22 Fun Facts About Alaska | The Frozen Frontier

fun facts about Alaska

22 Fun Facts About Alaska | The Frozen Frontier

  1. Alaska can be typed on one row of a keyboard.
  2. Talkeetna, Alaska once had a cat for a mayor.
  3. Alaska does not have a state sales tax.
  4. The name Alaska means The Great Land.
  5. Alaska’s Kodiak bear is second in size only to Polar bears.
  6. Alaska’s Kenai River has a record salmon, weighing 97 pounds, four ounces.
  7. If New York matched Alaska’s population density, only 53,844 people would reside there.
  8. The lowest recorded U.S. temperature, -80 degrees, was recorded in Alaska, in 1971.
  1. October 18 is Alaska Day.
  2. Almost one-third of Alaska’s land is in the Arctic Circle.
  3. Alaska Natives make up 18% of the state’s population.
  4. The state bird of Alaska is the Willow Ptarmigan.
  5. Alaska is 14.2% water.
  6. Zinc is Alaska’s biggest mineral export.
  7. Lake Iliamna, Alaska’s largest lake, is about as wide as Connecticut.
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1. Alaska is home to 17 of North America’s tallest mountains.

Alaska has 17 of the tallest mountains in North America, nestled within 39 mountain ranges. The crown jewel, Denali, soars to 20,310 feet, making it the highest peak on the continent. 

This majestic mountain, also known as Mount McKinley, sits proudly in south-central Alaska, surrounded by the vast wilderness that defines The Last Frontier.

2. Alaska has more than 130 Volcanoes and volcanic fields.

Alaska is a hotspot for volcanic activity, home to over 130 volcanoes and volcanic fields. The Aleutian Arc, formed by tectonic movements, hosts most of these, with 90 showing activity in the last 10,000 years. 

Fifty-four have been active in historical times, making Alaska the state with the most active volcanoes in the U.S., a testament to its dynamic geological landscape.

3. Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. for $7.2 million.

One of the historical facts about Alaska is its purchase from Russia by the United States for $7.2 million on March 30, 1867. 

This deal, negotiated by Edouard de Stoeckl for Russia and Secretary of State William Seward, cost less than 2 cents an acre for nearly 600,000 square miles, making Alaska a territory rich in natural resources.

4. The only World War II battle fought on US soil was in Alaska.

A video about the only WWII battle fought on US soil.

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Another interesting fact about Alaska is that it was the site of the only World War II battle fought on U.S. soil. The Battle of Attu, part of the Aleutian Islands campaign, occurred from May 11 to 30, 1943. 

U.S. and Canadian forces clashed with Japanese troops on Attu Island, aiming to reclaim this strategic territory and prevent potential attacks on the mainland.

5. The largest forests in the US, Tongass, and Chugach, are in Alaska.

Alaska hosts the two largest national forests in the U.S., with the Tongass National Forest leading as the largest at 16.7 million acres. Following closely is the Chugach National Forest, spanning nearly 7 million acres in south-central Alaska. 

These forests are vital habitats for wildlife, including bald eagles, brown bears, and gray wolves, showcasing Alaska’s rich biodiversity.

6. Alaska has more than 150,000 earthquakes in the last ten years.

Alaska’s seismic activity is remarkably high, with over 150,000 earthquakes recorded in the last five years alone. With the Pacific plate subducting beneath the North American plate along the Alaska-Aleutian Megathrust, it’s not unusual for Alaska to record over 45,000 earthquakes in a year. 

Major quakes shape its diverse landscapes, from the Southeast coast to the Aleutian islands, highlighting the dramatic interplay of tectonic forces.

7. Alaska has both the longest and shortest amount of daylight.

Alaska experiences extreme seasonal variations in daylight, from the northernmost town of Utqiagvik’s 67 days of darkness in winter to over 80 days of continuous daylight in summer, known as the midnight sun. 

