Alaska State Flag
Alaska State Seal
On 3 January 1959,
Alaska was admitted to the
United States as the 49th state.
The population of the state is 626,932, as of 2000. The name "Alaska"
is most likely derived from the Aleut word for "great country" or "mainland."
The natives called it "Alyeska", meaning "the great land".
Last Frontier" or "The Land of the Midnight Sun"
To The Future"
- % water
- Total (2000)
January 3, 1959
All but the Aleutian Islands west of 169° 22' 30" West is in Alaska
130°W to 173°E
The Last Frontier
was probably first settled by peoples who came there across the Bering
Land Bridge, including Inuit and a variety of Native American groups.
Most if not all of the pre-Columbian population of the Americas took
this route, but continued further south and east.
The first written
accounts indicate that the first Europeans to reach Alaska came from
Russia. Vitus Bering sailed east and saw Mt. St. Elias. The Russian-American
Company hunted otters for their fur. The colony was never very profitable,
because of the costs of transportation.
At the instigation
of U.S. Secretary of State William Seward, the United States Senate
approved the purchase of Alaska
from Russia for $7,200,000 on 9 April 1867, and the United States flag
was raised on 18 October of that same year (now called Alaska Day).
The purchase was not popular in the continental United
States, where Alaska
became known as "Seward's Folly" or "Seward's Icebox". Alaska
celebrates the purchase each year on the last Monday of March, calling
it Seward's Day.
D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act into United States law
on 7 July 1958 which paved the way for Alaska's admission into the Union.
In 1976, the people
of Alaska amended the state's constitution, establishing the Alaska
Permanent Fund. The fund invests a portion of the state's mineral revenue,
including revenue from the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System, to benefit
all generations of Alaskans. As of June 2003, the fund's value was over
Over the years various
vessels have been named the USS Alaska, in honor of the state.
Law and Government
As of 2004, the
capital of Alaska is Juneau and the current governor of Alaska is Frank
H. Murkowski (Republican). Alaska's two U.S. senators are Lisa Murkowski
(Republican) and Ted Stevens (Republican). Alaska's Representative is
Donald E. Young (Republican).
is the only state that is both in North America and not part of the
48 contiguous states. Alaska
is the largest state in the United
States in terms of land area, 570,374 square miles (1,477,261 kmē).
If you superimposed Alaska
on the Lower 48, Alaska
would stretch from Minnesota to Texas, and from Georgia to California.
One scheme for describing
the state's geography is by labeling the regions:
Alaska is the southern coastal region with towns, cities, and petroleum
- the Alaska Panhandle,
also known as Southeast Alaska, is home to towns, tidewater glaciers
and extensive forests;
- the Alaska Interior
has big rivers, such as the Yukon River and the Kuskokwim River, as
well as Arctic tundra lands and shorelines;
- and the Alaskan
Bush is the remote, uncrowded part of the state.
Alaska, with its
numerous islands, has nearly 34,000 miles (54,700 km) of tidal shoreline.
The island chain extending west from the southern tip of Alaska is called
the Aleutian Islands. Many active volcanoes are found in the Aleutians.
For example, Unimak Island is home to Mt. Shishaldin, a moderately active
volcano that rises to 9,980 ft (3,042 m) above sea level. The chain
of volcanoes extends to Mount Spurr, west of Anchorage on the mainland.
Much of Alaska is
managed by the federal government as national forests, national parks,
and national wildlife refuges. There are places in Alaska that are general
public lands (BLM land) but they are arguably more spectacular than
many national parks in the Lower 48. Many of Alaska's state parks would
be national parks if they were in other states.
Much of Alaska is
managed by corporations called ANCSA corporations, of which there are
thirteen regional ones and dozens of local ones.
Boroughs and census areas
Alaska has no counties
in the sense used in the rest of the country; however, the state is
divided into 27 census areas and boroughs.
The difference between
boroughs and census areas is that boroughs have an organized area-wide
government, while census areas are artificial divisions defined by the
United States Census Bureau.
The state's 1999
total gross state product was $26 billion, placing it 46th in the nation.
Its per-capita Income for 2000 was $30,064, 15th in the nation. Alaska's
main agriculture output is seafood, although nursery stock, dairy products,
vegetables, and livestock are produced and used internally. Manufacturing
is limited, with most foodstuffs and general goods imported from elsewhere.
Employment is primarily in government and industries such as natural
resource extraction, shipping, and transportation. There is also a small
but growing service and tourism sector. Its industrial outputs are crude
petroleum, natural gas, coal, gold, precious metals, zinc and other
mining, seafood processing, timber and wood products.
has various transportation options. Some of Alaska
is connected by roads (and sometimes a tunnel) to the highways of Canada
and of the rest of the United States.
These places are "on the road system". Along the Pacific Ocean, many
places have freight and passenger service from ocean-going ships. Most
places have air service, ranging from jets on tarmac to floatplanes
The National Statuary
Hall of the United States of America is part of the Capitol in Washington
DC. Each state has selected one or two distinguished citizens and provided
Alaska's are of
its first two senators:
- E.L. "Bob" Bartlett
(19041968) was the territorial delegate to the US Congress from 1944
to 1958, and was elected as the first senior US senator in 1958 and
re-elected in 1964. There are streets, buildings, and even the first
state ferry, named for him.
- Ernest Gruening
(18861974) was appointed Governor of the Territory of Alaska in 1939,
and served in that position for fourteen years. He was elected to
the United States Senate in 1958 and re-elected in 1962.
The first woman
elected to statewide office was Fran Ulmer, elected as Lieutenant Governor
The Star Trek Next
Generation character, William Riker was born in Valdez,
Singer / Poet
Jewel Kilcher was
raised in Homer,
Novels about Alaska
The T. Coraghessan
Boyle novel Drop City (2003, ISBN 0670031720) tells the story of a group
of Hippies who relocate to Alaska.
Marcia Simpson (d.
2003) has written three books which describe what it's like to live
in a small coastal community in Alaska: Rogue's Yarn (2003, ISBN 0425191982),
Crow in Stolen Colors (2000, ISBN 1890208361) and Sound Tracks (2001,
James Michener wrote
Into the Wild by
Jon Krakauer is the true story of Christopher McCandless, a college
graduate and top student, who donated his entire $24,000 savings account
to charity and moved into the Alaskan wilderness. 1997, ISBN 0385486804
Important cities and towns
Alaska's most populous
city is Anchorage,
home of 260,284 people, 225,744 of whom live in the urbanized area.
It ranks a distant third in the List of U.S. cities by area. Sitka
ranks as the America's largest city by area, followed closely by Juneau.
Florida is the largest city by area in the other 49 states and the
fourth largest in the entire country.
Colleges and Universities
of Alaska System
of Alaska Anchorage
of Alaska Fairbanks
of Alaska Southeast
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