51 Alaska Facts That Are Interesting

Last updated on September 24th, 2022

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
Population
731,545
(Estimate July 1, 2019 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
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 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
Websitewww.alaska.gov
Area Codes907
Table last updatedDecember 20, 2021