| The US state of Alaska, whose name is probably derived from Alyeska, is four times as large as Germany and exactly twice as large as Texas with an area of around 1,430,000 km2. |
This vast country is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the south, the Bering Sea to the west, the Chukchi Sea to the northwest and the Arctic Ocean to the north. The state border is about 2500 km long; in the east Alaska borders on Canada (141st degree of length) in the west on Siberia (the international date line is also the border with Russia). The Bering Strait separates the American island of Little Diomedes from the Russian island of Big Diomedes over a distance of 4 km.
The geographic center of the country, which is 5% covered with perpetual ice, is approximately 100km northwest of Mount McKinley. At 6194m, this is the highest mountain on the North American continent and, along with 16 other elevations in Alaska, is one of the 20 highest mountain peaks in the United States of America. One of the deepest rifts in the Pacific is the Aleutian Trench, which falls up to 7600 meters below sea level. The more than 50,000 km long coastline is longer than all the rest of the US coasts combined. The north-south extension is about 2300 kilometers and extends over 20 degrees of latitude. Through the Aleutian chain, the east-west extension is even 3800 kilometers long.
The northernmost point of Alaska is Point Barrow, from there it is 1900km to the North Pole. The westernmost and southernmost point is Attu Island and the easternmost point is Camp Point in Southeast Alaska. There are more than 3 million lakes spread across the country, the largest of which is Iliamna Lake. More than 3,000 rivers traverse the country, the longest of which is the Yukon River, which flows through Alaska over a length of 2,500 km. The largest island is Kodiak Island, one of more than 1800. 4% of the area of Alaska is covered with glaciers, of which the Malaspina Glacier in Southeast Alaska is the largest.
Geographically, Alaska is mostly divided into five regions; the south-east, the inland (central), the south-central Alaska (south-central), the south-west and the Arctic coast (north).
Because of its shape and location, Southeast Alaska is also known as the panhandle. The area forms a narrow, approx. 800km long coastal strip from the islands of the Inside Passage in the south to Icy Bay in the north on the Gulf of Alaska. Hundreds of islands lie off the mainland, the largest of which is Prince of Wales. The Coastal Mountains with their glaciers separate the narrow coastal strip from Canada. The fjord-like waterway Inside Passage runs along the west coast of Canada south from Ketchikan to Skagway in the north and runs through Southeast Alaska like a lifeline, since the adjacent mainland with its mountainous shape is not suitable for road building. Ferries and airplanes are available as a means of transport and the many remote cities and communities can often only be reached by water. The fantastic mountains, the great glaciers and the rugged coastline are often hidden in the fog. The frequent rainfall and the mild climate with a lot of wind, influenced by the Pacific, allow the unique rainforests, with their Sitka firs and Douglas firs, to flourish. Most of the area belongs to the 7 million hectare Tongass National Forest. Other nature reserves include Glacier Bay National Park, Misty Fjord National Monument and Admiralty Island Monument.
Inland Alaska is dominated by the highest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley, which belongs to the Alaska Range which is located in the south. The second large mountain range that runs through the Interior is the Brooks Range in the north. The Yukon River meanders through these regions with its almost 500m wide valley and numerous tributaries. Low chains of hills criss-cross this area with countless poplar and birch forests, which make up the bright colors of the Indian summer in autumn. The heart of the region is Alaska's second largest city, Fairbanks. Many use the city founded during the gold rush as a starting point for exploring Central Alaskas. Since there are few roads, George Park, the Glenn and the Richardson Highway are the most important, the most common means of transport are airplanes. Since the inland is shielded from the humid air masses of the Pacific by the high barrier of the Alaska Range, it rains very rarely here and the temperatures can often climb over 30 degrees in summer. The winters, however, are the coldest in all of Alaska, temperatures of -50 degrees are not uncommon. The most famous national parks and nature reserves of Alaska are in the central; Denali National Park, Denali State Park, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
This region extends over a gently curved coastline along the Gulf of Alaska to the southern corner of the Kenai Peninsula and on to the mountains of the Alaska Range. More than half of the inhabitants of Alaska live in this paradisiacal landscape with a varied mixture of the rugged mountain landscape of the Chugach and Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains, wild fjords along the whole coast, gentle plains of the Kenai Peninsula or the lovely valleys with unimaginable vegetation in the Matanuska Valley. Everywhere there are imposing glaciers and ice fields that, like the famous Columbia Glacier, calve into the sea or that stretch for kilometers down into valleys. The center and traffic center of Southcentral is Alaska's largest city, Anchorage - from here or with the Ferrys of the State Marine you can explore the area. As in the south-east, the climate is influenced by the Pacific; On the coast it can be stormy and rainy, but in the interior the amount of precipitation decreases considerably. So the summers are mild and sunny. Large parts of the region are nature reserves, such as the Chugach National Forest, the Kenai Fjord National Park, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge or the Kachemak Bay State Park and Wilderness.
Southwest Alaska includes the far southwest reaching archipelago of the Aleutian Islands, Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula. This region is one of the most active volcanic and earthquake zones in the world; 40 active volcanoes form a line (Ring of Fire) where the Pacific and North American plates meet. In addition, the landscape is characterized by the gentle grasslands of the Aleutians, the last of the native inhabitants of the same name live on these almost treeless islands. There are only a few settlements and many of the innumerable islands are uninhabited. Due to the many fish-rich inland waters and river systems, there are many small, scattered in the wilderness fishing villages, several of which are among the best in Alaska. Important ports are z. E.g. Kodiak, Dillingham, Dutch Harbor / Unalaska and King Salmon. The center of the region is the huge delta of the Yukon River. The few but far apart settlements can often only be reached by plane. The state ferries connect South / Central Alaska with Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands. The climate is very uncomfortable; In the Aleutian Islands, violent storms, the Williwas, can occur without warning - otherwise rain, fog and storm alternate throughout the year. The weather on the mainland is also very changeable and stormy, as two different climatic zones meet here. The predominant area of the region is a nature reserve; the most famous national park is the Katmai.
Also known as the Arctic, the area lies north of the Brooks Range and the Arctic Circle and extends to the beaches of the North Sea and the Yukons Territory in the east. Treeless tundra with countless lakes defines the landscape in the far north. In the short summer, the permafrost thaws on the surface, just long enough for only grasses, lichens, mosses and undemanding flowers to develop. Traditional Inuit way of life, modern oil technologies and large herds of caribou coexist in a wild and fragile environment. The two largest Inuit settlements, Kotzebue on the Baldwin Peninsula and Barrow, the northernmost city in the USA, as well as historic Nome are the largest towns in the region, surrounded by numerous smaller settlements. The only connection to the arctic north is the Dalton Highway, which connects Prudhoe Bay with the rest of Alaska's highways. Otherwise you have to rely on the airplane again; from Fairbanks or Anchorage you can reach almost all (Inuit) places, the temperatures rarely rise above 5 degrees in summer, but do not fall as low as in the interior. In the extremely dry area there is hardly any precipitation all year round. The winters are long, dark, very cold and stormy. The most famous national park is the Gates of the Arctic.