Nevada had the fastest-growing population of any state in the 1990s and early 2000s, and one of the fastest-growing economies. Boom and bust has been a typical economic cycle for Nevada, although the boom in the 1990s was without precedent in the state.
Mining has been the traditional cornerstone of the Nevada economy, but the economy became more diversified in the late 20th century. The initial mining boom began with the discovery of the great silver and gold deposits of the Comstock Lode in 1859. Other discoveries led to the establishment of small mining communities throughout the state.
Agriculture, especially cattle ranching and other livestock raising, developed as the second most important aspect of the economy.
The legalization of gambling in 1931 led to growth of the tourism and entertainment industries, which today dominate the state’s economy. A rapidly growing population, in part due to the increased job opportunities in the tourism-driven service sector, has in turn made the construction industry an important employer. The federal government also employs many people in Nevada and contributes to the state’s economy. The most important federal facilities in the state are Nellis Air Force Base and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nevada Test Site.
Raising livestock, especially cattle and sheep, is the most important agricultural activity in Nevada. Because of Nevada’s arid conditions and sparse vegetation, the animals need a great deal of land on which to graze. Ranches in Nevada are correspondingly large. Livestock also graze on government-owned land. Most of the cattle ranches are in northern Nevada. Dairy farming is important in the south and west of the state. Most of Nevada’s crops are grown in valleys, and most of the cropland requires irrigation. The most important crops are alfalfa, hay, and other winter fodder for livestock, including wheat, barley, and oats. Farmers also grow potatoes and onions. Fruit and vegetable farms are found chiefly in the southern part of the state. Most of the ranching is done in the less arid northeastern parts of the state. Almost all the livestock graze on public lands at least part of the year. "Nevada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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