The state of Alaska is located in the western United States and belongs to the Pacific states. Alaska consists of the continental part and many islands – the Aleutians, the Alexander Archipelago, the Pribylov Islands, and many others.
Alaska is the largest of the U.S. states, with an area of 1,717,854 km2. You can see in the figure that if the outline of Alaska is superimposed on a map of the continental United States, the westernmost point will be in California and the easternmost point will be in Florida.
Alaska has the northernmost point of the United States (Cape Barrow, 71°23′ 20″ N and 156°28′ 45″ W) and the westernmost point of the fifty U.S. states (Attu Island, Aleutian Islands, 52°55′14″ N and 172°26′16″ E)
The state of Alaska, like Hawaii, is an exclave of the United States, that is, a territory separated from its state and surrounded by several other states. From Alaska to the nearest state, Washington, D.C., is about 800 kilometers of Canadian territory.
Alaska is washed by two oceans, the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south and west. Alaska’s coastline is longer than all the other U.S. states combined. In Cook Inlet, near Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, there are some of the highest tides in the world (up to twelve meters).
Along the Pacific coast of Alaska stretches the Alaska Range. It is here that the highest mountain in the United States, McKinley (6,194 meters above sea level), is located. North of the Alaska Range, in the interior of Alaska, there is a plateau from 600 meters in the west to 1200 meters in the east. Farther north, beyond the Arctic Circle, is the Brooks Range, which is more than 950 kilometers long and has an average elevation of 2,000 to 2,500 meters above sea level. In the northernmost part of Alaska is the Arctic Lowlands.
Alaska’s mountain ranges are part of the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” a volcanic mountain chain that is also subject to earthquakes. Among the largest are Shishaldina Volcano on Unimak Island, the highest mountain in the Aleutian Islands.
Alaska has over twelve thousand rivers, the largest of which are the Yukon (length over 3,000 km, basin area about 830,000 km2), Kuskokwim (about 1,300 km), Colville (over 600 km).
Alaska has over three million (!) lakes and many wetlands.
Huge areas in Alaska are covered by glaciers (over forty thousand square kilometers). The largest of them, Bering Glacier occupies 5,800 km2.
In the north of Alaska there are two largest wilderness areas in the United States. In the northeastern part of the state is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which covers more than 78,000 km2, in the northwest is the National Petroleum Reserve area of about 95,000 km2.
Alaska is vast in area and its regions are characterized by different climatic conditions.
On the southeast coast of Alaska, near the state capital, Juneau, the climate is temperate, maritime, with lots of rain. The average temperature in January is -6°C to 1°C, and in July it is 10°C to 18°C.