Nevada is a state of the United States and is one of the mountain states of the Rocky Mountains. It borders Oregon and Idaho in the north, Utah in the east, Arizona in the southeast, and California in the west.
Nevada has a total area of approximately 286 400 km2 and has 2 998 039 residents (US Census, 2017). Nevada was listed as the 36th state in the United States on October 31, 1864. The capital is Carson City, and the largest city is Las Vegas.
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Almost all of Nevada is within the desolate, desert-like Great Basin, the ‘Great Pool’, characteristic of its many north-south-going mountain ranges (2500-3500 meters) with flat pools in between. The border with California largely follows the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The state’s highest mountain, Boundary Peak (4005 masl), lies on the southwest border of the White Mountains, a northern outlet of the Sierra Nevada. In the Snake Range furthest east, Wheeler Peak reaches 3982 meters above sea level. The Colorado River follows Nevada’s southeast boundary through a series of artificial reservoirs (including Lake Mead), while the Humbold River crosses the state from east to west until it dries out at Carson Sink.
The climate is pronounced continental with lots of sun and mostly below 250 mm of rainfall per year. The average temperature in Las Vegas (665 m asl) in the southeast is 6 °C in January and 32 °C in July, while Reno (1340 m asl) has –1 °C in January and 20 °C in July. The annual rainfall is 100 mm and 190 mm respectively. In the mountains, pine forest grows, or else Nevada has bush carpet vegetation.
Nevada was originally populated by various indigenous peoples, including paiute, shoshoni and mohave. European colonization started in earnest after the great gold finds at Virginia City in 1859, and the population increased from about 7,000 in 1860 to 42,000 in 1870. However, up to the 1930s, the business base was very one-sided and population growth was characterized by alternate growth and decline, before the legalization of gambling and the construction of the Hoover Damcreated the basis for a more lasting economic and population growth. During the ten-year periods 1960-70, 1970-80, 1980-90 and 1990-2000, the population of Nevada increased faster than in any other state in the United States (by 71, 64, 50 and 66 percent respectively). In 2017, Nevada had the second-fastest percentage growth in population in the United States, according to Idaho (US Census, 2017).
Of the population, 49.1 percent are white, 9.8 percent African American, and 28.8 percent Hispanic (Hispanic or Latino). American Indigenous peoples make up 1.7 percent; of these, about half live in reserves. 92 percent of the population lives in cities. The largest cities are Las Vegas with 641,676 residents, Henderson with 302,539 residents and Reno with 248,853 residents (US Census, 2017).
Due to the lack of rainfall, most of the land can only be used for grazing, and in 2004 there were 500,000 cattle and 100,000 sheep. Using artificial irrigation, hay and other fodder crops, barley, wheat, potatoes, tomatoes and cotton are grown in the river valleys. Mining is important and Nevada is the country’s leading miner of gold and silver. The mining of copper ceased in the 1970s. The tourism and entertainment industry plays a very important role and is today the state’s most important source of income. Tourist traffic is concentrated to Las Vegas and Reno, and is based on legal gambling, prostitution, liberal divorce law, congressesmm Since the 1950s, when the Nevada Test Site was established, the defense has conducted drills and development work in the Nevada desert, with large military bases and nuclear weapons test areas. This is an important source of revenue for the state. The State University has branches in Reno (founded 1874) and Las Vegas (1957), and is the premier institution of higher education.
Nevada sends two senators and four representatives to Congress.
The first European exploration of Nevada took place in 1776 by Spanish missionaries from New Mexico. The area was surrendered to the United States by Mexico in 1848, and at about the same time the first (Mormon) settlers settled. The area belonged for a time with Utah, but after the first gold and silver finds in 1859, the population grew sharply, and in 1861 Nevada was separated as its own territory. In 1864, Nevada was granted the 36th state of the United States.