History of Nevada
The first European believed to have reached the territory of today’s Nevada was Francisco Garces. The area was inhabited by a number of different Native American tribes with rich cultural heritage. The area was long fought over, it was first held by Spain, then Mexico, until it became a part of the US in 1848 with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe de Hidalgo. The first large wave of settlers to the region came when Mormons established stations in the area, to serve as temporary bases and rest stops on their way to the gold fields in California in 1851. Seeing that there was no government in the region to speak of, these temporary settlers established the ‘Washoe Code’ to help them govern the region, at least to some extent. Due to the fact that these early settlers moved to have the region incorporated in California, the government of the Utah Territory claimed the region as a county of their own.
The region remained a part of the Utah Territory until 1861. The separation was in no small part caused by the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1858. The lode was discovered in Carson County by James Finney. At first the mining of the lode was halted because of the inefficient judicial system in the region, which time and again failed to find an acceptable solution to the question of the ownership of the area in which the excavations were to be performed. This situation was not resolved before 1864 and the resignation of the entire Supreme Court, which still didn’t result in adequate mining laws, but has at least allowed for the exploitation of the ore. Needles to say this has attracted a lot of new settlers to the region.
In 1864, soon after the discovery of the Comstock Lode and the population increase that followed, Nevada was admitted into the Union as the 36th state. The process of admitting Nevada into the US was somewhat rushed, because it was believed that the three electoral votes that Abraham Lincoln was hoping to get from the state might be crucial in helping him secure the victory in the upcoming presidential elections. This is why the constitution of the newly formed state was telegraphed to Congress, just days before the election. This transmission is still the most expensive and the largest telegraph transmission ever carried out. When the elections were over, it was determined that there was no need for rushing the process, as Lincoln would have easily won the elections, even without the Nevada votes.
This is not the only thing that separates Nevada from most of the other states. It is also, along with Missouri, one of the two states that managed to increase its territory after being granted statehood. Namely it expanded to a part of Pah-Ute County, which previously belonged to the Arizona Territory. This area is now known as the Clark County, and its ownership was transferred to Nevada after large gold deposits were discovered in it, because it was believed that Nevada was better equipped to handle the expected increase in population. Mining has remained the state’s primary industry for many years to come.
The lives of miners were full of hardships and one of the ways of keeping people in miner towns happy was gambling. At first it was completely unregulated and quite common in those settlements, but eventually, in 1909 it was outlawed. When the state’s economy started suffering because of the Great Depression and the decrease in agricultural and mining output, gambling was once again made legal in the state in 1931. These new gambling laws were also accompanied by the by far most liberal laws regarding marriage and divorce in the nation.
Another thing that the state is famous for is the Nevada Test site. It was founded in 1951 and is located some 65 miles to the northwest of Las Vegas. The Test Site is used for the nuclear weapons testing, and is basically just a patch of mountains and deserts that stretch over 1,350 square miles. The first bomb was dropped there in 1951, and it contained 1 kiloton of TNT. Surface tests continued until 1962, while the last underground test was conducted in 1992. Federal government owns more than four fifths of the state’s area.
Economy of Nevada
In 2010, Nevada’s GSP was $126 billion. A significant portion of this came from the casinos in Laughlin, Lake Tahoe, and of course, Las Vegas. It is estimated that in 2008, there were more than 266 casinos in the state that were earning more than $1 million per year, and that combined, in gambling revenue earned more than $12 billion, while in non gambling revenue, they brought $13 billion. In 2009, Nevada’s per capita income amounted to $38,578, making it the 19th highest per capita personal income in the US. Other important state industries are agriculture, with the high production of potatoes, onions, dairy products, alfalfa, hay and cattle, as well as tourism, electric equipment manufacturing, food processing, machinery manufacture and mining.
Cattle ranching and mining are industries reserved for the rural portions of the state, removed from Reno and Las Vegas metropolitan areas. Various ores are mined in the state, with the gold being by far the most important one. In 2004, Nevada was responsible for 8.7% of the gold mined worldwide, with $2.84 billion worth of gold, or 6,800,000 ounces. In the same year, 10,300,000 ounces of silver were mined in the state, with the total value of $69 million. Apart from gold and silver, Nevada is also quite rich in lithium, diatomite, gypsum, copper and construction aggregates. Despite the high quantities of the minerals, mining can be quite expensive, and its feasibility is highly influenced by the prices on the world market. In 2006 it was estimated that the state had 70,000 head of sheep and 500,000 head of cattle.
