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Nevada

Nevada () is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. Nevada is the 7th most extensive, the 35th most populous, and the 9th least densely populated of the 50 United States. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area,[1] which contains its three largest incorporated cities.[2] Nevada's capital is Carson City.

Nevada is largely desert and semiarid, with much of it located within the Great Basin. Areas south of the Great Basin are located within the Mojave Desert, while Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains lie on the western edge. Approximately 86% of the state's land is owned by the US government under various jurisdictions, both civilian and military.[3]

The name Nevada is derived from the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains, which means "snow-capped mountain range" in Spanish. The land comprising the modern state was inhabited by Native Americans of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe tribes prior to European contact.[4] It was subsequently claimed by Spain as a part of Alta California until the Mexican War of Independence brought it under Mexican control. The United States gained the territory in 1848 following its victory in the Mexican-American War and the area was eventually incorporated as part of Utah Territory in 1850. The discovery of silver at the Comstock Lode in 1859 led to a population boom that was an impetus to the creation of Nevada Territory out of western Utah Territory in 1861. Nevada became the 36th state on October 31, 1864.[5]

The establishment of legalized gambling and lenient marriage and divorce proceedings in the 20th century transformed Nevada into a major tourist destination.[6][7] The tourism industry remains Nevada's largest employer,[8] with mining continuing to be a substantial sector of the economy as Nevada is the fourth largest producer of gold in the world.[9]

Nevada is officially known as the "Silver State" due to the importance of silver to its history and economy. It is also known as the "Battle Born State" because it achieved statehood during the Civil War and the "Sagebrush State" for the native eponymous plant.

Contents


Etymology and pronunciation

The quartzite of the Prospect Mountain Formation on top of Wheeler Peak, the highest peak entirely within Nevada
The quartzite of the Prospect Mountain Formation on top of Wheeler Peak, the highest peak entirely within Nevada
The name "Nevada" comes from the Spanish Nevada , meaning "snow-covered",[10] after the Sierra Nevada ("snow-covered mountains") mountain range.

Nevadans normally pronounce the second syllable of their state name using the vowel of "bad". Many from outside the Western United States pronounce it with the vowel of "father" . Although the latter pronunciation is closer to the Spanish pronunciation, it is not the pronunciation preferred by locals. Notably, George W. Bush made this faux pas during his campaign for the 2004 US Presidential Election. Vindication later came when President Bush campaigned at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on June 18, 2004. The president opened his talk by proclaiming that "It's great to be here in Nevada ," emphasizing the correct 'a' the crowd roared its approval when he light-heartedly noted, "You didn't think I'd get it right, did ya?"[11] Bush subsequently carried the state in the election. Assemblyman Harry Mortenson has proposed a bill to recognize the alternate (quasi-Spanish) pronunciation of Nevada.[12]

Geography

Digitally colored elevation map of Nevada
Digitally colored elevation map of Nevada
Nevada is almost entirely within the Basin and Range Province, and is broken up by many north-south mountain ranges. Most of these ranges have endorheic valleys between them, which belies the image portrayed by the term Great Basin.
Pinyon/Juniper woodlands cover most of the mountain ranges in the northeastern and central portions of the state.
Pinyon/Juniper woodlands cover most of the mountain ranges in the northeastern and central portions of the state.
Sunrise over Reno
Sunrise over Reno
Basin and Range scenery near Rachel
Basin and Range scenery near Rachel
Much of the northern part of the state is within the Great Basin, a mild desert that experiences hot temperatures in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter. Occasionally, moisture from the Arizona Monsoon will cause summer thunderstorms; Pacific storms may blanket the area with snow. The state's highest recorded temperature was in Laughlin (elevation of ) on June 29, 1994.[13] The coldest recorded temperature was set in San Jacinto in 1972, in the northeastern portion of the state.[13]

The Humboldt River crosses from east to west across the northern part of the state, draining into the Humboldt Sink near Lovelock. Several rivers drain from the Sierra Nevada eastward, including the Walker, Truckee and Carson rivers.

Mountains west of Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert
Mountains west of Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert

The mountain ranges, some of which have peaks above , harbor lush forests high above desert plains, creating sky islands for endemic species. The valleys are often no lower in elevation than .

The southern third of the state, where the Las Vegas area is situated, is within the Mojave Desert. The area receives less rain in the winter but is closer to the Arizona Monsoon in the summer. The terrain is also lower, mostly below , creating conditions for hot summer days and cool to chilly winter nights (due to temperature inversion).

