Alaska USA


The Land
The Great Land, The Last Frontier, Land of the Midnight Sun; once called Seward’s Folly and Seward’s Icebox, Alaska takes it name from a Aleut word meaning 'great land' or 'that which the sea breaks against'.Alaska is located in the Northwest of North America; the northernmost and westernmost state and is bordered by the Canada's Yukon Territory and British Columbia (east). The Gulf of Alaska and Pacific Ocean (south), Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea (west), and Beaufort Sea and Arctic Ocean (north) surround the remaining land mass.
At 656,424 square miles Alaska is the largest state. The highest elevation is Denali (Mt. McKinley) 20,320 feet. The lowest elevation is sea level.Alaskan weather is greatly influenced by extremes in daylight. At Barrow, on the Arctic Coast, the sun is not seen from late November until late January. In summer, when Alaska is 'the land of the midnight sun', Barrow residents enjoy continuous daylight from early May to early August. The state’s highest temperature was recorded north of the Arctic Circle, in Yukon Flats, where standing water slowly cooks during the long summer days. The record lowest temperature, taken at Prospect Creek, is the lowest in the United States but not in North America.The highest temperature recorded was 90° while the lowest temperature on record in the United States, -79.8 degrees was observed at Prospect Creek Camp in the Endicott Mountains of northern Alaska on Jan. 23, 1971.National Parks & Monuments include the Bering Land Bridge, Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, Noatak , Wrangell-St. Elias, Yukon-Charley Rivers, Admiralty Island, Aniakchak, Cape Krusenstern, Misty Fjords.
The History
In 1725 Peter the Great sent Vitus Bering to explore the North Pacific and in 1728 his ship sailed through the Bering Strait. By 1741, first the Europeans, Vitus Bering, a Dane working for the Russians, and Alexei Chirikov discovered the Alaskan mainland.Spanish explorer Juan Perez discovers Prince of Wales Island in Dixon Sound in 1774 and between 1776 and 1778 Captain James Cook (Britain) reaches King Island, Norton Sound, Unalaska. From 1784 through 1799, Russia establishes settlements at Three Saints Bay, Kodiak. Catherine II grants a monopoly of fur trade in Alaska to Grigorii Shelikov and a trade post is built at Old Sitka, Three years later, Indians massacre Russians at Old Sitka; only a few survive.By 1804 Russians return to Sitka and attacked the Kiksadi fort on Indian River. Russians lose the battle, but the Natives were forced to flee. A Russian Orthodox diocese was formed in 1840 and Bishop Innokenty Venianminov given permission to use Native languages in the liturgy. By 1847, Fort Yukon was established.In 1853 Russian fur trappers had found oil seeps in the Cook Inlet and Coal mining began in 1857 at Coal Harbor on the Kenai Peninsula. The sale of Alaska to the U.S. by Russia begins in 1859, two years later Gold is discovered on the Stikine River near Telegraph Creek (the Gold rush is still many years away).The Land Purchase to the U.S. Sale ($7,200,000) is finalized in 1867.Gold discovered in 1872 near Sitka and in British Columbia (Cassiar) and again in 1876 south of Juneau at Windham Bay, Gastineau Channel (1880) and Mastadon Creek (1894).Dawson City is founded in 1896 at mouth of Klondike River. Skookum Jim, a Tagish Native, first discovers gold in Rabbit Creek and another major gold discovery is unearthed at Bonanza Creek.The next three year (1897-1900) sees the great Klondike Gold Rush.By 1914, surveying begins for the Alaska Railroad, City of Anchorage is born as a construction campsite. Fort Richardson is established in 1940; construction begins on Elmendorf Air Force Base, two years later Japan bombs Dutch harbor and invades the Aleutians. Oil well drilled in 1953 near Eureka on Glenn Highway marks the beginning of Alaska's modern oil history.Natural and man-made disasters plagued Alaska through most of the 1960's and 70's starting with the devastating Good Friday Earthquake in 1964 then the Fairbanks Flood in 1967. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline completed from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez in 1977, eleven years later (1989) The Exxon Valdez, a 987-foot oil tanker carrying 53 million gallons of North Slope crude, grounds on Bligh Reef spilling 11 million gallons into Prince William Sound.The Alaskan Territory became the 49th State to Unite under America on January 3, 1959.
The People
The first Europeans visited Alaska in search of furs and whales and built few communities. The gold rush of 1898 swelled Alaska’s population by about 30,000, and later gold rushes drew more people. More people arrived during World War II, when military bases were constructed and Alaska was linked to the Lower 48 states by the Alcan Highway. The construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1975-1977 boosted the economy, and the population increased by 37.3% between 1980 and 1990.Today, there are five distinct Native groups in Alaska: The Northwest Coast Indian, Inupiaqs, Yupiks, Aleuts and Athabascan. Native peoples remain strong in Alaska. In 1992, Natives comprised 16 percent of the state’s population. The 1997 census put Alaska's population at 609,311. The State Capital is Juneau. other major cities or towns include Anchorage, Fairbanks, Sitka, Ketchikan, Kenai, Kodiak, Bethel, Wasilla, and Homer.