Coordinates: 64°N 150°W / 64°N 150°W / 64; -150
State of Alaska
Nickname(s): The Last Frontier
Motto(s): North to the Future
State song(s): "Alaska's Flag"
English, Inupiat, Central Siberian Yupik, Central Alaskan Yup'ik,
Alutiiq, Aleut, Dena'ina, Deg Xinag, Holikachuk, Koyukon, Upper
Kuskokwim, Gwich'in, Lower Tanana, Upper Tanana, Tanacross, Hän,
Ahtna, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Coast Tsimshian
Alaska Native languages 5.2%
663,268 sq mi
2,261 miles (3,639 km)
1,420 miles (2,285 km)
• % water
51°20'N to 71°50'N
130°W to 172°E
741,894 (2016 est.)
1.26/sq mi (0.49/km2)
• Median household income
• Highest point
20,310 ft (6190.5 m)
1900 ft (580 m)
• Lowest point
Territory of Alaska
Admission to Union
January 3, 1959 (49th)
Bill Walker (I)
Byron Mallott (D)
• Upper house
• Lower house
House of Representatives
Lisa Murkowski (R)
Dan Sullivan (R)
U.S. House delegation
Don Young (R) (at-large) (list)
• east of 169° 30'
Alaska – UTC -9/-8
• west of 169° 30'
Aleutian – UTC -10/-9
Alaska state symbols
The Flag of Alaska
The Seal of Alaska
Four-spot skimmer dragonfly
Marine: Bowhead whale
Dog mushing (state sport)
State route marker
Released in 2008
United States state symbols
Alaska (/əˈlæskə/ ( listen)) is a
U.S. state located in
the northwest extremity of North America. The Canadian administrative
British Columbia and
Yukon border the state to the east,
its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime
Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north
are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas–the southern parts of the Arctic
Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the
largest state in the
United States by area and the seventh largest
subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least
populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States;
nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly
north of the 60th parallel in North America, its population (the total
estimated at 738,432 by the
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Census Bureau in 2015) more than
quadrupling the combined populations of
Northern Canada and Greenland.
Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage
metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing,
natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance.
Military bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.
United States purchased
Alaska from the
Russian Empire on March
30, 1867, for 7.2 million U.S. dollars at 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.
2.1.1 South Central
2.1.5 North Slope
2.1.6 Aleutian Islands
2.2 Natural features
2.3 Land ownership
Good Friday earthquake
3.6 Discovery of oil
Alaska Heritage Resources Survey
4.1 Race and Ethnicity
5.1.1 Permanent Fund
5.2 Cost of living
5.3 Agriculture and fishing
6.3 Marine transport
6.4 Air transport
6.5 Other transport
6.6 Data transport
7 Law and government
7.1 State government
7.2 State politics
7.4 Federal politics
8 Cities, towns and boroughs
8.1 Cities and census-designated places (by population)
10 Public health and public safety
Alaska in film and on television
12 State symbols
13 See also
16 External links
The name "Alaska" (Russian: Аляска, tr. Alyaska) was introduced
in the Russian colonial period when it was used to refer to the
peninsula. It was derived from an Aleut, or
Unangam idiom, which
figuratively refers to the mainland of Alaska. Literally, it means
object to which the action of the sea is directed.
Main article: Geography of Alaska
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.
Alaska is the
U.S. state on continental North America; about 500
miles (800 km) of
British Columbia (Canada) separates
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
The state is bordered by
British Columbia in Canada, to the
Gulf of Alaska
Gulf of Alaska and the
Pacific Ocean to the south and
southwest, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and
Chukchi Sea to the west
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
Little Diomede Island are only 3 miles
(4.8 km) apart.
Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other
U.S. states combined.
Alaska's size compared with the 48 contiguous states. (Albers
equal-area conic projection)
Alaska is the largest state in the
United States by total area at
663,268 square miles (1,717,856 km2), over twice the size of
Texas, the next largest state.
Alaska is larger than all but 18
sovereign countries. Counting territorial waters,
Alaska is larger
than the combined area of the next three largest states: Texas,
California, and Montana. It is also larger than the combined area of
the 22 smallest U.S. states.
There are no officially defined borders demarcating the various
regions of Alaska, but there are six widely accepted regions:
Main article: South Central Alaska
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
Prince William Sound area and the communities of Cordova and
Main article: Southeast Alaska
Also referred to as the Panhandle or Inside Passage, this is the
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
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. The
Alaska Marine Highway
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. Officially designated
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
Denali National Park and Preserve is located here.
the highest mountain in North America.
Main article: Southwest Alaska
Grizzly bear fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls, part of Katmai
National Park and Preserve.
Southwest Alaska is a sparsely inhabited region stretching some 500
miles (800 km) inland from the Bering Sea. Most of the population
lives along the coast.
Kodiak Island is also located in Southwest. The
massive Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, one of the largest river deltas in
the world, is here. Portions of the
Alaska Peninsula are considered
part of Southwest, with the remaining portions included with the
Aleutian Islands (see below).
Alaska North Slope
The North Slope is mostly tundra peppered with small villages. The
area is known for its massive reserves of crude oil, and contains both
Alaska and the
Prudhoe Bay Oil
Field. The city of Utqiaġvik, formerly known as Barrow, is the
northernmost city in the
United States and is located here. The
Northwest Arctic area, anchored by Kotzebue and also containing the
Kobuk River valley, is often regarded as being part of this region.
However, the respective Inupiat of the North Slope and of the
Northwest Arctic seldom consider themselves to be one people[citation
Main article: Aleutian Islands
More than 300 small volcanic islands make up this chain, which
stretches over 1,200 miles (1,900 km) into the Pacific Ocean.
Some of these islands fall in the Eastern Hemisphere, but the
International Date Line
International Date Line was drawn west of 180° to keep the whole
state, and thus the entire North American continent, within the same
legal day. Two of the islands, Attu and Kiska, were occupied by
Japanese forces during World War II.
See also: Wildlife of Alaska
Augustine Volcano erupting on January 12, 2006
With its myriad islands,
Alaska has nearly 34,000 miles
(54,720 km) of tidal shoreline. The
Aleutian Islands chain
extends west from the southern tip of the
Alaska Peninsula. Many
active volcanoes are found in the Aleutians and in coastal regions.
Unimak Island, for example, is home to Mount Shishaldin, which is an
occasionally smoldering volcano that rises to 10,000 feet
(3,048 m) above the North Pacific. It is the most perfect
volcanic cone on Earth, even more symmetrical than Japan's Mount Fuji.
The chain of volcanoes extends to Mount Spurr, west of
the mainland. Geologists have identified
Alaska as part of Wrangellia,
a large region consisting of multiple states and Canadian provinces in
the Pacific Northwest, which is actively undergoing continent
One of the world's largest tides occurs in Turnagain Arm, just south
of Anchorage, where tidal differences can be more than 35 feet
Main article: List of lakes in Alaska
Alaska has more than three million lakes. Marshlands and wetland
permafrost cover 188,320 square miles (487,747 km2) (mostly in
northern, western and southwest flatlands). Glacier ice covers about
28,957 square miles (75,000 km2) of Alaska. The Bering
Glacier is the largest glacier in North America, covering 2,008 square
miles (5,200 km2) alone.
