Area: 18.4 square miles
Population: 4,581 (2000 census)
County: North Slope
Barrow with a population of 4,438 is the northernmost community in North America. It is located on the Chukchi sea coast, 10 miles south of Point Barrow from which it takes its name. It is 725 air miles from Anchorage and has an arctic climate. The sun does not set between may 10th and August 2 each summer, and does not rise between November 18th and January 24th each winter. The daily minimum temperature is below freezing 324 days of the year.
Barrow is the economic center of the North Slope Borough. Numerous businesses provide support services to oil field operations. State and federal agencies also provide employment. The midnight sun has created a major boom in tourism. Seven residents hold commercial fishing permits, but many residents rely upon subsistence food sources.
Regularly schedules jet services provide Barrow's only year-round access. The State-owned Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport Serves as the regional transportation center for the Borough. The airport has a 6,500 foot asphalt runway, and has recently undergone major improvements. Marine and land transportation provide seasonal access. The city has requested funds for construction of a small boat harbor.
Archaeological sites in the area indicate that there were Inupiaq people living on this land for thousands of years. There are many artifacts in the area that have yet to be recovered. Please respect the culture, obey the laws and refrain from digging for artifacts in and around Barrow. Instead, Look for displays around town and you will learn about efforts to protect the Inupiat heritage. Inupiat traditionally depend on subsistence marine mammal hunting, supplemented by inland hunting and fishing. Archaeological remains of sixteen dwelling mounds from the Birnirk culture still exist today.
Barrow was named for Sir John Barrow, 2nd Secretary of the British Admiralty. Barrow's Eskimo name is known as Ukpeagvik (place where owls are hunted). In 1881, the US army established a meteorological and magnetic research station near Barrow. The Cape Smythe whaling and Trading Station followed in 1893. A Presbyterian church was established in 1899, and a post office was opened in 1901. Exploration of the Naval Petroleum Reserve Number 4 ( now National Petroleum reserve in Alaska, NPR-A) began in 1946. The Naval Arctic Research Laboratory, 3 miles north of Barrow, soon followed. Formation of the North Slope Borough in 1972, the Arctic slope Regional Corporation, and construction of Prudhoe Bay oil fields and Trans-Alaska Pipeline have each contributed to the development of Barrow. Today, tax revenues from the North slope oil fields fund borough-wide services.
63.9% of the population are Alaska Natives. The majority of residents are Inupiat Eskimos. Traditional marine mammal hunts and other subsistence practices are an active part of the culture. Bowhead, gray, killer and beluga whales migrate near barrow each summer. The sale of alcohol is banned in the community, although importation or possession is allowed.
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