Nevada and California have by far the longest diagonal line (in respect to the cardinal directions) as a state boundary at just over . This line begins in Lake Tahoe nearly offshore (in the direction of the boundary), and continues to the Colorado River where the Nevada, California, and Arizona boundaries merge southwest of the Laughlin Bridge.

The largest mountain range in the southern portion of the state is the Spring Mountain Range, just west of Las Vegas. The state's lowest point is along the Colorado River, south of Laughlin.

Nevada has 172 mountain summits with of prominence. Nevada ranks second in the US, behind Alaska, and ahead of California, Montana, and Washington. This makes Nevada the "Most Mountainous" state in the country, at least by this measure.

Climate

Nevada is the driest state in the US.[14] It is made up of mostly desert and semiarid climate regions, daytime summer temperatures sometimes may rise as high as and nighttime winter temperatures may reach as low as . While winters in northern Nevada are long and fairly cold, the winter season in the southern part of the state tends to be of short duration and mild. Most parts of Nevada receive scarce precipitation during the year. Most rain falls on the lee side (east and northeast slopes) of the Sierra Nevada. The average annual rainfall per year is about ; the wettest parts get around . Nevada's highest recorded temperature is at Laughlin on June 29, 1994 and the lowest recorded temperature is at San Jacinto on January 8, 1937. Nevada's reading is the third highest temperature recorded in the U.S. just behind Arizona's reading and California's reading.

Vegetation

Nevada contains six biotic zones: alpine, sub-alpine, "Ponderosa Pine", "pinion-juniper", "sagebrush" and "creosotebush".[15]

Counties

Nevada is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. Carson City is officially a consolidated municipality; however, for many purposes under state law it is considered to be a county. As of 1919 there were 17 counties in the state, ranging from . In 1969 Ormsby County was dissolved and the consolidated municipality of Carson City was created by the Legislature in its place co-terminous with the old boundaries of Ormsby County.

Nevada Counties
County name County seat Year founded 2000 population Percent of total Area (mi ) Percent of total Population density (/mi )
Carson City Carson City 1861 52,457 2.63 % 146 0.13 % 359.29
Churchill Fallon 1861 23,982 1.20 % 5,023 4.54 % 4.77
Clark Las Vegas 1908 1,375,765 68.85 % 8,091 7.32 % 170.04
Douglas Minden 1861 41,259 2.06 % 738 0.67 % 55.91
Elko Elko 1869 45,291 2.27 % 17,203 15.56 % 2.63
Esmeralda Goldfield 1861 971 0.05 % 3,589 3.25 % 0.27
Eureka Eureka 1869 1,651 0.08 % 4,180 3.78 % 0.39
Humboldt Winnemucca 1856/1861 16,106 0.81 % 9,658 8.74 % 1.67
Lander Battle Mountain 1861 5,794 0.29 % 5,519 4.99 % 1.05
Lincoln Pioche 1866 4,165 0.21 % 10,637 9.62 % 0.39
Lyon Yerington 1861 34,501 1.73 % 2,016 1.82 % 17.11
Mineral Hawthorne 1911 5,071 0.25 % 3,813 3.45 % 1.33
Nye Tonopah 1864 32,485 1.63 % 18,159 16.43 % 1.79
Pershing Lovelock 1919 6,693 0.33 % 6,068 5.49 % 1.10
Storey Virginia City 1861 3,399 0.17 % 264 0.24 % 12.88
Washoe Reno 1861 339,486 16.99 % 6,551 5.93 % 51.82
White Pine Ely 1869 9,181 0.46 % 8,897 8.05 % 1.03
Totals Counties: 17 1,998,257 110,552 18.08

History

Before 1861

Sculpture representing a steam locomotive, in Ely, Nevada. Early locomotives played an important part in Nevada's mining industry
Sculpture representing a steam locomotive, in Ely, Nevada. Early locomotives played an important part in Nevada's mining industry
See History of Utah, History of Las Vegas, and the discovery of the first major U.S. deposit of silver ore in Comstock Lode under Virginia City, Nevada in 1859.

Separation from Utah Territory

Nevada territory in 1861
Nevada territory in 1861
On March 2, 1861, the Nevada Territory separated from the Utah Territory and adopted its current name, shortened from Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "snowy range").

The 1861 southern boundary is commemorated by Nevada Historical Markers 57 and 58 in Lincoln and Nye counties.

Statehood

Eight days prior to the presidential election of 1864, Nevada became the 36th state in the union. Statehood was rushed to the date of October 31 to help ensure Abraham Lincoln's reelection on November 8 and post-Civil War Republican dominance in Congress,[16] as Nevada's mining-based economy tied it to the more industrialized Union.

