Alaska, largest in area of the United States but third smallest (exceeding only Vermont and Wyoming) in population, occupying the northwest extremity of the North American continent, separated from the coterminous United States by W. Canada. It is bordered by Yukon Territory and British Columbia (E), the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean (S), the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea (W), and the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean (N).
History of Alaska
The survivors of the disastrous voyage of Vitus Bering and Aleksey Chirikov in 1741, who returned with sea otter skins started a rush of fur hunters to the Aleutian Islands. The first permanent settlement in Alaska was founded in 1784 on Kodiak Island. A monopoly was granted to the Russian American Company in 1799. Rivalry for the northwest coast was strong, and British and American trading vessels began to threaten the Russian monopoly. Russian interests in Alaska gradually declined, and after the Crimean War, Russia sought to dispose of the territory altogether. In 1867, Russia sold Alaska to the United States for $7,200,000.
It was not until after the discovery of gold in the Juneau region in 1880 that Alaska was given a governor and a local administration. Juneau officially replaced Sitka as capital in 1900. In 1906, Alaska was finally awarded a territorial representative in Congress. A new era began for Alaska when local government was established in 1912 and it became a U.S. territory. In 1958, Alaskans approved statehood by a 5 to 1 vote, and on January 3, 1959, Alaska was officially admitted into the Union as a state.
Economy of Alaska
Alaska leads the nation in the value of its commercial fishing catch - chiefly salmon, crab, shrimp, halibut, herring, and cod. Anchorage and Dutch Harbor are major fishing ports. Freezing and canning of fish dominates the food-processing industry. Lumbering and related industries flourish despite ongoing logging disputes.
In 1968 vast reserves of oil and natural gas were discovered on the Alaska North Slope near Prudhoe Bay. The petroleum reservoir was twice the size of any other field in North America. The 800-mile Trans-Alaska pipeline from the North Slope to the ice-free port of Valdez opened in 1977 and oil began to dominate the state economy. The Alaska Permanent Fund, created in 1977, receives 25% of Alaska's oil royalty income. The fund is designed to provide the state with income after the oil reserves are depleted.
With its abundance of wilderness, Alaska is promoting adventure tourism in a big way. Today, travel and tourism is Alaska's fastest-growing industry. Tourism is Alaska's second largest private-sector employer.
Places To Go
Region-wise, Alaska is divided into 5 - Inside passage, Interior, Southwest, South Central, and Far North.
Inside passage The spectacular topography is the result of tremendous force of huge glaciers. This is the habitat for bald eagles, sea lions, porpoises and whales. Inside Passage is home to Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Indians, and their history is reflected in towering totem poles. The onion-domed churches here are a Russian legacy.
Interior Mt. McKinley, the continent's tallest peak can be seen here. The tundra forests of Denali National Park are a wildlife adventurer's paradise, teeming with grizzly and caribou. Midnight sun and northern lights can be experienced here. This is the home of Alaska’s Athabascan Indians. Alaska Highway, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks are part of Interior Alaska.
Southwest A naturalist's paradise. Brown bears and over 240 species of birds abound the hills and plains of Southwest Alaska. The terrain ranges from volcanoes in Katmai National Park to the windswept Aleutian Islands that make a 1,000-mile sweep toward Asia.
Southcentral More than half of Alaska's population resides here. It offers a range of activities from fishing to hiking and wildlife viewing. It has the advantage of wilderness linked by roads.
Far North Legend has it that many pilots give the plane a slight “bump” letting passengers know they’ve crossed the Arctic circle. Here the Inupiat Eskimos preserve their way of life and they have a rich tradition of oral history. This region includes the Arctic Coast, Brooks Range and Western Arctic.
Popular Destinations in Alaska
|Anchorage ||Denali National Park ||Fairbanks ||Girdwood ||Homer
|Juneau ||Sitka ||Kenai ||Ketchikan ||Seward
|Skagway ||Katmai National Park & Preserve
Things To Do
Adventure ActivitiesAlaska is a treasure trove of adventure activities that include Sea Kayaking, Ice Climbing, Glacier Trekking, Backpacking, Whitewater Rafting, Fly-in Adventures, Fishing and much more...... Read more »
Nature / Wildlife ViewingAlaska has 47 State and National Parks that offer great viewing opportunities for beautiful scenery and wildlife ...... Read more »
Hike and Bike TrailsParks and trails in Alaska are obviously numerous given the rugged terrain and varied topography. Here we have listed some of the best-rated ones in each region and have given links to sites dedicated to hiking trails in these regions ...... Read more »
Historical and Cultural AttractionsHistorical and Cultural attractions in Alaska include Alaska Native Heritage Center at Anchorage, Anchorage Museum of History and Art Moose's Tooth Pub and Pizzeria, Glacier BrewHouse and Imaginarium ...... Read more »
Road Trip and Cruises in AlaskaMany of Alaska's roads are remarkable for their scenic, natural, historical and cultural significance. Driving in Alaska is a great way to get out and explore the spectacular scenery and view the wildlife ..... Read more »