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Geography, Alaska Facts
Alaska is by far the largest sta
Alaska is by far the largest state in land area. If you
placed it on top of the “lower 48,” the Aleutian Islands would touch
California’s coast, the southeastern coast near Juneau would rest atop Georgia,
and the North Slope would cover Minnesota. The population density of Alaska is
only one person per 1.1 square miles.
Alaska borders Canada’s Yukon and British Columbia to the east, the Arctic Ocean
to the north, the Bering Sea to the west, and the Gulf of Alaska to the
southwest. The coastline is the longest in the U.S., winding jaggedly over
33,000 miles if you include the islands. If you measure the coastline as a
simple, straight line, it is still over 6600 miles long.
If you remember that the lines of longitude change from “west” to “east” at the
180th parallel, you discover that Alaska has both the easternmost and the
westernmost points in the U.S. (and, of course, the northernmost!).
The landforms of Alaska are vast and varied. The long “Alaskan Peninsula” of
volcanic islands known as the Aleutians, stretches far out into the Bering Sea
to the west. The flat, treeless arctic tundra far above the Arctic Circle forms
the “north slope” near Barrow. There are thirty-nine mountain ranges, the most
famous being the Alaska Range across the central portion and the Brooks Range
further north. Included in the Alaska Range is the highest mountain in North
America: Denali (native name) or Mt McKinley, standing 20,320 ft.
Alaska also has approximately 100,000 glaciers of all sizes, with ice covering
5% of the state. The southeastern portion of the state extends down the west
coast of Canada and includes rainforests. This section, including the capital,
Juneau, can only be reached by boat or plane from the rest of Alaska. There are
no roads for through travel to the southeast section.
Alaska’s rivers and waterways include the Yukon, third longest in the US. The
Yukon stretches East to West from Canada’s Yukon Territories to the Bering Sea.
If you travel upriver along many of the rivers in the glacier-formed valleys,
you come to large glacier fields. Alaska has more glaciers than anywhere else in
the inhabited world.
Alaska is known for its volcanic activity and related earthquakes. The Pacific
Plate of the earth’s crust collides and rides under the North American plate
along the Aleutians, causing the Ring of Fire volcanoes. There are more than 70
active or potentially active volcanoes in Alaska. Much research on volcanoes and
geo-physics is conducted in Alaska because of this activity.
Geography Information from
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Chugach National Forest
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