Anchorage enjoys nearly 22 hours of daylight on June 21, with the sun barely dipping below the horizon, allowing for extended days of exploration and enjoyment.

8. Alaska’s flag was designed by Benny Benson in 1926.

fun facts about Alaska
The Alaskan Flag was designed by 13-year-old B. Benson.

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In 1926, Alaska’s flag was designed by Benny Benson, a 13-year-old orphan, who captured the essence of Alaska with simple yet profound symbols. The flag’s dark blue field represents the sky and forget-me-nots, while the stars form the Big Dipper and North Star, symbolizing strength and guidance. 

The flag design was chosen to foster Alaska’s identity and statehood aspirations through a contest initiated by Territorial Governor George Parks.

9. Alaska is the U.S.’s Northernmost, Easternmost, and Westernmost state.

One of the cool facts about Alaska is that it holds the title for the northernmost, easternmost, and westernmost points in the U.S. Thanks to the Aleutian Islands crossing the 180th Meridian, Alaska uniquely spans both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. 

This geographical quirk makes Alaska the only state to claim land in both hemispheres, showcasing its vast and diverse landscape.

10. Alaska has a rich Gold Rush history.

Alaska’s Gold Rush, starting in 1896, drew thousands seeking fortune, notably in Nome and Fairbanks. Despite many not striking rich, the rush significantly shaped Alaska, boosting its population and leading to the establishment of major towns. 

The enduring legacy includes the Alaska Railroad and Anchorage’s founding, marking a pivotal shift from Alaska’s Russian past to its gold-fueled growth.

11. Alaska has over 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes.

Alaska is a water-rich state with over 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes, including the vast Lake Iliamna, which spans over 1,000 square miles, making it the third largest in the United States. 

The Yukon River, nearly 2,000 miles long, ranks as the third longest in the U.S., highlighting Alaska’s abundant and diverse aquatic landscapes.

12. Giant vegetables like Cabbage and Turnip are common in Alaska.

fun facts about Alaska
Giant vegetables in Alaska.

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Alaska’s long summer days, with nearly 20 hours of sunlight, create perfect conditions for growing giant vegetables. The state is known for setting world records, including a 138-pound cabbage and a 2,051-pound pumpkin. 

Scott Robb from Alaska holds the record for a 138.25-pound cabbage, showcasing the region’s ability to produce enormous members of the Brassicaceae family, like broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips.

13. Alaska’s Upper Huffman Road gravity hill makes cars roll uphill.

A quirky Alaska fun fact is the gravity hill on Upper Huffman Road in Anchorage, where cars in neutral seem to roll uphill, defying gravity. This optical illusion can propel vehicles up to 12 mph, creating a mind-bending experience. 

Located just outside the city, this spot turns a simple road trip into an unforgettable adventure, blending science with a touch of mystery.

14. Alaska has about 27,000 glaciers.

Alaska, with about 27,000 glaciers covering 75,000 km², holds the world’s second-largest ice area outside Greenland and Antarctica. These glaciers, rapidly melting due to global warming, are in steep decline, making Alaska’s ice masses among Earth’s fastest disappearing. 

This significant melt in the last two decades has contributed to global sea level rise, highlighting the urgent need for climate change action.

15. Prudhoe Bay in Alaska is North America’s largest oil field.

Prudhoe Bay, spanning 213,543 acres on Alaska’s North Slope, is North America’s largest oil field and the 18th largest globally. Originally holding about 25 billion barrels of oil, current technology enables the recovery of over 13 billion barrels. 

Having produced oil for over 40 years, Prudhoe Bay remains a significant contributor to the U.S. oil supply.

16. Alaska is approximately 55 miles from Russia.

Alaska is around 50 miles away from Russia.

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The narrowest gap between Alaska and Russia, across the Bering Strait, is about 55 miles, with the closest mainland points being Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska and Cape Dezhnev in Russia. 