Nevada is notable for being one of only two states to significantly expand its borders after admission to the Union. Nevada achieved its current southern boundaries on May 5, 1866, when it absorbed the portion of Pah-Ute County in the Arizona Territory west of the Colorado River, essentially all of present day Nevada south of the 37th parallel. The transfer was prompted by the discovery of gold in the area, and it was thought by officials that Nevada would be better able to oversee the expected population boom. This area includes most of what is now Clark County. In 1868 another part of the western Utah Territory, whose population was seeking to avoid Mormon dominance, was added to Nevada in the eastern part of the state, setting the current eastern boundary.

Mining shaped Nevada's economy for many years (see Silver mining in Nevada). When Mark Twain lived in Nevada during the period described in Roughing It, mining had led to an industry of speculation and immense wealth. However, both mining and population declined in the late 19th century. However, the rich silver strike at Tonopah in 1900, followed by strikes in Goldfield and Rhyolite, again put Nevada's population on an upward trend.

Gambling and labor

Gambling erupted once more following a recession in the early 20th century, helping to build the city of Las Vegas
Gambling erupted once more following a recession in the early 20th century, helping to build the city of Las Vegas
Unregulated gambling was commonplace in the early Nevada mining towns but was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nation-wide anti-gambling crusade. Because of subsequent declines in mining output and the decline of the agricultural sector during the Great Depression, Nevada again legalized gambling on March 19, 1931, with approval from the legislature. Governor Fred B.Balzar's signature enacted the most liberal divorce laws in the country and open gambling. The reforms came just eight days after the federal government presented the $49 million construction contract for Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam).[17]

Nuclear testing

The Nevada Test Site, northwest of the city of Las Vegas, was founded on January 11, 1951, for the testing of nuclear weapons. The site is composed of approximately of desert and mountainous terrain. Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site began with a bomb dropped on Frenchman Flat on January 27, 1951. The last atmospheric test was conducted on July 17, 1962, and the underground testing of weapons continued until September 23, 1992. The location is known for having the highest concentration of nuclear-detonated weapons in the U.S.

Over 80% of the state's area is owned by the federal government. The primary reason for this is that homesteads were not permitted in large enough sizes to be viable in the arid conditions that prevail throughout desert Nevada. Instead, early settlers would homestead land surrounding a water source, and then graze livestock on the adjacent public land, which is useless for agriculture without access to water (this pattern of ranching still prevails).

Demographics

Growth

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Nevada was 2,723,322 on July 1, 2011, a 0.84% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[18]

According to the Census Bureau's 2007 estimate, Nevada has an estimated population of 2,565,382 which is an increase of 92,909, or 3.5%, from the prior year and an increase of 516,550, or 20.8%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 81,661 people (that is 170,451 births minus 88,790 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 337,043 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 66,098 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 270,945 people. According to the 2006 census estimate, Nevada is the eighth fastest growing state in the nation.[19]

The center of population of Nevada is located in southern Nye County.[20] In this county, the unincorporated town of Pahrump, located west of Las Vegas on the California state line, has grown 26 times in size from 1980 to 2000. In the year 2006, the town may have over 50,000 permanent residents. Las Vegas was America's fastest-growing city and metropolitan area from 1960 to 2000, but has grown from a gulch of 100 people in 1900 to 10,000 by 1950 to 100,000 by 1970 to have 2.5 million in the metropolitan area in 2010.

Nevada Population Density Map
Nevada Population Density Map

From about the 1940s until 2003, Nevada was the fastest-growing state in the US percentage-wise. Between 1990 and 2000, Nevada's population increased 66.3%, while the USA's population increased 13.1%. Over two thirds of the population of the state live in the Clark County Las Vegas metropolitan area.

Henderson and North Las Vegas are among the USA's top 20 fastest-growing cities of over 100,000.

The rural community of Mesquite located northeast of Las Vegas was an example of micropolitan growth in the 1990s and 2000s. Other desert towns like Mercury and Searchlight on the outskirts of Las Vegas have seen some growth as well.

Large numbers of new residents in the state originate from California, which led some locals to feel that their state is being "Californicated".[21]

Human diversity

According to the 2008 census estimates, racial distribution was as follows: 65% White American, 7.1% African American, 6% Asian American, 2% others (American Indians and Pacific Islanders) and the remaining 20% were Hispanics or Latinos of any race. In 1970, non-Hispanic whites made up 88% of the state's population.[22]

In terms of diversity, Nevada is home to many cultures and nationalities. Las Vegas and Reno or Washoe County are minority majority cities and counties. Nevada also has a sizable Basque ancestry population. In Douglas, Mineral and Pershing counties, a plurality of residents are of Mexican ancestry, with Clark County (Las Vegas) being home to over 200,000 Mexican Americans alone; Nye County and Humboldt County have a plurality of Germans; and Washoe County has many Irish Americans. Americans of English descent form pluralities in Lincoln County, Churchill County, Lyon County, White Pine County and Eureka County. Las Vegas is home to rapid-growing ethnic communities like Scandinavians, Italians, Poles, Greeks, Spaniards and Armenians.

