|State of Nevada|
|Nickname(s): Silver State (official);
Sagebrush State; Battle Born State
|Motto(s): All for Our Country|
|Official language||De jure: None
De facto: English
|Largest city||Las Vegas|
|Largest metro||Las Vegas–Paradise, NV MSA|
|- Total||110,572 sq mi
|- Width||322 miles (519 km)|
|- Length||492 miles (787 km)|
|- % water||0.72|
|- Latitude||35° N to 42° N|
|- Longitude||114° 2′ W to 120° W|
|Number of people||Ranked 34th|
|- Total||2,940,058 (2016 est)|
|- Density||26.8/sq mi (10.3/km2)
|- Average income||$52,008 (34th)|
|Height above sea level|
|- Highest point||Boundary Peak
13,147 ft (4007.1 m)
|- Average||5,500 ft (1680 m)|
|- Lowest point||Colorado River at California border
481 ft (147 m)
|Became part of the U.S.||October 31, 1864 (36th)|
|- most of state||Pacific: UTC −8/−7|
|- West Wendover||Mountain: UTC −7/−6|
|Abbreviations||NV, Nev. US-NV|
|The Flag of Nevada.|
|The Seal of Nevada.|
|Bird(s)||Mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides)|
|Fish||Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi)|
|Flower(s)||Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)|
|Reptile||Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)|
|Tree||Bristlecone pine (Pinus monophylla)|
|Song(s)||"Home Means Nevada"|
|Released in 2006|
|Lists of United States state insignia|
Nearly three-quarters of Nevada's people live in Clark County, which contains the Las Vegas–Paradise metropolitan area where three of the state's four largest incorporated cities are located.
Nevada's capital is Carson City.
Nevada is officially known as the "Silver State" because of 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 (the words "Battle Born" also appear on the state flag); as the "Sage-brush State", for the native plant of the same name; and as the "Sage-hen State".
Nevada is largely desert and semi-arid, 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 lie on the western edge. About 86% of the state's land is managed by various jurisdictions of the U.S. federal government, both civilian and military.
Before European contact, Native Americans of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe tribes inhabited the land that is now Nevada. The first Europeans to explore the region were Spanish. They called the region Nevada (snowy) because of the snow which covered the mountains in winter.
The tourism industry remains Nevada's largest employer, with mining continuing as a substantial sector of the economy: Nevada is the fourth-largest producer of gold in the world.
- Etymology and pronunciation
- Parks and recreation areas
- Songs about Nevada
- State symbols
- Images for kids
Etymology and pronunciation
The name "Nevada" comes from the Spanish nevada [neˈβaða], meaning "snow-covered", after the Sierra Nevada ("snow-covered mountain range").
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.
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 Humboldt River crosses the state 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. All of these rivers are endorheic basins, ending in Walker Lake, Pyramid Lake, and the Carson Sink, respectively. However, not all of Nevada is within the Great Basin. Tributaries of the Snake River drain the far north, while the Colorado River, which also forms much of the boundary with Arizona, drains much of southern Nevada.
The mountain ranges, some of which have peaks above 13,000 feet (4,000 m), harbor lush forests high above desert plains, creating sky islands for endemic species. The valleys are often no lower in elevation than 3,000 feet (910 m), while some in central Nevada are above 6,000 feet (1,800 m).
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 4,000 feet (1,200 m), creating conditions for hot summer days and cool to chilly winter nights (the result of 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 400 miles (640 km). This line begins in Lake Tahoe nearly 4 miles (6.4 km) offshore (in the direction of the boundary), and continues to the Colorado River where the Nevada, California, and Arizona boundaries merge 12 miles (19 km) 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 2,000 feet (610 m) of prominence. Nevada ranks second in the USA, behind Alaska, and ahead of California, Montana, and Washington. Nevada is the most mountainous state in the contiguous United States.
Nevada is the driest state in the United States. It is made up of mostly desert and semi-arid climate regions, and, with the exception of the Las Vegas Valley, the average summer diurnal temperature range approaches 40 °F (22 °C) in much of the state.
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 that falls in the state falls on the lee side (east and northeast slopes) of the Sierra Nevada.
