Alaska Facts and Trivia

  1. Outsiders first discovered Alaska in 1741 when Danish explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering sighted it on a voyage from Siberia.
  2. Russian whalers and fur traders on Kodiak Island established the first settlement in Alaska in 1784.
  3. In 1867 United States Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska.
  4. On October 18, 1867 Alaska officially became the property of the United States. Many Americans called the purchase "Seward's Folly."
  5. Joe Juneau's 1880 discovery of gold ushered in the gold rush era.
  6. In 1943 Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands, which started the One Thousand Mile War, the first battle fought on American soil since the Civil War.
  7. Alaska officially became the 49th state on January 3, 1959.
  8. Alaska's most important revenue source is the oil and natural gas industry.
  9. Alaska accounts for 25% of the oil produced in the United States.
  10. The state of Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times.
  11. Prudhoe Bay, on the northern Alaskan coast, is North America's largest oil field.
  12. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline moves up to 88,000 barrels of oil per hour on its 800 mile journey to Valdez.
  13. The fishing and seafood industry is the state's largest private industry employer.
  14. Most of America's salmon, crab, halibut, and herring come from Alaska.
  15. The term Alaska native refers to Alaska's original inhabitants including Aleut, Eskimo and Indian groups.
  16. The wild forget-me-not is the official state flower. The Territorial Legislature adopted it in 1917.
  17. The willow ptarmigan is the official state bird. The Territorial Legislature adopted it in 1955.
  18. The Sitka spruce is the official state tree. The Territorial Legislature adopted it in 1962.
  19. Dog mushing is the official state sport. The Alaska Legislature adopted it in 1972.
  20. An unnamed draftsman created the state seal in 1910. It consists of a rising sun shining on forests, lake, fishing and shipping boats, and agricultural and mining activities.
  21. The state motto is North to the Future.
  22. The jade is the official state gemstone.
  23. Gold is the official state mineral. It was named the state mineral in 1968.
  24. The four-spot skimmer dragonfly is the official state insect.
  25. In 1926 13-year-old Bennie Benson from Cognac, Alaska designed the state flag.
  26. Alaska has been called America's Last Frontier.
  27. Every four years Alaskans elect a Governor and a Lieutenant Governor to four-year terms.
  28. The Alaska State Legislature is made up of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
  29. Twenty senators are elected to four-year terms; forty representatives serve two-year terms.
  30. Alaska's Constitution was adopted in 1956 and became effective in 1959 making it the 49th state.
  31. Nearly one-third of Alaska lies within the Arctic Circle.
  32. The Alaska Highway was originally built as a military supply road during World War II.
  33. The state boasts the lowest population density in the nation.
  34. The discovery of gold in the Yukon began a gold rush in 1898. Later gold was discovered at Nome and Fairbanks.
  35. Alaska is a geographical marvel. When a scale map of Alaska is superimposed on a map of the 48 lower states, Alaska extends from coast to coast.
  36. The state's coastline extends over 6,600 miles.
  37. Alaska is the United State's largest state and is over twice the size of Texas. Measuring from north to south the state is approximately 1,400 miles long and measuring from east to west it is 2,700 miles wide.
  38. Agattu, Attu, and Kiska are the only parts of North America occupied by Japanese troops during World War II.
  39. Oil is the state's most valuable natural resource. The area includes what is thought to be the largest oil field in North America.
  40. In 1986 Mount Augustine erupted near Anchorage.
  41. Alaska's geographic center is 60 miles northwest of Mount McKinley.
  42. The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States.
  43. 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the United States are located in Alaska.
  44. At 20,320 feet above sea level, Mt. McKinley, located in Alaska's interior, is the highest point in North America.
  45. The state's largest city is Anchorage; the second largest is Fairbanks.
  46. The Alaska Range is the largest mountain chain in the state. It covers from the Alaska Peninsula to the Yukon Territory.
  47. In 1915 the record high temperature in Alaska was 100 degrees Fahrenheit at Fort Yukon; the record low temperature was -80 degrees Fahrenheit at Prospect Creek Camp in 1971.
  48. The Alaskan malamute sled dog is strong and heavily coated. It was developed as a breed by a group of Eskimos named the Malemiuts.
  49. Alaska's name is based on the Eskimo word Alakshak meaning great lands or peninsula.

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