Nevada is the leading state in the nation when it comes to the number of hotel rooms per capita. It was estimated that it had 584 hotels, with a total of 187,301 rooms. There are states, such as New York, Florida, Texas and California, with higher total number of rooms, but their populations are also significantly higher than Nevada’s. While the national average when it comes to number of rooms per resident is one room per 67 people, Nevada has one room for every 14 residents.
There are certain counties in Nevada (those with the population of less than 400,000 people) in which prostitution is legalized. There are 300 women employed in the sector, mostly as independent contractors, so this is not a large state industry, but it is still very noticeable and sets Nevada apart from most of the other states.
In 2011, the following were determined to be the largest employers in the state: Clark County School District, Washoe County School District, Clark County, Wynn Las Vegas, Bellagio LLC, MGM Grand Hotel/Casino, Aria Resort & Casino LLC, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Caesars Palace, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and The Venetian Casino Resort.
Nevada’s sales tax varies from one county to the other. The current minimum tax was set to 6.85% in 2009. There are five counties in the state that are only charging this minimum tax, Mineral County, Humboldt County, Eureka County, Esmeralda County and Elko County. Other counties have their own addendums to the bas tax rate, with the highest tax of 8.1% found in Clark County.
Nevada Geography and Climate
The largest portion of the state is located in the Basin and Range Province, and is intersected by mountain ranges spanning from the south to the north. The ranges are separated by endorheic valleys. The northern parts of the state are located in the Great Basin, and mainly consist of deserts with low winter and high summer temperatures. Thunderstorms are quite frequent in the region, because of its proximity to the Arizona Monsoon. The northern part of Nevada is intersected from the west to the east by the Humboldt River, which drains into the Humboldt Sink in the vicinity of Lovelock. Carson, Truckee and Walker rivers are drained from the Sierra Nevada. This part of the state has numerous mountain ranges, the peaks of which are often located at more than 13,000 feet of altitude and usually have rich forests that are a home to a number of different animal and plant species. The state contains 6 biotic zones, creosotebush, sagebrush, pinion-juniper, Ponderosa P, sub-alpine and alpine zone.
The southern portion of the state is located in the Mojave Desert. Las Vegas is found in this part of the state. This region doesn’t get a lot of rainfall, especially in the winter months. Most of the region is located below 4,000 feet of altitude. The border between California and Nevada is the longest diagonal border in the US, stretching over 400 miles. Spring Mountain Range to the west of Las Vegas is the largest mountain range in this region. To the south of Laughlin, along the Colorado River, is where the state’s lowest point is found.
Because of the fact that it is located in the semi arid and desert climate region, Nevada is the nation’s driest state. Its position and terrain also cause the rather high difference between the temperature extremes, with winter nighttime temperatures going all the way down to −50 °F, while summer daytime temperatures can be as high as 125 °F. Because of the differences in terrain, different regions of the state can have drastically different climate. While southern parts usually have short and mild winters, winters in the northern parts of the state are quite cold and long.
The state is averaging only 7 inches of annual precipitation, with the maximum precipitation reaching 40 inches. The highest temperature in the state of 125 °F was recorded in 1994 at Laughlin, while the lowest of −50 °F was recorded in 1937 at San Jacinto. Nevada’s highest temperature of 125 °F is the 3rd highest temperature ever recorded in the United States.
Like most of the US states, the smaller units with political jurisdiction are called ‘counties’. Nevada has had 17 counties since 1919. These counties are: Carson City County with a seat in Carson City and a population of 55,274 people, Churchill County with a seat in Fallon and a population of 24,877 people, Clark County with a seat in Las Vegas and a population of 1,951,269 people, Douglas County with a seat in Minden and a population of 46,997 people, Elko County with a seat in Elko and a population of 48,818 people, Esmeralda County with a seat in Goldfield and a population of just 783 people, Eureka County with a seat in Eureka and a population of 1,987 people, Humboldt County with a seat in Winnemucca and a population of 16,528 people, Lander County with a seat in Battle Mountain and a population of 5,775 people, Lincoln County with a seat in Pioche and a population of 5,345 people, Lyon County with a seat in Yerington and a population of 51,980 people, Mineral County with a seat in Hawthorne and a population of 4,772 people, Nye County with a seat in Tonopah and a population of 43,946 people, Pershing County with a seat in Lovelock and a population of 6,753 people, Storey County with a seat in Virginia City and a population of 4,010 people, Washoe County with a seat in Reno and a population of 421,407 people and White Pine County with a seat in Ely and a population of 10,030 people.
