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Alaska Information and Facts

"Alaska State Travel and Visitor Information."

Alaska Information

Official Website: http://www.state.ak.us/


The population of Alaska in 2002 was 641,482. Its rank was 47th in the nation. (The District of Columbia is included for ranking purposes.)

Per Capita Personal Income

In 2002 Alaska had a per capita personal income of $32,799. This per capita personal income ranked 12th in the United States and was 106 percent of the national average, $30,906. The 2002 per capita personal income reflected an increase of 3.0 percent from 2001. The 2001-2002 national change was 1.2 percent. In 1992 the per capita personal income of Alaska was $23,786 and ranked 8th in the United States. The 1992-2002 average annual growth rate of per capita personal income was 3.3 percent. The average annual growth rate for the nation was 4.0 percent.

Total Personal Income

In 2002 Alaska had a total personal income of $21,040,260. This total personal income ranked 47th in the United States. In 1992 the total personal income of Alaska was $14,003,812 and ranked 46th in the United States. The 2002 total personal income reflected an increase of 4.5 percent from 2001. The 2001-2002 national change was 2.3 percent. The 1992-2002 average annual growth rate of total personal income was 4.2 percent. The average annual growth rate for the nation was 5.2 percent.

Components of Personal Income

Total personal income includes net earnings by place of residence; dividends, interest, and rent; and total personal current transfer receipts received by the residents of Alaska. In 2002 net earnings accounted for 68.2 percent of total personal income (compared with 73.3 in 1992); dividends, interest, and rent were 15.8 percent (compared with 15.1 in 1992); and personal current transfer receipts were 16.0 percent (compared with 11.6 in 1992). From 2001 to 2002 net earnings increased 5.4 percent; dividends, interest, and rent increased 1.0 percent; and personal current transfer receipts increased 4.0 percent. From 1992 to 2002 net earnings increased on average 3.4 percent each year; dividends, interest, and rent increased on average 4.6 percent; and personal current transfer receipts increased on average 7.5 percent.

Employment Earnings

Earnings of persons employed in Alaska increased from $16,173,077 in 2001 to $17,065,081 in 2002, an increase of 5.5 percent. The 2001-2002 national change was 1.5 percent. The average annual growth rate from the 1992 estimate of $12,230,021 to the 2002 estimate was 3.4 percent. The average annual growth rate for the nation was 5.3 percent.

One of the benefits of living in Alaska is the annual check – at times approaching $2,000 – residents receive from earnings on the Permanent Fund, a $24 billion savings account built upon the state’s cut from the extraction of its rich oil resources. Politicians don’t like to even joke about tapping the Fund to finance the operations of state government, but the state’s chronic $1 billion fiscal gap is enough of a threat to prompt serious thought of a yearly $800 million withdrawal. The move would cut dividend checks nearly in half of their all time high.

Area - Alaska occupies the northwestern portion of North America. It includes the Aleutian Islands, a chain of about 150 islands that arcs westward across the Pacific Ocean for about 1800 km (about 1100 mi).
Alaska has a total area of 1,593,438 sq km (615,230 sq mi), including 45,327 sq km (17,501 sq mi) of inland water and 70,849 sq km (27,355 sq mi) of coastal water over which the state has jurisdiction. Alaska has more area of lakes and rivers than any other state, equaling more than the entire size of Massachusetts and Vermont combined. The state’s extreme dimensions are about 2240 km (about 1390 mi) from north to south and about 3550 km (about 2210 mi) from east to west. The mean elevation is about 580 m (about 1900 ft). A large area, north of an imaginary line from the Seward Peninsula through Fort Yukon to the Canadian border, lies within the Arctic Circle. Alaska’s Little Diomede Island in the Bering Strait is 4 km (2.5 mi) east of Big Diomede Island, or Ratmanov Island, which belongs to Russia (see Diomede Islands). Fairbanks, in the center of the state, is 5280 km (3280 mi) by air from New York City, 5670 km (3520 mi) from Tokyo, and 6810 km (4230 mi) from London. This key position, at the northern end of the Pacific Ocean and close to Asia, is a major factor in Alaska’s continued economic importance.

