Photo: Eklunta Lake - Under an hour from Anchorage

Living in Alaska

Alaska - The Last Frontier

History, Geography, Housing, and Alaska Resources

Alaska Map Alaska Map

Although the image typically depicting Alaska as being a small appendage of the lower 48 (most often reduced in size on most US maps for feasible reasons) By far, Alaska is the largest state of the Union being double the area of Texas. Similar to Texas, chief industries include Alaska's famous oil pipeline, along with tourism which provides visitors a unique perspective (so far) at America's still pristine wilderness. Lodges, hotels, travel tours and in particular cruises to the Alaska's famously beautiful Inside Passage still create a booming tourist trade during the summer.

In spite of enduring beliefs that Alaska is rural, expensive and cold, (or everyone lives in an igloo) daytime temperatures can get into the 90's in the summertime in southern Alaska. In the meantime, the larger cities continue to provide incentives to major companies for relocating here. resulting in an expanding job market. A well-kept transportation infrastructure to the south, together with highly developed fast Internet connections assist in this growth. As a somewhat short growing season precludes any major agricultural industry, food is continues to cost more than food in the other 48 states, as generally do consumer goods.

Vitus Bering a Dane working for the Russians, and Alexei Chirikov discovered the Alaskan mainland and the Aleutian Islands in 1741. The tremendous land mass of Alaska—equal to one-fifth of the continental U.S.—was unexplored in 1867 when Secretary of State William Seward arranged for its purchase from the Russians for $7,200,000. The transfer of the territory took place on Oct. 18, 1867. Despite a price of about two cents an acre, the purchase was widely ridiculed as “Seward's Folly.” The first official census (1880) reported a total of 33,426 Alaskans, all but 430 being of aboriginal stock. The Gold Rush of 1898 resulted in a mass influx of more than 30,000 people. Since then, Alaska has contributed billions of dollars' worth of products to the U.S. economy.

Demography

  • Famous People from Alaska
  • Alaska Facts & Trivia
  • Alaska Flags
  • Climate

    The climate in Juneau and the southeast panhandle is a mid-latitude oceanic climate in the southern sections and an oceanic, marine subpolar climate in the northern parts. Much of the southern parts are temperate rainforest.

    The climate in south central Alaska, with Anchorage as a typical city, is mild by Alaskan standards. This is due in large part to its proximity to the coast.

    The climate of Western Alaska is determined largely by the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. It is a subarctic oceanic climate in the southwest and a continental subarctic climate farther north.

    Eklutna Lake Alaska Eklutna Lake Alaska

    Juneau Alaska Juneau Alaska

    Skagway Alaska Skagway Alaska

    The climate of the interior of Alaska is best described as extreme and is an excellent example of a true continental subarctic climate. Some of the hottest and coldest temperatures in Alaska occur around the area near Fairbanks.

    The climate in the extreme north of Alaska is what would be expected for an area north of the Arctic Circle. It is an Arctic climate with long, very cold winters and short, cool summers

    Education

    Alaska Colleges There are more than a dozen colleges and universities in Alaska. Accredited universities in Alaska include the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast, and Alaska Pacific University. Alaska is the only state that has no institutions that are part of NCAA Division I.

    The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development operates AVTEC, Alaska's Institute of Technology. Campuses in Seward and Anchorage offer 1 week to 11-month training programs in areas as diverse as Information Technology, Welding, Nursing, and Mechanics.

    Economy

    Mining and cattle-raising were the principal economic activities in Arizona during the territorial period. With the introduction of irrigation in the early 1900s, farming assumed a greater importance. Improvements in transportation later in the 20th century led to the development of manufacturing and tourism. sector.

    The Alaska per capita personal income for 2007 was $40,042, ranking 15th in the nation. The state's economy has been described by University of Alaska Anchorage economist Scott Goldsmith as a "three-legged stool" - with one leg being the petroleum and gas industry, the second leg being the federal government and the third leg being all other industries and services.

