Alaska Is the Largest US State
One of the most impressive Alaska facts concerns its incredible size. Alaska is officially the largest state, with a total area of over 663,000 square miles. The next largest state, Texas, is only half the size of Alaska. If the state of Alaska was a country, it would be the 19th largest in the entire world. Not only is it the largest in terms of area, but Alaska also has the longest coastline of any state. In fact, its coastline is longer than the total coastlines of the other 49 states combined!
Alaska Has the Lowest Population Density
If you prefer a solitary life and lots of open space, Alaska may be the perfect place for you. Despite its massive size, Alaska has one of the smallest populations in the United States. These two Alaska facts mean that Alaskans have much more space to themselves. The population density in Alaska is only 1.26 people per square mile. That means each person has almost a square mile all to him- or herself. To put it into perspective, if Manhattan had the same population density as Alaska, there would be only 28 people living there, instead of the current population of 1.6 million.
There Is a Movement That Calls for the Separation of Alaska
Geographically speaking, Alaska is quite a long way from the rest of the country. Some Alaskan citizens feel that the state deserves to be an independent nation. The Alaskan Independence Party is a political party that represents this movement.
The party was originally founded with the goal of obtaining the right to vote on statehood for Alaskan citizens. The party founders believe that the citizens never had a fair chance to vote and choose among statehood, commonwealth status, or complete secession from the rest of the country. Over time, the party has grown to be the third largest in the state and has over 13,000 registered members as of 2009.
Alaska Was Once Priced at Two Cents per Acre
When thinking about Alaska facts, you might already be aware that the state was bought by the United States from Russia. In 1867, United States Secretary of State William Seward agreed to purchase Alaska from Russia at a price of $7.2 million. This worked out to be about two cents per acre of land. After the purchase, the state was loosely under the control of the military. In 1884, it was first assigned a governor, and became a district. For almost 10 years after the purchase, Sitka was the only Alaskan town to be occupied by American settlers.
Alaska Has 20 Official Languages Aside From English
There are many Alaska facts relating to the rich indigenous culture of the state. Aside from English, Alaska has 20 indigenous languages, often called “native languages” by locals. In 2014, Alaska became the second US state to recognize indigenous languages as official languages. This is an effort to preserve these languages and prevent them from becoming extinct. Currently, only 5.2% of the Alaskan population speak one of the indigenous languages. In 2008, one of the languages – called Eyak – became extinct when its last fluent speaker, Marie Smith, passed away.
80% of the State’s Revenues Derive from Petroleum Extraction
If there is one thing you need to know about Alaska facts, it has to be the state’s dominant industry, which is oil and gas. Alaska has massive energy resources. Unfortunately, its oil reserves have mostly been depleted. Alaska went from being the state with the largest crude oil production to the fourth one in 2014, after Texas, North Dakota and California. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline still holds the national record, however, with 2.1 million barrels of oil pumping through it every day, more than any other pipeline in the country.
The Cost of Goods Is More Expensive Here than in the Other 48 Contiguous States
There are many Alaska facts that explain the expensive price of most goods in the state. These include the remote location, a harsh climate, and the lack of transportation infrastructure. People who live in rural areas of Alaska have to pay a very high price for food and other goods. For example, in villages where the income per capita is only $20,000 or less, the prices of essential foodstuffs such as bread and milk can be almost double those you’ll find in other states. Gas prices are also 20 to 30 cent higher than other states and are lower only than gas prices in Hawaii. The cost of basic goods is so high here that many federal government employees automatically get an additional 25% allowance.
Most of America’s Salmon, Crab, Halibut, and Herring Comes from Alaska
This is a fact that is most appreciated by food lovers across the nation. With the longest coastline in the country and many large bodies of water, Alaska supplies a great deal of seafood to the rest of the United States. Seafood is one of the very few items that are more readily available at a lower price in Alaska than out of state. Many Alaskans see fishing as not only a sport, but also as a survival skill that puts food on the table. King salmon was adopted as the official state fish in 1962.
Dog Mushing Is the Official State Sport
Dogsledding is a unique mode of transportation and has long been popular in Alaska. Nowadays, people are less likely to actually use a dogsled to run errands, but dog mushing remains a popular sport. Races are held regularly across the state. The best known race is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which runs from Anchorage to Nome. The route and race length can vary from year to year; however, the official length is 1,150 miles. The activity is not exclusive to Alaskan natives. One of the most exciting Alaska facts is that visitors can also join one of the dog mushing tours that are very much in demand here.
Alaska Is the “Land of the Midnight Sun”
This is among many special Alaska facts related to its location. Barrow is the northernmost community of Alaska. Due to its northerly location, the sun doesn’t set from May 10 to August 2 every year. Barrow residents enjoy a three-month period of nonstop sunlight. Unfortunately, however, they have the opposite experience of having no sun at all in the winter. The sun does not come up at all between November 18 and January 23. The lack of sunlight can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression specific to northern regions around the world. Many citizens of Barrow are affected by this disorder.
The Use of Marijuana Was Legalized 40 Years Ago
Many people know that Alaska recently became the third state to officially legalize the use of marijuana in February 2015. However, among the little-known Alaska facts is that the use of marijuana was first legalized 40 years ago. In the case of Ravin v. State in 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that it was a state constitutional right to possess, cultivate and consume marijuana at home, as long as the amount was less than four ounces. It was considered a person’s right to do as he or she pleased in the privacy of his or her own home. This makes the law in Alaska somewhat more liberal than even in Amsterdam, where cultivation of marijuana is still illegal.
