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Alaska State Facts
Capital: Juneau
Nickname: Last Frontier, The Great Land, Land of the Midnight Sun
Motto: North to the Future
Statehood: May 16 1959 (49th State)
Largest Cities: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Soldotna
Land Area: 570,374 sq. mi.(largest state)
State Bird: Willow Ptarmigan
State Flower: Forget-Me-Not
State Tree: Sitka Spruce
State Song: Alaska's Flag
State Gem: Jade
State Mineral: Gold
State Population: Alaska's population of 606,000 which makes it the third least populous state. The state also boasts the lowest population density in the nation. There is 1.0 person per square mile (1991 figures) in Alaska, compared to 71.2 people per square mile for the entire U.S.

Alaska Flag The state flag was designed by 13-year-old Bennie Benson from Chignik, Alaska, in 1926. The blue field is for the sky and the Forget-Me-Not, the state flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly of the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear - symbolizing strength.

So how big IS Alaska?
At 586,400 square miles, Alaska is the U.S.'s largest state, over twice the size of Texas.
North to South, Alaska is 1,400 miles long.
East to West, it is 2,700 miles wide.
The state's coastline extends over 47,000 miles.
The 3.5 million acres of the Alaska State Park System constitutes the largest park system in the United States.
The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States. It covers almost the whole of Southeast Alaska.
17 of the 20 highest peaks in the U.S. are located in Alaska.
The overlay below shows the relative size of the state compared to the continental U.S.

Alaska's Climate
Alaska's climate is variable, due to the state's large size. The southeastern and southcentral coasts are wet and mild, the interior is cool and dry, and the northern region experiences very cold, dry weather.
The record high temperature in Alaska was 100 degrees Fahrenheit at Fort Yukon in 1915. The record low temperature was -80 degrees Fahrenheit at Prospect Creek Camp in 1971.
Want to know the temperature in Alaska? Here are some readings from around the state:

Alaska's History
Outsiders first discovered Alaska in 1741, when Danish explorer Vitus Bering sighted it on a voyage from Siberia.

The first settlement in Alaska was established by Russian whalers and fur traders on Kodiak Island in 1784.

After expanding their reach all the way to Sitka, war broke out in Europe in the 1820's, and the Russians began to lose interest in Alaska.

In 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska.

On October 18, 1867, Alaska officially became the property of the United States, to the chagrin of many Americans, who called the purchase "Seward's Folly."

Joe Juneau's 1880 discovery of gold ushered in the gold rush era. Thousands of people flocked to Alaska, seeking their fortune in the wild frontier.

After the gold rush clamor subsided and while the country battled a depression, most of the nation forgot about the territory thousands of miles to the northwest.

When America declared war on Japan in 1941, Alaska's strategic position became apparent, and Americans once again perceived "Seward's Folly" to be an asset.

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.

In 1958, Congress finally approved the Alaska Statehood Act, and Alaska officially became the 49th state on January 3, 1959.

Today, Alaska is prized by many for its natural beauty and its vast supply of natural resources.