Alaska, the largest state (by area) in the United States, was admitted to the union as the 49th state in 1959 and is located in the extreme northwest of the North American continent.
Acquired by the United States in 1867, the area was named “Seward’s Folly” after US Secretary of State William Seward, who arranged to purchase the land from Russia.
Critics of the purchase believed the land had nothing to offer, but the discovery of gold in the 1890s brought a rush of prospectors and settlers.
Alaska is bordered by the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean to the north; Canada’s Yukon Territory and the province of British Columbia to the east; the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south; the Bering Strait and Bering Sea to the west; and the Chukchi Sea to the northwest. The capital is Juneau.
Alaska is the largest state in the United States, occupying 663,267 square miles of land and water. It is located in the northwest corner of North America and borders Canada to the east. Alaska is separated from the rest of the United States by a narrow strip of Canadian territory called the Panhandle. The state’s coastline stretches over 6,640 miles and includes numerous islands, bays, and fjords.
The geography of Alaska can be divided into five main regions: Interior Alaska, Southcentral Alaska, Southeast Alaska, Southwest Alaska, and Arctic Alaska.
Interior Alaska is a vast region dominated by mountains, forests and tundra. It covers an area slightly larger than Texas and contains some of the most rugged terrain in North America. The highest peak in Interior Alaska is Mount McKinley (also known as Denali), which stands at an elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level. This region also includes two large mountain ranges: the Brooks Range in northern Interior and the Alaskan Range to its south. Other notable features include numerous glaciers such as Matanuska Glacier and Wrangell-St Elias National Park which contains nine of North America’s sixteen tallest peaks.
Southcentral Alaska lies along the Gulf Coast between Anchorage and Kodiak Island. This region experiences a maritime climate with mild summers and cool winters due to its proximity to both Pacific Ocean air masses as well as continental air masses from mainland North America. Southcentral is home to some of Alaska’s most famous landmarks such as Prince William Sound on its western coast; Mount Spurr volcano near Anchorage; Denali National Park; Wrangell-St Elias National Park; Chugach State Park; Kenai Fjords National Park; Glacier Bay National Park; Katmai National Park; Kodiak Island Wildlife Refuge; Gates of Arctic National Monument; Gulkana Glacier Field Station; Susitna Valley; Talkeetna Mountains; Tustumena Lake & Trail System; Copper River Delta Wildlife Sanctuary & Estuary System on its eastern coast near Cordova & Valdez .
Southeast Alaska encompasses an area slightly smaller than California that stretches from Yakutat down to Ketchikan along what is known as “The Inside Passage”. This region has a maritime climate with very mild temperatures year round due to its location along both oceanic currents and warm air masses that move southward from mainland North America during summer months bringing warmer temperatures and more precipitation than other parts of the state have during this season. Southeast’s landscape consists mainly of mountains covered with dense temperate rainforest which gives way to glacial valleys that stretch into deep fjords along much of its coast line providing great habitat for fish & wildlife such as salmon & bears. Notable features include Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve – home to 16 tidewater glaciers; Misty Fiords – one of largest national monuments in the US ; Tongass National Forest – largest temperate rain forest in the US ; Admiralty Island – home to world’s largest concentration brown bears; Stikine Ice Cap – 4th largest ice cap in the US ; Alexander Archipelago – network islands stretching up 500 miles off southeast coast.
Southwest Alaska lies westward from Anchorage stretching toward Russia across an area slightly smaller than California.. This region experiences a subarctic climate characterized by cold winters with very little snowfall due largely to wind patterns coming off Bering Sea that often result in warm moist air being pushed away before it can reach land creating what’s known locally “Arctic Oscillation” effect. Southwest’s landscape consists mostly flat tundra punctuated by several mountain ranges including Aleutian Islands chain extending westward toward Russia. Notable features include Bristol Bay – world’s premier sockeye salmon fishery; Yukon Delta Wildlife Refuge – one largest wildlife refuges US encompassing over 19 million acres; Aniakchak Crater Lake – located within Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve, crater lake formed when volcano erupted 3200 years ago.
Finally, Arctic Region comprises northernmost part state covering over 400000 square miles representing nearly two thirds total area. This region has polar desert climate characterized by long cold winters short cool summers where temperature rarely rises above freezing point even during summer months. Its landscape consists mostly flat tundra punctuated by few mountains hills located further south nearer Seward Peninsula Brooks Range, while northernmost part comprised frozen Arctic Ocean floor covered ice floes year round except during summer months when ice recedes creating channels called “leads” through which ships can pass access oil drilling sites offshore Arctic island chains like Prudhoe Bay Barrow Svalbard Jan Mayen Bear Islands Franz Josef Land Severnaya Zemlya New Siberian Islands Wrangel Island etc.
Cities in Alaska
Below are the top 15 cities by population in Alaska. For all cities and towns in the state, please see Alaska cities list.
Alaska is a large state, with many cities and towns scattered throughout. Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska and it is often referred to as the “Gateway to Alaska”. It offers plenty of outdoor activities, from fishing and hunting to skiing and snowmobiling. Fairbanks is the second largest city in Alaska and it has a rich history that dates back to gold rush days. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is located here, making this a great place for students. Juneau is the capital of Alaska and it has an abundance of tourist attractions, including the Mendenhall Glacier, which can be viewed from the city’s downtown area. Sitka is another popular destination in Alaska, with beautiful scenery that includes lush forests, pristine mountain peaks and sandy beaches. Ketchikan is known as the Salmon Capital of the World because it has some of the best salmon fishing in North America. Finally, Barrow is located at the northernmost tip of Alaska and it offers unique opportunities for Arctic exploration.
Counties in Alaska
The State of Alaska consists of 19 counties. They are:
- Aleutians East Borough, Alaska
- Anchorage Borough, Alaska
- Bristol Bay Borough, Alaska
- Denali Borough, Alaska
- Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska
- Haines Borough, Alaska
- Juneau Borough, Alaska
- Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska
- Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska
- Kodiak Island Borough, Alaska
- Lake and Peninsula Borough, Alaska
- Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska
- North Slope Borough, Alaska
- Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska
- Petersburg Borough, Alaska
- Sitka Borough, Alaska
- Skagway Borough, Alaska
- Wrangell Borough, Alaska
- Yakutat Borough, Alaska