15 Fascinating Alaska Facts You Didnt Know

Did you know that Alaska is so close to Russia that you can swim there? Here are 15 other incredible facts about this vast state.

Alaska became the 49th US state on January 3, 1959, and is nicknamed “The Last Frontier”, “The Land of the Midnight Sun”, and the “Seward’s Icebox”. It has a population of 710,000 people and shares borders with the Canadian states of Yukon and British Columbia.

With a total of 663,268 sq mi (1,717,856 km²) of land and water, Alaska is the largest state in the USA. But let’s dive into some lesser-known facts about this unique state.

Alaska Has Been Inhabited for 15,000 Years

Over 15,000 years ago, humans crossed the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska when the strait was actually a land bridge due to lower sea levels. The Aleut people, who are the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands, named Alaska “Great Land”. More than 24% of Alaska’s population is Native Alaskans.

Alaska Was Once a Part of the Russian Empire

Alaska was colonized by the Russian Empire in the 17th century. The US later purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million dollars on October 18, 1867.

40% of Alaskans Live in One Place

The Railbelt, a stretch of highways and railways that runs from southern Alaska into the center of the state, is home to over two-thirds of Alaska’s population. Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, accommodates about 291,000 people – a massive 40% of the state’s population!

Living in Alaska can come with a paycheck.

The Alaska Permanent Fund was established in 1976 to manage state petroleum revenues from the oil industry. This fund invests in other areas and pays a yearly dividend to eligible Alaskan residents. To be eligible, you must have lived in the state for over 12 months or have certain criminal convictions. The dividend amount changes yearly, but in 2019 it was $1,606.

Russia and Alaska are separated by a narrow strait.

The Bering Strait separating Russia and Alaska is only 51 miles (82 km) wide at its narrowest point. Two islands, Big Diomede and Little Diomede, owned by Russia and Alaska respectively, lie within the strait and are only 2.5 miles apart. In 1987, a long-distance swimmer named Lynne Cox swam across the channel and onto the shores of the USSR.

Historically, dog sleds were used for transportation across Alaska. Today, dog sledding, or mushing, is more commonly done as a sport through sled dog racing. The Iditarod Sled Dog Race, covering a distance of 1,150 miles (1,850 km), takes place every year in Anchorage and attracts racers from around the world.

Alaska boasts some of the tallest mountains in the US.

The five tallest mountains in the US are located in Alaska. Denali Mountain, formerly known as Mount McKinley, is the highest peak at 20,310 feet (6,194 m) and means “the tall one” in the local indigenous language Koyukon.

There are over 130 active volcanoes in Alaska.

The Aleutian Islands in southern Alaska are home to many active volcanoes due to their location on one of the most active earthquake belts in the world. Mount Shishaldin on Unimak Island has the most perfectly circular volcanic cone on earth.

The Tongass National Forest is the largest in the US.

The Tongass National Forest on the southeast coast of Alaska is the largest national forest in the US.

The Tongass National Forest is the largest forest in the United States of America and covers an area of 16.7 million acres (68,000 km²), which is almost half the size of Florida. This temperate rain forest located in Alaska is home to various endangered plants and wildlife. Due to Alaska’s northern position on the globe, it receives over 20 hours of sunshine per day, which is beneficial to plants and allows them to grow larger and sweeter. The fourth busiest air-freight airport in the world is located in Anchorage, Alaska, making 90% of the world’s industry accessible from there by a 9.5-hour flight. It is also known for the high rate of missing persons cases, with an average of 2,250 people reported missing every year. Alaska has its own version of the “Bermuda Triangle” that has more than its fair share of disappearances and strange events. Lastly, the town of Talkeetna in Alaska had a cat named Stubbs as their honorary mayor for 20 years.

The reason for the high tourism rates in this state is due to the natural and unspoiled beauty of its vast forests and towering mountains. It is hoped that this will continue for many years to come, but it may be wise to visit this wonderful state while it remains untouched and magnificent.

FAQ

1. What is the capital city of Alaska?

The capital city of Alaska is Juneau, which is located in the Southeastern part of the state. It is the second largest city in Alaska and can only be reached by plane or boat as there are no roads connecting it to the rest of the state.

2. What is the highest mountain in Alaska?

The highest mountain in Alaska is Denali, also known as Mount McKinley. It is the highest peak in North America, standing at 20,310 feet tall. Denali is located in the Alaska Range and is a popular destination for mountaineers and hikers.

3. What is the state bird of Alaska?

The state bird of Alaska is the Willow Ptarmigan. This bird is known for its ability to blend in with its surroundings, making it difficult to spot. It is often hunted for its meat and feathers, which are used in traditional Native Alaskan clothing.

4. What is the largest glacier in Alaska?

The largest glacier in Alaska is the Bering Glacier, which is located in the Chugach Mountains. It covers an area of over 1,200 square miles and is constantly changing due to climate change and other environmental factors.

5. What is the population of Alaska?

As of 2021, the population of Alaska is approximately 731,545 people. This makes it the least populous state in the United States, with a population density of just over one person per square mile.

6. What is the state flower of Alaska?

The state flower of Alaska is the Forget-Me-Not. This flower is known for its blue petals and is often found growing in meadows and along riverbanks. It was chosen as the state flower in 1917.

7. What is the climate like in Alaska?

The climate in Alaska varies greatly depending on the region. In general, Alaska has long, cold winters and short, mild summers. The coastal regions tend to be more temperate, while the interior can be very cold and dry. Alaska is also known for its long periods of daylight in the summer and darkness in the winter.

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