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The Aleutian Islands (; ; ale, Unangam Tanaa, literally "Land of the
Aleut The Aleuts (; russian: Алеуты, Aleuty), who are usually known in the Aleut language by the endonyms Unangan (eastern dialect), Unangas (western dialect),
Aleut
s", possibly from
Chukchi Chukchi may refer to: *Chukchi people *Chukchi language *Chukchi Peninsula *Chukchi Sea See also

*Chukotka (disambiguation) *Chukotsky (disambiguation) {{Disambig, geo Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
''aliat'', "island"), also called the Aleut Islands or Aleutic Islands and known before 1867 as the Catherine Archipelago, are a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 55 smaller islands. Most of the Aleutian Islands belong to the
U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its with the . Due to this shared sovereignty, are both of t ...
of
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
, but some belong to the Russian
federal subject The federal subjects of Russia, also referred to as the subjects of the Russian Federation (russian: субъекты Российской Федерации, subyekty Rossiyskoy Federatsii) or simply as the subjects of the federation (russian: ...
of
Kamchatka Krai Kamchatka Krai ( rus, Камча́тский край, r=Kamchatsky kray, p=kɐmˈtɕatskʲɪj kraj) is a federal subjects of Russia, federal subject (a krai) of Russia. It is geographically located in the Russian Far East, Far East region of the ...
. They form part of the
Aleutian Arc The Aleutian Arc is a large volcanic arc in the U.S. state of Alaska. It consists of a number of active and dormant volcanoes that have formed as a result of subduction along the Aleutian Trench. Although taking its name from the Aleutian Islands, ...
in the Northern
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents o ...

Pacific Ocean
, occupying an area of 6,821 sq mi (17,666 km2) and extending about westward from the
Alaska Peninsula and cottongrass meadow Image:AKPen4.jpg, 250px, Peulik Volcano and Ukinrek Maars The Alaska Peninsula (also called Aleut Peninsula or Aleutian Peninsula, ale, Alasxix̂) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' " ...
toward the
Kamchatka Peninsula The Kamchatka Peninsula (, ''Poluostrov Kamchatka'', ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it ex ...

Kamchatka Peninsula
in Russia, and act as a border between the
Bering Sea The Bering Sea (, ; rus, Бе́рингово мо́ре, r=Béringovo móre) is a marginal sea of the Northern Pacific Ocean. It forms, along with the Bering Strait, the divide between the two largest landmasses on Earth: Eurasia and The Ameri ...
to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Crossing longitude 180°, at which point east and west
longitude Longitude (, ) is a geographic coordinate A geographic coordinate system (GCS) is a coordinate system associated with position (geometry), positions on Earth (geographic position). A GCS can give positions: *as Geodetic coordinates, ...

longitude
end, the
archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as ...

archipelago
contains both the westernmost part of the United States by longitude (
Amatignak Island Amatignak Island ( ale, Amatignax̂; russian: Амактигнак) is a member of the Delarof Islands (western Andreanof Islands), in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, Aleutian archipelago. The southernmost point of Alaska is on this island, as well as ...
) and the easternmost by longitude (
Semisopochnoi Island Semisopochnoi Island or Unyak Island (obsolete russian: Семисопочной, modern russian: Семисопочный Semisopochny "having seven hills"; ale, Unyax̂) is part of the Rat Islands group in the western Aleutian Islands The Ale ...
). The westernmost U.S. island in real terms, however, is
Attu Island Attu ( ale, Atan, russian: Атту) is an island in the Near Islands (part of the Aleutian Islands, Aleutian Islands chain). It is the westernmost point of the U.S. state of Alaska. The island became uninhabited in 2010, making it the largest uni ...
, west of which runs the
International Date Line The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line of demarcation on the surface of Earth that runs from the North Pole to the South Pole The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one ...

International Date Line
. While nearly all the
archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as ...

archipelago
is part of Alaska and is usually considered as being in the " Alaskan Bush", at the extreme western end, the small, geologically related
Commander Islands#REDIRECT Commander Islands The Commander Islands, Komandorski Islands, or Komandorskie Islands (russian: Командо́рские острова́, ''Komandorskiye ostrova'') are a group of treeless, sparsely populated Russian islands in the B ...
belong to Russia. The islands, with their 57 volcanoes, form the northernmost part of the
Pacific Ring of Fire The Ring of Fire (also known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Rim of Fire, the Girdle of Fire or the Circum-Pacific belt) is a region around much of the rim of the Pacific Ocean where many Types of volcanic eruptions, volcanic eruptions and e ...

