Alaska State Geography

So you want to know about Alaska? Here are some highlights! Also check out the links to other sites about Alaska.

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Key Facts

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Population (1994): 626,278 ( 48th in size)

State size: 591,004 square miles (1st in size)

State Capital: Juneau (named after Joe Juneau a prospector who found gold in the area)

Major cities: Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks

Admission to union: The 49th State

Date entered the union: January 3, 1959

Origin of state name: Named from the Aleut word Al-ay-ek-sha meaning mainland.

Nicknames: The Great Land and the Last Frontier

Bordering states: Not bordering any states. The Arctic Ocean on the north, Canada on the east, Gulf of Alaska and Pacific Ocean on the south and Bering Straight on the west.

State bird: Willow Ptarmigan

State flower: Forget-me-not

State tree: Sitka Spruce

Motto: North to the Future


Geographic Landmarks

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Alaska is well known for its dramatic landscape. Large mountainous, volcanic regions and wilderness. Mount McKinley is the tallest mountain in the U.S. at 20,320 feet.


Points of Interest

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Salmon fishing and dog sledding are two major attractions for tourists.


Major Industries

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Alaska has an abundance of natural resources including oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, and platinum.
Forestry, agriculture and fishing also play an important role.


Historical Highlights

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Scientists believe that ancient man first came to North America across a land bridge which is now the Bering Strait.

Alaska was first explored by Vitus Bering of Denmark in 1741. Bering Strait bares his name.

Once part of the Russian empire, Alaska was bought by the U.S. in 1867 for $7,200,000. The Klondike gold rush in 1896 brought many settlers to the area.


Population and Culture

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Originally the home of the Aleut, Inuit and other native americans, discovery of gold in the late 1800's brought many settlers searching for wealth.

Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of totem poles. Totem poles were carved by the Native Americans to tell legends, or tribal and family history. They provide a colorful representation of Alaskan culture.



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Alaska has a very cold climate. Alaska is very close to the north pole which dramatically affects its climate and daily calendar. Northern Alaska is often referred to as the "Land of the Midnight Sun" since the sun does not set, providing 24 hours of daylight, from early May to early August. On the other extreme, the Sun does not rise from late November to late January.


Interesting Tidbits

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Alaska is the largest state in the United States. It is about the size of California, Montana and Texas combined together. 

A fossil of the great Woolly Mammoth was discovered in Alaska.


Links to other sites about Alaska

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Alaska State Flag


Alaska State Government home page

Interesting Tidbits

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