Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in
the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the
east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and
south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait. Alaska is the 4th
least populous and the least densely populated of the 50 United States.
Approximately half of Alaska's 722,718 residents live within the Anchorage
Alaska was purchased from Russia on March 30, 1867, for $7.2 million ($120
million adjusted for inflation) at approximately two cents per acre
($4.74/km²). The land went through several administrative changes before
becoming an organized (or incorporated) territory on May 11, 1912, and the
49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.
The name "Alaska" was already introduced in the Russian colonial period, when
it was used only for the peninsula and is derived from the Aleut alaxsxaq,
meaning "the mainland" or, more literally, "the object towards which the
action of the sea is directed". It is also known as Alyeska, the "great land",
an Aleut word derived from the same root.
Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other U.S. states combined. It is
the only non-contiguous U.S. state on continental North America; about 500
miles (800 km) of British Columbia (Canada) separates Alaska from Washington
state. Alaska is thus an exclave of the United States. It is technically part
of the continental U.S., but is often not included in colloquial use; Alaska
is not part of the contiguous U.S., often called "the Lower 48". The capital
city, Juneau, is situated on the mainland of the North American continent,
but is not connected by road to the rest of the North American highway system.
The state is bordered by the Yukon Territory and British Columbia in Canada,
to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south, the
Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea to the west and the Arctic Ocean
to the north. Alaska's territorial waters touch Russia's territorial waters
in the Bering Strait, as the Russian Big Diomede Island and Alaskan Little
Diomede Island are only 3 miles (4.8 km) apart. With the extension of the
Aleutian Islands into the eastern hemisphere, it is technically both the
westernmost and easternmost state in the United States, as well as also being
Alaska is the largest state in the United States in land area at 586,412
square miles (1,518,800 km2), over twice the size of Texas, the next largest
state. Alaska is larger than all but 18 sovereign countries. Counting
territorial waters, Alaska is larger than the combined area of the next three
largest states: Texas, California, and Montana. It is also larger than the
combined area of the 22 smallest U.S. states.
There are no officially defined borders demarcating the various regions of
Alaska, but there are six widely accepted regions:
The most populous region of Alaska, containing Anchorage, the Matanuska-
Susitna Valley and the Kenai Peninsula. Rural, mostly unpopulated areas south
of the Alaska Range and west of the Wrangell Mountains also fall within the
definition of Southcentral, as well as the Prince William Sound area and the
communities of Cordova and Valdez.
Also referred to as the Panhandle or Inside Passage, this is the region of
Alaska closest to the rest of the United States. As such, this was where most
of the initial non-indigenous settlement occurred in the years following the
Alaska Purchase. The region is dominated by the Alexander Archipelago as well
as the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United
States. It contains the state capital, Juneau, the former capital, Sitka, and
Ketchikan, at one time Alaska's largest city. The Alaska Marine Highway
provides a vital surface transportation link throughout the area, as only
three communities (Haines, Hyder and Skagway) enjoy direct connections to the
contiguous North American road system.
The largest region of Alaska, much of it uninhabited wilderness. Fairbanks is
the only community of any significant size. Small towns and Native villages
are scattered throughout, mostly along the highway and river systems. Denali
National Park and Preserve is located here, home to Mount McKinley (also
widely known by its local name of Denali), the highest point in North America.
A sparsely inhabited region stretching some 500 miles (800 km) inland from
the Bering Sea. Most of the population lives along the coast. Kodiak Island
is also located in Southwest. The massive Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, one of the
largest river deltas in the world, is here. Portions of the Alaska Peninsula
are considered part of Southwest, with the remaining portions included with
the Aleutian Islands (see below).
The North Slope is mostly tundra peppered with small villages. The area is
known for its massive reserves of crude oil, and contains both the National
Petroleum Reserve–Alaska and the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field. Barrow, the
northernmost city in the United States, is located here. The Northwest Arctic
area, anchored by Kotzebue and also containing the Kobuk River valley, is
often regarded as being part of this region. However, the respective Inupiat
of the North Slope and of the Northwest Arctic seldom think of themselves as
More than 300 small, volcanic islands make up this chain, which stretches
over 1,200 miles (1,900 km) into the Pacific Ocean. The International Date
Line was drawn west of 180° to keep the whole state, and thus the entire
North American continent, within the same legal day. However, because some of
these islands fall in the Eastern Hemisphere, this makes Alaska the
northernmost, easternmost and westernmost state in the union, with the
southernmost state being Hawaii. Two of the islands, Attu and Kiska, were
occupied by Japanese forces during World War II.
With its myriad islands, Alaska has nearly 34,000 miles (54,720 km) of tidal
shoreline. The Aleutian Islands chain extends west from the southern tip of
the Alaska Peninsula. Many active volcanoes are found in the Aleutians and in
coastal regions. Unimak Island, for example, is home to Mount Shishaldin,
which is an occasionally smoldering volcano that rises to 10,000 feet
(3,048 m) above the North Pacific. It is the most perfect volcanic cone on
Earth, even more symmetrical than Japan's Mount Fuji. The chain of volcanoes
extends to Mount Spurr, west of Anchorage on the mainland. Geologists have
identified Alaska as part of Wrangellia, a large region consisting of
multiple states and Canadian provinces in the Pacific Northwest which is
actively undergoing continent building.
One of the world's largest tides occurs in Turnagain Arm, just south of
Anchorage – tidal differences can be more than 35 feet (10.7 m). (Many
sources say Turnagain has the second-greatest tides in North America, but
several areas in Canada have larger tides.)
Alaska has more than three million lakes. Marshlands and wetland permafrost
cover 188,320 square miles (487,747 km2) (mostly in northern, western and
southwest flatlands). Glacier ice covers some 16,000 square miles (41,440
km2) of land and 1,200 square miles (3,110 km2) of tidal zone. The Bering
Glacier complex near the southeastern border with Yukon covers 2,250 square
miles (5,827 km2) alone. With over 100,000, Alaska has half of the world's
According to an October 1998 report by the United States Bureau of Land
Management, approximately 65% of Alaska is owned and managed by the U.S.
federal government as public lands, including a multitude of national
forests, national parks, and national wildlife refuges. Of these, the Bureau
of Land Management manages 87 million acres (35 million hectares), or 23.8%
of the state. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the United
States Fish and Wildlife Service. It is the world's largest wildlife refuge,
comprising 16 million acres (6.5 million hectares).