Alaska has more public land owned by the federal government than any
According to an October 1998 report by the
United States Bureau of
Land Management, approximately 65% of
Alaska is owned and managed by
the U.S. federal government as public lands, including a multitude of
national forests, national parks, and national wildlife refuges.
Of these, the
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management manages 87 million acres
(35 million hectares), or 23.8% of the state. The Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge is managed by the
United States Fish and Wildlife
Service. It is the world's largest wildlife refuge, comprising
16 million acres (6.5 million hectares).
Of the remaining land area, the state of
Alaska owns 101 million
acres (41 million hectares), its entitlement under the Alaska
Statehood Act. A portion of that acreage is occasionally ceded to
organized boroughs, under the statutory provisions pertaining to newly
formed boroughs. Smaller portions are set aside for rural subdivisions
and other homesteading-related opportunities. These are not very
popular due to the often remote and roadless locations. The University
of Alaska, as a land grant university, also owns substantial acreage
which it manages independently.
Another 44 million acres (18 million hectares) are owned by
12 regional, and scores of local, Native corporations created under
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971. Regional
Doyon, Limited often promotes itself as the largest
private landowner in
Alaska in advertisements and other
communications. Provisions of ANCSA allowing the corporations' land
holdings to be sold on the open market starting in 1991 were repealed
before they could take effect. Effectively, the corporations hold
title (including subsurface title in many cases, a privilege denied to
individual Alaskans) but cannot sell the land. Individual Native
allotments can be and are sold on the open market, however.
Various private interests own the remaining land, totaling about one
percent of the state.
Alaska is, by a large margin, the state with the
smallest percentage of private land ownership when Native corporation
holdings are excluded.
Main article: Climate of Alaska
Köppen climate types of Alaska.
Map depicting the climate zones of Alaska.
The climate in
Southeast Alaska is a mid-latitude oceanic climate
(Köppen climate classification: Cfb) in the southern sections and a
subarctic oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc) in the northern parts. On an
annual basis, Southeast is both the wettest and warmest part of Alaska
with milder temperatures in the winter and high precipitation
throughout the year.
Juneau averages over 50 in (130 cm) of
precipitation a year, and
Ketchikan averages over 150 in
(380 cm). This is also the only region in
Alaska in which the
average daytime high temperature is above freezing during the winter
The climate of
Anchorage and south central
Alaska is mild by Alaskan
standards due to the region's proximity to the seacoast. While the
area gets less rain than southeast Alaska, it gets more snow, and days
tend to be clearer. On average,
Anchorage receives 16 in
(41 cm) of precipitation a year, with around 75 in
(190 cm) of snow, although there are areas in the south central
which receive far more snow. It is a subarctic climate (Köppen: Dfc)
due to its brief, cool summers.
The climate of Western
Alaska is determined in large part by the
Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. It is a subarctic oceanic climate
in the southwest and a continental subarctic climate farther north.
The temperature is somewhat moderate considering how far north the
area is. This region has a tremendous amount of variety in
precipitation. An area stretching from the northern side of the Seward
Peninsula to the
Kobuk River valley (i. e., the region around
Kotzebue Sound) is technically a desert, with portions receiving less
than 10 in (25 cm) of precipitation annually. On the other
extreme, some locations between Dillingham and Bethel average around
100 in (250 cm) of precipitation.
The climate of the interior of
Alaska is subarctic. Some of the
highest and lowest temperatures in
Alaska occur around the area near
Fairbanks. The summers may have temperatures reaching into the 90s °F
(the low-to-mid 30s °C), while in the winter, the temperature can
fall below −60 °F (−51 °C). Precipitation is sparse in
the Interior, often less than 10 in (25 cm) a year, but what
precipitation falls in the winter tends to stay the entire winter.
The highest and lowest recorded temperatures in
Alaska are both in the
Interior. The highest is 100 °F (38 °C) in Fort Yukon
(which is just 8 mi or 13 km inside the arctic circle) on
June 27, 1915, making
Alaska tied with
Hawaii as the state
with the lowest high temperature in the United States. The
Alaska temperature is −80 °F (−62 °C)
in Prospect Creek on January 23, 1971, one degree above the
lowest temperature recorded in continental
North America (in Snag,
The climate in the extreme north of
Alaska is Arctic (Köppen: ET)
with long, very cold winters and short, cool summers. Even in July,
the average low temperature in Barrow is 34 °F (1 °C).
Precipitation is light in this part of Alaska, with many places
averaging less than 10 in (25 cm) per year, mostly as snow
which stays on the ground almost the entire year.
Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected locations
Prehistory of Alaska
Prehistory of Alaska and History of Alaska
A modern Alutiiq dancer in traditional festival garb.
Numerous indigenous peoples occupied
Alaska for thousands of years
before the arrival of European peoples to the area. Linguistic and DNA
studies done here have provided evidence for the settlement of North
America by way of the Bering land bridge. At the Upward Sun River
site in the Tanana River Valley in Alaska, remains of an six-week-old
infant were found. The baby’s DNA showed that she belonged to a
population that was genetically separate from other native groups
present elsewhere in the
New World at the end of the Pleistocene. Ben
University of Alaska
University of Alaska Fairbanks archaeologist who unearthed
the remains at the Upward River Sun site in 2013, named this new group
Ancient Beringians. The
Tlingit people developed a society with a
matrilineal kinship system of property inheritance and descent in what
is today Southeast Alaska, along with parts of
British Columbia and
the Yukon. Also in Southeast were the Haida, now well known for their
unique arts. The
Tsimshian people came to
Alaska from British Columbia
in 1887, when President Grover Cleveland, and later the U.S. Congress,
granted them permission to settle on
Annette Island and found the town
of Metlakatla. All three of these peoples, as well as other indigenous
peoples of the
Pacific Northwest Coast, experienced smallpox outbreaks
from the late 18th through the mid-19th century, with the most
devastating epidemics occurring in the 1830s and 1860s, resulting in
high fatalities and social disruption.
Aleutian Islands are still home to the Aleut people's seafaring
society, although they were the first Native Alaskans to be exploited
by Russians. Western and Southwestern
Alaska are home to the Yup'ik,
while their cousins the Alutiiq ~ Sugpiaq lived in what is now
Southcentral Alaska. The
Gwich'in people of the northern Interior
region are Athabaskan and primarily known today for their dependence
on the caribou within the much-contested Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. The North Slope and
Little Diomede Island
Little Diomede Island are occupied by the
widespread Inupiat people.
