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Alaska Description

Alaska is the largest U.S. State - in fact it is larger than all but 18 countries of the world, and about 1/5 of the total land area of the 48 contiguous states.

Since the Aleutian Islands cross over the 180-degree longitude line, Alaska is in fact the westernmost, northernmost, and easternmost state! It is rugged and wild with glaciers, countless rivers and lakes, majestic mountain peaks, some active volcanoes, and nearly 34,000 miles of tidal shoreline. North America's highest peak, Mt. McKinley (or Denali) at 20,320 ft., is located in Alaska.

65% of the state's land is owned and managed by the U.S. federal government. The State of Alaska owns about 25% and 10% is owned by native people, leaving less than 1% of the land in private hands.

mt. mckinley, alaska Originally settled by people who crossed the Bering Land Bridge, Alaska later became populated by Inupiaq, Inuit and Yupik Eskimos, Aleuts, and a variety of Native American groups. Most of the original people of the Americas are thought to have traveled this route from Asia and then continued farther south.

In 1725, Peter the Great of Russia sent Vitus Bering to explore the North Pacific Ocean area. He sailed through what we now call the Bering Strait in 1728. Nearly 50 years later, Juan Perez of Spain and James Cook of England also explored the same area.

The first non-native settlement, Nikolaevsk, was constructed on Kodiak Island in 1784. Originally established as a sea otter fur post, it was never profitable because of high transportation costs.

In 1867 the British-North America Act established a monarchical state in Canada. Then U.S. Secretary of State William Seward urged his government to quickly purchase Alaska from Russia for the negotiated price of $7.2 million – or about 2 cents per acre. See the canceled check here.

On October 18, 1867 an American flag was raised over Alaska and it is commemorated as Alaska Day. Widely derided as "Seward's Folly" or "Seward's Icebox", the purchase was thought to be a waste of money, but proved to be one of the best real estate deals ever.

When gold was discovered in Alaska, an estimated 100,000 people eventually participated in the Klondike Gold Rush (1897-1901). The Northwest Mounted Police strictly controlled the miners and their activities, and that 'Gold Rush' is regarded as the most orderly and peaceful in history. The writer Jack London took part, and many of his books were influenced by the experience.

Alaska was granted U.S. territorial status in 1912, and entered the United States on January 3, 1959 as the 49th state, with its capital at Juneau.

See Also

Alaska Photographs

salmon hatcherytotel pole ketchikan alaska

The city of Ketchikan, Alaska boasts the world's largest collection of Northwest totems, and some are quite colorful

Alaska Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Akutan Aleutians East 907
Unalaska Aleutians West 907
Anchorage Anchorage 907
Bethel Bethel 907
Naknek Bristol Bay 907
Healy Denali 907
Dillingham Dillingham 907
Fairbanks Fairbanks North Star 907
Haines Haines 907
Hoonah Hoonah Angoon 907
Juneau Juneau 907
Kenai Kenai Peninsula 907
Ketchikan Ketchikan Gateway 907
Kodiak Kodiak Island 907
Iliamna Lake and Peninsula 907
Wasilla Matanuska Susitna 907
Nome Nome 907
Barrow North Slope 907
Kotzebue Northwest Arctic 907
Petersburg Petersburg 907
Craig Prince of Wales Hyder 907
Sitka Sitka 907
Skagway Skagway 907
Delta Junction Southeast Fairbanks 907
Valdez Valdez Cordova 907
Hooper Bay Wade Hampton 907
Wrangell Wrangell 907
Yakutat Yakutat 907
Nenana Yukon Koyukuk 907

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.