    Flora and Fauna

    Alaska State Flower
    Alaska State Flower - Forget Me Not

    Alaska State Tree - Sitka Spruce
    Alaska State Tree - Sitka Spruce

    Life zones in Alaska range from grasslands, mountains, and tundra to thick forests, in which Sitka spruce (the state tree), western hemlock, tamarack, white birch, and western red cedar predominate. Various hardy plants and wild flowers spring up during the short growing season on the semiarid tundra plains. Species of poppy and gentian are endangered. Mammals abound amid the wilderness.

    Great herds of caribou migrate across some northern areas of the state. Moose move within ranges they establish, but do not migrate seasonally or move in herds as do caribou. Reindeer were introduced to Alaska as herd animals for Alaska Natives, and there are no free-ranging herds in the state. Kodiak, polar, black, and grizzly bears, Dall sheep, and an abundance of small mammals are also found.

    The sea otter and musk ox have been successfully reintroduced. Round Island, along the north shore of Bristol Bay, has the world's largest walrus rookery. North America's largest population of bald eagles nest in Alaska, and whales migrate annually to the icy bays. Pristine lakes and streams are famous for trout and salmon fishing. In all, 386 species of birds, 430 fishes, 105 mammals, 7 amphibians, and 3 reptiles have been found in the state. Seven species listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as of August 2003 included the Eskimo curlew, short-tailed albatross, leatherback sea turtle, steller sea-lion, and bowhead, finback, and humpback whales. Three species listed as threatened included the spectacled eider, Steller's aider, and Steller sea-lion. Numerous species considered endangered in the conterminous US remain common in Alaska.

  • Alaska State Bird (Willow Ptarmigan)
  • Alaska Official State Flower (Forget-me-not)
  • Alaska State Tree (Sitka Spruce)
  • Government

    Alaska State Capotol Building
    Alaska State Capitol

    Alaska's executive branch, modeled after New Jersey's, features a strong governor who appoints all cabinet officers (except the commissioner of education) and judges subject to legislative confirmation. The lieutenant governor (elected jointly with the governor) is the only other elected executive. The governor must be at least 30 years old, and must have been a US citizen for seven years and an Alaska resident for seven years. The term of office is four years, and the governor is limited to two consecutive terms. The qualifications for the lieutenant governor are identical to the governor. 

    Voters must be 18 years old (within 90 days of registration), US citizens, and not registered to vote in another state. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent by the court.

    The Alaska State Capitol hosts the Alaska Legislature, Governor of Alaska and Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Located in the state's capital, Juneau, the building was opened on February 14, 1931 as a federal building. After Alaska gained statehood, the building served as the home for the Alaska Legislature.

    Health Care

    The Alaska Division of Health Care Services provides access and oversight to the full range of appropriate Medicaid health care services to all eligible Alaskans in need. These services include but are not limited to hospitals, physicians, pharmacy, dental, vision, durable medical equipment, and transportation. The division also has the responsibility for protecting Alaska’s most vulnerable populations, through its certification and licensing sections.

    Attractions

    As Alaska is big, so too is its beauty. A vast, uninhabited wilderness overwhelms the comparatively small cities in the state, such as commercial-minded Anchorage, with its many things to do, and tucked-away Juneau (a curious state capital with no road access). This natural beauty can be enjoyed while hiking, paddling, and fishing in the great outdoors, especially as the state and national parks here are some of the largest in the United States. Though there are a number of museums and other tourist attractions in the major centers, towns are perhaps more accurately used as jumping-off points for exploring the Alaskan wilds, such as Denali and Kenai Fjords national parks. But wherever your sightseeing may take you, the scale of Alaska is sure to impress.

    Alaska's top 10 Attractions

    Sentinel Island Lighthouse
    Sentinel Island Lighthouse
    Lighthouses in Alaska as identified by the United States Coast Guard and other historical sources. There is only one active light in the state, though another has been replaced by a skeleton tower; a third still stands but is inactive. The rest have all been destroyed.

