10 facts I didn’t know about Alaska

It’s always a pleasure to arrive in a new (to me) part of earth and suddenly get immersed in a whole new world. Over the past week, Alaska’s been that new world for me:

  1. It’s both the westernmost state in the United States and, because of the International Date Line, the easternmost state in the United States.
  2. The United States bought Alaska from Russia for less than two cents an acre in 1867. At the time, a lot of Americans thought it was a stupid purchase.
  3. Mongolia, the least densely populated country in the world, has on average 4.3 for every one square mile of land. Alaska, though, has a mere 1.2 people for every one square mile of its land.
  4. The state should have three or four different time zones, but instead it’s all one zone, one hour behind Pacific Time.
  5. One of the primary indigenous groups living in southeast Alaska is called the Tlingit clan. They maintain their own language and play a big part in the politics of the region.
  6. If you could place Alaska over the continental U.S., the islands to the panhandle would stretch all the way from California to Georgia.
  7. Douglas, the island across from Juneau, was actually established before Juneau.
  8. There’s no road that connects Juneau to the rest of the state, just ferry routes and an airport.
  9. The police just wait at the airport in Juneau. If someone’s going to do anything wrong, they literally can’t get away with it without going through the airport (boats take too long, I guess).
  10. Bluegrass music – or folk music in general, really – is popular in Alaska. Who would have thought I’d travel all the way to Juneau and still here banjos and fiddles battling mandolins and guitars?  (Bassists somehow never battle.)

“That’s about all I know, I guess.”