Posted by: Michael Burnham, Consular Intern
Alaska is a state that can only be described in superlatives. It is by far the largest state (over twice the size of Texas), is the northernmost and coldest state, hosts half the world’s glaciers, and boasts the most wildlife, wilderness, lakes (3 million), coastline (more than every other state combined), and volcanoes (over 100), than anywhere in the United States. The centerpiece of Alaska’s geography is Mt. McKinley—also known as Denali. While Mt. Everest has more notoriety for being the world’s highest mountain, Denali is actually the world’s biggest mountain when measured from base to peak. Located in central Alaska, the massive peak can be seen from hundreds of miles away in virtually every region of the state.
If you’re looking for nightlife and parties, Alaska isn’t your state. Culturally it’s far removed from much of the United States. Most residents would rather spend their night under the northern lights than the disco lights and are more comfortable with a shotgun than a shopping bag. Yet, with the lowest population density in the United States, frequent encounters with the world’s biggest moose, world class fishing and camping, and the occasional bear wandering onto your back porch, it is the ultimate land of outdoor adventure.
Alaska is not a state that boasts many celebrities. In fact the only Alaskan that many people are familiar with may be politician Sarah Palin. Alaska is a state of ordinary people who are content with their happy lives. The people there welcome everyone with a very sincere brand of friendliness and openness. It’s a great place to visit, but an even better place to live. No matter how short your stay though, you’re guaranteed to leave with a few new friends.
The purchase of Alaska from Russia has been the source of some controversy in former Soviet Republics. Many believe the 1867 transaction was not actually a sale, but a 99 year lease and the United States failed to return the territory during the Cold War. In reality, however, this is an urban legend. Original documents of the transaction confirm that it was a sale, and make no mention of a lease or time at which the territory was to be returned.
While many associate Alaska with an uninhabited frozen wasteland, in reality it is one of the world’s greatest natural treasures. Summer is the best time to visit; it is pleasantly warm, bursting with life, and enveloped in seemingly endless daylight. For anyone who enjoys the natural environment, Alaska is a must have item on the travel bucket list.