51 Interesting Facts About Alaska

Last updated on March 11th, 2020

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 27 counties. The state’s capital is Juneau. The abbreviation for Alaska is AK. With these 51 interesting 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. 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 $2,000 each in 2015.[3]

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

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

sleigh at sled dog race on snow in winter.
Woman musher hiding behind sleigh at sled dog race on snow in winter.

7. Iditarod trail Sled Dog Race recalls a 1925 medical mission in which a relay of 20 dog teams carried medicine 674 miles in 127 hours to halt a deadly diphtheria epidemic in Nome. The territory at the time was affected by blizzard conditions which did not allow airplanes to fly and hence the life saving serum was delivered with the help of dogs. It is an annual race which is run in early March from Anchorage to Nome. The first Iditarod race to Nome started on March 3, 1973. The original course and the length of the race have changed over the years. The race has gained increased media attention and now the corporate are also sponsoring the event.[30,31]

8. 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]

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

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Denali National Park, Alaska.
Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Denali National Park, Alaska.

10. Alaska is home to the largest remaining population of gray wolves in the United States. Apart from playing a vital role for maintaining a healthy ecosystem, these wolves are an important resource for Alaska’s tourism sector. Visitors from around the globe flock to Alaska to see these wolves in their natural habitat. Alaska is home to an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 wolves. Wolves have never been threatened or endangered in Alaska.[32,33]

11. 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.

Humpback whale jumps out of the water.
Humpback whale jumps out of the water.

12. Did you know that the humpback whales travel 3,100 miles (with little to no rest) during their annual migration? In the North Pacific, humpback whales spend their summer months feeding off the coast of California to Alaska. The population near the coast of Alaska migrates to Hawaii and the population in California migrates to Mexico and Costa Rica. The humpbacks migrate when it is time to breed. Humpbacks are also known for their ability to sing. They produce complex sounds that are similar to a musical piece. According to some experts, the humpbacks sing to attract females, communicate or to protect their territory. Humpbacks usually travel in a group of 2-15 individuals. Mothers usually accompany their babies for a year. Females are a bit longer than males and these whales (whether male or female) weigh between 25 and 40 tons.[34]

13. 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]

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

14. Did you know that wild Alaskan salmon is a powerhouse of nutrition?[20]

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

Alaska's state bird, the willow ptarmigan,
Alaska’s state bird, the willow ptarmigan, in Denali National Park at the beginning of winter in the middle of molting from summer to winter plumage.

16. The Willow Ptarmigan, the state bird of Alaska, has the ability to change its plumage from light brown in summer to snow white in winter. This feature helps the bird save itself from predators. Its feathered feet also help this sedentary bird walk on the frozen ground.[38]

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

18. 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]

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

20. 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.[7]

The Flag of Alaska

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

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

22. 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]

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

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

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

26. 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]

A brown bear emerges from salmon fishing in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
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

27. 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.

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

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

30. 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.[35]

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

32. 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]

33. 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]

34. Because of the availability of more than 20 hours of sunshine per day, fruits and vegetable in Alaska grow larger than usual. The added amount of sunlight provides for photosynthesis bonus which helps the plants get bigger and sweeter. Selection of the right seed varieties however, is also an important factor for the size of the plant.[36]

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

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