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Geography of Alaska

by Vishul Malik

Alaska is the largest state in the country. It has the highest point in North America, Mt. McKinley.

Geographical Facts About Alaska

Area 656,425 square miles
Land Area 570,374 square miles
Water Area 86,051 square miles
Highest point McKinley at 20,320 feet above sea level.
Lowest point Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, Arctic Ocean
Highest temperature 100 degrees Fahrenheit
Lowest temperature -80 degrees Fahrenheit
Geographic Center Located approximately 60 miles northwest of Mt.

General Features of Alaska

Alaska is an exclave of the United States of America. It is bordered by the Yukon Territory and British Columbia in Canada to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and Pacific Ocean to the south, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea to the west, and the Arctic Ocean to the north.

The geography of the state can be divided into four major areas :

  • Pacific Mountain System :

     The Pacific Mountain system is divided into many subdivisions and runs from the Aleutian Islands to south central Alaska. It includes the Saint Elias Range, the Wrangell Mountains, the Chugach Mountains, the Talkeetna Mountains, and the Kenai Mountains. Within this region are two major lowland areas, the Copper River Basin and the Susitna-Cook Inlet lowland. The Copper River Basin is located between the Chugach and Wrangell mountains. The Susitna-Cook Inlet is mostly forested and runs north and east from Anchorage.

  • Central Uplands and Lowlands :

     This region lies between the Alaska Range of Pacific Mountain System in the south and the Brooks Range of the Rocky Mountain Systems in the north. The land is characterized by low, rolling hills and swampy river valleys.

  • Rocky Mountain System of Alaska :

     This area comprises the Brooks Range and the Brooks Range foothills. It is located north of the Central Uplands and Lowlands.

  • Arctic Coastal Plain :

     The northernmost region of Alaska is known as Arctic Coastal Plain. It has permanently frozen ground and is called tundra. The surface of the ground melts in the spring to allow the growth of grass and wild-flowers.

Climate of Alaska

The average temperatures and rainfall received state-wide over the years determine the climate of Alaska. The climate of the interior of the state is described as extreme and is an example of sub-arctic climate. The climate in the northern region is arctic, with long, very cold winters and short, cool summers. Rainfall is scanty in the interior and northern part of the state.

Rivers in Alaska

Alaska is home to more than 12,000 rivers and thousands of streams and creeks. Some of the rivers in the state are: Jago River, Canning River, Firth River, Kukpuk River, Chandler River, and Awuna River.

Mountains in Alaska

Mount Gilbert, Mount Kimball, Mount Stevens, Ptarmigan Peak, table Top Mountain, Mount Chamberlin, and Mount Dana are some of the prominent mountains in Alaska.

Lakes in Alaska

Alaska has approximately 3,197 officially named natural lakes. Some of the natural lakes in the state are Antler Lake, Lake Barbara, Mirror Lake, Mucha Lake, Lake Otis, Otto Lake and Square Lake.

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