See also: Russian America
Russian America in 1860
Some researchers believe that the first Russian settlement in Alaska
was established in the 17th century. According to this hypothesis,
in 1648 several koches of Semyon Dezhnyov's expedition came ashore in
Alaska by storm and founded this settlement. This hypothesis is based
on the testimony of Chukchi geographer Nikolai Daurkin, who had
Alaska in 1764–1765 and who had reported on a village on the
Kheuveren River, populated by "bearded men" who "pray to the icons".
Some modern researchers associate Kheuveren with Koyuk River.
The first European vessel to reach
Alaska is generally held to be the
St. Gabriel under the authority of the surveyor M. S. Gvozdev and
assistant navigator I. Fyodorov on August 21, 1732, during an
expedition of Siberian cossak A. F. Shestakov and Belorussian explorer
Dmitry Pavlutsky (1729–1735).
Another European contact with
Alaska occurred in 1741, when Vitus
Bering led an expedition for the Russian Navy aboard the St. Peter.
After his crew returned to
Russia with sea otter pelts judged to be
the finest fur in the world, small associations of fur traders began
to sail from the shores of Siberia toward the Aleutian Islands. The
first permanent European settlement was founded in 1784.
The Russian settlement of St. Paul's Harbor (present-day Kodiak town),
Kodiak Island, 1814.
Between 1774 and 1800, Spain sent several expeditions to
order to assert its claim over the Pacific Northwest. In 1789 a
Spanish settlement and fort were built in Nootka Sound. These
expeditions gave names to places such as Valdez, Bucareli Sound, and
Cordova. Later, the
Russian-American Company carried out an expanded
colonization program during the early-to-mid-19th century.
New Archangel from 1804 to 1867, on
Baranof Island in
Alexander Archipelago in what is now Southeast Alaska, became the
capital of Russian America. It remained the capital after the colony
was transferred to the United States. The Russians never fully
colonized Alaska, and the colony was never very profitable. Evidence
of Russian settlement in names and churches survive throughout
William H. Seward, the
United States Secretary of State, negotiated
Alaska Purchase (also known as Seward's Folly) with the Russians
in 1867 for $7.2 million.
Alaska was loosely governed by the
military initially, and was administered as a district starting in
1884, with a governor appointed by the President of the United States.
A federal district court was headquartered in Sitka.
Miners and prospectors climb the
Chilkoot Trail during the 1898
For most of Alaska's first decade under the
United States flag, Sitka
was the only community inhabited by American settlers. They organized
a "provisional city government," which was Alaska's first municipal
government, but not in a legal sense. Legislation allowing Alaskan
communities to legally incorporate as cities did not come about until
1900, and home rule for cities was extremely limited or unavailable
until statehood took effect in 1959.
See also: Territory of Alaska
Starting in the 1890s and stretching in some places to the early
1910s, gold rushes in
Alaska and the nearby
Yukon Territory brought
thousands of miners and settlers to Alaska.
Alaska was officially
incorporated as an organized territory in 1912. Alaska's capital,
which had been in Sitka until 1906, was moved north to Juneau.
Construction of the
Alaska Governor's Mansion
Alaska Governor's Mansion began that same year.
European immigrants from Norway and Sweden also settled in southeast
Alaska, where they entered the fishing and logging industries.
U.S. troops navigate snow and ice during the
Battle of Attu
Battle of Attu in May
During World War II, the
Aleutian Islands Campaign focused on the
Aleutian Islands – Attu,
Agattu and Kiska – that
were invaded by Japanese troops and occupied between June 1942 and
August 1943. During the occupation, one Alaskan civilian was killed by
Japanese troops and nearly fifty were interned in Japan, where about
half of them died. Unalaska/
Dutch Harbor became a significant base for
United States Army Air Forces and Navy submariners.
Lend-Lease program involved the flying of American
warplanes through Canada to Fairbanks and then Nome; Soviet pilots
took possession of these aircraft, ferrying them to fight the German
invasion of the Soviet Union. The construction of military bases
contributed to the population growth of some Alaskan cities.
Alaska Statehood Act
Alaska was an important cause of
James Wickersham early
in his tenure as a congressional delegate. Decades later, the
statehood movement gained its first real momentum following a
territorial referendum in 1946. The
Alaska Statehood Committee and
Alaska's Constitutional Convention would soon follow. Statehood
supporters also found themselves fighting major battles against
political foes, mostly in the U.S. Congress but also within Alaska.
Statehood was approved by Congress on July 7, 1958.
officially proclaimed a state on January 3, 1959.
In 1960, the Census Bureau reported Alaska's population as 77.2%
White, 3% Black, and 18.8% American Indian and
Kodiak, before and after the tsunami which followed the Good Friday
earthquake in 1964, destroying much of the townsite.
Good Friday earthquake
Main article: 1964
On March 27, 1964, the massive
Good Friday earthquake killed 133
people and destroyed several villages and portions of large coastal
communities, mainly by the resultant tsunamis and landslides. It was
the second-most-powerful earthquake in the recorded history of the
world, with a moment magnitude of 9.2. It was over one thousand times
more powerful than the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. The time of day
(5:36 pm), time of year and location of the epicenter were all
cited as factors in potentially sparing thousands of lives,
particularly in Anchorage.
Discovery of oil
The 1968 discovery of oil at
Prudhoe Bay and the 1977 completion of
Trans-Alaska Pipeline System
Trans-Alaska Pipeline System led to an oil boom. Royalty revenues
from oil have funded large state budgets from 1980 onward. That same
year, not coincidentally,
Alaska repealed its state income tax.
In 1989, the
Exxon Valdez hit a reef in the Prince William Sound,
spilling over 11 million U.S. gallons (42 megaliters) of crude oil
over 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of coastline. Today, the battle
between philosophies of development and conservation is seen in the
contentious debate over oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge and the proposed Pebble Mine.
Alaska Heritage Resources Survey
Alaska Heritage Resources Survey (AHRS) is a restricted inventory
of all reported historic and prehistoric sites within the state of
Alaska; it is maintained by the Office of History and Archaeology. The
survey's inventory of cultural resources includes objects, structures,
buildings, sites, districts, and travel ways, with a general provision
that they are over 50 years old. As of January 31, 2012, over 35,000
sites have been reported.
Main article: Demographics of Alaska
1930 and 1940 censuses taken in preceding autumn
Sources: 1910–2010, US Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of
Alaska was 738,432 on July 1, 2015, a 3.97% increase since the 2010
United States Census.
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 2017.
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).
Alaska is the largest
U.S. state by area, and the tenth wealthiest
(per capita income). As of November 2014, the state's unemployment
rate was 6.6%. As of 2018, it is one of 14 U.S. states that still
has only one telephone area code.
Race and Ethnicity
Map of the largest racial/ethnic group by borough. Red indicates
Native American, blue indicates non-Hispanic white, and green
indicates Asian. Darker shades indicate a higher proportion of the
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
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
As of 2011[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).
Alaska racial breakdown of population
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
Alaska Native languages
According to the 2011 American Community Survey, 83.4% of people over
the age of five speak only English at home. About 3.5% speak Spanish
at home. About 2.2% speak another Indo-European language at home and
about 4.3% speak an Asian language (including Tagalog) at home.