    1. Denali National Park & Preserve
    2. Glacier Bay National Park
    3. Mendenhall Glacier
    4. Kenai Fjords National Park
    5. Chugach State Park
    6. Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
    7. Alaska SeaLife Center
    8. University of Alaska Museum of the North
    9. Sitka National Historic Park/Totem Park
    10. Alaska Inside Passage

    Amusement Parks

    Roadrunner Amusement Park, Anchorage

    National Parks

    Denali National Park & Preserve Denali Park, AK
      Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America's tallest peak, 20,310' Denali. Wild animals large and small roam un-fenced lands, living as they have for ages. Solitude, tranquility and wilderness await.
    Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve. Bettles, AK
      This vast landscape does not contain any roads or trails. Visitors discover intact ecosystems where people have lived with the land for thousands of years. Wild rivers meander through glacier-carved valleys, caribou migrate along age-old trails, endless summer light fades into aurora-lit night skies of winter. It remains virtually unchanged except by the forces of nature.
    Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve Gustavus, AK
      Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska's Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site—one of the world’s largest international protected areas. From sea to summit, Glacier Bay offers limitless opportunities for adventure and inspiration.
    Katmai National Park & Preserve King Salmon, AK
      A landscape alive underneath our feet, filled with creatures that remind us what it is to be wild. Katmai was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region surrounding Novarupta and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Today, Katmai National Park and Preserve also protects 9,000 years of human history and important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears.
    Kenai Fjords National Park Seward, AK
      At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords' crowning feature. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. Sugpiaq people relied on these resources to nurture a life entwined with the sea. Today, shrinking glaciers bear witness to the effects of our changing climate.
    Kobuk Valley National Park Kotzebue, AK
      Caribou, sand dunes, the Kobuk River, Onion Portage - just some of the facets of Kobuk Valley National Park. Half a million caribou migrate through, their tracks crisscrossing sculpted dunes. The Kobuk River is an ancient and current path for people and wildlife. For 9000 years, people came to Onion Portage to harvest caribou as they swam the river. Even today, that rich tradition continues.
    Lake Clark National Park & Preserve Port Alsworth, AK
      Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is a land of stunning beauty. Volcanoes steam, salmon run, bears forage, and craggy mountains reflect in shimmering turquoise lakes. Here, too, local people and culture still depend on the land and water. Venture into the park to become part of the wilderness.
    Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve Copper Center, AK
      Wrangell St. Elias is a vast national park that rises from the ocean all the way up to 18,008 ft. At 13.2 million acres, the park is the same size as Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Switzerland combined! Within this wild landscape, people continue to live off the land as they have done for centuries. This rugged, beautiful land is filled with opportunities for adventure.

    National Forests

    Tongass National Forest - 16,748,360 acres
      The largest National Forest, Tongass covers 500 miles in southeast Alaska from the Canada–US border to the Pacific Ocean. Nearly one-third of the forest is covered by 19 wilderness areas. The forest includes Misty Fiords and Admiralty Island National Monuments
    Chugach National Forest - 5,419,095 acres
      As the third largest National Forest, Chugach covers three unique landscapes: the Copper River Delta, Eastern Kenai Peninsula, and Prince William Sound. Many of the streams contain salmon and trout, and glaciers still carve the land here. More than half of the forest is tundra and glaciers

    Sports

    There are no professional sports teams in Alaska, but several minor league and semi-professional teams play in Alaska, especially in Anchorage.
  • Alaska Sports
  • Taxes

    Quick Facts
    • Income tax: None
    • Sales tax: 0% - 7.5%
    • Property tax: 1.19% average effective rate
    • Gas tax: 12.3 cents per gallon of regular gasoline, 12.36 cents per gallon of diesel

    Transportation

    Aviation

    Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport
    Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport
    Alaska Airports. Alaska is the largest state in the USA but does not have a huge population. Nevertheless, Alaska airports receive a number of people annually from all over the world such as the international airport in Juneau, the capital of Alaska.

    Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska is essential as Anchorage is the largest city of the state. The airport is up-to-date with all the necessary technological innovations. The major airlines that operate from this airport are:

    Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (Anchorage), Fairbanks International Airport (Fairbanks), Juneau International Airport (Juneau) and Ketchikan International Airport (Ketchikan).

