Alaska is the northernmost and westernmost state in the United States and has the most easterly longitude in the United States because the Aleutian Islands extend into the Eastern Hemisphere. Alaska is the only non-contiguous U.S. state on continental North America; about 500 miles (800 km) of British Columbia (Canada) separates Alaska from Washington. It is technically part of the continental U.S., but is sometimes not included in colloquial use; Alaska is not part of the contiguous U.S., often called “the Lower 48”. The capital city, Juneau, is situated on the mainland of the North American continent but is not connected by road to the rest of the North American highway system.
The state is bordered by Yukon and British Columbia in Canada, to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south and southwest, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea to the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north. Alaska’s territorial waters touch Russia’s territorial waters in the Bering Strait, as the Russian Big Diomede Island and Alaskan Little Diomede Island are only 3 miles (4.8 km) apart. Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other U.S. states combined.
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by total area at 663,268 square miles (1,717,856 km), over twice the size of Texas, the next largest state. Alaska is larger than all but 18 sovereign countries. Counting territorial waters, Alaska is larger than the combined area of the next three largest states: Texas, California, and Montana. It is also larger than the combined area of the 22 smallest U.S. states.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Alaska was 737,438 on July 1, 2018, a 3.83% increase since the 2010 United States Census.
In 2010, Alaska ranked as the 47th state by population, ahead of North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming (and Washington, D.C.). Estimates show North Dakota ahead as of 2018. Alaska is the least densely populated state, and one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world, at 1.2 inhabitants per square mile (0.46/km), with the next state, Wyoming, at 5.8 inhabitants per square mile (2.2/km). Alaska is by far the largest U.S. state by area, and the tenth wealthiest (per capita income). As of November 2014, the state’s unemployment rate was 6.6%.
As of 2018, it is one of 14 U.S. states that still has only one telephone area code.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Alaska, had a population of 710,231. In terms of race and ethnicity, the state was 66.7% White (64.1% Non-Hispanic White), 14.8% American Indian and Alaska Native, 5.4% Asian, 3.3% Black or African American, 1.0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 1.6% from Some Other Race, and 7.3% from Two or More Races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 5.5% of the population.
As of 2011, 50.7% of Alaska’s population younger than one year of age belonged to minority groups (i.e., did not have two parents of non-Hispanic white ancestry).
According to the 2011 American Community Survey, 83.4% of people over the age of five spoke only English at home. About 3.5% spoke Spanish at home, 2.2% spoke another Indo-European language, about 4.3% spoke an Asian language (including Tagalog), and about 5.3% spoke other languages at home.
The Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks claims that at least 20 Alaskan native languages exist and there are also some languages with different dialects. Most of Alaska’s native languages belong to either the Eskimo–Aleut or Na-Dene language families; however, some languages are thought to be isolates (e.g. Haida) or have not yet been classified (e.g. Tsimshianic). As of 2014 nearly all of Alaska’s native languages were classified as either threatened, shifting, moribund, nearly extinct, or dormant languages.
A total of 5.2% of Alaskans speak one of the state’s 20 indigenous languages, known locally as “native languages”.
In October 2014, the governor of Alaska signed a bill declaring the state’s 20 indigenous languages to have official status. This bill gave them symbolic recognition as official languages, though they have not been adopted for official use within the government. The 20 languages that were included in the bill are:
According to statistics collected by the Association of Religion Data Archives from 2010, about 34% of Alaska residents were members of religious congregations. 100,960 people identified as Evangelical Protestants, 50,866 as Roman Catholic, and 32,550 as mainline Protestants. Roughly 4% are Mormon, 0.5% are Jewish, 1% are Muslim, 0.5% are Buddhist, 0.2% are Bahá’í, and 0.5% are Hindu. The largest religious denominations in Alaska as of 2010 were the Catholic Church with 50,866 adherents, non-denominational Evangelical Protestants with 38,070 adherents, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 32,170 adherents, and the Southern Baptist Convention with 19,891 adherents. Alaska has been identified, along with Pacific Northwest states Washington and Oregon, as being the least religious states of the USA, in terms of church membership,
In 1795, the First Russian Orthodox Church was established in Kodiak. Intermarriage with Alaskan Natives helped the Russian immigrants integrate into society. As a result, an increasing number of Russian Orthodox churches gradually became established within Alaska. Alaska also has the largest Quaker population (by percentage) of any state. In 2009 there were 6,000 Jews in Alaska (for whom observance of halakha may pose special problems). Alaskan Hindus often share venues and celebrations with members of other Asian religious communities, including Sikhs and Jains.
Estimates for the number of Muslims in Alaska range from 2,000 to 5,000. The Islamic Community Center of Anchorage began efforts in the late 1990s to construct a mosque in Anchorage. They broke ground on a building in south Anchorage in 2010 and were nearing completion in late 2014. When completed, the mosque will be the first in the state and one of the northernmost mosques in the world. There’s also a Bahá’í Center.
Alaska neighborhoods include: Anchorage, Anchor Point, Chiniak, Chugiak, Clam Gulch, Cooper Landing, Delta Junction, Douglas, Eagle River, Eielson Afb, Elmendorf Afb, Fairbanks, Fort Richardson, Girdwood, Haines, Homer, Indian, Juneau, Kasilof, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Metlakatla, Moose Pass, Nikolaevsk, Ninilchik, North Pole, Salcha, Seward, Sitka, Soldotna, Sterling, Tyonek, Wasilla