Nevada is located in a mountainous region that includes vast semiarid grasslands and sandy alkali deserts. It is the most arid state of the country. The state takes its name from the Spanish nevada (“snow-clad”), a reference to the high mountain scenery of the Sierra Nevada on the western border with California.
Nevada, which in the early 21st century was one of the fastest-growing states in the country, appears far removed from the days when Virginia City was a fabled frontier town, thriving on the rich silver mines of the Comstock Lode. However, many frontier qualities persist, though subtly transformed by a sophisticated urban environment. The prospectors digging against odds to find a bonanza have been replaced by the fortune seekers in the gambling casinos of Las Vegas and Reno, and the erstwhile “saloon diversions” have evolved into lavish nightclub entertainments.