State Facts

Statehood: January 3, 1959

Rank: 49th

Nickname: Land of the Midnight Sun

Bird - Willow Ptarmigan

Flag - Google Image Search     Save a picture of the state flag in your home directory

Flower - Forget-Me-Not

Song - "Alaska's Flag" click here to view lyrics and hear state song

Tree - Sitka Spruce

Map - Google Image Search     Save a map of the state in your home directory

Motto - North To the Future


Alaska is by far the largest state in land area. Alaska borders Canada’s Yukon and British Columbia to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Bering Sea to the west, and the Gulf of Alaska to the southwest. The coastline is the longest in the U.S., winding jaggedly over 33,000 miles if you include the islands. If you measure the coastline as a simple, straight line, it is still over 6600 miles long.

The landforms of Alaska are vast and varied. The long “Alaskan Peninsula” of volcanic islands known as the Aleutians, stretches far out into the Bering Sea to the west. The flat, treeless arctic tundra far above the Arctic Circle forms the “north slope” near Barrow. There are thirty-nine mountain ranges. Included in the Alaska Range is the highest mountain in North America:Mount McKinley, standing 20,320 feet.

Alaska also has approximately 100,000 glaciers of all sizes, with ice covering 5% of the state. Alaska has more glaciers than anywhere else in the inhabited world.
The southeastern portion of the state extends down the west coast of Canada and includes rainforests. This section, including the capital, Juneau, can only be reached by boat or plane from the rest of Alaska. There are no roads for through travel to the southeast section.

Alaska’s rivers and waterways include the Yukon, third longest river in the US.

Alaska is known for its volcanic activity and related earthquakes. There are more than 70 active or potentially active volcanoes in Alaska.

Map - Google Image Search     Save a map of the state in your home directory

Land Area: 571,951 square miles - ranked 1st in total area

Number of counties: 27 - they are called boroughs



Today, much of the money used to run the state of Alaska comes from the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. When oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay in 1968, it was not the first found in Alaska, but the quantity was large enough, and the demand for oil was high enough, to be worth building the pipeline, a project that took from 1974 to 1977. Construction of the pipeline brought many new people to Alaska. The workers were paid very well and given housing and food. Many more men than women came. Many of these new Alaskans decided to stay even after the pipeline was complete, having fallen in love with the natural beauty and outdoor recreation available.

In order for all Alaskans to share in the wealth from the pipeline, an agreement was reached at the construction of the pipeline to set up a “Permanent Fund” for all Alaskan residents to receive a share of the pipeline profits each year. Alaska’s teenagers who save wisely can use this money to fund their college education.

Alaska’s rich natural resources, including silver, gold, copper, natural gas, and endless acres of clean wilderness, encourage people to continue exploring ways to turn these resources into income.

The tourism (travel for fun, leisure or business purposes) industry, mostly during the summer months, brings more and more people to experience Alaska every year. It has become a very popular vacation spot.

One unusual part of Alaska’s economy is the number of residents who live by “subsistence,”(by hunting, fishing, and finding their own food in “the bush” - the vast, rural portions of the state). Outside of the city of Anchorage, as many as 85% of people’s food comes from subsistence. Many of the native villages have lived this way for centuries.

Alaska’s fishing and hunting is a rich resource. Farming, however, is trickier in this cold climate. Cold weather crops, such as potatoes and carrots do very well in the very long summer days and grow to be very large. Wheat, however, cannot grow in the short season. As a result, Alaska imports many kinds of food, including dairy products and produce, much of it from the western part of the U.S. and Canada.

Transportation is a major challenge in Alaska and has a great effect on the economy. Very large areas of the state have no roads connecting them to other places. There are more pilots per capita in Alaska than anywhere else, since the seaplane (and planes with skis) provide the only way to move supplies to much of interior Alaska. Since the snowmobile (or snow machine) replaced the dog sled, people often use this as a primary means of travel in winter, moving up and down long frozen rivers covered with snow. Winter also allows engineers to pave “ice roads” by freezing large amounts of water on the tundra to bring in large equipment for constructing drilling platforms or other larger industrial complexes. When the ice road melts, there is no sign of the intrusion by trucks.

In may places, Alaska’s frozen rivers are the only “highways” to transport large, heavy items that cannot be flown in, such as a new car or refrigerator or lumber for construction. Yes, people may still use cars in the road within their villages, but they keep a supply of “spare parts” (old wrecks) handy since it is not possible to go to the local Ford dealer for a repair in the bush. A warm winter such as 2003 can make interior transportation impossible, since the ice is not thick enough to support trucks traveling upriver.

The Internet has changed Alaska. Every village has at least a satellite link to the Internet at the local school that is kept open for residents to use after school. Children of Alaska benefit from online learning opportunities, and the “closeness” of email and online shopping have connected the bush much more than in the past.


Population/Cities/State Capital


Population: 663,661people

3 Largest Cities: Anchorage 275,043 people
Click on city name to learn more   Fairbanks 31,324 people
                                       Juneau 30,987 people


Capital City:

Juneau is Alaska's state capital. Juneau is a trade center for the Panhandle area, with an ice-free harbor and an airport. The state and federal governments are the major employers in the city of Juneau. Salmon and halibut fishing, mining, and tourism are also important economic activities in this city.

Joseph Juneau and a partner discovered gold nearby in 1880, and the city developed as a gold rush town. It was officially designated as capital of the Territory of Alaska in 1900 but did not function as such until the government offices were moved from Sitka in 1906. In 1959, it became state capital with the admission of Alaska to the Union.

Juneau lies at the foot of two spectacular mountain peaks, Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts. The huge boxlike Federal Building dominates the skyline.



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