President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act into United States law on 7 July 1958 which paved the way for Alaska's admission into the Union.
The name "Alaska" is most likely derived from the Aleut word for "great country" or "mainland." The natives called it "Alyeska", meaning "the great land." It is bordered by the Yukon Territory and British Columbia, Canada to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea to the west, and the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean to the north.
In 1976, the people of Alaska amended the state's constitution, establishing the Alaska Permanent Fund. The fund invests a portion of the state's mineral revenue, including revenue from the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System, 'to benefit all generations of Alaskans.' In June 2003, the fund's value was over $24 billion.
Over the years various vessels have been named USS Alaska, in honor of the state.
During World War II outlying parts of Alaska were occupied by Japanese troops. It was the only part of the United States to have land occupied during the war.
3. Alaska today.
Alaska is the only state that is both in North America and not part of the 48 contiguous states. Alaska is the largest state in the United States in terms of land area, 570,374 square miles (1,477,261 km). If you superimposed a map of Alaska on the Lower 48 states, Alaska would stretch from Minnesota to Texas and from Georgia to California.
One scheme for describing the state's geography is by labeling the regions:
• South Central Alaska is the southern coastal region with towns, cities, and petroleum industrial plants;
• The Alaska Panhandle, also known as Southeast Alaska, is home to towns, tidewater glaciers and extensive forests;
• the Alaska Interior has big rivers, such as the Yukon River and the Kuskokwim River, as well as Arctic tundra lands and shorelines; and
• The Alaskan Bush is the remote, uncrowned part of the state.
Alaska, with its numerous islands, has nearly 34,000 miles (54,700 km) of tidal shoreline. The island chain extending west from the southern tip of Alaska is called the Aleutian Islands. Many active volcanoes are found in the Aleutians.
Alaska is the easternmost state in the Union. The Aleutian Islands actually cross longitude 180°.
Alaska's most populous city is Anchorage, home of 260,284 people, 225,744 of whom live in the urbanized area. It ranks a distant third in the List of U.S. cities by area. Sitka ranks as the America's largest city by area, followed closely by Junea.
Much of Alaska is managed by the federal government as national forests, national parks, and national wildlife refuges. There are places in Alaska that are general public lands (BLM land) but they are arguably more spectacular than many national parks in the Lower 48. Many of Alaska's state parks would be national parks if they were in other states.
Much of Alaska is managed by corporations called ANCSA, or native, corporations, of which there are thirteen regional ones and dozens of local ones.
Alaska has no counties in the sense used in the rest of the country; however, the state is divided into 27 census areas and boroughs. The difference between boroughs and census areas is that boroughs have an organized area-wide government, while census areas are artificial divisions defined by the United States Census Bureau.
Alaska's main agriculture output is seafood, although nursery stock, dairy products, vegetables, and livestock are produced and used internally. Manufacturing is limited, with most foodstuffs and general goods imported from elsewhere. Employment is primarily in government and industries such as natural resource extraction, shipping, and transportation. There is also a small but growing service and tourism sector. Its industrial outputs are crude petroleum, natural gas, coal, gold, precious metals, zinc and other mining, seafood processing, timber and wood products.
Alaska has various transportation options. Some of Alaska is connected by roads (and sometimes a tunnel) to the highways of Canada and of the rest of the United States. These places are "on the road system". Along the Pacific Ocean, many places have freight and passenger service from ocean-going ships. Most places have air service, ranging from jets on tarmac to floatplanes on lakes.
4. The most important dates in the history of Alaska.
- In 1732, a Russian expedition under
surveyor Mikhail Gvozdev sights
the Alaska mainland at Cape Prince
- In 1741, Vitus Bering, on St. Elias Day, sights the Alaskan
mainland. In honour of the saint, the most
prominent peak was named; this was the first point
on the northwest coast named by Europeans.
- In 1741, Vitus Bering died after his ship was wrecked on an
island off the Alaskan coast.
- In 1745, a Russian fur hunter, Mikhail Nevodchikov, reaches
Attu in his search for sea otters.
- In 1778, Captain James Cook entered Prince William Sound.
- In 1778, Captain James Cook entered Cook Inlet.
- In 1778, Captain James Cook turned back south
- In 1786, while charting Lituya Bay, 2 small boats are
swamped by rip tides, and 21 French sailors drown.
- In 1799, the Russian American Company is formed by Royal
Charter; they were given a 20-year monopoly on
trading on the coast from 55 degrees north.
- In 1812, the Russian American Company establishes a post at
Fort Ross, California to grow crops for their Alaska.
- In 1848, the Hudson's Bay Company builds Fort Selkirk, at
the confluence of the Pelly and Yukon Rivers.
- In 1852, Fort Selkirk is destroyed by a group of Tlingits who
objected to the Hudson's Bay Company trying to
break the Tlingit monopoly on trade with the
- In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska for
- In 1867, Alaska's first post office is authorized, to
be opened at Sitka.
- In 1867, official ceremonies at Sitka transferred
Alaska from Russia to the United States.
- In 1868, the Customs Act is amended to include Alaska.
- In 1869, the prediction of a total solar eclipse by American
scientist George Davidson so impressed Kohklux,
chief of the Chilkat Indian village of Klukwan, he
drew him an incredibly detailed map of a vast part
of the interior of the Yukon and Alaska.
- In 1871, of the 41 whaling ships hunting in the Bering Sea,
32 are trapped by early ice; all of the 1,200 people
on the ships escaped, but 31 of the ships were
destroyed the following spring.
- In 1876, twelve whaling ships are trapped by ice near Point
Barrow; 50 men die attempting to reach safety.
- In 1882, George Krause becomes the first white man
allowed to cross the Chilkat Pass to the interior.
- In 1894, a resolution of the Privy Council authorizes the
North-West Mounted Police into the Yukon "in