The vegetation of Nevada is diverse and differs by state area. Nevada contains six biotic zones: alpine, sub-alpine, ponderosa pine, pinion-juniper, sagebrush and creosotebush.
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 146 to 18,159 square miles (380 to 47,030 km2).
Lake County, one of the original nine counties formed in 1861, was renamed Roop County in 1862. Part of the county became Lassen County, California in 1864. The portion that remained in Nevada was annexed in 1883 by Washoe County.
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.
Bullfrog County was formed in 1987 from part of Nye County. After the creation was declared unconstitutional the county was abolished in 1989.
Humboldt county was designated as a county in 1856 by Utah Territorial Legislature and again in 1861 by the new Nevada Legislature.
Clark County is the most populous county in Nevada, accounting for nearly three-quarters of its residents. Las Vegas, Nevada's most populous city, has been the county seat since the county was created in 1909 from a portion of Lincoln County, Nevada. Prior to that it was a part of Arizona Territory. Clark County attracts numerous tourists. An estimated 44 million people visited Clark County in 2014.
Washoe County is the second most populous county of Nevada. Its county seat is Reno. Washoe County includes the Reno–Sparks metropolitan area.
Lyon County is the third most populous county. It was one of the nine original counties created in 1861. It was named after Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General to be killed in the Civil War. Its current county seat is Yerington. Its first county seat was established at Dayton on November 29, 1861.
|County name||County seat||Year founded||2010 population||Percent of total||Area (mi2)||Percent of total||Population density (/mi2)|
|Carson City||Carson City||1861||55,274||2.63 %||146||0.13 %||378.59|
|Churchill||Fallon||1861||24,877||0.92 %||5,023||4.54 %||4.95|
|Clark||Las Vegas||1908||1,951,269||72.25 %||8,091||7.32 %||241.17|
|Douglas||Minden||1861||46,997||1.74 %||738||0.67 %||63.68|
|Elko||Elko||1869||48,818||1.81 %||17,203||15.56 %||2.84|
|Esmeralda||Goldfield||1861||783||0.03 %||3,589||3.25 %||0.22|
|Eureka||Eureka||1869||1,987||0.07 %||4,180||3.78 %||0.48|
|Humboldt||Winnemucca||1856/1861||16,528||0.61 %||9,658||8.74 %||1.71|
|Lander||Battle Mountain||1861||5,775||0.21 %||5,519||4.99 %||1.05|
|Lincoln||Pioche||1866||5,345||0.20 %||10,637||9.62 %||0.50|
|Lyon||Yerington||1861||51,980||1.92 %||2,016||1.82 %||25.78|
|Mineral||Hawthorne||1911||4,772||0.18 %||3,813||3.45 %||1.25|
|Nye||Tonopah||1864||43,946||1.63 %||18,159||16.43 %||2.42|
|Pershing||Lovelock||1919||6,753||0.25 %||6,068||5.49 %||1.11|
|Storey||Virginia City||1861||4,010||0.15 %||264||0.24 %||15.19|
|Washoe||Reno||1861||421,407||15.60 %||6,551||5.93 %||64.32|
|White Pine||Ely||1869||10,030||0.37 %||8,897||8.05 %||1.12|
Administratively, the area of Nevada was part of the Commandancy General of the Provincias Internas in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Nevada became a part of Alta California (Upper California) province in 1804 when the Californias were split.
With the Mexican War of Independence won in 1821, the province of Alta California became a territory (state) of Mexico, with small population.
Jedediah Smith entered the Las Vegas Valley in 1827, and Peter Skene Ogden traveled the Humboldt River in 1828. When the Mormons created the State of Deseret in 1847, they laid claim to all of Nevada within the Great Basin and the Colorado watershed. In June 1855, William Bringhurst and 29 fellow Mormon missionaries from Utah arrived at this site just northeast of downtown Las Vegas and built a 150-foot square adobe fort, the first permanent structure erected in the valley, which remained under the control of Salt Lake City until the winter of 1858-1859.
As a result of the Mexican–American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Mexico permanently lost Alta California in 1848. The new areas acquired by the United States continued to be administered as territories.
