Nevada is a large state of deserts and mountains. Since most of the land is not suitable for farming, the population grew very slowly. In the 1950s, there were only 267,000 people in the entire state. Today, there are nearly a million people living in the Las Vegas area alone. Las Vegas has become a major tourist center. It used to be a quiet little desert town of the old west. But in the 1950s and 1960s, hotels and gambling casinos were opened. In order to bring tourists to town, these hotels hired well-known entertainers. Soon Las Vegas became known as a major entertainment center. In order to promote the growth of Nevada, some activities were allowed which were against the law in other states. These included gambling and prostitution. It was also easier to get married in Nevada than in some other states. Over time, many other attractions were developed. Much of the activity in Las Vegas goes on at some 30 major hotels. Many of these hotels provide a complete range of services and entertainment.
Some of them boast 4,000 or 5,000 rooms. It is common for these large hotels to be organized around a particular theme, such as the Middle Ages, the Arabian Nights, the movies, the circus, Paris, Egypt or the Far East. The hotel, its restaurants, shops, lounges and entertainment reflect this theme. For example, the Paris Las Vegas Hotel has a 50-storey replica of the Eiffel Tower. The Luxor Hotel has a huge image of an Egyptian Sphinx and a replica of the tomb of King Tut. Nearly all of the major hotels also contain a casino – sometimes several casinos. Gambling is a major reason why people come to Las Vegas. There are slot machines, blackjack tables, and roulette wheels and much more.
Even though Las Vegas is in the desert, there is an extravagant use of water. Large swimming pools, water slides, artificial waterfalls and huge fountains are common. Health spas, beauty salons, fashion boutiques, specialty restaurants and malls abound. Tennis and golf are also popular. The lavish shows at Las Vegas are world famous. The tall dancing showgirls, like the famous Rockettes, wear beautiful but rather skimpy costumes. Some entertainers, like singer Wayne Newton, rarely leave Las Vegas. The pay there is good, and the audiences are appreciative. Near Las Vegas are other tourist sites such as the giant Hoover Dam. Behind the Hoover Dam is the large artificial lake, Lake Mead. Further up the river is the Grand Canyon. All these things are a short trip from the city. Las Vegas is called the city that never sleeps. At nearly any time of the day or night, there are casinos and shows that are open. A monorail connects many of the leading hotels. Many people view Las Vegas as a total entertainment package. One word of caution – set yourself a limit to how much you will spend at the casinos. Gambling can be addictive.