About 5.3% speak other languages at home.
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. 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). As of 2014[update] nearly all of Alaska's native
languages were classified as either threatened, shifting, moribund,
nearly extinct, or dormant languages.
A total of 5.2% of Alaskans speak one of the state's 20 indigenous
languages, known locally as "native languages".
In October 2014, the governor of
Alaska signed a bill declaring the
state's 20 indigenous languages as official languages. This
bill gave the languages 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:
Central Alaskan Yup'ik
St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral in downtown Sitka.
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. Roughly 4% are Mormon, 0.5% are Jewish, 1% are
Muslim, 0.5% are Buddhist, and 0.5% are Hindu. The largest
religious denominations in
Alaska as of 2010[update] 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.
Alaska has been identified,
Pacific Northwest states Washington and Oregon, as being
the least religious states of the USA, in terms of church
In 1795, the First
Russian Orthodox Church
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.
Alaska also has the largest
Quaker population (by percentage) of any
state. In 2009 there were 6,000 Jews in
Alaska (for whom
observance of halakha may pose special problems). Alaskan Hindus
often share venues and celebrations with members of other Asian
religious communities, including Sikhs and Jains.
Estimates for the number of Muslims in
Alaska range from 2,000 to
5,000. The Islamic Community Center of
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.
Religious affiliation in
% of population
Nothing in particular
Other Non-Christian faiths
Don't know/refused answer
Main article: Economy of Alaska
Alaska locations by per capita income
Aerial view of infrastructure at the
Prudhoe Bay Oil Field.
The 2007 gross state product was $44.9 billion, 45th in the
nation. Its per capita personal income for 2007 was $40,042, ranking
15th in the nation. According to a 2013 study by Phoenix Marketing
Alaska had the fifth-largest number of millionaires per
capita in the United States, with a ratio of 6.75 percent. 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,
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.
Natural gas in
Alaska and Energy law §
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.
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).
Prudhoe Bay was
the largest conventional oil field ever discovered in North America,
but was much smaller than Canada's enormous
Athabasca oil sands
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.
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.
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.
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%
Alaska's economy depends heavily on increasingly expensive diesel fuel
for heating, transportation, electric power and light. Though wind and
hydroelectric power are abundant and underdeveloped, proposals for
statewide energy systems (e.g. with special low-cost electric
interties) were judged uneconomical (at the time of the report, 2001)
due to low (less than 50¢/gal) fuel prices, long distances and low
population. The cost of a gallon of gas in urban
Alaska today is
usually 30–60¢ higher than the national average; prices in rural
areas are generally significantly higher but vary widely depending on
transportation costs, seasonal usage peaks, nearby petroleum
development infrastructure and many other factors.
Alaska Permanent Fund is a constitutionally authorized
appropriation of oil revenues, established by voters in 1976 to manage
a surplus in state petroleum revenues from oil, largely in
anticipation of the then recently constructed Trans-
System. The fund was originally proposed by Governor Keith Miller on
the eve of the 1969
Prudhoe Bay lease sale, out of fear that the
legislature would spend the entire proceeds of the sale (which
amounted to $900 million) at once. It was later championed by Governor
Jay Hammond and Kenai state representative Hugh Malone. It has served
as an attractive political prospect ever since, diverting revenues
which would normally be deposited into the general fund.
Alaska Constitution was written so as to discourage dedicating
state funds for a particular purpose. The Permanent Fund has become
the rare exception to this, mostly due to the political climate of
distrust existing during the time of its creation. From its initial
principal of $734,000, the fund has grown to $50 billion as a
result of oil royalties and capital investment programs. Most if
not all the principal is invested conservatively outside Alaska. This
has led to frequent calls by Alaskan politicians for the Fund to make
investments within Alaska, though such a stance has never gained
Starting in 1982, dividends from the fund's annual growth have been
paid out each year to eligible Alaskans, ranging from an initial
$1,000 in 1982 (equal to three years' payout, as the distribution of
payments was held up in a lawsuit over the distribution scheme) to
$3,269 in 2008 (which included a one-time $1,200 "Resource Rebate").
Every year, the state legislature takes out 8% from the earnings, puts
3% back into the principal for inflation proofing, and the remaining
5% is distributed to all qualifying Alaskans. To qualify for the
Permanent Fund Dividend, one must have lived in the state for a
minimum of 12 months, maintain constant residency subject to allowable
absences, and not be subject to court judgments or criminal
convictions which fall under various disqualifying classifications or
may subject the payment amount to civil garnishment.
The Permanent Fund is often considered to be one of the leading
examples of a "Basic Income" policy in the world.
Cost of living
The cost of goods in
Alaska has long been higher than in the
contiguous 48 states. Federal government employees, particularly
United States Postal Service (USPS) workers and active-duty military
members, receive a Cost of Living Allowance usually set at 25% of base
pay because, while the cost of living has gone down, it is still one
of the highest in the country.
Alaska suffers from extremely high prices for food and consumer
goods compared to the rest of the country, due to the relatively
limited transportation infrastructure.
Agriculture and fishing
Halibut is important to the state's economy as both a commercial and
Due to the northern climate and short growing season, relatively
little farming occurs in Alaska. Most farms are in either the
Matanuska Valley, about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Anchorage,
or on the Kenai Peninsula, about 60 miles (97 km) southwest of
Anchorage. The short 100-day growing season limits the crops that can
be grown, but the long sunny summer days make for productive growing
seasons. The primary crops are potatoes, carrots, lettuce, and
Tanana Valley is another notable agricultural locus, especially
the Delta Junction area, about 100 miles (160 km) southeast of
Fairbanks, with a sizable concentration of farms growing agronomic
crops; these farms mostly lie north and east of Fort Greely. This area
was largely set aside and developed under a state program spearheaded
by Hammond during his second term as governor. Delta-area crops
consist predominately of barley and hay. West of Fairbanks lies
another concentration of small farms catering to restaurants, the
hotel and tourist industry, and community-supported agriculture.
Alaskan agriculture has experienced a surge in growth of market
gardeners, small farms and farmers' markets in recent years, with the
highest percentage increase (46%) in the nation in growth in farmers'
markets in 2011, compared to 17% nationwide. The peony industry
has also taken off, as the growing season allows farmers to harvest
during a gap in supply elsewhere in the world, thereby filling a niche
in the flower market.
Oversized vegetables on display at the
Alaska State Fair
Alaska State Fair (left) and
Tanana Valley State Fair (right).
Alaska, with no counties, lacks county fairs. However, a small
assortment of state and local fairs (with the
Alaska State Fair
Alaska State Fair in
Palmer the largest), are held mostly in the late summer. The fairs are
mostly located in communities with historic or current agricultural
activity, and feature local farmers exhibiting produce in addition to
more high-profile commercial activities such as carnival rides,
concerts and food. "
Alaska Grown" is used as an agricultural slogan.