Largely African American sections of Las Vegas ("the Meadows") and Reno can be found. Many current African-American Nevadans are newly transplanted residents from California, the Midwest, or the East Coast.

Since the California Gold Rush of the 1850s brought thousands of Chinese miners to Washoe county, Asian Americans lived in the state. They were followed by a few hundred of Japanese farm workers in the late 19th century. By the late 20th century, many immigrants from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and recently from India and Vietnam came to the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The city now has one of America's most prolific Asian American communities, with a mostly Chinese and Taiwanese area known as "Chinatown" west of I-15 on Spring Mountain Boulevard, and an "Asiatown" shopping mall for Asian customers located at Charleston Avenue and Paradise Boulevard. Filipino Americans form the largest Asian American group in the state, with a population of more than 113,000. They comprise 56.5% of the Asian American population in Nevada and constitute about 4.3% of the entire state's population.[23]

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 16.19% of Nevada's population aged 5 and older speak Spanish at home, while 1.59% speak Filipino[24] and 1% speak Chinese languages.

6.8% of the state's population were reported as under 5, 26.3% were under 18, and 13.6% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.7% of the population. Las Vegas was a major destination for immigrants from South Asia and Latin America seeking employment in the gaming and hospitality industries during the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, but farming and construction are the biggest employers of immigrant labor.

Senior citizens (over age 65) and young children or teenagers (under age 18) form large sections of the Nevada population. The religious makeup of Nevadans includes large communities of Mormons, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals; each is known for higher birth rates and a younger than national average age. American Jews represent a large proportion of the active adult retirement community.

In 2010, illegal immigrants constituted an estimated 8.8% of the population. This was the highest percentage of any state in the country.[25]

The principal ancestries of Nevada's residents in 2009 have been surveyed to be the following:[26]

Religion

Major religious affiliations of the people of Nevada are:[27]

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 331,844; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 116,925; and the Southern Baptist Convention with 40,233. 77,100 Nevadans belong to Jewish congregations.[28]

LGBT

An August 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 45% of Nevada voters supported legalizing same-sex marriage, with 44% thinking it should be illegal, and 11% were not sure. In a separate question, 77% of Nevada voters supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 39% supporting same-sex marriage and 38% supporting civil unions, while 22% opposed all legal recognition and 2% were not sure.[29]

Economy

Nevada quarter
Nevada quarter
Lake Tahoe on the Nevada, California border
Lake Tahoe on the Nevada, California border
The economy of Nevada has long been tied to vice industries. "[Nevada was] founded on mining and refounded on sin -beginning with prizefighting and easy divorce a century ago and later extending to gaming and prostitution", said the August 21, 2010 issue of The Economist.[30]

The Bureau of Economic Analysis[31][32] estimates that Nevada's total state product in 2010 was $126 billion. Resort areas such as Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Laughlin attract visitors from around the nation and world. In FY08 the total of 266 casinos with gaming revenue over $1m for the year, brought in revenue of $12 billion in gaming revenue, and $13 billion in non-gaming revenue. A review of gaming statistics can be found at Nevada gaming area.

The state's Per capita personal income in 2009 was $38,578, ranking nineteenth in the nation.[33]

As of August 2011, the state's unemployment rate is the worst in the nation at 13.4%.[34]

Its agricultural outputs are cattle, hay, alfalfa, dairy products, onions, and potatoes. Its industrial outputs are tourism, mining, machinery, printing and publishing, food processing, and electric equipment.

In portions of the state outside of the Las Vegas and Reno metropolitan areas, mining and cattle ranching are the major economic activities. By value, gold is by far the most important mineral mined. In 2004, of gold worth $2.84 billion were mined in Nevada, and the state accounted for 8.7% of world gold production (see Gold mining in Nevada). Silver is a distant second, with worth $69 million mined in 2004 (see Silver mining in Nevada).[35] Other minerals mined in Nevada include construction aggregates, copper, gypsum, diatomite and lithium. Despite its rich deposits, the cost of mining in Nevada is generally high, and output is very sensitive to world commodity prices.