In 2011 the population of the state was estimated at 2,723,322 people. In 2007, it had 2,565,382 residents, which was 3.5% or 92,909 people increase since the year 2006, and 20.8% or 516,550 people increase since the year 2000. This increase included the 88,790 deaths and 170,451 births which resulted in a natural increase of 81,661 residents, as well as the net migrations that have brought 337,043 people into the state. In 2006, Nevada was the nation’s 8th fastest growing state. Nevada’s center of population is located in the southern section of the Nye County. Since 1960 until the year 2000, Las Vegas was the fastest growing city in the nation. Likewise, when percentages are concerned Nevada was the fastest growing state in the US between the 1940s and 2003. Seven out of ten largest cities in the state are located in the Clark County, as are the three largest cities, Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas.
Most of Nevada’s residents live in the urbanized areas, with only a minority living in rural areas. People in these areas are usually native Nevada inhabitants, while those in the cities have more often than not, been born in another state, and have moved to Nevada at one point. This is why the people in these areas are less ethnically diverse, and why their culture differs significantly from the culture in the urban areas.
When it comes to the ethnicity of the state’s inhabitants, 54.1% of the state’s residents are non Hispanic white people, 12.1% are Hispanic white, 8.1% of the population is composed of African American people, 1.2% of American Native and Alaska Native people, 7.2% of Asian, 0.6% of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders and 4.7% of multiethnic people.
According to their ancestry, it was estimated that 20.8% of the state’s residents were of Mexican ancestry, while those of German ancestry made up 13.3% of the state’s total population, those of Irish 10%, those of English 9.2%, those of Italian 6.3%, those of American 3.8% and those of Scandinavian 3.6%. Nevada is an ethnically diverse state. In 2011 it was estimates that 63.6% of the one year olds were members of some of the minorities. Reno and Las Vegas, for instance are minority majority cities. When it comes to alternative languages spoken in the state, Spanish is spoken at home by 16.19% of the state’s residents, Filipino by 1.59% and Chinese by 1%.
When religion is concerned 27% of the state’s residents are of Roman Catholic denomination, 11% are Mainline Protestants, 13% Evangelical Protestants, 2% belong to some of the other Protestant denomination, there are 11% of Mormons, 2% of the state’s inhabitants are Muslim, 1% Jewish, 3% belong to some of the other religions, and 20% of the state’s residents are not religious.
Nevada Government and Legislation
As is the case with the US federal government and the other states, Nevada’s constitution provides for three branches of government, the executive branch, with the Governor at the helm, the legislative branch that works through the Nevada Legislature which is composed of the Senate and the Assembly and the judicial branch, with the Supreme Court of Nevada as the highest judicial body in the state. The executive branch is responsible for the state budgeting and the enactment of the laws introduced by the legislative branch. The Governor is aided by the Governor’s cabinet and other elected officials, including the Lieutenant Governor, State Secretary and the Attorney General. Governor has the right to veto a bill that has been passed by the houses of Legislature, and has a duty and a privilege to act as the commander in chief of the Nevada National Guard.
The Legislature in Nevada is divided into two houses, the lower house, the Assembly, and the upper house, Senate. Senators serve four year terms, while member of the assembly serve two year terms. As of 2010, the total number of years a member of each of the houses can serve has been limited to 12. It is the duty of the Legislature to propose new laws and to vote on them. In case that a bill has been accepted by the vote in both houses, it has to be signed by the Governor before becoming a law. In case that the Governor decides not to sign a bill, but instead veto it, it can still be accepted as a law if it the houses both manage to gather two thirds of votes in favor of the bill.
Finally the judicial branch is composed of a number of courts of different jurisdictions and authority. This includes the lower Municipal and Justice Courts that have limited jurisdictions, the District Courts, which have general jurisdiction, and the highest state court, the Supreme Court of Nevada.