Alaska has an abundance of seafood, with the primary fisheries in the
Bering Sea and the North Pacific. Seafood is one of the few food items
that is often cheaper within the state than outside it. Many Alaskans
take advantage of salmon seasons to harvest portions of their
household diet while fishing for subsistence, as well as sport. This
includes fish taken by hook, net or wheel.
Hunting for subsistence, primarily caribou, moose, and
Dall sheep is
still common in the state, particularly in remote Bush communities. An
example of a traditional native food is Akutaq, the Eskimo ice cream,
which can consist of reindeer fat, seal oil, dried fish meat and local
Alaska's reindeer herding is concentrated on Seward Peninsula, where
wild caribou can be prevented from mingling and migrating with the
Most food in
Alaska is transported into the state from "Outside", and
shipping costs make food in the cities relatively expensive. In rural
areas, subsistence hunting and gathering is an essential activity
because imported food is prohibitively expensive. Though most small
towns and villages in
Alaska lie along the coastline, the cost of
importing food to remote villages can be high, because of the terrain
and difficult road conditions, which change dramatically, due to
varying climate and precipitation changes. The cost of transport can
reach as high as 50¢ per pound ($1.10/kg) or more in some remote
areas, during the most difficult times, if these locations can be
reached at all during such inclement weather and terrain conditions.
The cost of delivering a 1 US gallon (3.8 L) of milk is about
$3.50 in many villages where per capita income can be $20,000 or less.
Fuel cost per gallon is routinely 20–30¢ higher than the
United States average, with only
Hawaii having higher
The Sterling Highway, near its intersection with the Seward Highway.
Main article: Transportation in Alaska
See also: List of
Susitna River bridge on the
Denali Highway is 1,036 feet
(316 m) long.
Alaska Interstate Highways.
Alaska has few road connections compared to the rest of the U.S. The
state's road system covers a relatively small area of the state,
linking the central population centers and the
Alaska Highway, the
principal route out of the state through Canada. The state capital,
Juneau, is not accessible by road, only a car ferry, which has spurred
several debates over the decades about moving the capital to a city on
the road system, or building a road connection from Haines. The
western part of
Alaska has no road system connecting the communities
with the rest of Alaska.
Alaska welcome sign on the Klondike Highway.
One unique feature of the
Alaska Highway system is the Anton Anderson
Memorial Tunnel, an active
Alaska Railroad tunnel recently upgraded to
provide a paved roadway link with the isolated community of Whittier
Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound to the
Seward Highway about 50 miles
(80 km) southeast of
Anchorage at Portage. At 2.5 miles
(4.0 km), the tunnel was the longest road tunnel in North America
until 2007. The tunnel is the longest combination road and rail
tunnel in North America.
Alaska Railroad locomotive over a bridge in Girdwood approaching
White Pass and
Yukon Route traverses rugged terrain north of
Skagway near the Canada–US border.
Built around 1915, the
Alaska Railroad (ARR) played a key role in the
Alaska through the 20th century. It links north Pacific
shipping through providing critical infrastructure with tracks that
run from Seward to
Interior Alaska by way of South Central Alaska,
passing through Anchorage, Eklutna, Wasilla, Talkeetna, Denali, and
Fairbanks, with spurs to Whittier, Palmer and North Pole. The cities,
towns, villages, and region served by ARR tracks are known statewide
as "The Railbelt". In recent years, the ever-improving paved highway
system began to eclipse the railroad's importance in Alaska's economy.
The railroad played a vital role in Alaska's development, moving
Alaska while transporting natural resources southward
(i.e., coal from the Usibelli coal mine near Healy to Seward and
gravel from the
Matanuska Valley to Anchorage). It is well known for
its summertime tour passenger service.
Alaska Railroad was one of the last railroads in
North America to
use cabooses in regular service and still uses them on some gravel
trains. It continues to offer one of the last flag stop routes in the
country. A stretch of about 60 miles (100 km) of track along an
area north of
Talkeetna remains inaccessible by road; the railroad
provides the only transportation to rural homes and cabins in the
area. Until construction of the Parks Highway in the 1970s, the
railroad provided the only land access to most of the region along its
In northern Southeast Alaska, the
White Pass and
Yukon Route also
partly runs through the state from
Skagway northwards into Canada
British Columbia and
Yukon Territory), crossing the border at White
Pass Summit. This line is now mainly used by tourists, often arriving
by cruise liner at Skagway. It was featured in the 1983
series Great Little Railways.
Alaska Rail network is not connected to Outside. In 2000, the U.S.
Congress authorized $6 million to study the feasibility of a rail
link between Alaska, Canada, and the lower 48.
Alaska Rail Marine provides car float service between Whittier and
Many cities, towns and villages in the state do not have road or
highway access; the only modes of access involve travel by air, river,
or the sea.
The MV Tustumena (named after Tustumena Glacier) is one of the
state's many ferries, providing service between the Kenai Peninsula,
Kodiak Island and the Aleutian Chain.
Alaska's well-developed state-owned ferry system (known as the Alaska
Marine Highway) serves the cities of southeast, the Gulf Coast and the
Alaska Peninsula. The ferries transport vehicles as well as
passengers. The system also operates a ferry service from Bellingham,
Washington and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, in Canada through the
Inside Passage to Skagway. The
Inter-Island Ferry Authority also
serves as an important marine link for many communities in the Prince
of Wales Island region of Southeast and works in concert with the
Alaska Marine Highway.
In recent years, cruise lines have created a summertime tourism
market, mainly connecting the
Pacific Northwest to Southeast Alaska
and, to a lesser degree, towns along Alaska's gulf coast. The
Ketchikan may rise by over 10,000 people on many days
during the summer, as up to four large cruise ships at a time can
dock, debarking thousands of passengers.
Cities not served by road, sea, or river can be reached only by air,
foot, dogsled, or snowmachine, accounting for Alaska's extremely well
developed bush air services—an Alaskan novelty.
Anchorage and, to a
lesser extent Fairbanks, is served by many major airlines. Because of
limited highway access, air travel remains the most efficient form of
transportation in and out of the state.
Anchorage recently completed
extensive remodeling and construction at
Ted Stevens Anchorage
International Airport to help accommodate the upsurge in tourism (in
Alaska received almost 2 million visitors).
Regular flights to most villages and towns within the state that are
commercially viable are challenging to provide, so they are heavily
subsidized by the federal government through the Essential Air Service
Alaska Airlines is the only major airline offering in-state
travel with jet service (sometimes in combination cargo and passenger
Boeing 737-400s) from
Anchorage and Fairbanks to regional hubs like
Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue, Dillingham, Kodiak, and other larger
communities as well as to major Southeast and
A Bombardier Dash 8, operated by Era Alaska, on approach to Ted
Anchorage International Airport.
The bulk of remaining commercial flight offerings come from small
regional commuter airlines such as Ravn Alaska, PenAir, and Frontier
Flying Service. The smallest towns and villages must rely on scheduled
or chartered bush flying services using general aviation aircraft such
as the Cessna Caravan, the most popular aircraft in use in the state.
