15 Amazing Facts about Alaska
Alaska, located in the northwest corner of the United States, is known for its breathtaking scenery, vast wilderness, and abundant wildlife. It stands as the largest state in the U.S. by area, offering a rich blend of cultures and natural wonders. Attractions like the majestic mountains of Denali National Park and Preserve, Glacier Bay National Park’s stunning glaciers, and the vibrant coastal cities of Juneau and Ketchikan, make Alaska a destination for adventure, relaxation, and unique experiences.
Here are 15 amazing facts about Alaska:
- Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas, making it the largest state in the United States with a vast area of over 663,000 square miles. By comparison, Texas stretches over just over 268,000 square miles. Impressively, Alaska’s size exceeds the combined area of 22 U.S. states.
- Alaska is home to 17 of the United States’ 20 highest peaks. The highest peak in Alaska is Mount Denali, which stands at an elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level. This makes it the highest peak in the United States, and the third highest peak in North America after Mount Logan and Mount Saint Elias.
- Alaska is the most seismically active state in the U.S., experiencing more earthquakes than the rest of the country combined. Its location in a high seismic activity zone leads to frequent, often strong earthquakes. Notable examples include the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake, with a magnitude of 9.2, and the 2002 Denali earthquake, at 7.9 magnitude.
- Alaska is the most northern, western and eastern state in the U.S. It is located in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Alaska’s unique location often earns it the nicknames “The Last Frontier” or “The Land of the Midnight Sun.”
- Alaska once spanned four different time zones, reflecting the state’s massive size and the variations in local time across its expanse. However, in 1983, these were consolidated into just two time zones – Alaska Time and Hawaii-Aleutian Time. This change aimed to simplify the state’s timekeeping system and promote consistency throughout Alaska.
- Alaska has the longest coastline of any state in the United States. Its coastline stretches over 6,600 miles. This is more than twice the length of the coastline of the next longest state, Florida, which has a coastline of around 2,000 miles. Alaska’s long coastline is due in part to its many islands and its location along the northwest coast of North America.
- Alaska is the only state in the United States that has coastlines on three different seas. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south and southwest, and the Bering Sea and the Bering Strait to the west. This unique geography has made Alaska an important state for trade and transportation, as well as a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
- Alaska is home to the longest day of the year. This is because it is located in the northern hemisphere, which experiences longer days during the summer months due to its higher axial tilt relative to the sun. In particular, the city of Barrow, Alaska, located at the northernmost point of the state, experiences the longest day of the year, with the sun remaining above the horizon for about 84 consecutive hours. This is because it is located near the Arctic Circle, which is the line of latitude that marks the southernmost extent of the polar day (24-hour sunlit day) in the summer. In the summer, the sun does not set for several weeks in parts of Alaska north of the Arctic Circle, resulting in extremely long days.
- Alaska’s flag was designed by a thirteen-year-old boy named Benny Benson. The design was part of a contest held by the Alaska Department of the American Legion in 1926. The contest was open to all residents of Alaska, regardless of age, and the winning design was chosen by a panel of judges.
- Alaska is the only state to have been purchased from another country. In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, or approximately two cents per acre. This purchase, known as the Alaska Purchase, expanded the United States by nearly 600,000 square miles and added a wealth of natural resources to the country. The purchase was nicknamed ‘Seward’s Folly’. The name was a play on the name of William H. Seward, the United States Secretary of State at the time, who was instrumental in negotiating the purchase. Some people at the time considered the purchase to be a waste of money and a foolish decision, hence the nickname “Seward’s Folly.” However, the purchase turned out to be a good deal for the United States, as Alaska proved to be a valuable source of natural resources and played a strategic role in the country’s defense.
- Alaska is home to nearly half of the United States’ bald eagle population. The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States and it is known for its distinctive white head and brown body. It is estimated that there are around 70,000 bald eagles in the United States, and of those, more than 30,000 live in Alaska. This is due in part to the abundant supply of fish in Alaska’s waters, which provide a major food source for the eagles. Additionally, the state’s harsh winters and rugged terrain also provide the eagles with ample nesting opportunities.
- Alaska has more active volcanoes than any other U.S. state. Alaska is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” which is a region of intense seismic and volcanic activity. The state has over 100 active volcanoes, the most of any state in the country. These volcanoes are found mostly in the Aleutian Islands, a chain of islands that stretch westward from the Alaska mainland toward Russia. The most active volcano in Alaska is Mount Redoubt, which has erupted several times in recent years.
- Alaska is home to the largest national park in the United States. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve spans over 13 million acres, making it roughly the size of Switzerland and larger than Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Belgium combined. Known for its rugged, mountainous terrain, the park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including bears, moose, and caribou.
- Alaska has the lowest population density of any U.S. state, with 1.2 people per square mile. As of the 2010 Census, Alaska had a population of about 710,000 people spread out over an area of more than 600,000 square miles, giving it a population density of about 1.2 people per square mile. This is much lower than the population density of most other U.S. states, which tend to be more densely populated. The state with the second-lowest population density is Montana, which has a population density of about 7 people per square mile.
- The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, can be seen in Alaska more than 200 nights out of the year. It is possible to see the northern lights in Alaska on clear nights from September through April. The best time to see the northern lights in Alaska is during the peak of the aurora season, which typically occurs in the months of February and March. The frequency of auroral displays can vary greatly from year to year, but in general, the northern lights are visible in Alaska several times per week during the aurora season.
Explore these and other fascinating aspects of Alaska, and feel free to share any additional interesting facts about this unique state in the comments below!