Pacific Ring of Fire
. Physiographically, they are a distinct section of the larger Pacific Border province, which in turn is part of the larger
Pacific Mountain System The Pacific Coast Ranges (officially gazetted as the Pacific Mountain System in the United States but referred to as the Pacific Coast Ranges), are the series of mountain ranges that stretch along the West Coast of North America from Alaska south ...
physiographic division. Battles and skirmishes occurred on the islands during the
Aleutian Islands Campaign The Aleutian Islands campaign was a military campaign conducted by the United States and Japan in the Aleutian Islands, part of the Territory of Alaska, in the American Theater (World War II), American Theater and the Pacific War, Pacific The ...
of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. The Japanese landings and occupations of Kiska and Attu in June 1942 were the only two invasions of the United States during that war.


Geology

Motion between the
Kula Plate The Kula Plate was an oceanic under the northern south of the segment of the . It has been under the at the , being replaced by the . The name ''Kula'' is from a word meaning "all gone". As the name suggests, the Kula Plate was entirely su ...
and the
North American Plate The North American Plate is a tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface. Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around thick and c ...
along the margin of the Bering Shelf (in the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian arc) ended in the early Eocene. The Aleutian Basin, the ocean floor north of the Aleutian arc, is the remainder of the Kula Plate that was trapped when volcanism and subduction jumped south to its current location at 56 Ma. The Aleutian
island arc Island arcs are long chains of active volcanoes with intense seismic activity found along convergent tectonic plate boundaries (such as the Ring of Fire). Most island arcs originate on oceanic crust and have resulted from the descent of the litho ...

island arc
, then, formed in the Early Eocene (55–50 ) when the
subduction Subduction is a geological process in which the oceanic lithosphere A lithosphere ( grc, λίθος [] for "rocky", and [] for "sphere") is the rigid, outermost shell of a terrestrial planet, terrestrial-type planet or natural satellite. O ...

subduction
of the
Pacific Plate The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface Earth is the third planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant ...
under the
North American Plate The North American Plate is a tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface. Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around thick and c ...
began. The arc is made of separate blocks that have been rotated clockwise. The
basement A basement or cellar is one or more Storey, floors of a building that are completely or partly below the storey, ground floor. It generally is used as a utility space for a building, where such items as the boiler, water heating, water heate ...
underlying the islands is made of three stratigraphic units: an Eocene layer of volcanic rock, an Oligocene—Miocene layer of marine sedimentary rock, and a Pliocene—Quaternary layer of sedimentary and igneous rock.


Geography

The islands, known before 1867 as the Catherine Archipelago, comprise five groups (east to west) *the
Fox IslandsFox Island(s) may refer to: Canada * Fox Island, Hermitage Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, a settlement * Fox Island, South Coast, Newfoundland and Labrador, a settlement * Fox Island, Lake Kipawa, Quebec, uninhabited, located on the north end of La ...
*
Islands of Four Mountains Islands of Four Mountains (russian: Четырёхсопочные острова) is an island grouping of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, United States. The chain includes, from west to east, Amukta Island, Amukta, Chagulak Island, Chagulak, Yu ...

Islands of Four Mountains
*
Andreanof Islands The Andreanof Islands ( ale, Niiĝuĝin tanangis, russian: Андреяновские острова) are a group of islands in the Aleutian Islands in southwestern Alaska. They are located at about 52° North and 172°57' to 179°09' West. Geogr ...
*
Rat Islands The Rat Islands ( ale, Qax̂um tanangis, russian: Крысьи острова) are a group of American volcanic islands in the Aleutian Islands in southwestern Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Y ...
*
Near Islands 260px, Map of the western Aleutian Islands, showing the Near Islands on the left: Attu Island (1), Agattu Island (2), Alaid Island (Alaska)">Alaid Island (3), Nizki Island (4), and Shemya Island (5). The Near Islands or Sasignan Islands ( ale, ...

