42 Interesting Facts About Alaska

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. See the complete list of the 50 states and their borders here. 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 27 counties. The state’s capital is Juneau. The abbreviation for Alaska is AK. With these facts about Alaska, let us learn more about its geography, history, people, economy, natural resources, earthquakes, and more.

Facts about Alaska

1. 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.[1]

2. It is also the only non-contiguous U.S. state on continental North America.[1]

Alaska on the map

3. Alaska has a longer coastline (6,640 miles) than all the other U.S. states combined.[1,14]

4. Due to the passing of the 180th meridian through the state, Alaska technically lies in both the hemisphere.[2]

5. The name Alaska means “mainland” or “great land”. Indeed because the state has a great variety of characteristics and immense area.[2]

6. Did you know that Alaska 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 $2,000 each in 2015.[3]

7. Alaska is one of the five states that do not have a sales tax. The other four are Delaware, Montana, Oregon, 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.[4]

8. Alaska and Russia are very close by. In fact, mainland Russian and mainland Alaska is approximately 55 miles.[22]

9. 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.

10. The state is home to the largest fishing industry in the United States.

11. 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.[20]

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

12. Did you know that wild Alaskan salmon is a powerhouse of nutrition? Consume Alaskan salmon once or twice a week and you can increase your life span by more than two years.[20]

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

14. Wondering how many people live in Alaska? The state has the lowest population density among the 50 states in the U.S. However, Wyoming has the lowest population of all the 50 states.[6]

15. According to a source, Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming are the only three states in the US that have more men than women?[5]

16. Alaska is the coldest among the 50 states in the U.S. The average temperature during the year in Alaska is 32.03 degrees Fahrenheit. And for comparison, that of Hawaii is 72.95 degrees Fahrenheit.[7]

The Flag of Alaska

Flag of Alaska
The flag of Alaska. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

17. Denali (Mount McKinley) in Alaska is the highest mountain peak (20,310 feet) of the United States and North America.[8]

18. Alaska has the most number of active volcanoes in the U.S. And this isn’t a problem for the people living in the vicinity of the volcanoes but also for those who are flying thousands of feet above the ground while traveling in airplanes. The volcanic ash spit by these volcanoes can bring an airplane down in a matter of a few minutes. Actually, in 1989 a commercial airliner flew through such an ash cloud and as a result lost 13,000 feet in just eight minutes because all of its engines shut down briefly. The airliner, however, managed to land safely in Anchorage. A helpful resource for the volcano lover or say, researcher.[9]

19. Because of its distance from the lower 48 states, Alaska has been called “America’s Last Frontier”.[12]

20. There are more than 3 million lakes in Alaska.[11]

21. 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.[10,17]

Kodiak bear Alaska.
A brown bear emerges from salmon fishing in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge (http://kodiak.fws.gov) in Alaska. Image credit – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

22. 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 in the state.

23. Alaska is the only state in the US with land in the eastern hemisphere.[2]

24. Did you know that Alaska ranks first in acres of forested land? Texas stands second on the list.[23] 

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

26. Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States, has two months of continuous darkness in winter and three months of continuous sunlight in the summer.[18]

27. Did you know that Anchorage is the fourth largest city by land area in the United States? It is larger than the smallest state (Rhode Island) in the United States.[13]

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

29. Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers. 

30. Juneau is the largest capital city and the second largest city in the United States by area.[16]

31. Alaskans celebrated “Alaska Agricultural Day” on May 7th, 2019. By purchasing products produced in Alaska, the aim of celebrating the day was to educate the youth about the importance of agriculture in the economy of Alaska.[15]

32. If you are a northern lights enthusiast, note that they can be seen in Fairbanks 243 days a year. 

33. For every 25 people in Alaska, there is one bear. 

34. Did you know that Alaska has 102 seaplane bases, far more than any other state?

35. 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?[19]

36. Lake Iliamna is the largest lake in Alaska and the eighth largest lake in the United States by surface area.[21]

37. A mysterious place in Alaska called the “Alaska’s Bermuda Triangle” is the home ground of the missing people, the number of which exceeds 16,000 to this day. Every year, scores of people vanish without leaving a trail while exploring or passing through this so-called area.[25] 

38. Statistically, Alaska has more annual missing person reports than anywhere else in the country; twice the national average.[24]

39. Alaska and Hawaii are the only two US states that are not bordered by any other state.[27] 

Great Sitkin Volcano
Great Sitkin Volcano viewed from an airplane. Image by – Nathan Coats

40. According to experts, Alaska is the most seismically active state in the U.S. The state is located along the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and earthquakes here are no surprise. The state also experienced the second-largest earthquake to ever hit the US – a 9.2 magnitude in 1964.[26] 

41. Southern Alaska is home to one of the fastest-moving underwater tectonic faults in the world.[26] 

42. 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 build in a zigzag pattern.[28,29]

Trans-Alaska pipeline map. Alaska fact file
Map of the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Image credit – Alaskacenters.gov

Alaska – quick facts and state symbols

State AbbreviationAK
NoteClick on the previous/next link below to see more table entries.
State CapitalJuneau
Largest CityAnchorage
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 663,267 sq miles; Land Only: 571,951 sq miles
Population
737,438
(Estimate July 1, 2018 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodJanuary 3, 1959
State rank by population48th
State rank by date of formation49th
State rank by area1st
Number of Counties27
DemonymAlaskan
Bordering StatesNone
Official LanguageEnglish, 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
Highest PointDenali
20,310 ft (6190.5 m)
Lowest pointSea level
Mean elevation1,900 feet above sea level
Length 1,420 miles (2,285 km)
Width2,261 miles (3,639 km)
GovernorMike Dunleavy (R)
Lieutenant GovernorKevin Meyer (R)
Electoral Votes3
State MottoNorth to the future
State NicknameThe Last Frontier
% Water13.77
Famous peopleMichelle Johnson (Actress)
Annie Parisse (Actress)
Darby Stanchfield (Actress)
State TreeSitka Spruce
State Flag

Flag of Alaska

State seal

Alaska-StateSeal.svg

State quarter

2008 AK Proof.png

State BirdWillow ptarmigan

Willow Ptarmigan

State FishKing salmon

Chinook salmon.jpg

State FlowerAlpine Forget-me-not

Alpine Forget-me-not
State FossilWoolly Mammoth

Siegsdorfer Mammut.jpg

State DogAlaskan Malamute

Alaskanmalamute0b.jpg

State GemJade

Jadestein.jpg

State InsectFour-Spot Skimmer Dragonfly

Libellula depressa.jpg

State Land MammalMoose

Wading moose.jpg

State Marine MammalBowhead whale

Bowheads42.jpg

State MineralGold

Gold

Longitude130°W to 172°E
Latitude51°20'N to 71°50'N
Time ZoneAlaska Time Zone, Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone
Websitewww.alaska.gov
Area Codes907
Table last updated14 May, 2019