Alaska

Historically mocked as “Seward’s Folly” and “Seward’s Icebox” (owing to then Secretary of State William Seward who negotiated the territory’s purchase) Alaska is the largest state in the Union (and ironically the 4th lowest in population) and one of the two states not physically connected to the lower 48 states.  The United States acquired Alaska from Russia, which was the first western nation to colonize the region.

Alaska is rich in natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas, and is a popular tourist destination for hunting and natural recreation.  A series of gold rushes between 1896 and 1910 brought thousands of settlers into Alaska dramatically increasing its population from a few settlers and traders.  Mining for gold, coal and other minerals remains an active part of Alaska’s economy alongside fishing and timber, but oil and natural gas remains by far the largest product.

Most of Alaska’s small population lives along the southern coast of the state, although pockets of civilization can be found scattered across the west coast and interior, some so remote that they can only be accessed by air.  Dogsled racing is a popular local sport, with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race being the most popular and well known.

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