January 3 – Anniversary of Alaska's Statehood

Posted on January 3, 2016

Alaska is the largest state by area. It's so large, it's more than twice the size of the next largest state, Texas. As a matter of fact, it's larger than the combined area of the 22 smallest U.S. states!

Look how huge Alaska is when it is splayed out over the
"Lower 48" states!

BUT, Alaska is the third smallest state by population.

And this means...yep, you got it! Alaska has the least population density of the 50 United States.

Speaking of “50 states,” Alaska is the 49th state to join the U.S. Only Hawaii is more recent. Alaska became an official state on this date in 1959.

Aside from all those “most-est”s and "least-est"s, Alaska is the northernmost, westernmost AND easternmost of the 50 states.

I bet you can see why Alaska is northernmost...But do you get how it can be both easternmost and westernmost?

It's because the Aleutian Islands extend into the eastern hemisphere.

Here's some great terminology: Alaska is part of the continental U.S., because it certainly is a part of North America, but it is not part of the contiguous U.S. states. Contiguous states, as a group, are not interrupted by other land or water. You can see that California and Oregon, for example, are contiguous, because they share a border. However, neither Alaska nor Hawaii are part of the 48 continuous states—because they are separated from the “Lower 48” by the Pacific Ocean, in Hawaii's case, and by Canada, in Alaska's case.

Alaska is special among U.S. states in so many ways. Even aside from its extreme size and location, Alaska has:
  • the longest coastline (almost five times longer than the next longest coastline, Florida)
  • the highest mountain, Denali, with an elevation of 20,320 feet (as a matter of fact, the 16 highest mountains in the U.S.!!!)
  • the most lakes (people often talk about Minnesota as the Land of 1,000 Lakes – but Alaska has more than 3,000,000 lakes!!!)
  • the most glaciers (actually, Alaska has half of all the glaciers in the world!)
  • the most wilderness (in fact, 8 of the 10 largest wilderness areas in the U.S. are located in Alaska)

Whether you want to check out ice caves...

...or iceberg production...

...or dog sledding...

Check out Alaska!

There are also local oddities such as the Dr. Seuss house (no relation to the author – but the 12-story house, created as its owner tried to maintain his good view even as the surrounding trees grew taller and taller)...

an ice museum...

...and a small city with just two large buildings. One of the large buildings is abandoned – but bears go there often! – and the other building houses almost all of the city's population!

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