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.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 18,199 square miles (47,140 km²), of which 18,182 square miles (47,090 km²) is land and 17 square miles (44 km²) (0.09%) is water. The highest and most topographically prominent mountain in the county is Mount Jefferson at 11,949 feet (3,642 m).
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.
Of the 18,032 households, 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 33.8% were non-families, and 26.8% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.90. The median age was 48.4 years.
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