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Las Vegas, United States of America

Reference work entry

Introduction

Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the United States of America and the self-styled ‘entertainment capital of the world’. Covering an area of 136 sq. miles (352 km2) in southern Nevada, Las Vegas is the seat of Clark county and is located in the middle of the Las Vegas valley, an area of desert surrounded by the Sierra Nevada and the Spring mountains. In the last 60 years Las Vegas has grown more rapidly than any other city in the United States, its population having multiplied 30 times since 1940.

History

The site occupied by modern day Las Vegas was originally settled by Native Americans who lived by fishing from the natural springs in the Las Vegas Valley. Spanish explorers found an oasis in the area in the 1820s and christened the area Las Vegas (literally ‘the meadows’). Until the end of the nineteenth century the area was used as a stopping off point for traders travelling between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

In 1855 Mormon missionaries settled in the valley but...

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