Alaska has 15 national parks, preserves, and monuments covering a total of 54 million acres. In fact, 65 percent of the state’s land is federally managed.
Alaska has 12 species of big game including: moose, caribou, black bear, Dall sheep, musk ox, wolverine, brown bear, wolf, mountain goat, black-tailed deer, elk, and bison.
Of the nation’s 20 highest peaks, 17 are in Alaska, including Mt. McKinley the tallest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet.
Farmers in the Matanuska Valley (shown here) produce giant cabbages weighing close to 100 pounds. The midnight sun provides great growing weather for vegetable and flower gardens.
Alaska has 6,640 miles of coastline, and including islands, has 33,904 miles of shore.
The nations two largest national forests are located in Alaska. The Tongass in Southeast includes 16.8 million acres, and Chugach in Southcentral has 4.8 million acres.
Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers which cover almost five percent of the state. There are more active glaciers in Alaska than in the rest of the inhabited world.
There are more than three million lakes in Alaska. Lake Illiamna in Southwest Alaska is the second largest fresh water lake in the U.S.
Alaska has 80 percent of all the active volcanoes in the U.S.
It is estimated Alaska has six times as many pilots per capita and 16 times as many aircraft per capita as the rest of the nation.
The Alaska Marine Highway System route is 3,500 miles in length and serves 30 Alaskan ports.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was 100 F. on June 17, 1915; at Fort Yukon in 1915, and the lowest recorded temperature was -80 F.; at Prospect Creek Camp in 1971.
Nearly 85 percent of the state’s budget is supplied by oil and gas revenues.
Dutch Harbor/Unalaska is the number one producing commercial fishing port in the nation.
Alaska is rich with Native, Russian, gold rush and natural history. It is believed the first inhabitants of Alaska crossed a land bridge from Siberia nearly 20,000 years ago. Danish explorer, Vitus Bering, first discovered Alaska in 1741 on a voyage from Siberia.
Russian whalers and fur traders established the first settlement in Alaska in 1784 on Kodiak Island and later in Sitka. Much of their influence still remains in Southwest and Southeast communities today. In 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska. It was considered a waste of money at the time by many Americans, who called the purchase “Seward’s Folly.” But it wasn’t long before gold was discovered, triggering several prospector stampedes north.
After the gold rush and during the depression era, most of America was preoccupied or thought very little of the vast Alaska territory. Once again, during World War II, Alaska became a valuable asset as a strategic staging area in the North Pacific. On June 3, 1942 the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor and proceeded to occupy the islands of Attu and Kiska. The year-long war on American soil was just as much a war against the harsh weather as it was against the enemy. During this time the Alaska Highway was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in only eight months to supply a land route for military equipment and supplies.
Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, creating the largest state in the union (more than twice the size of Texas). Again, the nation recognized the assets in this young state when oil was discovered and confirmed at Prudhoe Bay, North America’s largest oil field, in 1968. Today, Alaska is treasured for its breathtaking beauty and vast supply of natural resources.
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