Near Islands
, and *
Commander Islands#REDIRECT Commander Islands The Commander Islands, Komandorski Islands, or Komandorskie Islands (russian: Командо́рские острова́, ''Komandorskiye ostrova'') are a group of treeless, sparsely populated Russian islands in the B ...
All five are located between 51° and 55° N latitude and 172° E and 163° W longitude. The largest islands in the Aleutians are
AttuAttu may refer to: *Attu Island in Alaska, the westernmost island of the Aleutian Islands chain *The Battle of Attu, the primary land battle in the Aleutian Islands campaign of World War II, which took place on Attu Island in May 1943. *Attu Station, ...
(the farthest from the mainland), and
Unalaska Unalaska ( ale, Iluulux̂, russian: Уналашка) is the chief center of population in the Aleutian Islands. The city is in the Aleutians West Census Area, a regional component of the Unorganized Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. Unalaska ...
,
Umnak Umnak ( ale, Unmax, Umnax; russian: Умнак) is one of the Fox Islands (Alaska), Fox Islands of the Aleutian Islands. With of land area, it is the third largest island in the Aleutian archipelago and the List of islands of the United States by a ...
, and Unimak in the Fox Islands. The largest of those is Unimak Island, with an area of 1,571.41 mi2 (4,069.9 km2), followed by Unalaska Island, the only other Aleutian Island with an area over 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2). The axis of the archipelago near the mainland of Alaska has a southwest trend, but at Tanaga Island (about 178° W) its direction changes to the northwest. This change of direction corresponds to a curve in the line of
volcanic A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object A planet is an astronomical body orbit In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved trajectory of an physical body, object, such as the trajectory of a planet ar ...

volcanic
fissures that have contributed their products to the building of the islands. Such curved chains are repeated about the Pacific Ocean in the
Kuril Islands The Kuril Islands or Kurile Islands; Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , ...
, the
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
ese chain, and in the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
. All these island arcs are at the edge of the
Pacific Plate The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface Earth is the third planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant ...
and experience much
seismic Seismology (; from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following perio ...
activity, but are still habitable; the Aleutians lie between the Pacific and North American
tectonic plates This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface. Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust 350px, Plates in the crust of Earth Earth's crust is a thin shell on the outside of Earth, accounting for less than 1% of Earth's volume. It is ...
. The general elevation is greatest in the eastern islands and least in the western. The island chain is a western continuation of the
Aleutian Range The Aleutian Range is a major mountain range located in southwest Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, o ...
on the mainland. The great majority of the islands bear evident marks of volcanic origin, and there are numerous volcanic cones on the north side of the chain, some of them active; many of the islands, however, are not wholly volcanic, but contain crystalline or sedimentary rocks, and also amber and beds of
lignite Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft, brown, combustible , Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official langu ...

lignite
. The coasts are rocky and surf-worn, and the approaches are exceedingly dangerous, the land rising immediately from the coasts to steep, bold mountains. These volcanic islands reach heights of . Makushin Volcano () on Unalaska Island, is not quite visible from within the town of
Unalaska Unalaska ( ale, Iluulux̂, russian: Уналашка) is the chief center of population in the Aleutian Islands. The city is in the Aleutians West Census Area, a regional component of the Unorganized Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. Unalaska ...
, though the steam rising from its cone is visible on a (rare) clear day. Residents of Unalaska need only to climb one of the smaller hills in the area, such as Pyramid Peak or Mt. Newhall, to get a good look at the snow-covered cone. The volcanic and
Fire Island Fire Island is the large center island of the outer barrier islands parallel to the south shore of Long Island Long Island is a densely populated island in the southeast part of the U.S. state In the United States The Unit ...
s, which rose from the sea in 1796 and 1883 respectively, lie about west of
Unalaska Bay Unalaska Bay is a waterway of Unalaska Island in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is situated below the eastern slopes of Makushin Volcano. Composed of seven individual bays, Unalaska Bay opens onto the Bering Sea. Description Unalaska Bay is the ge ...
. In 1906, a new volcanic cone rose between the islets of Bogoslof and Grewingk, near Unalaska, followed by another in 1907. These cones were nearly demolished by an explosive eruption on September 1, 1907. In 2017, the volcanic cone erupted sending ash and ice particles 30,000 feet (9000 m) into the air. File:Aleutians-space.jpg, Image of the islands taken by the
STS-56 STS-56 was a Space Shuttle Space Shuttle Discovery, ''Discovery'' mission to perform special experiments. The mission was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 8 April 1993. Crew Mission highlights The primary payload of the flight wa ...
crew. File:Aleutian Clouds.jpg, These cloud formations were seen over the western Aleutian Islands. File:Alaska's Aleutian Island (ASTER).jpg, ASTER image of the islands. File:Aleutian Islands amo 2014135 lrg.jpg, Aleutian Islands on May 15, 2014, by NASA's
Aqua Aqua is the Latin word for water. In English, it may also refer to: Arts * Aqua (color), a greenish-blue color Business * Aqua (skyscraper), an 82-story residential skyscraper in Chicago, US * Aqua Multiespacio, a 22-story office building in ...
satellite.


