The word Alaska comes from the Aleut term Alyeska which means The Great Land.
Alaska is the largest state in the union. At 586,412 square miles it is one-fifth the size of the Lower 48.
The greatest annual precipitation in Alaska occurred in MacLeod Harbor in Prince William Sound where 332.29 inches were recorded. Record snowfalls were recorded north of Valdez at 974.5 inches. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was minus 80 at Prospect Creek.
Alaska population is 626,932 (2000 Census). Nearly half of the state residents live in Anchorage. Alaska has almost one square mile for each person in the state (New York has .003).
Alaska has 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the U.S. Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America, is 20,320 ft. above sea level. Denali, the Indian name for the peak, means The Great One.
At over 2 miles in mapped length, El Capitan Cave on Prince of Wales Island is the longest cave in North America.
Kodiak and Prince of Wales Island in Alaska are the largest and third largest islands in the United States.
The Yukon River, almost 2,000 miles long, is the third longest river in the U.S. There are more than 3,000 rivers in Alaska and over 3 million lakes. The largest, Lake Iliamna, encompasses over 1,000 square miles.
Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers, covering about five percent of the state. There are more active glaciers and ice fields in Alaska than in the rest of the inhabited world. The largest glacier is the Bering Glacier Complex at 2,250 square miles (approximately the size of Delaware).
Alaska boasts the northernmost (Point Barrow), the easternmost (Semisopochnoi Island in the Aleutians), and the western most (St. Lawrence Island) points in the United States.
There are more than 70 potentially active volcanoes in Alaska. Several have erupted in recent times.
North America strongest recorded earthquake, with a magnitude of 9.2, rocked Alaska March 27, 1964. Each year, Alaska has approximately 5,000 earthquakes, including 1,000 that measure above 3.5 on the Richter scale. Of the ten strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the world, three have occurred in Alaska.
The largest known concentration of bald eagles in the world spends time each fall and winter along the Chilkat River in Southeast Alaska. More than 3,500 bald eagles gather to feed on salmon. Literally billions of birds of more than 440 different species occur in Alaska.
Alaska has 6,640 miles of mainland coastline. Including islands, it has 33,904 miles of coastline.
The nation's two largest national forests, the Tongass and the Chugach, are located in Alaska.