There Is No Sales Tax or Individual Income Tax in Alaska
One of the most interesting Alaska facts is that the state does not collect sales tax or individual income tax. It is one of only five states without state sales tax. Only six other states do not collect individual income tax. Alaska depends on petroleum revenues and federal subsidies to finance its government operations. Aside from being the state with the lowest tax burden for individuals, Alaska is also very business friendly. In 2014, the state of Alaska was officially recognized for having the fourth most business-friendly tax policy of any state.
Alaska Produces 76lb Green Cabbages and Other Enormous Vegetables
When talking about Alaska facts, most people picture an icy place that is not very agriculture-friendly. However, Alaskan summers can provide quite a nurturing environment. In some parts of Alaska, the sun does not set for three months at a time in the summer. Alaskan plants in these regions enjoy over 20 hours of sunlight every day in the summer and can grow larger than normal.
John Evans, a holder of seven world records and a citizen of Alaska, can testify to this fact. He earned his first world record in 1993 with a 35 lb broccoli, followed by a 76 lb green cabbage in 1998, and also a 31.25 lb cauliflower in 1997.
Roadkills Are Gifted to the Poor
In most US states, roadkills are usually abandoned on the side of the roads. Not in Alaska. The state considers large roadkills, such as moose and reindeers, to be the property of the state. As such, all citizens are required to report large carcasses they see to the authorities. Charity volunteers will then be instructed by the state troopers to report to the site. The animals are then butchered and distributed to families in need.
Every year, hundreds of animals are collected this way. This is a tremendous help for families living on low incomes. The charity meat helps them survive the long winter months.
Child Sexual Assault is Six Times the National Average
This is one of the saddest Alaska facts about the people living in this state. Alaska is duped as the rape capital of the United States, with a rape rate at 2.5 times higher than the national average. The rate of child sexual assaults is six times the national average. Many of the crimes are committed in rural areas away from law enforcement. As shocking as the statistics are, the actual number can be much worse, as many crimes stay within the community and never get reported. There are currently movements that call for an increased police presence in rural areas.
A Cat Mayor Has Held the Title for 15 Years
In 1997, Stubbs the cat was just a kitten when he was first elected as the mayor of an Alaskan town named Talkeetna. His daily duty includes receiving up to 40 visitors, most of whom are tourists. The town residents are happy that their mayor has a positive influence on local tourism and that he never raises taxes. Talkeetna is a historical district and the mayor holds more of a symbolic value than actual authority. Nonetheless, Stubbs is still officially the one and only cat mayor in the world.
You Are Not Allowed to Wake a Sleeping Bear to Take Its Picture
There are many interesting Alaska facts relating to the animals here, but you will probably be surprised to learn about the many strange animal laws in Alaska. For example, it is illegal to wake a sleeping bear to photograph it, even though it is perfectly legal to actually shoot a bear. If you happen to share a flight with a moose, keep in mind that you are prohibited by Alaskan law to push a moose from an aircraft. You cannot spy on a moose from an airplane either. Animal lovers will be quite happy to learn that moose, and other animals, are well protected by a wealth of strange laws in Alaska.
Powdered Beer Was Invented in Talkeetna
In a land where everything has to be transported a long way to reach its destination, people have become quite resourceful. Patrick Tatera, a citizen of Talkeetna, Alaska, even invented a concentrated beer powder. You can take this lightweight, convenient form of beer and dilute it with water. The result is a fine beer that Tatera claims tastes just like most regular brews you can buy from any store.
The beer is brewed with almost no water, allowing it to become super concentrated. The concentrated beer is also sold with a carbonator bottle which turns flat beer into the carbonated, fizzy beverage that we are more familiar with.
A Local Prankster Lit a Volcano Crater on Fire as an April Fool’s Prank
Mount Edgecumbe is a volcano near Sitka, Alaska. The volcano has been dormant for thousands of years, but in 1974, a prankster successfully tricked everyone into thinking that the volcano had erupted again.
That morning, Sitka residents were shocked to find dark smoke rising from the top of Mount Edgecumbe. A coastguard helicopter was sent to investigate. Upon closer examination from the air, the pilot reported seeing 100 tires burning in the volcano’s crater. Huge 50ft letters were spotted around the rim, spelling out “April Fool”. The whole ordeal was a joke planned by Oliver Bickar. According to Bickar himself, he had been planning this prank for four years!
The Whole Town Live under the Same Roof in Whittier, Alaska
There are many surprising Alaska facts, but the town of Whittier, Alaska is probably among the most interesting places in the state. The entire town, including all 200 residents, live in a single building, which is called Begich Towers or BTI for short. Begich Towers, the home of Whittier residents, was originally built as a military base in the Cold War. The plan was dropped when the military decided that the location was far too remote.
Aside from residential apartments, the building also hosts a school, a grocery store, a post office, a video store and city offices. You can also go to church or get your health checked out without ever leaving the building. This makes it quite convenient, considering the fact that the weather can be quite chilly in the winter. Another plus is that students here are never late to school.
Alaska Facts – Facts about Alaska Summary
There are many fascinating facts we can learn about Alaska, from its unique history of being purchased at two cents per acre, to its title as the biggest state in the US. The state of Alaska produces huge vegetables because of the abundance sunlight in the summer. It is also home to the only town in the world that has had a cat mayor, and to another town where all the inhabitants live under one roof. Alaskan citizens are also quite creative, having invented powdered beer and played one of the craziest pranks ever, of setting a volcano on fire.