Flag and map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

Area north of 60 latitude
15% of its total area (9 372 610 sq. km.)

Ethnic Mix:
Mainly European in origin (80%); aboriginal (0.8%); African-American (11%); Latin-American (8%), small minorities from many countries. Aboriginal peoples in Alaska include Athapaskan-speaking Indians in the interior; Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Indians in the southeast; Aleuts on the Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands; Inuit (Yupik and Sugpiaq) on the west coast and Inuit (Inupiat) on the north coast.

Principal industries:
petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, fishing, lumber, mining

Currency: US dollar ($ or $US) = 100 cents

Did you know?

  • Anchorage is built around a harbour on Cook Inlet. When Captain James Cook anchored there in 1778, he saw it as a good place for a settlement. A community was finally established in 1915. Today, 17 000 of Anchorage’s 250,000 people are aboriginal.
  • Bering Strait is the narrow body of water separating Asia and North America. The sea is very shallow in this area, less than 50 metres deep. Some think the sea floor was above water 30 000 years ago and that a land bridge-Beringia- connected the continents. They believe aboriginal peoples migrated from Asia to North and South America across this bridge.

Learn more:

Canadian Global Almanac 2003
The Northern Circumpolar World by Bob MacQuarrie (Reidmore Books)


Life for the Inupiat in Alaska changed dramatically with the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay in 1968. When this large oil field was developed in the 1970s, considerable wealth came to the entire region, known as the North Slope.

Oil began flowing on June 20,1977 and since then more than 16,000 tankers have been sent south from the Marine Terminal in Valdez.

The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and some village corporations set up under the Alaska land claim settlement share the oil industry’s prosperity. The regional corporation has investments in land, natural resources, transportation, communications systems, and construction activities.

In addition to these economic developments, the North Slope Borough was established in 1972. It is a government for the most northerly region of Alaska, applying the taxes paid by oil developers to education, health, wildlife resource management and other social responsibilities.

Trans Alaska Pipeline
A pipeline was considered the only viable way to transport oil from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields over the Arctic permafrost, three mountain ranges and more than 800 rivers and streams to the nearest ice-free port at Valdez over 1280 kilometers away. Oil companies and land developers set up a new business consortium called Alyeska to design, build and operate the pipeline that eventually cost $8 billion to construct.

The pipeline is raised on pillars in the permafrost zone. Where the pillars enter the ground, refrigeration units have been put in place to keep the ground frozen and the line stable. About half the line is built on the above-ground pillars while the rest, outside the permafrost zone, is buried underground.

Travel time for crude oil from Prudhoe Bay Pump Station No. 1 to the Valdez terminal is 8.6 days, with more than 9 million barrels of oil in the pipeline at any given time.

MacQuarrie, Bob. The Northern Circumpolar World. Edmonton: Reidmore Books
Photo Shannon Graham, 3.20.2002.html