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The first European expeditions to the Nevada area were the Father Kino expeditions at the end of the 17th century. Consequently, Nevada fell under Spanish control as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
When Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the area then became part of Mexico.
The United States gained control of the area following the Mexican-American War (1846 to 1848), and in 1850 Congress established the Utah territory which included the present-day state of Nevada.
On March 2nd 1861, the Nevada Territory was sepatated from the Utah Territory and adopted its current name, inspired by the Spanish Sierra Nevada (snow range). Nevada became the 36th state of te Union, eight days prior to the presidential election of 1864. Additional land was added to the state in 1866, taken from Arizona Territory to the West of the Colorado River.
In the 19th century, Nevada's economy was dominated by mining. However, when the industry declined, gambling was legalized in 1931 in an attempt to reinvigorate the economy. Since then, gambling has remained the state's principle source of revenue right up to the present day.
The majority of land in the state (87%) is still owned by the Federal government. This is because homesteads were not permitted in large enough sizes to be viable in the arid conditions that are prevalent throughout the state.
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