Climate - Alaska has four different climatic zones: maritime, continental, transitional, and Arctic. Kodiak, the Aleutians, and southeastern and south central Alaska have a climate primarily influenced by the sea, so that temperatures do not vary greatly throughout the year, but rainfall is quite high and frequent. Western Alaska, a transitional climate, has much lower temperatures and less rainfall, but, like the Aleutians, frequent periods of extremely high winds and blowing snow. Arctic Alaska has very little snowfall, cool summer temperatures, and frequent high winds, particularly from the east. The interior has a continental climate characterized by extremely great temperature variations, but only moderate rain and snow.
The average January temperatures in southeastern Alaska are close to freezing, but snowfall in many areas can be high. Rainfall, particularly along the coasts, can exceed 2500 mm (100 in) a year. South central Alaska has a maritime climate, ranging northward into a transitional climate. The climates of Homer and Kodiak are more similar to southeastern Alaska’s climate than to that of Anchorage. Because of the oceans and the mountains, and the storms coming from the Gulf of Alaska, this region shows considerable variation from place to place in rainfall and snowfall. For example, Thompson Pass, north of Valdez, has recorded more than 6 m (20 ft) of snowfall in one winter, whereas Anchorage often has little snow all winter long. Under proper conditions, however, cold air from the interior can cross the mountains and bring temperatures in the upper -20s C (lower -20s F) to this region.
The Aleutians, dominated by perpetual low pressure systems and contrasting ocean currents, have frequent fogs, high winds or "williwaws," and rainstorms, making the region extremely difficult for both vessel and aircraft transportation. The interior has a continental (also called sub-Arctic or taiga) climate caused by being in the rain shadow of the coast ranges and inland. Winter cold spells can last several weeks, with temperatures recorded in the -50s C (-60s F), while summer temperatures, particularly in the Yukon Flats, can reach into the upper 30s C (upper 90s F). Summers are characterized by frequent thunderstorms, which often cause forest fires. Mean annual precipitation is about 380 to 510 mm (about 15 to 20 in), with winter snowfalls varying significantly from year to year but averaging in lowland areas at about 1300 mm (about 50 in).
Western Alaska, from the Alaska Peninsula northward to the southern Seward Peninsula, has a transitional climate, one influenced by frequent low pressure systems from the Bering Sea, but also by cold air from the interior and winter sea ice conditions. The result is summer temperatures that seldom rise much above 10 C (50 F), and winter conditions characterized by high winds and snow storms. Arctic Alaska, stretching from the northern Seward Peninsula (Kotzebue Sound) northward to Barrow and eastward to Demarcation Point, has an Arctic climate characterized by low winter and summer temperatures and frequent high winds. While snowfall is low, generally less than 300 mm (12 in), blowing snow frequently creates a condition known as whiteout, in which people cannot differentiate between land and sky, making it extremely easy to become disoriented and lost. Summers are cool, with temperatures generally less than 10 C (50 F) and rainfall tends to concentrate in late summer. The high winds along the coast of the Beaufort Sea blow away insects and make the area favorable to caribou in the summer months.
Because of Alaska’s high northern latitude, the length of day varies much more between summer and winter than it does in other parts of the United States. At Fort Yukon, on the Arctic Circle, the sun barely rises above the southern horizon on the shortest day of the year, December 21. At Barrow, on the Arctic Coast, the sun is not seen from late November until late January. In summer the days are much longer and Alaska is as much "the land of the midnight sun" as are Norway and Sweden. At Barrow there is continuous daylight from early May to early August.

Alaska State Flag
State Flag
Alaska State Flower
State Flower - Forget Me Not

State Capitol - Juneau
Alaska’s constitution was adopted in 1956 and became effective when Alaska entered the Union in 1959. The constitution provides for the initiative, referendum, and recall. State constitutional amendments may be proposed by the legislature or by a constitutional convention. In order to become effective they must be approved by voters in a general election. The state’s constitution requires voters to decide every ten years whether to call a constitutional convention. So far none have been called.

Famous People

Aleksandr Baranov trader, public official, Russia
B. Frank Heintzleman territorial governor
Benny Benson designed state flag at age 13, Chignik
Carl Ben Eielson pioneer pilot
Charles E. Bunnell educator
Henry E. Gruennig political leader
Joe Juneau prospector
Joe Redington, Sr. sled-dog musher and promoter
John Griffith (Jack) London author, San Francisco, CA
John Muir naturalist, explorer, Scotland
Margaret Elizabeth Bell author
Ray Mala actor
Sheldon Jackson educator and missionary, Minaville, NY
Sydney Lawrence painter
Virgil F. Partch cartoonist
Vitus Bering explorer, Denmark
Walter J. Hickel former governor
William A. Egan first state governor

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