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Alaska (@[email protected] Russian: Aliaska; Aleut; Alaxsxax, Inupiaq and Yup’ik: Alaskaq) is a state in the Western United States at the northwest extremity. It is a semi-exclave of U.S. and borders Canada’s British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to the east. It also shares a maritime boundary with the Russian Federation’s Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, to the west, across the Bering Strait. To the north, the Chukchi- and Beaufort Seas of the Arctic Ocean are found. The Pacific Ocean lies to its south and southwest.
Alaska is the most populous U.S. state in terms of area. It covers more land than the three next largest states (Texas and California), combined. It is the seventh-largest subnational division in the entire world. It is the third-least populous and the most sparsely populated state, but by far the continent’s most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel, with a population of 736,081 as of 2020–more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska’s residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Juneau, the state capital, is the second largest city in the United States. It covers more territory than Rhode Island and Delaware. Sitka, the former capital of Alaska is the largest U.S. town by area.
For thousands of years, Alaska has been home of various indigenous peoples. It is widely believed that the Bering land bridge was the point of entry for the first settlement of North America. The Russian Empire was the first colonizer to the area in the 18th century. It eventually established Russian America, which covered most of the state. The expense and logistical difficulty of maintaining this distant possession prompted its sale to the U.S. in 1867 for US$7.2 million (equivalent to $140 million in 2021), or approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km). Before becoming a territory, the area underwent several administrative changes. It was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.