Hidden away at the north-west corner of the North American continent, thousands of miles from the other US states and a stone’s throw from Siberia, Alaska is a huge, ice-blasted hinterland.
A sub-arctic state stretching up towards the North Pole, Alaska is so big that it actually reaches over into the Eastern Hemisphere, making it technically the US’s most northern, western and eastern state. It’s also the largest US state by area (more than twice the size of even Texas), the third smallest by population and the least densely populated.
Though this huge land-mass is only partially inhabited and contains huge swathes of icy wilderness, it does have its pockets of civilization, of which the largest is Anchorage.
Other notable cities include Fairbanks, Nome, Bethel, Valdez and state capital Juneau. However, even in a relatively built-up area, it would be impossible to live in Alaska without embracing the natural elements and features which are such a huge part of the state’s make-up – and ‘huge’ is putting it mildly.
The state is home to North America’s tallest peak, Mt McKinley, three million lakes (that’s not a typo), more than 40 active volcanoes and more than 10,000 glaciers – including one larger than the entire state of Rhode Island.
In the north of the state, where things get really extreme, there’s no daylight for a significant portion of the year, and the coldest temperature ever recorded was a glacial -62°C.
Alaska: Fast facts
• Located in the north-west of North America; borders with Canada to the east and Arctic and Pacific Oceans to north, west and south
• Capital is Juneau and largest city is Anchorage
• During winter, there is no daylight for 64 days in Barrow, in the far north of the state
• State capital Juneau has no road connections – it is accessed by plane or boat
• Alaska has three million lakes (all larger than 20 acres)
• The coldest temperature ever officially recorded in the US was -80°F (-62°C) in northern Alaska in 1971
• There are more bald eagles in Alaska than in the rest of the US combined
• The main mode of private transportation in Alaska is small plane
• All three species of North American bears – Polar, Black and Grizzly – live in Alaska
Top universities in Alaska
The University of Alaska (UA) system has its largest campuses in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, but there are smaller campuses around the state.
Total enrolment in the UA system is around 35,000, including both full-time and part-time students. The largest campus by enrolment is UA Anchorage. Here, the most popular majors are in nursing, education, business administration, human services, accounting, psychology and aviation technology.
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