Alaska (USA) Brief History

Alaska (USA) Brief History

“Hi, Bear” is a phrase the ranger in Denali National Park recommends using often when hiking in the Alaskan wilderness to inform bears that a hiker is coming. If you surprise a bear, there is a risk that the meeting will end in a conflict, which is neither good for the bear nor the walker. It is also possible to sing, or make noise in other ways to inform wild animals that you are a guest in their kingdom, I learned during this trip.

Alaska in North America, is large, very large, to the surface. As much as three times larger than Sweden’s total area. Most are almost untouched wilderness with a rich animal and plant life. However, the wild animals are often quite difficult to see, even if you have a different opinion about this through all the exciting nature films shown on TV. Alaska’s cities are generally no more than about one hundred years old and therefore have few attractions in addition to some early 20th century buildings.

According to, Alaska is another area that white colonizers took from the indigenous people. Here, however, these have had some of their rights inscribed in the law but have still been displaced from their former lands and many have suffered misery. In Anchorage, I saw many indigenous people (Eskimos) with major alcohol problems. It is sad to see how little resources the United States spends on correcting the problems of indigenous peoples in relation to the great resources they invest in waging war in different countries!

During my four-week tour of Alaska, I got to experience some of the incredibly beautiful and dramatic nature through my 3,915-kilometer drive and hikes in various places. I met many very nice and hospitable people, both Alaskan residents and tourists. The prize went to Henry and Sharon from Virginia who I met in Denali. They invited me to dinner, gave me various presents and Henry sat outside my tent in the drizzle at 06.30 in the morning and waited for me with a pot of hot tea!

During this trip I visited, among others, Anchorage, Homer, Seward, Sheep Mountain, Valdez, Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Talkeetna and the amazing Denali National Park, where I camped for four days. I also made an exciting boat trip out in Kenai Fjords National Park and saw humpback whales, killer whales, sea lions, sea otters, porpoises and more. During my stay in Denali National Park, I saw eleven grizzly bears, caribou (reindeer), moose (moose), snow goats, etc. The flora was rich in species, in Denali National Park alone, over 600 different flowers have been registered.

The most dramatic part of the trip happened in the small town of Soldotna, where I was chased by two police cars with the red and blue lights on. When the police got out of their cars, they looked grim and had their hands firmly resting on the pistols.

This is how I drove:

Anchorage – Seward Highway to Girdwood – Tern Lake Junction – Sterling Highway to Soldotna – Ninilchick – Anchor Point (Alaska’s westernmost highway point) – Homer – Anchor Point – Soldotna- Skilak Lake – Cooper Landing – Tern Lake Junction – Moose Pass – Seward – Tern Lake Junction – Girdwood – Anchorage – Glenn Highway to Eklutna – Old Glenn Highway to Butte – Palmer – Glenn Highway to Matanuska Glacier – Sheep Mountain – Glennallen – Richardson Highway to Copper Center – Valdez – Richardson Highway to Glennallen – Gakona – Tok Cut Off to Tok – Alaskan highway to Delta Junction – Fairbanks – Nenana – Healy – Denali – Carlo Creek – Denali National Park – Cantwell – Trapper Creek – Talkeetna – Wasilla – Anchorage.

Briefly about the name Alaska

The name “Alaska” was used already during the Russian colonial era when it was used only for the land mass that makes up the peninsula itself. The word is derived from the Aleutian alaxsxaq which means “mainland”, or more literally “the object against which the action of the sea is directed”. It is also known as alyeska, which means “The great land”, or “That which the sea breaks against”, also an Aleutian word.

Alaska history in brief

Alaska was originally inhabited by people from Siberia who 20 – 30,000 years ago walked over the land bridge that at this time was on the Bering Strait. These first lived on hunting and fishing and were nomads. Many, perhaps all, of the ethnic groups that migrated to the North American continent then migrated further south and eventually reached South America as well. The first recorded accounts suggest that the Russians were the first Europeans to reach Alaska, and in the 1730s the Russian Vitus Bering explored parts of the coast of Alaska. In the late 18th century, people from the Russian-American company began hunting fur animals, mainly otters. During the years 1799 to 1867, the colony of Russian America existed.

The English seafarer James Cook reached Alaska during his third voyage in 1778 when he mapped the road to the Bering Strait. His ship anchored in the bay where Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, is now located. Cook came up with new valuable information about the sea route in the northwest.

On April 9, 1867, the United States bought Alaska from Russia for $ 7,200,000, about $ 110 million in current monetary value, and on October 18 of that year, the United States took control of the area. The driving force behind the implementation of the deal was the then US Secretary of State William Seward. Initially, many critical voices were directed at the purchase, but after gold was found in Alaska, attitudes soon changed.

From the time of its purchase until 1884, the area was called the Alaska Department, and between 1884 and 1912 the Alaska District.

On July 7, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the so-called Alaska Statehood Act, which resulted in Alaska becoming the 49th state of the United States on January 3, 1959.

On Good Friday 1964, Alaska was hit by a severe earthquake and several cities were severely damaged, including Anchorage and Valdez.

Alaska’s most famous person is probably Sarah Palin, who was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the 2008 election.

Alaska geography

Alaska is one of the two states of the United States that does not border on any other US state, Hawaii is the other. About 800 kilometers of Canadian territory separates Alaska from the state of Washington. Alaska is the only state where its own residents have to pass through another country to get to its capital. The only road to the capital Juneau requires a ferry ride to Canada.

Alaska has an area of ​​1,477,261 square kilometers, which corresponds to just over 3 times Sweden, and is thus the largest state in the United States by area. It also has the longest coastline of all states.

Alaska is often divided into the following regions:

South Central Alaska which includes the state’s southern coastal region. The majority of its population lives here. Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, has just over 294,000 inhabitants .

The Alaska Panhandle is located in the southeast. Here is the state capital Juneau with 31,000 inhabitants.

In Alaska Interior, Inner Alaska, lies Fairbanks, about 35,500 inhabitants.

Alaskan Bush is the most remote part of the state and consists of 380 indigenous villages. Here are smaller cities such as Nome, Bethel, Kotzebue and Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States

The total number of inhabitants in Alaska amounts to just under 737,500 (2018)

With its many islands, Alaska has a coastline that is almost 54,700 kilometers long. The chain of islands that leads west from the southern tip of the Alaska Peninsula is called the Aleutians and on these islands there are many active volcanoes, one of them is Mount Shiskaldin which rises 3042 meters above sea level.

North America’s largest tidal differences are reached just south of Anchorage, these can amount to more than 10.7 meters between the ebb and flow.

In Alaska, there are 3.5 million lakes with an area exceeding 8 acres (approximately 280,000 km²). Marshes and wetlands cover approximately 487,747 km² mainly in northern, western and southwestern Alaska. Glaciers cover 41,440 km² of the state.

Alaska is the westernmost and northernmost state in the United States. In addition, the islands of the Aleutians cross the 180th meridian, which also makes Alaska the easternmost state in the United States, but the actual date line revolves around the islands so as not to divide the day in Alaska.

Alaska (USA) Brief History