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The Last Frontier Of all the states in this nation, the average person probably knows the least about Alaska. There are many common, boring facts about this state that people love to repeat over and over. The point of this paper is not to repeat them another painful time, but to shed light on some of the lesser known facts about The Last Frontier. What a better place to find these entertaining, informative, and most of the time useless facts than on the Internet? The Web itself served as my sole resource for all of the following commentary. The type of information that I gathered was expansive and diverse. I will attempt to categorize in some way. The easiest way to start is with some basic but unknown facts like population. Take for instance that this obviously huge state has only 600,000 residents. Indianapolis, IN has well over 750,000 people just in the city. The three biggest cities in Alaska are Anchorage (250,000), Fairbanks (30,000), and Juneau (26,000). The city of Juneau is the largest city in square miles in North America with 3,108. Its population is no measure for that. How do people get around? Well Alaska has about six times as many pilots per capita and 16 times as many aircraft per capita as the rest of the United States. Not too many famous people come from Alaska. The most famous would be Jack London. He was the author of The Call of the Wild and White Fang. In Alaska, there are only 12,000 miles of public roads, with only half of those being paved. An amazing fact about the scarce population of this state is that in Alaska, caribou outnumber people. Several statistics exist considering the enormity of this state. In total, there are 586,400 square miles. It was originally purchased from Russia for around 7 million dollars. That comes out to about 2 cents per acre. So what is there in all of that land? Alaska has over 3 million lakes, 3000 rivers, 1800 islands, and more than 100,000 glaciers. That is more than half of the world's glaciers. Common sense says that if population is low, wilderness is up. There are not too many national parks in Manhattan. In Alaska there are 15 national parks, preserves and monuments in the state, and there are another 117 state parks, for a total of 322 million acres of public lands. Wow. That is the largest park system in the U.S. (see map). It is so big it has dozens of ecosystems (see map). These range from the dry arctic tundra of the northern part of the state to the moist rain forests of the Inside Passage, to the desert of sand dunes in Kobuk Valley. Alaska in shape is sort of a deformed peninsula, jutting off of North America. It borders two oceans (Arctic and Pacific. duhh) and three seas, and has 47,300 miles of coastline (see map). As for diversity of people, seven Native cultures and several sub-cultures live throughout the state. People here have to pay taxes. Some of these may seem interesting to you. In 1995, local governments generated approximately $748 million in revenues. Of that amount, $620.5 million was from property taxes. Prudhoe Bay and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPs) contribute over $253 million of those property taxes to local government. In 16 places in Alaska, the borough system is used. In recent years, the availability of government-sponsored support, such as food stamps and welfare, has diminished greatly. People short on cash who consider relocating to Alaska cannot count on these programs as much as other places. Here are some tidbits on the resources and climate of Alaska. A common myth is that everywhere you go in this state it is unbearably cold. Well, for the most part it is. But there are exceptions. Several other climate types occur here. The coldest part of the state is obviously the north. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. came from Prospect Creek, AL with a measurement of -800 F. In contrast, the highest temperature in the state happened at Fort Yukon with a temp of 1000F. That is an enormous difference in temperature! But when it does snow, watch out. The record for snowfall in a 24 hour period is 62 inches (5.2 feet!). The record for a year is, ahemm... 974 inches from Thompson Alaska. The climate does change. The summer are warm and wet. Certain areas receive a lot of precipitation year-round. The mountains are big here, everybody knows that. But what I learned is that Alaska has had at least 41 volcanic eruptions since 1700 (see map). It is truly one of the most seismic-active regions in the world. Since the turn of the century, 25 percent of all earthquake energy released in the world has been released by earthquakes in Alaska (see map) Everybody knows about the Alaskan Pipeline. Through it, 25% of the United States' oil is received. Well hopefully that wasn't too boring, and I hope that you learned something. What I have gathered is that if you don't mind numbing cold, and the lack of people, but love pure wilderness, then Alaska is the place for you. It truly is the Last Frontier. Just ask the 600,000 people that live there. J AVERAGE TEMPERATURES Anchorage Fairbanks Juneau Nome High Low High Low High Low High Low January 20 6 -4 -22 27 16 13 -2 April 43 28 41 20 47 31 25 10 July 65 51 72 50 64 48 57 44 October 41 28 33 17 47 37 34 22


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