Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, withCanada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait. Alaska is the 4th least populous and the least densely populated of the 50 United States. Approximately half of Alaska's 722,718residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area.
Alaska was purchased from Russia on March 30, 1867, for $7.2 million ($120 million in today's dollars) at approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km²). The land went through several administrative changes before becoming an organized (or incorporated) territory on May 11, 1912, and the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.
Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other U.S. states combined. It is the only non-contiguous U.S. state on continental North America; about 500 miles (800 km) of British Columbia (Canada) separate Alaska from Washington state. Alaska is thus an exclave of the United States. It is technically part of the continental U.S., but is often not included in colloquial use; Alaska is not part of the contiguous U.S., often called "the Lower 48". The capital city, Juneau, is situated on the mainland of the North American continent, but is not connected by road to the rest of the North American highway system.
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