Of the remaining land area, the state of Alaska owns 101 million acres (41
million hectares); its entitlement under the Alaska Statehood Act. A portion
of that acreage is occasionally ceded to organized boroughs, under the
statutory provisions pertaining to newly formed boroughs. Smaller portions
are set aside for rural subdivisions and other homesteading-related
opportunities, though these are infrequently popular due to the often remote
and roadless locations. The University of Alaska, as a land grant university,
also owns substantial acreage which it manages independently.
Another 44 million acres (18 million hectares) are owned by 12 regional, and
scores of local, Native corporations created under the Alaska Native Claims
Settlement Act. Regional Native corporation Doyon, Limited often promotes
itself as the largest private landowner in Alaska in advertisements and other
communications. Provisions of ANCSA allowing the corporations' land holdings
to be sold on the open market starting in 1991 were repealed before they
could take effect. Effectively, the corporations hold title (including
subsurface title in many cases, a privilege denied to individual Alaskans)
but cannot sell the land. Individual Native allotments can be and are sold on
the open market, however.
Various private interests own the remaining land, totaling about one percent
of the state. Alaska is, by a large margin, the state with the smallest
percentage of private land ownership when Native corporation holdings are
The climate in Juneau and the southeast panhandle is a mid-latitude oceanic
climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) in the southern sections and a
subarctic oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc) in the northern parts. On an annual
basis, the panhandle is both the wettest and warmest part of Alaska with
milder temperatures in the winter and high precipitation throughout the
year. Juneau averages over 50 inches (1,270 mm) of precipitation a year.
This is also the only region in Alaska in which the average daytime high
temperature is above freezing during the winter months.
The climate of Anchorage and south central Alaska is mild by Alaskan
standards due to the region's proximity to the seacoast. While the area gets
less rain than southeast Alaska, it gets more snow, and days tend to be
clearer. On average, Anchorage receives 16 inches (406 mm) of precipitation a
year, with around 75 inches (191 cm) of snow, although there are areas in the
south central which receive far more snow. It is a subarctic climate (Köppen
Dfc) due to its brief, cool summers.
The climate of Western Alaska is determined in large part by the Bering Sea
and the Gulf of Alaska. It is a subarctic oceanic climate in the southwest
and a continental subarctic climate farther north. The temperature is
somewhat moderate considering how far north the area is. This region has a
tremendous amount of variety in precipitation. An area stretching from the
northern side of the Seward Peninsula to the Kobuk River valley is
technically a desert, with portions receiving less than 10 inches (254 mm) of
precipitation annually. On the other extreme, some locations between
Dillingham and Bethel average around 100 inches (2,540 mm) of precipitation.
The climate of the interior of Alaska is subarctic. Some of the highest and
lowest temperatures in Alaska occur around the area near Fairbanks. The
summers may have temperatures reaching into the 90s °F (the low to mid 30s °C),
while in the winter, the temperature can fall below -60 °F (-51.1 °C).
Precipitation is sparse in the Interior, often less than 10 inches (254 mm) a
year, but what precipitation falls in the winter tends to stay the entire
The highest and lowest recorded temperatures in Alaska are both in the
Interior. The highest is 100 °F (37.8 °C) in Fort Yukon (which is just 8
miles or 13 kilometers inside the arctic circle) on June 27, 1915, making
Alaska tied with Hawaii as the state with the lowest high temperature in the
United States. The lowest official Alaska temperature is -80 °F (-62.2 °C) in
Prospect Creek on January 23, 1971, one degree above the lowest temperature
recorded in continental North America (in Snag, Yukon, Canada).
The climate in the extreme north of Alaska is Arctic (Köppen ET) with long,
very cold winters and short, cool summers. Even in July, the average low
temperature in Barrow is 34 °F (1.1 °C). Precipitation is light in this part
of Alaska, with many places averaging less than 10 inches (254 mm) per year,
mostly as snow which stays on the ground almost the entire year.
Numerous indigenous peoples occupied Alaska for thousands of years before the
arrival of European peoples to the area. The Tlingit people developed a
matriarchal society in what is today Southeast Alaska, along with parts of
British Columbia and the Yukon. Also in Southeast were the Haida, now well
known for their unique arts, and the Tsimshian people, whose population were
decimated by a smallpox epidemic in the 1860s.
The Aleutian Islands are still home to the Aleut people's seafaring society,
although they were among the first native Alaskans to be exploited by
Russians. Western and Southwestern Alaska are home to the Yup'ik, while their
cousins the Alutiiq lived in what is now Southcentral Alaska. The Gwich’in
people of the northern Interior region are primarily known today for their
dependence on the caribou within the much-contested Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. The North Slope and Little Diomede Island are occupied by the
widespread Inuit people.
Some researchers believe that the first Russian settlement in Alaska was
established in 17th century. According to this hypothesis, in 1648
several koches of Semyon Dezhnyov's expedition were thrown to Alaska by storm
and founded this settlement. This hypothesis is based on the message of
Chukchi geographer Nikolai Daurkin who had visited Alaska in 1764–1765 and
reported about a village on the Kheuveren river, populated by "bearded men"
who "pray to the icons". Some modern researchers associate Kheuveren with
It is usually assumed that the first European boat to reach Alaska was the
St. Gabriel under the authority of the surveyor M. S. Gvozdev and assistant
navigator I. Fyodorov on August 21, 1732 during expedition of Siberian cossak
A. F. Shestakov adb Belorussian explorer D. I. Pavlutsky (1729—1735)
Another European contact with Alaska occurred in 1741, when Vitus Bering led
an expedition for the Russian Navy aboard the St. Peter. After his crew
returned to Russia with sea otter pelts judged to be the finest fur in the
world, small associations of fur traders began to sail from the shores of
Siberia towards the Aleutian islands. The first permanent European settlement
was founded in 1784.
Between 1774 and 1800 Spain sent several expeditions to Alaska in order to
assert its claim over the Pacific Northwest. In 1789 a Spanish settlement and
fort were built in Nootka Sound. These expeditions gave names to places such
as Valdez, Bucareli Sound, and Cordova. Later, the Russian-American Company
carried out an expanded colonization program during the early-to-mid-19th
Sitka, renamed New Archangel from 1804 to 1867, on Baranof Island in the
Alexander Archipelago in what is now Southeast Alaska, became the capital of
Russian America and remained the capital after the colony was transferred to
the United States. The Russians never fully colonized Alaska, and the colony
was never very profitable.