Climate

The climate of the islands is oceanic, with moderate and fairly uniform temperatures and heavy rainfall. Fogs are almost constant. Summer weather is much cooler than Southeast Alaska (around ), but the winter temperature of the islands and of the
Alaska Panhandle Southeast Alaska, colloquially referred to as the Alaska Panhandle or Alaskan Panhandle, is the southeastern portion of the of , bordered to the east by the northern half of the of . The majority of Southeast Alaska's area is part of the , the U ...

Alaska Panhandle
is very nearly the same. According to the
Köppen climate classification The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification Climate classification is a way of categorizing the world's s. A climate classification may correlate closely with a category, as climate is a major infl ...
system, the area southwest of on
Unalaska Island Unalaska ( ale, Nawan-Alaxsxa, russian: Уналашка) is a volcano, volcanic island in the Fox Islands (Alaska), Fox Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in the U.S. state, US state of Alaska located at . The island has a land area of . It meas ...
have a "Subpolar Oceanic Climate" (type "Cfc" as are
Reykjavík Reykjavík ( ; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smalle ...

Reykjavík
,
Tórshavn Tórshavn (; Literal translation, lit. 'Thor's harbour'; da, Thorshavn ) is the capital and largest city of the Faroe Islands. It is in the southern part on the east coast of Streymoy. To the northwest of the city lies the mountain Húsareyn, ...
,
Punta Arenas Punta Arenas (; historically Sandy Point in English) is the capital city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social ...

Punta Arenas
,
Ushuaia Ushuaia ( , ) is the capital city, capital of Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur Province, Argentina, and the southernmost city of the country. Ushuaia claims the title of the southernmo ...

Ushuaia
and the
Auckland Islands The Auckland Islands (Māori language, Māori: ''Motu Maha'' or ''Maungahuka'') are an archipelago of New Zealand, lying south of the South Island. The main Auckland Island, occupying , is surrounded by smaller Adams Island, New Zealand, Adams ...
), characterized by the coldest month averaging above , 1–3 months averaging above , and no significant precipitation difference between seasons. To the northeast of that point, the climate becomes "Subarctic With Cool Summers And Year Around Rainfall" (type "Dfc" as are
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy ( rus, Петропа́вловск-Камча́тский, a=Петропавловск-Камчатский.ogg, r=Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, p=pʲɪtrɐˈpavləfsk kɐmˈtɕatskʲɪj) is a types of inhabited localities i ...

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
,
Murmansk Murmansk ( rus, Му́рманск, p=ˈmurmənsk) is a port city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast in the far Far North (Russia), northwest part of Russia. It sits on both slopes and banks of a modest ria or fjord, Kola Bay, an e ...

Murmansk
,
St. Moritz St. Moritz (also german: Sankt Moritz, rm, , it, San Maurizio, french: Saint-Moritz) is a high Alpine Alpine may refer to: Places * Alps, a European mountain range * Alpine states, associated with the mountain range, or relating to any lofty mo ...

St. Moritz
, and
Labrador City Labrador City is a town in western Labrador (part of the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador), near the Quebec border with a population of 7,220 as of 2016. Neighbouring Labrador City is Wabush, a sma ...

Labrador City
), where it is similar but colder, with the coldest month averaging below . During the winter the islands become the center for a semi-permanent
low-pressure area In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorology dates back , though significant progress in meteorology did not begin until the 18th century. The 19th century saw mode ...
called the
Aleutian Low The Aleutian Low is a semi-permanent low-pressure system located near the Aleutian Islands The Aleutian Islands (; ; ale, Unangam Tanaa, literally "Land of the Aleuts", possibly from Chukchi ''aliat'', "island"), also called the Aleut Islands ...

Aleutian Low
. The mean annual temperature for Unalaska, the most populated island of the group, is about 38 ° (3 °), being about 30 °F (−1 °C) in January and about 52 °F (11 °C) in August. The highest and lowest temperatures recorded on the islands are 78 °F (26 °C) and 5 °F (−15 °C) respectively. The average annual rainfall is about , and Unalaska, with about 250 rainy days per year, is said to be one of the rainiest places within the U.S.


Flora

The growing season lasts approximately 135 days, from early in May until late in September, but agriculture is limited to the raising of few vegetables. With the exception of some stunted
willow Willows, also called sallows and osiers, from the genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining ( ...

willow
s, the vast majority of the chain is devoid of native trees. On some of the islands, such as Adak and Amaknak, there are a few
coniferous Conifers are a group of cone-bearing seed plants The spermatophytes (; ), also known as phanerogams (taxon Phanerogamae) or phaenogams (taxon Phaenogamae), comprise those plants that produce seeds, hence the alternative name seed plants. They ...

coniferous
trees growing, remnants of the Russian period. While tall trees grow in many cold climates, Aleutian conifers — some estimated to be two hundred years old — rarely reach a height of even , and many of them are still less than tall. This is because the islands, much like the
Falklands The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, ) is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scatt ...

