Alaska, one of the Pacific Coast states of the United States. Like Hawaii, it is geographically separated from the rest of the country. Alaska is by far the largest state (more than twice the size of Texas). Its 656,424 square miles (1,700,139 km2) account for almost one-sixth of the nation's area. The general coastline—more than 6,600 miles (10,600 km)—is longer than the coastlines of all the other states combined. Alaska has few inhabitants, however—fewer than any other state.

Alaska is mainly a wilderness of great natural beauty, one largely unchanged by humans. In the north lies a barren arctic plain, like other polar regions a “land of the midnight sun.” Here may best be seen the colorful aurora borealis, or northern lights. Equally impressive are Alaska's majestic mountains, capped by ice and snow and cut by enormous glaciers.

Despite its northern latitude and remote location, Alaska is a frontier land of increasing opportunity. Its vast resources of forests, minerals, and fish provide the basis for an expanding economy.

Alaska'sAlaska's state bird is the willow ptarmigan.
Alaska in brief
General information
Statehood: Jan. 3, 1959, the 49th state.
State abbreviation: AK (postal).
State capital: Juneau, the capital of Alaska since 1900. Sitka served as capital from 1884 to 1900.
State motto: North to the Future.
Popular name: The Last Frontier.
State song: "Alaska's Flag." Words by Marie Drake; music by Elinor Dusenbury.
Symbols of Alaska
State bird: Willow ptarmigan.
State flower: Forget-me-not.
State tree: Sitka spruce.
State flag: Alaska's state flag, adopted in 1927, was designed by a 13-year-old schoolboy. Seven gold stars, representing Alaska's gold resources, form the Big Dipper. An eighth star in the corner is the North Star, symbolizing Alaska's location in the Far North.
State seal: The state seal was adopted in 1913. It has symbols, relating to Alaska's economy, for agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining, and transportation. The rays above the mountains represent the northern lights.
Land and climate
Area: 587,878 mi2. (1,522,596 km2), including 17,502 mi2 (45,329 km2) of inland water but excluding 27,355 mi2 (70,848 km2) of coastal water.
Elevation: Highest--Mount McKinley, 20,320 ft (6,194 m) above sea level. Lowest--sea level.
Coastline: 6,640 mi (10,686 km).
Record high temperature: 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) at Fort Yukon on June 27, 1915.
Record low temperature: –80 degrees F (–62 degrees C) at Prospect Creek, near Stevens Village, on Jan. 23, 1971.
Average July temperature: 55 degrees F (13 degrees C).
Average January temperature: 5 degrees F (–13 degrees C).
Average yearly precipitation: 55 in (140 cm).
People
Population: 626,932.
Rank among the states: 48th.
Density: 107 persons per 100 mi2 (41 per 100 km2), U.S. average 78 per mi2 (30 per km2).
Distribution: 66 percent urban, 34 percent rural.
Largest cities in Alaska: Anchorage (260,283); Juneau (30,711); Fairbanks (30,224); College (11,402); Sitka (8,835); Ketchikan (7,922).
Economy
Chief products
Fishing industry: cod, crab, halibut, pollock, salmon.
Manufacturing: food products, petroleum products.
Mining: gold, lead, natural gas, petroleum, sand and gravel, silver, zinc.
Government
State government
Governor: 4-year term.
State senators: 20; 4-year terms.
State representatives: 40; 2-year terms.
Organized boroughs: 16.
Federal government
United States senators: 2.
United States representatives: 1.
Electoral votes: 3.
Sources of information
For information about tourism, write to: Alaska Travel Industry Association, 2600 Cordova Street, Suite 201, Anchorage, AK 99503. The association's Web site at http://www.travelalaska.com provides more information.
For information on the economy, write to: Alaska Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development, P.O. Box 110800, Juneau, AK 99811-0800.
The state's official Web site at http://www.state.ak.us also provides a gateway to much information on Alaska's economy, government, and history.