Las Vegas is in the southern part of the state of Nevada, about 50 miles east of the California border and 30 miles west of the Arizona border. The city is divided into two main parts: a compact downtown called Glitter Gulch and the Strip, a corridor of hotels and casinos（娱乐场，赌场）.
The only natural feature to account for the location of Las Vegas is a spring north of downtown. Once used by Paiute Indians on their seasonal visits to the area, it was re-discovered by Mexican scout Rafael Rivera in 1829. The area became known to overland travelers as las vegas - 'the meadows' - a place with reliable water and feed for horses. Las Vegas became a regular stop on the southern emigrant route to California, the Spanish Trail. In the 1850s, Mormons（摩门教徒） built the town's first structures, a small mission（教堂） and fort（堡垒）; the fort became a ranch house（低矮的平房）, but there was little development until 1902, when much of the land was sold to a railroad company. The area that is now downtown was subdivided when the tracks came through, with 1200 lots sold on 15 May 1905 alone - a date now celebrated as the city's birthday.
As a railroad town, Las Vegas had machine shops, a good number of hotels, saloons and gambling houses. The railroad laid off（解雇） hundreds in the mid 1920s, but one Depression-era development gave the city a new life. The huge Hoover Dam（胡佛水坝）project commenced in 1931, providing jobs and growth in the short term and water and power for the city's long-term growth.
Also in 1931, Nevada legalized gambling and simplified its divorce laws, paving the way for the first big casino, El Rancho, which was built by Los Angeles developers and opened in 1941. The next wave of investors, also from out of town（乡下）, were mobsters like Bugsy Siegel, who built the Flamingo in 1946 and set the tone for the new casinos - big and flashy, with lavish entertainment laid on to attract high rollers（挥金如土的人）.
The glitter that brought in the high rollers also attracted smaller spenders, but in larger numbers. Southern California provided a growing market for Las Vegas entertainment, and improvements in transport made it accessible to the rest of the country. Thanks to air conditioning and reliable water supplies, Vegas became one of the country's most popular tourist destinations. In recent years, Vegas has bent over backwards（尽最大的力量） to remake itself into a family resort destination, building theme parks （主题公园）inside its hotels. Hotels have outdone each other with working volcanoes, million-gallon fishtanks and miniature Manhattans. All of which - along with dozens of artificial lakes in the suburbs - has put a huge strain on the city's water supply, but it hasn't slowed the development juggernaut（不可抗拒的力量）.
Today Las Vegas boasts 19 of the world's 20 largest hotels, attracts 33 million visitors per year, earns over US.25 billion in annual gaming revenue, and marries over 100,000 people each year. There are other cities witih terrific entertainment and gaming opportunities, but there is no place in the world like Las Vegas, and no city even pretending to be.