Meaning of ALASKA in English

ALASKA

constituent state of the United States of America. It lies at the extreme northwest of the North American continent and is the largest peninsula in the Western Hemisphere. Its 591,004 square miles (1,530,700 square kilometres) include some 15,000 square miles of fjords and inlets, and its three faces to the sea have about 34,000 miles (54,400 kilometres) of indented tidal coastline and 6,600 total miles of coast fronting the open sea. It borders the Arctic Ocean on the north and northwest, the Bering Strait and the Bering Sea on the west, and the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Alaska on the south. The land boundaries on the east cut across some 1,150 miles of high mountains to separate the state from the Canadian Yukon Territory and British Columbia province. Rimming the state on the south is one of the Earth's most active earthquake belts. In the Alaska Range north of Anchorage, Mount McKinley, at 20,320 feet (6,194 metres), is the highest peak in North America. The capital is Juneau, which lies in the southeast in the panhandle region. When it became the 49th state on Jan. 3, 1959, Alaska increased the nation's size by nearly 20 percent. The new area included vast stretches of unexplored land and untapped resources. At the time Secretary of State William H. Seward negotiated its purchase from Russia in 1867, however, Alaska was known as Seward's Folly. Its settlement and exploitation have been hindered by its distance from the rest of the nation and by geographic and climatic impediments to travel and communications; Alaska continues to be the country's last frontier. More than half of the state's inhabitants live in the Greater Anchorage area. The question of development versus preservation has been heightened by commercial and ecological uses of land: the Alaska Highway gas-pipeline project, native Alaskans' land claims, noncommercial whaling by native peoples, and related matters. The conflicts between conservationists and petroleum companies over the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which runs from the oil-rich North Slope on the Arctic Ocean to Valdez in the south, was a continuation of the century-long effort to find a balance between conservation and development in this enormous land. Alaska constituent state of the United States of America, lying at the extreme northwest of the North American continent along the tectonically active rim of the North Pacific Ocean. The state is the largest in area and the one with the sparsest population. Facing Siberia across the Bering Strait and Sea to the west, Alaska is also bounded by the Arctic Ocean on the north and northwest, the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Alaska on the south, and the Canadian Yukon Territory and province of British Columbia on the east. The capital is Juneau. Mainland Alaska extends about 900 miles (1,450 km) from north to south and about 800 miles (1,300 km) from east to west. When the Aleutian Islands and the southeastern Panhandle are included, the eastwest extent is about 3,000 miles (4,800 km). The Indians of Alaska are thought to be descendents of the first North American immigrants who crossed the Bering Land Bridge probably about 40,000 to 15,000 years ago and went on to people the American continents. The Eskimos (Inuit) and Aleuts appear to be descendants of more sedentary Arctic peoples who arrived in Alaska perhaps 8,000 to 3,000 years ago. The first European settlement was established in 1784 by Russian fur traders at Three Saints Bay on Kodiak Island. The area was administered by the RussianAmerican Company from 1799 until 1867, when Secretary of State William H. Seward negotiated Alaska's sale to the United States. American settlement was stimulated by significant gold discoveries during the 1880s and 1890s, prompting Congress to establish the Territory of Alaska in 1912. Hostile Japanese activities during World War II necessitated construction of defense facilities as well as the Alaskan (Alcan) Highway. Alaska was admitted to the Union as the 49th state on Jan. 3, 1959. Internal administration of Alaska's land has since been complicated as a result of the retention of vast tracts by the federal government and by the awarding of other vast areas to fulfill the claims of the native peoples. Physiographically Alaska can be divided into four main regions: (1) the insular and cordilleran south; (2) the interior central plains, and tablelands; (3) the Brooks Range; and (4) the coastal lowland, sometimes called the North Slope, that lies north of the Brooks Range. The Alaska Range rises to the highest point on the continent, Mount McKinley, 20,320 feet (6,194 m). The Aleutian mountain system of the southwest and the St. Elias Mountains and Boundary Range of the southeast are characterized by active volcanoes, earthquakes, and glaciers. The marshy interior of central Alaska is