State of Alaska, History, Tourism and Information Alaska

The State of Alaska Background

If you think they do things big in Texas, then wait till you get to Alaska. With a population of around 630,000 living on 656,456 square miles of land, every man, woman and child could live undisturbed on more than a square mile each. Alaska’s that big.

More than twice the size of Texas, Alaska accounts for one fifth of all land in the United States. It boasts America’s highest mountain (Mt McKinley at 20,320 feet) and the dubious title of most earthquake prone state. It’s so large that the Alaskan land mass naturally spreads over five time zones, but was realigned in the 1980s so the middle zone covered the entire state.
Alaska's increasing popularity. Official "State of Alaska" web site.

Tourism is Alaska’s booming industry, second only to its mammoth oil trade (which brings in 80 per cent of Alaska’s income). Each year one million tourists and are lured north by the call of Alaska’s remarkable wilderness.

It’s not just tourists who find Alaska enticing. The state has 14,000 new residents annually, and 60 per cent of Alaskans were born out of state. It’s no wonder they make the move Alaska has the highest average household income in the U.S.

Eleven distinct cultures comprise Alaska’s indigenous population, around 16 per cent of its people. They carry on traditions of whaling, hunting and fishing, as well as native arts and crafts.

Alaska was humanity’s gateway to the North American continent thousands of years ago. During the Ice Age a land bridge rose out of the sea between Siberia and Alaska, and the first North Americans made their way over.

Eventually the Russians made their way across to visit their Alaskan neighbours in the 1700s. The first fixed Russian settlement was established on Kodiak Island in 1784, and over the next few decades Alaska was Russian territory. British and American trading ships eventually began to threaten Russian dominance of the area, and by the 1820s Russian interests in Alaska were on the decline.

Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867 for the sum of $7,200,000 – or around two cents an acre. Having survived a gold rush at the turn of the twentieth century and the Japanese invasion of Alaska during the Second World War, Alaska was made the 49th of the United States in 1959.

Unsurpassed beauty, an aura of untouched wilderness and the majesty of the outdoors combine to make Alaska one of those places people just can’t stay away from.