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    More than just the day-glo glitz of the casinos and cheap all-you-can-eat buffets, Nevada has a rich heritage of Wild West action and a historical charm all its own. Once the scene of a bustling gold and silver mining industry, it now offers activities that attract a wide range of visitors, from outdoor adventurists and ghost-town enthusiasts to slick-city high rollers looking for the big win.

    As a newcomer to the state of Nevada, you'll want to read articles about getting a driver license and registering your car. We've also got the skinny on Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office hours and locations across the state.

    Nevada makes things easy on new residents, thanks to this New Resident Guide prepared by the DMV. This document contains a quick rundown on all the things you'll need to do those transactions, including where to go.

    Also check out the handy New Resident Tip Sheet.

    State Attractions

    This state is home to the largest network of casinos in the entire country, with most of the action happening right in Las Vegas. From Steve Wynn's latest venture to the classic glamour of the Stardust, you'll find world-class accommodation, dining, and entertainment for every taste.

    Up north you'll find gambling hotspots in Reno, billed as "The Biggest Little City in the World," as well as Wendover, Sparks, Carson City, and Elko.

    With population centers mainly situated in the extreme south and extreme west of the state, it's safe to say that most of the land area of Nevada is wilderness. That means it's a haven for outdoor lovers, with its deserts, mountains, and lakes.

    Hikers, campers, rock climbers, and even skiers will all find a lot to love about the state. Check out the Lake Mead Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon, Heavenly Ski Resort, and Big Bend State Park.

    If you love the Old West, you'll want to visit the state's ghost towns and historic mining towns. Many of these historic towns have nothing more than a few old buildings, but some, like Virginia City and Tonopah, have tourist information and even tours.

    The Black Rock Desert outside of Reno is the annual home of Burning Man, a technicolor event filled with interactive art installations, themed camps, and a thriving group of people who embrace the ideals of community, participation, self-expression, and self-reliance.

    UFO hunters will inevitably make the trek to the Groom Lake military facility, about 90 miles north of Las Vegas. This facility has long been considered the true location of Area 51, the top-secret outpost that spawned millions of rumors of conspiracy theories and alien findings. The military facility is off-limits to visitors, but nearby town Rachel, situated on the Extraterrestrial Highway, will have more than enough information and merchandise to fuel any alien-related ideas you might have.

    Additional Resources for Newcomers

    Whether looking for a job or enrolling the kids in a new school, here's a great place to start:

    History of Nevada

    Originally belonging to Washoe, Paiute, and Western Shoshone Native American tribes, the land now known as Nevada became part of the Mexican territories in the 1820's. In 1846, the Mexico-American war began, and its end resulted in the area being offered to the United States as part of the Utah territory. Mormon settlers from Utah began to spread into the outlying regions, and one of Nevada's first towns, Mormon Station, was founded in 1851.

    Though gold had been discovered in the state as early as 1849, the mineral-rich Comstock Lode was found in 1859, giving rise to the state's real mining boom and attracting thousands more settlers into the area.

    In March of 1861, the area separated from the then-established state of Utah and became known as the territory of Nevada. Ignoring the vast desert that makes up a large portion of the state, the name was a shortened form of sierra nevada, which means "snowy mountain range" in Spanish.

    President Abraham Lincoln declared Nevada an official state in 1864, and many think his decision was meant to ensure his chance of reelection―and that of the United States' Republican-dominated Congress.

    In the 1880s, the glory days of the gold rush began to fade, and the population of the once-growing state began to disappear. By the 1890s, the population had reached an all-time low and there was talk from Washington about repealing Nevada's statehood. Luckily, silver was discovered in Tonopah in 1900, and the state's population once again soared.

    While Nevada is well-known for its gambling, the practice was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nationwide antigambling platform. But when the mining industry began to decrease drastically in the 1920s, the state legalized gambling again in 1931 as a temporary measure to stabilize the economy and gain some revenue. Revenue was indeed gained―lots of it―and no one really seriously talked about re-outlawing gambling again.

    Casinos cropped up in Las Vegas and Reno, and drew permanent residents seeking employment in the many cash-generating businesses that were thriving. Tourism boomed and in 2004 a record 50 million visitors made Nevada their destination of choice for leisure, entertainment, and (of course) the hope for a winning jackpot.


    It's probably pretty obvious that the main industries in Nevada are tourism and mining. Agricultural specialties are hay, cattle, potatoes, and dairy products. Besides gold and silver, the state mines other minerals like copper and lithium. Primarily because of the booming tourist industry, Nevada is one of the few states in the U.S. that does not levy a personal income tax.