Falklands
and other islands of similar
latitude In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the ...

latitude
s, experience such strong winds that taller trees are vulnerable to snapping off. Instead of trees, the islands are covered with a luxuriant, dense growth of herbage and shrubs, including
crowberry ''Empetrum nigrum'', crowberry, black crowberry, or, in western Alaska, blackberry, is a flowering plant species in the heather family Ericaceae with a near circumboreal distribution in the northern hemisphere. It is also native in the Falklan ...

crowberry
, bluejoint,
grasses Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous Family (biology), family of monocotyledonous flowering plants known as grasses. It includes the cereal grasses, bamboos and the grasses of natural grassland and species cultivated in ...
,
sedges The Cyperaceae are a family of graminoid In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in t ...
, and many flowering plants. There are areas of peat bog near the coasts. Endemic plants include the endangered Aleutian shield fern.


Fauna

The Aleutians are home to many large colonies of seabirds.
Buldir Island Buldir Island (also sometimes written Buldyr; ale, Idmaax; russian: Булдырь) is a small island in the western Aleutian Islands The Aleutian Islands (; ; ale, Unangam Tanaa, literally "Land of the s", possibly from ''aliat'', "isla ...
has 21 breeding seabird species, including the Bering Sea-endemic
red-legged kittiwake The red-legged kittiwake (''Rissa brevirostris'') is a seabird Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characterised by feathers, too ...
. Large seabird colonies are also present at
Kiska Kiska ( ale, Qisxa, russian: Кыска) is an island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It is about long and varies in width from . It is part of Aleutian Islands Wilderness and as such, special permissions are requi ...

Kiska
, Gareloi, Semisopochnoi, , and others. The islands are also frequented by vagrant Asiatic birds, including the
common rosefinch The common rosefinch (''Carpodacus erythrinus'') or scarlet rosefinch is the most widespread and common rosefinch of Asia and Europe. Taxonomy In a molecular phylogenetic study of the finch family published in 2012, Zuccon and colleagues found th ...

common rosefinch
, Siberian rubythroat,
bluethroat The bluethroat (''Luscinia svecica'') is a small passerine bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the Oviparity, laying of Eggsh ...
, , and the first North American record of the
intermediate egret The intermediate egret, median egret, smaller egret, or yellow-billed egret (''Ardea intermedia'') is a medium-sized heron The herons are long-legged, long-necked, freshwater and coastal bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrat ...
. The habitats of the Aleutians are largely unspoiled, but wildlife is affected by competition from introduced species such as cattle,
caribou The reindeer (''Rangifer tarandus''), also known as the caribou in North America, is a species of deer with circumpolar distribution, native to Arctic, subarctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North ...

caribou
, and
fox Foxes are small to medium-sized, s belonging to several of the family . They have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned , and a long bushy (or ''brush''). Twelve belong to the "true foxes" group of ge ...

fox
es. Nearly all of the Aleutians are protected as part of the
Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (often shortened to Alaska Maritime or AMNWR) is a United States National Wildlife Refuge comprising 2,400 island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Irela ...
and the Aleutian Islands Wilderness. Observations have identified
sea otter The sea otter (''Enhydra lutris'') is a marine mammal Marine mammals are aquatic mammals Aquatic and semiaquatic mammals are a diverse group of mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate anim ...

sea otter
s as a
keystone species A keystone species is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group o ...
along the coasts of many of the Aleutian Islands. Their presence encourages the growth of
kelp forests Kelp forests are under water areas with a high density of kelp, which covers a large part of the world's coastlines. They are recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth.Mann, K.H. 1973. Seaweeds: their productivity and ...
, as the otters control
sea urchin Sea urchins () are spine (zoology), spiny, globular echinoderms in the class Echinoidea. About 950 species of sea urchin live on the seabed of every ocean and inhabit every depth zone — from the intertidal seashore down to . The spherical, ha ...

sea urchin
populations (as large populations of sea urchins can create
urchin barrens An urchin barren is an area of the shallow part of the ocean where the population growth of sea urchins has gone unchecked, causing destructive grazing of kelp forests. Process Sea urchins eat kelp holdfast (biology), holdfasts. This can be cause ...
by clearing away kelp stands).


