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Nevada ranked 35th in population in the US (up from 39th in 1990) with an estimated total of 2,173,491 in 2002, an increase of 8.8% since 2000 (the greatest increase in the country for this time period). Between 1990 and 2000, Nevada's population grew from 1,201,833 to 1,998,257, an increase of 66.3%, the decade's largest increase by far among the 50 states (followed by 40% for Arizona). It was also the fourth consecutive decade in which Nevada was the country's fastest-growing state and had a population growth rate over 50%. As of 1995 the population was projected to reach 2.3 million by 2025, but more recent increases suggest that the figure will be higher.

In 2000, the median age of Nevada residents was 35. In the same year, nearly 25.6% of the populace were under the age of 18 while 11% were age 65 or older.

With a population density of 18.2 persons per sq mi in 2000 (up from 15.9 in 1998), Nevada remains one of the most sparsely populated states. Approximately 90% of Nevada residents live in cities, the largest of which, Las Vegas, had an estimated 508,604 residents in 2002. Henderson had an estimated population of 206,153, and Reno had 190,248. The Greater Las Vegas metropolitan area had an estimated 1,381,086 residents in 1999; the Reno metropolitan area had an estimated 319,816.