HOME
        TheInfoList






Coordinates: 65°N 150°W / 65°N 150°W / 65; -150

/əˈlæskə/(About this soundlisten); Aleut: Alax̂sxax̂; Inupiaq: Alaasikaq; Pacific Gulf Yupik: Alas'kaaq; Tlingit: Anáaski; Russian: Аля́ска, romanizedAlyáska) is a U.S. state on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. An exclave of the U.S., it borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon to the east and southeast and has a maritime border with Russia's Chukotka Autonomous Okrug to the west. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of the Arctic Ocean, while the Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest.

Alaska is by far the largest U.S. state by area, comprising more total area than the next three largest states Texas, California, and Montana combined, and the seventh-largest subnational division in the world. It is the third-least populous and the most sparsely populated state, but by far the continent's most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel, with an estimated population of 738,432 as of 2015—more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland.[3] Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. The state capital of Juneau is the second-largest city in the United States by area, comprising more territory than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware.

Alaska was occupied by various indigenous peoples for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. The state is considered the entry point for the settlement of North America by way of the Bering land bridge. The Russians were the first Europeans to settle the area beginning in the 18th century, eventually establishing Russian America, which spanned most of the current state. The expense and difficulty of maintaining this distant possession prompted its sale to the U.S. in 1867 for US$7.2 million, or approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km2). The area went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912. It was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.[4]

While it has one of the smallest state economies in the country, Alaska's per capita income is among the highest, owing to a diversified economy dominated by fishing, natural gas, and oil, all of which it has in abundance. United States armed forces bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy; more than half the state is federally owned public land, including a multitude of national forests, parks, and wildlife refuges.

Alaska's indigenous population is proportionally the highest of any U.S. state, at over 15 percent.[5] Close to two dozen native languages are spoken, and Alaskan Natives exercise considerable influence in local and state politics.

Etymology

The name "Alaska" (Russian: Аля́ска, tr. Alyáska) was introduced in the Russian colonial period when it was used to refer to the Alaska Peninsula. It was derived from an Aleut-language idiom, which figuratively refers to the mainland. Literally, it means object to which the action of the sea is directed.[6][7][8]

Geography

Alaska is the northernmost and westernmost state in the United States and has the most easterly longitude in the United States because the Aleutian Islands extend into the Eastern Hemisphere.[9] Alaska 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. It is technically part of the continental U.S., but is sometimes 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 Canada's Yukon and British Columbia to the east (making it the only state to border a Canadian territory), the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south and southwest, 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. Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other U.S. states combined.[10]

At 663,268 square miles (1,717,856 km2) in area, Alaska is by far the largest state in the United States, and is more than twice the size of the second-largest U.S. state, Texas. Alaska is the seventh largest sub-national division in the world, and if it was an independent nation would be the 19th largest country in the world.

Regions

There are no officially defined borders demarcating the various regions of Alaska, but there are six widely accepted regions:

South Central

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 South Central, as do the Prince William Sound area and the communities of Cordova and Valdez.[11]

Southeast

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.[12] 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.[13]

Interior

Denali is the highest peak in North America.

The Interior is the largest region of Alaska; much of it is uninhabited wilderness. Fairbanks is the only large city in the region. Denali National Park and Preserve is located here. Denali, formerly Mount McKinley, is the highest mountain in North America.

Southwest

Alaska

Alax̂sxax̂  (Aleut)
Alaasikaq  (Inupiaq)
Anáaski  (Tlingit)
Alas'kaaq  (Pacific Gulf Yupik)
State of Alaska
Nickname(s): 
The Last Frontier
Motto(s): 
North to the Future
Anthem: Alaska's Flag
Map of the United States with Alaska highlighted
Map of the United States with Alaska highlighted
CountryUnited States
Before statehoodTerritory of Alaska
Admitted to the UnionJanuary 3, 1959 (49th)
CapitalJuneau
Largest cityAnchorage
Largest metroAnchorage metropolitan area
Government
 • GovernorMike Dunleavy (R)
 • Lieutenant GovernorKevin Meyer (R)
LegislatureAlaska Legislature
 • Upper houseSenate
 • Lower houseHouse of Representatives
JudiciaryAlaska Supreme Court
U.S. senators
U.S. House delegationDon Young (R) (at-large) (list)
Area
 • Total663,268 sq mi (1,717,856 km2)
 • Land571,951 sq mi (1,481,346 km2)
 • Water91,316 sq mi (236,507 km2)  13.77%
Area rank1st
Dimensions
 • Length1,420 mi (2,285 km)
Alaska racial breakdown of population
Racial composition 1970[51] 1990[51] 2000[52&#

