Area: 17.3 square miles
Population: 840 (2000 census)
County: Southeast Fairbanks
Dillingham is located on the Alaska Peninsula - a peninsula extending about 800 km (500 miles) to the southwest from the mainland of Alaska and ending in the Aleutian Islands. The peninsula separates the Pacific Ocean from Bristol Bay, an arm of the Bering Sea.
In literature (especially Russian) the term ‘Alaska Peninsula’ was used to denote the northwest part of North America, or all of what is now the state of Alaska with the exception of the Aleutian Islands and the Alaska Panhandle.
The Aleutian Range is a highly active volcanic mountain range which runs along the entire length of the Peninsula. Within the Peninsula are several U.S. National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, including the Katmai National Park and Preserve, the Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve and the Becharof National Wildlife Refuge, the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge, and the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
The southern side of the Alaska Peninsula is rugged and mountainous, created by the uplifting tectonic activity of the North Pacific Plate subsiding under a western section of the North American Plate; the northern side is generally flat and marshy, a result of millennia of erosion and general seismic stability. The northern and southern shores are likewise quite different. The northern Bristol Bay coastal side is generally turbid and muddy, experiences tidal extremes, and is relatively shallow; the Pacific side has relatively small tidal activity and is deep and clear.
All or parts of five boroughs are located on the peninsula. They are Aleutians East Borough. Bristol Bay Borough, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Kodiak Island Borough, and Lake and Peninsula Borough. The relatively small Bristol Bay Borough is the only one of these entirely contained in the peninsula. Lake and Peninsula Borough includes most of the peninsula's territory.
In the south coast of the peninsula temperatures fluctuate between 0 ºC to -2.0 ºC (28 ºF - 32 ºf) in winter and 11º C (52 ºF) in Summer. Rainfalls are fairly steady. The climate of the south coast is only comparable to those of the Aleutian Islands, Iceland, and Tierra del Fuego
Flora and Fauna
The peninsula is devoid of trees. The Alaska Peninsula and Bristol Bay are home to the world's largest sockeye salmon runs in large part because the Alaska Peninsula is host to so many large lakes, which are an important element in the lifecycle of Oncorhynchus nerka, sockeye salmon. These salmon, after returning from their short life at sea, swim into the lakes and their contributing streams to spawn. Their offspring, or fry, overwinter in the deep and food-abundant depths of these lakes until their migration to the sea in one or two years.
The Alaska Peninsula is also home to some of the largest populations of native and undisturbed wildlife in the United States. Besides the famous McNeil River and Katmai brown bear populations, large herds of caribou, moose, wolves and waterfowl inhabit the area.
Besides the communities on the (see: Bristol Bay) coast, the Alaska Peninsula also is home to several well-known villages: Cold Bay, King Cove, Perryville, Chignik, Chignik Lake, Chignik Lagoon, and Port Moller. Each is primarily inhabited by Alaska Natives and each, likewise, is mostly dependent on the fishing industry for sustinence. The village of Sand Point should be included here, despite its location on Popof Island, an island of the Sumagin Islands, just off t