83 Interesting Facts About Alaska

Last updated on November 20th, 2023

Alaska is the 48th most populous and the most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It is in the northwest extremity of North America, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The state attained statehood on January 3, 1959, becoming the 49th state to join the union. It has no land bordering states. Alaska (nicknamed Great Land, Land of the Midnight Sun, The Last Frontier, Mainland State, 49th State, Sourdough State, North Star State, Up Over, Seward’s Ice Box, Seward’s Folly) has 29 county equivalents. The state’s capital is Juneau. The abbreviation for Alaska is AK.

Facts about Alaska 

1. The name Alaska means “mainland” or “great land”. Indeed because the state has a great variety of characteristics and immense area.

2. Alaska was discovered in 1741 when the Danish explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering spotted it on a trip from Siberia. After that, hunters from Russia started traveling there.

3. Russian fur traders and whalers were the first to establish a permanent settlement on Kodiak Island in 1784. The settlement was at Three Saints Bay.

4. Did you know that the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867, for just $7.2 million dollars? That’s 2 cents per acre.

5. Many people in the US didn’t want the country to buy Alaska from the Russians. Oppositions and critics called the deal signed by William Seward the ‘Seward’s Folly.’ 

6. In 1971, the Alaskan Native Claims Settlement was signed by Richard Nixon. Native gave up their claim, and the settlement was divided among village, urban, and regional corporations.

Alaska on the map


7. Alaska has a longer coastline (6,640 miles) than all the other U.S. states combined.

8. Alaska and Hawaii are the only two US states that are not bordered by any other U.S. state.

9. Alaska covers almost 1/6th of the total area of the United States.

alaska facts
Alaska(in red) on the map to draw comparison with other states.

10. In the area, AK is greater than California, Texas and Montana combined. Now go impress your friends with this new found fact.

11. Did you know you could fit California into Alaska 4 times, Arkansas 12 times, Alabama 13 times, Arizona 6 times, Connecticut 118 times, Delaware 264 times, Florida 10 times, and Hawaii 60 times?

12. Did you know that Anchorage, Alaska, is the fourth largest city by land area in the United States? It is larger than the smallest state (Rhode Island) in the U.S.

UPS 747-8F Landing at Anchorage. Alaska fact file
UPS 747-8F Landing at Anchorage International Airport. Facts about Alaska. Image credit – Joe A. K. 

13. Due to the geographical location of Anchorage, the Anchorage International Airport acts as a refuelling stop for many international cargo flights.

14. Anchorage has the fifth-busiest air-freight airport in the world in annual tonnage. Alaska has six times as many pilots per capita as the rest of the nation.

15. There are more than 3 million lakes in Alaska.

16. Lake George in Alaska was one of the most consistent self-dumping lakes in North America until 1967 when it was designated as a National Natural Landscape. When the lake outlet was blocked by the Knik Glacier, the lake swelled with water until summer when the dam broke and the water dumped into the Knik River.

glaciers in Alaska
Image credit – BDFri2012

17. Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers. 

18. Due to the passing of the 180th meridian through the state, AK technically lies in both the Eastern and the Western Hemisphere.

19. Alaska is the only state in the US with land in the eastern hemisphere.

20. Alaska and Russia are very close by. In fact, mainland Russia and mainland Alaska is approximately 55 miles apart.

21. Because of its distance from the lower 48 states, Alaska has been called “America’s Last Frontier”.

22. It is also the only non-contiguous U.S. state on continental North America.

keyboard displaying Alaska

23. A fun fact: It is the only state in the U.S., the letters in the name of which can be typed on the same row of the keyboard – at least on the keyboard of a desktop or a laptop.

24. Did you know that Juneau is the only state capital that cannot be reached by road? Airplanes are the most preferred and common mode of transport in the state because road and railroads are so few.

25. Juneau is the largest capital city and the second largest city in the United States by area.

26. Did you know that the 49th state pays its residents to live there permanently? The payment to its residents is made from the investment earnings on Alaskan mineral royalties. The payment, however, keeps on fluctuating. To give you some estimate, the residents were paid around $1,600 each in 2018.

27. Alaska is one of the five states that do not have a sales tax. The other four are DelawareMontanaOregon, and New Hampshire. In Alaska, the sales taxes are not either zero but they are a fraction of what other states implement in their jurisdiction.

