The Last Frontier

Where is it?

State Flag




North and West of Canada.
Geographic coordinates:
54°40'N to 71°50'N
130°W to 173°E
total: 656,425 sq mi
land: 570,374 sq mi
water: 86,051 sq mi
coastline: 6,640 miles
shoreline: 34,000 miles
Bordering States:
NA - Borders Canada to the east.
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: 0 ft
highest point: Mount McKinley 20,321 ft
Alaska is one of the two U.S. states not bordered by another state, Hawaii being the other. It is the only non-contiguous state in North America; about 500 miles (800 km) of Canadian territory separate Alaska from Washington. Alaska is thus an exclave of the United States that is part of the continental U.S. but is not part of the contiguous U.S. It is also the only mainland state whose capital city is accessible only via ship or air. No roads connect Juneau to the rest of the state. One scheme for describing the state's geography is by labeling the regions: South Central Alaska is the southern coastal region and contains most of the state's population. Anchorage and many growing towns, such as Palmer, and Wasilla, lie within this area. Petroleum industrial plants, transportation, tourism, and two military bases form the core of the economy here. The Alaska Panhandle, also known as Southeast Alaska, is home to many of Alaska's larger towns including Juneau, tidewater glaciers and extensive forests. Tourism, fishing, forestry and state government anchor the economy. The Alaska Interior is home to Fairbanks. The geography is marked by large braided rivers, such as the Yukon River and the Kuskokwim River, as well as Arctic tundra lands and shorelines. The Alaskan Bush is the remote, less crowded part of the state, encompassing 380 native villages and small towns such as Nome, Bethel, Kotzebue and, most famously, Barrow, the northernmost town in the United States. The northeast corner of Alaska is covered by the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which covers 19,049,236 acres




736,732 (2014)
Largest City:
Anchorage: 291,826 (2010)
Age structure:
0-5 years old: 7.6%
<18 years old: 28.7%
65 years and over: 6.4%
Male: 51.7% Female: 48.3%
Population growth rate:
5.9% (2000-2005)
Population density:
1.09 per sq mi
Race(2000 Census):
White: 70.7%
Black: 3.6%
Asian: 4.5%
Alaskan or Native American: 15.8%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 4.5%
Multi-Race: 4.7%
Hispanic or Latino: 4.9%
Christian: 82%
Other: 1%
Non-Religious/Agnostic: 17%




It is by far the largest state in area, but one of the least populated. It is the 49th state, having been admitted to the Union on January 3, 1959. The name "Alaska" is most likely derived from the Aleut Alyeska, meaning "great country", "mainland" or "great land". Alaska was first inhabited by humans who came across the Bering Land Bridge. Eventually, Alaska became populated by the Inupiaq, Inuit and Yupik Eskimos, Aleuts, and a variety of Native American groups. Most, if not all, of the pre-Columbian population of the Americas probably took this route and continued further south and east. The first written accounts indicate that the first Europeans to reach Alaska came from Russia. Vitus Bering sailed east and saw Mt. St. Elias. The Russian-American Company hunted sea otters for their fur. The colony was never very profitable, because of the costs of transportation. Spaniards explored the coast and made some settlements during the 18th century. Remains of this early period are Spanish names such Cordova and Valdez. Alaska suffered one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history on Good Friday 1964. In 1976, the people of Alaska amended the state's constitution, establishing the Alaska Permanent Fund. The fund invests a portion of the state's mineral revenue, including revenue from the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System, "to benefit all generations of Alaskans." In March 2005, the fund's value was over $30 billion.




January 3, 1959 (49th State)
State Tree:
Sitka Spruce
State Bird:
Willow Ptarmigan
State Flower:
The Alaska Legislature is a 20-member Senate serving 4-year terms and 40-member House serving 2-year terms. It has been dominated by conservatives, generally Republicans. Likewise, recent state governors have been mostly conservatives, although not always elected under the official 'Party' banner. Republican Wally Hickel was elected to the office for a second term in 1990 after jumping the Republican ship and briefly joining the Alaskan Independence Party ticket just long enough to be reelected. He subsequently officially 'rejoined' the Republican fold in 1994. Alaska is often characterized as a Republican-leaning state with strong Libertarian tendencies. Local political communities often work on issues related to land use development, fishing, tourism, and individual rights as many residents are proud of their rough Alaskan heritage. It is very important to note that, as of 9/2004, well over half of all registered voters choose "Non-Partisan" or "Undeclared" as their affiliation (source: Alaska Department of Elections, despite recent attempts to close primaries by the Republican party. Alaska Natives, while organized in and around their communities, are often active within the Native corporations which have been given ownership over large tracts of land, and thus need to deliberate resource conservation and development issues. In presidential elections, the state's Electoral College votes have been most often won by a Republican nominee. Only once has Alaska supported a Democratic nominee, when it supported Lyndon B. Johnson in the landslide year of 1964, although the 1960 and 1968 elections were close. No state has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate fewer times. President George W. Bush won the state's electoral votes in 2004 by a margin of 25 percentage points with 61.1% of the vote. Juneau stands out as an area that supports Democratic candidates.




The state's 2003 total gross state product was $31 billion. Its per-capita income for 2003 was $33,213, 14th in the nation. Alaska's main export is seafood. Agriculture represents only a fraction of the Alaska 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 both Fairbanks and Anchorage. 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. Alaska's economy is heavily dependent on increasingly expensive diesel fuel for heating, transportation, electric power and light. Though wind and hydroelectric power are abundant and underutilized, proposals for state-wide energy systems (e.g. with special low-cost electric interties) were judged uneconomical due to low fuel prices, long distances and low population. The cost of goods in Alaska has long been higher than in the contiguous 48 states. This has changed for the most part in Anchorage and Fairbanks, where the cost of living is actually less than some major cities in the Lower 48, thanks to lower housing and transportation costs. The introduction of big-box stores in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau also did much to lower prices. However, rural 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. Many rural residents come in to these cities and purchase food and goods in bulk from warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam's Club. Some have embraced the free shipping offers of some online retailers to purchase items much more cheaply than they could in their own communities, if they are available at all. Alaska is one of only six states with no state sales tax and one of seven states that do not levy an individual income tax. To finance state government operations, Alaska depends primarily on petroleum revenues. The Department of Revenue Tax Division reports regularly on the state's revenue sources. The Department also issues an annual overview of its operations, including new state laws that directly affect the tax division. While Alaska has no state sales tax, 89 municipalities collect a local sales tax, with a range of between 1 percent and 7 percent. Typical sales tax rates are 3 to 5 percent. Other types of local taxes levied include raw fish taxes, hotel and motel "bed" taxes, severance taxes, liquor and tobacco taxes, gaming (pull tabs) taxes, tire taxes and fuel transfer taxes. A percentage of revenue collected from certain state taxes and license fees (such as petroleum, aviation motor fuel, telephone cooperative) is shared with municipalities in Alaska.