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Alaska History and Culture

On January 3, 1959, Alaska was admitted to the United States as the 49th state. The population of the state is 626,932, as of 2000. The name "Alaska" is most likely derived from the Aleut word for "great country" or "mainland". The natives called it "Alyeska", meaning "the great land". It is bordered by Yukon Territory and British Columbia, Canada to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea to the west, and the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean to the north. Alaska is the largest state by area in the United States.

History: Scientists believe that ancient man first came to North America across a land bridge which is now the Bering Strait. Alaska was first explored by Vitus Bering of Denmark in 1741. Bering Strait bares his name.

Once part of the Russian empire, Alaska was bought by the U.S. in 1867 for $7,200,000. The Klondike gold rush in 1896 brought many settlers to the area.

Population and culture: Originally the home of the Aleut, Inuit and other native americans, discovery of gold in the late 1800's brought many settlers searching for wealth. Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of totem poles. Totem poles were carved by the Native Americans to tell legends, or tribal and family history. They provide a colorful representation of Alaskan culture.

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