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Geography of Las Vegas, Nevada

Learn Ten Facts about "The Entertainment Capital of the World"

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The Las Vegas Strip at Night

The Las Vegas Strip at night as seen from the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel.

Amanda Briney

Population: 567,641 (2009 estimate)
State: Nevada
Land Area: 131.3 square miles (340 sq km)
Average Elevation: 2,030 feet (620 m)

Las Vegas is the largest city in the United States' state of Nevada and is the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. It is also the 28th most populous city in the U.S. with a city population of 567,641 (as of 2009) and a Metropolitan Statistical Are population of 1,865,746 (as of 2008). Las Vegas is known around the world for its resorts, gambling, shopping and dining and it calls itself the Entertainment Capital of the World.

It should be noted that in popular terms, the name Las Vegas is mostly used to describe the resort areas on the 4 mile (6.5 km) Las Vegas "Strip" on Las Vegas Boulevard. However, the Strip is mainly in the unincorporated communities of Paradise and Winchester. Nevertheless, the city is most well-known for the Strip and downtown.

The following is a list of ten geographic facts to know about Las Vegas, its development and the Strip.

1) Las Vegas was originally established as an outpost to western trails and in the early 1900s, it became a popular railroad town. At that time, it was a staging post for mining in the surrounding area. Las Vegas was established in 1905 and it officially became a city in 1911. The city declined in growth shortly after its founding, but in the mid-1900's it continued to grow. In addition, the completion of the Hoover Dam, about 30 miles (48 km) away, in 1935 again caused Las Vegas to grow.

2) Most of the early major development of Las Vegas occurred in the 1940s after gambling was legalized in 1931. Its legalization led to the development of large casino-hotels, the earliest of which were managed by the mob and were associated with organized crime.

3) By the late 1960s, businessman Howard Hughes had purchased many of Las Vegas' casino-hotels and organized crime was run out of the city. Tourism from around the U.S. grew considerably during this time but nearby military personnel were known to frequent the area which caused a building boom in the city.

4) Most recently, the popular Las Vegas Strip has undergone a process of redevelopment that began with the opening of The Mirage hotel in 1989. This resulted in the construction of other large hotels on the southern part of Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Strip, and initially tourists were driven away from the original downtown area. Today, however, a variety of new projects, events and the construction of housing has caused tourism to increase downtown.

5) The main sectors of the economy of Las Vegas are within tourism, gaming and conventions. These have also caused the related-service sectors of the economy to grow. Las Vegas is home to two of the world's largest Fortune 500 companies, MGM Mirage and Harrah's Entertainment. It also has several companies involved in the manufacturing of slot machines. Away from downtown and the Strip, residential growth in Las Vegas is rapidly occurring, so construction is also a major sector of the economy.

6) Las Vegas is located within Clark County in southern Nevada. Geographically, it sits in a basin within the Mojave Desert and as such the area surrounding Las Vegas is dominated by desert vegetation and it is surrounded by dry mountain ranges. The average elevation of Las Vegas is 2,030 feet (620 m).

7) The climate of Las Vegas is arid desert with hot, mostly dry summers and mild winters. It has an average of 300 sunny days per year and averages about 4.2 inches of rainfall per year. Because it is in a desert basin however, flash flooding is a concern when precipitation occurs. Snow is rare, but not impossible. The July average high temperature for Las Vegas is 104.1°F (40°C), while the January average high is 57.1°F (14°C).

8) Las Vegas is considered one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S. and recently it has become a popular destination for retirees and families. Most of the new residents of Las Vegas originate from California.

9) Unlike many major cities in the U.S., Las Vegas does not have any major-league professional sports team. This is mainly because of concerns over sports betting and competition for the city's other attractions.

10) The Clark County School District, the area in which Las Vegas lies, is the fifth most populous school district in the U.S. In terms of higher education, the city is near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Paradise, about 3 miles (5 km) from the city limits, as well as several community colleges and private universities.

To learn more about Las Vegas, visit the city's official website.

References

Wikipedia.com. (18 September 2010). Las Vegas, Nevada - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Vegas,_Nevada

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