As of January 1, 2006, there were an estimated 500,000 head of cattle and 70,000 head of sheep in Nevada.[36] Most of these animals forage on rangeland in the summer, with supplemental feed in the winter. Calves are generally shipped to out-of-state feedlots in the fall to be fattened for market. Over 90% of Nevada's of cropland is used to grow hay, mostly alfalfa, for livestock feed.

The state sales tax in Nevada is variable depending upon the county. The minimum statewide tax rate is 6.85%, with five counties (Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldt, and Mineral) charging this minimum amount. All other counties assess various option taxes, making the combined state/county sales taxes rate in one county as high as 8.1%, which is the amount charged in Clark County. Sales tax in the other major counties: Carson at 7.475%, Washoe at 7.725%. The minimum Nevada sales tax rate changed on July 1, 2009.[37]

Nevada has by far the most hotel rooms per capita in the United States. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, there were 187,301 rooms in 584 hotels (of 15 or more rooms). The state is ranked just below California, Texas, Florida, and New York in total number of rooms, but those states have much larger populations. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, far above the national average of one hotel room per 67 residents.[38]

Prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada in licensed brothels, but only counties with populations under 400,000 residents have the option to legalize it. Although prostitution employs roughly 300 women as independent contractors, and not a major part of the Nevada economy, it is a very visible endeavor. Of the 14 counties that are permitted to legalize prostitution under state law, about 8 have chosen to legalize brothels. State law prohibits prostitution in Clark County (which contains Las Vegas), and Washoe County (which contains Reno). However, prostitution is legal in Storey County, which is part of the Reno Sparks metropolitan area.

Largest employers

The largest employers in the state, as of the first fiscal quarter of 2011, are the following, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation:[39]

Transportation

State Route shield

The 2011 American State Litter Scorecard ranked Nevada (tied with Mississippi) as a bottom-three, "Worst" jurisdiction in the U.S., for overall effectiveness and quality of statewide public space cleanliness from state and related litter/debris removal efforts.[40]

Amtrak's California Zephyr train uses the Union Pacific's original transcontinental railroad line in daily service from Chicago to Emeryville, California, serving Elko, Winnemucca, Sparks, and Reno. Amtrak Thruway Motorcoaches also provide connecting service from Las Vegas to trains at Needles, California, Los Angeles, and Bakersfield, California; and from Stateline, Nevada, to Sacramento, California. Las Vegas has had no passenger train service since Amtrak's Desert Wind was discontinued in 1997, although there have been a number of proposals to re-introduce service to either Los Angeles or Southern California.

The Union Pacific Railroad has some railroads in the north and in the south. Greyhound Lines provides some bus service. U.S. Route 50]], also known as "The Loneliest Road in America" Interstate 15 passes through the southern tip of the state, serving Las Vegas and other communities. I-215 and spur route I-515 also serve the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Interstate 80 crosses through the northern part of Nevada, roughly following the path of the Humboldt River from Utah in the east and passing westward through Reno and into California. It has a spur route, I-580. Nevada also is served by several federal highways: US 6, US 50, US 93, US 95 and US 395. There are also 189 Nevada state highways. Nevada is one of a few states in the U.S. that does not have a continuous interstate highway linking its two major population centers. Even the non-interstate federal highways aren't contiguous between the Las Vegas and Reno areas.

The state is one of just a few in the country to allow semi-trailer trucks with three trailers what might be called a "road train" in Australia. But American versions are usually smaller, in part because they must ascend and descend some fairly steep mountain passes.

RTC Transit is the public transit system in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The agency is the largest transit agency in the state and operates a network of bus service across the Las Vegas Valley, including the use of The Deuce, double-decker buses, on the Las Vegas Strip and several outlying routes. RTC RIDE operates a system of local transit bus service throughout the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area. Other transit systems in the state include Carson City's JAC. Most other counties in the state do not have public transportation at all.

Additionally, a four mile (6 km) monorail system provides public transportation in the Las Vegas area. The Las Vegas Monorail line services several casino properties and the Las Vegas Convention Center on the east side of the Las Vegas Strip, running near Paradise Road, with a possible future extension to McCarran International Airport. Several hotels also run their own monorail lines between each other, which are typically several blocks in length.

McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is the busiest airport serving Nevada. The Reno-Tahoe International Airport (formerly known as the Reno Cannon International Airport) is the other major airport in the state.

Law and government

Government

A view of the Nevada State Legislative Building in Carson City
A view of the Nevada State Legislative Building in Carson City

The government of Nevada is defined under the Constitution of Nevada as a democratic republic with three branches of government: the executive branch consisting of the Governor of Nevada and their cabinet along with the other elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch consisting of the Nevada Legislature which includes the Assembly and the Senate; and the judicial branch consisting of the Supreme Court of Nevada and lower courts.

