The Biggest State in the US
The 50 US states vary in land mass, water mass, and population. Water masses within state territories include lakes, rivers, coastal waters bodies, and territorial waters. Among the states, Alaska is the biggest by land and water, in fact, its coastline is longer than the coastlines of all the other US states combined. Alaska is so big that the second-largest state, Texas, is a mere 40% of its total area. The state of Alaska is a bigger area than the combined area of 22 smallest US states. In relation to the entire US, Alaska covers 18% of the US and 21% of the contiguous US by area and is the 7th largest subnational area in the world. If Alaska was a sovereign country, it would have been the 18th largest globally.
History of Alaska
Alaskan natives occupied the territories for many years before the arrival of Europeans. In the 17th century, Alaska started receiving Russian settlers while the first European contact came on August 21,1732 with the second contact in 1741 and permanent settlers in 1784. The Tsimshian people from the British Columbia started settling in Alaska in 1887 with permission from the US Congress and American President Grover Cleveland, afterward, the settlers suffered several exploitations from Russia and disease outbreaks that left many fatalities. The Russian Empire sold Alaska to the US for 7.2 million US dollars in 1876 followed by a territorial referendum in 1946 seeking statehood which the US Congress approved on July 7, 1958, and thereafter a proclamation of statehood on January 3, 1959, therefore, becoming the 49th state of the US.
Geographical Details of Alaska
Alaska lies on the northwest boundary of the continent North America bordering Canada by land and Russia by sea. Technically being part of the continental US, this state is the only non-contiguous US state in the continental North America. The state has a total area of 665,384.04 square miles, 570,640.95 square miles being land area and 94,743.10 square miles covered in water. There are six regions in Alaska namely, Southcentral, Southeast, Interior, Southwest, North Slope, and the Aleutian Islands all hosting the 3 million Alaskan lakes and 100,000 glaciers (half of the world’s total glaciers) covering 16,000 square miles of land and 1,200 square miles of tidal zone. Alaska’s tidal shoreline is roughly 34,000 miles.
Alaska had a population of approximately 738,432 people in the year 2015 and is one of the most sparsely populated places in the world. The dominant economic activities are fishing, natural gas and oil extraction, and tourism making Alaska one of the riches US states with an unemployment rate of 6.6% as of 2014. The South Central is the most populous region with some areas being rural whereas the Southeast, also known as Panhandle or Inside Passage, is where many non-indigenous populations settled because of its proximity to the rest of the US. Panhandle hosts the largest US national forest and the state capital of Juneau. The Interior is the largest region with most places uninhabited and also has the highest mountain in North America, Mount Denali. The Southwest has a sparse population living along the coast and is also home to the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta while North Slope is well-known for immense reserves of crude oil and tundra peppered with small villages. The Aleutian Islands consist of a series of volcanic islands stretching out approximately 1,200 miles. Some of these Islands are in the Eastern Hemisphere, consequently, the International Date Line deliberately passes 180 degrees west to keep them in the same time zone with the entire state. Data from the United States Bureau of Land Management indicates that the US Federal Government owns 65% of Land in Alaska, the state of Alaska owns 41 million hectares, the Alaska Regional Native Corporations owns 18 million hectares, and the University of Alaska (a land-grant university) also owns a fair share of the land. English is the most widely used language though some people speak Spanish, Native, and Asian languages. Christianity is the major religion followed by Judaism, Islam, and Hindu.