The Land of the Midnight Sun is a magical place made up of some of the country's most amazing natural landscapes and wildlife
There could only be one state that claims dog mushing as its state sport. Alaska! The Land of the Midnight Sun is a magical, often wintery place made up of some of the country's most amazing natural landscapes and wildlife. It is home to 16 of the country's 20 highest mountains. Alaska also has plenty of quirky claims to fame. The bear to human ratio is 1 to 21. (Does that mean a lot of bears or few people?) Due to the extra long summer days, Alaskan vegetables are much bigger than normal.
1. Name Origin: The name “Alaska” comes from the Aleut word “Alyeska,” meaning “great land.”
2. Nicknames: The Last Frontier, Land of the Midnight Sun
3. State Motto: North to the Future
4. State Flower: Forget-me-not
5. State Capital: Juneau — one of two capitals in the United States accessible only by boat or plane.
6. Statehood: The United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7,200,000, or two cents an acre. Alaska became the 49th state in 1959.
7. State Size: Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times (570,374 square miles).
8. Population: Approximately 722,718, with one bear for every 21 people.
9. Mountains: Alaska is home to 16 of the 20 highest mountains in the United States.
10. Glaciers: The largest is the Bering Glacier complex, which includes the Bagley Icefield.
11. Sports: The state sport (and a popular winter activity) is dog mushing.
12. Midnight Sun: On December 21, the sun doesn’t rise for 24 hours, and on June 21, the sun doesn’t set for 24 hours.
13. Agriculture: Due to the long summer days, giant vegetables grow in Alaska. The largest known cabbage weighed 127 pounds.
14. Wildlife: The state's largest animal is the Kodiak bear, which grows up to about 1,400 pounds in weight and 11 feet in height.
15. Aurora borealis (northern lights): Are actually solar particles blown into the earth's magnetic field more than 60 miles above the earth's surface. The best time to see them is the winter months, October through March but you might get lucky in early May or late September.
16. Topography: Alaska has 3 million lakes, more than 70 potentially active volcanoes and 33,904 miles of shoreline.
17. State Flag: Not every 13-year-old can boast that they designed a state flag. In 1927, Benny Benson had his entry selected from hundreds in a statewide contest for schoolchildren. The simple design consists of a field of blue representing the sky and the forget-me-not, the state flower. The North Star, in the upper right-hand corner, symbolizes guidance toward an optimistic future, and the Big Dipper is for the bear, a symbol of Alaska’s strength and an animal indigenous to the state.
What cool facts do you know about Alaska? Share them with us on Facebook.