William H. Seward, the United States Secretary of State, negotiated the
Alaska Purchase (also known as Seward's Folly) with the Russians in 1867 for
$7.2 million. Alaska was loosely governed by the military initially, and was
administered as a district starting in 1884, with a governor appointed by the
president of the United States, as well as a district court headquartered in
For most of Alaska's first decade under the American flag, Sitka was the only
community inhabited by American settlers. They organized a "provisional city
government," which was Alaska's first city government, but not in a legal
sense. Legislation allowing Alaskan communities to legally incorporate as
cities did not come about until 1900, and home rule for cities was extremely
limited or unavailable until statehood took effect.
Starting in the 1890s and stretching in some places to the early 1910s, gold
rushes in Alaska and the nearby Yukon Territory brought thousands of miners
and settlers to Alaska. Alaska was officially incorporated as an organized
territory in 1912. Alaska's capital, which had been in Sitka until the 1900
legislation mandated its transfer to Juneau (the actual move took place in
1906, after initial questions arose), began to take shape with the
construction of the Alaska Governor's Mansion that same year.
During World War II, the Aleutian Islands Campaign focused on the three outer
Aleutian Islands – Attu, Agattu and Kiska – that were invaded by Japanese
troops and occupied between June 1942 and August 1943. Unalaska/Dutch Harbor
became a significant base for the U.S. Army Air Corps and Navy submariners.
The U.S. Lend-Lease program involved the flying of American warplanes through
Canada to Fairbanks and thence Nome; Soviet pilots took possession of these
aircraft, ferrying them to fight the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The
construction of military bases contributed to the population growth of some
Statehood for Alaska was an important cause of James Wickersham early in his
tenure as a congressional delegate. Decades later, the statehood movement
gained its first real momentum following a territorial referendum in 1946.
The Alaska Statehood Committee and Alaska's Constitutional Convention would
soon follow. Statehood supporters also found themselves fighting major
battles against political foes, mostly in the U.S. Congress but also within
Alaska. Statehood was approved by Congress on July 7, 1958. Alaska was
officially proclaimed a state on January 3, 1959.
On April 27, 1964, the massive "Good Friday Earthquake" killed 133 people and
destroyed several villages and portions of large coastal communities, mainly
by the resultant tsunamis and landslides. It was the third most powerful
earthquake in the recorded history of the world, with a moment magnitude of
9.2. It was over one thousand times more powerful than the 1989 San Francisco
earthquake. The time of day (5:36 pm), time of year and location of the
epicenter were all cited as factors in potentially sparing thousands of
lives, particularly in Anchorage.
The 1968 discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay and the 1977 completion of the
Trans-Alaska Pipeline led to an oil boom. Royalty revenues from oil have
funded large state budgets from 1980 onward. That same year, not
coincidentally, Alaska repealed its state income tax. In 1989, the Exxon
Valdez hit a reef in the Prince William Sound, spilling over 11,000,000 US
gallons (42,000 m3) of crude oil over 1,100 miles (1,600 km) of coastline.
Today, the battle between philosophies of development and conservation is
seen in the contentious debate over oil drilling in the Arctic National
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Alaska was
722,718 on July 1, 2011, a 1.76% increase since the 2010 United States Census.
In 2010, Alaska ranked as the 47th state by population, ahead of North
Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming (and Washington D.C.) Alaska is the least
densely populated state, and one of the most sparsely populated areas in the
world, at 1.2 inhabitants per square mile (0.46 /km2), with the next state,
Wyoming, at 5.8 inhabitants per square mile (2.2 /km2). Alaska is the largest
U.S. state by area, and the tenth wealthiest (per capita income). As of April
2012, the state's unemployment rate was 6.9%.
Race and ancestry
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Alaska had a population of 710,231. In
terms of race and ethnicity, the state was 66.7% White (64.1% Non-Hispanic
White Alone), 19.1% American Indian and Alaska Native, 7.1% Asian, 4.7% Black
or African American, 1.6% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 1.6%
from Some Other Race, and 7.3% from Two or More Races. Hispanics or Latinos
of any race made up 5.5% of the population.
In 1960, the Census Bureau reported Alaska's population as 77.2% White, 3%
Black, and 18.8% American Indian and Alaska Native.
As of 2011, 50.7% of Alaska's population younger than age 1 were minorities.
According to the 2005–2007 American Community Survey, 84.7% of people over
the age of five speak only English at home. About 3.5% speak Spanish at home.
About 2.2% speak another Indo-European language at home and about 4.3% speak
an Asian language at home. And about 5.3% speak other languages at home.
A total of 5.2% of Alaskans speak one of the state's 22 indigenous languages,
known locally as "native languages". These languages belong to two major
language families: Eskimo–Aleut and Na-Dene. As the homeland of these two
major language families of North America, Alaska has been described as the
crossroads of the continent, providing evidence for the recent settlement of
North America by way of the Bering land bridge.
Alaska has been identified, along with Pacific Northwest states Washington
and Oregon, as being the least religious in the U.S. According to statistics
collected by the Association of Religion Data Archives, about 39% of Alaska
residents were members of religious congregations. Evangelical Protestants
had 78,070 members, Roman Catholics had 54,359, and mainline Protestants had
37,156. After Catholicism, the largest single denominations are The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 30,169, and Southern Baptists with
22,959. The large Eastern Orthodox (with 49 parishes and up to 50,000
followers) population is a result of early Russian colonization and
missionary work among Alaska Natives.
In 1795, the First Russian Orthodox Church was established in Kodiak.
Intermarriage with Alaskan Natives helped the Russian immigrants integrate
into society. As a result, an increasing number of Russian Orthodox churches
gradually became established within Alaska. Alaska also has the largest
Quaker population (by percentage) of any state. In 2009 there were 6,000 Jews
in Alaska (for whom observance of the mitzvah may pose special problems).
Estimates for the number of Alaskan Muslims range from 2,000 to 5,000. In
2010, the local Muslim community broke ground on the first mosque in the
state. Alaskan Hindus often share venues and celebrations with members of
other religious communities including Sikhs and Jains.