In 2010, Alaska ranked as the 47th state by population, ahead of North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming (and Washington, D.C.). Estimates show North Dakota ahead as of 2018.[44] 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).[45] Alaska is by far the largest U.S. state by area, and the tenth wealthiest (per capita income).[46] As of November 2014, the state's unemployment rate was 6.6%.[47] As of 2018, it is one of 14 U.S. states that still have only one telephone area code.[48]

According to the 2010 United States 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), 14.8% American Indian and Alaska Native, 5.4% Asian, 3.3% Black or African American, 1.0% 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.[49]

As of 2011, 50.7% of Alaska's population younger than one year of age belonged to minority groups (i.e., did not have two parents of non-Hispanic white ancestry).[50]

Alaska racial breakdown of population
Racial composition 1970[51] 1990[51] 2000[52] 2010[53]
[update], 50.7% of Alaska's population younger than one year of age belonged to minority groups (i.e., did not have two parents of non-Hispanic white ancestry).[50]

According to the 2011 American Community Survey, 83.4% of people over the age of five spoke only English at home. About 3.5% spoke Spanish at home, 2.2% spoke another Indo-European language, about 4.3% spoke an Asian language (including Tagalog),[54] and about 5.3% spoke other languages at home.[55]

The Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks claims that at least 20 Alaskan native languages exist and there are also some languages with different dialects.[56] Most of Alaska's native languages belong to either the Eskimo–Aleut or Na-Dene language families; however, some languages are thought to be isolates (e.g. Haida) or have not yet been classified (e.g. Tsimshianic).[56] As of 2014 nearly all of Alaska's native languages were classified as either threatened, shifting, moribund, nearly extinct, or dormant languages.[57]

A total of 5.2% of Alaskans speak one of the state's 20 indigenous languages,[58] known locally as "native languages".

In October 2014, the governor of Alaska signed a bill declaring the state's 20 indigenous languages to have official status.[59]Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks claims that at least 20 Alaskan native languages exist and there are also some languages with different dialects.[56] Most of Alaska's native languages belong to either the Eskimo–Aleut or Na-Dene language families; however, some languages are thought to be isolates (e.g. Haida) or have not yet been classified (e.g. Tsimshianic).[56] As of 2014 nearly all of Alaska's native languages were classified as either threatened, shifting, moribund, nearly extinct, or dormant languages.[57]

A total of 5.2% of Alaskans speak one of the state's 20 indigenous languages,[58] known locally as "native languages".

In October 2014, the governor of Alaska signed a bill declaring the state's 20 indigenous languages to have official status.[59][60] This bill gave them symbolic recognition as official languages, though they have not been adopted for official use within the government. The 20 languages that were included in the bill are:

According to statistics collected by the Association of Religion Data Archives from 2010, about 34% of Alaska residents were members of religious congregations. 100,960 people identified as Evangelical Protestants, 50,866 as Roman Catholic, and 32,550 as mainline Protestants.[61] Roughly 4% are Mormon, 0.5% are Jewish, 1% are Muslim, 0.5% are Buddhist, 0.2% are Baháʼí, and 0.5% are Hindu.[62] The largest religious denominations in Alaska as of 2010 were the Catholic Church with 50,866 adherents, non-denominational Evangelical Protestants with 38,070 adherents, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 32,170 adherents, and the Southern Baptist Convention with 19,891 adherents.[63] Alaska has been identified, along with Pacific Northwest states Washington and Oregon, as being the least religious states of the USA, in terms of church membership,[64][65]

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.[66] Alaska also has the largest Quaker population (by percentage) of any state.[67] In 2009 there were 6,000 Jews in Alaska (for whom observance of halakha may pose special problems).[68] Alaskan Hindus often share venues and celebrations with members of other Asian religious communities, including Sikhs and Jains.[69][70][71] In 2010, Alaskan Hindus established the Sri Ganesha Temple of Alaska, making it the first Hindu Temple in Alaska and the northernmost Hindu Temple in the world. There are an estimated 2,000–3,000 Hindus in Alaska. The vast majority of Hindus live in Anchorage or Fairbanks.

