Alaska Facts

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Location and Geography: Alaska is located at the far northwestern portion of the North American continent, with some of its far-flung islands even stretching into the Eastern Hemisphere. It is the largest state in the union by far, although much of its land area is considered uninhabitable. It also possesses more miles of coastline than any other U.S. state.

Counties and Regions: Alaska does not have counties like most other states, and instead is divided into sixteen boroughs. There is in addition one large, unorganized borough that has no local government and is under the direct jurisdiction of the state (this covers a great deal of wildlife refuge lands with few human inhabitants). Some of the more generally recognized regions of Alaska are as follows:

  • Alaska Interior
  • Alaska Panhandle
  • Aleutian Islands
  • Arctic Alaska
  • The Bush
  • Kenai Peninsula
  • Mat-Su Valley
  • North Slope
  • Seward Peninsula
  • South Central Alaska
  • Southwest Alaska
  • Tanana Valley
  • Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

Population: With only a little more than seven hundred thousand residents, Alaska has one of the lowest state populations in the country and the sparsest population by land area. More than half of Alaska’s people live in the metropolitan area of its largest city, Anchorage.

Major Cities: Anchorage is the largest city, with nearly 320,000 people living in or near it. The state capital, Juneau, has barely 31,000 people in comparison.

Story Behind the Name: The Russians called the territory “Alaska” after a local Native American word that meant “mainland” or “big land.” The more literal definition of the term means: “the waters of the sea flow towards it.”

History and Colonization: A large number of different Native American groups lived in the area of Alaska for thousands of years, and plenty of their descendants still live there today. Alaska has the most Native American citizens of any state, and their incorporated tribes own a relatively high percentage of land in the state. Unlike the rest of the United States, Alaska’s remoteness meant that it was not colonized as quickly. The Russians, Americans, and Spaniards did not begin to found settlements there until the late eighteenth century. Even these colonies, built to invest and trade in the fur industry, were not very profitable and sparsely populated at first.

In the nineteenth century, Alaska was a territory of Imperial Russia. Because they had just finished a costly battle with the British, who were subsequently populating successful colonies in what is now western Canada, they were concerned that the British would seize their large, hard-to-defend territory. In the hopes of making a profit and encouraging a rivalry between Britain and the United States,

Russia approached the U.S. and offered to sell the land in 1859. The U.S., however, was occupied with the American Civil War and could not entertain the notion of buying Alaska until several years later. In March of 1867, the U.S. agreed to buy the territory from Russia at the very low price of 7.2 million dollars, or about 2 cents to the acre.

This proved to be a fortuitous purchase, as within thirty years Alaska was found to be rich in precious ore. Streams of settlers and prospectors migrated to Alaska, founding larger towns and eventually lobbying for statehood. More people moved to Alaska in the twentieth century when some of its islands were used as staging platforms for America’s fight against the Japanese during World War II. Nevertheless, the territory remained sparsely populated considering its area. Alaska would not be declared a state until 1959, the last state besides Hawaii to enter the union.

Today, Alaska is known for its rich natural resources, relatively small population, and enormous land area. Precious metals and an abundance of crude oil have made the state a huge producer of wealth. The tourism industry is also strong, as Alaska is home to unique and breathtaking landscapes. The vast majority of Alaska’s land is not privately owned, and it contains the largest nature preserve in the entire world.

More Alaska Facts & Trivia

Alaska is the biggest state in the United States. It attained statehood on January 3, 1959 and is the 49th state of the country. The capital of the state is Juneau and the largest city is Anchorage. The demonym of Alaska is Alaskan. The state covers an area of 663,268 sq miles. Know interesting Alaska facts and trivia to enrich your knowledge.
1) In 1741, foreigners first found Alaska when Vitus Jonassen Bering, a voyager from Denmark saw it on a journey from Siberia.

2) In 1784, whale hunters from Russia and fur dealers on Kodiak Island set up the oldest colony in Alaska.

3) William H. Seward, the then United States Secretary of State in 1867, made a bid of $7,200,000 or 2 cents per acre to Russia for purchasing Alaska.

4) Alaska formally turned into the land of the U.S. on October 18, 1867. Most of the U.S. citizens term the acquisition "Seward's Folly".

5) The finding of gold by Joe Juneau in 1880 was a precursor of the gold rush period.