The 2007 gross state product was $44.9 billion, 45th in the nation. Its per
capita personal income for 2007 was $40,042, ranking 15th in the nation. The
oil and gas industry dominates the Alaskan economy, with more than 80% of the
state's revenues derived from petroleum extraction. Alaska's main export
product (excluding oil and natural gas) is seafood, primarily salmon, cod,
Pollock and crab.
Agriculture represents only a fraction of the Alaskan economy. Agricultural
production is primarily for consumption within the state and includes nursery
stock, dairy products, vegetables, and livestock. 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. Military bases are a significant
component of the economy in both Fairbanks and Anchorage. Federal subsidies
are also an important part of the economy, allowing the state to keep taxes
low. Its industrial outputs are crude petroleum, natural gas, coal, gold,
precious metals, zinc and other mining, seafood processing, timber and wood
products. There is also a growing service and tourism sector. Tourists have
contributed to the economy by supporting local lodging.
According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the
following were the state's largest private sector employers in 2010:
Alaska has vast energy resources. Major oil and gas reserves are found in the
Alaska North Slope (ANS) and Cook Inlet basins. According to the Energy
Information Administration, Alaska ranks second in the nation in crude oil
production. Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope is the highest yielding oil
field in the United States and on North America, typically producing about
400,000 barrels per day (64,000 m3/d).
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline can transport and pump up to 2.1 million barrels
(330,000 m3) of crude oil per day, more than any other crude oil pipeline in
the United States. Additionally, substantial coal deposits are found in
Alaska's bituminous, sub-bituminous, and lignite coal basins. The United
States Geological Survey estimates that there are 85.4 trillion cubic feet
(2,420 km3) of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas from natural gas
hydrates on the Alaskan North Slope. Alaska also offers some of the highest
hydroelectric power potential in the country from its numerous rivers. Large
swaths of the Alaskan coastline offer wind and geothermal energy potential as
Alaska's economy depends heavily on increasingly expensive diesel fuel for
heating, transportation, electric power and light. Though wind and
hydroelectric power are abundant and underdeveloped, proposals for state-wide
energy systems (e.g. with special low-cost electric interties) were judged
uneconomical (at the time of the report, 2001) due to low (<$0.50/Gal) fuel
prices, long distances and low population. The cost of a US gallon of gas in
urban Alaska today is usually $0.30–$0.60 higher than the national average;
prices in rural areas are generally significantly higher but vary widely
depending on transportation costs, seasonal usage peaks, nearby petroleum
development infrastructure and many other factors.
Alaska accounts for one-fifth (20 percent) of domestically
produced United States oil production. Prudhoe Bay (North America's largest
oil field) alone accounts for 8% of the U.S. domestic oil production.
The Alaska Permanent Fund is a constitutionally authorized appropriation of
oil revenues, established by voters in 1976 to manage a surplus in state
petroleum revenues from oil, largely in anticipation of same from the
recently constructed Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. The fund was originally
proposed by Governor Keith Miller on the eve of the 1969 Prudhoe Bay lease
sale, out of fear that the legislature would spend the entire proceeds of the
sale (which amounted to $900 million) at once, and was later championed by
Governor Jay Hammond and Kenai state representative Hugh Malone. It has
served as an attractive political prospect ever since, diverting revenues
which would normally be deposited into the general fund.
The Alaska Constitution was written so as to discourage dedicating state
funds for a particular purpose. The Permanent Fund has become the rare
exception to this, mostly due to the political climate of distrust existing
during the time of its creation. From its initial principal of $734,000, the
fund has grown to $40 billion as a result of oil royalties and capital
investment programs. Most if not all the principal is invested
conservatively outside Alaska. This has led to frequent calls by Alaskan
politicians for the Fund to make investments within Alaska, though such a
stance has never really gained momentum.
Starting in 1982, dividends from the fund's annual growth have been paid out
each year to eligible Alaskans, ranging from an initial $1,000.00 in 1982
(equal to three years' payout, as the distribution of payments was held up in
a lawsuit over the distribution scheme) to $3,269.00 in 2008 (which included
a one-time $1,200.00 "Resource Rebate"). Every year, the state legislature
takes out 8 percent from the earnings, puts 3 percent back into the principal
for inflation proofing, and the remaining 5 percent is distributed to all
qualifying Alaskans. To qualify for the Permanent Fund Dividend, one must
have lived in the state for a minimum of 12 months, maintain constant
residency subject to allowable absences, and not be subject to court
judgments or criminal convictions which fall under various disqualifying
classifications or may subject the payment amount to civil garnishment.
Cost of living
The cost of goods in Alaska has long been higher than in the contiguous 48
states. This has changed for the most part in Anchorage and to a lesser
extent in Fairbanks, where the cost of living has dropped somewhat in the
past five years. Federal government employees, particularly United States
Postal Service (USPS) workers and active-duty military members, receive a
Cost of Living Allowance usually set at 25% of base pay because, while the
cost of living has gone down, it is still one of the highest in the country.
The introduction of big-box stores in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau also
did much to lower prices. Wal-Mart opened their first Anchorage store in
1993, and debuted in Fairbanks in 2004. The company currently has locations
covering most of the population centers of Alaska, including Juneau,
Ketchikan and Kodiak. However, rural Alaska suffers from extremely high
prices for food and consumer goods, compared to the rest of the country due
to the relatively limited transportation infrastructure. Many rural residents
come into these cities and purchase food and goods in bulk from warehouse
clubs like Costco and Sam's Club. Some have embraced the free shipping offers
of some online retailers to purchase items much more cheaply than they could
in their own communities, if they are available at all.
Agriculture and fishing
Due to the northern climate and short growing season, relatively little
farming occurs in Alaska. Most farms are in either the Matanuska Valley,
about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Anchorage, or on the Kenai Peninsula,
about 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Anchorage. The short 100-day growing
season limits the crops that can be grown, but the long sunny summer days
make for productive growing seasons. The primary crops are potatoes, carrots,
lettuce, and cabbage.
The Tanana Valley is another notable agricultural locus, especially Delta
Junction area, about 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Fairbanks, with a
sizable concentration of farms growing agronomic crops; these farms mostly
lie north and east of Fort Greely. This area was largely set aside and
developed under a state program spearheaded by Hammond during his second term
as governor. Delta-area crops consist predominately of barley and hay. West
of Fairbanks lies another concentration of small farms catering to
restaurants, the hotel and tourist industry, and community supported
Alaskan agriculture has experienced a surge in growth of market gardeners,
small farms and farmers' markets in recent years, with the highest percentage
increase (46%) in the nation in growth in farmers' markets in 2011, compared
to 17% nationwide. The peony industry has also taken off, as the growing
season allows farmers to harvest during a gap in supply elsewhere in the
world, thereby filling a niche in the flower market.
