THE STATE OF NEVADA, which covers an area of
around 110,00 square miles (approximately 250,000
square kilometres), was founded in 1864 . The
state has a population of over 1.5 million.
Las Vegas is its largest city, and Carson City
in the north of the state is its capital.
Nevada is the driest state in the USA. In the
north and west the winters are bitterly cold,
while in parts of the south the extreme summer
heat can become unbearable.
The rivers in the south-east
belong to the Colorado River system of which the
Lake Mead (one of the largest artificial lakes in
the world) and Hoover Dam project form a
Most Nevada rivers terminate in desolate alkali
sinks - except where they have been diverted for
irrigation. The alkali sinks and the great dry
areas clothed with creosote bush and sagebrush
are typical features of the Nevada
Besides the bustling activity of Las Vegas,
other places of interest are the Hoover Dam and
the many mining towns (ghost villages - such as
Rhyolite - and preserved or restored sites - such
as at Tonopah) dotted throughout Nevada. The
Death Valley National Park lies in California
just over the state border near Rhyolite.
Nevada's wealth lies below its
surface. Copper mining, once a major industry, is
now almost non-existent. However, Nevada is
presently the USA's major producer of gold,
silver and mercury. Petroleum was discovered in
1954, and commercial development began during the
The state's economy is largely
based on tourism, especially in the gambling and
resort centres such as Las Vegas and Reno.
Gambling was legalized in 1931 and the taxes
derived from it are a major source of state
revenue. The service industry employs over half
of Nevada's working population. For many years
relaxed state divorce laws caused Reno to be
dubbed "the divorce capital of the world", but
since the enactment of similar laws in other
states the title no longer applies!
The state motto is "All for our