Alaska is the largest in the United States of America state by area and the sixth wealthiest. It is a land of superlatives the biggest this, the highest that and all about it is unique with amazing sights. And it has been identified as being the least religious in the U.S along with Washington and Oregon states.
The name “Alaska” is derived from the Aleut alaxsxaq, which means “the mainland” and also known as Alyeska, the “great land”. Alaska is bordered by the Yukon territory and British Columbia, Canada, to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and the Ocean Pacific to the south, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea to the west and the Beaufort Sean and the Ocean Arctic to the north.
The state has more coastline than all the other U.S states and it one of two states not bordered by another state. Canadian territory separates it from Washington State and it is thus an exclave of the United States. The capital city is Juneau that is inaccessible by land – no roads connect it with the rest of North American highway system.
The Alaska panhandle is both the wettest and warmest part. Juneau and the southeast panhandle are a mid-latitude oceanic climate in the southern sections and a subarctic oceanic climate in the northern parts.
In Anchorage and south central Alaska, the climate is mild due to the proximity to the seacoast, it get more snow and also subarctic climate due to its short, cool summers.
The climate of western Alaska is determined by the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska with a subarctic oceanic climate and amount of variety precipitation. However a good example of a true subarctic climate is the interior of Alaska, and some of the hottest and coldest temperatures occur near Fairbanks. In the extreme north, the climate is Arctic with long, very cold winters and short, cool summers.
In 1741 occurred the first European contact with Alaska, when Vitus Bering led an expedition for the Russian Navy aboard the St. Peter. The crew returned to Russian with sea otter pelts judged to be the finest fur in the world and therefore small associations of fur traders began to sail from the shores of Siberia towards the Aleutian Islands.
In 1784 the first permanent European settlement was founded and the Russian-American Company carried out an expanded colonization program during the early to mid-1800s. Despite these efforts, never the colony was very profitable.
In 1867, William H. Seward, the U.S secretary of State, engineered the Alaskan purchase for $7.2 million about 5 cents per hectare. The land went through several administrative changes before becoming an organized territory in 1912 and the 49th state of the U.S in 1959. Gold rush in Alaska and the Yukon Territory brought thousands of miners and settlers to Alaska in 1890.
During World War II, between 1942 and 1943, three outer Aleutian Islands – Attu, Agattu and Kiska were invaded by Japanese troops. After, the construction of military bases contributed to the population growth of some Alaskan cities.
The discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay in 1968 and the posterior completion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline led to and oil boom in 1977. But in 1989, the oil tanker –Exxon Valdez hit a reef in the Prince William Sound, spilling between 11 and 35 million US gallons of crude oil. Today, the philosophies of development and conservation are in a battle over oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Alaska has few road connections; the state’s road system covers a relatively small area of the state, linking the central population centers and the Alaska Highway which is the principal route out of the state through Canada with one unique feature, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel that provide a paved roadway link with the isolated community of Whittier. Juneau is not accessible by road only a car ferry and Alaska’s western part has no road system.
The Alaska Railroad played a key role in its development through the 20th century. It was one of the last railroads in use cabooses in regular service and still uses them. Until the construction of the Parks highway, it provided the only land access to most of the region along its entire route. The White Pass and Yukon Railroad is mainly used by tourists who arrive by cruise liner at Skagway.
The Alaska Marine Highway serves the cities of Southeast, the Gulf Coast and the Alaska Peninsula. Along with it, the Inter-Island Ferry Authority link many communities in the Princes of Wales Island.
Air travel is the cheapest and most efficient form of transportation in and out of the state. Recently Anchorage completed an extensive remodelling and construction at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to help tourism increasing.
The dogsled is another Alaskan transportation method. Varios races are held around the state and The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is the best know and commemorates the famous 1925 serum run to Nome when all other means of transportation had failed, in which mushers and dogs like Togo and Balto took much-needed medicine to the diphtheria-stricken community of Nome.
In areas not served by road or rail, the all terrain vehicle is the primary transportation in summer and the snowmobile is used during winter like is commonly referred to in Alaska.