Economy

On the less mountainous islands, the raising of
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order (biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name ''sheep'' applies to many species ...
and
reindeer The reindeer (''Rangifer tarandus''), also known as the caribou in North America, is a species of deer with circumpolar distribution, native to Arctic, subarctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North ...

reindeer
was once believed to be practicable. There are
bison Bison are large, even-toed ungulates in the genus ''Bison'' within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant taxon, extant and six extinction, extinct species are recognised. Of the six extinct species, five became extinct in the Quaternary extinction ...

bison
on islands near Sand Point. Sheep raising seems to have died off with the advent of synthetic fibers, which lowered the value of wool. During the 1980s, there were some
llama The llama (; ) (''Lama glama'') is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a List of meat animals, meat and pack animal by Inca empire, Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era. Llamas are social animals and live with othe ...

llama
being raised on Unalaska. The current economy is primarily based on
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are , , -bearing animals that lack with . Included in this definition are the living , s, and and as well as various extinct related groups. Around 99% of living fish species are ...
, and the presence of U.S. military. The only crop is
potato The potato is a starch#Food, starchy tuber of the plant ''Solanum tuberosum'' and is a root vegetable native to the Americas. The plant is a perennial plant, perennial in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Wild potato species can be found thro ...

potato
.
Chicken The chicken (''Gallus gallus domesticus'') is a domestication, domesticated subspecies of the red junglefowl originally from Southeastern Asia. Rooster or cock is a term for an adult male bird, and a younger male may be called a cockerel. A m ...

Chicken
s are raised in barns under protection from the cold.


Transportation

In addition to a partial air service and a ferry service, the
Alaska Marine Highway The Alaska Marine Highway (AMH) or the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is a ferry service operated by the U.S. state of Alaska. It has its headquarters in Ketchikan, Alaska. The Alaska Marine Highway System operates along the south-central co ...

Alaska Marine Highway
passes through many of the U.S. islands.


Demographics

The native people refer to themselves as Unangan, and are now generally known by most non-natives as the "
Aleut The Aleuts (; russian: Алеуты, Aleuty), who are usually known in the Aleut language The Aleuts (; russian: Алеуты, Aleuty), who are usually known in the by the s Unangan (eastern dialect), Unangas (western dialect),
". The
Aleut language The Aleuts (; russian: Алеуты, Aleuty), who are usually known in the by the s Unangan (eastern dialect), Unangas (western dialect),
Aleut language
is one of the two main branches of the Eskimo–Aleut language family. This family is not known to be related to any others. The 2000 U.S. Census recorded a population of 8,162 on the islands, of whom 4,283 were living in the main settlement of Unalaska.


History


Prehistory

As they stretch like a broken bridge from the continent Asia to the continent North America, many anthropologists hypothesize they were a route of the first human occupants of the Americas. However, the earliest known evidence in public recorded history of human occupation in the Americas is found much farther south. The early human sites in the Bering Sea have probably been submerged by rising waters and sand during the current
interglacial An interglacial period (or alternatively interglacial, interglaciation) is a geological interval of warmer global average temperature lasting thousands of years that separates consecutive glacial period A glacial period (alternatively glacial or ...
period. People living in or on the Aleutian Islands developed fine skills in hunting, fishing, and basketry. Hunters made their weapons, watercraft, etc. The baskets found are noted for being finely woven with carefully shredded stalks of beach rye.


Russian period

Explorers, traders and missionaries arrived from Russia beginning in 1741. In 1741 the
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
government sent
Vitus Bering Vitus Jonassen Bering (baptised 5 August 1681 – 19 December 1741),All dates are here given in the Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman ...

Vitus Bering
, a in the service of Russia, and
Aleksei Chirikov Aleksei Ilyich Chirikov (russian: Алексе́й Ильи́ч Чи́риков; December 24, 1703 – June 4, 1748) was a Russian navigator A navigator is the person on board a ship or aircraft responsible for its navigation Navigation is a fi ...
, a Russian, in the ships ''Saint Peter'' and ''Saint Paul'' on a voyage of discovery in the Northern Pacific. After the ships were separated by a storm; Chirikov discovered several eastern islands of the Aleutian group, and Bering discovered several of the western islands. Bering was shipwrecked and died in the Komandorski Islands (
Commander Islands#REDIRECT Commander Islands The Commander Islands, Komandorski Islands, or Komandorskie Islands (russian: Командо́рские острова́, ''Komandorskiye ostrova'') are a group of treeless, sparsely populated Russian islands in the B ...
); one of which now bears his name (Bering Island), along with the surrounding Bering Sea. The survivors of Bering's party reached the
Kamchatka Peninsula The Kamchatka Peninsula (, ''Poluostrov Kamchatka'', ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it ex ...