Within this strait lie two islands, Big Diomede (Russia) and Little Diomede (Alaska), further emphasizing the proximity of these two vast lands at approximately 53 miles apart.

17. Danish explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering discovered Alaska in 1741.

Another historical fact about Alaska is its discovery by Danish explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering in 1741, commissioned by Russia’s Peter the Great. Bering, alongside Alexi Chirikov, sought to determine the boundary between Asia and North America. 

Despite being separated by a storm, both explorers managed to sight the Alaskan mainland, marking the first European contact with Alaska and initiating its mapping and exploration.

18. The Denali Mac is a unique McDonald’s burger in Alaska.

The Denali Mac, exclusive to Alaska’s McDonald’s, is a twist on the classic Big Mac, featuring two quarter-pound beef patties. Originally named the McKinley Mac after North America’s tallest peak, it was renamed in 2015 to honor the peak’s indigenous name, Denali. 

This unique burger reflects Alaska’s grandeur, offering a meatier version of the beloved Big Mac to match the state’s outsized nature.

19. Alaska has more than 10,000 active pilots.

Alaska boasts over 10,000 active pilots, making up more than 1% of its population, a necessity given that 82% of its communities are only accessible by air. Bush pilots are crucial, navigating the state’s challenging weather and terrain to deliver essentials. 

With six times more pilots per capita than any other U.S. region, aviation contributes $3.8 billion to Alaska’s economy.

20. The Northern Lights can be seen 243 days a year in Alaska.

fun facts about Alaska
The Northern Lights in Alaska.

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In Fairbanks, Alaska, the mesmerizing northern lights, or aurora borealis, grace the sky an average of 243 days a year. Positioned directly under the auroral oval, Fairbanks offers a 90% chance of witnessing this natural spectacle over a three-night stay. 

The best viewing season stretches from late August to late April, peaking in March, thanks to Alaska’s long, nights.

21. Alaska has over 34,000 miles of coastline, more than the rest of the U.S.

Alaska’s coastline stretches over 34,000 miles, surpassing the combined shorelines of all other U.S. states. This vast expanse of the Arctic and sub-Arctic coastline plays a crucial role in the state’s ecosystems, weather, economy, history, and culture. 

With the longest coastline in the nation, Alaska’s geologically complex and diverse coastal ecosystems underscore its unique environmental and cultural significance.

22. The Wood Frog, Rana sylvatica, can be found in Alaska.

The Wood Frog, Rana sylvatica, uniquely thrives across Alaska, even beyond the Arctic Circle, marking it as the only frog species to inhabit such northern extremes. 

Widely distributed throughout Alaska’s forests and woodlands, these resilient amphibians adapt to harsh conditions, laying eggs in vernal pools.

FAQs

What languages are spoken in Alaska?

In Alaska, English is predominantly spoken, but the state is rich in linguistic diversity with some 23 distinct languages, mostly falling within two main groups: Inuit-Unangan (Eskimo-Aleut) and Na-Dene (Athabaskan-Eyak-Tlingit).

What is the capital of Alaska?

Juneau, accessible only by air or sea, serves as the capital of Alaska, distinguishing itself with its remote beauty and rich history, nestled among the vast wilderness of the state.

What is the population of Alaska?

Alaska’s population of approximately 731,000 results in a density of one person per square mile, with men making up about 52% of its residents. This sparse distribution means if New York had Alaska’s population density, it would host only about 53,844 people.

When to see the Northern Lights in Alaska?

The Northern Lights in Alaska are best viewed from late August through late April, with March offering the highest chances of witnessing this spectacular natural phenomenon due to the extended hours of darkness.

How much oil is in Alaska?

In 2023, Alaska’s North Slope (ANS) oil production averages 479,400 barrels per day, with projections showing an increase to 485,200 barrels per day within the same year and 496,400 barrels per day by 2024. Looking ahead, the production is expected to continue its upward trend, reaching 542,900 barrels per day by 2032.

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