LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — You hit the Forum Shops at Caesars. You watched the fountains at Bellagio. You rode the High Roller at The LINQ and the rollercoaster at New York, New York.

It was a whirlwind trip. But there’s one thing you didn’t do.

You didn’t go to Las Vegas.

Millions of tourists visit the Strip — and lose money in casinos day and night. But unless they crossed Sahara Boulevard and went north toward the downtown casinos, they were never in the city limits.

Most people don’t realize it, but the Strip is actually in unincorporated Clark County, not Las Vegas. Most of it is in the Paradise township — appropriate, right? — and the northern end of the Strip is in Winchester township.

The distinction is a point of pride for county leaders. And far beyond that, it’s the biggest economic engine in Nevada, bringing tax dollars to the county that city leaders can only dream about.

The Strip was born when Bugsy Siegel got fed up with Las Vegas city officials as he tried to expand his newly purchased El Cortez hotel on Fremont Street in the mid-1940s. His criminal background kept getting in the way.

So he bought into the Flamingo, which was under construction four miles south of downtown — and outside city limits. The 105-room hotel opened in 1947 at a cost of $6 million and was toasted as “The West’s Greatest Resort Hotel.” It has changed hands, but it’s the oldest resort on the Strip that’s still in operation.

On the south end, you’ll know you’re on the Strip when you pass the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Surely, that’s why many visitors think they’re in the city.

The dividing line between Las Vegas and Clark County is Sahara Avenue. It’s a noticeable transition, but the city has recently added a gateway of its own — an arch that extends over Las Vegas Boulevard with towering showgirls welcoming visitors to the city. Several lots in the area just north of Sahara have been reported as likely sites for new resorts.