported the movement for free silver coinage during the 1890s, and the Silver Party dominated state politics over the next ten years.

Nevada was admitted to the union on October 31, 1864 and enlarged to its current size in 1866. Towns sprang up near gold and silver mines around the state, which were so plentiful that the United States government opened a mint in Carson City, which operated from 1870 to 1893. By 1880 many of the mines were cleaned out, so Nevadans began cattle ranching as a substitute.

In 1900 the economy was revived as another silver mine was discovered in Tonopah and in 1902, two gold miners were founded and the town of Goldfield was built. Also, copper mines were discovered in eastern Nevada.

During the early 1900s settlers attempting to farm in Nevada had a difficult time trying to get water to irrigate their lands. In 1902 the Newlands Reclamation Act set aside federal funds for irrigation and by 1907 the project was finished. The irrigation project allowed farmers to grow crops in Nevada's western desert which previously was sand.

During World War I Nevada's beef industry provided rations for the troops. Then the Great Depression hit the country in 1929 causing banks, farms, mines, and factories to fail. However, in 1931 Nevada's economic health began to turn around as a federal public works project supported construction of the Hoover Dam, the Davis Dam and the Southern Nevada Water Project. These projects provided jobs, water and hydroelectric power for the state. Gambling also was legalized in the state. As a result, Las Vegas and Reno became major entertainment centers in the country as casinos and hotels were built.

After World War II started in 1941 Nellis Air Force Base was built near Las Vegas and a navy air base was built at Fallon. During the war the United States started manufacturing nuclear weapons and the first nuclear tests were conducted at the Nevada Test Site, just northwest of Las Vegas, in 1951. Nuclear tests have continued over the years however, since 1963 they are conducted underground.

Revenues from casino gambling grew as Nevada allowed large businesses to own casinos. Investors such as airplane manufacturer Howard Hughes built hotels and casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. In the 1950s gaming became the state's leading industry. New federal and state regulations were imposed on the casinos when it was revealed during the 1950s and 1960s that organized crime had gradually moved into the gaming industry, using casino money to finance narcotics and other illegal activity on the east coast.

As the number of casinos grew, the populations of Las Vegas and Reno exploded between 1970 and 1994 as the census in Las Vegas tripled and Reno's population doubled. As businesses and people moved to Nevada, larger amounts of water were needed. The drought between 1988 and 1992 did not help matters. Nevada continues to examine new ways of supplying water to areas around the state.

In the 1990s the largest industries in Nevada included gambling and tourism, which together generated more than 50 percent of the state's income. Mining in Nevada produces more than 350,000 pounds of gold and 1.4 million pounds of silver each year. Computers and electrical equipment were also the leading products; beef cattle, sheep, dairy cows, and hogs were the major farm products, along with hay, grapes, and onions.

In 1995 Nevada's per capita income was $24,390 and 11.1 percent of all Nevadans lived below the federal poverty level.


Aylesworth, Thomas G. The West: Arizona, Nevada, Utah. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 1992.

Elliot, Russel R. History of Nevada. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1973.

Laxalt, Robert. "Nevada." In States of the Nation. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1970.

Thompson, Kathleen. "Nevada." Portrait of America. Texas: Steck-Vaughn Publishers, 1996.

Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998, s.v. "Nevada."

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Nevada, Mignon (Mathilde Maria)

Nevada, Mignon (Mathilde Maria) (b Paris, 1886; d Long Melford, 1971). Eng. soprano, daughter of Amer. sop. Emma Nevada (1859–1940) with whom she studied. Opera début Rome 1907 (Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia), CG 1910. Also sang in Milan, Paris, and other opera houses. Beecham considered her to be the best Desdemona in Otello.

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"Nevada, Mignon (Mathilde Maria)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . (December 16, 2017).

"Nevada, Mignon (Mathilde Maria)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from


Nevadaadder, bladder, khaddar, ladder, madder •Esmeralda, Valda •scaffolder • lambda •Amanda, Aranda, Baganda, Banda, brander, candour (US candor), coriander, dander, expander, gander, germander, goosander, jacaranda, Leander, Luanda, Lysander, meander, memoranda, Menander, Miranda, oleander, panda, pander, philander, propaganda, Rwanda, sander, Skanda, stander, Uganda, understander, Vanda, veranda, withstander, zander •backhander • Laplander • stepladder •inlander • outlander • Netherlander •overlander • gerrymander •pomander •calamander, salamander •bystander •ardour (US ardor), armada, Bader, cadre, carder, cicada, Dalriada, enchilada, Garda, gelada, Granada, Haggadah, Hamada, intifada, lambada, larder, Masada, Nevada, panada, piña colada, pousada, promenader, retarder, Scheherazade, Theravada, Torquemada, tostada •Alexander, commander, demander, Lahnda, slander •Pravda • autostrada

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"Nevada." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 16 Dec. 2017 <>.

"Nevada." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (December 16, 2017).

"Nevada." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from