Alaska Quick Facts|
Alaska State Capitol
Alaska State Seal
Sitka Spruce - The State Tree of Alaska
Willow Ptarmigan - The State Bird of Alaska
Forget-me-not - The State Flower of Alaska
Alaska's Flag - The blue field is for the sky and the Forget-me-not, the state flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly of the Union. The dipper represents a Great Bear, symbolizing strength.
History of Alaska - Vitus Bering, a Dane working for the Russians, and Alexei Chirikov discovered the Alaskan mainland and the Aleutian Islands in 1741. The tremendous land mass of Alaska â€” equal to one-fifth of the continental U.S. â€” was unexplored in 1867 when Secretary of State William Seward arranged for its purchase from the Russians for $7,200,000. The transfer of the territory took place on Oct. 18, 1867. Despite a price of about two cents an acre, the purchase was widely ridiculed as "Seward's Folly." The first official census (1880) reported a total of 33,426 Alaskans, all but 430 being of aboriginal stock. The Gold Rush of 1898 resulted in a mass influx of more than 30,000 people. Since then, Alaska has contributed billions of dollars' worth of products to the U.S. economy. In 1968, a large oil and gas reservoir near Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Coast was found. The Prudhoe Bay reservoir, with an estimated recoverable 10 billion barrels of oil and 27 trillion cubic feet of gas, is twice as large as any other oil field in North America. The Trans-Alaska pipeline was completed in 1977 at a cost of $7.7 billion. On June 20, oil started flowing through the 800-mile-long pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to the port of Valdez. Other industries important to Alaska's economy are fisheries, wood and wood products, furs, and tourism. Denali National Park and Mendenhall Glacier in North Tongass National Forest are of interest, as is the large totem pole collection at Sitka National Historical Park. The Katmai National Park includes the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes", an area of active volcanoes.
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