The Governor of Nevada is the chief magistrate of Nevada,[41] the head of the executive department of the state's government,[41] and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces.[42] The current Governor of Nevada is Brian Sandoval, a Republican.

The Nevada Legislature is a bicameral body divided into an Assembly and Senate. Members of the Assembly serve for 2 years, and members of the Senate serve for 4 years. Both houses of the Nevada Legislature will be impacted by term limits starting in 2010, as Senators and Assemblymen/women will be limited to a maximum of 12 years service in each house (by appointment or election which is a lifetime limit) a provision of the constitution which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court of Nevada in a unanimous decision. Each session of the Legislature meets for a constitutionally mandated 120 days in every odd-numbered year, or longer if the Governor calls a special session.

The Supreme Court of Nevada is the state supreme court. Original jurisdiction is divided between the District Courts (with general jurisdiction), and Justice Courts and Municipal Courts (both of limited jurisdiction).

Incorporated towns in Nevada, known as cities, are given the authority to legislate anything not prohibited by law. A recent movement has begun to permit home rule in incorporated Nevada cities to give them more flexibility and fewer restrictions from the Legislature. Town Boards for unincorporated towns are limited local governments created by either the local county commission, or by referendum, and form a purely advisory role and in no way diminish the responsibilities of the county commission that creates them.

State agencies

State departments and agencies:

Law

Libertarian

The courthouse of the Supreme Court of Nevada
The courthouse of the Supreme Court of Nevada
In 1900, Nevada's population was the smallest of all states and was shrinking, as the difficulties of living in a "barren desert" began to outweigh the lure of silver for many early settlers. Historian Lawrence Friedman has explained what happened next:

"Nevada, in a burst of ingenuity, built an economy by exploiting its sovereignty. Its strategy was to legalize all sorts of things that were illegal in California ... after easy divorce came easy marriage and casino gaming. Even prostitution is legal in Nevada, in any county that decides to allow it. Quite a few of them do."[44] With the advent of air conditioning for summertime use and Southern Nevada's mild winters, the fortunes of the state began to turn around, as it did for Arizona, making these two states the fastest growing in the Union.

Prostitution

Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal (under the form of licensed brothels).

Prostitution is specifically illegal by state law in the state's larger jurisdictions, which include Clark County (which contains Las Vegas), Washoe County (which contains Reno), and the independent city of Carson City. Otherwise, it is legal in those counties which specifically vote to permit it.

Divorce

Nevada's early reputation as a "divorce haven" arose from the fact that, prior to the no-fault divorce revolution in the 1970s, divorces were quite difficult to obtain in the United States. Already having legalized gaming and prostitution, Nevada continued the trend of boosting its profile by adopting one of the most liberal divorce statutes in the nation. This resulted in Williams v. North Carolina, , in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina had to give "full faith and credit" to a Nevada divorce.

Nevada's divorce rate tops the national average.[45]

Taxes

Nevada's tax laws also draw new residents and businesses to the state. Nevada has no personal income tax or corporate income tax.[46] Since Nevada does not collect income data it cannot share such information with the federal government, the IRS.[47]

Nevada's state sales tax rate is 6.85 percent. Counties may impose additional rates via voter approval or through approval of the Legislature; therefore, the applicable sales tax will vary by county from 6.85 percent to 8.1 percent in Clark County. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, imposes four separate county option taxes in addition to the statewide rate 0.25 percent for flood control, 0.50 percent for mass transit, 0.2 sales tax rate is 7.725 percent, due to county option rates for flood control, the ReTRAC train trench project, mass transit, and an additional county rate approved under the Local Government Tax Act of 1991.[48]

The lodging tax rate in unincorporated Clark County, which includes the Las Vegas Strip, is 12%. Within the boundaries of the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson, the lodging tax rate is 13%.

Corporations such as Apple Inc. allegedly have set up investment companies and funds in Nevada to avoid paying taxes.[49]

Gay rights

In 2009, the Nevada Legislature passed a bill to create legal recognition of same-sex unions in Nevada. This bill would create a domestic partnership registry that enables gay couples to enjoy the same rights as married couples.

Incorporation

Nevada also provides friendly environment for the formation of corporations, and many (especially California) businesspeople have incorporated their businesses in Nevada to take advantage of the benefits of the Nevada statute. Nevada corporations offer great flexibility to the Board of Directors and simplify or avoid many of the rules that are cumbersome to business managers in some other states. In addition, Nevada has no franchise tax.

Financial institutions

Similarly, many U.S. states have usury laws limiting the amount of interest a lender can charge, but federal law allows corporations to 'import' these laws from their home state.

