fun facts about alaska

20 Fun Facts About Alaska That Will Blow Your Mind

Alaska is a stunning place with incredible natural beauty that will amaze you. Alaska, which is located in the far northwest of North America, shares only a border with Canada and is cut off from the 48 contiguous states. Furthermore, Alaska is the largest state in the union, approximately twice the size of Texas. However, it has one of the smallest populations, making it the least densely populated state in the United States. It’s simple to see why a state with such contrasts is so well-known and beloved. Alaska, often known as “the last frontier,” “the land of the midnight sun,” and “Seward’s Icebox,” is a place that will take your breath away with its breathtaking natural scenery and landmarks.

There are numerous things that Alaska is known for, and knowing about them can help you broaden your knowledge, especially if you wish to visit this wonderful state. This remarkable state, which is separated from the rest of the United States by nearly 500 miles of Canadian terrain, has always inspired awe. Therefore, we will reveal some fun facts about Alaska that surely will blow your mind.

1. Alaska Has The Highest Peak In The US and The North America

Do you know what the name of the United States’ highest mountain is? What about the highest peak in North America? Well, those two questions have Mount McKinley as the answer. Mount McKinley, at 20,320 feet, is the highest mountain summit in the United States and North America. It’s part of the Alaska Range, which stretches for 600 miles. The mountain is known as “Denali,” which means “The High One” in the native Athabascan language. It was named after US President William McKinley.

Mount McKinley National Park began as a wildlife sanctuary in 1917. It was expanded and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve in 1980. The park is massive. It is larger than the state of Massachusetts, with over 6 million acres. Caribou, moose, and grizzly bears continue to use the area as a safe haven.

2. Alaska Has More Than 100 Volcanoes 

As Alaska has many mountains, it must have many volcanoes. Within the last two million years, about 130 volcanoes and volcanic fields have been active in Alaska. About 90 of these volcanoes have erupted in the last 10,000 years, while more than 50 have erupted in historical times since about 1760.

Since 1900, Alaskan volcanoes have erupted once or twice. In the last 10,000 years, at least 20 catastrophic caldera-forming eruptions have occurred. The most recent is the 1912 eruption at Novarupta in what is now Katmai National Park and Preserve.

3. Russia Sold Alaska to The US

Alaska is the United States’ 49th state. It was, nevertheless, a part of Russia until 1867. Russia had to sell Alaska to America for a pittance of $7.2 million more than 155 years ago. However, Alaska’s GDP is presently estimated to be around $50 billion. Russia preferred to sell its distant and difficult-to-defend Alaska region to the United States rather than risk losing it in a conflict with a rival like Great Britain.

The American people thought that buying the barren area was worthless. However, when gold was discovered in Nome, Alaska, in 1899, public opinion of the acquisition shifted. Finally, on January 3, 1959, Alaska became the 49th state, and it is currently known for its tremendous natural resources.

4. The Largest Lake In Alaska Named After The Legendary Monster

Lake Iliamna is the largest lake in Alaska. It is located west of Cook Inlet in the Gulf of Alaska, near Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in the north and Katmai National Park and Preserve in the south. After Lake Michigan, it is the second biggest freshwater lake in the United States, measuring 80 miles long and 25 miles wide and covering 1,150 square miles.

The lake was named by the Tanaina Indians because it was thought to be home to a mythological gigantic blackfish that ate holes in canoes. The mythology of the Iliamna Lake Monster is well-known in the communities that surround Lake Iliamna.The alleged monster is estimated to be between 10 and 30 feet tall. Although there is no hard evidence verifying the beast’s existence at this time, there have been several sightings throughout history.

5. The Longest Coastline In The US

Alaska’s spectacular scenery and harsh winters have already earned it a tough reputation. The coast, on the other hand, is one of the most fascinating aspects of this huge state. The tidal shoreline of Alaska is roughly 46,600 kilometers long. That’s longer than the coasts of the other 49 states combined! 

Despite the fact that coasts are difficult to quantify due to tides and weather that reshape the beach, Alaska has by far the largest shoreline due to all of the smaller islands that make up the state, as well as the immensity of the terrain. Florida, at 8,436 miles, has the second-longest coastline in the United States.

6. Top Six Oil Producers In The US

Alaska is the sixth-largest crude oil producer in the United States. Since the Prudhoe Bay oil resource was discovered, Alaska’s North Slope has produced more than 18 billion barrels of oil responsibly. Alaska’s economic expansion has been fueled by oil extraction. In most years, it has supplied up to 90% of the state’s unrestricted General Fund income, accounting for more than $180 billion in total revenue since statehood.

