12 Fun Facts About Alaska
Alaska may be on your bucket list, but how much do you know about the United States of America’s 49th and most northerly state? Check out these 12 fun facts about Alaska and see how much you already knew. Even if you knew all these fascinating tidbits about Alaska, there’s a lot more to discover, which of course you can do on an ocean cruise, which I’d be glad to help you plan.
Did you know…?
- Alaska is the largest U.S. state, but has one of the smallest populations, with only a little more than 600,000 residents. That’s a huge expanse of untouched and untamed wilderness to explore.
- Alaska is the most northern, western and eastern state in the U.S. Why the most eastern? Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain crosses the 180th longitudinal meridian (in the middle of the Pacific Ocean), placing part of Alaska in the Eastern Hemisphere (where the “East” begins).
- Temperatures in the Southeast region of Alaska, which includes the ports of Juneau (Alaska’s capital) and Ketchikan, can reach up to the mid-80s in the summer. If you’re exploring Alaska, you’ll need to wear layers or at least bring a sweat or jacket for the evenings though. Temperatures can dip down as low as 40-50F (5-10 C) at night.
- North America’s highest mountain can be found in Alaska! I bet you thought it would be in Canada…but no, the highest mountain, Mt. McKinley (also called Denali) in North America is actually located in Denali National Park, Alaska.
- In January 1959, the “territory” of Alaska became the United States of America’s 49th state, but Alaska’s history goes much further back than that. History books reveal stories about Russian Voyages, Captain Cook, and the infamous William Bligh visiting the region.
- Russia ruled Alaska from 1799 to 1867. They then sold the region to the United States for a very low price. They probably regretted that decision because gold was discovered in the 1870s. I wonder why Canada didn’t buy it?!
- Sitka, Alaska’s fourth largest town is thought to also be its oldest—some believing it to be 10,000 years old. Located on Baranof Island, in Alaska’s panhandle, the town has a rich Russian history.
- Alaska is home to various native tribes, each different to the next. Today, approximately 15% of Alaska’s residents descend from these indigenous people.
- Alaska shares a UNESCO World Heritage site and 4 national parks and reserves with British Columbia, Canada. Originally inscribed in 1979, and extended in 1992 & 1994, Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek were designated World Heritage status due to their outstanding natural beauty and for being examples of some of the worlds longest and most spectacular glaciers.
- Alaska has more than 6,600 miles of coastline, more than all the other states combined.
- Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is the only U.S. state capital that cannot be reached by road. Like many towns and villages in Alaska, Juneau is only accessible by boat or plane.
- Alaska is home to 16 national parks and preserves. The most well-known are Glacier Bay, Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Sitka National Historical Park, Wrangell-St. Elias. Lesser-known national parks include Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, Bering Land Bridge, Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Lake Clark, Noatak National Preserve, Yukon-Charley Rivers.
One More Tidbit about Alaska
Did you know…Alaska is home to 3,197 named lakes and over 3 million unnamed lakes?!
Due to its large size and remoteness, it’s impossible to name them all. I bet you thought Canada had a lot of lakes! However, Canada’s 31,752 named lakes and approx. 90,000 unnamed lakes make up only 4% of Alaska’s 3 million. The largest of the Alaskan lakes is Lake Iliamna, the eighth-largest lake by area in the USA. Of course, it’s nowhere near the size of Canada’s Great Lakes, but you can be sure that it’s home to an abundance of water life!