|Nevada, far western state of the United States. It is bordered by Utah (E), Arizona (SE), California (SW, W), and Oregon and Idaho (N).
Area, 110,540 sq mi (286,299 sq km).
Pop. (2000) 1,998,257, a 66.3% increase since the 1990 census.
Capital, Carson City.
Largest city, Las Vegas.
Motto, All for Our Country.
State bird, mountain bluebird.
State flower, sagebrush.
State tree, single-leaf piñon.
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.
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; Lehman Caves National Monument; Great Basin National Park; and restored mining ghost towns like Virginia City.
*Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2003