Las Vegas is known the world over as an oasis of entertainment in the Nevada desert, but to more than a million people of exceptionally varied origins, it is also home. Yet this city is rarely mentioned in studies of ethnicity or immigration, and the rich diversity of its population is largely invisible to Las Vegans and visitors alike. Such ignorance can be partly explained by the effects of the city's rapid growth. Las Vegas largely lacks traditional ethnic neighborhoods, and the restaurants and markets that cater to its diverse population groups are mostly hidden away in anonymous strip malls. Nonetheless, a remarkable variety of nationalities and ethnic groups has been drawn here since the city's beginnings in 1905, and today Las Vegas's vital service industry, entrepreneurial opportunities, reasonable cost of living, and appeal as a retirement center attract many more. Recent world events and international currents of immigration have only enhanced this diversity. In The Peoples of Las Vegas, seventeen scholars profile thirteen of the ethnic groups that make up their city's population. The book's introduction provides a historical and demographic context for the kaleidoscope of ethnicity that helps define Las Vegas today and analyzes the economic and social conditions that make Las Vegas so attractive to recent immigrants. The individual contributors--most of whom are members of the groups they write about, and who come from a broad array of disciplines--discuss the motivations and processes of their group's migration to Las Vegas, economic pursuits, institutions and other means of preserving and transmitting their culture, involvement with the broader community, ties with their homelands, and recent demographic trends affecting each group. This collection of essays provides a provocative look into the vibrant ethnic life that lies just beneath the glittering surface of one of America's most unusual cities.
Jerry Simich is emeritus associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Thomas C. Wright is a distinguished professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.