Nicknamed 'The Last Frontier', Alaska is a state in the United States located in the northwest extremity of the North America. Comprising an area of 663,268 square miles, it is the largest state in the United States by area. It is also the third least populous and the least densely populated state in the country. The state does not share its border with any other US state.
Alaska is the only non-contiguous US state and is actually a part of the continental US. Juneau is the state capital and Anchorage is the most populous city in Alaska. Fairbanks is the largest city in Interior Alaska.
History of Alaska
Around 14,000 BC, nomadic groups from Asia crossed the Bering land bridge and moved further south to inhabit the Americas. Numerous indigenous tribes populated the region when the first Russian explorers arrived in the 18th century. Grigory Ivanovich Shelikhov laid the first permanent Russian settlement after the resistance from the natives around Three Saints Bay.
On March 30, 1867, the territory was purchased by the US from the Russian Empire for 7.2 million US dollars. The region went through several administrative changes before it was finally organized as a US territory on May 11, 1912. It was admitted to the Union as the 49th state on January 3, 1959. Today, Alaska's economy is known for fishing, natural gas, oil, and tourism industries.
Geography of Alaska
Alaska is bounded by the Canadian territories of Yukon and British Columbia on the east; the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Alaska on the south; the Bering Strait, the Bering Sea and the Chukchi Sea on the west; and the Arctic Ocean and Beaufort Sea on the North. It is the westernmost, northernmost, and surprisingly the easternmost state in the country. With a land area of 586,412 square miles, Alaska is twice the size of Texas. The westernmost tip of Alaska is 50 miles away from Russia.
Alaska is renowned for an incredible topography. The state features rugged mountain ranges, coastal marshlands and sequestered islands. There is also a chain of volcanoes in Alaska, out of which many are categorized as “active volcanoes”. Though not officially divided, Alaska is widely grouped into six regions; South Central, Southeast, Interior, Southwest, North Slope and the Aleutian Islands. The state has more than 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes. With an elevation of 6,190 meters, Denali is highest mountain in Alaska and in North America.
Travel Destinations in Alaska
Alaska is nature's greatest temple and is a must-visit destination for travellers. It is a land of wilderness, teeming with spectacular natural beauty, glacier-carved valleys, tundra landscapes, and craggy mountain ranges. An absolute paradise for outdoor recreation, thrill seekers get here to enjoy hiking, backpacking, fishing, and rafting. The Denali National Park, Gates of the Arctic National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Mendenhall Glacier are some of the most popular points of interest in Alaska.
From native culture museums in Anchorage to quirky small towns like Homer, Alaska has a plethora of attractions to visit. Wildlife viewing tours to encounter salmon-fishing Kodiak bears or migrating birds and whales are popular among travelers. Alaska Native Heritage Center, Portage Glacier, Chugach State Park, Tongass National Forest, Sitka National Historical Park, and Totem Heritage Center are other destinations to visit in Alaska.
Transportation in Alaska
Mostly served by seasonal airlines, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) is the gateway to Alaska.
The Alaska Railroad has played a critical role in the socio-economic development of the state. The network extends from Seward and Whittier to Fairbanks.
Due to its location, the state has relatively smaller road network. The 1700-mile-long Alaska Highway provides a link between the lower 48 states and Alaska through Canada. It passes through major populated centers of the state. Snowmobile and dogsled are effective modes of local transportation.
Education in Alaska
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development is the governing body of school system. The University of Alaska has campuses in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Charter College, Alaska Bible College, and Alaska Pacific University are notable private institutions in the state.
Facts about Alaska
Last Updated on: February 24, 2020
- The United States purchased Alaska at around two cents per acre from the Russian Empire.
- The city of Anchorage is home to more than 40 percent of Alaska's total population.
- The state has 17 out of 20 highest mountain peaks in America.
- The state is divided into 16 boroughs instead of counties.
- Alaska has longer ocean coastline than the rest of 49 states.