200 years ago today (1817), Spain was on top of the world. A major rival, England, had just suffered the embarrassing expulsion from its American colonies, whereas Spain was milking its American colonies quite profitably. In fact, at that time Las Vegas, Nevada was part of the Spanish territory of New Spain, although we did not contribute much to the economy.
Within five years, the locals drove the Spaniards back home, and created Mexico. The new government encouraged trade between the northernmost of the old Spanish colonies – Sante Fe, NM and Los Angeles, CA. Las Vegas was an important water stop on what we call today the Old Spanish Trail. Eventually, Washington won Las Vegas in the Mexican-American War in 1848.
It seems like Spaniards have been killing each other over the government ever since. It goes through periods of peace, but those are between some pretty nasty stuff. This morning’s Review Journal says they may be about to go at it again.
Here’s Wikipedia’s entry on the History of Spain.