Drugs and alcohol

Non-alcohol drug laws are a notable exception to Nevada's otherwise libertarian principles. It is notable for having the harshest penalties for drug offenders in the country. Nevada remains the only state to still use mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for marijuana possession. However, it is now a misdemeanor for possession of less than one ounce but only for persons age 21 and older. In 2006, voters in Nevada defeated attempts to allow possession of 1 ounce of marijuana (for personal use) without being criminally prosecuted, (55% against legalization, 45% in favor of legalization). However, Nevada is one of the states that allows for use of marijuana for medical reasons (though this remains illegal under federal law).

Nevada has very liberal alcohol laws. Bars are permitted to remain open 24 hours, with no "last call". Liquor stores, convenience stores and supermarkets may also sell alcohol 24 hours per day, and may sell beer, wine and spirits.

Smoking

Nevada voters enacted a smoking ban ("the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act") in November 2006 that became effective on December 8, 2006. It outlaws smoking in most workplaces and public places. Smoking is permitted in bars, but only if the bar serves no food, or the bar is inside a larger casino. Smoking is also permitted in casinos, hotel rooms, tobacco shops, and brothels.[50] However, some businesses do not obey this law and the government tends not to enforce it.[51] Yet, in one case, they did prosecute an establishment called "Bilbo's." As of 2008, the trial was still pending.[52]

Crime

Nevada has been ranked as the most dangerous state in the U.S. for five years in a row, just ahead of Louisiana[53][54] In 2006, the crime rate in Nevada was approximately 24% higher than the national average rate. Property crimes accounted for approximately 84.6% of the crime rate in Nevada which was 21% higher than the national rate. The remaining 20.3% were violent crimes and were approximately 45% higher than other states.[55] In 2008, Nevada had the third highest murder rate, and the highest rate of robbery and motor vehicle theft.[53]

Politics

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2008 42.65% 412,827 55.15% 533,736
2004 50.47% 418,690 47.88% 397,190
2000 49.49% 301,575 45.94% 279,978
1996 44.55% 198,775 45.60% 203,388
1992 34.71% 175,828 37.41% 189,148
1988 58.90% 206,040 37.91% 132,738
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of June 2010[56]
Party Active Voters Inactive Voters Total Voters Percentage Democratic 456,672 126,158 580,393 43.10% Republican 398,898 79,414 475,764 35.33% Unaffiliated 163,816 49,731 213,329 15.84% Minor Parties 57,984 19,352 77,079 5.72%
Total 1,077,370 274,655 1,346,565 100%

State politics

Due to heavy growth in the southern portion of the state, there is a noticeable divide between politics of northern and southern Nevada. The north has long maintained control of key positions in state government, even while the population of southern Nevada is larger than the rest of the state combined. The north sees the high population south becoming more influential and perhaps commanding majority rule. The south sees the north as the "old guard" trying to rule as an oligarchy. This has fostered some resentment, however, due to a term limit amendment passed by Nevada voters in 1994, and again in 1996, some of the north's hold over key positions will soon be forfeited to the south, leaving Northern Nevada with less power.

Clark and Washoe counties home to Las Vegas and Reno, respectively have long dominated the state's politics. Between them, they cast 87 percent of Nevada's vote, and elect a substantial majority of the state legislature. The great majority of the state's elected officials are either from Las Vegas or Reno.

National politics

Nevada has voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1912, except in 1976 when it voted for Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter. This gives the state status as a political bellwether.

Nevada supported Democrat Bill Clinton in the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections, Republican George W. Bush won in 2000 and 2004, and Democrat Barack Obama won the state in 2008.

The state's U.S. Senators are Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, and Republican Dean Heller. The Governorship is held by Brian Sandoval, a Republican from Reno.

Significant cities and towns

Rank City Population
within
city limits
Land Area
sq. miles
Population
Density
per sq mi
County
1 Las Vegas 591,536 131.3 4,217.8 Clark
2 Henderson 265,790 79.7 2,200.8 Clark
3 Reno 225,221 103.0 2,186.6 Washoe
4 North Las Vegas 216,961 101.3 2,141.8 Clark
5 Sunrise Manor 195,727 38.2 4,081.8 Clark
6 Paradise 186,070 47.1 3,947.3 Clark
7 Spring Valley 175,581 33.4 3,519.4 Clark
8 Sparks 88,518 23.9 2,773.6 Washoe
9 Carson City 58,350 143.4 366 Carson City
10 Pahrump 44,614 297.9 82.7 Nye

Paradise, Sunrise Manor, and Spring Valley are unincorporated towns in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