drained by the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. The wide-ranging geographical provinces and great physiographic relief provide much climatic diversity. Relatively mild temperatures, high precipitation, and fog are the predominant features of the maritime climates of the state's southern rim. Continental extremes in the interior, intensified by the long summer days and winter nights, give way to high Arctic (polar) desert conditions in the north. Alaska, despite being the least populous and least densely populated state in the Union, has experienced an extremely high growth rate, the result of large numbers of youthful immigrants who come seeking economic opportunities. The population increased by 454 percent during the period 1940 to 1980. The median age is only about 26 years. Aboriginal peoples constitute about one-seventh of the population. The Eskimos (Inuit) are the largest native American group (34,000), followed by the American Indians (22,000) and the Aleuts (8,000). More than half of Alaska's inhabitants live in the Anchorage area, about 15 percent around Fairbanks, and about 13 percent in the scattered towns of the southeastern Panhandle region. The economy of Alaska has become increasingly centred on the oil and natural-gas industry. Since the opening of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1977, Alaska is second only to Texas in production of crude oil. Coal, gold, zinc, silver, copper, and sand and gravel are important mining products. One-third of the labour force is employed in state and federal government agencies and in defense installations. Traditional fishing and forestry industries operate under government regulation to prevent overexploitation. Most cool-weather crops and livestock can be raised, but, because agricultural land is underdeveloped, most food supplies are imported. As a result of increased public awareness and improved transportation facilities, there has been a major upsurge in tourism. The major transportation links, both internal and external, are by air. The Alaska Marine Highway operates ferry service among most of the coastal communities. The cities of the south-central region are linked by road to the Alaskan Highway, and thus to western Canada and the 48 coterminous states. The University of Alaska statewide system of higher education has urban centres at Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Auke Lake (Juneau), as well as several community colleges. Alaska's heritage is culturally removed from the American mainstream, centring on the arts and crafts of its native peoples and the remnants of Russian settlement. Much of this vast northern land remains as America's last virgin wilderness, endowed with abundant natural resources, and is often perceived to have a dramatic beauty and a special national character. Area 591,004 square miles (1,530,700 square km). Pop. (1990) 550,043. Additional reading Reference works include The Alaska Almanac (annual); and R.K. Woerner (ed.), The Alaska Handbook (1986), an encyclopaedia of information and statistics. Federal Writers' Project, A Guide to Alaska, Last American Frontier (1939, reissued 1987), is still a useful introduction. Two books from the National Geographic Society (U.S.), Alaska, by Bern Keating, 2nd ed. (1971), and Alaska: High Roads to Adventure (1976), offer illustrated essays on geographic regions, people, and industries. M.M. Miller, Alaska's Mighty Rivers of Ice, National Geographic Magazine, 131:194217 (February 1967), surveys Alaska's spectacular glacier coast and explains the intriguing pattern of glacier variation in historic time. Nancy Simmerman, Alaska's Parklands, the Complete Guide (1983), portrays the national and state parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, wild and scenic areas, and the like. DeLorme Mapping Company, Alaska Atlas & Gazetteer, 2nd ed. (1998), displays the state's topography. Donald J. Orth, Dictionary of Alaska Place Names (1967, reprinted 1971); and Alan Edward Schorr, Alaska Place Names, 4th ed. (1991), combine local history and geography. Ernest Gruening, The State of Alaska, expanded ed. (1968), is an authoritative text on politics and economics in Alaska in the decade before statehood. Two magazines are of interest: Alaska (monthly), detailing life on the last frontier; and The Alaska Journal (quarterly), articles on the history and arts of the north.Clarence C. Hulley, Alaska: Past and Present, 3rd ed. (1970, reprinted 1981), provides a general history from the Russian days to the 1960s. William R. Hunt, Alaska: A Bicentennial History (1976), is another overview. Claus-M. Naske and Herman E. Slotnick, Alaska: A History of the 49th State, 2nd ed. (1987), includes chapters on native land claims, conservation, and the oil boom. Current research is reported in Alaska History (semiannual). Maynard M. Miller

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