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Las Vegas, Nev.

Mayor: Carolyn G. Goodman (to May 2015)

2010 census population (rank): 583,756 (30); Male: 294,100 (50.4%); Female: 289,656 (49.6%); White: 362,264 (62.1%); Black: 64,858 (11.1%); American Indian and Alaska Native: 4,125 (0.7%); Asian: 35,620 (6.1%); Other race: 84,785 (9.7%); Two or more races: 28,678 (4.9%); Hispanic/Latino: 183,859 (31.5%). 2010 population 18 and over: 434,001; 65 and over: 70,043 (12.0%); Median age: 34.5.

2012 population estimate (rank): 596,424 (31)

See additional census data

Land area: 113 sq mi. (293 sq km);

Alt.: 2,174 ft.

Avg. daily temp.: Jan., 45.5° F; July, 91.1° F

Churches: over 500 churches and synagogues;

Parks: 50 (799 ac.)

Radio stations: AM, 4; FM, 8;

Television stations: 7

Civilian Labor Force (MSA) November 2008: 988,0001;

Unemployed: 6.6%1

Per capita personal income (MSA) 2010: $27,0621

Chamber of Commerce: Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, 3720 Howard Hughes Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89109

1. Las Vegas–Paradise, Nev.

Las Vegas, seat of Clark County in southeast Nevada, is the largest city in the state and one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Between April 1990 and April 2000, the Las Vegas metropolitan area population increased by 83%, growing from 852,737 to 1,563,282.

The area was discovered by Spanish explorers in 1829. The site of Las Vegas (“The Meadows” in Spanish) was originally a watering place for travelers on their way to southern California. It was first settled by Mormons in 1855, who were attracted by its artesian springs. They abandoned their settlement two years later in 1857, and the U.S. Army established Fort Baker there in 1864. In 1867, Las Vegas was detached from the Arizona Territory and joined with Nevada.

The town was established and started to grow with the arrival of the railroad in 1905. However, its growth did not really take off until shortly after 1931, when the Nevada legislature legalized gambling in an effort to lift the state from the Great Depression. The construction of nearby Hoover Dam aided the area economically as well.

The Las Vegas that we know today basically began after World War II, when the idea of large hotels along the brand new “strip” was developed. Las Vegas is the “marriage capital” of America; there are 50 wedding chapels in the city. Tourism and the convention industry are the city's major sources of income. In addition, manufacturing, government, warehousing, and trucking are major sources of employment. Many high-technology companies are also located in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas has a favorable business climate: taxes are relatively low, and there are neither city nor state income taxes. This is because gambling and sales taxes, paid by tourists, have allowed the city and state governments to avoid personal and corporate income taxes.

Popular nearby tourist attractions are Hoover Dam and Lake Mead (the largest man-made lake in the U.S.), Lake Mojave, the Mt. Charleston Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon, and the Death Valley National Monument.

See also Encyclopedia: Las Vegas.

Selected famous natives and residents:

  • Andre Agassi tennis player;
  • Clara Bow actress;
  • Jack Kramer tennis player;
  • Phyllis McGuire singer;
  • Benjamin Siegel hotel-casino promoter;
  • Orson Welles actor and producer;
  • Joe Williams jazz singer.

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