Native Eskimo and Aleut tribes inhabited the area before it was discovered by Vitus Bering, a Dane exploring for the Russians, in 1741. America bought Alaska from Russia in 1867. Gold was discovered in 1896 and the following Gold Rush drew many people — mostly men — to the area.
Discoveries of oil and natural gas in 1968 led to a gold rush of another sort — one to plumb these natural resources. The Trans-Alaska pipeline was built and completed in 1977 at a cost of $7.7 billion. The wealth of income from the sale of oil led Alaska to give money back to all its tax-paying residents. An oil spill by an Exxon tanker in Prince William Sound in 1989 damaged pristine coastline and led to battles between environmentalists and the oil industry. The beautiful scenery, many national parks, and wildlife are Alaska’s main natural resources and tourist attractions.
Alaska’s name is based on the Eskimo word Alakshak meaning great lands or peninsula. Or it's based on the word Alyeska, meaning much the same thing; depends on who you ask.
Alaska is as big as England, France, Italy and Spain combined, or 2 1/2 times the size of Texas. That's approximately 586,400 square miles.
Alaska has the lowest population density in the entire United States. The total population of the state is
More than half the world’s active glaciers are in Alaska.The interior of Alaska has over 50,000 glaciers, 3,000 rivers and three million lakes.
Alaska contains 17 of the 20 highest peaks in The United States.
The capital of Alaska is Juneau, the only capital city in the United States that is accessible by boat or plane only.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was -80F (-62C).
Alaska has 2,670 named islands, and that many more without names*. Counting the islands, Alaska has approximately 44,000 miles of coastline.
* My thanks to PioneerPreppy for suggesting this addition. :)