Much of this service can be attributed to the
Alaska bypass mail
program which subsidizes bulk mail delivery to Alaskan rural
communities. The program requires 70% of that subsidy to go to
carriers who offer passenger service to the communities.
Many communities have small air taxi services. These operations
originated from the demand for customized transport to remote areas.
Perhaps the most quintessentially Alaskan plane is the bush seaplane.
The world's busiest seaplane base is Lake Hood, located next to Ted
Anchorage International Airport, where flights bound for
remote villages without an airstrip carry passengers, cargo, and many
items from stores and warehouse clubs. In 2006
Alaska had the highest
number of pilots per capita of any U.S. state.
Another Alaskan transportation method is the dogsled. In modern times
(that is, any time after the mid-late 1920s), dog mushing is more of a
sport than a true means of transportation. Various races are held
around the state, but the best known is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog
Race, a 1,150-mile (1,850 km) trail from
Anchorage to Nome
(although the distance varies from year to year, the official distance
is set at 1,049 miles or 1,688 km). The race commemorates the
1925 serum run to Nome
1925 serum run to Nome in which mushers and dogs like Togo and
Balto took much-needed medicine to the diphtheria-stricken community
of Nome when all other means of transportation had failed. Mushers
from all over the world come to
Anchorage each March to compete for
cash, prizes, and prestige. The "Serum Run" is another sled dog race
that more accurately follows the route of the famous 1925 relay,
leaving from the community of Nenana (southwest of Fairbanks) to
In areas not served by road or rail, primary transportation in summer
is by all-terrain vehicle and in winter by snowmobile or "snow
machine," as it is commonly referred to in Alaska.
Alaska's internet and other data transport systems are provided
largely through the two major telecommunications companies: GCI and
Alaska Communications. GCI owns and operates what it calls the Alaska
United Fiber Optic system and as of late 2011 Alaska
Communications advertised that it has "two fiber optic paths to the
lower 48 and two more across Alaska. In January 2011, it was
reported that a $1 billion project to connect Asia and rural Alaska
was being planned, aided in part by $350 million in stimulus from the
Law and government
The center of state government in Juneau. The large buildings in the
background are, from left to right: the Court Plaza Building (known
colloquially as the "Spam Can"), the State Office Building (behind),
Alaska Office Building, the John H. Dimond State Courthouse, and
Alaska State Capitol. Many of the smaller buildings in the
foreground are also occupied by state government agencies.
Main article: Government of Alaska
Like all other U.S. states,
Alaska is governed as a republic, with
three branches of government: an executive branch consisting of the
Governor of Alaska
Governor of Alaska and the other independently elected constitutional
officers; a legislative branch consisting of the
Alaska House of
Alaska Senate; and a judicial branch consisting of
Alaska Supreme Court and lower courts.
The state of
Alaska employs approximately 16,000 people
Legislature consists of a 40-member House of
Representatives and a 20-member Senate. Senators serve four-year terms
and House members two. The
Governor of Alaska
Governor of Alaska serves four-year terms.
The lieutenant governor runs separately from the governor in the
primaries, but during the general election, the nominee for governor
and nominee for lieutenant governor run together on the same ticket.
Alaska's court system has four levels: the
Alaska Supreme Court, the
Alaska Court of Appeals, the superior courts and the district
courts. The superior and district courts are trial courts.
Superior courts are courts of general jurisdiction, while district
courts only hear certain types of cases, including misdemeanor
criminal cases and civil cases valued up to $100,000.
The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are appellate courts. The
Court of Appeals is required to hear appeals from certain lower-court
decisions, including those regarding criminal prosecutions, juvenile
delinquency, and habeas corpus. The Supreme Court hears civil
appeals and may in its discretion hear criminal appeals.
Main article: Politics of Alaska
Political party strength in Alaska and Alaska
political corruption probe
Gubernatorial election results
Although in its early years of statehood
Alaska was a Democratic
state, since the early 1970s it has been characterized as
Republican-leaning. Local political communities have often worked
on issues related to land use development, fishing, tourism, and
Alaska Natives, while organized in and around their
communities, have been active within the Native corporations. These
have been given ownership over large tracts of land, which require
Alaska was formerly the only state in which possession of one ounce or
less of marijuana in one's home was completely legal under state law,
though the federal law remains in force.
The state has an independence movement favoring a vote on secession
from the United States, with the Alaskan Independence Party.
Six Republicans and four Democrats have served as governor of Alaska.
In addition, Republican Governor
Wally Hickel was elected to the
office for a second term in 1990 after leaving the Republican party
and briefly joining the
Alaskan Independence Party
Alaskan Independence Party ticket just long
enough to be reelected. He officially rejoined the Republican party in
Alaska's voter initiative making marijuana legal took effect on
February 24, 2015, placing
Colorado and Washington as
the first three U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal. The
new law means people over age 21 can consume small amounts of pot –
if they can find it. There is a rather lengthy and involved
application process, per
Alaska Measure 2 (2014). The first legal
marijuana store opened in Valdez in October 2016.
To finance state government operations,
Alaska depends primarily on
petroleum revenues and federal subsidies. This allows it to have the
lowest individual tax burden in the United States. It is one of
five states with no state sales tax, one of seven states that do not
levy an individual income tax, and one of the two states that has
neither. The Department of Revenue Tax Division reports regularly
on the state's revenue sources. The Department also issues an annual
summary of its operations, including new state laws that directly
affect the tax division.
Alaska has no state sales tax, 89 municipalities collect a local
sales tax, from 1.0–7.5%, typically 3–5%. Other local taxes levied
include raw fish taxes, hotel, motel, and bed-and-breakfast 'bed'
taxes, severance taxes, liquor and tobacco taxes, gaming (pull tabs)
taxes, tire taxes and fuel transfer taxes. A part of the revenue
collected from certain state taxes and license fees (such as
petroleum, aviation motor fuel, telephone cooperative) is shared with
municipalities in Alaska.
Fairbanks has one of the highest property taxes in the state as no
sales or income taxes are assessed in the Fairbanks North Star Borough
(FNSB). A sales tax for the FNSB has been voted on many times, but has
yet to be approved, leading lawmakers to increase taxes dramatically
on goods such as liquor and tobacco.
In 2014 the
Tax Foundation ranked
Alaska as having the fourth most
"business friendly" tax policy, behind only Wyoming, South Dakota, and
Main article: Politics of Alaska
See also: Arctic Policy of the United States
A line graph showing the presidential vote by party from 1960 to 2016
Presidential election results
Alaska regularly supports Republicans in presidential elections and
has done so since statehood. Republicans have won the state's
electoral college votes in all but one election that it has
participated in (1964). No state has voted for a Democratic
presidential candidate fewer times.