Alaska, with no counties, also lacks county fairs. However, a small
assortment of state and local fairs (with the Alaska State Fair in Palmer the
largest), are held mostly in the late summer. The fairs are mostly located in
communities with historic or current agricultural activity, and feature local
farmers exhibiting produce in addition to more high-profile commercial
activities such as carnival rides, concerts and food. "Alaska Grown" is used
as an agricultural slogan.
Alaska has an abundance of seafood, with the primary fisheries in the Bering
Sea and the North Pacific, and seafood is one of the few food items that is
often cheaper within the state than outside it. Many Alaskans take advantage
of salmon seasons to harvest portions of their household diet while fishing
for subsistence, as well as sport. This includes fish taken by hook, net or
Hunting for subsistence, primarily caribou, moose, and Dall sheep is still
common in the state, particularly in remote Bush communities. An example of a
traditional native food is Akutaq, the Eskimo ice cream, which can consist of
reindeer fat, seal oil, dried fish meat and local berries.
Alaska's reindeer herding is concentrated on Seward Peninsula where wild
caribou can be prevented from mingling and migrating with the domesticated
Most food in Alaska is transported into the state from "Outside", and
shipping costs make food in the cities relatively expensive. In rural areas,
subsistence hunting and gathering is an essential activity because imported
food is prohibitively expensive. The cost of importing food to villages
begins at 7¢ per pound (15¢/kg) and rises rapidly to 50¢ per pound ($1.10/kg)
or more. The cost of delivering a 1 US gallon (3.8 L) of milk is about $3.50
in many villages where per capita income can be $20,000 or less. Fuel cost
can exceed $8.00 per gallon.
Alaska has few road connections compared to the rest of the U.S. The state's
road system covers a relatively small area of the state, linking the central
population centers and the Alaska Highway, the principal route out of the
state through Canada. The state capital, Juneau, is not accessible by road,
only a car ferry, which has spurred several debates over the decades about
moving the capital to a city on the road system, or building a road
connection from Haines. The western part of Alaska has no road system
connecting the communities with the rest of Alaska.
One unique feature of the Alaska Highway system is the Anton Anderson
Memorial Tunnel, an active Alaska Railroad tunnel recently upgraded to
provide a paved roadway link with the isolated community of Whittier on
Prince William Sound to the Seward Highway about 50 miles (80 km) southeast
of Anchorage at Portage. At 2.5 miles (4.0 km) the tunnel was the longest
road tunnel in North America until 2007. The tunnel is the longest
combination road and rail tunnel in North America.
Built around 1915, the Alaska Railroad (ARR) played a key role in the
development of Alaska through the 20th century. It links north Pacific
shipping through providing critical infrastructure with tracks that run from
Seward to Interior Alaska by way of South Central Alaska, passing through
Anchorage, Eklutna, Wasilla, Talkeetna, Denali, and Fairbanks, with spurs to
Whittier, Palmer and North Pole. The cities, towns, villages, and region
served by ARR tracks are known statewide as "The Railbelt". In recent years,
the ever-improving paved highway system began to eclipse the railroad's
importance in Alaska's economy.
The railroad, though famed for its summertime tour passenger service, played
a vital role in Alaska's development, moving freight into Alaska while
transporting natural resources southward (i.e., coal from the Usibelli coal
mine near Healy to Seward and gravel from the Matanuska Valley to Anchorage).
The Alaska Railroad was one of the last railroads in North America to use
cabooses in regular service and still uses them on some gravel trains. It
continues to offer one of the last flag stop routes in the country. A stretch
of about 60 miles (100 km) of track along an area north of Talkeetna remains
inaccessible by road; the railroad provides the only transportation to rural
homes and cabins in the area; until construction of the Parks Highway in the
1970s, the railroad provided the only land access to most of the region along
its entire route.
In northern Southeast Alaska, the White Pass and Yukon Route also partly runs
through the state from Skagway northwards into Canada (British Columbia and
Yukon Territory), crossing the border at White Pass Summit. This line is now
mainly used by tourists, often arriving by cruise liner at Skagway. It
featured in the 1983 BBC television series Great Little Railways.
The Alaska Rail network is not connected to Outside. In 2000, the U.S.
Congress authorized $6 million to study the feasibility of a rail link
between Alaska, Canada, and the lower 48.
Alaska Rail Marine provides car float service between Whittier and Seattle.
Many cities, towns and villages in the state do not have road or highway
access; the only modes of access involve travel by air, river, or the sea.
Alaska's well-developed state-owned ferry system (known as the Alaska Marine
Highway) serves the cities of southeast, the Gulf Coast and the Alaska
Peninsula. The ferries transport vehicles as well as passengers. The system
also operates a ferry service from Bellingham, Washington and Prince Rupert,
British Columbia in Canada through the Inside Passage to Skagway. The
Inter-Island Ferry Authority also serves as an important marine link for many
communities in the Prince of Wales Island region of Southeast and works in
concert with the Alaska Marine Highway.
In recent years, cruise lines have created a summertime tourism market,
mainly connecting the Pacific Northwest to Southeast Alaska and, to a lesser
degree, towns along Alaska's gulf coast. The population of Ketchikan may rise
by over 10,000 people on many days during the summer, as up to four large
cruise ships at a time can dock, debarking thousands of passengers.
Cities not served by road, sea, or river can be reached only by air, foot,
dogsled, or snowmachine accounting for Alaska's extremely well developed bush
air services—an Alaskan novelty. Anchorage itself, and to a lesser extent
Fairbanks, are served by many major airlines. Because of limited highway
access, air travel remains the most efficient form of transportation in and
out of the state. Anchorage recently completed extensive remodeling and
construction at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to help
accommodate the upsurge in tourism (in 2000–2001, the latest year for which
data is available, 2.4 million total arrivals to Alaska were counted, 1.7
million by air travel; 1.4 million were visitors).