    Ferries

    Many cities, towns and villages in the state do not have access to roads; the only connections involve travel by air, river, or the sea. The MV Tustumena (named after Tustumena Glacier) is one of the state's many ferries, providing service between the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island and the Aleutian Chain. Alaska's well-developed state-owned ferry system (known as the Alaska Marine Highway) serves the cities of southeast, the Gulf Coast and the Alaska Peninsula. The ferries transport vehicles as well as passengers. The system also operates a ferry service from Bellingham, Washington and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, in Canada through the Inside Passage to Skagway. The Inter-Island Ferry Authority also serves as an important marine link for many communities in the Prince of Wales Island region of Southeast and works in concert with the Alaska Marine Highway.

    Ports

    There are three deep water ports in Alaska. They are :
    Port Valdez
    The Valdez Marine Terminal is an oil port in Valdez, at the southern end of the Alaska Pipeline. There are 14 active aboveground crude oil storage tanks at the terminal, and an average of three to five oil tankers depart from the terminal each week. Since the pipeline became operational in 1976, more than 15,000 tankers full of oil have left the terminal. The terminal has two operational loading berths.

    Port of Nikiski

    Port of Anchorage
    Featuring three bulk carrier berths, two petroleum berths, and one barge berth. It is an enterprise department of the Municipality of Anchorage. As such, the Port is distinguished from other types of municipal departments largely because it generates enough revenue to support its operations without being a burden to Anchorage property tax payers, and it also pays a fee-in-lieu of taxes to help run city government.

    Rail

    Built in the early part of the teens, the Alaska Railroad (ARR) played a key role in the development of Alaska through the 20th century. It links north Pacific shipping through providing critical infrastructure with tracks that run from Seward to Interior Alaska by way of South Central Alaska, passing through Anchorage, Eklutna, Wasilla, Talkeetna, Denali, and Fairbanks, with spurs to Whittier, Palmer and North Pole. The cities, towns, villages, and region served by ARR tracks are known statewide as "The Railbelt".

    Roads

    Alaska has few road connections compared to the rest of the U.S. The state's road system covers a relatively small area of the state, linking the central population centers and the Alaska Highway, the main route in and out of the state through Canada. The state capital, Juneau, is not accessible by road, only a car ferry, which has spurred several debates over the decades about moving the capital to a city on the road system, or building a road connection from Haines. The western part of Alaska has no road system connecting the communities with the rest of Alaska.

    Alaska Housing and Real Estate

    Although winters are severe, housing designs in Alaska do not differ much from those in other states. Builders do usually add thicker insulation in walls and ceilings, but the high costs of construction have not encouraged more energy-efficient adaptation to the environment. In 1980, the state legislature passed several measures to encourage energy conservation in housing and in public buildings. In native villages, traditional dwellings like the half-buried huts of the Aleuts and others have long since given way to conventional, low-standard housing. The fact is, Alaska's Eskimos never built snow houses, as did those of Canada; in Eskimo language, the word igloo refers to any dwelling.

    The median home value in Alaska is $310,200. Alaska home values have gone up 1.3% over the past year and predictions ares they will fall -3.2% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Alaska is $169. The median price of homes currently listed in Alaska is $279,900. The median rent price in Alaska is $1,700.

    Alaska Cities & Towns:

    As one of the United States' minimum populated nations, it's nothing unexpected that Alaska doesn't have a single city with an huge population. The whole state, in spite of being the biggest state in the nation, hasn't achieved one million occupants as far as aggregate population. It's largest populated city, Anchorage, has a populace that hasn't yet reached 300,000. That city is the only one that has a populace that surpasses 100,000. There are only two cities that have populaces that range in the vicinity of 10,000 and 100,000 individuals: Juneau and Fairbanks.

    There is a total of 148 incorporated cities in Alaska. These are separated into the accompanying groups: four home rule together home administer districts, ten home rule areas, nineteen first class cities, and 115 second class urban communities. With a specific end goal to be delegated a home rule or first class city, Alaska law directs that a city must have no less than 400 occupants. The incorporated urban communities of Alaska cover a little more than 2% of the state's aggregate land region, yet more than 69% of the populace lives inside these territories. A large portion of the state's consolidated urban communities fall among the four unified home rule districts.

  • Alaska Cities and Towns
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