Monday 11 July 2011

The America project - Alaska

Alaska (AK) size 663,267 sq.m population 710,000

Bordering states None
State capital Juneau
Most populous city Anchorage
Other notable places Kodiak, Fairbank, Nome
Notable landmarks and natural features Mount Shishaldin, the world's most perfectly conically-shaped volcano; Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America.

Statehood 3rd January 1959 (49th)

Five famous Alaskans
Matt Carle (ice hockey player; born Anchorage, 1984 - )
Joe Juneau (gold prospector; born Saint-Paul-l'Ermite, Quebec, Canada (founded city of Juneau), 1836-1899)
Sarah Palin (politician; born Sandpoint, Idaho (moved to Skagway as a baby), 1964 -)
Valerie Plame (Ex-CIA secret agent; born Anchorage, 1963 - )
Curtis Schilling (baseball player; born Anchorage, 1966 -)

Three important events

1. The Alaska Purchase (1867)
Fearing that the territory would be a vulnerable target in an anticipated future war with Britain, Tzar Alexander II of Russia decided to sell Alaska. The US Secretary of State Henry Seward thought it would be a valuable acquisition and eventually convinced Congress to stump up US$7.2 million for it. This works out at roughly 2 cents per acre. However, it wasn't until gold was discovered in Alaska at the end of the 19th Century that Americans began to accept that "Seward's Folly" may have been worthwhile.

2. The Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1899)
Gold was discovered in the Klondike River, Yukon, on the Canadian side of the Alaska-Canada border in August 1896. When the news reached the USA in the following summer, it caused a huge migration of hopeful prospectors. At its height, the population of the Klondike is thought to have been over 40,000, establishing Dawson City and almost causing a famine. The majority of prospectors travelled through Alaska to reach the Klondike, and many stayed there when the Klondike Gold Rush ended in 1899 with rumours of a discovery of gold in Nome on Alaska's west coast.

3. The Good Friday earthquake (27th March 1964)
At 5.36p.m. on Good Friday 1964, Alaska was struck by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America and the second most powerful ever recorded. Registering at 9.2 on the Richter Scale, it killed 9 people outright and a further 122 in Tsunamis across Alaska, Oregon and California. Some parts of land were permanently raised by 30 feet as a result of the force released, whilst property damage was estimated at US$310 million (now US$2.12 billion).

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