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Las Vegas is the largest city founded in the 20th century. It's a major tourist, shopping, vacation and gambling destination. The Census Bureau's official population estimate as of 2003 was over half a million.

Las Vegas was given its name by Spaniards in the Antonio Armijo party, who watered there while heading north and west along the Old Spanish Trail from Texas. At that time, some low areas of the Las Vegas Valley contained artesian springs that created extensive green areas in contrast to the surrounding desert, hence the name "Las Vegas", Spanish for "The Meadows".



With gambling legalized in 1931, Las Vegas started its rise to world fame in 1941, when developers began building large hotels incorporating gambling casinos. Several such early enterprises are widely reputed to have been backed by money from crime syndicates based in the eastern United States. Gangsters Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Meyer Lansky are widely credited as the organizers and prime movers behind early development of Las Vegas. Ever since then, Las Vegas has been a major international center for gambling.


Las Vegas is sometimes called Sin City due to the popularity of legalized gambling, availability of alcoholic beverages any time of the day and night (like all of Nevada), various forms and degrees of adult entertainment. The nickname favored by local government and promoters of tourism is The Entertainment Capital of the World. The city's glamorous image has made it a popular setting for films and television programs.

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