Introduction - Alaska FactsAlaska is a rather isolated U.S. state, jutting out of the extreme northwest portion of North America and bordering no other U.S. states. That is why it is called a non-contiguous state. Because it is a place where population is low and the amount of unchartered territory is high, it has earned the nickname, "The Last Frontier". The incredible scenic beauty and diverse wildlife are what draws tourists from across the globe. Visitors who come when summer is at its peak are treated to 18 to 21 hours of daylight to enjoy all the beauty Alaska has to offer. To discover more facts and information about Alaska, read the interesting and historical facts below, listed in a kid-friendly format. For a list of general facts about Alaska; such as how large it is, what the population is and when it became a U.S. state go to the "State of Alaska Quick Facts" section at US Non-Contiguous State Facts.
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Alaska Interesting Facts
- Alaska is by far the largest state in the U.S.; it is more than twice the size of Texas. The smallest state in the U.S., Rhode Island, could fit into Alaska about 425 times.
- The states massive size combined with harsh living conditions accounts for its being the state with the lowest population density in the entire U.S.
- The north, west and south sides of Alaska all border the ocean. This state's coastline stretches over 6,600 miles which is longer than the total coastline length of all 48 contiguous U.S. states combined.
- Alaska accounts for approximately 25 percent of U.S. total oil production.
- The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which began in 1973, is an annual race from Anchorage to Nome. It covers 1,150 miles of some of the toughest conditions on earth. Mushers and their dogs race through sub-zero temperatures, high winds, and blizzards in an attempt to finish with the fastest time.
- Tongass, the largest national forest in the United States, is located in the southeastern Alaska panhandle.
- At 20,310 feet (6,191 meters) above sea level Mount Denali (formerly named Mount McKinley), in Alaska, is the highest point in North America. In fact 17 of the highest peaks in the U.S. are in Alaska.
- The home to one of North America's largest population of grizzly bears and highest density of brown bears is Admiralty Island in Alaska.
Alaska Historical Facts
- Eskimos, also known as Inuit, are the indigenous peoples of Alaska.
- In 1741 the Danish explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering became the first European to sight what today is Alaska.
- In 1784 Russian fur traders and whalers established the first settlement in Alaska on Kodiak Island.
- On October 18th of 1867 the U.S. purchased the land from Russia that almost hundred years later would become the 49th U.S. state, Alaska. The purchase seemed foolish too many Americans and was dubbed "Seward's Folly", named for the then U.S. Secretary of State.
- In 1898 gold was discovered in the future state and a gold rush began.
- The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote, was ratified on August 18, 1920. Women living in Alaska were granted the right to vote in 1913.
- The first civil-rights law in the U.S. was Alaska's anti-discrimination Act. When it was adopted in 1945, it guaranteed equal accommodations in public places for everyone. Although the law did not do away with these injustices, it did hold offenders to the law accountable for their actions.
- A massive earthquake measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale struck Alaska on March 27, 1964. The after effects included tsunamis, landslides, ground fissures and avalanches. Property damage was well over $100 million U.S. dollars.
- On March 24th of 1989 the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska spilling 10.9 million gallons of oil along the Alaskan coast. It was the worst oil spill in American history up until that time.