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Alaska, also known as Aleyska, or “the great land,” is the largest and northernmost state in the United States. With Canada to its east, the coastline of Alaska is longer than all other U.S. states combined, and the state’s total area is twice the size of Texas. The geographic landscape includes tundra, a chain of islands, active volcanoes, glacier ice, and more than 3 million lakes. With a multitude of national parks and refuges, the Arctic National Refuge spans more than 16 million acres, making it the largest wildlife refuge in the world.
Although the capital is Juneau, the city is not connected to the rest of the nation’s interstate highway by road, and almost half of the state’s residents live in and around Anchorage. It is not uncommon for the smaller cities in Alaska to lack connections to the North American road network. These communities, referred to as “The Bush,” rely on other forms of transportation, ranging from snowmobile to air services, which have become an extremely well-developed Alaskan novelty. Cities of the southeast have their own ferry system. Dogsledding still occurs today, though mainly as a sport.
Alaska has an abundance of resources, namely fish, natural gas, and oil, which are the main components of the state’s economy. Farming is rare, and much of the state’s food is shipped from other places. Tourism also plays a significant role, with a recent interest in summer cruises along the coast.
Alaska has 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the United States. Running through Alaska is the third longest river in the U.S., the Yukon River, known for being one of the world’s longest salmon runs. Roughly five percent of the state is covered in glaciers, the most of any other inhabited place in the world.
Because one third of Alaska is north of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set on one day in the summer and does not rise on one day in the winter. The most darkness occurs from September through April, which is the prime time to watch for the breathtaking phenomenon of the Northern Lights. The aurora borealis
can be seen from anywhere in the state, but the best location to catch them is Fairbanks because it is directly under the “aurora oval.” There are many tours available for excursions further north in search of the best displays. The most common colors associated with the northern lights are green and red, but they can include yellow, pink, and blue. The colors can take on many different forms, but the most prominent auroras are the curtain-like arcs. The displays change rapidly, and are sometimes bright enough to read by