As part of the Mexican Cession (1848) and the subsequent California Gold Rush that used Emigrant Trails through the area, the state's area evolved first as part of the Utah Territory, then the Nevada Territory (March 2, 1861; named for the Sierra Nevada).
Separation from Utah Territory
On March 2, 1861, the Nevada Territory separated from the Utah Territory and adopted its current name, shortened from Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "snow-covered mountain range").
The 1861 southern boundary is commemorated by Nevada Historical Markers 57 and 58 in Lincoln and Nye counties.
Eight days before 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, as Nevada's mining-based economy tied it to the more industrialized Union. As it turned out, however, Lincoln and the Republicans won the election handily, and did not need Nevada's help.
Nevada is one of only two states to significantly expand its borders after admission to the Union. (The other is Missouri, which acquired additional territory in 1837 due to the Platte Purchase.)
In 1866 another part of the western Utah Territory was added to Nevada in the eastern part of the state, setting the current eastern boundary.
Nevada achieved its current southern boundaries on January 18, 1867, 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 and the Las Vegas metropolitan area.
Mining shaped Nevada's economy for many years. 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
Unregulated gambling was commonplace in the early Nevada mining towns but was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nationwide 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).
The Nevada Test Site, 65 miles (105 km) northwest of the city of Las Vegas, was founded on January 11, 1951, for the testing of nuclear weapons. The site consists of about 1,350 square miles (3,500 km2) of desert and mountainous terrain. Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site began with a 1 kiloton of TNT (4.2 TJ) 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).
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Nevada on July 1, 2016 was 2,940,058.
The center of population of Nevada is located in southern Nye County. 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.
From about the 1940s until 2003, Nevada was the fastest-growing state in the US percentage-wise.
Large numbers of new residents in the state originate from California, which led some locals to feel that their state is being "Californicated".
Nevada's largest cities
- Las Vegas - population 613,599
- Henderson - population 277,440
- Reno - population 236,995
- North Las Vegas - population 230,788
- Paradise - population 230,000
- Sunrise Manor - population 219,000
- Spring Valley - population 193,000
- Enterprise - population 115,000
- Sparks - population 94,708
- Carson City - population 54,522
A small percentage of Nevada's population lives in rural areas. The culture of these places differs significantly from that of the major metropolitan areas. People in these rural counties tend to be native Nevada residents, unlike in the Las Vegas and Reno areas, where the vast majority of the population was born in another state. The rural population is also less diverse in terms of race and ethnicity.
Mining plays an important role in the economies of the rural counties, with tourism being less prominent. Ranching also has a long tradition in rural Nevada.
According to the 2010 census estimates, racial distribution was as follows:
- 66.2% White American (54.1% Non-Hispanic White, 12.1% White Hispanic)
- 8.1% Black American (African American)
- 7.2% Asian American
- 4.7% Multiracial American
- 1.2% American Indian and Alaska Native
- 0.6% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
- 12.0% some other race
Hispanics or Latinos of any race made 26.5% of the population.
The principal ancestries of Nevada's residents in 2009 have been surveyed to be the following:
- 20.8% Mexican
- 13.3% German
- 10.0% Irish
- 9.2% English
- 6.3% Italian
- 3.8% American
- 3.6% Scandinavian (1.4% Norwegian, 1.4% Swedish, and 0.8% Danish).
Asian Americans lived in the state since the California Gold Rush of the 1850s brought thousands of Chinese miners to Washoe county. They were followed by a few hundred Japanese farm workers in the late 19th century.
Large African American sections of Las Vegas and Reno can be found. Many current African-American Nevadans are newly transplanted residents from California.
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.
The economy of Nevada is tied to tourism (especially entertainment and gambling related), mining, and cattle ranching. Nevada's 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 plays a major economic role. By value, gold is by far the most important mineral mined. In 2004, 6,800,000 ounces (190,000,000 g) of gold worth $2.84 billion were mined in Nevada, and the state accounted for 8.7% of world gold production. Silver is a distant second, with 10,300,000 ounces (290,000,000 g) worth $69 million mined in 2004. 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.