Regular flights to most villages and towns within the state that are
commercially viable are challenging to provide, so they are heavily
subsidized by the federal government through the Essential Air Service
program. Alaska Airlines is the only major airline offering in-state travel
with jet service (sometimes in combination cargo and passenger Boeing
737-400s) from Anchorage and Fairbanks to regional hubs like Bethel, Nome,
Kotzebue, Dillingham, Kodiak, and other larger communities as well as to
major Southeast and Alaska Peninsula communities.
The bulk of remaining commercial flight offerings come from small regional
commuter airlines such as Era Aviation, PenAir, and Frontier Flying Service.
The smallest towns and villages must rely on scheduled or chartered bush
flying services using general aviation aircraft such as the Cessna Caravan,
the most popular aircraft in use in the state. Much of this service can be
attributed to the Alaska bypass mail program which subsidizes bulk mail
delivery to Alaskan rural communities. The program requires 70% of that
subsidy to go to carriers who offer passenger service to the communities.
Many communities have small air taxi services. These operations originated
from the demand for customized transport to remote areas. Perhaps the most
quintessentially Alaskan plane is the bush seaplane. The world's busiest
seaplane base is Lake Hood, located next to Ted Stevens Anchorage
International Airport, where flights bound for remote villages without an
airstrip carry passengers, cargo, and many items from stores and warehouse
clubs. Alaska has the highest number of pilots per capita of any U.S. state:
out of the estimated 663,661 residents, 8,550 are pilots, or about one in 78.
Another Alaskan transportation method is the dogsled. In modern times (that
is, any time after the mid-late 1920s), dog mushing is more of a sport than a
true means of transportation. Various races are held around the state, but
the best known is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a 1150-mile (1850 km)
trail from Anchorage to Nome (although the distance varies from year to year,
the official distance is set at 1,049 miles (1,688 km)). The race
commemorates the famous 1925 serum run to Nome in which mushers and dogs like
Togo and Balto took much-needed medicine to the diphtheria-stricken community
of Nome when all other means of transportation had failed. Mushers from all
over the world come to Anchorage each March to compete for cash, prizes, and
prestige. The "Serum Run" is another sled dog race that more accurately
follows the route of the famous 1925 relay, leaving from the community of
Nenana (southwest of Fairbanks) to Nome.
In areas not served by road or rail, primary transportation in summer is by
all-terrain vehicle and in winter by snowmobile or "snow machine," as it is
commonly referred to in Alaska.
Alaska's internet and other data transport systems are provided largely
through the two major telecommunications companies: GCI and Alaska
Communications. GCI owns and operates what it calls the Alaska United Fiber
Optic system and as of late 2011 Alaska Communications advertised that it has
"two fiber optic paths to the lower 48 and two more across Alaska. In January
2011, it was reported that a $1 billion project to run connect Asia and rural
Alaska was being planned, aided in part by $350 million in stimulus from the
Law and government
Like all other U.S. states, Alaska is governed as a republic, with three
branches of government: an executive branch consisting of the Governor of
Alaska and the other independently elected constitutional officers; a
legislative branch consisting of the Alaska House of Representatives and
Alaska Senate; and a judicial branch consisting of the Alaska Supreme Court
and lower courts.
The state of Alaska employs approximately 15,000 employees statewide.
The Alaska Legislature consists of a 40-member House of Representatives and a
20-member Senate. Senators serve four year terms and House members two. The
Governor of Alaska serves four-year terms. The lieutenant governor runs
separately from the governor in the primaries, but during the general election,
the nominee for governor and nominee for lieutenant governor run together on
the same ticket.
Alaska's court system has four levels: the Alaska Supreme Court, the court of
appeals, the superior courts and the district courts. The superior and
district courts are trial courts. Superior courts are courts of general
jurisdiction, while district courts only hear certain types of cases,
including misdemeanor criminal cases and civil cases valued up to $100,000.
The Supreme Court and the Court Of Appeals are appellate courts. The Court Of
Appeals is required to hear appeals from certain lower-court decisions,
including those regarding criminal prosecutions, juvenile delinquency, and
habeas corpus. The Supreme Court hears civil appeals and may in its
discretion hear criminal appeals.
Although Alaska entered the union as a Democratic state, since the early
1970s Alaska has been characterized as a Republican-leaning state. Local
political communities have often worked on issues related to land use
development, fishing, tourism, and individual rights. Alaska Natives, while
organized in and around their communities, have been active within the Native
corporations. These have been given ownership over large tracts of land,
which require stewardship.
Alaska is the only state in which possession of one ounce or less of
marijuana in one's home is completely legal under state law, though the
federal law remains in force.
The state has an independence movement favoring a vote on secession from the
United States, with the Alaskan Independence Party.
Six Republicans and four Democrats have served as governor of Alaska. In
addition, Republican Governor Wally Hickel was elected to the office for a
second term in 1990 after leaving the Republican party and briefly joining
the Alaskan Independence Party ticket just long enough to be reelected. He
subsequently officially rejoined the Republican party in 1994.
To finance state government operations, Alaska depends primarily on petroleum
revenues and federal subsidies. This allows it to have the lowest individual
tax burden in the United States, and be one of only five states with no state
sales tax, one of seven states that do not levy an individual income tax, and
one of two states that has neither. The Department of Revenue Tax Division
reports regularly on the state's revenue sources. The Department also issues
an annual summary of its operations, including new state laws that directly
affect the tax division.
While Alaska has no state sales tax, 89 municipalities collect a local sales
tax, from 1–7.5%, typically 3–5%. Other local taxes levied include raw fish
taxes, hotel, motel, and bed-and-breakfast 'bed' taxes, severance taxes,
liquor and tobacco taxes, gaming (pull tabs) taxes, tire taxes and fuel
transfer taxes. A part of the revenue collected from certain state taxes and
license fees (such as petroleum, aviation motor fuel, telephone cooperative)
is shared with municipalities in Alaska.
Fairbanks has one of the highest property taxes in the state as no sales or
income taxes are assessed in the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB). A sales
tax for the FNSB has been voted on many times, but has yet to be approved,
leading law makers to increase taxes dramatically on other goods such as
liquor and tobacco.
In 2008 the Tax Foundation ranked Alaska as having the 4th most "business
friendly" tax policy. More "friendly" states were Wyoming, Nevada, and South
In presidential elections, the state's electoral college votes have been won
by the Republican nominee in every election since statehood, except for 1964.
No state has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate fewer times.