Kamchatka Peninsula
in a boat constructed from the wreckage of their ship, and reported the islands were rich in fur-bearing animals. Siberian fur hunters flocked to the Commander Islands and gradually moved eastward across the Aleutian Islands to the mainland. In this manner, Russia gained a foothold on the northwestern coast of North America. The Aleutian Islands consequently belonged to Russia, until that country Alaska purchase, transferred all its possessions in North America to the U.S. in 1867. During the consolidation of the Russian-American Company there was sporadic conflict with the native population (frequently disastrous to the poorly armed and vastly outnumbered Russians). The colonies soon entered a relatively stable state based on cooperation, intermarriage, and official policies that provided social status, education, and professional training to children of mixed Aleut-Russian birth. Within a generation, the day-to-day administration of the Russian-American colonies was largely in the hands of native-born Alaskans. Reversing the usual trend in colonization where indigenous technologies are replaced, the Russians adopted the Aleut kayak, or baidarka, sea otter hunting techniques, and the working of native copper deposits. The Russians instituted public education, preservation of the Aleut language through transliteration of religious and other texts into Aleut via an adaptation of the Cyrillic alphabet, vaccination of the native population against smallpox, and science-based sea mammal conservation policies that were ahead of their time. By 1760 the Russian merchant Andrian Tolstykh had made a detailed census in the vicinity of Adak and extended Russian citizenship to the Aleuts. During his third and last voyage in 1778, Captain James Cook surveyed the eastern portion of the Aleutian archipelago, accurately determined the position of some of the more important islands, and corrected many errors of former navigators.


Orthodox Christian heritage

Among the first Christianity, Christian missionaries to arrive in the Aleutian Islands was a party of ten Russian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox monks and priests, who arrived in 1793. Within two years, a monk named Herman was the only survivor of that party. He settled on Spruce Island (Alaska), Spruce Island, near Kodiak Island, and often defended the rights of the Aleuts against the Russian trading companies. He is now known in the Orthodox Church as Saint Herman of Alaska. Another early Christian missionary of the Russian Orthodox Church was Father Veniaminov who arrived in
Unalaska Unalaska ( ale, Iluulux̂, russian: Уналашка) is the chief center of population in the Aleutian Islands. The city is in the Aleutians West Census Area, a regional component of the Unorganized Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. Unalaska ...
in 1824. He was named Bishop Innokentii in 1840 and moved to . He is now known in the Orthodox Church as Saint Innocent of Alaska. The principal settlements were on Unalaska Island. The oldest was Iliuliuk (also called Unalaska), settled in 1760–1775, with a customs house and an Orthodox church.


U.S. possession


Western Aleutian Islands, from a 1916 map of the Alaska Territory
After the American Alaska purchase, purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867, further development took place. New buildings included a Methodism, Methodist mission and orphanage, and the headquarters for a considerable fleet of United States United States Revenue Cutter Service, revenue cutters, which patrolled the seal hunting, sealing grounds of the Pribilof Islands. The first public school in Unalaska opened in 1883. The United States Congress, U.S. Congress extended American citizenship to all Native Americans (and this law has been held to include the indigenous peoples of Alaska) in 1924. A hospital was built in Unalaska in 1933 by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.


World War II

During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, in what were the only two Invasion of the United States, invasions of the United States during the war, small parts of the Aleutian islands were occupied by
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
ese forces, when
AttuAttu may refer to: *Attu Island in Alaska, the westernmost island of the Aleutian Islands chain *The Battle of Attu, the primary land battle in the Aleutian Islands campaign of World War II, which took place on Attu Island in May 1943. *Attu Station, ...
and
Kiska Kiska ( ale, Qisxa, russian: Кыска) is an island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It is about long and varies in width from . It is part of Aleutian Islands Wilderness and as such, special permissions are requi ...

Kiska
were invaded possibly to divert American forces away from the main Japanese attack at Midway Atoll. The U.S. Navy, having broken the Japanese naval codes, proceeded as if this was just a diversion, and it did not expend large amounts of effort in defending the islands. More than 90 Americans were taken to Japan as prisoners of war. Most of the civilian population (over 800) of the Aleutians and Pribilovians were detained by the United States in camps in the
Alaska Panhandle Southeast Alaska, colloquially referred to as the Alaska Panhandle or Alaskan Panhandle, is the southeastern portion of the of , bordered to the east by the northern half of the of . The majority of Southeast Alaska's area is part of the , the U ...