Alaska was carried by Democratic
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson during his landslide election in 1964, while
the 1960 and 1968 elections were close. Since 1972, however,
Republicans have carried the state by large margins. In 2008,
John McCain defeated Democrat
Barack Obama in Alaska,
59.49% to 37.83%. McCain's running mate was Sarah Palin, the state's
governor and the first Alaskan on a major party ticket. Obama lost
Alaska again in 2012, but he captured 40% of the state's vote in that
election, making him the first Democrat to do so since 1968.
Alaska Bush, central Juneau, midtown and downtown Anchorage, and
the areas surrounding the
University of Alaska
University of Alaska Fairbanks campus and
Ester have been strongholds of the Democratic Party. The
Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the majority of Fairbanks (including North
Pole and the military base), and South
Anchorage typically have the
strongest Republican showing. As of 2004[update], well over half of
all registered voters have chosen "Non-Partisan" or "Undeclared" as
their affiliation, despite recent attempts to close primaries to
Because of its population relative to other U.S. states,
only one member in the U.S. House of Representatives. This seat is
held by Republican Don Young, who was re-elected to his 21st
consecutive term in 2012.
Alaska's at-large congressional district
Alaska's at-large congressional district is
one of the largest parliamentary constituencies in the world.
In 2008, Governor
Sarah Palin became the first Republican woman to run
on a national ticket when she became John McCain's running mate. She
continued to be a prominent national figure even after resigning from
the governor's job in July 2009.
United States Senators belong to Class 2 and Class 3. In
2008, Democrat Mark Begich, mayor of Anchorage, defeated long-time
Republican senator Ted Stevens. Stevens had been convicted on seven
felony counts of failing to report gifts on Senate financial discloser
forms one week before the election. The conviction was set aside in
April 2009 after evidence of prosecutorial misconduct emerged.
Frank Murkowski held the state's other senatorial position.
After being elected governor in 2002, he resigned from the Senate and
appointed his daughter, State Representative
Lisa Murkowski as his
successor. She won full six-year terms in 2004 and 2010.
Alaska's current statewide elected officials
Bill Walker, Governor
Byron Mallott, Lieutenant Governor
Lisa Murkowski, senior
United States Senator
Dan Sullivan, junior
United States Senator
Don Young, at-large
United States Representative
Cities, towns and boroughs
List of cities in Alaska
List of cities in Alaska by population,
Alaska locations by
per capita income, and List of boroughs and census areas in Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska, Alaska's largest city.
Fairbanks, Alaska's second-largest city and by a significant margin
the largest city in Alaska's interior.
Juneau, Alaska's third-largest city and its capital.
Bethel, the largest city in the
Unorganized Borough and in rural
Homer, showing (from bottom to top) the edge of downtown, its airport
and the Spit.
Barrow (Browerville neighborhood near Eben Hopson Middle School
shown), known colloquially for many years by the nickname "Top of the
World", is the northernmost city in the United States.
Cordova, built in the early 20th century to support the Kennecott
Mines and the Copper River and Northwestern Railway, has persevered as
a fishing community since their closure.
Main Street in Talkeetna.
Alaska is not divided into counties, as most of the other U.S. states,
but it is divided into boroughs. Many of the more densely
populated parts of the state are part of Alaska's 16 boroughs, which
function somewhat similarly to counties in other states. However,
unlike county-equivalents in the other 49 states, the boroughs do not
cover the entire land area of the state. The area not part of any
borough is referred to as the Unorganized Borough.
Unorganized Borough has no government of its own, but the U.S.
Census Bureau in cooperation with the state divided the Unorganized
Borough into 11 census areas solely for the purposes of statistical
analysis and presentation. A recording district is a
mechanism for administration of the public record in Alaska. The state
is divided into 34 recording districts which are centrally
administered under a State Recorder. All recording districts use the
same acceptance criteria, fee schedule, etc., for accepting documents
into the public record.
Whereas many U.S. states use a three-tiered system of
Alaska uses only
two tiers—state/borough. Owing to the low population density, most
of the land is located in the Unorganized Borough. As the name
implies, it has no intermediate borough government but is administered
directly by the state government. In 2000, 57.71% of Alaska's area has
this status, with 13.05% of the population.
Anchorage merged the city government with the Greater
Borough in 1975 to form the Municipality of Anchorage, containing the
city proper and the communities of Eagle River, Chugiak, Peters Creek,
Girdwood, Bird, and Indian. Fairbanks has a separate borough (the
Fairbanks North Star Borough) and municipality (the City of
The state's most populous city is Anchorage, home to 278,700 people in
2006, 225,744 of whom live in the urbanized area. The richest location
Alaska by per capita income is
Halibut Cove ($89,895). Yakutat
City, Sitka, Juneau, and
Anchorage are the four largest cities in the
U.S. by area.
Cities and census-designated places (by population)
As reflected in the 2010
United States Census,
Alaska has a total of
355 incorporated cities and census-designated places (CDPs).[citation
needed] The tally of cities includes four unified municipalities,
essentially the equivalent of a consolidated city–county. The
majority of these communities are located in the rural expanse of
Alaska known as "The Bush" and are unconnected to the contiguous North
American road network. The table at the bottom of this section lists
the 100 largest cities and census-designated places in Alaska, in
Of Alaska's 2010 Census population figure of 710,231, 20,429 people,
or 2.88% of the population, did not live in an incorporated city or
census-designated place. Approximately three-quarters of that figure
were people who live in urban and suburban neighborhoods on the
outskirts of the city limits of Ketchikan, Kodiak, Palmer and
Wasilla. CDPs have not been established for these
areas by the
United States Census Bureau, except that seven CDPs were
established for the Ketchikan-area neighborhoods in the 1980 Census
(Clover Pass, Herring Cove,
Mountain Point, North
Pennock Island and Saxman East), but have not been
used since. The remaining population was scattered throughout Alaska,
both within organized boroughs and in the Unorganized Borough, in
largely remote areas.
Kachemak Bay Campus
Kachemak Bay Campus of the
University of Alaska
University of Alaska Anchorage, located
in downtown Homer.
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development administers
many school districts in Alaska. In addition, the state operates a
Mt. Edgecumbe High School
Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, and provides
partial funding for other boarding schools, including Nenana Student
Living Center in Nenana and The Galena Interior Learning Academy in
There are more than a dozen colleges and universities in Alaska.
Accredited universities in
Alaska include the University of Alaska
University of Alaska
University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska
Alaska Pacific University.
Alaska is the only
state that has no institutions that are part of the NCAA Division I.
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development operates
AVTEC, Alaska's Institute of Technology. Campuses in Seward and
Anchorage offer 1 week to 11-month training programs in areas as
diverse as Information Technology, Welding, Nursing, and Mechanics.
Alaska has had a problem with a "brain drain". Many of its young
people, including most of the highest academic achievers, leave the
state after high school graduation and do not return. As of
Alaska did not have a law school or medical school.
University of Alaska
University of Alaska has attempted to combat this by offering
partial four-year scholarships to the top 10% of
Alaska high school
graduates, via the
Alaska Scholars Program.