6) The Aleutian Islands were raided by Japan in 1943, which initiated the One Thousand Mile War, the first conflict which took place on U.S. territory after the Civil War.

7) On January 3, 1959, Alaska was formally declared as the 49th state of the U.S.

8) The most significant source of income in Alaska is the oil and natural gas sector.

9) Alaska represents nearly 1/4th of the oil production in the U.S.

10) Alaska is so big that the state of Rhode Island can be incorporated into the state 425 times.

11) Prudhoe Bay is the biggest oil field in the Northern United States. It is situated on the northern shores of Alaska.

12) The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is capable of carrying 88,000 barrels of oil/hour to Valdez throughout a distance of 800 miles.

13) The seafood and angling business is the biggest private sector employer in the state.

14) Majority of crab, salmon, herring, and halibut of the United States are fished from Alaska.

15) The expression Alaska native denotes the initial occupiers of Alaska such as Eskimo, Aleut, and Indian communities.

16) The official state flower is the wild forget-me-not. It was approved by the Territorial Legislature in 1917.

17) The official state bird is the Willow Ptarmigan. It was accepted by the Territorial Legislature in 1955.

18) The official state tree is the Sitka spruce. It was acknowledged by the Territorial Legislature in 1962.

19) The official state sport is Dog Mushing. It was approved by the Alaska Legislature in 1972.

20) In 1910, an unidentified designer made the state seal. It comprises a rising sun shining on jungles, lagoon, shipping and angling vessels, and mining and farming operations.

21) The state slogan is North to the Future.

22) The official state gemstone is the jade.

23) The official state mineral is gold. Gold was chosen as the state mineral in 1968.

24) The official state insect is the four-spot skimmer dragonfly.

25) Bennie Benson, a 13-year-old from Cognac, Alaska planned the state flag in 1926.

26) Alaska is nicknamed America's Last Frontier.

27) After every four years, the residents of Alaska choose a Governor and a Lieutenant Governor by ballots who continue for a term of four years.

28) The Alaska State Legislature consists of a House of Representatives and Senate.

29) Twenty senators are chosen for a term of four years and forty diplomats are elected for a term of two years.

30) Alaska's Constitution was sanctioned in 1956 and came into existence in 1959, when it became the 49th state of the U.S.

31) Almost 33% of Alaska is situated inside the Arctic Circle.

32) In the beginning, the Alaska Highway was constructed as an army provision way during the Second World War.

33) The state features the lowest density of population in the country.

34) In 1898, the unearthing of gold in the Yukon region started a gold rush. Subsequently, gold was found at Fairbanks and Nome.

35) Alaska is an environmental wonder. If a scale map of the state is put on top of a map of the 48 lower states, the state stretches from shore to shore.

36) The shoreline of the state stretches for more than 6,600 miles.

37) Alaska is the biggest state in the U.S. and is more than two times the area of Texas (View Alaska Map). If gauged from north to south, the length of the state is around 1,400 miles and if it is gauged from east to west, the breadth of the state is 2,700 miles.

38) Attu, Agattu, and Kiska are the only regions in the Northern United States that were captured by Japanese forces during the Second World War.

39) The most precious natural resource of the state is oil. It is home to what is known as the biggest oil field in Northern U.S.

40) There was a volcanic eruption in Mount Augustine in 1986, which was close to Anchorage.

41) The geographical core of Alaska is located 60 miles northwest of Mount McKinley.

42) The biggest national forest in the U.S. is the Tongass National Forest.

43) 17 of the 20 tallest summits in the U.S. are situated in Alaska.

44) Mt. McKinley is the tallest peak in North America with an elevation of 20,320 feet above sea level. It lies in the center of Alaska.

45) The biggest city in the state is Anchorage and the second biggest is Fairbanks.

46) The biggest mountain range in the state is the Alaska Range. It stretches from the Cape of Alaska to the Yukon Province.

47) The highest temperature of 100˚ Fahrenheit was recorded in Alaska at Fort Yukon in 1915. In 1971, the lowest temperature of -80˚ Fahrenheit was recorded at Prospect Creek Camp.

48) The malamute sled dog in Alaska is physically powerful and deeply furred. It was raised as a variety by an Eskimo community known as the Malemiuts.

49) The name Alaska originated from the Eskimo term Alakshak, which stands for cape or vast territories.

50) The official state song is "Alaska's Flag".

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Last Updated on: September 28th, 2017