83 Interesting Facts About Alaska

Last updated on November 20th, 2023

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

52. 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.

53. The Alaskan moose is the largest species of this animal type in the world. They can grow to a size of 1600 pounds and reach that weight at 10 to 12 years of age.

Humpback whale
Humpback whale jumps out of the water.

54. 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.

Alaska's state bird, the willow ptarmigan, in Denali National Park
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.

55. 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.

56. 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.

57. Southern Alaska is home to one of the fastest-moving underwater tectonic faults in the world.

Great Sitkin Volcano. Alaska fact file for kids
Great Sitkin Volcano from an airplane. Image by – Nathan Coats.

58. 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 ever recorded, a 9.2 magnitude in 1964. This massive Good Friday Earthquake claimed the lives of more than 113 people. Several villages were also levelled during this natural disaster, causing damage in the millions.

59. 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.

60. According to a source, Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming are among the only ten states in the US that has more men than women?

61. Once, it was the primary mode of transport in Alaska; now, dog mushing is the primary sport of the state. It was also adopted as the official State Sport in 1971.

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

62. 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. It was also known as the Great Race of Mercy and The Serum Run. The territory at the time was affected by blizzard conditions which did not allow airplanes to fly and hence the lifesaving 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.

63. The people of Alaska celebrate two state holidays. The first is Seward’s Day (March 23), remembering the treaty, and the other is Alaska Day (October 18), to celebrate when Alaska was transferred to the US.

64. 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.

65. Alaska used to have four time zones, but that changed in 1983. They now have only two time zones, the Alaskan time (followed by 90 percent of Alaskans), and the Hawaiian time.

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

67. 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.

68. 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.

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

Photo of the "Fairbanks 142," aka "The Magic Bus," made infamous by Jon Krakauer's 1996 book "Into the Wild" and Sean Penn's 2007 film of the same name.
Photo of the “Fairbanks 142,” aka “The Magic Bus,” made infamous by Jon Krakauer’s 1996 book “Into the Wild” and Sean Penn’s 2007 film of the same name. Photo courtesy Paxson Woelber, winterbear.com

70. The movie Into the Wild is one of many that was set and filmed in Alaska. It follows the true story of Christopher McCandless.

71. Long before the invention of modern fabrics to keep people warm, Alaskans knew how to do it with gut-skin clothing. Sea mammal intestine clothing was warm and waterproof.

72. Another handy invention from Alaska is the ulu, a cutting tool. It also has a long history and comes more than 5,000 years with many indigenous people from this state.

73. In 1994, students from Kaktovik in Alaska invented the base-20 numeral system. It is known as the Kakatovik Numerals and is used in their native language to address arithmetic problems.

74. Alaskan people invented the kayak for hunting on the sea. It was invented over 5,000 years ago, and because it is light, it can be easily maneuvered on water.

75. The snow goggles known as iggaak by Alaskan natives from Yupik and Inuit were invented in this area many years ago. It was a necessary tool to protect people from snow blindness.

Inukshuk. fact file of Alaska
Inukshuk. Image credit – Quentin Meulepas

76. Piles of stones arranged in certain ways, known as inukshuk were used by the Inuk, natives of Alaska as navigational aids. It was used to help travellers since ancient times.

77. There may not be a written history of the Eskimo yo-yo, or aneruq, but this hunting tool and toy was first used in Yupik, Alaska.

78. 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.

Food facts about Alaska

79. Did you know the popular salad dressing of the US, Ranch dressing, originated in the bushes of Alaska? A contract plumber, Steve Henson from Anchorage, is the one to thank for it.

80. Another favorite dish regularly eaten by Alaskans is Copper River Salmon. The extra fat stored in this meat makes a delicious and highly nutritional cuisine.

81. While salmon is a staple food in Alaska, their heads, or stink heads, are a delicacy. The Yupik people often bury the heads of whitefish for a week until it is ready.

82. A traditional dessert of Alaska is Akutaq, an Alaskan Ice Cream. Eskimo ice cream is made from tallow, cooked fish, and berries added into the mixture.

83. A Chukchi and Eskimo culinary joy from Alaska is muktuk. It is whale blubber with the skin eaten frozen and raw with a unique taste.

About the Flag of Alaska

Flag of Alaska
The flag of Alaska.

1. Design and Symbolism

The flag of Alaska is a dark blue field with eight golden stars. It is an image that locals often see in the night sky. Individuals who have lost their way can always look up and use the stars to find their way home.

Seven of these stars form the Big Dipper, with four forming the bowl and three depicting a curved handle. It is part of a constellation, Ursa Major, Latin for “the greater bear.” Brown bears, black bears, and polar bears are native to Alaska. They are a symbol of strength.

A slightly bigger star shines at the upper right corner of the field. It is Polaris, also called the North Star. It represents the most northern state of Alaska. The star is in the constellation Ursa Minor or “lesser bear.” It shines bright enough for the naked eye. Its stable position makes it vital for navigation.

2. Adoption

The date of adoption is May 2, 1927. Alaska retained the flag after it achieved statehood in 1959. It was the 49th territory to join the Union.

3. Technical Details

The flag uses an unusual proportion of 125:177. The exact colors in 8-bit hex are “0F204B” for the navy blue and “FFB612” for the gold.

4. History

The Russian Empire colonized Alaska in the 1700s but found it expensive to maintain the distant land. They sold it to the US in 1867, paving the way for Alaska to become an organized territory in 1912.

In 1926, Gov. George Parks initiated a flag design contest open to Alaska school children from grades 7 to 12. The contest rules circulated the following year. Over 700 submissions rolled in. A committee chose the design of 13-year-old Benny Benson.

Benson lived in an orphanage at the time. Before going to sleep, he would always look at the familiar constellation in the night sky. His prize was $1,000, a trip to Washington DC, and a watch with an engraved flag emblem. He later became an airplane mechanic.

Today, his name appears in several prominent places in Alaska. These include Mount Benson, Benson Boulevard, Benny Benson Memorial, Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport, and Benny Benson School. The Alaska Plant Materials Center also named a variety of Kodiak wild grass “Benson beach wild rye.”

5. Other Flags

Under Russian occupation, a modified flag with horizontal white, blue, and red bands flew over Alaska. They added the Imperial Eagle later in honor of the czar. The width of the white band increased to improve the symbol’s visibility.

During the early years as an American territory, Alaska did not have a regional flag. They used the US flag in official functions.

6. Flag Facts

The first flag made from the Benson design features a blue silk sheet. The stars are gold-colored patches sewn into the banner using the appliqué method.

The state song is often called “Alaska’s Flag.” However, the official title is “Beyond Your Dreams, Within Your Reach.” The poetic lyrics describe the symbols on the banner. Marie Drake wrote the words, while Elinor Dusenbury composed the melody.

Alaska – quick facts and state symbols

State AbbreviationAK
State CapitalJuneau
List Of 50 U.S. States And Their Capital
Largest CityAnchorage
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 663,267 sq miles; Land Only: 571,951 sq miles
(Estimate July 1, 2022 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
Complete list of 50 states and number of counties in each
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 GovernorNancy Dahlstrom (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 BirdWillow ptarmigan
State FishKing salmon
State FlowerAlpine Forget-me-not
State FossilWoolly Mammoth
State DogAlaskan Malamute
State GemJade
State InsectFour-Spot Skimmer Dragonfly
State Land MammalMoose
State Marine MammalBowhead whale
State MineralGold
Longitude130°W to 172°E
Latitude51°20'N to 71°50'N
Time ZoneAlaska Time Zone, Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone
Area Codes907
Table last updatedApril 27, 2023