Furthermore, there are still many oil potential areas undiscovered. The undiscovered, conventionally recoverable oil potential in Alaska’s offshore is estimated to be 24 billion barrels. Meanwhile, the Arctic Alaska province, the onshore, produces around 1.5 million barrels per day, accounting for nearly a quarter of total daily oil production in the United States.

7. Alaska Has The Largest Water Area

Alaska, with a total size of 94,743 square miles, is the state with the most water in the US. However, Alaska only has 14,2% freshwater. In fact, Alaska has about 12,000 rivers, 3 million lakes greater than 5 acres, and numerous creeks and ponds, accounting for almost 14% of the state’s total land area.

Alaska has a wealth of natural resources, including ground and surface water of generally good chemical purity for most purposes. Rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and groundwater can all be used as drinking water sources. Groundwater is used by 83% of the state’s public water systems. Cities with dense populations, such as Anchorage, also have distribution networks.

8. Aurora Borealis Can Be Seen in Alaska

Alaska is also famous with its stunning aurora. The northern lights can be seen at any time of day or night, 365 days a year, but you must be in the right spot at the right time to see them. Fairbank is frequently referred to as the best site in Alaska, the United States, and, in many cases, the world to observe the northern lights. In Fairbanks, the aurora borealis can be observed on average 243 days every year. 

Charged electrons and protons collide with the earth’s upper atmosphere, causing the northern lights to appear. Clouds, extreme cold, or a full moon seem to be associated with good aurora forecasts.

9. Alaska Has Most Glaciers In The US

Alaska is home to the majority of the United States’ glaciers, while others can be found in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Nevada. According to the most current complete census, Alaska had over 27,000 glaciers in 2011. In Alaska, the quantity of land covered by glaciers is decreasing.

About 3% of Alaska is covered by glaciers. In Glacier Bay, there are about 50 identified glaciers, as well as two significant arms: East Arm and West Arm. The bulk of park visitors, up to 400,000 per year, arrive by cruise ship to see the beauty of Alaska’s glaciers.

10. The Largest Earthquake In Alaska

Alaska has a lot of seismic activity. In the last five years, the Alaska Earthquake Center has recorded over 150,000 earthquakes, 31 of which had magnitudes of 6 or higher. Alaska has been the site of three of the world’s eight most powerful earthquakes. While these figures may appear alarming, many of these quakes occur in remote places or are so minor that they are rarely felt.

The largest earthquake in Alaska was more than 50 year ago. A M9.2 earthquake struck Alaska’s Prince William Sound at 5:36 p.m. local time on March 27, 1964. This earthquake and tsunami claimed 131 lives and inflicted property damage of $2.3 billion

11. Dog Mushing Is Nation’s Sport And Transportation

Dog mushing is a sport or mode of transportation in Alaska that uses dogs, usually Siberian Huskies, and peaked in popularity in the 1980s. As a sport, a sled and its driver can be pulled at speeds of more than 20 miles per hour by a team of 6 to 8 dogs. Teams normally race against the clock and start at intervals.

Furthermore, dog mushing is a considerably more reliable mode of transportation in Denali National Park than motorized vehicles or snowmobiles, which may not start in the cold. A team of dogs is frequently seen pulling a sled to transport merchandise across a snowy environment. In addition, the dogs can keep the feet of their human rangers warm at night.

12. Alaskan Has The Largest Nation’s Forest

Beside the fact that Alaska has great natural scenery and resources, it also has the largest nation’s forest. The Tongass National Forest is the country’s largest national forest, with 70,000 people living in 32 localities, including Juneau, Alaska’s capital. The Tongass is located in the southeast and has 16.8 million acres.

For more than 10,000 years, Alaska Natives have coexisted with salmon, bears, wolves, eagles, and whales in the Tongass. The Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian are among the first nations. Living off the earth is still a way of life here, both a cultural tradition and a necessity, aided by the region’s wealth of fish and wildlife.

13. The 13 Year Old Alaska’s Flag Designer

Alaska Flag (Source: alaskahistoricalsociety.org)

Prior to statehood, the territories of the United States usually did not have their own flags. Despite this, Alaska held a competition open to all Alaskan children grades 7 – 12 in 1926, sponsored by the American Legion, to choose a unique territorial flag. Benny Benson, a 13-year-old orphanage boy, won the competition and became the designer of the flag. 

