Nevada is situated in the western and south-western part of the United States. It covers an area of 110, 577 squared miles which it the 7th largest State and has a population of nearly 3 million people, which makes it one of the most sparsely populated areas of the country. The first European to discover Nevada was the Spanish explorer Francisco Garces in 1776. It came under the authority of New Spain and became a part of Alta California which was also known as Upper California. In 1821 the Mexicans won their War of Independence and Alta California became a Mexican State.
Jedediah Smith the frontiersman in 1827 and when the Mormons created the State of Deseret in 1847, they claimed all of Nevada. The State was claimed by the United States at the completion of the Mexican-American War in 1848.
Nevada at this time contained parts of Utah and in 1861 the two were separated into separate States. In 1864 Nevada became the 36th State of the United States thanks to Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party believing that the State’s large republican voters would prove important in the up-coming election. Strangely the State continued to grow with parts of Utah being added in the east and a portion on Arizona was added to the south. The reason for the addition of parts of Arizona was due to the discovery of gold in the area and it was felt that the Nevada officials would manage the mining more successfully.
In these early years mining was the principle economic activity in the State with silver being found in the region as well as gold. A lot of the miners loved to gamble and they did this illegally until gambling was legalized in 1931.
Up until this period a fort had been built at the site of where Las Vegas stands today, half way between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles City. This was used mainly to store supplies for travelers across the region and in 1905 45 hectares were acquired either side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and the city of Las Vegas was created. This area became downtown Las Vegas. During this period mining started to decline and the region depending on the construction of the Hoover Dam. The city grew further as gambling became legalized, construction workers of the Hoover dam took residence and also people were attracted by the fact that people could enter the city to get a quick divorce.
With their being so many young adults in the city it was only natural that it was going to attract the adult entertainment industries. As well as the casinos and the nightlife, mafia type characters were soon present. The end of the Second World War saw numerous hotels and Casinos spring up in the city and this created a snowball effect as many people were attracted from all over the country to come and take advantage of this gamblers playground. This also coincided with the growing popularity of tourism and the area was seen to many as the perfect getaway.
Also during the 1950’s the military were attracted in to the region. There was already the Nellis Air Force Base in operation and in 1951 the US Atomic Energy Commission detonated its first bomb over the Nevada test site. This was the first of over 100 explosions until the activities stopped in 1963. These activities the moved underground until they ended in 1993. Despite the risks people in Las Vegas were giving the opportunity to view these explosions.
As the region flourished with success from its casinos the infrastructure of the State improved dramatically. The McCarran Airport, opened in 1948, is only 5 miles outside the centre of the city and is the 26th busiest airport in the world. Amtrak has a rail service from Los Angeles into Las Vegas, and the area has several highways that people can use to get in and out of the State. Today Nevada has a wider variety of industries than in previous generations. Many have grown from the success of the tourist industry into the area.