Alaska Panhandle
. During the
Aleutian Islands Campaign The Aleutian Islands campaign was a military campaign conducted by the United States and Japan in the Aleutian Islands, part of the Territory of Alaska, in the American Theater (World War II), American Theater and the Pacific War, Pacific The ...
, American forces invaded Japanese-held Attu and defeated the Japanese. American and Canadian troops later launched an invasion of
Kiska Kiska ( ale, Qisxa, russian: Кыска) is an island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It is about long and varies in width from . It is part of Aleutian Islands Wilderness and as such, special permissions are requi ...

Kiska
, but Japanese forces had already withdrawn, ending the campaign in the islands. President Roosevelt visited Adak in 1944, meeting with commanders and eating with soldiers of the garrison. This was his first and only trip to the Aleutian Islands and Alaska as a whole. A rumor spread that FDR had accidentally left his Scottish Terrier "Fala" on one of the Islands and had to send a destroyer to retrieve the dog, costing taxpayers several million dollars. The President made fun of these rumors during a talk with the Teamsters Union in Washington DC, now known as the "Fala Speech". At this speech the President joked with the crowd saying, "Well, of course, I don't resent attacks, and my family doesn't resent attacks, but Fala does resent them!" June 3, 2002 was celebrated as Dutch Harbor Remembrance Day. The governor of Alaska ordered state flags lowered to half-staff to honor the 43 Americans who died during the two-day Japanese air attack in 1942. The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Visitors Center opened that month.


Recent developments

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act became law in 1971. In 1977, the Ounalashka Corporation (from Unalaska) declared a dividend. This was the first village corporation to declare and pay a dividend to its shareholders. The Aleutian Islands were designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1976. The Aleutians were one of 17 biosphere reserves in the United States withdrawn by request of the U.S. government from the programme in June 2017.


Nuclear testing

The U.S. conducted Underground nuclear testing, underground tests of nuclear weapons on Amchitka, Amchitka Island from 1965 to 1971 as part of the Vela Uniform program. The final detonation, the Cannikin, was the largest underground nuclear explosion by the U.S.


Russian Aleutians

Russian Aleutians is organized as Aleutsky District in
Kamchatka Krai Kamchatka Krai ( rus, Камча́тский край, r=Kamchatsky kray, p=kɐmˈtɕatskʲɪj kraj) is a federal subjects of Russia, federal subject (a krai) of Russia. It is geographically located in the Russian Far East, Far East region of the ...
. It comprises *
Commander Islands#REDIRECT Commander Islands The Commander Islands, Komandorski Islands, or Komandorskie Islands (russian: Командо́рские острова́, ''Komandorskiye ostrova'') are a group of treeless, sparsely populated Russian islands in the B ...
** Bering Island ** Medny Island ** Sea Lion Rock ** Sea Otter Rocks ** Tufted Puffin Rock (Kamen Toporkov or Ostrov Toporkov) ** Kamen Ariy


See also

*1946 Aleutian Islands earthquake *2014 Aleutian Islands earthquake *
Aleutian Islands Campaign The Aleutian Islands campaign was a military campaign conducted by the United States and Japan in the Aleutian Islands, part of the Territory of Alaska, in the American Theater (World War II), American Theater and the Pacific War, Pacific The ...
*Aleutians East Borough, Alaska *Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska *List of Aleutian Island volcanoes *List of Aleutian Islands *List of birds of Aleutian Islands *List of extreme points of the United States *Lists of islands *Maritime fur trade *Military history of the Aleutian Islands *Peter the Aleut


References


Further reading

* Gibson, Daniel D., and G. Vernon Byrd. ''Birds of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska''. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Nuttall Ornithological Club, 2007. * Ivanov, Viacheslav Vsevolodovich. ''The Russian Orthodox Church of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands and Its Relation to Native American Traditions—An Attempt at a Multicultural Society, 1794–1912''. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1997. * Jochelson, Waldemar. ''Archaeological Investigations in the Aleutian Islands''. Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1925. *


External links


U.S. Coast Pilot 9, Chapter 7, Aleutian Islands
*
Seattle to Aleutian Island Expedition
{{Authority control Aleutian Islands, Archipelagoes of Alaska Archipelagoes of Russia Archipelagoes of the Pacific Ocean Biosphere reserves of the United States Islands of the Bering Sea Islands of the Russian Far East Physiographic sections Regions of Alaska Temperate Northern Pacific Tundra ecoregions Volcanic arc islands Volcanoes of Alaska Volcanoes of the Pacific Ocean