Alaska supported Democratic nominee Lyndon B. Johnson in the landslide year
of 1964, and the 1960 and 1968 elections were close. Since 1972, however,
Republicans have carried the state by large margins. In 2008, Republican John
McCain defeated Democrat Barack Obama in Alaska, 59.49% to 37.83%. McCain's
running mate was Sarah Palin, the state's governor and the first Alaskan on a
major party ticket.
The Alaska Bush, central Juneau, midtown and downtown Anchorage, and the area
surrounding the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus have been strongholds
of the Democratic Party. Matanuska-Susitna Borough and South Anchorage
typically have the strongest Republican showing. As of 2004, well over half
of all registered voters have chosen "Non-Partisan" or "Undeclared" as their
affiliation, despite recent attempts to close primaries.
Because of its population relative to other U.S. states, Alaska has only one
member in the U.S. House of Representatives. This seat is currently being
held by Republican Don Young, who was re-elected to his 19th consecutive term
in 2008. Alaska's At-large congressional district is currently the world's
second-largest legislative constituency by area, behind only the Canadian
territory of Nunavut.
In 2008, Governor Sarah Palin became the first Republican woman to run on a
national ticket when she became John McCain's Vice Presidential running mate.
She continued to be a prominent national figure even after resigning from the
governor's job in July 2009.
Alaska's United States Senators belong to Class 2 and Class 3. In 2008,
Democrat Mark Begich, mayor of Anchorage, defeated long-time Republican
senator Ted Stevens. Stevens had been convicted on seven felony counts of
failing to report gifts on Senate financial discloser forms one week before
the election. The conviction was set aside in April 2009 after evidence of
prosecutorial misconduct emerged.
Republican Frank Murkowski held the state's other senatorial position. After
being elected governor in 2002, he resigned from the Senate and appointed his
daughter, State Representative Lisa Murkowski as his successor. She won a
full six-year term in 2004 and 2010.
Cities, towns and boroughs
Main Street in Talkeetna.
Alaska is not divided into counties, as most of the other U.S. states, but it
is divided into boroughs. Many of the more densely populated parts of the
state are part of Alaska's 16 boroughs, which function somewhat similarly to
counties in other states. However, unlike county-equivalents in the other 49
states, the boroughs do not cover the entire land area of the state. The area
not part of any borough is referred to as the Unorganized Borough.
The Unorganized Borough has no government of its own, but the U.S. Census
Bureau in cooperation with the state divided the Unorganized Borough into 11
census areas solely for the purposes of statistical analysis and presentation.
A recording district is a mechanism for administration of the public record
in Alaska. The state is divided into 34 recording districts which are
centrally administered under a State Recorder. All recording districts use
the same acceptance criteria, fee schedule, etc., for accepting documents
into the public record.
Whereas many U.S. states use a three-tiered system of
decentralization—state/county/township—most of Alaska uses only two
tiers—state/borough. Owing to the low population density, most of the land is
located in the Unorganized Borough which, as the name implies, has no
intermediate borough government of its own, but is administered directly by
the state government. Currently (2000 census) 57.71% of Alaska's area has
this status, with 13.05% of the population.
For statistical purposes the United States Census Bureau divides this
territory into census areas. Anchorage merged the city government with the
Greater Anchorage Area Borough in 1975 to form the Municipality of Anchorage,
containing the city proper and the communities of Eagle River, Chugiak,
Peters Creek, Girdwood, Bird, and Indian. Fairbanks has a separate borough
(the Fairbanks North Star Borough) and municipality (the City of Fairbanks).
The state's most populous city is Anchorage, home to 278,700 people in 2006,
225,744 of whom live in the urbanized area. The richest location in Alaska by
per capita income is Halibut Cove ($89,895). Yakutat City, Sitka, Juneau, and
Anchorage are the four largest cities in the U.S. by area.
Cities and census-designated places (by population)
Alaska has a total of 355 cities and census-designated places. The majority
of these are located in the rural expanse of Alaska known as "The Bush" and
are unconnected to the contiguous North American road network. The 100
largest cities and census-designated places in Alaska are listed below, in
13.Meadow Lakes #
15.Steele Creek #
19.Chena Ridge #
23.Farmers Loop #
32.Big Lake #
37.Eielson AFB #
43.Prudhoe Bay #
44.North Pole @
47.Bear Creek #
48.Fritz Creek #
49.Anchor Point #
52.Lazy Mountain #
56.Kodiak Station #
57.Susitna North #
60.Diamond Ridge #
62.Hooper Bay @
63.Farm Loop #
67.Sand Point @
68.Delta Junction @
69.Chevak @ and
King Cove @
73.Funny River #
75.Buffalo Soapstone #
78.Mountain Village @
82.Moose Creek #
83.Knik River #
84.Pleasant Valley #
86.Two Rivers # and
Womens Bay #
89.Fox River #
92.Point Hope @
99.Happy Valley #
100.Big Delta #
@ - city
# - census-designated place
Out of Alaska's 2010 Census population figure of 710,231, 20,429 people, or
2.88% of the population, do not live in an incorporated city or census-
designated place. Approximately 3/4 of that figure are people who live in
urban and suburban neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city limits of
Ketchikan, Kodiak, Palmer and Wasilla, in areas where census-designated
places have not been created by the Census Bureau. The remainder are
scattered throughout Alaska, both within organized boroughs and in the
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development administers many
school districts in Alaska. In addition, the state operates a boarding
school, Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka; and provides partial funding for
other boarding schools, including Nenana Student Living Center in Nenana and
The Galena Interior Learning Academy in Galena.
There are more than a dozen colleges and universities in Alaska. Accredited
universities in Alaska include the University of Alaska Anchorage, University
of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast, and Alaska Pacific
University. Alaska is the only state that has no institutions that are part
of the NCAA Division I program.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development operates AVTEC,
Alaska's Institute of Technology. Campuses in Seward and Anchorage offer 1
week to 11 month training programs in areas as diverse as Information
Technology, Welding, Nursing, and Mechanics.
Alaska has had a problem with a "brain drain". Many of its young people,
including most of the highest academic achievers, leave the state after high
school graduation and do not return. The University of Alaska has attempted
to combat this by offering partial four-year scholarships to the top 10% of
Alaska high school graduates, via the Alaska Scholars Program.
Public health and public safety
The Alaska State Troopers are Alaska's statewide police force. They have a
long and storied history, but were not an official organization until 1941.