Cattle ranching is a major economic activity in rural Nevada. Nevada's agricultural outputs are cattle, hay, alfalfa, dairy products, onions, and potatoes. As of January 1, 2006, there were an estimated 500,000 head of cattle and 70,000 head of sheep in Nevada. 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 484,000 acres (196,000 ha) of cropland is used to grow hay, mostly alfalfa, for livestock feed.
Resort areas like 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.
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.
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, 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 south of Nevada. Greyhound Lines provide some bus service to the state.
Many of Nevada's counties have a system of county routes as well, though many are not signed or paved in rural areas. 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—the road connection between the Las Vegas and Reno areas is made using a combination of Interstate and U.S. highways.
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.
Additionally, a 4-mile (6.4 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.
Parks and recreation areas
Recreation areas maintained by the federal government
- California National Historic Trail
- Humboldt National Forest
- Great Basin National Park
- Old Spanish National Historic Trail
- Pony Express National Historic Trail
- Ash Meadows National Wildlife Preserve
- Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park
- Toiyabe National Forest
- Inyo National Forest
- Mount Charleston and the Mount Charleston Wilderness
- Spring Mountains and the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- Death Valley National Park
There are 68 designated wilderness areas in Nevada, protecting some 6,579,014 acres (2,662,433 ha) under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management.
The Nevada state parks comprise protected areas managed by the state of Nevada, including state parks, state historic sites, and state recreation areas. There are currently 24 state park units, including Van Sickle Bi-State Park which opened in July 2011 and is operated in partnership with the state of California.
Several United States Navy ships have been named USS Nevada in honor of the state. They include:
- USS Nevada (1865)
- USS Nevada (BM-8)
- USS Nevada (BB-36)
- USS Nevada (SSBN-733)
Area 51 is located near Groom Lake, a dry salt lake bed.
The military 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
- "Silver State Fanfare" – the official state march by Gerald G. Willis. Codified by the Nevada Legislature in 2001 at NRS 235.035
- "Nevada State March" by J.P. Meder (1848-1908), 1894
- "Sin City" by AC/DC
- "Sands of Nevada" from Mark Knopfler's 2000 release Sailing to Philadelphia
- "Sin City" from Limbeck's 2005 release Let Me Come Home
- "Home Means Nevada", the state song of Nevada, by Bertha Rafetto
- "Nevada" by Riders in the Sky from the album Best of the West
- "Night Time In Nevada" by Dulmage/Clint/Pascoe, 1931
- "Nevada's Grace" by Atreyu, twelfth track off 2004's The Curse
- "Battle Born" by The Killers, last track on the 2012 album also named Battle Born
- "Winner's Casino" by Richmond Fontaine off the 2002 album Winnemucca
- "Reno" by Doug Supernaw off the album Red and Rio Grande released in 1993.
- "Ooh Las Vegas" by Gram Parsons off the album Return of the Grievous Angel.
- "Darcy Farrow" by Jimmie Dale Gilmore off the album One Endless Night.
- "Viva Las Vegas" recorded by Elvis Presley (1963)
- "Goldfield" by Rocky Votolato off of the album Makers (2006)
- "Vegas Lights" from Panic! at the Disco
- Album Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die (released 2013)
- State animal: desert bighorn sheep
- State artifact: Tule duck decoy
- State bird: mountain bluebird
- State colors: silver and blue
- State fish: Lahontan cutthroat trout
- State flower: sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
- State fossil: ichthyosaur
- State grass: Indian ricegrass
- State march: "Silver State Fanfare" by Gerald G. Willis
- State metal: silver (Ag)
- State mottos: "Battle Born" and "All For Our Country"
- State precious gemstone: Virgin Valley black fire opal
- State semiprecious gemstone: Nevada turquoise
- State slogan: "The Battle Born State"
- State song: "Home Means Nevada" by Bertha Raffetto
- State reptile: desert tortoise
- State rock: sandstone
- State soil: Orovada series
- State tartan: A particular tartan designed for Nevada by Richard Zygmunt Pawlowski
- State trees: single-leaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) and bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva)
Images for kids
Nevada Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.