- Geography of Alaska
Alaska is one of two U.S. States not bordered by another state;
Hawaiithe other. Alaska has more sea front than all of the other US states combinedFact|date=June 2007. It is one of two non-contiguous states in North America; Hawaii the other. About convert|500|mi|km|-1 of Canadian territory separate Alaska from Washington State. Alaska is thus an exclaveof the United States that is part of the continental U.S. but is not part of the contiguous U.S. [The other three exclaves of the United States are the Northwest Angleof Minnesota, Point Roberts, Washington, and Alburgh, Vermont.] Alaska is also the only state whose capital cityis accessible only via ship or air. No roads connect Juneau to the rest of the state.
The state is bordered by
Yukonand British Columbia, Canadato the east, the Gulf of Alaskaand the Pacific Oceanto the south, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Seato the west, and the Beaufort Seaand the Arctic Oceanto the north. Alaska is the largest state in the United States in terms of land area at 570,380 square miles (1,477,300 km²), over twice as large as Texas, the next largest state. If the state's westernmost point were superimposed on San Francisco, California, its easternmost point would be in Jacksonville, Florida. Alaska also has more coastlinethan all of the contiguous U.S. combined. It is larger than all but 18 sovereign nations.One scheme for describing the a state's geography is by labeling the regions:
South Central Alaskais the southern coastal region and contains most of the state's population. Anchorage and many growing towns, such as Palmer, and Wasilla, lie within this area. Petroleumindustrial plants, transportation, tourism, and two military bases form the core of the economy here.
Alaska Panhandle, also known as Southeast Alaska, is home to many of Alaska's larger towns including the state capital Juneau, tidewater glaciers and extensive forests. Tourism, fishing, forestry and state government anchor the economy.
Southwest Alaskais largely coastal, bordered by both the Pacific Oceanand the Bering Sea. It is sparsely populated, and unconnected to the road system, but incredibly important to the fishing industry. Half of all fish caught in the western U.S. come from the Bering Sea, and Bristol Bayhas the world's largest sockeye salmonfishery. Southwest Alaskaincludes Katmai and Lake Clark national parks as well as numerous wildlife refuges. The region comprises western Cook Inlet, Bristol Bayand its watersheds, the Alaska Peninsulaand the Aleutian Islands. It is known for wet and stormy weather, tundra landscapes, and large populations of salmon, brown bears, caribou, birds, and marine mammals.
Alaska Interioris home to Fairbanks. The geography is marked by large braided rivers, such as the Yukon Riverand the Kuskokwim River, as well as Arctic tundralands and shorelines.
Alaskan Bushis the remote, less crowded part of the state, encompassing 380 native villages and small towns such as Nome, Bethel, Kotzebue and, most famously, Barrow, the northernmost town in the United States.
The northeast corner of Alaska is covered by the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which covers convert|19049236|acre|km2|0|lk=on. Much of the northwest is covered by the larger National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska, which covers around 23,000,000 acres (93,000 km²). The Arctic is Alaska's most remote wilderness. A location in the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaskais convert|120|mi|km|-1 from any town or village, the geographic point most remote from permanent habitation in the USA.
With its numerous islands, Alaska has nearly 34,000 miles (55,000 km) of tidal shoreline. The island chain extending west from the southern tip of the
Alaska Peninsulais called the Aleutian Islands. Many active volcanoes are found in the Aleutians. For example, Unimak Islandis home to Mount Shishaldin, a moderately active volcano that rises to convert|9980|ft|m|0|lk=on above sea level. The chain of volcanoes extends to Mount Spurr, west of Anchorage on the mainland.
One of North America's largest tides occurs in
Turnagain Armjust south of Anchorage. Tidal differences can be more than convert|35|ft|m|1. (Many sources say Turnagain has the second-greatest tides in North America, but it has since been shown that several areas in Canada have larger tides, according to an Anchorage Daily Newsarticle dated 6/23/03. [cite journal | author = Porco, Peter|date = June 23, 2003| title = Long said to be second to Fundy, city tides aren't even close | journal = Anchorage Daily News | pages = A1] )
Alaska is home to 3.5 million
lakes of 20 acres (80,000 m²) or larger [ [http://www.knls.org/English/akfact.htm Alaska Facts ] ] . Marshlands and wetland permafrostcover 188,320 square miles (487,750 km²) (mostly in northern, western and southwest flatlands). Frozen water, in the form of glacierice, covers some 16,000 square miles (41,000 km²) of land and 1,200 square miles (3,100 km²) of tidal zone. The Bering Glaciercomplex near the southeastern border with Yukon, Canada, covers 2,250 square miles (5,830 km²) alone.
The Aleutian Islands cross longitude 180°, so Alaska can be considered the easternmost state as well as the westernmost. Alaska and, especially, the Aleutians are one of the
extreme points of the United States. The International Date Linejogs west of 180° to keep the whole state, and thus the entire continental United States, within the same legal day.
According to an October 1998 report by the
United States Bureau of Land Management, approximately 65% of Alaska is owned and managed by the U.S. federal government as national forests, national parks, and national wildlife refuges. Of these, the Bureau of Land Managementmanages 87 million acres (350,000 km²), or 23.8% of the state. The Arctic National Wildlife Refugeis managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Of the remaining land area, the State of Alaska owns 24.5%; another 10% is managed by thirteen regional and dozens of local Native corporations created under the
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Various private interests own the remaining land, totaling less than 1%.
Alaska is administratively divided into "
boroughs," as opposed to "counties." The function is the same, but whereas some states use a three-tiered system of decentralization — state/county/township — most of Alaska only uses two tiers — state/borough. Owing to the state's low population density, most of the land is located in the Unorganized Boroughwhich, as the name implies, has no intermediate borough government of its own, but is administered directly by the state government. Currently (2000 census) 57.71 percent of Alaska's land area has this status; however, its population comprises only 13.05 percent of the state's total. For statistical purposes the United States Census Bureaudivides this territory into census areas. Anchorage merged the city government with the Greater Anchorage Area Borough in 1971 to form the Municipality of Anchorage, containing the city proper, and the bedroom communities of Eagle River, Chugiak, Peters Creek, Girdwood, Bird, and Indian. Fairbanks, on the other hand, has a separate borough (the Fairbanks North Star Borough) and municipality (the City of Fairbanks)
Alaska census statistical areas
List of Alaska National Parks
List of Alaska rivers
List of boroughs and census areas in Alaska
Mountain peaks of Alaska
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