9 amazing facts about Alaska to know before your visit

Let’s take a look at 9 amazing facts about Alaska, arguably the most neglected state of the USA. It stretches from the Aleutian Islands to the Eastern Hemisphere, making it the largest state of the country. It covers an area of 663,268 square miles and counts 738,432 people. For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Alaska is the cold. Or the unending sea of ice, polar bears and the Alaskan wilderness. We’re going to cover some of the not so obvious facts about Alaska.

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1 – Alaska is home to seven of the nine largest national parks in North America.

Neither Yellowstone nor the Grand Canyon is the largest national park in the U.S. Rather, its little-known Rag Mill Street Elias National Park. It occupies over 13 million acres and is home to some of the tallest peaks in the USA. The majority of the park is only accessible by plane. Apart from the ice in a cold climate, there are several natural beauties that tourists get to enjoy. These include forests, glaciers, springs, wildlife, and active volcanoes. Some of the national parks you should check out in Alaska are Denali, Kobuk Valley, Katmai or Lake Clarke.

2 – Most of Alaska is inaccessible by car.

A lot of Alaska cannot be accessed by vehicles. Surprisingly, this includes the capital city of Juneau. It’s only accessible by boat or plane. Most of the commuters use both planes and snow machines. Because of this, there is a traffic law that requires drivers to pull over if there are at least five other vehicles behind you. This is done to avoid traffic backups by allowing faster vehicles to pass. One out of 58 people in Alaska is a licensed pilot. A pizza company called Airport Pizza even delivers to hungry customers in remote areas for free.

3 – Alaska is not the least populated state in the USA.

Because of its bone-chilling weather, most people assume that Alaska is the least populated state in the USA. Interestingly, there are actually three other states that have a lower population. They are North Dakota, Wyoming, and Vermont. However, Alaska is still the least densely populated state. If the population density was transferred to New York, they would be approximately 28 people in manhattan. According to the census in 2010, the population has only increased by 13% in the previous 10 years.

4- The Japanese attacked Alaska during World War II.

Pearl Harbor was not the only US location attacked during World War II. About 17 years before Alaska became a US state, the Alaskan islands of Attu and Kiska were taken over by the Japanese between June 6 and 7, 1942. They controlled the island for 4 months, during which they enslave the locals. Soldiers were later sent to free the locals, unfortunately, they were ill-equipped to deal with the climate. As a result, it took longer than necessary to subdue the enemy. The battlefield of Kiska is still thought to be preserved under the ice. It is however considered unsafe because there are likely undetonated landmines in the area.

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5 – There is a controversy over Alaskan hunting regulations.

Natives of Alaska have been hunting game for as long as the area has been inhabited. In the recent past, there is friction between locals and conservationists over what should be hunted and the method they should use to hunt. Some of the most hunted animals up there are bears and wolves. The Trump administration is seeking to repeal all regulations that have been imposed on the locals by Washington. There are people that feed their families from the hunts.

6 – Alaska is 40% water.

The total number of lakes in Alaska is estimated to be around 3 million! The number of rivers is somewhere around 12,000. The largest lake, Lake Iliamna is 1,115 square miles about the size of Connecticut. Most of the streams are frozen for close to half of the year every year. The streams begin between April and May and the flow for most of the rivers is influenced by glaciers. The Yukon River is the longest river in Alaska, covering over 1,280 miles. 

7 – The city of Barrow experiences the longest and shortest days in the world.

On 10 May every year, the sun rises in Barrow and doesn’t set for another three months… It is the longest period of daytime experience anywhere in the world. The longest day in the world is followed by a similarly long night lasting another 2 months. The residents have grown accustomed to this pattern and plan their activities accordingly. During the dark months, floodlights are used to provide light.

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8 – There are 20 native languages spoken in Alaska.

For a long time, English was the official state language of Alaska despite there being 20 other native languages. Given the low population in the area, a lot of the natives originally migrated into the area from Siberia in the early 18th century. Russian then began to trade with them and later forced them into slavery. Americans only began to interact with Alaska natives during the gold rush in 1896. This is why many of the native languages have survived to date. 

9 – The USA purchased the state from Russia.

For only 7.2 million dollars, the Russians were convinced that the land was nothing but a vast wasteland. They previously used it for the fur trade and missionary work. The treaty for America to buy Alaska from Russia was agreed upon on 30 March 1867. The amount paid to Russia represents 2 cents per acre. A few years later, gold was discovered in Alaska. It is possibly the biggest real estate rip-off of the century. Today, Alaska is believed to hold on to the last remaining untouched oil reserves in the world.

Ready to travel and visit the Wild North?

Let us know in the comments what facts surprised you, and what else we should know about Alaska. We hope you now want to discover Alaska.

Before traveling, make sure your travel documents are in order. If you would like to renew your passport, click here > Also, before going abroad, we recommend you pack your European Health Insurance Card with you. To know more about the EHIC card or to renew it, please click here > And finally, don’t forget travel insurance. You can compare the prices for different policies here > 

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Richard Howard

Travel Specialist at Passport Advice & Services
With 10yrs plus experience in the passport application and renewal space. Richard Howard has assisted many consumers avoid missing their annual holiday or urgent business trip abroad with help securing them urgent same or next day appointments as well as saved countless others save time, money and hassle with his companys' passport lodging and collection service.
Richard Howard