Estimates for the number of Muslims in Alaska range from 2,000 to 5,000.[72][73][74] The Islamic Community Center of Anchorage began efforts in the late 1990s to construct a mosque in Anchorage. They broke ground on a building in south Anchorage in 2010 and were nearing completion in late 2014. When completed, the mosque will be the first in the state and one of the northernmost mosques in the world.[75] There's also a Baháʼí Center.[76]

Religious affiliation in Alaska (2014)[77]
Affiliation % of population
Christian 62 62
 
Protestant 37 37
 
Evangelical Protestant 22 22
 
Mainline Protestant 12 12
 
Black church 3 3
 
Catholic 16 16
 
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.[66] Alaska also has the largest Quaker population (by percentage) of any state.[67] In 2009 there were 6,000 Jews in Alaska (for whom observance of halakha may pose special problems).[68] Alaskan Hindus often share venues and celebrations with members of other Asian religious communities, including Sikhs and Jains.[69][70][71] In 2010, Alaskan Hindus established the Sri Ganesha Temple of Alaska, making it the first Hindu Temple in Alaska and the northernmost Hindu Temple in the world. There are an estimated 2,000–3,000 Hindus in Alaska. The vast majority of Hindus live in Anchorage or Fairbanks.

Estimates for the number of Muslims in Alaska range from 2,000 to 5,000.[72][73][74] The Islamic Community Center of Anchorage began efforts in the late 1990s to construct a mosque in Anchorage. They broke ground on a building in south Anchorage in 2010 and were nearing completion in late 2014. When completed, the mosque will be the first in the state and one of the northernmost mosques in the world.[75] There's also a Baháʼí Center.[76]

The 2018 gross state product was $55 billion, 48th in the nation. Its per capita personal income for 2018 was $73,000, ranking 7th in the nation. According to a 2013 study by Phoenix Marketing International, Alaska had the fifth-largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States, with a ratio of 6.75 percent.[79] 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 a very small 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 the Fairbanks North Star, Anchorage and Kodiak Island boroughs, as well as Kodiak. 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.

Energy

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline transports oil, Alaska's most financially important export, from the North Slope to Valdez. The heat pipes in the column mounts are pertinent, since they disperse heat upwards and prevent melting of permafrost.

Alaska has vast energy resources, although its oil reserves have been largely depleted. Major oil and gas reserves were found in the Alaska North Slope (ANS) and Cook Inlet basins, but according to the Energy Information Administration, by February 2014 Alaska had fallen to fourth place in the nation in crude oil production after Texas, North Dakota, and California.[80][81] Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope is still the second highest-yielding oil field in the United States, typically producing about 400,000 barrels per day (64,000 m3/d), although by early 2014 North Dakota's Bakken Formation was producing over 900,000 barrels per day (140,000 m3/d).[82] Prudhoe Bay was the largest conventional oil field ever discovered in North America, but was much smaller than Canada's enormous Athabasca oil sands field, which by 2014 was producing about 1,500,000 barrels per day (240,000 m3/d) of unconventional oil, and had hundreds of years of producible reserves at that rate.[83]

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.[84] 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 well.[85]

Alaska proven oil reserves peaked in 1978 and have declined more than 60% since then.
Alaska oil production peaked in 1988 and has declined more than 65% since then.

Alaska's economy depends heavily on increasingly expensive diesel fuel for heating, transportation, electric power and light. Although wind and hydroelectric power are abundant and underdeveloped, proposals for statewide energy systems (e.g. with special Alaska North Slope (ANS) and Cook Inlet basins, but according to the Energy Information Administration, by February 2014 Alaska had fallen to fourth place in the nation in crude oil production after Texas, North Dakota, and California.[80][81] Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope is still the second highest-yielding oil field in the United States, typically producing about 400,000 barrels per day (64,000 m3/d), although by early 2014 North Dakota's Bakken Formation was producing over 900,000 barrels per day (140,000 m3/d).[82] Prudhoe Bay was the largest conventional oil field ever discovered in North America, but was much smaller than Canada's enormous Athabasca oil sands field, which by 2014 was producing about 1,500,000 barrels per day (240,000 m3/d) of unconventional oil, and had hundreds of years of producible reserves at that rate.[83]

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.[84] 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 well.[85]