28. Alaska may be known for its gold, but Zinc is the main mineral export of this US state. Zinc is not the only export; Alaska also produces silver and gemstones.

29. Massive petroleum and gas reserves were discovered on the North Slopes of Alaska in 1968. The Atlantic Richfield Oil Company discovered oil in this state.

Trans-Alaska pipeline map. Alaska fact file
Map of the Trans-Alaska pipeline.

30. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System carries oil from North Slope to the port of Valdez, Alaska. The construction of the pipeline/system began in 1975 and ended in 1977. The $8 billion system which runs 800 miles carries an average of 1.8 million barrels of oil a day. To make it earthquake resilient, the pipeline was built in a zigzag pattern.

31. About 50 percent of the northern fur seals of the world go to the Pribilof Islands to breed. Those who don’t breed also take a break from the water on the islands.

32. Alaska is home to the largest fishing industry in the United States. Roughly about 15 percent of rural Alaskans of working age work in the fishing industry. The fishing industry is also one of the leading economies of rural communities.

The Flag of Alaska

Flag of Alaska
The flag of Alaska.

33. Logging has changed since it started in the early 1900s in Alaska. It used to be a huge industry, but only about one percent of the Tongass is open for timber harvest.

34. The only World War Two battle fought on American soil happened in 1943 when Japan Invaded the Aleutian Islands. It was known as the Battle of Attu and lasted nearly a month.

35. Scott Robb from Alaska holds the world record for the largest cabbage. He presented a 138-pound cabbage at the Alaska State Fair in 2012.

36. Lake Iliamna is the largest lake in Alaska and the eighth largest lake in the United States by surface area.

37. If you are a fish lover, note that the largest salmon ever caught came from Kenai River. For the record, it weighed 97.5 pounds on the scale. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, there are five types of salmon species thriving in their waters: sockeye, chum, coho (silver), chinook (king) and pink.

wild caught salmon in Alaska
Wild caught Sockeye Salmon. Image credit – https://wildalaskasalmonandseafood.com/

38. Did you know that wild Alaskan salmon is a powerhouse of nutrition?

39. Alaska is the coldest among the 50 states in the U.S. The average temperature during the year in AK is 32.03 degrees Fahrenheit. And for comparison, that of Hawaii is 72.95 degrees Fahrenheit.

40. On January 23, 1971, the coldest temperature was recorded in the history of Alaska at -80 degrees Fahrenheit (-62.2 degrees Celsius). It was recorded in Prospect Creek, north of Fairbanks in central Alaska.

41. Denali (Mount McKinley) in Alaska is the highest mountain peak (20,310 feet) of the United States and North America.

42. The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is the largest national forest in the United States at 16.7 million acres (68,000 km2). In combination with British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest immediately to the south, it encompasses the largest intact temperate rainforest on earth.

43. North America’s largest oil field is located in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It is also one of the 20 largest oil fields ever discovered in the world.

seaplane on the shore
Image credit – NPS

44. Alaska is also known for the many seaplanes in operation in and around this state. It is not strange that Lake Hood in Anchorage is the busiest seaplane base in the world.

45. Did you know that the land of the sourdoughs (Alaska) has 114 seaplane bases, far more than any other state?

46. The largest concentration of pilots in the US is in Alaska. More than 10,000 active pilots are operating in this state.

47. The Yukon River is the longest river in Yukon and Alaska. It is also the third longest river in North America.

48. The Malamute dog from Alaska is one of the oldest domesticated breed in the world. They have been bred by Native Alaskan people nearly 3,000 years ago.

Kodiak bear Alaska. Alaska facts and trivia
A brown bear emerges from salmon fishing in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge (http://kodiak.fws.gov) in Alaska. Facts about Alaska. (Steve Hillebrand/USFWS)

49. Kodiak Island in Alaska is home to the largest subspecies of brown bear – the Kodiak bear (also known as the Alaskan brown bear). Male bears are called boars, females are sows, and youngsters are cubs. A large male can stand over 10′ tall when on his hind legs, and 5′ when on all four legs. They weigh up to 1,500 pounds.

50. The Alaskan brown bear is an adequate fisher who catches salmon that swim in freshwater streams. Most bears can be seen in the middle of July.

51. Alaska is the only place in the US where you will find polar bears. There are about 4,000 to 7,000 bears in two national parks of Alaska.

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