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Local areas in 48 of the states are known as a County. In only two states is this designation different. In Louisiana, they are known as a Parish. In Alaska, they are known as a Borough. Much of the more densely populated parts of the state are divided into boroughs, which function in a manner similar to counties in other states. However, uniquely, boroughs do not cover the entire land area of the state. The area of Alaska not part of any borough is referred to as the unorganized borough.

For the 1970 Census, the government of Alaska and the U.S. Census Bureau divided the unorganized borough into census areas. However, these areas exist solely for the purposes of statistical analysis and presentation. They have no government of their own. There are services provided by borough governments that are provided directly by the Alaska state government in the unorganized borough.  There are 27 boroughs and census areas in the state.  The largest in population is Anchorage while the largest in size is Yukon-Koyukuk with 157,121 square miles.

Oil, tourism, and fisheries drive the Alaska economy. The oil and gas industry is the largest component, with nearly 85% of the state's budget supplied by oil revenues. Fisheries harvests of over 6 billion pounds annually make Alaska the nation's leader and the industry a major employer in coastal communities. With over 1.1 million visitors each year, tourism-related employment is growing in importance. Alaska also contains nearly half the nation's coal reserves, its largest silver and zinc mines, and major deposits of gold.

Despite the state's frontier image, the population is quite urbanized. Half of all Alaskans live in Anchorage or surrounding areas and nearly three-quarters live in the five "railbelt" boroughs served by the state owned Alaska Railroad.


The name, Alaska, is from the Aleut word, “aláxsxaq" which loosely means "great land."

Alaska was purchased from Russia on 30 March 1867 for 7.2 million dollars by then, secretary of state, William H. Seward.  Many people disagreed with the purchase and labeled it “Seward’s Folly.”  On 3 January 1959, Alaska became the 49th state.  It is the only state that extends into the eastern hemisphere and is 1/5 the size of all the other state all together.  If you put Texas, California and Montana, the three other largest states, together, Alaska would still be bigger than their combined mass.


Highest point: Mt McKinley at 20,320 feet above sea level.  Mt McKinley is also the highest point in North America.  Of the 20 highest peaks in the United States, 17 are in Alaska.

Lowest point: sea level at several points around the state.
Average elevation: 1,900 feet above sea level

Longitude: 130° W to 173° E
Latitude: 54° 40' N to 71° 50' N
Length of state: 1,480 miles (approximate)
Width of state: 810 miles (approximate)

Land area: 571,951 square miles
Water area:  86,051 square miles
Total area:  656,425 square miles
Alaska is approximately 1,480 miles long and 810 miles wide.

The nation’s largest state in size, Alaska is  547 times the size of the state of Rhode Island.  It is more than two times the size of Texas, the largest state in the lower 48.  Its population makes it one of the smallest in numbers.  To achieve the same population as the state of California , there would have to be at least 54 Alaskas!

Alaska is the northernmost, westernmost and, (because the Aleutian chain extends beyond 180 degrees W. Longitude, easternmost state in the union. Its coastline of 6,640 miles is longer than all the rest of the nation's. coastlines.

The Geographic center of the state is 60 miles NW of Mt. McKinley

Climate & Weather:

Alaska has great variations in climate and weather. 
Average high temperature: 71.8 degrees
Average low temperature: -21.6 degrees
Record high temperature: 100 degrees on 27 June 1915 at Fort Yukon
Record low temperature: -80 degrees on 23 January 1971 at Prospect Creek Camp:


2000 - 626,932
2004 – 655,435 (estimate)

persons per square mile: 1.0

For a free official travel guide, write to:
Alaska Vacation Planner, Dept. 160
P.O. Box 196710
Anchorage, Alaska 99519-6710

Alaska Native Tourism Council
1577 "C" Street, Suite 304
Anchorage, Alaska 99501


Several nicknames for Alaska have been coined over the years.  The “Last Frontier” was used after Alaska became a state because of its remote distance from all the other states.  Another nickname has been the “Land of the Midnight Sun.”  This refers to the far northern areas that have sunshine all through the night during the summer months.  In the northernmost area of Barrow, in fact, the sun doesn’t set for 84 days during the apex of summer!  An early nickname for Alaska was “Seward’s Folly” because many people were upset with the high price paid for such a forsaken and far away place.  It took many months before Congress would approve the purchase.  Another nickname from the same period was “Seward’s Ice Box.”  Some opponents of the purchase also coined their own favorites, some of which were, Icebergia, Polaria and Walrussia.



Alaska State Legislature

Alaska Division of Tourism
This page gives you choices of places to look for information, places to contact and even pictures to be downloaded.

Other Travel links for Alaska

The Yukon-Larger than life
Alaska Tour and Travel - TravelAdvise from Alaska Insiders
The Official Anchorage Travel Guide


Government Links page for Alaska
Great page with lots of links for all levels of government in Alaska

Alaska’s Native Cultures

About 16% of the state’s residents are Alaska Natives.  Many still hold to the old traditions and customs as well as their native languages.  The Native population has eleven cultures with twenty different languages.  The Alaska Native Heritage Center has grouped them together into five cultural groupings.  They are:

AthabascanCentral and Interior Regions
Yup'ik and Cup'ikSouthwest Regions
Inupiaq and St. Lawrence Island YupikNorth and Northwest Regions
Aleut and AlutiiqSouth and Southwest Alaska Maritime areas
Evak, Tlingit, Haida and TsimshianSoutheastern Regions from the Copper River Delta to the Southeast Panhandle


Alaska Heritage Tours
1 to 7 day adventures most anywhere in Alaska.
Call toll-free for details: 877-258-6877

Great pictures from all over Alaska by several prominent photographers

Alaska Board of Fish and Game


Alaska’s Marine Highway

Iditarod Dog Race

Tesoro Iron Dog Race

2000 Mile Snow Machine Race
February each year.


Find the weather for anyplace in the USA

Alaska Weather maps

Alaska weather line, call 1-800-4l72-031


This page was created 5 November 1998

This page was last updated on 12 May 2009 at 12:14 pm

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