He went with simple symbols that appealed to Alaskans of all ages and ethnicities. The midnight blue color of the flag represents the Alaskan sky as well as the numerous forget-me-not flowers that herald the approach of spring. In the Alaskan sky, the stars inscribed on this background can be seen plainly.

14. The Lowest Population Density In The US

Alaska has the largest area in The US, but it doesn’t mean they have a large population. Alaska is 570,373 square miles in area, which is roughly one-fifth the size of the rest of the United States. However, Alaska’s population density is only one person per square mile. That means there will be plenty of space to get out and explore without being surrounded by enormous people.

In fact, the population in Alaska continuously decreased. Between July 2019 and July 2020, Alaska’s population fell by 3,831 persons, or around 0.5 percent. Alaska’s population peaked at 740,637 people in 2016. However, the population had dropped to 728,903 individuals by July 2020. The main reason for the state’s population decline is that more individuals are departing than moving to Alaska. In addition, birth rates are also in the fall.

15. Alaska Has No Income Tax and Sales Tax

Alaska is the only state in the United States without a state sales tax and a personal income tax since the oil and gas industry funds the majority of the state government. Alaska’s economy is dominated by the oil and natural gas industries. Local governments, on the other hand, may levy a sales tax. However, the average rate is only 1.76 percent, which is modest when compared to other states that levy a combined state and local sales tax.

Every eligible Alaskan citizen has also received an annual dividend based on the value of oil royalty revenue in the Alaska Permanent Fund since 1982. Currently, tankers transport nearly four-fifths of the oil produced in Alaska to refineries in Washington and California. Alaska has the third-highest per capita petroleum consumption in the United States, despite having the 11th-lowest total petroleum demand.

16. Total Darkness In Barrow Over 60 Days

What if you get up in the morning and it’s still dark outside? What if it goes on like this for the next two months? Well, you might feel that experience if you live in Barrow, Alaska. The town has various peculiarities as a result of its geographical location.

Life in Utqiagvik, formerly known as Barrow, isn’t what most people imagine when they think of Alaska. Due to its proximity to the North Pole, this small village is often referred to as the “top of the world”. Moreover, the entire town is blanketed in darkness from November through January, a period known as ‘total darkness.’ This is a period when the sun does not break the horizon line, due to the polar night phenomenon, which prevents the sun from reaching this portion of the planet for more than two months.

17. Alaska Has The Lowest Temperature Recorded In The US

You may have wondered how chilly it can get in Alaska when winter approaches and the colder temperatures take grip. A cold snap in the north resulted in the coldest temperature ever recorded in the United States on January 23, 1971. Unsurprisingly, the record was set in icy Alaska, when a thermometer gauge in Prospect Creek, just north of Fairbanks, registered a reading of 80 degrees below zero. Later that day, the high temperature was chilly – 64 degrees. This area experiences some of the most intense weather in the state. 

18. Alaska Gold Rush History

Yukon Gold Rush (Source: www.history.com)

Alaska may used to be unwanted land, but it changed after the gold rush came. The Alaskan gold rush began in 1896-1897, when gold was discovered in Canada’s Yukon Territory’s Klondike. Thousands of prospectors flooded the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, lured by the promise of rapid riches. They demanded products and services. Therefore, many people began looking for gold in Alaska after the best gold fields had been claimed by 1898. 

In 1898, there were major strikes in Nome, and in 1902, near Fairbanks. This was because the majority of these stampeders did not strike it rich. However, a sizable proportion chose to stay in Alaska afterward, which was drastically altering the state’s demographics.

19. Giant Vegetables are Common In Alaska

Alaska has a fairly short growing season, with an average of only 105 days. However, Alaskan crops benefit from up to 20 hours of sunlight every day, which boosts photosynthesis and allows them to create more plant material and grow larger. Because of the additional hours of sunlight, Alaskan crops are able to keep growing and increasing. Brassicas, such as cabbage, do particularly well. In addition, the extra sunlight also enhances the sweetness of the vegetables.

20. Alaska Has Higher Living Cost Than National Average

Living in Alaska is one of the most costly states in the country. The cost of living in most of its cities and towns is consistently higher than the national average. In fact, Alaska’s cost of living was 24.09 percent higher than the national average in January 2021. Despite this, many people dream of migrating to Alaska because of its breathtaking beauty and outdoor adventures.

Because Alaska is large and sparsely populated, it is difficult to go to many places. Moreover, it is far from regions where commodities are created. Furthermore, shipping is also costly, driving up the cost of everything from gasoline to finished consumer items. As a result, everything has become more expensive.

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