Before the force was officially organized, law enforcement in Alaska was
handled by various federal agencies. Larger towns usually have their own
local police and some villages rely on "Public Safety Officers" who have
police training but do not carry firearms. In much of the state, the troopers
serve as the only police force available. In addition to enforcing traffic
and criminal law, wildlife Troopers enforce hunting and fishing regulations.
Due to the varied terrain and wide scope of the Troopers' duties, they employ
a wide variety of land, air, and water patrol vehicles.
Many rural communities in Alaska are considered "dry," having outlawed the
importation of alcoholic beverages. Suicide rates for rural residents are
higher than urban.
Domestic abuse and other violent crimes are also at high levels in the state;
this is in part linked to alcohol abuse.
Alaska also has the highest rate of sexual assault in the nation. The average
age of sexually assaulted victims is 16 years old. In four out of five cases,
the suspects were relatives, friends or acquaintances.
Some of Alaska's popular annual events are the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
that starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome, World Ice Art Championships in
Fairbanks, the Alaska Hummingbird Festival in Ketchikan, the Sitka Whale
Fest, and the Stikine River Garnet Fest in Wrangell. The Stikine River
features the largest springtime concentration of American Bald Eagles in the
The Alaska Native Heritage Center celebrates the rich heritage of Alaska's 11
cultural groups. Their purpose is to enhance self-esteem among Native people
and to encourage cross-cultural exchanges among all people. The Alaska Native
Arts Foundation promotes and markets Native art from all regions and cultures
in the State, both on the internet; at its gallery in Anchorage, 500 West
Sixth Avenue, and at the Alaska House New York, 109 Mercer Street in SoHo.
Influences on music in Alaska include the traditional music of Alaska Natives
as well as folk music brought by later immigrants from Russia and Europe.
Prominent musicians from Alaska include singer Jewel, traditional Aleut
flautist Mary Youngblood, folk singer-songwriter Libby Roderick, Christian
music singer/songwriter Lincoln Brewster, metal/post hardcore band 36
Crazyfists and the groups Pamyua and Portugal. The Man.
There are many established music festivals in Alaska, including the Alaska
Folk Festival, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the Anchorage Folk
Festival, the Athabascan Old-Time Fiddling Festival, the Sitka Jazz Festival,
and the Sitka Summer Music Festival. The most prominent orchestra in Alaska
is the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, though the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra
and Juneau Symphony are also notable. The Anchorage Opera is currently the
state's only professional opera company, though there are several volunteer
and semi-professional organizations in the state as well.
The official state song of Alaska is "Alaska's Flag", which was adopted in
1955; it celebrates the flag of Alaska.
Movies filmed in Alaska
Alaska's first independent picture all made on place was in the silent years.
The Chechahcos was produced by Alaskan businessman Austin E. Lathrop and
filmed in and around Anchorage. It was released in 1924 by the Alaska Moving
Picture Corporation and was the only film the company made.
One of the most prominent movies filmed in Alaska is MGM's Eskimo/Mala The
Magnificent, starring Alaska Native Ray Mala. In 1932 an expedition set out
from MGM's studios in Hollywood to Alaska to film what was then billed as
"The Biggest Picture Ever Made." Upon arriving in Alaska, they set up "Camp
Hollywood" in Northwest Alaska, where they lived during the duration of the
filming. Louis B. Mayer spared no expense in spite of the remote location,
going so far as to hire the chef from the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood to
When Eskimo premiered at the Astor Theatre in New York City, the studio
received the largest amount of feedback in its history to that point. Eskimo
was critically acclaimed and released worldwide; as a result, Mala became an
international movie star. Eskimo won the first Oscar for Best Film Editing at
the Academy Awards, and was also responsible for showcasing and preserving
aspects of Inupiat culture on film.
The 1983 Disney movie Never Cry Wolf was at least partially shot in Alaska.
The 1991 film White Fang, starring Ethan Hawke, was filmed in and around
Haines, Alaska. Steven Seagal's 1994 On Deadly Ground, starring Michael
Caine, was filmed in part at the Worthington Glacier near Valdez. The 1999
John Sayles film Limbo, starring David Strathairn, Mary Elizabeth
Mastrantonio, and Kris Kristofferson, was filmed in Juneau.
The psychological thriller Insomnia, starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams,
was shot in Canada, but was set in Alaska. The 2007 horror feature 30 Days of
Night is set in Barrow, Alaska, but was filmed in New Zealand. Most films and
television shows set in Alaska are not filmed there; for example, Northern
Exposure, set in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, was actually filmed in
The 2007 film directed by Sean Penn, Into The Wild, was partially filmed and
set in Alaska. The film, which is based on the novel of the same name,
follows the adventures of Christopher McCandless, who died in a remote
abandoned bus along the Stampede Trail west of Healy in 1992.
Nicknames: "The Last Frontier" or "Land of the Midnight Sun" or "Seward's
State bird: Willow Ptarmigan, adopted by the Territorial Legislature in 1955.
It is a small (15–17 inches) Arctic grouse that lives among willows and on
open tundra and muskeg. Plumage is brown in summer, changing to white in
winter. The Willow Ptarmigan is common in much of Alaska.
State fish: King Salmon, adopted 1962.
State flower: wild/native Forget-me-not, adopted by the Territorial
Legislature in 1917. It is a perennial that is found throughout Alaska, from
Hyder to the Arctic Coast, and west to the Aleutians.
State fossil: Woolly Mammoth, adopted 1986.
State gem: Jade, adopted 1968.
State insect: Four-spot skimmer dragonfly, adopted 1995.
State land mammal: Moose, adopted 1998.
State marine mammal: Bowhead Whale, adopted 1983.
State mineral: Gold, adopted 1968.
State song: "Alaska's Flag"
State sport: Dog Mushing, adopted 1972.
State tree: Sitka Spruce, adopted 1962.
State dog: Alaskan Malamute, adopted 2010.
State soil: Tanana, adopted unknown.
Alaska Heritage Resources Survey
The Alaska Heritage Resources Survey (AHRS) is a restricted inventory of all
reported historic and prehistoric sites within the state of Alaska and is
maintained by the Office of History and Archaeology. The survey's inventory
of cultural resources includes objects, structures, buildings, sites,
districts, and travel ways, with a general provision that they are over 50
years old. As of January 31, 2012 over 35,000 sites have been reported.
Return to Alaska Home Page