Nye County is a county located in the U.S. state of Nevada. As of the 2010 census, the population was 43,946. Its county seat is Tonopah. At 18,159 square miles (47,030 km²), Nye is the largest county by area in the state and the third-largest county in the contiguous United States (thus excluding the boroughs of Alaska).
Nye County comprises the Pahrump, NV Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Las Vegas-Henderson, NV-AZ Combined Statistical Area.
In 2010, the center of population of Nevada was located in southern Nye County, very near Yucca Mountain.
The Nevada Test Site and proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository are located in the southwestern part of the county, and are the focus of a great deal of political and public controversy in the state. The federal government manages 92 percent of the land in the county. A 1987 attempt to deposit the nuclear waste resulted in the creation of Bullfrog County, Nevada, which was dissolved two years later.
The county features several environmentally sensitive areas, including Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, the White River Valley, several Great Basin sky islands and a portion of Death Valley National Park. Visitors to Death Valley often stay at Beatty or Amargosa Valley.
Nye County is one of 11 Nevada counties where prostitution is legal. The county has no incorporated cities. The seat of government in Tonopah is 160 miles (260 km) from Pahrump, where about 86 percent of the county's population resides. Nye County is nicknamed "The Kingdom of Nye" from the radio program Coast to Coast AM, created by the late Pahrump resident Art Bell.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 43,946 people, 18,032 households, and 11,929 families residing in the county. The population density was 2.4 inhabitants per square mile (0.93/km²). There were 22,350 housing units at an average density of 1.2 per square mile (0.46/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 85.9% white, 2.0% black or African American, 1.6% American Indian, 1.3% Asian, 0.5% Pacific islander, 5.2% from other races, and 3.5% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 13.6% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 18.6% were German, 15.8% were English, 14.7% were Irish, 10.3% were American, and 6.1% were Italian.
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