Public health and public safety
See also: Dentistry in rural Alaska
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers are Alaska's statewide police force. They
have a long and storied history, but were not an official organization
until 1941. Before the force was officially organized, law enforcement
Alaska was handled by various federal agencies. Larger towns
usually have their own local police and some villages rely on "Public
Safety Officers" who have police training but do not carry firearms.
In much of the state, the troopers serve as the only police force
available. In addition to enforcing traffic and criminal law, wildlife
Troopers enforce hunting and fishing regulations. Due to the varied
terrain and wide scope of the Troopers' duties, they employ a wide
variety of land, air, and water patrol vehicles.
Many rural communities in
Alaska are considered "dry," having outlawed
the importation of alcoholic beverages. Suicide rates for rural
residents are higher than urban.
Domestic abuse and other violent crimes are also at high levels in the
state; this is in part linked to alcohol abuse.
Alaska has the
highest rate of sexual assault in the nation, especially in rural
areas. The average age of sexually assaulted victims is 16 years old.
In four out of five cases, the suspects were relatives, friends or
See also: List of artists and writers from Alaska
A dog team in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, arguably the most
popular winter event in Alaska.
Some of Alaska's popular annual events are the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog
Race that starts in
Anchorage and ends in Nome, World Ice Art
Championships in Fairbanks, the Blueberry Festival and Alaska
Hummingbird Festival in Ketchikan, the Sitka Whale Fest, and the
Stikine River Garnet Fest in Wrangell. The
Stikine River attracts the
largest springtime concentration of American bald eagles in the world.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska Native Heritage Center celebrates the rich heritage of
Alaska's 11 cultural groups. Their purpose is to encourage
cross-cultural exchanges among all people and enhance self-esteem
among Native people. The
Alaska Native Arts Foundation promotes and
markets Native art from all regions and cultures in the State, using
Main article: Music of Alaska
Influences on music in
Alaska include the traditional music of Alaska
Natives as well as folk music brought by later immigrants from Russia
and Europe. Prominent musicians from
Alaska include singer Jewel,
traditional Aleut flautist Mary Youngblood, folk singer-songwriter
Libby Roderick, Christian music singer-songwriter Lincoln Brewster,
metal/post hardcore band
36 Crazyfists and the groups
Portugal. The Man.
There are many established music festivals in Alaska, including the
Alaska Folk Festival, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the
Anchorage Folk Festival, the Athabascan Old-Time Fiddling Festival,
the Sitka Jazz Festival, and the Sitka Summer Music Festival. The most
prominent orchestra in
Alaska is the
Anchorage Symphony Orchestra,
though the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and
Juneau Symphony are also
Anchorage Opera is currently the state's only
professional opera company, though there are several volunteer and
semi-professional organizations in the state as well.
The official state song of
Alaska is "Alaska's Flag", which was
adopted in 1955; it celebrates the flag of Alaska.
Alaska in film and on television
See also: List of films set in Alaska
Films featuring Alaskan wolves usually employ domesticated wolf-dog
hybrids to stand in for wild wolves.
Alaska's first independent picture entirely made in
Alaska was The
Chechahcos, produced by Alaskan businessman
Austin E. Lathrop
Austin E. Lathrop and
filmed in and around Anchorage. Released in 1924 by the
Picture Corporation, it was the only film the company made.
One of the most prominent movies filmed in
Alaska is MGM's Eskimo/Mala
The Magnificent, starring
Alaska Native Ray Mala. In 1932 an
expedition set out from MGM's studios in Hollywood to
Alaska to film
what was then billed as "The Biggest Picture Ever Made." Upon arriving
in Alaska, they set up "Camp Hollywood" in Northwest Alaska, where
they lived during the duration of the filming.
Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer spared
no expense in spite of the remote location, going so far as to hire
the chef from the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood to prepare meals.
When Eskimo premiered at the Astor Theatre in New York City, the
studio received the largest amount of feedback in its history to that
point. Eskimo was critically acclaimed and released worldwide; as a
result, Mala became an international movie star. Eskimo won the first
Oscar for Best Film Editing at the Academy Awards, and showcased and
preserved aspects of Inupiat culture on film.
The 1983 Disney movie Never Cry Wolf was at least partially shot in
Alaska. The 1991 film White Fang, based on Jack London's novel and
starring Ethan Hawke, was filmed in and around Haines. Steven Seagal's
1994 On Deadly Ground, starring Michael Caine, was filmed in part at
Worthington Glacier near Valdez. The 1999
John Sayles film
Limbo, starring David Strathairn, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and
Kris Kristofferson, was filmed in Juneau.
The psychological thriller Insomnia, starring
Al Pacino and Robin
Williams, was shot in Canada, but was set in Alaska. The 2007 film
directed by Sean Penn, Into The Wild, was partially filmed and set in
Alaska. The film, which is based on the novel of the same name,
follows the adventures of Christopher McCandless, who died in a remote
abandoned bus along the
Stampede Trail west of Healy in 1992.
Many films and television shows set in
Alaska are not filmed there;
for example, Northern Exposure, set in the fictional town of Cicely,
Alaska, was filmed in Roslyn, Washington. The 2007 horror feature 30
Days of Night is set in Barrow, but was filmed in New Zealand.
Many reality television shows are filmed in Alaska. In 2011 the
Anchorage Daily News found ten set in the state.
Main article: List of
Alaska state symbols
The forget-me-not is the state's official flower and bears the same
blue and gold as the state flag.
State motto: North to the Future
Nicknames: "The Last Frontier" or "Land of the Midnight Sun" or
State bird: willow ptarmigan, adopted by the Territorial Legislature
in 1955. It is a small (15–17 in or 380–430 mm) Arctic
grouse that lives among willows and on open tundra and muskeg. Plumage
is brown in summer, changing to white in winter. The willow ptarmigan
is common in much of Alaska.
State fish: king salmon, adopted 1962.
State flower: wild/native forget-me-not, adopted by the Territorial
Legislature in 1917. It is a perennial that is found throughout
Alaska, from Hyder to the Arctic Coast, and west to the Aleutians.
State fossil: woolly mammoth, adopted 1986.
State gem: jade, adopted 1968.
State insect: four-spot skimmer dragonfly, adopted 1995.
State land mammal: moose, adopted 1998.
State marine mammal: bowhead whale, adopted 1983.
State mineral: gold, adopted 1968.
State song: "Alaska's Flag"
State sport: dog mushing, adopted 1972.
State tree: Sitka spruce, adopted 1962.
State dog: Alaskan Malamute, adopted 2010.
State soil: Tanana, adopted unknown.
United States portal
Index of Alaska-related articles
Outline of Alaska — organized list of topics about Alaska
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Pro-Tactile American Sign Language
Puerto Rican Sign Language
Samoan Sign Language
Martha's Vineyard Sign Language
Sandy River Valley Sign Language
Henniker Sign Language
(number of speakers
in 2010 in millions)
Varieties of Chinese (3)
Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language in the
United States (0.3)
ISNI: 0000 0004 0427 7381