Rank County Population
within
county limits
Land Area
sq. miles
Population
Density
per sq mi
Largest city
1 Clark 1,715,337 7,910 174 Las Vegas
2 Washoe 383,453 6,342 54 Reno
3 Carson City 56,146 155.7 366 Carson City
4 Douglas 47,803 710 58 Gardnerville Ranchos
5 Elko 46,499 17,179 3 Elko
6 Lyon 44,646 1,994 17 Fernley
7 Nye 38,181 18,147 2 Pahrump
8 Churchill 26,106 4,929 5 Fallon
9 Humboldt 17,129 9,648 2 Winnemucca
10 White Pine 8,966 8,876 1 Ely

Note: table was compiled using Nevada State estimates from 2004 for population and Census 2000 for area and density

10 richest places in Nevada

Ranked by per capita income

Rank Place GDP County
1 Incline Village-Crystal Bay $52,521 Washoe
2 Kingsbury $41,421 Douglas
3 Mount Charleston $38,821 Clark
4 Verdi-Mogul $38,233 Washoe
5 Zephyr Cove-Round Hill Village $37,218 Douglas
6 Summerlin South $33,017 Clark
7 Blue Diamond $30,479 Clark
8 Minden $30,405 Douglas
9 Boulder City $29,770 Clark
10 Spanish Springs $26,908 Washoe

Education

Colleges and universities

Research institutes

Parks and recreation areas

Recreation areas maintained by the National Park Service

Northern Nevada

Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park

Southern Nevada

Wilderness

There are 68 designated wilderness areas in Nevada, protecting some under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management.[57]

State parks

See: List of Nevada state parks.

Sports

Nevada is not well known for its professional sports, but the state takes pride in college sports, most notably the UNLV Rebels (representing the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) of the Mountain West Conference and the Nevada Wolf Pack (representing the University of Nevada, Reno) of the Western Athletic Conference. In 2012, Nevada will join its cross-state rival in the MWC.

UNLV is most remembered for its men's basketball program, which experienced its height of supremacy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Coached by Jerry Tarkanian, the Runnin' Rebels became one of the most elite programs in the country. In 1990, UNLV won the Men's Division I Championship by defeating Duke 103 73, which set tournament records for most points scored by a team and largest margin of victory in the national title game. In 1991, UNLV finished the regular season undefeated. Forward Larry Johnson won several awards, including the Naismith Award. UNLV reached the Final Four yet again, but lost their national semifinal against Duke 79 77, and is referred to as one of the biggest upsets in the NCAA Tournament. The Runnin' Rebels were the Associated Press pre-season No. 1 back to back (1989 90, 1990 91). North Carolina is the only other team to accomplish that (2007 08, 2008 09).

The state is also home to one of the most famous tennis players of all time, Andre Agassi.

Nevada sports teams

Professional

College

The state is also home to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and NASCAR event and the National Rodeo.

Military

Several United States Navy ships have been named USS Nevada in honor of the state. They include:

Area 51 is located near Groom Lake, a dry salt lake bed. The much smaller Creech Air Force Base is located in Indian Springs, Nevada; Naval Air Station Fallon in Fallon; Hawthorne Army Depot in Hawthorne; and the Tonopah Test Range near Tonopah; there is also Nellis AFB just outside Las Vegas.

These bases host a number of activities including the Joint Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence, the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, Nevada Test and Training Range, Red Flag, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the United States Air Force Warfare Center, the United States Air Force Weapons School, and the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School.

Songs about Nevada

Future issues

Nevada enjoys many economic advantages, and the southern portion of the state enjoys mild winter weather, but rapid growth has led to some overcrowded roads and schools. Nevada has the nation's 5th largest school district in the Clark County School District (projected fall 2007 enrollment is 314,000 students grades K-12).[58] While the state was recently one of the fastest growing in the country, population growth slowed down to a halt in 2008.[59]

In 2008, the "American State Litter Scorecard," presented at the American Society for Public Administration national conference, positioned Nevada next to Mississippi and Louisiana as one of the worst states for removing litter from public roadways and properties.[60]

In August 2008, it was announced that Boyd Gaming would halt construction on a 4.2 billion dollar project called Echelon, which was to replace the old Stardust Resort & Casino. The reason cited for this is lack of funding/credit from banks.

Coyote Springs is a proposed community for 240,000 inhabitants in Clark and Lincoln counties. It would be Nevada's largest planned city. The town is being developed by Harvey Whittemore and has generated some controversy because of environmental concerns and allegations of political favoritism.[61]

State symbols

Playa areas of Nevada
Playa areas of Nevada

See also

References

External links

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